Saturday, February 27, 2010

Frozen Margarita Snowstorms

Cocktails with Chris is on at 4 PM on Saturday for the first time ever this week. That's because it has been snowing in the swanky neighborhood around the Potter building...and snowing and snowing and snowing...and snowing some more. It snowed from Wednesday night straight through to Friday night this week, and trees fell down and folks' electricity went off. Although we did keep our juice High Atop The Potter Building, it was recommended to us that it would be insane to send our dogsled out in the direction of the studio.

So the party's today, instead.

Today, we are saluting the kind of snow we usually get in our downstate New York vicinity: frozen margarita-like in texture, it fries snow-blowers and torques the lower backs of enough folks trying to shovel it to keep the local chiropractors in BMW's. So why not go with the flow?
Or the slush.

When I first met my husband, he was famed among his friends for a drink he made with blue curacoa that he called The Tidy Bowl Margarita because of its garish hue. It turned tongues turquoise and resembled a cocktail version of that odd disinfectant folks used to put in their toilets back in the 70's. His recipe was simple: equal parts tequila, blue curacoa, and lime juice. Whirl in a blender with lots of ice until it is the consistency of a Slurpee. Pour into a big silly glass, garnish with a slice or lime (or better yet, a paper umbrella), and suck through a thick straw. That worked, but this is better:

The Tidy-Bowl Margie, refined

3 oz tequila
2 oz lime
1 oz blue curacoa
about a cup of ice, preferably crushed

Whirl in a blender, serve the same way. Make sure you whirl LONG enough. You want a very fine consistency so it will go through the straw easily.

Slush outside? Slush inside!

See you on the air!

Friday, February 19, 2010

More Champagne! It's the Prancing Boys!

I'll admit it. I'm just as strung out on the figure skating in the winter Olympics as any other female or gay male in the United States of America. Fortunately, my sister is visiting, so I have someone with whom to watch what her husband refers to as "The Prancing Boys". My own husband just goes upstairs and runs through his Tivo'd collection of old Brit coms. That's another scene. HE's another scene...

"What?" said a very fabulous member of the Episcopal clergy to my sister when she explained to him that she was Otherwise Engaged on a certain evening this week because she'd promised to watch the couples' short program with me. "Doesn't Christine have any gay friends?"

Well, of COURSE I do, silly.

What's been really great this year is that straight comedians and even Olympic commentators have been loose enough to engage in a little affectionate camp humor. That's what I call progress. For real.

You know what's really weird? What's really weird is how butch the American gal half-pipe athletes on their snowboards in their plaid flannel hoodies look, especially next to the feather-fingered Firebird ice-dancing gold medalist of the men's singles.

It's enough to make you crave a cocktail. I searched for things that mentioned "gold medal" in my cocktail books and online, and could only come up with one that seemed appropro, but it sounds fabulous, and fabulous is what is needed here. Again, it's the Internet Cocktail Database to the rescue:

The Olympia Gold Cup

1/2 oz cognac (I'll betcha plain old brandy would be fine)
1/2 oz Grand Marnier (don't skimp here)

Shake hard in an iced shaker.

Top off with 2 oz of champagne, and garnish with half-wheels of lemon and orange and a few cherries (I'd go with brandied ones).

See you on at 4 PM!!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Who Eats Dinner on Valentine's Day?

...well, everyone, it seems. You'd better already have that restaurant reservation. And there's the matter of champagne, also necessary. For the purpose know darn well what.

And it's all nuts. Not that I don't like all the red hearts and lace, and not that there's anything WRONG with champagne. Champagne is a delightful wine, and it plays well with others. We've talked about the French 75 and how to make a non-fake, worth-drinking Mimosa on Cocktails with Chris before. But here are the facts, and you don't need me to tell them to you:

1) If you eat a big dinner, no matter how romantic and rare the ingredients of it are, you are going to get into bed and fall asleep...and...

2) If you drink a lot of wine, the same thing is going to happen.

Well, maybe not if you are male and 24. In that case, nothing is going to slow you down. But folks like me, richly endowed with the benefits accrued by decades of life, will drift into dreamland. And even when I was young (and quite the fox if I do say so), butter-rich haute cuisine washed down with good wine tended to move me more towards slumber than towards l'amour.

My recommendation: a champagne cocktail or two with some dainty tastes of smoked salmon something, or a bit of ordered-in sushi. Think appetizer portions. THEN get the business of the day underway. Have the main course afterwards. You will thank me for this sage advice later.

Meanwhile, a Cocktails with Chris review:

Two Champagne Cocktails--The French 75 and The Mimosa

1. The French 75

This drink was probably invented by Americans in France around World War One time, and is in fact named after a piece of artillery. It has a rep for knocking folks over, but it's really not that strong, and the unlikely combination of gin and champagne makes it an "up" drink. We're not talking Red Bull and Vodka here (and we never will--yuk), but it's not snooze-y.

The Internet Cocktail Database, often a good source for drink recipes, doesn't do too well with this one. It builds the drink in a tall glass, starting with 1 0z fresh lemon juice, 2 tsp bar sugar, and a whooping two oz of gin, which you stir, add ice, and top off with champagne. Much better is Paul Harrington's take in Cocktail: he uses 4 oz of champagne, and 1/4 oz each of gin, Cointreau, and lemon juice. One shakes everything except the champers in an iced shaker, pours it into a chilled flute, and tops off with the champagne. Tasty and a much better balance. You might want a bit more Cointreau, depending on the wine and lemon's acidity. A good cocktail book I own from Absinthe in San Francisco suggests brandied cherries as a garnish, and if you've got some, they are tasty here.

2. The Mimosa

My time-honored recipe is something one makes by the pitcher, and it might be a nice addition to a Sunday afternoon by the fireside. Take a good large water pitcher, add the juice of 3 or 4 good Florida oranges, a bottle of champagne (pour slowly), and a tablespoon or two of cassis, blackberry brandy or peach brandy. Stir very gently, ice, and serve (over more ice if you want) in chilled flutes. Fresh orange juice is a MUST here.

Happy Valentine's Day!! I can't promise an ultra romantic radio show today--no telling WHAT I'm going to play except I know some Miles Davis--but we'll be talking bubbly and chocolates! Do tune in at 4 on Friday on send up a prayer that the new CD players work!! Glenn Carella and I are installing them in about an hour.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Drinking Commies, My Dr. Cocktail Obssession...

...OK, Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails by Ted Haigh (a man otherwise known as Doctor Cocktail) has captivated me. Up until Ken and I started playing with that book, we were of the firm opinion that there were two ways to come up with a good drink. One of them was to pull out our battered copy of Paul Harrington's 1990's book Cocktail, and the other one was to stick our noses in one of our vintage or vintage repro cocktail manuals (like The Savoy Cocktail Book). From time to time, we'd run across an interesting modern recipe, but we're into the Nick and Nora stuff; blueberries and Dutch gin is just kinda yicky.

Now the Harrington book is out of print and collectable. I just checked Amazon and they have a few new copies--for over a hundred and fifty smackeroos! But Haigh's book is a worthy next step. In fact, I'd go so far as to say it is the LOGICAL next step. A little gin-heavy, perhaps (but so many of the really good old recipes are gin-based). And one or two I've found just a wee bit sweet, but then it's always wise to taste any drink before adding the full amount of maraschino or triple sec or Grenadine or whatever. Lemons and limes differ in their tartness, and especially if you're a cocktail do-bee and make your own grenadine, you may have created something a tad more or less sugary than what Haigh calls for.

We'll be talking The Communist today on Cocktails with Chris.

Haigh calls for 1 oz of gin, 1 oz of orange juice, 3/4 oz of lemon juice and 1/2 oz of Cherry Heering (I wouldn't use anything less--no budget cherry brandy). Shake hard, serve up in a cocktail glass. I used a quarter of an orange slice for a garnish, but a lemon slice would probably work, too. A cocktail (brandied) cherry? No, not so much; it would get lost.

The Communist is a drink from the 30's, not too strong (so folks could have two if they wanted), and the appropriate pinko color. Very tasty and easy to like. I used Plymouth Gin.

And I'm not giving away any more of the good doctor's remedies. You'll have to buy the book yourself!!

Having just found out that Steeleye Span founder Tim Hart died on Christmas Eve (how did I miss that?), I'll be playing some of their music, and dipping into the rapidly expanding Randoradio new bin, too! Oh--and maybe a little Who, or at least some Pete Townshend, about whom I don't know quite how to feel with all these scurrilous things being said. But there is a song I'm thinking about that kind of explains it all...

...tune in at 4 EST, have a Commie, and listen up!