Cocktails with the Cult: The Godmother

Continuing on with my “in college” theme as my arrival in DC rapidly approaches (I’ll be departing for NYC as you read this!): in college, for a time, I acquired the nickname The Godmother, because my grandfather was Italian and he worked in Reno as a casino doctor in the 1950’s and I always wondered if he was, well, you know. He’s since passed away at the ripe old age of 93.

One time when I was in law school, he pulled me aside and said, “How’s law school going?” in that very Marlon Brando as Godfather voice he had, and I said, “Good, Grandpa.” And he said, “Anybody giving you any trouble?” And I said, “No, Grandpa, everything’s fine” and he said, “Well, we’ll be keeping an eye on you.” And I thought “WE?!?!?! WHO THE FUCK IS WE?!?!?!” Luckily I didn’t get an offer I couldn’t refuse when I graduated, although there are times when someone pisses me off and I think “I wish Grandpa was still alive, because I bet he’d know a guy.”

But enough about my sociopathic tendencies. Did you know there’s a drink called The Godmother? And it’s got vodka in it? And that it’s only two ingredients, so it’s easy to make? Clearly this drink has my name all over it.

Here’s what you do: mix equal parts vodka and amaretto. Pour over a glass filled with ice and stir. Bam, done.

I’ve always liked amaretto, ever since my college BFF introduced me to it (her favorite drink in college was an amaretto sour), but I never thought to mix it with my favorite liquor, vodka! So tasty. Cheers!

Cocktails with the Cult: Chocolate Raspberry Birthday Martini

You guys may or may not have known that my birthday was last week. How did I spend it? Inventing a new cocktail, that’s how! I was sitting on my couch surfing the internet and thought “Hey. I want a drink. And it’s my birthday, so it’s OK to start drinking at 3:30 in the afternoon.” Don’t judge–what’s the worst it can do, give me cancer? (It’s OK to laugh. Dark humor is the best kind of humor.)

So I thought, “Hmmm, what kind of drink.” I was out of box wine, and not in the mood for a dirty martini–I thought about it, and I really wanted something sweet. So I went to the liquor cabinet, and saw a bottle of Chambord, and thought “Raspberry IS nice. But it’s even better with chocolate.” Then I spotted the bottle of creme de cacao, and thought, “BAM.” But the two on their own were waaaaaaaaay too sweet, so then I thought, “Vodka makes everything better.” And thus the Chocolate Raspberry Birthday Martini was born.

1 oz creme de cacao

1/2 oz Chambord

2 oz vodka

I’m lazy and the vodka was in the freezer, so I didn’t even shake it with ice or anything, but if you’re feeling fancy, get down with your bad self. Serve it in a martini glass. Cheers!

Cocktails with the Cult: Lavender Lemonade

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all! Do the holidays stress you out as much as me? Well then, you, my friend, are in luck because it’s time for another cocktail recipe! This one takes a little lead time, because you are going to learn about infusing vodka. Don’t worry, it’s way easier than it sounds, but it is totally gonna impress your friends. You’re gonna be all “Hey, I infused this vodka with lavender” and your friends are gonna be like “Wow, you must be an expert bartender!” And then if you’re like me, you’ll tell them how easy it is and they won’t be impressed with you anymore. I think maybe I’m doing it wrong…but anyway, infusing vodka is ridiculously simple.

I have gigantic lavender plants in my yard that grow a TON of lavender flowers. I am horrible at growing things, but for some reason, these plants just really love my yard, so they grow like crazy. When the flowers start to turn a little grey, I cut them off and hang them upside down over a big bowl to let them dry out, and then when they’re very dry I strip all the flowers off the stems. And voila, I have lovely dried lavender that smells amazing. Now, if you don’t have unkillable lavender in your yard, no worries, they sell dried lavender at fancy grocery stores, or possibly your local farmer’s market might have some too. Or, ask a friend with a lavender plant.

OK, so, infusing vodka. This sounds like a fancy thing, but what it means is, you soak something in vodka for a while, and then filter it through a paper coffee filter. That’s it. You thought I was kidding, but seriously, it is that simple. For lavender vodka, what I do is, I get a pint mason jar, I put in a tablespoon of dried lavender, and then I fill the jar to the top with vodka. Doesn’t have to be fancy vodka, mid-level vodka will do. And, I let it sit overnight at most, no longer than that or it’ll be crazy strong. Which would make a lovely lavender extract for baking, but not so much for mixing in cocktails. You could even let it sit less time than overnight, like probably a few hours would do. Then you pour it through a coffee filter, et voila! You have lavender vodka. It’s ridiculously easy.

Now, the drink itself. Get yourself some lemonade, whatever brand you like, or if you’re not lazy like me, you can make your own. Take a pint glass, add some ice, pour in a shot of lavender vodka, and then pour in your lemonade and stir.

And there you have it, a lavender lemonade! I hope you enjoy it!

Cocktails with the Cult: Raspberry Martini

It’s time once again for a Cocktail with the Caldwells! This time, The Hubs is sharing his recipe for a seriously killer raspberry martini. He invented his recipe because I fell in love with the raspberry martinis at an Italian restaurant we used to go to before we had kids. The bartender in those days was AMAZING and so was the chef. The place has gone downhill and we just don’t eat out at grown-up places that often anymore, let alone at ones that are just so-so, but luckily The Hubs has successfully reproduced that raspberry martini at home.

Before we begin, a warning. That dirty martini I taught you to make last time? You could tell from the ingredient list, which was mostly vodka, that it was gonna be a strong drink, and when you tasted it, you probably said, “Holy fuck, that is a strong drink!” Or maybe you don’t swear as much as I do, I don’t know, but I am gonna guess you said the part about it being strong. This raspberry martini is just as strong, but it won’t taste like it. It’s gonna go down smooth. So, watch yourself. Drink it at home, or have a designated driver, because you’re a goddamn adult.

So, let’s talk ingredients. You’re gonna need some raspberries. We have raspberry bushes in our yard, so summer is an awesome time for this drink, but hothouse raspberries will do in winter. If you use frozen, they need to be thawed, and you CAN do frozen, we don’t need to be raspberry snobs up in here. You’re also going to need some Chambord, which is a raspberry liqueur that comes in a globe-shaped bottle with a gold crown for a lid. Your friends will be impressed because it looks all fancy, and it also makes a really good slightly boozy fudge. You also need a bottle of sweetened lime juice (NOT regular lime juice–look for it near the grenadine), and of course, vodka. In fact, get yourself a bottle of raspberry vodka if you can. If you can’t, the vodka you bought for the dirty martinis will do.

Now, this cocktail takes a little bit of work, and you DO need a shaker. I know I was all “shakers are bad” when I wrote about my dirty martini, but here you’re gonna be smashing up some raspberries. Right tool for the right drink, OK? Put 4 or 5 raspberries in the bottom. Put in 3-4 ice cubes. Pour in like half a shot, or even just a quarter of a shot, of Chambord. Put in two splashes of sweetened lime juice. Now comes the vodka. You need multiple shots of it, like 2 or 3 shots. Cover, shake until the outside of the shaker is frosty.

Now to pour it: put a raspberry in the bottom of a martini glass (or whatever glass you have, a coffee mug works fine too). Pour the drink in the glass through the strainer–you may have to tap the shaker on your counter a couple times because the raspberry seeds can get stuck in the strainer’s holes.

And voila! You have a killer raspberry martini. Cheers!

Cocktails with the Cult: Beth’s Dirty Martini

I’ve decided to start a new recurring series on booze. So, here’s how drinking works for me now that I am in my late 30’s: if I drink during the work week and then have to get up in time to get the kids ready and then commute to work? Yeah, that’s not happening. Also, if I drink more than 2 drinks on a weekend? I am going to be hung over, in fact, 2 is pushing it most times. There is no amount of water-drinking that will prevent that hangover. A couple times a year, I let loose and get completely sloshed, and the next day is always a disaster, which is why I rarely do it.

What this means is, because I don’t drink much or often, I am a lot more choosy about my booze. Since my only drinking is one cocktail on a Saturday, I don’t want to waste that drink on crap like I did when I was a college student. So, my days of Popov vodka and OJ are gone, and replaced with higher quality cocktails.

Of course, I am too tired to be going out for cocktails. I haven’t had more than a couple of nights of decent sleep in a row since before The Girl was born, and today is her second birthday. Once in a while, The Hubs and I will get a babysitter and go out, but honestly, my cocktails are mostly made at home. It costs less money that way too. So, we have a pretty good selection of quality booze in our pantry, and I am always on the lookout for new cocktail recipes. Recipes that I will share with you in this new recurring series.

Oh hi Judgy McJudgerson, are you worried about my kids becoming alcoholics because they have seen me drink? Or that they’ll raid my liquor cabinet? I’m not. I firmly believe the dumbest thing you can do is shelter your kids from the world. I think teaching them about safe non-binging ways to drink, like a single cocktail, and explaining to them about how booze affects people, especially kids, especially teenagers who are driving cars, is the right way to raise my kids. You disagree? Great, then you do it differently. I will be over here with my cocktail.

Alright, onto today’s recipe: my version of a dirty martini. You may have figured out by now that I am a vodka drinker, not a gin drinker. If you are a gin snob, I will understand if you never read my blog again after this post. You can go hang out with the Glenn Beck fans who stopped reading after I shared that article from Al Jazeera.

My dirty martini is a simple drink, with not a lot of ingredients, so you want those ingredients to be of good quality. I have my own favorite brands of vodka–Crater Lake is my new favorite, but may not be available in your part of the world. I used to drink Stoli because it’s not bad and it’s readily available, before the whole Russia-hates-gay-people thing happened. Just buy a vodka that tastes smooth to you, not like rubbing alcohol. What I mean is, don’t buy cheap vodka. Buy a middle-level or top shelf vodka. And for the love of god, store your vodka in the freezer. Room temperature vodka is just wrong.

Next, you need some dry vermouth. I use Boissiere. There may be better brands out there, I don’t know that much about vermouth. I cannot express how disappointed you will be if you try to make this drink with sweet vermouth.

And then there are the olives. You want green olives, and you want them to come in a jar with some brine, and you want them to look yummy, not all shriveled and sad. If you want to be really fancy, get some stuffed with blue cheese (OMG SO DELICIOUS) or hit the olive bar at Whole Foods. I personally get a fancy looking jar from my regular grocery store.

So here’s how I put this drink together, and my apologies to the bartenders of the world who will certainly tell me I am doing it wrong. You can go read some other blog with the gin snobs and the Glenn Beck lovers–or better yet, perhaps you could come over and mix me one? Because, that would be awesome too. What I do is, I take my martini glass (don’t have one? Pretty sure this would work out OK in a kid’s plastic cup from Ikea–I can hear bartender brains exploding even more) and I put in a splash of the dry vermouth. Just a splash, not a shot. Then I put in a splash of the brine from the olive jar–this is what makes it “dirty.” If you like it very dirty (snicker, I said dirty), put more brine in there. Then I pour in some vodka to fill the glass–not up to the rim, because there’s gonna be some olives in there.

Next, I take a martini pick (or a toothpick if you don’t have martini picks) and I put 3 or 4 olives or 5 on it. And I use that martini pick to stir the martini. I do not shake my martini with ice because that just waters down your martini. Also, because almost all of this drink is vodka that has been in the freezer, you don’t need ice. It’s already cold. This would be part of the genius of vodka over gin.

And that’s it! You now have a little taste of heaven to help you unwind on Friday night. Cheers!