There are more than just bananas in there...

Tag: creme de cacao (Page 1 of 3)

Pink Squirrel

Ferris said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” So, that’s what have been doing. It’s been a busy couple of weeks and I have had a lot on my mind. Not the good productive sort of “lot on my mind” that gives me fodder for writing to share all those crazy thoughts. No, the other kind. The deep fears, the worries, that stuff you don’t share with your closest friends, much less tell the whole world. The upshot is I have not written anything or had a drink for the longest stretch since we began this journey over a year and a half ago. What can I say, i have been distracted. So, in the spirit of those little things that keep you from focusing won’t you join me now as we stand and make the Pink Squirrel.

I’d say that this is a classic, but it is not really. I mean it has certainly been around long enough. If the legends are to be believed, it was created in Milwaukee at Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge in the 40’s. It is a contemporary of those supper club staple dessert drinks like the Brandy Alexander and the Grasshopper, but it never achieved the same notoriety. The reason why this simple three ingredient cocktail has faded into relative obscurity is the scarcity of one of the ingredients, Creme de Noyaux. Chances are you have not sampled this obscure 19th century liqueur. On the surface it is similar to amaretto, but with a wonderful bitter herbal finish. It pretty much disapeared from the US alcohol scene for decades, but in the last few years it has become available again, in limited release. You all know that I hate making drinks that call for hard to find ingredients, but when I stumbled across a whole shelf of bottles, I just had to have it.

This one is super simple to make, just three ingredients and the truth, from a particular point of view. Grab your tins and pop in 3/4 of an ounce of Creme de Noyaux, I chose Tempus Fugit; 3/4 of an ounce of white or clear creme de cacao and 1 1/2 ounces of fresh heavy cream. Add some ice and give it a good shake to the beat of “Girl on Fire“, by Alicia Keys only sing it as “this squirrel is on fi-yah” like I always do. I know it is silly, but it makes me laugh. Many thanks to the anonymous artist at Beth’s Cafe in Seattle many years ago, who drew this in crayon on the tabletop and inspired so many happy memories and looks of befuddlement from those around me. In fact, it can be fun to swap the word squirrel for girl in any song, try it at home and I am sure you will find that she is indeed a very sexy squirrel. Did I digress? I do believe that may be the case. Anyway, this is a perfect time to strain your drink into a chilled coupe and garnish with some freshly grated nutmeg, as one does.

That is so good. Of course, you knew it would be, it’s a dessert drink. Obviously, I would not want more than one, but that one is enough and nearly perfect. Much like its more popular siblings, it is rich and creamy, but this one has a depth that they lack, probably from staying at home reading French love poems while the other drinks were out at the club. That bitter herbal almond thing comes right through and gives this one some nuance as it evolves in your mouth, going through those flavors to a bittersweet finish from the creme de cacao. Just look at that pale pink hue, straight from the cochineal beetles that gave their lives to color the Creme de Noyaux. A perfectly lovely drink, the kind you can order and get a raised eyebrow from the barkeep, should you find that elusive ingredient on the shelf somewhere.

Ferris was right, of course. So, while looking around I have also been looking inside. Nothing wrong with that and the autumn is the proper time for introspection. It’s hard not to think of mortality and the such as we enter the season of the witch. The changing leaves remind us of the changing seasons of our lives and the older you get the more precious those changes become. None of us knows how many more opportunities we will get to watch those leaves fall, so why not take a little time to appreciate things and if the drinks don’t get made, well, there will be time for that later. That’s what I have been doing. Just taking some time for myself, hiking with the kid, spending time with the wife and family. The ubiquitous “they” say to not apologize for things, of course they are wrong, but they do say that. In the spirit of what they are trying to do, let me say, thank you for your patience, as I take time off from drinking and writing. My grandpa always reminded me to be careful what you trade your time for and I am doing my best to earn that gold star for “uses time wisely”, something I rarely achieved during school. While one could argue that these words “writ in water” may well outlast my ability or will to create them, there is still a lot of life out there and I don’t want to miss it. So stay safe, stay hydrated and stay sane, my friends.

White Witch

We all say we hate lies, but then we live with them. I’d say that most of the problems we face stem from dishonesty. The kind of stuff that we all know is not true, or not quite true, but we perpetuate it by not calling it out. I am not sure why we do this, maybe we don’t want to cause trouble and rock the boat or maybe it is because we secretly want those lies to be true. Perhaps, Colonel Jessup was right and we can’t handle the truth, so we choose the lie. I do know this. There are some lies so egregious that we must stand up and speak truth to power whenever they are uttered within earshot and that is why I must say, C.S. Lewis lied to us, Turkish Delight is not delightful and certainly not worth betraying your family over. With that universal truth acknowledged, won’t you please join me now as we stand and make the White Witch.

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Negative Space

We are in my wheelhouse today, so to speak. Paying as much attention to what is not happening as to what is actually going on. Focusing on the silence, the space between the notes, the whitespace that defines the picture or gives the words their form. At its most basic, this is what I do most days, manipulating the relationship between background and focus, laying out graphics and words, seeing those words as shapes and always vigorously defending the field on which that particular game is played. So, in honor of the emptiness that defines the thing and the lies between, won’t you please join me now as we stand and make the Negative Space.

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Brandy Alexander

Sometimes, you need a little something to help you through a moment. Maybe it is years of training and discipline, maybe it’s the right song, maybe it’s a cigarette, maybe it’s a drink or maybe it is some small ritual, to distract you from the task to come. Whatever it takes, as they say. Today, I have a little work to do, I need to go back and take care of some unstarted business, just to keep the books straight and I hope you’ll indulge me. We’ve got a job of work to do, so as the great George McFly once said, “Give me a milk, chocolate” and join me now as we stand and make the classic Brandy Alexander.

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Song of the Siren

Today marks one year of official pandemic life. It is hard to believe. In some ways it feels like it has been forever since we lived “normal” lives, on the other hand it feels like just a few weeks ago when we were freaking out trying to find masks, hand sanitizer and toilet paper. It is amazing how much life has changed in the last 365 days. How much more we know about the disease that changed all of our lives. How much we have lost over that time, how many friends and family members are no longer with us. How much we have gained in appreciation of each other and the things that really matter in life. How much we have learned in how to be self sufficient or maybe I should say pod sufficient. I know that my zombie apocalypse team requirements and expectations of who would make it have changed significantly. It has been quite a journey and now we can finally see a safe harbor on the horizon, if we can just stay the course a little longer. This is the toughest part, holding on when every part of your fiber longs to be with friends again. When that temptation calls out to you from the shore, beckoning you to come visit, after all you deserve a break, right? So, in the spirit of doing the hard things, especially when you don’t want to, won’t you join me now as we stand and make the Song of the Siren.

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Groundhog Intervention

OK, campers! Rise and shine and don’t forget your booties cause it’s cold out there today. It’s Groundhog Day, again. It seems like I should do something special in honor of this auspicious occasion. Obviously, by special, I mean a hip and timely reference to a film released 38 years ago. The whole movie is based on a situation that would drive a fella to drink, but there is only one interesting beverage in the whole thing and I feel like I would be ripping you off if I had you carefully craft a cocktail by pouring 2 ounces of sweet vermouth over ice and expressing a lemon peel. To be fair, that is an excellent thing to sip, there just isn’t a lot of craft in it. So, in honor of doing things till you get them right or till you learn a lesson or at least until you can move on, won’t you please join me as we stand and make, the Groundhog Intervention.

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Chocolate Orange Martini

Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit; or so they say. A bunch of you nod knowingly, and the rest are all “what’s he on about this time?” It is the first day of a new month so we honor it with this odd tradition of saying rabbit three times, to ensure good luck for the rest of the month. Since this the first day of February and St. Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, I am going to shoehorn in something sweet and elegant. So, in the spirit of mysterious and unexpected treats, won’t you please join me now as we stand and make the Chocolate Orange Martini.

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La Florida

This morning I was looking through some old photographs of our time in Havana. That sounds romantic, doesn’t it? Way better than “I was scrolling through pictures on my phone looking for something else, when I was distracted by some old vacation pictures.” It’s all in how you set the scene sometimes, how you spin it. Still, it is true and it made me think about this drink. So, won’t you please join me now as we stand and make the classic, La Florida.

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El Fiero

I said I wasn’t going to do themes, but here we are with our third Ferris Bueller’s Day Off inspired drink in a row. This was not my plan, but the kid really enjoyed the movie and it inspired a bunch more conversation about all kinds of things. One of our realizations is that somehow he has never been to Chicago, which is weird considering how much time I have spent there and the fact that we announced his impending arrival from the Windy City. He was also very curious about the cars in the movie. We do a lot of car stuff together so that made sense. When he asked me about that cool looking car in the movie, I immediately launched into why the ‘61 Ferrari 250 California GT was important only to have him stop me. “Not the Ferrari, I know about that, what was that cool car his sister drove?” So, in honor of Jeannie Bueller’s sweet ride, won’t you please join me now as we stand and make the El Fiero.

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Dirty Banana

A dear friend of mine used to say that “If we all threw all our troubles in a pile, people would fight to get their own back.” She was right. As much as we all want to escape our headaches, when it comes down to it, they are our own. That familiarity and certainty often outweighs our fears of the unknown. Go with what you know, or so they say. That said, the world has troubles enough without you and I adding to them. I see a lot of folks today up in arms about things happening in another place, that they have no control over and that’s fine, good to be engaged and all that, but save some outrage and/or empathy for the things you can affect. Maybe instead of peeking over the fence at our neighbors, we should take a look to see how things are going in our own backyard. Rather than going on a rant, I figure I’ll just join in the oddly specific apathy and ignore the beam in my own eye. So, today I am just gonna make a drink and mind my own business, won’t you please join me know as we stand and make, the Dirty Banana.

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