AlcoHOLidays | Birthday Special | Pineapple Birthday Cake

Pineapple Birthday Cake cocktail | Colorful party decorations courtesy of Oriental Trading Company

Pineapple Birthday Cake cocktail | Colorful party decorations courtesy of Oriental Trading Company

Okay, okay, while not a holiday in the strictest sense, birthdays are very important points in our lives and everyone has one (whether they choose to celebrate it or not). Since my birthday is next week I thought it would be a good idea to celebrate with a festive cocktail reminiscent of a decadent birthday cake with a fruity filling.

Pineapple Birthday Cake

2 oz Whipped Cream Vodka
1 oz Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz Butterscotch Schnapps
1/4 oz Amaretto

Combine all ingredients into a cocktail shaker half-filled with ice and shake to get the party started. Strain into the chilled cocktail glass of your choice and enjoy!

While this cocktail is similar to the Right Side Up (my take on the Pineapple Upside Down Cake Martini), the amaretto adds that hint of almond-flavored buttercream icing that is so incredibly delicious on birthday cakes that it’s tough to separate the two in my mind. For a purer “icing” flavor you could skip the pineapple and go with club soda or even just go straight alcohol if you were more interested in a high-test birthday cake shot.


AlcoHOLidays | Peach Cobbler Day | Early Summer Peach


Early Summer Peach cocktail for Peach Cobbler Day, April 13On the south side of my town there’s a butcher shop cum lunch counter that features different entrees each day of the week. It is a haven to southern comfort foods and on Fridays we used to go there to pickup meatloaf and mashed potatoes with cornbread and okra (or greens) for lunch. Used to because it was very rich and easily enough for two meals if you could restrain yourself.

We weren’t very good at restraint.

You had to go early–if you waited too much past noon to swing by they might be out of meatloaf for the day and you’d have to settle for fried chicken or some such. And if you were really lucky they’d have some containers of peach cobbler still.

We used to say that it was so rich it might kill you, but at least you’d die with a smile on your face.

Let me just revel in the memory of it for a moment, okay?

Since peaches are naturally high in fructose (which makes them high-FODMAP) and the doughy topping is, of course, full of wheat (another high-FODMAP ingredient), the peach cobbler from Early’s Kitchen is not something I’m likely to be savoring again any time soon. But in the spirit of Peach Cobbler Day, April 13, I thought I’d concoct a spirited version of the delectable summertime dessert instead.

Early Summer Peach

1 oz Whipped Cream Vodka
1 oz Pineapple Juce
3/4 oz Peach Schnapps
1/2 oz Cranberry Juice
1/4 oz Butterscotch Schnapps

Combine all ingredients over ice and stir until combined. Not too vigorously, think of it like a lazy summer Sunday afternoon and you’ll get it juuust right. Serve over ice in a low-ball or old fashioned glass.

I could have used peach nectar, true, but the point wasn’t to emulate biting into a ripe peach, it was to inspire the flavor of dipping into a gooey, sticky-sweet bowl of peach cobbler, maybe with a little ice cream on top. That’s what this combination does, quite handily. True, I added the bit of cranberry juice primarily for color, but the little bit of tartness doesn’t go amiss, either.

Whether you celebrate with the real thing or a cocktail version, celebrate something this weekend, okay?


AlcoHOLidays | National Lemon Cupcake Day | Lemon Cupcake Martini


Lemon Tree loaded down with fruit

Lemon tree very pretty
And the lemon flower is sweet
But the fruit of the poor lemon
Is impossible to eat

—chorus from Lemon Tree, as sung by Peter, Paul, & Mary

Of course there are plenty of people who love the tart pucker-power of fresh lemons. There are probably just as many, though, that enjoy this yellow citrus in sweeter ways, like lemon curd or, in honor of the December 15th “holiday”, lemon cupcakes.

Lemon Cupcake Martini

This is totally one of those made-up holidays–not by me, but by someone who shouted loud enough at some point to make it onto a variety of daily holiday sites. And, hey, why not? Now, you might think it’s odd to have a lemon-related in the middle of December, but as my neighbor’s tree up there exhibits, now is the time for lemons galore. [Seriously, that tree is totally out of control–my friend said on Sunday she feels like she needs to click it to harvest (Farmville joke).] You could also look at it as a palate cleanser sort of holiday before the peppermints and eggnogs totally take over the rest of the month.

Either way, in honor of National* Lemon Cupcake Day, I have tried to distill the essence of a heavenly lemon cupcake into liquid form. It’s good now, and it’s probably just as tasty in the heat of summer when a plain ol’ lemonade just isn’t gonna cut it.

Lemon Cupcake Martini

1 1/2 oz Whipped Cream Vodka
1 oz Limoncello
3/4 oz Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz Butterscotch Schnapps

Combine all ingredients in a shaker glass half-full of ice and shake until cold and frothy. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish at will.

Now, I opted to go with a small sprig of mint floating on the top of the cocktail. After making basil chicken last night, a sprig of basil would also lend a lovely scent to the presentation along with the pop of color. You can, of course, go with a lemon twist but it’s sort of dull, don’t you think? Unless you decide to candy some lemon peel and let a looooong strip hang in a curl off the side of the glass. Now that would be festive.

The pineapple juice could be omitted, I suppose, but it makes for a slightly more balanced drink. Even with it the drink is very potent, so sip it slowly and savor it or you’ll find yourself under the table instead of dancing upon it.

Not that lemon cupcakes inspire table-dancing. Necessarily.



*Fun fact time, while there are federal holidays and observances, there’s really no such thing as a true “national” holiday as each state has dominion over its holiday calendar. National this-or-that Day just sounds better, so that’s what people call them.

AlcHOLidays | National Bluebird of Happiness Day | Pursuit of Happiness


Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, you say? Notice that it’s only the pursuit of happiness we’re guaranteed, not the finding or attainment.

In the 1940 film The Blue Bird (starring Shirley Temple, speaking of drinks), the bird in question is given as a selfless gift, and then escapes. The moral being that the bluebird of happiness is always to be pursued, not captured. And from the 1934 song,

be like I, hold your head up high,
’til you see a ray of light and cheer

and so remember this, life is no abyss
somewhere there’s a bluebird of happiness

Bluebird of Happiness, Harmati & Heyman

All this to say, September 24 (that’s this coming Monday) has become known as the National Bluebird of Happiness Day. Now, you can take that as a challenge to always look for the silver lining, to keep optimistic as the days get shorter and the weather turns brisk (which is a plus in my book), or to go out of your way to spread a little happiness for someone else; essentially being a bluebird of happiness yourself!

And if you’re into old movies but not feeling the Shirley Temple vibe, watch Hitchcock’s The Birds, instead. I’m certainly not going to judge what makes you happy.

Pursuit of Happiness Cocktail for National Bluebird of Happiness Day, September 24

Part of what makes me happy, of course, is creating fun cocktails for any and all reasons. Historically, there is a cocktail known as the Blue Bird, using either gin or vodka, triple sec (ptoo!) or curacao, and bitters. I suppose gin would make sense for the era (Vodka didn’t get a good foothold in the US until mid-century, after all), but my thought process was veering a bit more tropical, plus I’ve been wanting to use this new Denizen Aged White Rum from Holland (look for a full review forthcoming), so rum and blue curacao (of course) means pineapple isn’t very far behind. Then I decided to try and see what the difference would be between pineapple juice and pineapple soda. Just because.

Pursuit of Happiness

2 oz Pineapple Juice
1 oz Aged White Rum (like Denizen)
3/4 oz Blue Curacao
garnish of a slice of Pineapple with or without a little bluebird pick

Combine the juice, rum, and curacao over ice and shake til you’re feeling happy. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a slice of pineapple.

Making little themed picks from a bird stamp, blue ink, and toothpicks is totally optional but fun!

So, I tried this both ways: with pineapple soda and pineapple juice. No surprise that the juice version won out, really, it’s only to be expected. The soda just didn’t have enough oomph to blend well and stand up to the two alcohols, while the juice gave the drink some body and you really got more pineapple flavor. Now, if you wanted to, I’m sure you could cut it half and half and be fine, but I was feeling more all or nothing last night.

And for those who might wonder if the Cruzan Vanilla Rum I reviewed a while back might not go lovely in this drink, it’s too sweet. I know, is that really possible? But yes. The aged white rum has depth without being harsh, the vanilla would be a bit cloying. That said, if you were inclined to combine the pineapple juice and the pineapple soda and then lace it with a bit of that Cruzan Vanilla Rum, what you would have would be more than a little reminiscent of pineapple upside down cake.

And there’s nothing wrong with that!

And because this is one of my favorite TMBG songs and actually has ties to the original Bluebird of Happiness (bluebird of friendliness, anyone?), I have to close with Birdhouse in Your Soul.

(Direct link for the Feed Readers: Birdhouse in Your Soul by TMBG)


Cosmic Cocktails | Gemini | Twist of Fate


Gemini's Twist of Fate cocktail

Depending on which lore you go with, the story of the Gemini is either based on the Greek twins Castor and Pollus or the Babylonian friends Gilgamesh and Enkidu–either way, you’re dealing with a mortal and an immortal, a pair of like-minded souls.

All mutable signs (signs that cover a change of seasons–in the case of Gemini from Spring to Summer) represent at least a little duality or element of change.

For The Twins, a common name for Gemini, the idea is very much in there being two, together, and sharing of their twin-ness. Gemini are adept at communication and learning, love to people watch, talk to new people and really listen if there’s half a chance of coming across an interesting stranger, but they also play peace-maker or go-between a lot.

Being an air sign, Geminis exhibit a bit of free spiritedness, relish spontaneity, and have a youthfulness that lasts throughout their lives. They love being in the know (which can lead to them being gossips), and can hold their own in any conversation. Many actors and actresses are Geminis, well suited by their desire to never be just 1 sort of person, and a career in journalism suits a Gemini quite well, too.

My mother is, in many ways, a typical Gemini. (Though the claims to be a “cusp” since she’s near the end of the sign, which would be fine if the concept of cusps had any real standing, astrologically–if you don’t fit your sun-sign profile, check your chart for “the rest of the story,” namely your Ascendant. Frankly I think it’s just her Geminian habit of not wanting to be pinned down exerting itself.)

This also explains why we butted heads more than the usual mother-daughter kerfuffles. I remember one summer, she had come to pick me up from Auburn (I was there for a Rotary Model UN) and on the way home she wanted to stop and do all these little road-side adventures (very Gemini) and all I wanted to do was get home, already (stubborn Taurus)! When I do road trips? Even my side-trips are planned.

But back to the Gemini.

Every sign has it’s “good” days and “bad.” On a good day the Gemini is flexible and go-with-the-flow personified. On a bad day? They are flighty and inconsistent. On a good day the don’t pin me down mantra contributes to an independent spirit, and on a bad day it shows up as disloyal or unfaithful. On a good day they’ll listen to your woes and offer sage counsel, on the other hand they can just as easily tell the stories of others–sometimes in painful or embarrassing detail–in the name of “communication.”

This sign is also associates with the color yellow, and the flavor of aniseed (as well as caraway and marjoram). And while true Geminis would bristle at being tied down to just one signature drink, I present this sunny-hued libation in their honor.

Twist of Fate

2 oz Pineapple Juice
1 oz Galliano
.5 oz Limoncello
garnish with a red licorice whip

Combine the Galliano, limoncello and pineapple juice in a shaker over ice and shake well. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a red licorice whip, just to be contrary.

The flavor of the Gemini cocktail is a study in sameness and contrast. The pineapple enhances the sweetness of the limoncello while the notes of anise from the Galliano pick up the tart, and yet together they make a most brilliant yellow cocktail. Still, for those not sure about a licorice-flavored cocktail, be a bit adventurous and give this one a whirl as this really is a well-balanced drink and no single note stands out over the others. In fact, each sip is a slightly different blend, kind of like the Gemini from day to day.