AlcoHOLidays | Veterans Day | Alliance


Alliance Cocktail for Veterans Day

Veterans Day began life as Armistice Day, commemorating the cease-fire (aka an armistice) that halted actual fighting on November 11, 1918, even though the end of World War I wasn’t until the Treaty of Versailles was signed the following June.

WWI, also known as The Great War, was thought of as “the war to end all wars.”

How optimistic.

Never underestimate man’s ability to fight about anything and everything.

At any rate, after WWII and Korea, veterans service organizations headed the requests to change the name to include soldiers of the later conflicts. In 1954 President Eisenhower made it so.

The idea behind Veterans Day was that it was a day to thank those who’ve served our country and “dedicated to the cause of world peace” (via Dept of Veterans Affairs) Banks, the Postal Service, and government offices close, most schools, too, and many communities throw parades in honor of our servicemen and women.

So make sure to thank your nearest Veteran this coming Sunday, and raise a glass in honor of those who fought and gave their lives for the freedom we enjoy today.

The Alliance

3/4 oz Rye Whiskey
3/4 oz Cognac
3/4 oz London Dry Gin

Combine liquors over ice in a mixing glass and stir until everyone is shaking hands. Strain into a rocks or cocktail glass with 3 ice cubes inside.

As with other all-alcohol cocktails, we stir this one so that the drink reserves a silky feeling on the tongue without diluting it overmuch. In The Alliance, the Cognac greets you nice enough, the rye pushes its way in a bit, and the gin’s botanicals bring up the rear. Purists might cry havoc at the combination of 3 such strong flavors, but war makes strange bedfellows, and these 3 are making the best of it.

Cheers… and thank you.

50 Shots of America–Montana


Continuing our liquid tour of the country, this week we’re following along the Canadian border to Montana.




Prior to statehood, Montana was home to several Native American tribes, a fact that caused plenty of friction as explorers looked to take over the territory, building forts and settlements throughout the early 1800s. Just past mid-century, major deposits of gold, silver, lead, copper and coal were found and the miners followed in droves. As the nineteenth century came to a close, railroads and the centers of industry that surrounded them ushered in the 41st state to the Union on November 8, 1889.


3/4 oz Rye Whiskey
1/2 oz Kirshwasser
1/4 oz Cinnamon Schnapps
1 barspoon Honey

Combine all ingredients over ice and shake vigorously until the mixture is as cold as glacial runoff. Strain into a chilled cordial glass.

This one is bracing! As I’d imagine those chilly mountain winters would be. It’s not too sweet (the honey just takes the edge off from the other, bossy ingredients), and warms as it goes down–great for the last cold snap before Spring.

Rye, cherries and honey are all important crops in the agricultural Big Sky Country, with nods to the German and Irish ancestry of the state.

Did you know that Montana is a very popular spot for basing movies? I suppose all that open space (4th largest state by size but 44th by population) is just too tempting. Of course, one of the biggest movies based there, Legends of the Fall, wasn’t even shot there! (Maybe it’s all the grizzly bears?)

50 Shots of America–Maryland


You know, if Maryland was a person, I think they’d be pretty confused.

Take, for example, this scattering of facts:

  • Founded as a haven for English Catholics, Catholicism has been banned at least twice within it’s borders! Still, it boasts the first cathedral in the United States (the Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary) and was home to the founder of the Sisters of Charity who became the first US-born citizen to be canonized, St Elizabeth Ann, 9.14.1975.
  • It’s considered Little America or America in Miniature because it boasts so many different environments in it’s just-over 12,000 square miles–that’s a lot of everything to put in such a small space!
  • Despite being predominantly Democratic, it’s most famous political son was the Republican VP under Nixon, Spiro Agnew. Of course, maybe that should read infamous…
  • It’s technically south of the Mason-Dixon line (since that point of demarcation is it’s northern border) but was coerced into not seceding with it’s southern brethren (of which roughly half the state identified with) because Lincoln pointed cannons at it from DC! Incidentally, the land DC sits on was ceded by Maryland back in 1790.
  • The state sport is jousting, which is rather unique, but it’s tough to actual witness unless you attend the Maryland Renaissance Faire in Crownsville, and it only runs 3 months of the year!
  • And look at the state motto: Manly deeds, womanly words. Would you like to be in the metaphorical room when those two duke it out?

It’s for these reasons I dub the following drink:

Wit’s End

1/2 oz Rye whiskey
1/4 oz Goldschlager
1/2 oz Ginger syrup*
Club soda

Combine the rye, goldschalger and syrup over ice. Shake like a jouster is barrelling towards you with his lance aimed at your shaker. Strain into a cordial glass and top with club soda, giving it a little stir with a swizzle stick to combine.

Even though the state beverage is, indeed, milk the early trials of milk and rye and Old Bay seasoning (in honor of that which seasons the famous Maryland Blue Crabs that are such a treat) fared about what they sound like they would. (Actually, it wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t really what I was looking for. Plus, we just did a milk cocktail not too long ago.) Rye whiskey was quite a popular item in Maryland up until Prohibition but since then most distilleries have closed, the last surviving one transplanted to Kentucky. Still, rye and soda can be found in some of the older Marylander establishments for those looking for a taste of the old ways.

Old Bay, back to the seasoning for a bit, is described as a combination of celery salt, bay leaf, mustard seed, black and red peppers, cinnamon and ginger. Yum! And while the first sets of ingredients had me thinking something along the lines of a Bloody Mary, the cinnamon and ginger seemed a nice foil for the rye, which can be quite strong if you’re not all that into whiskey. (Hint: Rye whiskey reminds me more of Scotch than Bourbon.) Also, there was a taste of gold mining going on in the Old Line State but it didn’t last long. Still, it made the Goldschlager an obvious choice.

*To make ginger syrup you can go two ways:

  1. Make a basic 1:1 Simple Syrup with about an inch of fresh cut ginger simmered in. Strain and cool.
  2. Dice and mash an inch of fresh ginger and let steep in pre-made simple syrup for 2 weeks or more.

One last note about Maryland (though, I admit, there’s plenty more to say). During the War of 1812 the British were trying to take the Port of Baltimore and did battle against Fort McHenry. Francis Scott Key is said to have penned the Star Spangled Banner during this onslaught. I find this incredibly synchronistic as, completely unplanned–I couldn’t plan this stuff if I tried!–my topic over at the 64 Arts (my personal blog about living creatively) for Friday is Anthems. Coincidence? I’m not sure there is such a thing!