Tag Archives: alcohol

Citrus Coconut Drink Two Ways: Virgin and with Malibu

16 Aug

Yamas

My alumnae book club was coming over the other day to talk about Moira Weigel‘s Labor of Love: The Invention of Dating, and my apartment was as hot as a sweatbox. I decided to whip up a variation of Kellie Van’s Le Zoe Musing’s Citrus Coconut Soda, which I’d found on Pinterest, to keep everyone cool and refreshed. It looked so pretty and sounded so tasty! There are quite a number of women in the book club who are pregnant or who just had children or who don’t drink, so I thought it would be better than offering soda or regular H2O. Plus, it occurred to me I could alter the recipe for version with alcohol in it for those who wanted a stronger drink.

A note on the coconut soda

Now, here’s where things got a little interesting. I had never heard of coconut soda, and the Le Zoe Musing recipe didn’t specify a brand or where to find it. I went to Whole Foods and considered purchasing coconut water and lime seltzer. If you can’t find coconut soda, I think that would be a great solution. Lo and behold, though, I discovered that LaCroix makes coconut soda!

I first tried LaCroix when I visited my friends in DC last summer. It’s so delightfully summery with its sparkling bubbles. It’s all natural and comes in a variety of traditional and unique flavors like peach pear and melon pomelo (cantaloupe + grapefruit). It’s also inexpensive so great to keep stocked in the fridge for whenever guests pop by. No, this is not a sponsored post. I just am excited by this new discovery!

 

Virgin Citrus Coconut Soda

  1. Wash various citrus fruits. The Le Zoe Musing recipe called for grapefruit, orange, lemon, and lime. I love grapefruit but I was worried it wouldn’t fit too easily in the cups I own, so I just used orange, lemon, and lime.
  2. Slice the citrus into circles. The Leo Zoe Musing recipe put all the ingredients in a pitcher. I think this is a great way to allow the flavors to really permeate the drink. However, I was worried that the drink would lose its bubbles so I put the citrus on a plate and made each drink individually. When you’re ready to make the drink, place the citrus into the cups. I suggest one of each citrus circle. This is important to do first so that there’s less splashing and less mess.
  3.  Pour the coconut soda over the citrus slices in the cup.
  4. Feel free to muddle a bit or serve without muddling the citrus. Yamas! (That’s Greek for “To your health!”)

 

Malibu Citrus Soda

  1. Follow steps 1 through 3.
  2. Add a dash of splash of Malibu Rum. My proportions were about 1/4 Malibu and 1/4 coconut soda.
  3. Cheers! Yamas!

 

The beverages were a hit!

CitrusCoconutSoda

 

The Starving Artist Toasts Ernest Hemingway with a Daiquiri Recipe

22 Jul

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“I drink to make other people more interesting.”

~ Ernest Hemingway

 

Starving artists know that birthdays mean free drinks at the bar. Today we toast to Ernest Hemingway, who would’ve turned 115 years old yesterday.

Hemingway had a bit of a reputation as a drinker. “I have drunk since I was fifteen and few things have given me more pleasure,” he wrote to the Russian translator and critic Ivan Kashkin. He and James Joyce used to toss back drink after drink together, though in that same 1935 letter to Kashkin he said alcohol wasn’t beneficial to writing. He was always a drinker, but after getting injured in a plane crash he drank even more heavily.

More than a few articles have been written about Hemingway’s drinking:

  • 7 Things You Didn’t Know About Ernest Hemingway’s Drinking Habits (via Food Republic)
  • The Passionate Affair Between Alcohol and Ernest Hemingway: The Paris Years (via Modern Drunkard)
  • How to Drink, the Hemingway Way (via Salon)
  • Why Do Writers Drink? (via The Guardian)
  • Hemingway and Me, at the Bar (via The Washington Post)

Being an alcoholic is probably not the reputation anyone wants. No one wants to be dependent on alcohol. It can destroy your life and the lives around you. If you drink, drink responsibility. But there’s no shame in not drinking either!

Hemingway’s favorite drink was a martini, but he was also closely associated with mojitos and daiquiris. I thought a daiquiri would make a great summertime drink, so here’s the Starving Artist Hemingway Daiquiri recipe:

2 ounces white rum

¾ ounces lime juice

½ ounce grapefruit juice

¼ ounce maraschino liqueur

Blend these altogether with a cup of ice. Who has time and money for fancy garnishes like maraschino cherries and lime wedges? Drink this sucker from whatever glass you have clean as you sit on your stoop, defining your own generation.

 

You might also like these other posts from my blog:

Surrealist Film at Pravda: Thoughts on Breton’s Automatism and Kerouac’s Spontaneous Prose

17 Feb

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Pravda ran a Surrealist and Experimental film night series over the summer, and although I’m terribly late in posting about it, my friend and I had such a great time that I figured better late than never. One night of Surrealism can lead to many more!

Pravda is a subterranean Russian speakeasy in Soho, near two of my favorite bookstores, Housing Works and McNally Jackson. They serve delicious food and have a fantastic vodka selection. I cannot recommend the horseradish-infused vodka enough.

Occasionally they host special events, such as Salon Dinners, Roaring Twenties Parties, and Surrealist & Experimental Cinema of the 1920s & 30s. The film nights are such a treat! The films are actually silent, and they hire a musician to play live piano music!! I was enthralled. Inspired. They showed films by Man Ray, whom I’d studied at Scripps College, as well as other artists.

A little background::: Surrealism developed out of Dada during World War I in Paris. André Breton is the key player here. Using Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic methods on soldiers, the French poet worked at a neurological hospital. In 1924, he wrote the Surrealist Manifesto, a work that defined the cultural revolution:

“Psychic automatism in its pure state, by which one proposes to express — verbally, by means of the written word, or in any other manner — the actual functioning of thought. Dictated by the thought, in the absence of any control exercised by reason, exempt from any aesthetic or moral concern.”

While Surrealism affected all the arts, I want to pause right here to focus on the connections between Surrealist literature and the Beat Generation. The idea of Surrealist automatism is key here. Automatism is the practice of writing without self-censorship. The Oxford University Press defines it as:

Term appropriated by the Surrealists from physiology and psychiatry and later applied to techniques of spontaneous writing, drawing and painting.

“Spontaneous writing.” Sound familiar? Jack Kerouac wrote a writing manifesto called “Essentials of Spontaneous Prose.” In it, Kerouac wrote, for example:

Not “selectivity” of expression but following free deviation (association) of mind into limitless blow-on-subject seas of thought….

I haven’t yet done any extensive research into this to see if the connections are accurate, but there is a cultural connection to Kerouac and automatism. On Wikipedia (obviously not a true source to go by, but one that can be a launching pad for actual informed research) I read:

The notion of Automatism is also rooted in the artistic movement of the same name founded by Montreal artist Paul-Emile Borduas in 1942; himself influenced by the Dadaist movement as well as André Breton. He, as well as a dozen other artists from Quebec’s artistic scene, very much under restrictive and authoritarian rule in that period, signed the Global Refusal manifesto, in which the artists called upon North American society (specifically in the culturally unique environment of Quebec), to take notice and act upon the societal evolution projected by these new cultural paradigms opened by the Automatist movement as well as other influences in the 1940s.

Remember that Kerouac’s parents were from Quebec, and he and his family used to travel back and forth to visit relatives. The Automatism of Quebec happened in 1942, when Kerouac was already an adult, having graduated from high school and moved to New York by that time. Still, it’s possible that the seeds were planted in both Kerouac and Borduas around the same time and place, in at least the small point that they spoke French, the language of Surrealism.

In “Earwitness Testimony: Sound and Sense, Word and Void in Jack Kerouac’s Old Angel Midnight” for Empty Mirror, Gregory Stephenson makes the claim:

Indeed, in method and intention, Old Angel Midnight could be said to be closer to the sound poetry of the dadaists, Hugo Ball and Kurt Schwitters, and to the automatic writing practiced by the surrealists, André Breton and Philippe Soupault, in their book-length exercise in textual autogenesis, The Magnetic Fields, originally published in 1919.

There’s much more to be said about Surrealism, Automatic Writing, Spontaneous Prose, and Surrealist Film, and the evening at Pravda whet my appetite.

 

Vote for Your Favorite Greeks!: GABBY Voting

20 Mar

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You, yes YOU, have the power to select the winners of the 2013 GABBY Awards. What’s that? You’ve never heard of the GABBYs? Where have you been, my friend? The GABBY Awards celebrates Greek America’s best and brightest:

The Gabby Awards were created to celebrate those Greek North Americans who strive to be the very best at what they do. Whether in business, philanthropy, the arts, education or other areas of interest that our awards cover, we celebrate the pursuit excellence as a core Greek ideal and are inspired by people who pursue excellence.

The name “Gabby” comes from the acronym “Greek America’s Best and Brightest Stars” and the Gabby has quickly become the top achievement awards for Greek North Americans. The awards are based on a purely meritocratic system that involves a 100-member Academy that determines the nominees, followed by a popular vote via the internet.

I attended the 2011 GABBY Awards on Ellis Island, which were AMAZING. Here are my recaps.

This year, the star-studded festivities will take place in Hollywood.

And the nominees are….

…Drum roll, please!

Business & Entrepreneurism

  • Sophia Amoruso, Founder and Owner, Nasty Gal (fashion)
  • George Kalogridis, President, Walt Disney Resort
  • Arianna Huffington, Journalist and Founder of the Huffington Post

Politics & Public Service

  • Andromache Karakastanis, Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada
  • Reince R. Priebus, Attorney, Chairman of the Republican National Committee
  • John Sarbanes, Maryland Congressman

Philanthropy

  • John Paul DeJoria, Co-founder of Paul Mitchell Systems, Patron Spirits, and JP Selects
  • Michael Lazaridis, Founder of Blackberry, Philanthropist
  • John Pappajohn, Entrepreneur, Philanthropist

Athletics

  • George Kontos, Professional Baseball Player
  • Christina Loukas, Olympian, Diver
  • Nick Markakis, Professional Baseball Player

Education

  • Nicholas Economides, Professor of Economics
  • C. L. Max Nikias, President, University of Southern California
  • Nicholas Zeppos, Chancellor, Vanderbilt University

Arts & Culture

  • Alexander Payne, Screenwriter and Director
  • George Pelecanos, Novelist, Writer and Producer
  • Greg Yaitanes, Director and Innovator

Performing Arts

  • Chris Diamantopoulos, Actor
  • Tina Fey, Actress
  • Zachary Galifianakis, Actor and Comedian

Science & Medicine

  • Paul Alivisatos, Ph.D., Professor of Chemistry and Materials Science
  • Dr. Peter Diamandis, Founder, Chairman & CEO of the X Prize Foundation
  • Constantine Stratakis, M.D. D.Sc., Medical Investigator

You can officially vote here. Let me know in the comments section, though, who you’re voting for. Also, is there anyone that didn’t make the cut that you think should have been nominated?

Thanksgiving and Lamenting

22 Nov

image via Burnside Writers Collective

Super impressed by all of you who were already posting photos on Facebook last night of delicious-looking Thanksgiving food.  I saw “papou’s stuffing” and “maple-glazed brussels sprouts” and pie galore.  My family was always in charge of bringing dessert and liquor.  We’d pick up the cake — no pie from us; it had to be chocolate cake — along the way.  The Glenlivet was already in the closet.  I’m carrying on the tradition.  No measuring and mixing going on over here.  I’ll stop and pick up some wine along the way to my aunt and uncle’s.

This Thanksgiving season, I’ve been seeing a lot of daily posts on Facebook on what people are thankful for, which is a great practice and quite beautiful. However, I also have a lot of friends who are going through significant struggles. It’s okay to feel sad, hurt, angry, or frustrated. It’s important that we acknowledge that our lives don’t always go as planned and that we don’t pretend that our lives are perfect. Sometimes on Facebook, it’s easy to get the impression that people’s lives are so much better than our own, but we don’t always know what’s going on behind the scenes.

I’ll confess that I was a bit “jealous” of my colleague, Emily Timbol, who wrote this article on lament and thanksgiving: “Let’s Have a Kvetch Fest.” Her writing career is going really well. She writes for the Huffington Post, has participated in radio interviews, and has made great progress with her book. I’m happy for her, but at times frustrated with my own writing. In this article, she shares her frustrations with her writing. This does not bring me joy. I think she has an important story to tell and has an engaging voice, and I want her to succeed. Her honesty, though, was a good reminder to me not to compare myself to others and not to be so hard on myself. I share all this because I believe it’s important to be thankful even in the difficult times, however I also believe that when we’re open with each other we learn that we’re not alone in our struggles, our fears, our frustrations, our sadness, our loneliness, our insecurities, and on and on.

A Manhattan in Big Sur: Cocktail Recipe for Jack Kerouac’s Big Sur Manhattan

16 Oct

Big Sur tells the story of Jack Kerouac’s alter ego escaping the pressures of fame brought on after the publishing success of On the Road by hiding out at the desolate cabin owned by his friend, City Lights Bookstore owner Lawrence Ferlinghetti (called Lorenzo Monsanto in the novel).  Kerouac had a notorious sweet tooth, perhaps most noticeably evident by all that delicious apple pie a la mode he writes of eating in On the Road.  In Big Sur, his friends point out his taste for a sweet of a different sort—sweet drinks!

Kerouac’s drink of choice in Big Sur is the classic cocktail the Manhattan, which gets its sweetness from vermouth, orange bitters, and a maraschino cherry.  The Manhattan has been called “the drinking man’s drink,” though, probably because of all the whiskey in it.

Here’s the history of the Manhattan, as told by That’s the Spirit!:

Samuel J. Tilden was elected Governor of New York in 1874, and to celebrate, socialite Jenny Jerome threw a party at the Manhattan Club in New York City.  Jerome asked the bartender to create a drink for the occasion. The bartender mixed 1 1/2 ounces bourbon, 1 1/4 ounces each of sweet and dry vermouth, and a dash of bitters. It met with Jerome’s approval and she named the drink the “Manhattan,” after the club.  Jenny Jerome later earned her place in history as she later became Lady Randolph Churchill, mother of Sir Winston Churchill, one of England’s most famous Prime Ministers.  The Manhattan became a classic cocktail that has survived a number of changes over the years and is presently enjoying a comeback alongside its cousin, the Martini.

That’s the most popular version of the story, but of course, like most cocktail history, there are other versions of the story as well.

That said, there are also variations of Manhattans.  It can be made with rye whiskey or bourbon.  Although Big Sur doesn’t specify, Kerouac would probably have preferred the bourbon variety, since rye whiskey is more on the bitter side.  Likewise, there are different types of vermouth: sweet and dry.  The bitters can either be traditional Angostura bitters or Angostura Orange.  Some people add a lemon peel for garnish.

On almost any given page of Big Sur there is a reference to alcohol, as the book documents Kerouac gripped by the disease of alcoholism.  While many culture critics have accused Kerouac of promoting a nefarious lifestyle, Kerouac makes the dangers of alcohol quite plain in Big Sur as he portrays himself in deplorable states of breakdown.  In addition to the maraschino cherry, some bartenders will even add a bit of the cherry juice to the drink.  Yum!

Big Sur also describes Kerouac drinking a lot of port wine.  A Manhattan made with port instead of vermouth is called a Ruby Manhattan.  Since he frequented the famous Nepenthe in Big Sur, though, I’m going to go with their recipe.  It’s quite possible the restaurant has changed its cocktail recipe since Kerouac’s autobiographical novel was published in 1962, but their current Manhattan ingredients includes Makers Mark, sweet vermouth, and blood orange bitters.

Nepenthe doesn’t include the ingredient breakout, but based on other general Manhattan recipes, this is my take on Jack Kerouac’s Big Sur Manhattan:

  • 3 oz. Makers Mark
  • 2 oz. sweet vermouth
  • dash of blood orange bitters
  • a Maraschino cherry as garnish, but while you’re at it add a splash of cherry juice to sweeten

Stir the ingredients over ice, then strain into a cocktail glass (the Martini glass) to serve straight up. Garnish with the cherry.

Orange Wine at Brooklyn Winery

2 Oct

When I read about orange wine, I knew just whom to ask about it: Orlando Clemente.  He took me to Brooklyn Winery, where we went on a tour of the winery and got to taste-test this hipster wine, which to me had almost an earl grey flavor.  I asked Orlando to write up a review, and he wrote this and provided the pictures you see here:

A winery in Brooklyn? Oh yes, and a great one at that. I never would have conceived the notion that wine ( let alone great wine) would be produced in Brooklyn NY! 

Brooklyn Winery  produces Rieslings, Chardonnay, an Orange Chardonnay, a fine Rosé  and a killer Pinot Noir. Believe me, all are world class.

The Riesling is crisp, refined, refreshing and will serve you well with Asian and spicy fare or just for enjoying on its own.  (I had a to drink multiple glasses).

The Pinot Noir was insane! A little darker then most Pinots, medium bodied and a blast to drink,I could not get enough of it! Glass after glass after glass was enjoyed by my beautiful drinking partner Stephanie Nikolopoulos and myself.

The Rosé was great as well. Great nose of Strawberries and candy.Great color and really delicious. A great dry but fruity Rosé

The Orange Chardonnay is unbelievable. I’ve never had anything like this before, and its hue is out of this world: it really is orange. Great nose and mouthfeel. There are so many flavors here that it will keep you entertained for some time as you try to figure them all out.

The appetizers… Mama mia! You have to come down here and try them. Duck paté, cheeses, baguette, etc. All delicious. If you love wine,and I know that you do, you must visit and enjoy the great food, wine, awesome staff and winery tour.

There is so much going on here from wine to decor, that once you’re inside… You won’t wanna leave.

 

 

 

 

 

Clip: Chapel-Turned-Brewery Hopping

2 Aug

 

Burnside Writers Collective published my latest Church Hopping column.  In this edition of my ongoing column, I visit Brewery Vivant in Michigan. What’s now a trendy Grand Rapids beer hall used to be the Metcalf Funeral Chapel.  Writers Kim Gottschild and Larry Shallenberger join me.

You can read the full article here.

 

For the last time Burnside went Church Hopping during the Festival of Faith & Writing, check out: Calvin College Chapel with Fellow Burnside Writers.

For the time Burnside Writers Susan Isaacs and Donald Miller went Church Hopping in New York, check out: Calvary-St. George’s.

For another repurposed church, check out: Don Justo’s “Trash” Cathedral.

Your Home Can Smell Like Big Sur

9 Jul

Busy poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who is still active at ninety-three years old, moved out to San Francisco and founded City Lights in 1953.  More than just the independent bookstore of Beat pilgrimages, City Lights is a book publisher, and in 1956, Ferlinghetti was arrested on obscenity charges because he had published and sold Allen Ginsberg’s Howl.  He was later found not guilty of a crime.

The year after Ginsberg and Ferlinghetti made the papers, Jack Kerouac finally found fame with On the Road.  The fame was overwhelming, though.  Talk-show hosts invited the naturally shy author on their show.  Wanderlust kids, winos, and dogged readers showed up unannounced at his home.  Fame took a toll on his mind, body, soul.

Ferlinghetti had a cabin, a refuge, out in the wilderness of Big Sur.  He could escape the hustle and bustle of San Francisco for respite along the coast of central California.  After the fame wore him down, Kerouac escaped there too, living for a brief time in Ferlinghetti’s cabin in the woods.  The result of this experience is the 1962 novel Big Sur.

Juniper Ridge now has a room spray called Big Sur.  According to their website, it smells of “wild ginger, burnt honey, salt, damp ground.”  The ingredients are plucked from the deserts and mountains of the West, and 10% of the $20 spray bottle goes back to protecting western wilderness.  They also have a Big Sur soap, essential oil, and sachet.  For $50 you can give the gift of Big Sur, which includes the items already mentioned, plus wild huckleberry jam (perhaps reminiscent of Neal Cassady, whom some have said is Huckleberry Finn incarnate).  The gift comes gift wrapped with real pine cones!  And, like the others, 10% of the profit goes to protecting wilderness.

First Sips of Alcohol

15 Sep

 

I’ve been working on a chapter in my memoir that involves a story about a family member’s first encounter with alcohol.  While researching drinking ages in various countries and drinking statistics in the U.S., I read that 1 out of 3 eighth graders drinks alcohol.

I don’t doubt that many middle-schoolers have tasted alcohol but 1 out of 3 sounds like a lot!  What do you think?  How old were you when you first started drinking?  How do you prevent your kids from drinking at a young age?