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Apr 09

Mad Men Monday: Gin Fizzes

by Michelle

*spoilers ahead*

That’s right. Stop reading now if you haven’t seen last evening’s episode.

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Before I get into the cocktails, was anyone else shocked when Don took a temporary turn for the dark side last night? I hadn’t expected him to sleep with Andrea, let alone strangle her. I was, of course, relieved to discover it was a fever-induced delusion. But perhaps we did take a turn for the darker side of things last night. Don has discovered that it is probably within him to kill someone who might destroy his happiness. Sally has been exposed to the “real world,” with the brutal murder of 8 nursing school students in Chicago. To combat this? Grandma just splits a sleeping pill with her. So yeah, maybe we are walking a bit on the dark side this season. I said to someone this morning that I find the 60s to be one of the most confusing times. Civil rights, the beginnings of the women’s movement,  the shadows of different wars hanging over the country like a spectre, whether it’s Viet Nam or WWII. I can’t imagine growing up in the middle of all that, and I wonder how it will affect Sally.

Then there is Joan. She has her own darkness with which to contend. In case we’d forgotten what an ass her husband is, the writers brought him back for an episode. I admit, I’d been waiting to find out he’d been killed in action. I’d forgotten that he has very low self-esteem, that he failed at landing the job of his dreams, and that he made up for the lack of faith in himself by raping his now-wife. Joan hadn’t forgotten. “You were never a good man.” Go Joanie! I was rooting for her!  I get that he re-upped because the military is the first place he’s felt useful and knowledgeable. That counts for a lot. But Joan is right; that’s just not a decision you make without consulting your wife. I wonder if now that she’s kicked him out if they’ll get a divorce or if the writers will kill him off. Either way, Joan is effectively a single mom now , and lest we forget, that’s really Roger’s baby.

From 4/8/12 episode of AMC’s Mad Men

When Joan first found out about the re-upping, they were in a restaurant with her in-laws. Everyone else ordered wine. “That one,” he said, pointing at the menu. We never did find out what wine “that one” might be. Joan, however, bucked the wine trend and ordered a gin fizz, so that’s what we’ll talk about today.

Sloe Gin Fizz (from Cocktail Times)

Sloe Gin is a red gin-based liqueur infused with sloe berries. It is usually bottled at between 15 to 30 percent alcohol by volume. Some sloe gins are made with neutral spirit flavored with sloe berries. 

  • 1 1/2 oz sloe gin
  • 1 1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 oz simple syrup
  • egg white
  • dash of bitters
  • club soda

Garnish: orange slice and maraschino cherry
Mix all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Strain into a tall glass over fresh ice. Garnish with orange slice and cherry.

Ramos Gin Fizz (from Gumbopages.com)

Years ago, Kevin and I spent New Year’s Eve at the cocktail lounge in Arnaud’s in New Orleans. I drank a variety of champagne cocktails, but the bartender took Kevin on his own personal tour of New Orleans cocktails. The one that sticks with me is the Ramos Gin Fizz because it was the first drink I’d seen ever made with an egg white. The drink was invented in the 1880s by Henry Ramos at New Orleans’ Meyer’s Restaurant. It later became the signature drink of the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans and New York, thanks to Governor Huey Long, who happened to be a fan. This recipe calls for shaking at least one minute. I’ve read that you can shake up to 10 minutes and because of that, it often takes a bartending team to make a large number of Ramos Gin Fizzes.

According to Gumbopages.com, you need to be very careful when adding orange flower water to the drink because it can easily overwhelm the cocktail.

  • 2 ounces gin (Old Tom gin if you can get it)
  • 1/2 ounce lemon juice
  • 1/2 ounce lime juice
  • 1 ounce simple syrup
  • 3 small dashes orange flower water
  • 2 drops vanilla extract (very optional; there’s some controversy over whether this was ever really used, but it does add a nice touch)
  • 1 ounce cream
  • 1 egg white
  • Soda water

Shake all ingredients except the soda water WITHOUT ICE very vigorously for at least one minute, preferably longer — the longer the better. Then add ice and shake for 1-2 minutes, as long as you can manage, until extremely cold and frothy. Strain into a tall thin glass, or a very large old fashioned glass, and top with soda water. Stir gently.

My thanks also to GumboPages, who pointed me towards this great video on making a Ramos Gin Fizz:

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Copyright Creative Commons by-nc-nd My Wine Education.
Posted by Michelle at 3:30 pm in Cocktails, Mad Men Monday, Pop Culture, Television, Wine Misc | Permalink | Comments ()
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.

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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)
Oct 20

Mad Men: Finale

I don’t have much to say from the perspective of alcohol. The standbys made their appearances, including Canadian Club and Stoli. At one point Don was drinking a beer that might have been a Michelob, but I couldn’t tell for sure. Thanks to product placement, writing about the drinks on Mad Men might just be a thing of the past.  Right now, I suspect it will be an as-needed post next season. As in, when they actually break out something other than Canadian Club and Stoli.

As for the show itself, the characters definitely went through a lot of changes this season, and at least an entire year passed. Are we in 1967 now, 1968?

Image from AMC's Mad Men Photo Gallery

How do you feel about Don’s proposal? I was so angry at him. This is a terrible move. He’ll never be able to tell Megan about Dick, and he’ll end up sleeping around all the time again, and probably have yet another kid. For me, Faye should have been his obvious choice. She’s a brilliant career woman and she understands him like no other. Megan? If she keeps working, she’ll only get her job because she’s now Megan Draper. California makes Don so vulnerable; New York does not.

My girl Peggy was thinking the exact same thing, I bet. What is it with these men and their secretaries? If I’m not mistaken, earlier this season Faye predicted he’d be married within a year.

Betty is finally selling the house, but she’s still weird about Glen. I don’t blame her for being freaked out by the kid, but I also think there might be a better way for her to handle it. She’s sad about Don’s remarriage, but not overly surprised it’s his secretary. I think she knows better than anyone what Megan can expect in her new marriage.

I know Don descended deep into depression this season, and appears to have risen again. But I don’t understand why he is trying to recreate what he had instead of starting anew.

What are your thoughts on this season?

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Posted by Michelle at 9:14 am in Mad Men Monday, Pop Culture, Television | Permalink | Comments (1)
Sep 27

Mad Men Monday: The Playboy Club

I was so excited last night when our ad men ended up at the Playboy Club. I’ve always had a strange fascination with the place.

Photo from AMCtv.com

The first Playboy Club opened in Chicago on February 29 (Leap Year), 1960 and was a success from the moment the doors were opened. The Playboy Club was a classy (no kidding) place that Newsweek eventually called “Disneyland for adults.” Early entertainers in that first Playboy Club included before-they-were-famous Aretha Franklin and Barbara Streisand.

Photo by O'Rourke at explayboybunnies.com, from Playboy June 1965

The Playboy Club eventually expanded to include more than 40 clubs and resorts. In Cincinnati, our own Playboy Club opened in September, 1964. It was located at 35 East 7th Street (current address of The Lodge Bar) and was in business for 19 years. Headliners in our own Club included Henny Youngman, Red Foxx, and Flip Wilson. You might have even heard Bootsy Collins performing in the lounge. From what I’ve read, the best years were between 1964 and 1976. In 1976, the Playboy Club concept moved from classy joint to more of a disco club and continued to change with the times. Our local club closed its doors in September, 1983.

I collect swizzle sticks and there are several Playboy sticks in my collection that I can only assume came from my parents. I called my Mom this morning and, to my surprise, my parents had a membership to the Cincinnati Playboy Club.  My Mom won the membership from a radio station contest around 1975. Mom says she always enjoyed the club because “it had a great atmosphere. You would take an elevator up, as it wasn’t on the ground floor, and then just step into the club.”  She remembers plush surroundings, with couch areas for conversation. Apparently my parents went to the club and restaurant quite often. I tried to find out what they used to drink. Mom thinks she drank something with vodka in it that tasted like lemonade.

Playboy Bunnies were by far the most famous part of the Clubs. Bunnies underwent strict training and weigh-ins. They also had to be able to identify 143 types of liquor and garnish over 20 cocktails. Bunnies were not allowed to date or mingle with the customers and, on the part of the customers, touching a Bunny was forbidden. A move I’ve always loved is the Bunny Dip. It’s a graceful way of bending slightly backwards to deliver and pickup drinks without bursting out of the Bunny Bustier. Something I always loved is that Playboy Bunnies were curvy girls, which was attractive back in the 60s. Famous bunnies include Deborah Harry (Blondie), Sherilyn Fenn, and Lauren Hutton.

In 2006, the Playboy Club reopened in (where else?) Las Vegas at The Palms. Some friends and I visited the Club in 2009 and I loved it. It’s classy and lush, with plenty of couches and a rich gold and red decor. One entire wall is digitized, displaying randomized images of Playboy magazine covers throughout the years. The Bunny costumes are still classy and the Bunnies still do the Bunny Dip.

Playboy Club, Las Vegas 2009

The Club is near the top of the Palms tower and overlooks all of Las Vegas. You can take a private escalator up to Moon, the nightclub with a retractable roof and always-open patio section. Personally, I preferred the Playboy club though – classy cocktails and an environment where I could chat with my friends. If you ever go, cover can run up to $40 on a weekend night. When we went (a Thursday, I believe), the guys each paid a $20 cover and I’m pretty sure the girls were all free.

Playboy Club, Las Vegas 2009

Perhaps the reason I love Mad Men is the same reason I’m fascinated with the Playboy Club. It’s a piece of history where women weren’t a size 2, bars were classy and encouraged cocktails and conversation, and the clothes were amazing. Could I live back then? No. I’m far too independent. I probably relate the most to Faye on Mad Men. But I love the chance to relax in the 60s now and then.

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Copyright Creative Commons by-nc-nd My Wine Education.
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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