50 Shots of America–Kansas

Over the Rainbow

Over the Rainbow

Toto, I think we ARE in Kansas this week, the 34th state in this glorious nation!

Look, Toto, at those dear, dear fields of wheat, sorghum and sunflowers.

And over there, why those are some of the wagon ruts still engraved on our prairie from the Sante Fe Trail (1820 to 1881), can you imagine?

Oh, in that direction we could go to Dodge City, where men such as Bat Masterson and Wyatt Earp kept the peace in those lawless Wild West days.

You know, Toto, my ruby slippers are just a little uncomfortable after all this traveling, what do you say about following the I-70 over to Topeka and the headquarters of Payless for a quick shopping trip?

Whew! It’s sure good to be home, Toto. I hope Auntie Em has some lemonade ready, I could use a tall drink after visiting the Hutchinson Salt Mines. Or maybe something a wee bit stronger?

Over the Rainbow

1 oz Limoncello
1/2 oz Beer
1/2 oz Tonic Water

Combine Limoncello and Beer over ice and shake like a twister in a trailer park. Pour in Tonic Water and swirl to chill before straining into the waiting cordial glass.

This is my twist on a hard lemonade and can definitely give those packaged drink a run for their money–even Todd liked it (and he generally doesn’t like my beer cocktails), said it was “surprisingly refreshing.” Don’t have any Limoncello on hand? In as few as 4 days you can, according to my recent experiments infusing this particular flavor. We used the 12-week (and it blended beautifully) version but I’m sure the 4-day as well as the imported stuff will work just fine.

Drinking at home is so much better, Toto, none of that 10% drink tax to worry about! (And thank heavens we don’t live in one of the 29 dry counties!)

with apologies to L Frank Baum (but only a few, as his Kansas descriptions were based on his time in South Dakota)

50 Shots of America–Minnesota

Clouds in my Curacao

Clouds in my Curacao

Minnesota may well be the North Star State and the Land of 10.000 Lakes (actually 11,842–that just doesn’t roll off the tongue as easy) but after reading up on our 32nd state I’m more inclined to think of it as the shopping state! Did you know the first indoor shopping mall opened there and that Bloomington is currently home to Mall of America, a mall as big as 78 football fields?!

Now that’s what I’m talking about!

It’s also known as the Land of Sky-Blue Waters (Minnesota means cloudy water or sky-tinted water in Dakota) and the Gopher State.

Clouds in my Curacao

3/4 oz Vanilla Vodka
1/4 oz Blue Curacao
1 oz Tonic Water
dash Milk

Combine the vodka and curacao over ice and shake like a dancing gopher! Add the tonic water over the mixture and ice, swirl to chill and then strain into a small cocktail glass. Spoon in the dash of milk and watch the clouds roll before the drink settles into a concoction of pale blue sky.

50 Shots of America–Indiana


The Hoosier State became the 19th state of the Union on December 11, 1816. It was in their constitution that the first state-funded public schools were called for, even if it took over 30 years to follow through with the plan.

What is a Hoosier? I still don’t know, I’ve read so many possible explanations. But Abraham Lincoln (moved there when he was 7), James Dean and David Letterman are examples of famous ones.

When I think Indiana, I think Indianapolis and the Indy 500. It’s the largest single-day sporting event in the world and just underscores the state’s place as the “Crossroads of America.” Cars, highways (more per square mile than any other state) and manufacturing that has fared better in these times of auto-industry downturns and upsets due to specialized skill centers in smaller towns are all part of what keep Indiana moving fast.


The Quick Shot

1/2 oz Gin
1/2 oz Melon Liqueur
1/2 oz Sweet Vermouth
Tonic Water

Combine gin, liqueur and vermouth over ice and shake like your rushing down a court towards witness a beautiful 3-point shot. Strain into a cordial glass and top with tonic water.

Melons and grapes are two of the state’s top crops (behind feed-corn and soybeans) but as much as I wanted to use Pepper Vodka to give the drink some speed it was just too harsh so we went with a gin base–it’s got its own version of pep. The tonic water helps bring out the different flavors the same way salt enhances a sauce.

No Malaria Here!


This post was brought to you by the letter Q, not exactly an easy one to match in the Alphahol so I went with a tried and true favorite: Tonic Water, which is flavored with (among other things) quinine.

Apparently, the Gin & Tonic habit began as a way for the British of the East India Company in the like to improve the flavor of the strongly flavored Tonic (what we get now has a far lower concentration than the original) which was used as a preventative against Malaria. Now, for those who don’t especially _like_ Gin, you might be thinking that Tonic must have been all sorts of bitter if Gin made it more palatable (which was exactly Todd’s thought). I’m not sure I’d like the full-strength stuff myself, but I’m quite the fan of what I’ve had so far.

When looking up things to serve with Tonic Water, other than Gin or Vodka, I came across all sorts of ______ Tonic–pretty much any spirit plus Tonic Water and there you go. Still, others got a bit more inventive. Take for instance:

Melon Tonic

1 oz Vodka (I used vanilla, of course)
1 oz Melon liqueur
1 oz Tonic water
dash Lemon juice

Stir together in a low-ball glass and sip.

Now, this one, to me, needed a bit more tonic water to balance out the cloyingly sweet melon (and I like melon drinks) but nonetheless tastes like a melted snow-cone with a kick. Definitely one to keep around. I also found a half-gin & [grapefruit] juice, half-tonic mixture that was okay (rather just have the Gin & Juice, personally) but the surprise favorite was this:


Tonic water
Squeeze of lime
Several dashes of bitters

Stir lime and bitters (use as much as you like, 3 dashes was recommended and seemed okay for a short glass) into tonic and sip on a hot day in place of a cool breeze.

When I say surprise, Todd even liked this one best out of the three we tried tonight and he’s not a tonic fan. Bitters kinda remind me of Worcestershire sauce (in a good way) and that slightly warm flavor added to the chilled Tonic and lime made for a very tasty drink. Might even be a good brunch alternative for a Bloody Mary for those (like me) who are sensitive to tomato juice in any sort of quantity.

Finally, I know I’ve mentioned this before but I have to again, it just wouldn’t be right not to. Fred and Friends makes wonderfully quirky kitchen gadgets and the Gin and Titonic ice cube molds are no exception. I actually found this, in person, at a local game shop last night and have since sunk an icy Titanic and -berg in both mixed drinks and juice. For the truly surreal experience, I’d suggest dunking them into a blue beverage, but in a nice Gin & Tonic it’s just as fun.