I missed an opportunity to name a drink after James Neal when he scored his first goal as a Pittsburgh Penguin, and this one's amazing, so I'm making up for it.
Detroit Red Wings games are always super-stressful for me, because I'm married to a Red Wings fan. Since we're both women, we traditionally bet that the one whose team loses will wear the other's NHL team earrings to work the next day. I was happily visualizing the Penguins earrings in her lobes when the Penguins proceeded to piss away a 4-0 lead (or the Wings came back, or both). The Wings tied it, and the game went to shootout. Of...course!
Joey McDonald had done a terrific job for the Wings after Jimmy Howard was chased out of the net. But it wasn't quite enough. James Neal, after lots of good tries throughout the game, scored the one and only shootout goal. That was all the Penguins needed, really. And so, in gratitude to Neal for keeping those ugly, itchy Winged Wheels out of my earlobes, I offer this. I'm still in love with variations on the caipirinha, and I'm surprised at myself for not thinking to combine two of my favorite flavors sooner. Maybe this can help you forget controversies involving elbow-happy wingers for a moment.
Real Deal Neal
2 ounces vanilla-flavored vodka
1 small lime or half a large lime, cut into wedges
1 teaspoon sugar
Muddle the lime and sugar in an old-fashioned glass (a wooden spoon or piece of sugar cane is best). Fill the glass with ice, crushed if possible. Pour vanilla vodka over it. Stir, then sip.