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ExPat1

Fitting as it may be, I did not name this cocktail.

Lantern’s Keep did. Lantern’s Keep being a swankadoodle cocktail spot inside NYC’s Iroquois Hotel on West 44th Street. I’ve never visited there, but I’m already kinda in love with the place just based on its website, where it describes itself as “a salon devoted to the art and enjoyment of great cocktails. This secretive salon [seems to be a speakeasy-style place located off the hotel lobby, hence the need for the lantern] is already luring cocktail aficionados in and transporting them back to a turn-of-the-century Parisian salon.” Which immediately makes me think: Midnight in Paris! C’est l’age d’or, Marion Cotillard! I want in!

ExPat6

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I’ve been wanting to make this cocktail for months, ever since I scheduled my Midwestern roundabout (Mtl –>StL –>CHI –>TOR –>Mtl) for late April and knew I’d get the chance to revisit The Matchbox, that sliver of a Chicago watering hole that is basically the greatest bar on Earth. To sate myself in the weeks prior, I read through Matchbox’s Yelp reviews and saw that, time and again, opiners were recommending the pineapple gimlet. Doesn’t that sound ah-mah-zing? A pineapple gimlet!

And then the PhoBlograpHusband and I finally went to The Matchbox and got the last two seats at the bar during happy hour. It seemed foolish for me to order and pay for an entire cocktail that I could only take one sip of (per my own pregnancy rules) so I asked Sean to order himself a pineapple gimlet and he said no. He was in the mood for a Manhattan. I suppose I could choose to call my husband a big, fat jerk at this point but it’s really OK. I pouted for a moment and then moved on.

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Something that may or may not surprise you: I’m one of those people who likes to scour the Internet for various DIY tutorials and then implement them all over my house, oftentimes to the mild chagrin of the PhoBlograpHusband. (Two nights ago, our kitchen table was occupied for 12 hours by our crockpot, wrapped in a beach towel, ‘cuz I was making yogurt.) If I were born fifty years earlier,  I would have been a devout Hints from Heloise kinda housewise. As it stands, since the start of summer my freezer has contained a big Ziploc full of banana peels and eggshells, so I can spend my weekends making nutritious, eggshell-and-banana peel fertilizer for my outdoor plants.

Also in my icebox are whole, way-overripe bananas whose peels have turned brown. The peels will inevitably see the inside of the aforementioned Ziploc; the bananas themselves are there because a few weeks ago I read online about making a soft-serve, ice cream-like dessert using nothing but frozen bananas and a blender. Given that pregnancy has kicked my ice cream addiction into disgusting overdrive, I thought this was worth a shot. I also thought, frozen banana daiquiris.

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If that was Feh-bruary, I’m hoping this doesn’t become Meh-rch.

Part of the reason I didn’t post much last month was, Sean and I conducted a mega cocktailing session a couple weeks ago that yielded, like, 8 or so bloggable potations — zero-ish of which I felt any excitement about. We were going for volume, and aiming to keep the necessary ingredients in line with what we already had on hand. Such cocktailing under pressure can still yield inspiring results — and in fact, I always try to err on the side of fridge and pantry staples when composing recipes, because, you know, Shit At-Home Bartenders Have.

So maybe it was just Feh-bruary working its dour magic, or maybe the problem was that we relied on one book out of our entire cocktail reference library, a book I must now admit I find lacking in its organization, writing style, fonts and pretty much anything else you eyeball when you open a book.

(If you see this book cover, crack with caution…)

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Ladies and gentlemen, where have I been all your month?

Where I’ve been is, first I went out of town for work, then I came home with a cold, then I went out of town again. The short month flew by, my skedge was always being cut at the corners, blogging got squeezed out, and all in all, it was a real Feh-bruary. (I just came up with that, really I did. You can use it, though. Or how about Meh-bruary?)

Throughout, I was hoping that an idea would percolate in the back of my head for this cocktail contest I wanted to enter (deadline: oh, about 89  minutes from this very moment): PAMA’s Best Home Bar Star. Just as it sounds, submitted recipes must include PAMA pomegranate liqueur, and the contest’s only open to amateur, at-home mixologists.

And yet, no inspiration was striking. Like, none. Feh-bruary really lived up to its name-I-just-made-up and I wasn’t coming up with any sort of hook to hang this drink on. So what I did was,  I went to the supermarket, hoping that browsing the aisles would somehow reveal a perfect, secret ingredient to me. In the juice aisle, I found my muse.

Did you know that the French word for pomegrante is grenade? And just like a grenade, BOOM — cocktail framework smacks me upside the head. French ingredients, something that really goes pow on the palate. Voila.

The Grenade Launch

1 ounce Bulldog Gin

3/4 ounce PAMA

1/2 ounce St.-Germain

1/2 ounce Lillet

1 dash yellow Chartreuse

1 dash orange blossom water

1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice

Combine all ingredients in an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously and strain into cocktail glass.

Let’s just call Valentine’s Day what it is — a test — and I’ll openly admit to what I am, a flunky. Which means that this year, not only did I completely neglect to get a gift for my sweet, patient, kind and deeply attractive PhoBlograpHusband, but whenever it did occur to me that I oughta do a V-Day cocktail for the blog, I’d be all, “Err, d’ya really think those guys [Ed. Note: that's you] want a special drink for Valentine’s? I don’t know if they’d be into that…”

So this weekend, while away on a five-day, half-work/half-play trip to my old St. Louis stomping ground, I briefly mentioned to the PhoBlograpHusband via gchat that, if possible, it’d be great if he could whip up something holiday-appropriate while I was gone that we could then post. He’s in the middle of a large project right now for a class on Hollywood film musicals, which helps keep things spicy in our relationship by causing me to wonder on occasion just how gay he is, because he’s really into it, but that’s neither here nor there. The point is, I brought it up once and that was that. And a couple of days later, he emails me the recipe and photos for the Is You Is My Baby. Now there is a man who can ace a test with flying colors even when it wasn’t a test I was actually bothering to proctor.

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Guest post by the PhoBlograpHusband

 

I started my bartending career in the year Y2K. It was a simpler time. Terms like hanging chads and homeland security were yet un-thought of. We were all just thankful that the computers didn’t rise up and take over the world the night of Dec. 31st 1999. And thanks to a fictional woman named Carrie Bradshaw, every real woman with HBO — or a subscription to TV guide magazine for that matter  — was drinking Cosmopolitans. Hell, the bar I worked at even had a Two Dollar Cosmo Tuesday nights! If ever there was a recipe for disaster it was Two Dollar Cosmo Tuesdays, both for the work it took me to churn those pink, syrupy-citrus concoctions out and the bad ideas that they caused. Plus, I can’t imagine the hangover from a night of cheap Cosmos… they never showed that part on Sex in the City (not that I would know… really!).

But I digress. This post is about the Cosmo’s slightly more mature Swedish cousin, the Metropolitan. The Metro, made with Absolut Kurant instead of Citron, never quite rose to cocktail mainstream mania, but for a time in the late -90s and early -00s it served as a refreshing alternative. I have a theory that the evil geniuses at Absolut invented the Metro specifically to ride on the coattails of the Cosmo Craze and sell more of its (at the time) flagship product. I can’t prove this. I can find no documentary evidence (at least none that a thirty second scan of Google search results yields), but I believe it to be true. What I do know for sure is that shortly after I started bartending, my cooler, proto-hipster, counter-culture-type customers started asking for the Metro. Coincidence?

The other thing I know for sure is that the Metropolitan, when made right, is a damn good drink. The almost-earthy quality of black currant balances out the citrus of orange liqueur and lime, giving the Metro a depth that is sorely lacking in the Cosmo’s one note flavor profile.

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It’s the end of Spring Break week. Which means it’s time to take this Spring Break into Overtime!

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I’ve really been enjoying the moonshine my mother-in-law gave me, and this is a cocktail I found and played around with a week or two ago and have been itching to share because it’s quickly become a favorite of mine — which is unexpected in the sense that this baby is HOT, just super spicy on the finish, which isn’t what I’d normally go for.

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