Category Archives: Beverages


Budweiser + Clamat = "Chelada"

I was out of town a month ago when we spotted this can of Bud Chelada, aka Budweiser+Clamato. Hrm. Intrigued, we bought a can and then took turns drinking from it and making funny faces, and then doubled over with laughter, we took sips again just to keep on laughing.

Needless to say, we were not too entranced by the taste.

But then the other day, I came across a Slashfood’s post on Michelada–at first, knowing of Bud Chelada, I thought this was perhaps a proprietary name for the Michelob version of this same drink.

Nope. It’s some other concoction–one that you can make with Michelob even though it’s preferable to use a dark beer.

Not being a beer fan, I’m not a fan of the beer cocktail, either.

The Green Faerie

When my wonderful friend Justin took off with his partner on a 3 month backpacking trip through Europe and Africa nearly ten years ago, he asked me what souvenir he could bring back for me. “Absinthe,” I replied immediately. I had just enjoyed a Valentine’s Day meal at Absinthe in San Francisco, and was fascinated by the stuff, especially since it was, at the time, strictly illegal in the States (they weren’t serving it at the restaurant). I didn’t actually expect him to bring it back – I explained that it would be contraband, but lo and behold he simply declared it and customs just waved him through. I fantasized about planning all sorts of belle epoque themed dinner parties, but just never got around to it.

Place St. Catherine absinthe shop

A few years ago, when I was visiting Justin in Paris, we happened upon an absinthe shop in Place St. Catherine, a charming and discreet little plaza in the Marais (A glimpse of it is visible as Treadstone’s Paris branch in The Bourne Identity). In addition to selling the stuff, they also sold absinthe accoutrements. I purchased a spoon and a finger sized bottle.

Recently, the United States legalized absinthe, and as luck would have it, the only domestic distiller producing it, St. George Spirits, is right in my backyard. The first release was on December 27, 2007. Demand was high, and after customers endured 6 hour waits in the rain, the product sold out in two hours. I figured that since I already had a bottle, there was no need for me to subject myself to such insanity. But the next day, after enjoying a leisurely German brunch, the bartender brandished a bottle towards us as the busboy cleared away our glasses. “This stuff ain’t for chumps.” I looked at my husband and we shrugged “Why not?” and ordered a shot to share. It was served with a cup of ice, to be mixed to our liking.

Maybe it was the two beers beforehand, but one small sip, and we knew we wouldn’t be operating heavy machinery. “Now I know why Van Gogh went mad,” slurred Zack before we tottered home. I promptly passed out on the couch, and Zack went out to get ice cream (he usually avoids junk food, but wanted something caloric to absorb the alcohol).

When we came to our senses, we opened the bottle already in our possession. It wasn’t nearly as strong, nor were the flavors as complex. I immediately put myself on the mailing list for St. George’s next release. Last week, I received the newsletter notification that the sophomore batch would go on sale this Super Bowl Sunday.

The distillery opened at noon, so I drove up shortly after my Sunday yoga class. By 12:30, the line stretched past the building, around the fence and spilled over into the next parking lot. I dutifully got in line and waited. The view of the City was stunning, and the air was brisk. And by brisk, I mean cold, wet and windy. Although a few distillery employees cheerfully marched up and down the line, proffering cups of hot chocolate, there was not much they could do to speed up the line… which took THREE HOURS.

Yep, yours truly waited in line for three hours for a bottle of newly legalized liquor. I’ll subject myself to Tartine’s line, but the last time I waited in a line that long, I wound up in the front row of a U2 concert. I was also next to a group of drunken but generous Irishmen who taught me all manners of Gaelic toasts that I will not repeat here.

But I digress. Anyways, while I was in the line, I finished 3 podcasts of This American Life. I also contemplated how much of an alcoholic I might be to wait in a line this long for a bottle of booze. But once I got to the front, I found it didn’t concern me anymore. I had only planned on buying one bottle, but since I’d waited so long, I bought two. I seriously considered three (the limit) but decided that might be a bridge too far. I took the bottles home, where Zack was anxiously waiting with his finger on the TiVO decided to hold off on opening a new bottle we had gotten closer to finishing the initial (imported while contraband) bottle.


egg nog, eggnog

homemade egg nog

Apparently there are two ways to spell this wonderfully custardy holiday time beverage: “egg nog” or “eggnog.”

I’ve always bought my eggnog from the store throughout the years, our recipe for eggnog being the comical, “Open box, pour into glass, drink!” We looooove eggnog. And it is purely a holiday time drink, because you can’t buy eggnog in a carton except for during the holidays.

But this year, out of pure curiosity, I decided to make a batch at home, complete with whipped egg topping and grated nutmeg. My reaction: OH.MY.G*D. It was AWESOME. Sorry, I can’t get more eloquent than that (I’ve had a couple cups now and am officially tipsy).

Though unnecessary, I decided to do a taste test against some store bought eggnog–the store bought eggnog was entirely bland (though nice and thick) and tasteless in the wake of homemade eggnog which just tastes so fresh and sparkles with each of the ingredients.

I made my egg nog very lightly alcoholic but you can certainly add more liquor if you please. Enjoy!!!!!

(btw, if you have problems with eggs in your area, don’t make this–the eggs are raw in this recipe)

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Kimono Kitty

I think I have discovered a new favorite drink. For more reasons than one.

Blue Bottle Coffee

Blue Bottle Coffee

I am a coffee lover who does not drink coffee.

At one point in my life, I drank over six cups of coffee a day (plus espresso!), with a particular penchant for Peet’s Major Dickason’s blend coffee. After Peet’s, I fell in love with Royal Coffee in the Oakland Rockridge neighborhood (it now has the unfortunate name of “Cole Coffee”–say it real fast, sounds like COLD coffee, doesn’t it?).

But after I quit drinking caffeine a few years ago, I couldn’t find a decent decaf coffee ANYWHERE. And I’m stuck with decaf, because caffeinated, regular coffee has the kind of effect on me now that I’ve always envisioned CRACK would have–bouncing off the walls, nonstop talking, speeding thoughts, insomnia.

Every now and then, I indulge in decaf coffee from Cole Coffee, but it’s just not anywhere near the same–the taste is lacking. I miss the coffee ritual, I miss the roasted smoky taste. I miss the hint of the sugar, the cream swirling in the black coffee, turning it into a mocha brown. Mrmmm. I miss coffee.

Last week, however, I visited a friend of mine, who offered me some decaf coffee. I said yes out of courtesy. She poured me a cup. The coffee was secondary, I thought. We started chatting, immersing ourselves in a deep conversation about philosophy, writing, reading, sickness and recovery. I sipped the coffee.

And stopped the conversation. “R–,” I asked, “What is this coffee?” It was the BEST coffee (decaf, or caffeinated) bar none, I had EVER tasted. It was AMAZING.

Blue Bottle!” she answered.

Ah, I replied. The mythical Blue Bottle Coffee. I had heard about it, smelt it in the Ferry Building once. I had no idea they made a decaf coffee so marvelous.

My friend remarked on how wonderful it was–and how, most importantly, she could buy it online. At which point, I hurriedly scribbled that fact into my notebook, went home, and bought some straight away. The day it arrived, on my doorstep, I was greeted with the heady roasted scent of coffee–freshly roasted. I carried the box into the kitchen, trailing a wonderful odor that I felt was so rich and heavy that I believed the molecules were dropping to the floor.

Blue Bottle Coffee ship orders out by the pound, once a week, from Oakland (so if you’re in the Bay Area, you’ll get the coffee the next day)…in whole bean form only (but if you’re a coffee snob, you won’t be surprised by that requirement).

Their other coffees, I can only imagine, must be even more amazing. But I? I’m giddy with my decaf noir from Blue Bottle.

St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur

St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur

I love elderflower beverages, especially a cordial or presse mixed with sparkling water. I was first introduced to this flavor at a friend’s house–she gleefully went to her fridge and brought out the chilled bottle of elderflower cordial. “You’ll love this!” she exclaimed, as she mixed it with club soda. We enjoyed that beverage in the living room, our mouths swirling with the unique floral and fruity flavors of elderflower. (Man, if I ever run into an elderflower plant, you know I’ll bury my nose in its blooms, and possibly eat a flower head).

When I was in London, I happily tried many of the elderflower beverages–they seemed a mainstay in the beverage aisle! In the U.S., you’ll only find them at specialty stores, or in specialty aisles at gourmet grocery stores.

I guzzled those cordials down during my short visit.

elderflower cordial

And so, when I heard about an elderflower liqueur, I kept my eyes wide open for that Art Deco/Art Nouveau (ohh, I do so love Art Deco and Art Nouveau) bottle. I couldn’t find it, and nearly gave up. But then I found it (of all places) at Beverages and More!

Of course, you know I drove right over and grabbed a bottle.

Of course, you know, even though at the time I was under medical orders to abstain from alcohol…that I snuck a little sip. It was the most wonderful liqueur, one that really captured the essence of elderflower, instead of smothering it in an alcoholic haze. It is a bit on the sweet side, but then again, I’m also a fan of dessert wines like trockenbeerenauslese and beerenauselese rieslings, and sauternes.

This is one of those liqueurs that you can drink without mixing, in a glass full of ice, or simply with some club soda (as soon as I was off the ban, I was right on that). Recipes are popping up for this liqueur all over the place, as it’s building quite a little fan base.

I’m now thinking about how I could use it in desserts and incorporate it into food recipes. I’m thinking–poached fruit in this wonderful liqueur–or maybe sneaking it into the egg mixture for a french toast? I’m not sure how the floral taste would work with the french toast, but it might work.

a cocktail recipe follows after the jump…

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A quick sprig of tea

mint and anise hyssop tea

Tea, I have realized (and sadly) only in recent months, does not have to be spooned, in dry flecks, out of a tin can. It does not have to make that subtle swishing sound as dry leaves scrape against the metal walls and hits the side of your teapot.

No. Tea can be made from fresh sprigs of mint and anise hyssop and other herbs you can find in your garden.

Today I made a tea out of mint leaves and anise hyssop leaves. I rinsed them, put them in a teapot, and then poured hot water over them, infusing the water with a great, enriching scent and flavor.

In no time at all, I had a mug of mint and anise hyssop tea, straight from the garden.

Try it.

Strawberry Lemonade

strawberry lemonade

I’ve been a huge fan of strawberry lemonade after I tried Odwalla’s version when I visited Santa Cruz in 1991. Ever since then, when I’m at a restaurant that offers strawberry lemonade, I’ll order it. The weekend’s more temperate weather caused a craving. Coupled with the sale on strawberries and lemons at the local market meant it was time for me to make strawberry lemonade.

I knew I wanted a recipe with fresh ingredients only, no concentrates or frozen fruit/ fruit juices – with this parameter in mind, I found the perfect recipe on the internet.

Recipe follows after the jump…
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Morir Sonando

morir sonando, originally uploaded by c(h)ristine.

I picked up Saveur Magazine’s “100” issue–the issue that lists their 100 favorite foods, restaurants, drinks, people, places, and things. While reading through it (this is a yearly tradition in my life), I dogeared all the pages with especially attractive items, for example: (9) Breakfast in the Raw (“tamago kake gohan,” a favorite of mine throughout the years–raw egg stirred with soy sauce and hot rice)….(50) a recipe for pecan pralines….and (86) morir sonando, a Dominican beverage of fresh-squeezed orange juice, milk, sugar, and a dash of vanilla extract shaken with ice.

The morir sonando sounds a bit like a creamsicle or florida freeze (or most probably the other way around), and it’s just what I felt like whipping up today while convalescing at home. I shook the concoction in two glasses until it was a fizzy, creamy, orange-scented blissful mix.

And then? I guzzled it down. It was what I needed today–a cheerful, uplifting drink of orange and milk, with the right amount of sweetness and vanilla complexity.

My recipe was simple:
equal parts of orange juice and milk. A dash of sugar (a handful?). And a splash of vanilla extract.

Here are some other recipes for morir sonando, which means “to die in a dream”–most of the recipes call for a mixture of orange juice and milk. One recipe in particular calls for lime/lemon juice and milk. I’ll have to try that next.

Recipes follow after the jump…

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holiday alchemy

mrmmm vodka collins w fresh squezed lemon juice and organic maraschino cherries, originally uploaded by c(h)ristine.

It’s one of the biggest booze buying days of the year–everyone’s stocking up for the parties! My list? I bought some of the following: Lillet and Lillet Blanc, Gosling’s Black Seal Rum, and Grey Goose Vodka. Oh and big ass bottle of natural maraschino cherries (I’m addicted).


mrmmm maraschino cherries.  without artificial color!

What am I going to do with my purchases this holiday season?

  • Lillet Blanc is great with club soda over ice as an apertif. Or with a twist of orange. Or in a Corpse Reviver:
    3/4 oz Gin
    3/4 oz Lillet Blanc
    3/4 oz Cointreau
    3/4 oz lemon juice
    2 drops Pernod
  • I’m in love with a “Dark and Stormy” (my new discovery at a dissident chef dinner–though for many of you it may not be so new). A Dark and Stormy is Gosling’s Black Seal Rum with ginger beer in a 1:2 ratio. That’s the basic recipe, although I hear you can add a touch of lime or lemon juice. I’m so loyal to vodka and gin drinks, I’m surprised how much I like this rum-based drink. But it’s a winner.
  • If you want something different from a cosmo or lemon drop, but still want one foot in fancy martini/vodka land…try a French Martini (one of my fave drinks–my first french martini was at Balthazar in New York over five years ago). It’s vodka, chambord, and pineapple shaken together and served in a martini glass. That’s another drink I’ll be serving this season.
  • Of course I bought a ton of club soda and tonic water for the mixers like gin and tonic, etc.

Funny. I’m not making any of the drinks that bartenders hate to make: the lemon drop, cosmo, mojito, and manhattan. (btw, two of my favorite cocktails are the lemon drop and cosmo–I’m going to look closely at the bartender’s face to see if he/she grimaces when I order them).

The site I reference throughout this post is The Art of Drink, run by a bartender who cares to share his thoughts on drink.