Thursday, September 30, 2010

Bye Bye Bitty. A Manhattan for our New Yorker!

Dear Bitty, I feel I can call you Bitty after cooking with you these last six months, thank you so much for all that you have taught me. Your range and palate are commendable, as is your commitment to simplicity and sustainability. I have loved getting to know you better, and will continue to cook from your books on a regular basis.
So, my favourite minimalist, cheers to you. I made you a Manhattan.

adapted from How to Cook Everything Mark Bittman
Serves 4

6 oz rye or blended whiskey
3 oz sweet vermouth
1 dash bitters, or to taste
4 maraschino cherries, for garnish

Combine the liquids in a shaker or pitcher with plenty of ice and shake or stir to combine and chill. Strain into glasses, garnish and serve. (Or serve on the rocks, as I did)

For a Rob Roy, substitute Scotch for the whiskey or rye.

Here's a video of Bitty talking about his cocktail theory. 
Booze + Sweet + Sour = Cocktail. He's not called the Minimalist for nothing.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Deb's Thai-Flavoured Mojito

From Kahakai Kitchen:

Lacking any desire or ability to plan this week, I found myself sitting on the lanai in deep contemplation about what to make for this week's Simple Sipper. Looking to my herbs for inspiration, I noticed that the Thai basil needed some harvesting and the mint could use a little snipping too. Since I had purchased several little local limes that needed to be used, it quickly became apparent that a Thai-Flavored Mojito was the way to go.

I just mixed a little bit of everything in my fridge and bar together--the herbs, coconut water, limes, ginger syrup, coconut rum and a little soda water and of course, ice. ;-)

Thai-Flavored Mojito
by Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Recipe for 1 cocktail)

5-6 Thai basil leaves
5-6 mint leaves
3 lime wedges
1 Tbsp agave syrup
1 Tbsp ginger syrup
2 oz freshly-squeezed lime juice
3 oz coconut rum (or rum of choice)
3 oz coconut water
3 oz tonic water

In the bottom of a tall glass, combine the mint, Thai basil, lime wedges and agave and muddle until mixed together and fragrant. Add ginger syrup, lime juice, coconut rum, coconut water and ice, then top off with the soda water. Stir gently to combine ingredients. Garnish with a lime slice and a couple of extra herbs. Enjoy! (Preferably outside on a warm evening.)

Notes/Results: Ahhh... perfectly refreshing, tangy and good. The Thai basil and mint combine nicely with the coconut, ginger and lime. I used agave syrup which gave it a touch of sweetness, but it is more tangy than sweet. You could do this without the coconut rum and coconut water, but it adds a nice touch. I will make these again.


Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Cocktail for Your Sore Throat -The Moscow Mule

I think it might even be travelling through the internet, this cough and cold that seems to be flattening my friends, no matter where they live. Clearly this is no ordinary cold, and, as such, calls for drastic measures. For every occasion there is a cocktail, even the occasional sore throat.

My own other half, who sort of resembles this photo, I guess, has been suffering from a particular harsh cough. As I am a doctor.. of alcohol (what? it's a thing..) I prescribed ginger. And lime. Bubbles. And ice. Don't forget the vodka... A Moscow Mule!

Moscow Mule
2-3 oz. vodka
Juice of ½ lime
Real Jamaican ginger beer

Get yourself a tall glass. Squeeze in the lime juice, more if you think they need extra vitamin C, add ice, vodka, and top with real Jamaican ginger beer. Add bendy straws. Serve to your patient. That ought to shut them up for a while.
Might as well make yourself one while you're at it..
Take two and call me in the morning. 

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Day After Birthday Cocktail - Strawberry Mimosa

As some of you may know, my birthday was this weekend. Yesterday to be exact. A little anti-climactic as Charles is quite sick with the flu, but we can't always plan these things. And I am older, and I don't really need to celebrate.. but it was one of those birthdays that end in a zero. That leaves you feeling different. And old. Yesterday it took some getting used to. There were tears. My own, of course. But at the risk of sounding over-dramatic - I have been a birthday crier since the beginning.

But I was in good company. Even though Charles was down for the count for much of the day, I had Jack, above, and Leonard, below. Two very comforting fellows.

I can listen to Leonard for hours on end. Light candles and incense - nag champa is perfect. Patchouli and sandalwood are also appropriate. Close the blinds and settle into an over-stuffed chair and stare into the flickering light, moving only to bring the Jack to your lips as Leonard washes over you.
The puppies understand. They lay, unmoving, on the couch. Lulled by the troubadour's tones. Charles understands too. He can sit, and stare, and wait. For me.

And then.
It is the next day. And the pressure is off. And I can celebrate and be lighter. With bubbles. And strawberries.

Strawberry Mimosa
8oz freshly squeezed orange juice
10 strawberries, stemmed
3 ice cubes
Sparkling wine - I used Cava. Prosecco, or champagne would also be excellent.

Blend orange juice, strawberries, and ice until puréed. Pour halfway up two chilled champagne flutes. Top with sparkling wine. Feel your spirits getting lighter already.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Hot Apple Martini

Craving these, now that the weather is cooling? 

And too old for these?

What you need is a Hot Apple Martini

Not actually hot to touch, although that might be nice too, this has a gentle autumn heat from cinnamon schnapps. A lovely after dinner sipper for sitting out on the deck enjoying the fact that you get to put on a sweater after such a long, hot summer. Hey, maybe you'll finally go apple picking this year. Yeah, maybe not. There could be bees. Or ladders. Best just stick to apple martinis. 

Hot Apple Martini
from The Martini, a collection

2 parts vodka
1 part sour apple schnapps
1 splash cinnamon liqueur
1 dash sweet vermouth

Pour ingredients into a shaker with cracked ice and shake well. Strain into chilled martini glass. Garnish with a long cinnamon stick and an apple slice. 

Monday, September 13, 2010

Stocking the Bar - Tools! Part One

When you stock your bar you want to make sure you have the right tools for the job. You don't need your neighbour trying to work off his beer cap with his teeth - frankly he needs all the teeth he has left.

Start with bottle cap openers and corkscrews, and have a couple around - you don't want the party to stop because you and your lovely spouse have a habit of leaving things in different places. Corkscrews are personal, I like the rabbit type that also spits out the cork - purists like the standard waiter's corkscrew, I say use what is comfortable for you.

Shakers. You want to mix some fun cocktails in shakers to look like a pro behind the bar. Or to show of just how jiggly the undersides of your arms have gotten over the years. Hell, maybe using the shaker more often will help with that. You can go with a standard martini shaker, or a Boston shaker, which has the sturdy mixing glass and the metal cup and you can press them both together to shake your concoction. Either way can be slightly messy, make sure towels are also on your bar tools list.

Measuring - you want some two-ounce glass measures, pyrex has good ones but you can likely get some at the dollar store. Make sure they are well marked. A set of measuring spoons is also handy.

And speaking of spoons, one of those long-handled bar spoons is quite effective for mixing in a tall glass or pitcher.

Which leads us to pitchers. A couple of sizes, clear if possible, so that you can see what you are doing. They are perfect for making larger quantities of cocktails and mixed drinks. You know, in case you have guests. Or it has been a really bad day. Or you suffer from thirst.

Ice bucket, with lid please. And tongs, we are not animals. Optional: wine or champagne bucket. But I find the bar fridge is fine for keeping the wine cool.

Bar strainer, to keep things like ice cubes and fruit from plopping into your drink and causing a splash. Unless, of course, you like that sort of thing. In that case, increase the order for bar mops.

Lint free towels - for polishing glassware. Use the terry types for mopping up. And trust me, you will need a few. Things get slippery as the night wears on. Through no fault of my own of course...

Decanter, for letting your wine breathe, heavily. If you hear it start to pant - it's ready.

Blender, for blended drinks. Kinda obvious, that one. Don't use the one from your kitchen, you don't want your frosty margarita tasting like last night's salsa tonnato.

Muddler, for crushing herbs or fruit in your cocktail. Or for vanquishing your enemies. Your choice.

Ice crusher. Manual or electric.

It's the little things...
Citrus reamer, zester, straws, trays, picks, stir sticks, cutting boards and paring knives. Also a couple of bartender's recipe and reference books are quite good to have around.

And of course, it is handy to have a sink nearby for quick washing up.


Let me know when you have all those items assembled. Then we will move on to Stocking the Bar: Entertainment!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Cosmo Cooler

It may be too late to look like these guys, but you can certainly drink like them. Everyone loves a cosmo, the ultimate girli-tini - but what if it is your first cocktail of the morning and you are in the mood for a slightly lighter version of the classic? I have converted the cosmo into a cooler. Same great flavour, now with bubbles. And a little more juice. Besides, cranberries are anti-oxidants. You'd better have two.

Cosmo Cooler
2 oz vodka
1 oz triple sec
4 oz cranberry juice
juice of one lime

Shake with ice and strain into a hurricane, highball, or large collins glass over ice, top with soda water.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Banana Bomb

Bananas, not just for monkeys anymore. Or children for that matter. Why should they have all the fun? I am not talking about peeling an actual banana, who has the energy for that? I am talking about adding the fun flavour of banana to your cocktail. Of course, if you would like to turn it into a smoothie, I suppose you could add an actual banana (peeled of course) and blend the whole cocktail up with a couple of ice cubes. Your choice, banana.

Banana Bomb

1 part vodka
1 part crème de bananes
1 splash of cream
1 splash of Kahlua

Pour ingredients into a shaker glass with cracked ice and shake well, strain into chilled martini glass.

Okay, not the best shot - but I am trying to remember how to use the old point and shoot. It only really likes to work for me outside.

The SLR takes a more sophisticated photo, I just need to get used to it. Maybe after a couple more cocktails it won't seem so complicated...
Technology (or the coming apocalypse, doomsday scenario, melting polar ice caps, or what-have-you) never seems so scary with a good martini buzz on.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Raspberry Slushie, because summer ain't over yet!

Today I saw my first fall leaf. It was beautiful really, sitting on the ground all red and gold after a season of green. Fall is my favourite time of year, but as much as I am looking forward to sweaters and ciders... I am not ready to give up summer cocktails yet. So I made slushies, the alcoholic variation, natch.

I can buy frozen raspberry pieces at a local market - much less expensive than whole raspberries and worth keeping an eye out for. Cheers!

Raspberry Slushie
by the Cocktail Puppy
makes 2 cocktails

4 oz vanilla vodka
2 oz sour raspberry liqueur
2 cups raspberries, fresh or frozen
2 cups ice
2 tbsp superfine sugar, or to taste

Blend, dance, drink, repeat.

I might actually need a fatter straw for this one..

Friday, September 3, 2010

Chocolatini and the TIFF Tickets Winner!

Sometimes you are just too full for cake or ice cream but want a little something sweet while you curl up on the couch with your significant other, the remote, and assorted puppies.
This is where dessert martinis come in handy and what is better than a little after-dinner chocolate of the liquid variety?

Creamy Chocolatini #1

makes 2

4 oz vodka
2.5 oz Bailey's Irish Cream
2 oz crème de cacao (I used white but either will do)

Shake together with ice and strain into martini glasses, drizzle around the (inside) edges with chocolate syrup.

And speaking of chocolate...

My good friend Heather (Girlichef) has started a movie-watching cooking club called Food'n Flix with Ree from Milk, Sugar, Musings & Love. Love to watch movies? Love to cook? Check it out here and join in the fun! September's movie is Chocolat.

TIFF Gala Tickets Winner!

Thanks so much to all you local peeps who entered by comment or email to win tickets to the 35th Toronto International Film Festival!

And the winner of the TIFF Gala Tickets is.....

* Whitney B! *

Please send me an email with your contact information and address right away so we can get the tickets out to you.


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A Toronto International Film Festival Gala Ticket Giveaway!

11 days, 300 films - what will you see?

The Toronto International Film Festival marks the end of the summer with excitement and glamour and you could be a part of it!
Sun-kissed and sweet, straight from the celebrity capital of the world, California Strawberries have just been announced as the official strawberry of the Toronto International Film Festival 2010.
When Canada slips into winter, we rely on our friends to the south for fresh produce - and strawberries are on everyone's top ten list. These particular strawberries want to give away two tickets to a TIFF gala screening!

TIFF, The 35th Toronto International Film Festival, September 9-19th. TIFF will be doing a lottery draw Thursday September 2nd for the Gala tickets. Gala screening tickets are high profile film screenings at Roy Thomson Hall (Toronto) each evening at 6:30pm and 9:30pm and matinées on weekends during the Festival. You must be 18 years or older and responsible for your own transportation.

One of my lucky readers will be getting a pair of these tickets. If you are over 18 and in the area and want to attend, leave a comment here on Cocktail Puppy - or email me at livinginthekitchenwithpuppies AT hotmail DOT com
Winner will be announced here and on Living in the Kitchen with Puppies on September 3rd.


Here is a great strawberry margarita recipe from the California Strawberry Commission!

Strawberry Margarita

4 ounces frozen sliced California Strawberries in syrup, partially thawed
1 1/2 ounces tequila
1 ounce lime juice or sweet and sour mix
1/2 ounce triple sec
1 scoop ice
Whole fresh California Strawberry
Lime slice

Nonalcoholic Version - Omit tequila and triple sec. add a squeeze of lime juice.


In a blender combine all ingredients except whole strawberry and lime slice; blend smooth. Pour into stemmed glass rimmed with salt and sugar. Garnish with whole strawberry and lime slice.