The Real Cocktail Hour

Friday, May 30, 2008

If you are looking for some girly cocktails to get you in the mood for the movie that is coming out today, you are in the wrong place. I am not going to feature something in a martini glass just because that movie made a it an accessory (and fad).

Today, I am going to share with you, my loyal reader, some classic cocktail recipes. These drinks put the c*ck, back in cocktails - they are strong and not to be consumed by amature drinkers.

The true definition of a “classic cocktail” means that it appeared on menus before the end of Prohibition (1934). The recipes I included below may not be “classic” by definition, but they are all official cocktails of the International Bartenders Association (or IBA if you will).

Old FashionedPossibly the first drink to be called a cocktail, this is served in guess what…an Old Fashioned glass. This drink dates back to one of the original six drinks listed in David A. Embury’s book "The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks."

12 parts American whiskey1 part simple syrup
1-3 dashes Angostura bitters to each drink
In an old-fashioned glass, add bitters to simple syrup and stir. Add about 1 ounce of whiskey and stir again. Add two cubes of cracked, but not crushed, ice and top off with the rest of the whiskey. Twist lemon peel over the top and serve garnished with the lemon peel and a maraschino cherry

The Manhattan dates back to the 1870’s to the Manhattan Club in where else – New York City. It was said to been invented for a banquet hosted by Jennie Jerome, aka Winston Churchill’s mom) in honor of presidential candidate Samuel J. Tilden. Today, the drink has been called the “king of cocktails,” because it is a drinking man’s cocktail – strong, urbane and simple.
5 parts American whiskey
1 part Italian (sweet) vermouthdash of Angostura bitters to each drink
Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass and serve garnish with a maraschino cherry

Bloody Mary
While there is some debate over the creation of the Bloody Mary, in 1939 Lucis Beebe wrote in the New York Herald Tribune that “George Jessel’s newest pick-me-up which is receiving attention from the town’s paragraphers is called a Bloody Mary: Half tomato juice, half vodka.”
3 parts Vodka
6 parts Tomato juice
1 part Lemon juice
Add dashes of Worcestershire Sauce, Tabasco , salt and pepper into highball glass, then pour all ingredients into highball with ice cubes. Stir gently. Garnish with Celery Salt and lemon wedge

The Martini The original “tini” drink, I think I my 13 year drinking career I’ve probably see one or two people actually drink this version. Like many drinks on this list, The Martini’s history is a bit blurred, but throughout the years, this drink has been a favorite of notables like Winston Churchill,
7 parts English gin
1 part French (dry) vermouth
Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, twist lemon peel over the top and serve garnished with an olive, preferably one stuffed with any kind of nut.
One thing that I can agree with Embury on is that “..the drink will never be any better than the quality of the cheapest ingredient in it.” That means don’t use Vladimir Vodka.

(Sources: Wikipedia, IBA, JB photos from my files, houstonist )
Read More

Party Like a Virgin on Prom Night

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

In college, I always wanted to have an 80’s prom party. To my dismay, the sorority vetoed this idea during a formal meeting and instead went with some St. Pat’s party (who even remembers that Lynn Lai!?).
Last fall, Ashlee Simpson pulled off a really awesome prom party last year for her birthday. While I haven’t liked her much lately, the pictures (to the right) from her party were hilarious.

Regardless if you had a memorable experience or not, salute prom season with your one adult version with these tips.

* Ain’t no party like a theme party. Cheesy 80’s love ballads are always a crowd pleaser and there are a ton of good prom themes such as, “Bed of Roses” (Bon Jovi), “Is This Love” (Whitesnake), “Time After Time” (Cyndi Lauper), “Heaven” (Warrant) and “More Than Words” (Extreme).

* Thrifty Attire. Scour the local thrift store for some totally awesome attire. I knew that my mom shouldn’t have thrown away Aunt Michelle’s bridesmaid dress. That would have been a beaut. If you are a packrat, pull a Peggy Sue and wear your high school prom dress. If you are sticking to the 80’s theme, buy some props for guests that don’t come prepared. Scrunchies, long strands of pearls, pastel bow ties, a crimper and Ray Bans for the guys.

Say Cheese-y. Remember those horrible prom pictures (ah hem Studio Ten) where you are forced to do an awkward pose in a cheesy setting with your date? Recreate that moment as guests walk in. If you have a bigger budget, purchase a pre-made set like the one on the right from

Party Like it’s 1999. Times have changed and so has the way we play music at parties. Get jiggy with an ipod playlist of songs that were played during your prom days. For us 1999ers, that would be a little “Livin’ la Vida Loco,” “Hit Me Baby One More Time”and “Genie in a Bottle.” Slow things down with some KC and JoJo “All My Life.”

Mamma said knock you out. As a nod to prom movies, served a spiked punch.

Strawberry Champagne Punch Recipe
2 10-ounce packages frozen sweetened strawberries, thawed
2 750-ml. bottles rosé wine (about 6½ cups)
1 1/2 cups fresh lemon juicePowdered sugar or simple syrup3 750-ml. bottles champagne (about 10 cups)
Ice mold
Chill all ingredients well before mixing. Purée the strawberries in a blender or food processor, adding a little of the rosé wine if necessary. Chill. Sweeten the lemon juice to taste with sugar or simple syrup and pour it into a punch bowl. Stir in the puréed strawberries and the wine. Add the champagne last, just before serving. Float an ice mold. Makes about 40 servings.
Do me a favor... No prom is complete without favors. In 11th grade, we were banned by the school board for giving away champagne glasses because it alluded to drinking. Don’t worry, I got them back by going to my senior prom wasted with an executive member of SADD. Since there is no school board around for this party, order some cheap glasses from cuctomized with your theme and party date.

Prom Queen. No prom is complete without a King and Queen. Buy cheap crowns and sashes and create voting boxes for guests to submit their favorite couple. For bonus points, hand out additional “Class Personalities” like “Most Likely to Puke,” “Class Couple,” “Best Dressed,” etc.

(Sources:, wireimage,
Read More

Take a Dip

Monday, May 26, 2008

While Memorial Day marks the kick-off to summer, I know that many of us won’t step foot in a pool with this crazy weather. Since you can cannonball into a pool, take a dive into one of these dip recipes!

Buffalo Chicken Dip
¾ cup of Frank’s hot sauce
1 cup of ranch dressing
2 8oz packs of cream cheese
1 large can of chicken (or two small cans)
Mix all ingredients into a oven safe pan. Cook for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees, or until hot

Philadelphia Dessert Dip
1 pkg. (8 oz.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
1 jar (7 oz.) JET-PUFFED Marshmallow Creme
Mix ingredients until well blended; cover. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve with assorted cookies or cut-up fresh fruit.

Kielbasa Dip
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1/3 cup 2% milk
1 tablespoon light mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
8 ounces chopped cooked kielbasa or smoked sausage
1/2 cup onions, diced
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
In a microwave safe bowl, heat cream cheese on high for 1 minute. Stir in sour cream, milk, mayonnaise and Worcestershire sauce. Add the kielbasa or sausage, 1/4 cup of the onions and the Parmesan cheese. Microwave on high for 3 to 4 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining onions. Serve with crackers, corn chips or vegetables.

Read More

Lemonade, 10 cents

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Back in elementary school, my BFF and tried at least three times to hold a lemonade stand on her street. To us, it was a great idea. She lived on a busy road in the town that led to the pool. We made signs, a great batch of cool, lemonade and sold it for a mere 10 cents.

I guess if we were smarter, we would have realized that the speed limit was 35 mph and cars can’t make a quick stop on her street. No wonder our only customers were her neighbors.

Regardless, as an adult, I love a good glass of lemonade. I think a wonderful addition to your next gathering is a grown-up lemonade stand.

Here are the DYI directions:
- Make one big batch of regular and pink lemonade. For smaller parties, pick up two of these glass containers (right) sold at Crate & Barrel
- Purchase three to five flavored liqueurs (see below for a list)
- Create a lemonade stand sign in child-like writing and don’t forget a table sign that says “Lemonade 10 cents”
- Place a jar on the table for the coins!

The basic format for an adult lemonade drink is as follows:
4 parts of lemonade
1 part vodka
1 part flavor

Here are some flavors I suggest keeping on hand:
DeKuyper Blue Curacao
DeKuyper Strawberry Pucker
DeKuyper Raspberry Pucker
DeKuyper Cherry Pucker
DeKuyper Berry Fusion
DeKuyper Island Punch
DeKuyper Mixed Berry
Chambord Raspberry Liqueur

If you really want to impress guests, buy some garnishes like:Blueberries
Pop Rocks to rim the glass
Rock Candy sticks for stirring (shown on left)
Happy Thirsty Thursday!

Read More

True Life: I Survived the Jersey Shore

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

While my Jersey shore experience wasn’t a scene from “True Life: I’m a Jersey Shore Girl,” (above) below you will find some highlights and key learning’s from my weekend as a shoebie.

1. The Philly Airport sucks so bad its mascot should be a Flier: Us Chicagoians use a lot of four-letter words to describe O’Hare airport, but I must say I’ve found something way worse – the Philadelphia International Airport. While I am proud to be from Pennsylvania, I am not happy to share a state with this place. One drop of rain and you are delayed two hours. And forget about seating. The Southwest terminal has like 10 seats and an open space that looks more like a triage center than airport.

Key Learning’s: Fly early. Bring lots of airport toys. Drink liquor on the rocks and dare friends to do crazy things. It passes time.

2. Make a mix cd, hit the highway: The most cost effective way to visit the shore is via Hertz rent-a-car. Not only was Marcus a kick-a$$ van driver, Lauren, Lindsey and I only paid $75 to rent the car and park it at Harrah’s. That includes gas! Oh, and you MUST go with the EZ Pass.

Key Learning’s: Make a mix CD for the road, don’t forget Neil Diamond, Miley Cyrus and a little Bon Jovi.

3. Don’t be so sure about seeing the shore: The weather is more unreliable than using Amy Wienhouse as a designated driver. Therefore, when planning a Jersey shore trip, don’t count on beach time – especially in May.

Key Learning’s: In the AC, Harrah’s is a great alternative. While it isn’t on the shore (a trip to the beach would require a drive or jitney), there is a nice indoor pool. Also visit The Pier – it’s basically an inside boardwalk.

4. Taking a gamble can be fun: While Lindsey, Lauren and I sat at the airport bar, we decided to play a little betting game. I said that if the Penguins scored two goals in the first period alone, I would put on my Sid the Kid shirt. I lived up to my end of the bargain, but needless to stay, Lindsey didn’t dance on the bar like Coco or make out with the Silver Fox and Lauren didn’t call Tony collect from the payphone.

Key Learning’s: In addition to our airport wagers, we also won some money on the slot machines and in turn got free drinks! A colleague informed me today her friend won $1,700 on a nickel slot. I am not encouraging you to go all Charles Barkley, but minimal wagering can me fun – with out without money.

5. Hot tubs are safe: I am keeping this blog PG-13, but I just wanted to state for the record that my body is just fine from our dip in the hot tub.

Key Learning’s: It’s a bachelorette party. You can still be protective of your body while having fun.

FYI – For you readers who aren’t down with the lingo, A shoobie (or shoebie) is a derogatory term used in South Jersey to describe a tourist who visits the seashore for a brief period of time, primarily to use the beach during the summer months.

(sources:, Wikipedia)
Read More

Saying Bye to Single, By Drinking Double

Thursday, May 15, 2008

This weekend is one of reader Amy’s last nights out as a single lady. To mark this occasion, I am making the trip back to the Jersey Shore for two nights in…Atlantic City. While there are a lot of misconceptions about this gem of a town (quote from my grandma, “Don’t get shot,”) I will be sure to post a full trip recap. Of course one that is sensored and acceptable to share.

A bachelorette party means a lot of alcohol consumption. And a lot of alcohol consumption typidally involves shots. Whenever shots are ordered at the bar, the first thing out of a girls mouth is “make it something girly.” So for Thirsty Thursday, here are five “girly shots.”

(Mental note to my male readers: remember these when Uncle Pat comes out)

Washington Apple Shot
- 1/3 part Crown Royal Canadian Whisky
- 1/3 part DeKuyper Sour Apple Pucker
- 1/3 part Cranberry Juice
- 1 splash of 7Pp
Pour all ingredients (except for the 7Up) into a cocktail shaker. Shake and strain into a shot glass. Add a splash of 7Up.

- 1 part vodka 1 part triple sec
- 1 part Rose’s Lime Juice
Shake well with ice and strain mixture into a shot glass.
Lemon Drop
- 1/2 par vodka
- 1/2 part lemon juice 1 sugar cube
Add sugar to the rim of an old-fashioned glass, and drop a cube or packet of sugar into the bottom of the glass. Pour vodka and lemon juice into a stainless steel shaker over ice, and shake until completely cold. Pour into the prepared old-fashioned glass, and serve.

Red Headed Slut - 1 part peach schnapps
- 1 part Jagermeister
- Splash of cranberry juice
Shake well with ice and strain mixture into a shot glass.
Chocolate Cake- 1/2 part Frangelico hazelnut liqueur
- 1/2 part vodka
- sugar
Add vodka and Frangelico to a shaker with ice. Shake. Garnish with a sugar-coated lemon.

Final Note: Let's see if this bachelorette party can compare to the last. The picture to the right explains it all.

Read More

Sex on the Beach

Thursday, May 08, 2008

I am heading to the Dirty Jerz Shore tonight for a Friday/Saturday wedding-poloza. In honor of the beach, I’ve included a classic 90’s recipe for Thirsty Thursday – Sex on the Beach.

Thinking back on college (freshman year) it was the first time I was really alone in a bar with a plethora of alcohol possibilities in front of me. So when the bartender at Dr. Longshots would ask me what I wanted, the first thing that came to mind was “Sex on the Beach.” Classy, I know.

If the bartender was new or felt like throwing a young college girl for a loop, they may catch me off guard and say “What’s in that?” That is when I would stare dumbfounded.

So what’s in a Sex on the Beach? Here it goes.

Sex on the Beach
- ¾ part vodka
- ¼ part peach schnapps
- ¼ part razzmatazz (raspberry liqueur)
- Splash of cranberry and pineapple.
Shake and pour over ice.

As an FYI – I am putting drink recipe into parts because that means you can customize this by the glass you are using. If you are making one drink, then you will probably want to measure the parts in a jigger or shot glass, but if you are making a batch of this to serve in a pitcher, then you will obliviously use a bigger glass to measure (i.e. measuring cup).

(photo from
Read More

50/50 Shot

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Today is my 50th post on Shot of Brandi* and it is also my dad's 50th birthday.

For those of you privileged enough to attend my dad's birthday fiesta this past Saturday, like me you probably don't remember parts of it. Ahhh a true Bonkowski bash.

The reason for complete and utter intoxication can be blamed on this recipe below - Bubba's Lemonade. Or as my grandma calls it "Panther Piss."

Bubba's Lemonade
Pour all ingredients into a large jug similar to one they serve Gatorade in at sporting events
- One large container of lemonade mix
- Two handles of vodka (my mom bought the cheap stuff)
- Fill container with beer and ice
- Stir
Drink and watch people slur their speech, fall over and dance uncontrollably (see girl in green below).

Read More

Cinco de Derby

Friday, May 02, 2008

Three years ago, I spotted a trend in a small newspaper. I forwarded what I learned to my alcohol team and they ignored me. Now, this idea has taken off.

The first weekend of each May, people choose to celebrate either the Kentucky Derby or Cinco de Mayo. So this sparked the idea to merge the two parties in one big Cinco de Derby party! I know, this could get a little crazy, but the two really have a lot of similarities that make it easy to host your own party.

Here are some ideas for hosting a Cinco de Derby Party…

* Both celebrations have distinct hats. Create a dress up area right when guests walk in that includes big hats with flowers and sombreros. You could even have a DIY station where you supply the hats and flowers and guests can create a hat to match their attire. The dollar store sells great faux flowers and glue guns! For those who would rather be a little more Mexican, Plum Party sells great flower hair pins (left)

* Speaking of attire, I recommend the Derby Prep of dresses and pastels. When the sun goes down, put out some colorful Mexican blankets

* Piñatas were introduced to the United States by the Mexican’s. To add some Derby flair, stuff a horse piñata (right) with mini’s of tequila and candy. (If you really want to impress guests, create a necklace of roses for your horse. That shows he is a winner!)

* Bring the horse racing to your party with an actual horse race. I bet you are thinking that I am going to explain how to play my magnificent card game. NO. Rather, buy a few horse sticks and have guests race around your yard. You can find a plethora of different horses on Pick up some fake money at the dollar store as well. Step this idea up a notch by asking your friends to name their horse. Mine would be YourRoyalHighness

* My favorite meal is tacos and I love to customize my own (steak, hot, sour cream, cheese and lettuce). Set out ingredients for people to make their own tacos. Start with chicken, steak and ground beef and set out an array of toppings like peppers, cheeses, lettuce, etc.

* The traditional drink of Cinco is a margarita, while the Derby has its famous mint julep. Marry the two with a Min Margarita (recipe from AOL Recipes). Rather than serve in a traditional margarita glass, pour the drink into silver plated julep cups. These ones to the right are from Plum Party, but I am sure you can find cheaper ones.

Mint Margarita
2-3 oz tequila (silver or gold)
1-1 1/2 oz orange liqueur or Triple sec
2-4 oz homemade sour mix (even parts of lemon, lime and orange juices and 5 tablespoons sugar)
(3 lime wedges)
(4 sprigs mint)
Club soda

Muddle or chop mint very fine
Build ingredients over ice in a cocktail shaker
Add ice and shake
Don't strain. Pour into glass
Top off with club soda

To salt a glass -- Pour lime juice onto a plate and roll outside rim of the glass around the plate. Then sprinkle glass with salt or roll glass around another plate with salt.

(sources: AOL Recipes, photos:,,
Read More


Thursday, May 01, 2008

Despite the fact that it snowed on Monday, today it is 70 in Chicago. I can't think of a better way to cool off on this Thirsty Thursday than to enjoy a Margarita Popsicle. I wish my ice cream man served these. Then again, the one in Pittsburgh used to sell drugs.

Don't forget this recipe as you prepare for all of your Cinco de Derby parties this weekend. More on that tomorrow!

Margarita Popsicles

3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons tequila
2 tablespoons orange liqueur (recommended: Grand Marnier)
Kosher salt, for garnish

Special Equipment: 4 small cups (recommended: Dixie), 4 popsicle sticks

Directions: Combine sugar, lime juice, water, lemon juice and orange juice in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Once cool transfer to a blender with tequila, orange liqueur, and lime wedge and process until smooth. Pour into the cups and cover the top of each cup with foil. Place the popsicle stick in center of cup (down through foil, which will hold it in place). Freeze until hard, preferably overnight. Remove from freezer and run cup under warm water to loosen popsicle. Garnish with kosher salt and serve. Enjoy!

(Recipe from Photo from
Read More