May 252012

With Memorial Day Weekend upon us, I’m reminded that Summer is practically here.  Time to dust off the bbq and find some fun new recipes to try out.  I ran across this one at and was intrigued.  I happened to have a container of dried hibiscus flowers in my pantry (It’s like Felix’s magic bag of tricks, you never know what I’ll pull out) and was excited to use them.  The last time I made a cocktail from them, and the reason I purchased a big old jar, was for a signature drink for a cocktail party and I was underwhelmed at the taste.  Thus, they sat way back in the dark collecting dust.

And then I saw this:

Hibiscus Rum Cooler

The color grabbed me right away…..a rich jewel-like red.  I made the recipe just as it appears.  This is a really uniquely tasty punch, perfect for a summer bbq or picnic.  The recipe itself has a low proportion of booze in it, but you could adjust the quantities as desired.  I ended up adding a bit more simple syrup, something I almost never do, as it was a tiny bit more tart than I wanted.  Hibiscus flowers give a tartness that is vaguely reminiscent of cranberries, yet retain a hint of a floral note.  And the mint lends a mojito-like feel to the drink.  I disagree with the writer, this does not taste at all ‘lemonade-y’ to me.  In fact, I think it would also be great with a higher percentage of the lemon/simple syrup to the hibiscus tea.  I made one with club soda, one with ginger ale (which added a nice bite to things) and one with prosecco.  All were enjoyable.  I’ll make this again when I have friends over for a gathering.  It’s nice to have a pitcher drink to save the hostess from individually shaking each cocktail.

Note: I recommend removing the fresh mint leaves after a few hours, or the base will become overwhelmingly minty.

I shall have to take another look at hibiscus (available at any Mexican market or online).  This is refreshing and unique.

Give it a try~

Jan 022012

For those of you still celebrating the New Year, here’s a recipe from Apartment Therapy/ that will send the old mimosa packing like last year’s hemline.

Spiced Citrus Champagne

Basically a simmered simple syrup of honey, lemon zest and whole spices including cinnamon sticks and star anise.  A bit of the spiced simple syrup concoction, a splash of fresh orange  juice (I used Meyer lemons for both the juice and the zest), topped with your favorite sparkler (Prosecco here).

A more sophisticated flavor profile than your traditional mimosa, but still an excellent brunch beverage.  The spices are subtle but don’t get lost in the juice.  I first used Meyer lemons in place of both the regular lemon (zest) and orange juice, as I prefer a tarter drink.  I did a sample with the orange juice, too (just for comparison).   I actually like it both ways, but they are two very different drinks.  The Meyer Spiced Citrus is tarter, and I think you get the hit of the spices in a slightly more pronounced way.  The OJ Spiced Citrus really brings out the honey notes from the simple syrup.  Both are well worth tasting and completely delicious.

I love this drink.  Thanks to the folks at The Kitchn for introducing me to what may be my new favorite brunch beverage!

Nov 232011

Shakers One and Two would like to wish you all a wonderful Turkey Day.  And whether you are stuck for ideas on how to use up your leftovers friday or maybe are having just a bit too much family togetherness on the day itself, the Shakers are here for you:

Cranberry Relish Martini:

The perfect way to use some of your leftover fresh cranberry relish.  No, not that weirdly shaped stuff that gloops out of the can in one ridged gelatinous blob.  I’m talking about what my Great Grandmother used to chop by hand (we’re all thankful for food processors!), with fresh cranberries, navel oranges and a bit of sugar.  My mom made this every year.  And for those of you who want a shortcut, I’ve heard that Trader Joe’s now makes a good version, though I’ve yet to give it a try myself.

Back to the ‘tini-

Just muddle 2 large spoonfuls of the relish in the bottom of a metal shaker with about a shot of Grand Marnier (ok, go ahead and use Triple Sec if you don’t like your guests very much).  Add 3 shots of vodka, a shot of freshly squeezed OJ and a squeeze of fresh lemon.  Shake well with ice and strain into a martini glass, serve over ice with a bit of club soda, hell- pour it into the gravy boat and add a straw.  Sometimes the holidays can make you really, really thirsty.  <wink wink>

I garnished with a whole cranberry and a bit of orange zest and shook in a few drops of cranberry bitters (you could also use orange bitters if you prefer).  It’s like drinking Thanksgiving!

One more tip:  for a more festive bevvie, put a spoonful of the relish in the bottom of a flute and top with your favorite champagne or prosecco.

Gobble Gobble!

Nov 182011

Friday night arrives but my work week is far from over.  And though I don’t mind staying in to catch up at my desk, that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy a lovely adult beverage while I slave away.  Something a bit lighter than a martini, so as not to hinder my productivity….

<insert sounds of Shaker One rustling around in the fridge and bar>

Et voila!  The Blushing Dragon


Equal parts prosecco and POM wonderful pomegranate dragon fruit juice with just a dash of lime  in a champagne flute.

Like grown up fizzy fruit punch, but without the cloying sweetness.  I like it!
Don’t save your bubbly just to mix with OJ…it goes so well with so many different juices and juice combinations.   Experiment, have fun, try something new.  Prosecco- it’s not just for breakfast.


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.






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!




Jul 202011

True Confessions Time:  Shaker One has an entire shelf in her fridge devoted solely to all things fizzy.  I use bookends to hold up the rows of bottles.  Mostly its a few varieties of proseccos, kept on hand for whenever the mood hits.  Currently there’s also that bottle of South African bubbly I’ve wanted to try but just haven’t found a reason to open, next to the bottle of Schlumberger White Secco.  And of course, the ever present emergency champagne bottle remains at the ready at all times (usually Moet).

Shaker One Life Rule:  Like pearl earrings or a little black dress, a lady always keeps a chilled bottle of champagne on hand for any emergencies.


Now I adore champagne cocktails, but sometimes one is in the mood for something a bit different…like:

Bittersweet Bubbly Cooler


Take a tall glass, add a splash of Chambord, a bigger splash of Rose’s Lime (or lime juice and simple syrup), a few dashes of bitters (like Angostura), add ice, fresh berries  top with sparkling wine and stir.

This is a unique take on the traditional champagne cocktail.  Not sweet, with a complex layered flavor that is still completely refreshing.  This is a great way to kill the last of the bubbly in last night’s bottle.  I shall make this one again very soon.

Pop your corks and enjoy!


Jul 132011

When Shaker One was just a wee girl, eating out at a fancy restaurant was a rare treat.  To my 6 year old self, nothing was more elegant than ordering my own “cocktail”- The Shirley Temple.  A grown up looking drink in my favorite little girl color garnished with a cherry.  Sometimes the bartender would even put a little drink umbrella in it for me.  I fancied myself quite the sophisticate!

Flash forward 20 years or so (What? Move along.) to a hot summer evening and a thirsty Shaker.  A school night, so martinis are out and I wanted something more than just a glass of bubbly……..Shaker One gets creative.

The Tipsy Temple


Pomme juice, lime juice, simple syrup, a splash of lemon over ice topped with prosecco and very ripe berries.  Looks like Miss Temple stayed out after curfew on this one.  Innocent pink color, heady scent of lush berries as you sip, slightly sweet but mostly very refreshing.  Stand up and cheer, this one’s a winner!

Now gentlemen, I don’t want to hear “but it’s pink!”.  Of course it is.  Many delicious things are red.  And red, when diluted with things like vodka or prosecco turns pink.  Be secure enough to imbibe all things blushing.

Cherries optional.

Jul 062011

Hello fans of all things effervescent.  Shaker One is back with yet another prosecco for you to try.  You may ask, “do you do nothing but sample proseccos in your spare time?”  Well, I do cook as well.  :/

Here’s another from my beloved Trader Joe’s:

Villa Carlotti Prosecco.  Similar price point to my old pal Zonin.

I tried this one straight-no berries or additions.  It is a dryer bubbly, balanced and pleasant with a hint of apricots.  Oh man, now I sound like one of THOSE wine people.  Stop me.  Anyway, I enjoyed it and it has earned itself a seat on the bench.  If Zonin goes out of the game, I’ll send in this sparkler.


Now go pour yourselves a glass of something fun.


Jun 152011

Welcome back bubbly fans.  Just a quick review today of  my latest stop on the Tour of All Wines Sparkly.  On my last visit to Trader Joe’s, I was restocking the prosecco supplies when I spied a different bottle on the shelf.  Same price range as my beloved go to Zonin,so I picked up a bottle to try.


Fast forward to last night, movie in the dvd player, strawberries in the fridge begging for a dip.  Out came our new friend Louise d’Estree.  It poured into the glass with a nice healthy head of foam.  I took my first sip and paused.  This may be a personal preference issue, and I’m not educated enough on wine to give you specifics, but I very much prefer the Zonin.  This one isn’t bad or unpleasant.  Yet it lacks the light sparkle of Zonin.  It also has a very slight hint of something bitter in the end notes.  Again, not bad or unpleasant, but it doesn’t make me want to keep drinking it.  I think it would be ok in a mimosa, but since it is the same price as Zonin and not equal or better in taste, I don’t see a reason to buy it again.  I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how many enjoyable bubblies there are in the $10 and under range, so I can afford to be a bit selective.  If someone brought this as a hostess gift it would end up as mimosas.  Otherwise, I don’t think it will make it into my shopping cart a second time.


Zonin, you are still my prosecco hero.


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