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Jan 14

Golden Globe Cocktails

I’m an award show geek. I love them. Admittedly, I Tivo them so I can watch them on delay and fast forward through the boring parts. I particularly enjoy the Golden Globes because everyone is at tables with bottles and bottles of champagne. Yeah, they’re there for an award, but also, I suspect, to get a little sloppy drunk in their awesome evening wear. It makes me giggle.

So when I got this fantastic little press release the other day, I was thrilled. It’s loaded down with amazingly appropriate Golden Globe themed cocktails. (I suspect the publicist is repping Flor de Cana Nicaraguan rum, Lucid absinthe, and Russian Standard vodka, but she never mentioned her clients.) Whether you’re having an awards-show party or watching from home, you can imbibe just like the stars do.


Inception:  It is only appropriate to provide fans of this convoluted thriller an equally mysterious and complex libation. Escape to another world with Lucid, the brand responsible for lifting the 100-year absinthe ban.  Mesmerize your guests by serving this anise-flavored spirit in the traditional method and watch as it morphs from green to milky white before their eyes.

Lucid Dream Stealer
Traditional absinthe drip. Pour cold water over 1.5 oz. Lucid absinthe.  Stir and enjoy.

Glee: Glee scored 5 Golden Globe nominations and the truth is – this show is a true fan favorite, due to its high energy musical numbers and campy style. For all the young kids in the audience, and maybe those who aren’t drinking tonight, we’ve got a great mock-tail that you can enjoy as you sing along to your favorite Glee hit.

New Directions Champion
1 oz. white cranberry juice
.5 oz. apple juice
Top with ginger ale and garnish with a cinnamon stick and fresh cranberries

An adult fan? For an extra layer of yum, add 1 oz. of Flor de Cana rum to give this cocktail a festive POP!

Black Swan:  If this film’s dark, two-sided depth is for you, how about mixing up a cocktail to match?  Made with Russian Standard Vodka and muddled blackberries, the delicious Russian Swan’s two-toned look is eerily reminiscent of Nina Sayer’s contrasting sides.

The Seductive Swan
1.5 oz Russian Standard Vodka
5 blackberries
3 oz Lemonade
Muddle four blackberries in bottom of a tumbler.  Add ice, Russian Standard Vodka and lemonade.  Garnish with remaining blackberry.

Social Network: What better way to toast the story of Mark Zuckerberg’s creation than with a drink as social as Facebook itself?  Punch of course if the most social cocktails – perfect for sharing with friends. This punch blends Flor de Cana rum with some hot cayenne pepper – it’s a true taste of electric spark!

Zuckerberg Zinger
1 oz  Flor de Caña 7 year-aged rum
1 seedless Watermelon
One good pinch of Cayenne pepper
4 Sugar cubes
1 oz  Lime juice
1 oz Club soda

Dissolve the sugar cubes in 1 oz. of club soda. Add and muddle several 1-inch pieces of watermelon. Finally, add the rest of the ingredients one at a time and stir as added. Chill. (Recipe can be multiplied to fill a traditional punch bowl.)

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Copyright Creative Commons by-nc-nd My Wine Education.
Posted by Michelle at 8:44 am in Cocktails, Pop Culture, Television | Permalink | Comments (13)
Jan 07

Swizzle Sticks: The Stirring Story

A couple of months ago, I was sent a story by Stephan Visakay about swizzle sticks (which I happen to collect). I was so thrilled, I asked him, with Maddy Lederman, to write an article for the blog.


“The difficulty of securing a cherry resting at the bottom of a cocktail glass without resorting to boorish antics obnoxious to people accustomed to polite social usages is so well known as to have become a matter of public comment and jest.”

–Jay Sindler

In his three-page patent copy, Jay Sindler used the cherry to describe how necessary his new invention, the Swizzle Stick, was, but legend has it the idea was sparked by an olive.

It was February 1934, a few months after Prohibition had ended. Sindler, an employee of the Converse Rubber Company and an avid inventor, sat contemplating his martini at the Boston Ritz Carlton’s bar one night, faced with the challenge of removing his olive without dipping his fingers into his gin. I like to think Sindler was on his second or third martini when it all came together.  He envisioned a small spear with a paddle-like handle, imprinted with an establishment’s name like a miniature billboard.  It would be something the patrons could take home, cheaper than a book of printed matches and cheaper still than the cost of vanishing ashtrays and cocktail glasses. Sindler’s patent, number 1,991,871, was granted on February 19, 1935.

Polite society caught on to Sindler’s invention and his new company Spir-it was off to a promising start.

There was some competition, however. With Repeal, all the great glass companies began to manufacture bar ware. Stirring rods once used by 1920’s Flappers were now mass-produced. Unlike the swizzle stick, glass swizzles didn’t have a pointed spear for fruit garnishes and were costly to silk-screen with a hotel logo. Some glass companies had the novel idea of inserting a tube of paper with advertising copy into a glass rod and sealing the end like a message in a bottle, but costly and impractical, this didn’t last.  Today this type of hollow (and easily broken) stirrer is one of the most sought after by collectors. Other attractive materials include Bakelite and Catalin.

Major developments in plastic manufacturing came along with World War II. By the 1950’s swizzle sticks came in an incredible array of shapes and colors and served as inexpensive advertisements for clubs, casinos, restaurants and airlines. All establishments had a custom swizzle stick even if they made do with the cheaper, stock version; a straight, tapered rod with a paddle signboard imprinted with a tavern’s logo.

Into the 1960’s and the Space Age, there was a boom in the electronics industries calling for precision plastic parts which led to new technologies in thermosetting plastic injection molding. The period from the late 1950’s throughout the 1960’s was a Golden Age for signature swizzle sticks.

Swizzle Sticks from Michelle's Own Collection

Drinks served on TWA flights sported a red propeller swizzle. At Trader Vic’s, a Hawaiian outrigger canoe paddle with a Tiki God handle graced the drinks at the venerable bar. The Thunderbird Hotel and Swim Club in Miami Beach featured a Flying Thunderbird on top of it’s swizzle with the name in large script over the shaft. Playboy’s signature bunny-head sat atop their swizzles which, for some reason, were extra long. Many people saved the Playboy swizzle if they ever came across it. In fact, most of us have a few swizzle sticks saved somewhere. Taking a swizzle as a memento was encouraged. They were a promotional calling card or a remembrance of a wonderful trip or night on the town and they disappeared from nightclubs and hotel bars as fast as they were set out.

The swizzle sticks’ popularity didn’t last forever, or even very far into the 1970’s. For example, during the Carter years, the White House was dry. It was beer and wine only at State functions, no doubt the reason why Jimmy was a one term President. When he derided the “fifty dollar martini lunch” for businessmen, former House Speaker Jim Wright (D-TX), replied, “If the Good Lord hadn’t intended us to have a three martini lunch, then why do you suppose He put all those olive trees in the Holy Land?”

Inventor Jay Sindler would have agreed.



Check out clubs such as the International Swizzle Stick Collectors Association (ISSCA), www.swizzlesticks-issca.com.

ISSCA President Ray Hoare and thousands of collectors world-wide, sociologists and anthropologists agree that these miniature, pop-culture icons give us an inside look at the past and are a valued collectable worth saving for future generations. And besides, they can still be used to stir your favorite drink.

If you’re looking for swizzles for your next party ask your parents, they probably have a box full somewhere. Or you can purchase swizzle sticks from the company started by Jay Sindler, they’re still in business. Spirit Foodservice, Inc has a fantastic web site with eco-friendly and biodegradable options. Marketing Manager Rachel Pantely tells us that swizzles are hotter than ever with the increased interest in retro cocktails.  www.spiritfoodservice.com


Stephen Visakay is author of Vintage Bar Ware (Collector Books 1997) and has written for antique, collectible, and trade magazines. His cocktail shaker exhibition, “Shaken, Not Stirred, Cocktail Shakers and Design” has been featured in museums nationwide, including The Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, The Louisiana State Museum, and The Milwaukee Art Museum.  Contact: visakay@optonline.net

Maddy Lederman is a writer and a filmmaker. maddyfilms@hotmail.com

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Posted by Michelle at 9:42 am in Cocktails, Guest Writers, History, Wine Misc | Permalink | Comments (12)
Oct 11

Mad Men Monday: Penultimate

On the penultimate episode of Mad Men this season, I was gifted with something special: a whiskey other than Canadian Club. It wasn’t completely historically accurate, but I can live with it.

When Don is at the apartment of heroin-addict Midge, her pathetic husband comes home from the store with whiskey. Not just any whiskey, either. I spent a long time paused, trying to verify that indeed, the bottle in his hands is Four Roses Kentucky Straight Bourbon.

Before I talk about the history of Four Roses, I want to tell you the legend. Or rather, I’ll let the Four Roses legend sort of speak for itself:

It began when Paul Jones, Jr., the founder of Four Roses Bourbon, became smitten by the beauty of a Southern belle. It is said that he sent a proposal to her, and she replied that if her answer were “Yes,” she would wear a corsage of roses on her gown to the upcoming grand ball. Paul Jones waited for her answer excitedly on that night of the grand ball…when she arrived in her beautiful gown, she wore a corsage of four red roses. He later named his Bourbon “Four Roses” as a symbol of his devout passion for the lovely belle, a passion he thereafter transferred to making his beloved Four Roses Bourbon.

Now, I have no idea how much of that is marketing and how much of that is real. I don’t really care. From the moment I heard that little fairy tale a few years back, I’ve been rather enamored of this whiskey. We have several bottles of it on our home bar, from the Single Barrel to two different years of Marriage and some special yeast strains from The Party Source. It’s a favorite.

Four Roses was trademarked in 1884, although they were apparently making whiskey back in the 1860s. It survived Prohibition because it was granted a special dispensation to make whiskey for medicinal purposes. (Yeah, right.) In 1943, it was purchased by Seagrams, primarily for the Four Roses Brand although the company (at this point the Frankfort Distilling Company) had other labels as well.  Then this happened:

Even though Four Roses was the top selling Bourbon in the U.S. in the 30s, 40s and 50s, Seagram made the decision to discontinue the sale of Kentucky Straight Bourbon here, and Four Roses was moved to the rapidly growing European and Asian markets where it quickly became the top selling Bourbon.

Technically, no one in Greenwich Village in the late 60s was going to walk to the corner market and pick up a bottle of Four Roses.

I don’t care. I love the bourbon and I was thrilled to see something other than Canadian Club.

As for the episode, well, I liked Don’s idea, even if I credit it to Peggy (why don’t we change our name?). He didn’t change their name, but he changed how they appear. Interestingly, none of the partners really get it, proving once again that those who are great at marketing are often poor at marketing themselves. This is a switch though – Don is building a brand for his company, yet at the beginning of the season, he was shying away from that sort of thing.

My big question? How does Don have $150,000 just sitting around (his share plus Pete’s share)? That’s a lot of money now; it was even more money back then. Pete’s dilemma, trying to come up with $50K, was much more realistic than Don simply having it in triplicate.

What did you think of the penultimate episode?

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Posted by Michelle at 2:40 pm in Cocktails, Mad Men Monday | Permalink | Comments ()
Oct 04

Mad Men Monday: The Stinger

We’re heading into the home stretch, with the last few episodes of this season’s Mad Men airing this month. Big things happened in last night’s episode, but folks, they gave me nothing to write about!

Let’s see, Peggy’s dating a guy who seems to have adjusted to her career woman mentality (fingers crossed). Faye, who is becoming one of my favorite women on the show, compromised her ethics for a man who has no issues sleeping with his secretaries. And Roger, well, Roger is in one heck of a depressive downward spiral. My fingers are crossed that Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce still has Sterling attached to it next season.

But drinks? Nothing got more in-depth than Canadian Club or Stoli … they didn’t even put it on the rocks. Since that leaves me with pretty much nothing, I’m going to pull out a previously posted cocktail in honor of Roger. Back in the beginning, Don’s drink of choice was an Old-Fashioned, but Roger’s was actually a Stinger.  So, here’s the recipe from a pocket-sized 1946 book that belonged to my grandpa, called The Bartender’s Friend.

The Stinger
1/3 oz white creme de menthe
1/3 oz brandy

Shake with ice and strain into 3 oz cocktail glass.

Make sure you get white creme de menthe. From what I’ve read, green creme de menthe can change the entire flavor.

You’ll also see the Stinger referenced in the 1960 Billy Wilder film, The Apartment. Since we recently lost Billy Wilder, let’s raise a glass to him as well.

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Posted by Michelle at 8:14 am in Cocktails, Mad Men Monday | Permalink | Comments (1)
Sep 13

Mad Men Monday: Mountain Dew-Da

In this week’s episode, we saw Don finally start to reacquire his brain. He’s been lost, but he seems to be working his way out of the maze. He’s been drinking too much and realizes it, now often turning to coffee instead. Of course, he hasn’t stopped drinking, but he’s making an effort to cut back. So he’s making smarter choices and, by the end of the episode, dating smarter women as well.

Peggy has her own issues at the office, but I do like the homework she assigned the guys for their Mountain Dew client: three cocktails with at least three ingredients.

It never occurred to me to make a cocktail of any sort with Mountain Dew. It was my beverage of choice in college, which was before the days of Red Bull and other energy drinks. After all, Mountain Dew has 54 mg of caffeine per 12 fl oz. I can’t drink Mountain Dew now for the same reason I could back then – too much caffeine.

Because Peggy assigned homework, I went out and hunted down three drink recipes with at least three ingredients each, one of which is Mountain Dew.

Strange Brew
I picked this one because it takes the episode drink a step further. Peggy said that cocktails require three ingredients (done!) and that just Mountain Dew and vodka mixed was for emergencies.

1 oz Mountain Dew
1 oz Orange Juice
1 oz Vodka

Mix with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

Magic Mountain Dew

1-1/2 oz Absolut Citron Vodka
1-1/2 oz triple sec
3 oz Mountain Dew

Pour the Absolut Citron vodka and triple sec into a cocktail shaker half-filled with ice cubes. Shake well, and strain into a highball glass filled with ice cubes. Top with mountain dew, stir briefly and serve. (From DrinksMixer.com)

Morning Dew
This is actually a punch and not a cocktail, but you get the idea.

8 L  Mountain Dew
64 oz Orange Juice
1 bottle of Southern Comfort

Pour everything into a punch bowl and stir. Cherries and grenadine may be added (optional) and Diet Dew can also be substituted for the real thing.

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Posted by Michelle at 10:43 am in Cocktails, Mad Men Monday, Television | Permalink | Comments ()

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