I didn't see anything particularly "cocktail-worthy" about tonight's game against the New York Rangers. It was an ugly game with a beautiful result--the Penguins gutted out a win. However, I've decided to take a moment just to explain a few things about this blog, now that the Olympics and trade deadline craziness is over.
I am an almost-36-year-old woman who loves to cook and fancies herself an amateur bartender. People came to our house all the time even before we won a huge hi-def TV. Back in early November, when it seemed that a new defenseman was getting injured every day, my friend B. decided to give me a penguin-shaped cocktail shaker "for watching your games with", as a joke. (I promptly told him I'd make him Hurricanes, as his Carolina Hurricanes had been having an even worse season at that point.) I shared this at Pensburgh.
During the next game, which was a loss, Chris Kunitz yelled "Aw, FUCK!" really loudly near an open mic. It was what everyone in Penguins Nation was thinking. I'd used that penguin-shaped cocktail shaker to fix a super-lemony variation on the French 75 cocktail. The drink seemed so right--sour, but tinged with sweetness. The Cussing Penguin was born. I posted the recipe to Pensburgh as a wry commentary on how the team was doing.
"I hope you can post a celebratory drink," said Hooks Orpik. The very next game, I could. My beloved Bill Guerin scored an unbelievably lucky goal in literally the last few seconds of the game to turn it from a loss to a tie. The Penguins would win in overtime. I'd whomped together another drink in the kitchen before the game, and it was delicious. I named it The Lucky 13 after Guerin and posted that.
From then on, I was hooked. I decided to create cocktails for all the Penguins players and post them when they accomplished something particularly cool, whether it was taking a hard hit and staying in the game or a hat trick with two assists. I posted the recipes at the Puck Huffers blog, too, in comments. People at both PH and Pensburgh suggested that I create a blog for the recipes, and so I did in December, backdating posts containing earlier recipes. I hadn't thought of putting together a Penguins fan blog, but one featuring recipes as commentaries seemed fun and unique.
Of the players we began the year with, only Max Talbot, Ruslan Fedotenko, Brent Johnson, and Jay McKee haven't had a cocktail named after them or their accomplishments yet. They will. Alexei Ponikarovsky and Jordan Leopold have joined us; Martin Skoula, who showed some promise earlier in the season, was traded. Since I have the freedom to write without considering other peoples' space here, I have shared cocktail recipes for other hockey-related occasions, including the Winter Classic. Because most puckheads think NBC's hockey coverage sucks, I thought it was funny to post drinks that involve running the blender (who cares if you can't hear Pierre McGuire, right?) and a lot of alcohol in "honor" of the fourth-place network.
I try to keep the recipes relatively simple, alternatives to beer that you can put together from ingredients you can find in your local supermarket or liquor store during intermission or right before the game. (Okay, I'm not counting the food. That's just here because I can do it.) I've had some flights of fancy with cocktails, and that has its place. But that place is not hockey night. I won't be asking anyone to track down lavender honey or make their own rosemary-infused simple syrup, not that any hockey fan would be doing that before the game!
Every recipe I post is tried and true. My own tastes sometimes show out loud--I don't usually care for garnishes. I try to support local farmers, so there's always lots of fruit in my house. I love citrus and spices. I love fresh ingredients, yet I also have an irrational fondness for soda and blue food dye. I try to remember that I'm not just doing this for myself, and I try not to make the recipes I post too-too girly. While this blog will probably always skew female, I'm not going to spray the place with virtual man repellent, at least not on purpose.
Oh, and I still hope to come up with something worthy of being called the Pittsburgh Penguin before the season's out.
I hope, above all, that other Penguins fans are enjoying this. Please share your thoughts and suggestions.