Nov 152011

Did you guess?  Shaker One has begun making her own cranberry liquor.

While browsing at apartment therapy (I love that site, it’s a daily stop of mine), I ran across a post on making your own cranberry liquor.  I love cranberries.  My great grandmother would finely dice cranberries by hand to make her holiday cranberry relish (imagine the labor in the days before food processors!).  I like to make a cranberry martini using her relish recipe around the holidays.  But when I saw the post I thought, ‘hey, wouldn’t cranberry liquor be a lovely addition to champagne?  Sort of a holiday champagne cocktail!”…… off I went to the store for fresh cranberries.

The recipe couldn’t be easier.  Simply add chopped cranberries and simple syrup to vodka and leave in the fridge for 3 or 4 weeks, shaking or stirring every other day or so.  I added a cinnamon stick, a vanilla bean, the rind of part of an orange and a couple of cloves to give it a greater depth of flavor.  The shot above is from day 2.  Right away the cranberries imbued the liquids with a lovely deep red color.  When I first mixed everything together all I could smell was the vodka.  Now after 2 days I’m beginning to smell the cranberries as well.  I can’t wait to sample it, which I plan on doing at the end of each week-just to see if any adjustments are needed.

I’ll check back in in a week or two to let you all know how it’s coming along.

Of course, now all I can think about are cranberry champagne cocktails.  Sigh. Oh well, I’m told patience is a virtue.






Nov 112011

A friend posted this link on her facebook wall~

Type in the musical artist you’re currently listening to and they give you the appropriate cocktail for that mood.  Plus, they play a song by that artist.  I put in a dozen or so and they all came up, though I don’t know how comprehensive their data base is.  Now this is not the place to go in search of actual cocktail recipes (their answers are often tongue in cheek).  But while you’re enjoying your after work beverage and checking your email or making your plans for the evening, Drinkify is a fun little site to play with.

A clever well done to the creators of this site.

Cheers and happy Friday!

Oct 312011


Be sure to fortify yourselves with the proper adult beverages while you pass out all that candy tonight.  For a delicious and seasonal last minute beverage option, try the Apple Thyme Martini from a previous Halloween post.  Its easy to make, takes just a few ingredients and is a real crowd pleaser.

Because around these parts, the zombies cry out, “Tiiiniiiiiiiiiiis, tiiiiiiiiniiiiiisssssssssss……………”



Oct 152011

Shaker One here, sorry for the long hiatus from blogging.  No, The Shakers haven’t turned into teatotalers or abandoned our little blog.  Real life work and nonsense have kept us both away from here for far too long.  But no more!  There are cocktails out there crying out for us to imbibe and review!  What kind of Shakers would we be to let all those poor orphaned drinks go without a home?

Thirsty Shakers, that’s what kind.

So last night I met some friends at a local restaurant  – The Spanish Kitchen.  Located in the heart of West Hollywood, this little gem of a place charmed me from the start.  We were immediately greeted warmly by the hostess, shown to a booth and then the fun began.

Now, you may be asking me why is a martini blog reviewing a Spanish restaurant?  Well Shaker fans, we’re about to talk about one of my favorite non-martini cocktails:  The Margarita!

I’m not talking about those crappy  overly sweet sippers of “mystery mixer” and cheap tequila you get at chain restaurants.  A really good margarita is a vacation in a glass.  Whether you like them blended, rocked, salty or not, the margarita is a classic cocktail.
I spent an entire summer learning to craft my perfect margarita at home.  My hands were perpetually sore from squeezing so many limes, but it was worth it.  Last night’s margaritas put my efforts to shame.  The Spanish Kitchen has taken the humble margarita and made magic.  Are you sitting down?  They infuse their own tequila.  Yep, fresh fruit and peppers in a quality white tequila take the drink from “wow” to “sweet mother of salsa bring me three more now!”.

I tried two of their most popular-

La Chiquita:  a delicious mix of tequila infused with fresh strawberries, pineapple and kiwi, fresh lime and cointreau.  Subtle, yet all the fresh fruit flavors come through.  I loved this drink.


Next was a margarita with habanero infused tequila (apologies-I’ve forgotten what they call it)

This one is spicy!  Really spicy, but still refreshing.  Delicious.

We also sampled a few of their dishes.  My favorite was the Borracho Tequila Shrimp.

Even the crustaceans here like their tequila!
And speaking of, there is also a nice selection of tequila by the glass and both red and white sangrias.


The service was outstanding, the food delicious, the decor was charmingly festooned with a little early Halloween fun and the drinks were top notch.  Shaker One gives this place a big thumbs up.  And I’ll be back for Taco Tuesdays!

Aug 152011

“Every night, in every city around the world- it happens……”

If that sounds familiar to you, then you’ve already met my new personal hero:  Zane Lamprey, host of the show that is pretty well the Olympics/Super Bowl/Indy 500 of drinking:  Three Sheets.  I know, I know….I’m a bit late to this party.  This show has sat in my hulu queue for the better part of a year, but I just never found the time.   Well, nasty summer cold + weekend feeling like crap= tons of free time to catch up on some entertainment options.  And after re-watching all of my favorite zombie movies, it was time for a virtual cocktail.  Because that’s yet another lame by product of feeling like crap:  no desire for actual cocktails.  Which, when you’ve got a martini blog, can be a problem.

{The management would like to apologize for the week off of drinking/posting last week.  I hope you were all able to carry on without me.  Thank you for your patience and we will now resume our regularly scheduled imbibing}

I have to admit, Shaker One is a sucker for cooking/travel tasting shows.  Bourdain, Ramsey…give me a chef and a half hour and I’ll happily sit for any of it.  Some are great, some less so.  But in reading the synopsis for Three Sheets I thought, hmmm-a show devoted to sampling cocktails from around the globe?  How could this not be fantastic?


And it is my friends, oh my yes it is.
First off, Zane is an excellent host.  He’s funny, warm, adventurous and makes a real effort to seek out what is unique and/or special in any locale, all while being totally respectful to the country and it’s people.  And the man’s liver has got to be bulletproof.  Even in my wild imbibing college days, I couldn’t keep up with him.  And that’s saying something.  How he’s made it through 4 seasons of this without ending up on the transplant list is beyond me.  So far I’ve worked my way through the first season and part of the second, vicariously sampling all that is weird, wonderful and wet in a glass.

If you enjoy travel and cocktails, this is the show for you.  I look forward to the rest of the series.  Zane Lamprey, I owe you a drink if we ever cross paths.



Aug 052011

Recently, I was in New York City and my friend and I stopped at a little dive bar for a drink. I ordered my “I don’t know the bartender, so I am gonna order something easy” drink – Grey Goose dirty. When I got my drink (poured all the way to the rim.. nice for the extra liquor, but impossible to drink without spilling unless you lean over to the bar in a truly unladylike manner and slurp from the top of the glass) and I noticed it tasted… odd. Not in an “OMG Imma gonna vomit” kinda way, but just different.

This is not the first time I have had this happen. So when I returned home, I got to Googlin’ in an effort to get to the bottom of it. I am sure it has something to do with the brine, but what is it that makes them taste so different sometimes? I could not find a definitive answer, though after reading about how some put vermouth in to make more brine, or how some use premade brines that have not seen an olive for weeks I have come to the very unscientific conclusion that it must be something to do with how the bar adds more liquid to make more brine. Sure, there are various types of olives, but most use fairly generic Spanish green olives.

So why the blog title about being a snob when I have just blathered on about brine and dirty martinis?

Well, as I was hopping around doing my “research” I came across so many holier than thou comments on how dirty martinis were “rookie juice” or a “beginner’s drink” and how those who drank vodka based martinis had not learned to be an adult.

Are you KIDDING me?

Oh, people, lighten up.

First, do not assume anything about a person based on what they drink. Sure, I make the occasional comment about those who might drink Bud Light and sure, there are many beers out there with more depth in flavor. I do not consider these people idiots (even though some are, but that has nothing to do with what they drink, ya know?)

Second, who are you to argue what someone prefers taste-wise? Your palate is your palate and theirs is theirs. Come down off your high horse. I have a friend who is totally fine with drinking Smirnoff. Unless it is drowned in cranberry, I am not fond of it. She asked if that was bad and I told her if she likes it, keep drinking it. (She also gets the bonus of it being a less expensive vodka)

There are some people who have not tried other drinks, it can be a bit intimidating to walk up to the wall of liquors at a bar and drop the cash to try something new. Someone who has not had the opportunity to be adventurous does not deserve scorn. If they want to try something new, offer suggestions, be helpful. If you can find a good bartender/mixologist and get to know them, they might be up for letting you taste something new (this is how I discovered the beauty that is Tito’s Vodka – I probably never would have picked it off the shelf at random.) If someone likes what they like and has no desire to try something else, no harm in that, either.

For those who maintain that some order certain things because they have not tried “real” drinks, get over yourself and enjoy the company of your friends without being so judgmental.

/rant off

Aug 032011

Last weekend I was lucky enough to attend a private event at a great bar/restaurant on Hollywood Blvd- The Five 0 Four.  Located near the Walk of Fame, this is a charming and boisterous Cajun/Creole themed place where it’s always Mardi Gras.  The gorgeous outdoor patio seating transports you away from the bustle of Hollywood and into a happy vacation mood.  And because it’s in Hollywood, the people watching is unparalleled.

I sampled several cocktails through the course of the event.  First I started off with a Pimm’s Cup.  Now Pimm’s is a fairly recent discovery for me.  I had it for the first time at Le Cafe Deux Magots in Paris in a pimm’s and champagne.  Delicious!  So I was anxious to try the cocktail that’s a ubiquitous English refresher.  And I loved it.  It is the perfect  light cocktail on a warm summer evening.  I’ll be making this at home without a doubt.

Next I was feeling adventurous so I ordered a Sazerac.  As the server warned me, it is something of a whiskey martini and quite strong.  I must admit that this one was lost on me.  It wasn’t the drink (it was well made), it’s just that I’ve never acquired a taste for the brown boozes.  If you enjoy your whiskey, this is a drink for you.

I missed trying their Hurricanes, though those that did certainly appeared to be enjoying them.  Towards the end of the evening I was in the mood for something a bit different and asked the bartender what he recommended.  I received one of my favorite answers, “want me to make something up for you?”.  Yes and yes.  Say hello to Petey, the charming bartender who can put together one hell of a drink:


I knew I was in good hands when I saw him spank the mint.  He made up a lovely St.Germain cocktail on the spot!  I wish I remembered what he put in it, as I’d order it again and again.  Oh well, I’ll just have to make another visit and see if he can repeat the deliciousness.  I so appreciate finding a bartender who will happily go off menu and have fun with it.  A great drink to end the night with.

Thank you Five O Four for a memorable evening.  I know where to go when I need a little taste of the Mardi Gras spirit in my week.  Until next time, Shaker One out.

Jul 292011

Recently a friend gifted me with a bottle of -for me- a brand new spirit: Veev acai liquor.  He had tried it on his own and was not impressed……said it had an earthy flavor, with almost chocolate notes.  I was intrigued.  Finding myself with an entire bottle of the stuff  plus pitcher and recipes, what does Shaker One do?  Why, invents her own concoction of course!

The Strawberry Acai


Fresh ripe strawberries muddled with chocolate mint leaves ( Yes, you read that correctly.  I have chocolate mint growing in The Balcony Bar garden), shaken over ice with Veev and a dash of chambord.  All I can say is this is my kind of health food!  Yum and yum.  Fruity with just a hint of sweetness… get a very subtle taste of the chocolate mint.  This one is a winner.  4 olives.

Now I must admit that when I tried a sip of the Veev straight I was skeptical.   It smelled like the jello shots I make for tailgating season.  Oddly sweet and indistinctly fruity.  It looks like vodka-completley clear, but does have a touch of sweetness to it.  I read the suggested recipes and was uninspired.  Now that I’ve given it a run I can see it playing very well with different fresh berry flavors….and perhaps even in a dessert martini.  You can read for yourself all the supposed heath claims for this “miracle fruit”.

Thanks Simon for sharing and inspiring!!  Now I’m off to take my *winkwink* vitamin……and no, I’m not wearing the bracelet.

Jul 272011

I have this lovely gift of new ingredients from my sister and have been thinking of how best to explore them.  I love bitters.  Angostura or Peychaud’s are what most of you probably have sitting in your bar cabinets (Fee Bros are also excellent).  Angostora bitters are always in my bar-a staple of many classic cocktails.  But you may have noticed while perusing the aisles of your local liquor mart that bitters have branched out into a seemingly endless array of flavors.  From chocolate to celery, there’s now a bitter for just about any cocktail occasion.

Included in my surprise box was a bottle of blueberry bitters.

Now as a berry goes, the blueberry is not my favorite (blueberry pancakes aside).  But I’ve played with bitters enough to know that you often want either a taste that mimics and magnifies your base flavor notes, or something to accent and add a touch of a contrast.  Not sure what blueberry bitters would even taste like, and bitters not really being something you take a sip of to taste, I decided to showcase them on the ultimate neutral palate:

The Classic Champagne Cocktail with Blueberry Bitters

Generally a champagne cocktail is a sugar cube dropped into the bottom of a flute, saturated with a few drops of bitters and topped with champagne.  Orange peel garnish optional.  I learned how to drink these in my first “grown up” job.  The Lancome executive from Paris would order them for us at the bar of The Four Seasons Beverly Hills.  Where I’d valet park my green 1979 Chrystler Cordoba (fine corinthian leather included).   I felt as soignee as a 23 year old driving a crappy car could.  Elegance in a glass.

Out of oranges at the moment, I subbed in a lime peel.  This is delicious!  You get more of a softer bitter taste with just the palest hint of blueberry.  Gorgeous with champagne.  I’ll have to ponder what type of martinis this bitter could best highlight.

And I can’t wait to try the next one!





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