Dec 232011

This year my old friends at Trader Joe’s have provided me with yet another source of holiday martini inspiration.

Spiced Cran-tini

3 ozs Spiced Cranberry Cider

2 ozs Golden Rum

1 oz Vodka

1/2 oz triple sec

1/2 oz lemon juice

Muddle some fresh peeled ginger in the bottom of a shaker.  Add the remaining ingredients and shake with ice.  Strain, pour and garnish with a strip of orange zest and a dash or two of orange bitters.  Fee Brothers makes a nice one.  The cider is also nice on it’s own for your non- imbibing guests.

Happy Shaking!

Dec 212011

It’s that time of year Shaker fans, when family and friends gather to celebrate, medicate and otherwise tipple with less restraint than usual.  And for some of you, it’s also that time of year when seasonal ingredients warm your chilly toes.  In the spirit of the season, Shaker One has created some new winter/holiday cocktails.  This one was the hit of a recent Christmas cocktail party:


The Pear Cide-car

This is my take on the classic side car.  To complement the spiced pear cider I subbed in brandy for the more traditional cognac.

1 oz Brandy

1 oz Triple Sec or Cointreau

2 oz Trader Joe’s Pear Cinnamon Cider

1 oz freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice

Shake all the above over ice, strain and garnish with a bit of the lemon rind.  If you can’t get your hands on meyer lemons you could use regular ones.  But please search for the meyers…..they are a lovely addition to the pear.

I can also see this delicious as a warmed beverage, served in a mug with a stick of cinnamon garnish.

Grab some of the TJ’s Pear Cider.  It’s a seasonal item, so don’t wait.



Dec 192011

Shaker One here.  I was recently invited to meet friends for Happy Hour at a local watering hole in a familiar location.  Formerly Saints and Sinners, the place has been gifted with a complete remodel and theme change.  I’ve been curious since I saw the new sign go up, but this was my first opportunity to pop in and check it out for myself.

Now Saints and Sinners was a fun, wackily decor-ed local spot with something of a hit and miss crowd.  My biggest complaint was that their cocktail menu wasn’t to my liking.  So while I knew I’d miss the fire pit and crazily adorned statuary I was eager to see what the owners had brought us with this incarnation.

The new Oldfields on Venice Blvd just East of Sepulveda is a revelation.  Styled as an old school “liquor room” it is a haven of laid back elegance with a bit of a vintage feel accented with classic racing photos (its named after the racer Barney Oldfield).  We walked in and I immediately fell in love.  And not just because I can stumble back home afterwards.  While I’ll try a place once for convenience, Oldfield’s is somewhere I plan to call my local hang.

The bar is extremely well stocked with interesting beers on tap and an impressive array of the hard stuff-especially whiskeys and gins.  But what make my little heart go pitter patter was the new cocktail menu.  Fresh ingredients in truly creative combinations, this baby was the result of someone’s hard work.  And it pays off, oh boy does it.   I first ordered from the happy hour drink specials- The Blitzen Benz.

For my first taste of Cynar this was a hit.  And Shaker One loves her flips.  I must be sure to mention that all night the service here was exceptional.  Every drink I watched was made with care.  These folks are serious about giving you a good cocktail experience.

Next I tried The Outlaw (sorry, no pic)- sort of a spicy margarita type beverage.  Very tasty.  After such a promising start I wandered up to the bar and did one of my favorite things to do at a bar:  asked the bartender to surprise me with something.  Sit down kids, for what showed up in front of me was easily the very best cocktail I’ve had all year.  Not on the menu, ask the bartender for a “Nikita’s Bees”.  I don’t know exactly what was in this (a gin based drink with a lovely almost floral aroma and a smooth flip finish) but it was so perfectly balanced and delicious I smiled while I sipped.


I can’t wait until Shaker Two comes back out this way so that I can introduce her to this lovely local gem.  Kids, if you’re in the Westside and in the mood for a well made cocktail in a cool and welcoming environment do not miss this place.

If Oldfield’s was a martini, I’d give it 5 olives.  Now who wants to go back with me for another Nikita’s Bees?

Dec 052011

Today marks the anniversary of the end of a dark chapter in our Nation’s history~Prohibition.  <shudder>
I don’t even like to say it out loud.  Imagine, criminalizing the cocktail. But it happened children.  For 13 terribly sober years the thirsty citizenry suffered under the 18th amendment.  Thankfully repealed by the 21st amendment in 1933,  the 18th Amendment was relegated to the ash heap of history.  The country could once again tip a glass without fear of arrest.

So do your patriotic duty as an imbibing American today~ have an adult beverage to celebrate a freedom we won’t allow to be taken away from us ever again.

“Sweet land of liberty………(wiping away tear)”

Nov 302011

The other night Shaker One was in the mood for an adult beverage but wanted to try something different.  So off I went to rummage around in the bar, fridge and pantry…….nothing grabbed me.  Until I poked my head in the frezer and spied  some Haagen Dazs raspberry sorbet.  Suddenly I remembered my lovely bottle of Creme de Mure and inspiration struck!


Now I’ve used sorbet in place of ice in several martinis before.  You get some of the flavor of the sorbet itself as well as a lovely texture to the drink……thicker in an almost fluffy way.  I love that technique.

So into the shaker went:

2 large spoonfuls raspberry sorbet

1 shot Creme de Mure

3 shots vodka

2 shots fresh lemon juice

Shake, strain and finish with a dash of lemon bitters.  Now that may sound like a lot of lemon juice to you, but trust me- you need the bite of citrus to balance the syrupy sweetness of the Creme de Mure as well as the sweet sorbet.  This is a lovely drink, sweet without being at all cloying or “dessert-y” and the raspberry marries with the blackberry liquor beautifully.  Though I think it would make a lovely light after dinner option in place of dessert.  I loved the slightly slushee, slightly foamy mouth feel that the sorbet produced.  You can see it here:

Raspberry Sorbetini~ I’d give this one 4 1/2 olives.  We’ll have to get Shaker Two to give it a try and chime in.




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 162011

Yesterday on Facebook we were discussing the cranberry liquor and someone suggested that you’ll achieve a superior result if you wait to add the simple syrup until the end of the process, rather than at the beginning.  Basically you follow the same recipe, infusing the cranberries, spices and vodka for 4 weeks.  At that point, you strain out the solids then add the simple syrup.  This advice comes from “an old hooch maker”.  Heh.

I can see the merits of this, as you’d be able to control the level of sweetness/tartness better.  But I’ve already started my batch with the simple syrup added.  What’s a Shaker to do?

Make a second batch, of course!  Yep, I’m doing a head to head comparison  of cranberry liquor techniques.  Though Batch 2 will be 4 days or so behind Batch 1, I’ll do a side by side taste test at the end of each week.

Check back later for updates.  And a special thank you to my Hooch Making mentor!

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.







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