Saturday, January 30, 2010

"Oh, God, McGuire's talking."

Another week, another Sunday afternoon Penguins game on NBC. This time, the Pens take on the Detroit Red Wings! This means either way, L'Ailee and I will be kissing to celebrate every last goal, so I'm kinda hoping both goalies are sieves and the Penguins win by, like, 11-10. I have also pride-bet. L'Ailee's best friend loves the Wings, too. If the Pens win, his daughter and I get to decorate his cab with Penguins-iana so he and his customers can enjoy it all Monday. If *shudder* the Wings win, I have to turn this page red and white all Monday and post the official recipe for the Detroit Red Wing cocktail. Let's go Pens!!!

Have I mentioned that there needs to be a cocktail worthy of being called the Pittsburgh Penguin yet? I'm still soliciting suggestions. Something black and/or Vegas gold, maybe? Or something really Pittsburgh? How about something that'll start out awesome, make you sick in the middle, then make you really glad you stuck with it until the end?

Anyway. Some of you may feel that it's too early to drink (and if you're in Detroit or further west, you're probably right.) Some of you may not want a cold drink, since it's pretty damned cold in many parts of the US already. But some of you might really want to run the blender while the idiots on NBC are talking and get yourself into a mellower frame of mind. To this end, I post another blender drink.

You know how that Verizon commercial with the hockey teams stranded in an airport with an icy runway is pretty cool even though the teams are the Washington Capitals and the Philadelphia Flyers? This is kinda like that. I hate bananas, with a passion, and I can tolerate this. Other people I know really like it. Essentially, it's most of a Bananas Foster dessert--no flambe-ing, sorry--turned into a daiquiri.

Bananas Foster Daiquiri

1 whole ripe banana
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 heaping teaspoon brown sugar
2 ounces dark rum
1/2 cup crushed ice

Break the banana into several pieces. Put all ingredients in the blender. Blend at a low speed for a few seconds, then on high until everything's together and the drink is firm. Pour into a cocktail glass.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Eaton's 500th

By my own standards, I'm a bit late with this. But last night's game, frankly, kinda sucked. It didn't help that I was in an evil mood to begin with and the "cocktails" I personally had last night were ginger tea with honey and lemon, chased with a shot of Nyquil.

I have learned to really hate Chris Neil from the Ottawa Senators this season, and I rather enjoyed it when he tried to board Sergei Gonchar and ended up hurting himself worse. Then he managed to push Mark Eaton into the corner and hit his head. It looked awful. As a lifelong NASCAR fan, I'm still tempted to refer to such an incident as "putting into the wall and wrecking." Fortunately, Eaton was not wrecked. He got up right away and didn't miss a beat. His 500th NHL game may not have been good, but it sure was memorable!

My cocktail recipes tend to be sweet. But something sweet wouldn't really do justice to the impressive toughness Eaton showed last night, would it? So this is the least-sweet thing I can think of. It resulted from me starting to make a classic dirty martini for a friend at a party a few years ago, accidentally getting out dill pickles instead of olives, and wondering, "Why not?" He liked the result, and so have a couple of other friends since. I don't, but that's okay.

Eaton's 500th

2 ounces gin
1 tablespoon dry vermouth
1 tablespoon dill pickle brine. (Don't let garlic bits and other herbs get into it, of course.)
1 dill pickle spear to garnish (optional)

Put liquid ingredients in cocktail shaker with two ice cubes; shake hard for about 30 seconds. Strain into martini glass. Include pickle spear, if desired--I've been told it "adds something", presumably something good, to stir the drink with it.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Conner's Comeback

Bill Guerin was unable to play against the New York Rangers last night, and I was *not* happy about that. Even though he's Mustache Boy this month, and February can't come soon enough, if Guerin made me an offer I', cry as I explained that I'm flattered, but I'm happily married and want to stay that way. So I was already predisposed to dislike Chris Conner, who was sent up from the Wilkes Barre/Scranton team to replace him for the night. I also remembered that Conner's performance with Pittsburgh had been less than stellar when he was called up in November. So he was on the first line with Sidney Crosby. Damn it all to hell...

I wasn't going to post this cocktail. It's so good, but the composition is similar to the Happy Goalie (named after Marc-Andre Fleury, of course), and I've already posted lots of recipes involving citrus-y flavors. I wouldn't have posted anything for Chris Conner, either. I don't know much about him, and he's not technically a Pittsburgh Penguin. But the thing is, I hate the Rangers with an undying hate. I live in NYC, and there are some very vocal Rangers fans at my office who love to point out anything wrong with the Penguins, real or imagined. My 9-year-old "niece" (actually, a good friend's daughter) gets teased by Rangers fan classmates for being a Penguins fan, too.

Conner totally endeared himself to me last night by scoring two goals on the Rangers! Sure, he had Crosby as his center, but we all know that's not always a guarantee of success for a winger. Because Conner allowed me to hip-switch into the break room at my office and grin like a Cheshire cat at a Rangers fan exec, who held up his hand and told me not to say a word, I absolutely had to post something for him. Therefore:

Conner's Comeback

About 4 ounces sparkling blueberry juice
2 ounces citrus-flavored vodka

Pour vodka into champagne flute. Top with sparkling blueberry juice. Shake gently; don't stir.

The sparkling blueberry juice is available at health food sections of supermarkets and Trader Joe's, and these flavors play very nicely together.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Letang Stands Up

Sometimes I kinda have a cocktail matched with a player in my mind. Like, Jay McKee's is going to involve many shots of liquor, and I've got one that can fairly be called "Free Candy" on deck for Brooks Orpik. Kris Letang's was almost certain to be a chocolate martini. Yeah, I know they're common. Hear me out: chocolate martinis seem sweet, even deceptively harmless, but can kick your ass. Both Letang and chocolate martinis have lots of female fans. And then there was the big basket of chocolate associated with him during the Penguins' holiday gift basket auction this season. It seemed obvious.

I post it tonight because Letang demonstrated why the Penguins are such an awesome team this afternoon. The Flyers' Darroll Powe appeared to hurt Alex Goligoski some with a check from behind. Letang swooped in and jumped Powe. Not only did Letang stand up for his teammate, but he got the better of Powe. So, tonight we celebrate the way Letang out-bullied one of the Broad Street Bullies.

Letang Stands Up

1 1/2 ounces Stolichnaya Razberi or other raspberry-flavored vodka
1 ounce creme de cacao

Pour ingredients into cocktail shaker; shake with a handful of ice. Strain liquid into martini glass.

Incidentally, for anyone interested, my performances went just fine this afternoon. Even got zaghareets (cheers) from women whose talent intimidated me. It was a great time, and my instructor had all kinds of delicious Middle Eastern food, including really excellent baklava, waiting for us when our performances were done. Then I came home to TiVo and the Penguins beating the Flyers at their house once again. Sundays don't get better than that!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

"It's NBC, go ahead and run the blender"

I hope that I don't ruin it by typing this out, but I'm pretty confident that the Pittsburgh Penguins will win tomorrow's game against the Philadelphia Flyers even though it's in the afternoon. You see, I have a pretty good track record. Every month this season, there's been a game late in the month that I've had to miss because I was unavoidably busy doing something else, whether it was clubbing in Orlando with friends I hadn't seen in a year or watching the Detroit Red Wings with L'Ailee at Joe Louis. Inevitably, as I was getting drawn into a bar fight with some woman who thought I was stealing her boyfriend (won it, by the way) or whining because I'd paid to watch the Wings get their asses handed to them, the Pens would have themselves an amazing game that I'd have to learn about via text updates.

Tomorrow, I will be performing with other members of my belly-dancing class. I am extremely nervous, because there will also be actual Middle Eastern women who've danced all their lives in that room and I am at the shallow end of the talent pool. No way in hell can I get out of it, especially since I have a tandem performance with my best friend in addition to my solo. I will have to watch everyone else, and I will be expected to stick around for tea and snacks with my instructor. Our guys lost against the Flyers the last time. They lost the first game of the season against the Washington Capitals on Thursday. They can't be anything but motivated tomorrow. I fully expect that while I'm dancing to the Revels' "Comanche" and hopefully not tripping over my own feet, the Penguins will be playing on fire.

I'm gonna be drinking herbal tea and lots of it. I hope somebody has a Crosby Sucks for me. (It seems like that's the signature drink of this blog, at least for the moment.) But since y'all are going to have to endure NBC's hockey commentary in order to watch this game, you might want something that makes it a little more bearable. Something that involves running the blender to drown their gang of idiots out during intermission. Something like the Pensacola Bushwacker, a true Floridian original that is so bad for you in so many ways that it's excellent. Some people say you should use half-and-half, some people say ice cream, and some people say both. I come down firmly on the "ice cream" side.

Pensacola Bushwacker

4 oz cream of coconut
2 oz Kahlua
1 oz dark rum
1 oz creme de cacao
1/2 cup vanilla ice cream

Pour all ingredients into a blender with two cups of ice, and blend until completely mixed. Serve in a hurricane glass.

And, for another multi-recipe post, a cocktail that is somewhat less horrible for you, but probably much more horrible for your jersey, couch, and carpet if you're not careful. Tasty, though. This is something my sister-in-law likes to do with cheap red wine. Her name for it seems more appropriate for Flyers hockey than anything I can think of, too.

Punch in the Mouth

3/4 cup merlot or shiraz
3/4 cup frozen berries. (Raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, or a combination of those will work)
1/2 cup pomegranate juice

Put all ingredients into blender; blend until completely mixed. Serve in a hurricane glass or large tumbler. You notice that there is no ice in this one. This is why I emphasize that the berries should be frozen...and, of course, your blender should be strong enough to handle such a job.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Y'all make the drinking game, I'll make the shooters

I've thought of creating a Ovechkin versus Crosby Capitals versus Penguins drinking game for a week. The problem is, I've had a few other things on my mind, and I don't have a lot of inspiration left for a drinking game. I do, however, have a few excellent ideas for shooters. So, I'll post a couple shooters, and as we count down the hours, maybe other Penguins fans can make suggestions in comments.

Each of these is a single shot; you can multiply the quantities for multiple shots. The Goldfish is my adaptation of the Finnish fisu (fish) shot, which combines Fisherman's Friend cough drops with chilled vodka--mine tastes, but doesn't feel, a little gentler. Being a Southerner, I regard the Alabama Slammer Shooter as a classic. The Peanut Butter and Jelly...well, readers of Puck Huffers know why.


1 ounce Pernod
1 ounce vodka
2 Fisherman's Friend cough drops

Combine ingredients with a handful of crushed ice in a shaker, then shake. Strain liquid into shot glass.

Alabama Slammer Shooter

1/2 oz sloe gin
1 oz amaretto
1 oz Southern Comfort
dash of lemon juice

Pour all ingredients into a highball glass with ice. Stir well, then strain into a shot glass.

Peanut Butter and Jelly

3/4 ounce Frangelico liqueur
3/4 ounce Chambord liqueur

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Pour ingredients into it, shake well. Strain into a shot glass.

I close with a haiku I wrote:

Go ahead, call him
'A caveman-looking asshole'.
We know you want to.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Salvaging the Game

I very seldom drink to get drunk. My cocktail recipes tend to reflect my preference for getting relaxed, not hammered. However, last night's game against Vancouver called for something stronger than the Lucky 13 I started with. Oh, it had such promise at first. Evgeni Malkin finally broke his goal-less streak in the first period--it was weird and fluky, but we screamed over it anyway. L'Ailee was born and raised in Siberia, and though she loves her Red Wings, her real loyalties lie with "all good Russian players." We didn't know she'd find another Russian player to love very soon.

InjuryFest 2009/10 claimed the Penguins' goalies. Our solid backup goalie Brent Johnson had a groin injury. Then Marc-Andre Fleury broke a finger on his glove hand during the Edmonton game. The Penguins called John Curry up from the Wilkes Barre/Scranton team. No problem--Curry's good for the Baby Pens, and he was solid when Pittsburgh needed him last year. But just in case, they signed up Alexander Pechursky, a 19-year-old Russian WHL goalie, for a one-day contract. Basically, Pechursky would have an awesome view of the Penguins/Canucks game...right?

Curry would let two Canucks goals freak him out and shrink in the net, very quickly allowing a 2-1 lead by the Canucks to become a 5-1 lead. The game wasn't even halfway over. I was masochistic loyal enough to see if the Pens could at least close the gap some. It was time for a Zombie. I have a fondness for classic tiki bar drinks, and Zombies are my favorite way to get real hammered real quick. But I didn't have everything for a proper Zombie and wasn't about to go out on a Brooklyn street at midnight to get dark rum and apricot brandy, even if the liquor store is ten steps away from my place. So, like the Penguins, I improvised. As Pechursky was put in goal, I fixed a lazy woman's Zombie in my kitchen. Like Pechursky in his cheap-ass mask, misspelled jersey, and borrowed pads, it actually turned out pretty damned good!

I considered several names for this drink. "Lazy Zombie," which probably fits the defense poor Curry got. "The Little Goalie Boy," as my wife called Pechursky twice. Then there was "Oh, Make It Stop," "Don't They Know They Don't Have Fleury?", and, as I exclaimed several times in the second period, "Fuck Me Raw!" But as my head cleared this morning, I settled on...

Salvaging the Game

1/2 ounce Bacardi 151 rum (or other 151-proof rum)
1 ounce pineapple juice
1 ounce orange juice
1/2 ounce lime juice
1/2 ounce cherry liqueur
3 ounces light rum

Shake all ingredients except 151-proof rum with crushed ice. Pour, ice and all, into a Collins glass. Pour 151-proof rum on top. Don't stir, just drink. Hope, hope, hope that you don't feel compelled to fix this again for the rest of the season.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Another Drink for Geno

No doubt any Penguins fans reading this have already read today's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette column by Ron Cook. He compared Evgeni Malkin to Jaromir Jagr, and not in a good way. Apparently if a 23-year-old living in a foreign country turns to his support system and kicks his own ass when he's underperforming, he's got massive personality disorders and is an albatross around his team's collective neck. I don't know what Ron Cook was like when he was 23, but I was a mess then, and so were all my friends. Which reminds me--one day I'll tell y'all why I don't often work with or drink tequila. ;-)

Even though Geno doesn't have to decide which bills he'll pay this month or eat ramen five days a week like I did, he's still human, and Cook's column is, to say the least, remarkably unhelpful. Don't get me wrong--Malkin can do better. He should do better. But I have faith that he will do better. And so, I post a second cocktail recipe in honor of him. I have no delusions that anyone associated with the Penguins will ever read this, and more knowledgeable fans like Hooks Orpik at Pensburgh have already given Cook the takedown he deserves, but I just kinda feel like chiming in.

I remember reading that Geno likes sangria and therefore isn't one of those guys who thinks a sweet cocktail will interfere with his testosterone production. So, something sweet and fruit-flavored, with good Russian vodka, seems appropriate. Like Keri Russell's character in the great little movie Waitress, I name my recipes based on my state of mind at the moment, when I bother to name them at all. So, I give my fellow and sister Pens fans:

Fuck Off, Ron Cook

1 1/2 ounces Stolichnaya Gala Applik vodka
1/2 ounce Goldschlager cinnamon schnapps
1 or 2 ounces apple cider (sweet/nonalcoholic)

Shake all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with a handful of ice. Strain into a martini glass. If you really want to be fancy about it, rim the glass with cinnamon sugar first. But hey, tonight's game night, and if you don't want to bother cleaning up after that, this martini's good enough that it doesn't need to be messed with too much...kinda like Geno.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Two in One

During a losing streak in which I tried very hard not to despair over the Penguins' direction, broken only by a win against the Atlanta Thrashers, I wasn't really inspired to celebrate the team with cocktails. That's why there haven't been new posts. (Well, that and I was kind of busy.) Last night's win against the Toronto Maple Leafs put me in the happy position of being unable to choose which of two Penguins players I wanted to celebrate. So, to make up for a recent lack of cocktails, I am going to post both.

Before I do, a little bit of business. It's hard to come up with something truly innovative when you're mixing drinks, particularly if, as I do, you'd just like to quickly whomp something together in your kitchen for watching the game. I came to like the combination of bourbon with a teaspoon of maple syrup and a dash of lemon juice this winter. Apparently this is called a Maple Leaf. Obviously that was unacceptable last night.

I've done a couple of internet searches, and while there are cocktails named after several hockey teams, there are none named after the Pittsburgh Penguins! By the end of the regular season, I'd like to create something simple and good that is worthy of being called the Pittsburgh Penguin. If you have suggestions, or if anyone has beaten me to it, please let me know in comments.

Anyway. Sergei Gonchar came roaring back from a leg injury with a vengeance last night. Two goals, including a power play goal! Yes, that power play goal was awfully weird, the way it bounced off the back of the net. Yes, it sucked that there was a dispute with the referees and that Gonchar wound up spending two minutes in the penalty box for hooking. But it counted, goddamn it, it counted! Soon after Gonchar left the box, he scored a much clearer and more decisive even strength goal that not even the referees could doubt.

Y'all probably figured that I love citrus by now. My brother, who knows his artisanal spirits, gave me a bottle of Compass Box' Orangerie as a present. It is delicious. You can't technically call it Scotch--it is a Scotch infusion with notes of orange and cloves, and I like it just with club soda. I'd like it in my bath if that was an option. Since Gonchar is a grown-ass man who likes the finer things in life, I bet he'd want the second-to-last shot of my Orangerie if I were serving him. He can't have it. However, after last night's performance, I'd be willing to get him some good single-malt Scotch and make the following:

Gonchar's Revenge
(a/k/a "I'm Blind, I'm Deaf, I Wanna Be a Ref")

1 1/2 ounce Scotch
1/2 ounce orange liqueur
1 dash orange bitters
1 dash cloves
About 3-4 ounces club soda

Put all of the ingredients except the club soda in a cocktail shaker with a handful of ice; shake like crazy for a minute. Pour the Scotch mixture into a highball glass, straining out ice. Fill glass with club soda. Yes, it's almost a basic Scotch-and-soda, with added flavors. It doesn't taste quite like the Orangerie, but it's good nonetheless.

The other player I'd like to thank for the Penguins' win last night is Marc-Andre Fleury. The Penguins' goalie has been in a bit of a slump. (I may have used the phrase "Swiss cheese" to describe his recent performance.) But he was awesome against the Maple Leafs. The Leafs kept throwing rubber at him, especially during the third period--22 shots in that period alone. He allowed one goal by Matt Stajan. There could have been so many more. His performance was one of the big reasons why the Penguins won by a wide margin.

There exists a drink called the Depressed Goalie. That's not our Flower, not even when he's a sieve, and certainly not last night! This is a very simple drink with a really nice flavor, and it might put a big Fleury-esque smile on your face. Look for the sparkling pear juice in health food aisles at the supermarket, Whole Foods, or Trader Joe's.

the Happy Goalie

2 ounces amaretto
About 3 ounces sparkling pear juice

Pour amaretto into a champagne flute. Top with sparkling pear juice. Don't stir--a light shake is plenty. (You don't want to break the bubbles!) Sip slowly.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Lucky Little Black-and-White Cookies

I blame our favorite bakery. Totally. I can't think of anyone else to blame for the Pittsburgh Penguins' five-game losing streak, can you? All y'all can drink just fine without my help, and probably are. It's time for another food recipe.

The owners of that bakery went on vacation the day after Christmas. They will be out until next weekend. They got me hooked on that quintessentially NYC dessert, the black-and-white cookie. They make an egg-free version that accommodates my allergies, too. I like to pick up a few minis every week. (Like I said with the hummus recipe, I'm not interested in becoming Discovery Health channel fat, so I don't get the regular CD-sized cookies.)

I eat one of these cookies before the game, every game, to "help" the Penguins have better luck. Except lately, I've had to eat small portions of inferior black-and-white desserts before the game--chocolate chip ice cream or a Tofutti Cutie sandwich even though it's too damned cold for that, an Oreo even though I think the "cream" is disgusting. Well. We see how that's worked out.

I suppose I could take my chances and buy my pre-game black-and-white cookies elsewhere this week. But I'd feel all weird about it. I can also bake my own cookies. I don't feel weird about that at all. So, if you're not completely baked out after the holidays, let's consult the website for the late, great Gourmet magazine and see if we can help our players out! These are pretty simple, honest.

Mini Black and White Cookies

For cookies
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg (or, Lilo notes, substitute to equal one egg. It'll work here.)

For icings
2 3/4 cup confectioners sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
4 to 6 tablespoons water
1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

Special equipment:
a small offset spatula

Make cookies:
Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 2 large baking sheets.

Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Stir together buttermilk and vanilla in a cup.

Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes, then add egg, beating until combined well. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture and buttermilk mixture alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture, and mixing just until smooth.

Drop rounded teaspoons of batter 1 inch apart onto baking sheets. Bake, switching positions of sheets halfway through baking, until tops are puffed, edges are pale golden, and cookies spring back when touched, 6 to 8 minutes total. Transfer to a rack to cool.

Make icing while cookies cool:
Stir together confectioners sugar, corn syrup, lemon juice, vanilla, and 2 tablespoons water in a small bowl until smooth. If icing is not easily spreadable, add more water, 1/2 teaspoon at a time. Transfer half of icing to another bowl and stir in cocoa, adding more water, 1/2 teaspoon at a time, to thin to same consistency as vanilla icing. Cover surface with a dampened paper towel, then cover bowl with plastic wrap.

Ice cookies:
With offset spatula, spread white icing over half of flat side of each cookie. Starting with cookies you iced first, spread chocolate icing over other half.

Well, I've done what I can here. The owners of that bakery are just going to have to step up when they get back. After all, we certainly can't blame the Penguins players for blowing those games.

Let's go, Pens!!!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Bruins Fan for a Day

Happy New Year to all y'all!!!

Like any self-respecting Penguins fan, I hate the Philadelphia Flyers with all my heart. Yet I enjoy the Winter Classic, even though it's a blatant gimmick and I don't have a dog in this hunt. So I decided I'm going to be a huge Boston Bruins fan today. My future stepdad loves his Bruins and thinks I'll be converted. I don't see it. I love that Sidney Crosby and Max Talbot's new Reebok commercial with the infamous dryer will be played during the game. Don't you know the Flyers' fans are going to enjoy the hell out of that?!

Probably many of you don't want a cocktail at all. You had plenty last night and would just like some coffee. (We like to mix it with hot chocolate at my house.) I actually don't like to drink when lots of people around me are, and my insistence on keeping a clear head when most people aren't means I've got champagne chilling in my fridge. This is how I'm going to use it this afternoon. It's actually two recipes in one, and will get rid of some leftovers.

We begin with something L'Ailee's uncle taught me. It's a holiday tradition at his house. I suppose you could chill peppermint schnapps or something, but I really liked this.

Candy Cane Vodka

2 ounces vodka
2-3 ice cubes
1 medium peppermint candy cane, broken in pieces

Put all of the ingredients in a cocktail shaker, then shake like crazy for a couple of minutes until the vodka is cold and a milky light pink color. Strain out the ice and candy pieces; pour. By itself, it could make a decent shooter. Or make a....

Winter Classic

2 ounces Candy Cane Vodka
About 3-4 ounces of chilled champagne

Pour Candy Cane Vodka into champagne flute. Fill flute with champagne. As with the Worst Coach in the NHL, cheap and cheerful champagne is probably best for this.