100th Post

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Thank you for reading A Shot of Brandi*! A special thanks to readers Amy, Brady, Brian, Dana and Sacks. Shots on me next time we're together (except you Am!) Your clicks are much appreciated!

And to my mysterious readers in Boston. Thanks wicked much!

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Almost heaven…

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Tonight, college football officially kicks off with Wake Forest vs. Baylor. To celebrate the return of NCAA games, I will honor my school – West Virginia University with today’s Thirsty Thursday posting.
When people think of the state of West Virginia, they think Rednecks, mullets, people who marry their siblings and bad teeth. Growing up in Pennsylvania in the 70's, people associate W.Va., with drinking because the state was the last of the 50 to raise the drinking age to 21. Consistently, WVU is ranked in the Top 10 party school’s (#1 in 1997 & 2007!). Aside from beautiful mountains, there is not much to do in Morgantown but drink. And the mountain people of West “by god” Virginia are known for guzzling moonshine.

While I’ve been known to dabble in a little moonshine (in a mystery bottle), I’ve never really known what it was. According to Wikipedia, “moonshine is a common term for home-distilled alcohol.”

I found a recipe for Moonshine on some random site called ibibilo.org. The basic ingredients include corn meal, sugar, water, yeast and malt.

Moonshine is made in an unlicensed stills, brewed in small batches and is rarely ever aged.

The name comes from the fact that moonshine producers and smugglers would often work by the light of the moon – of course since they were producing illegal alcohol. People in the moonshining biz typically call it “white lightning” because it is not aged and is generally sold at high alcohol proof.

If all this sounds like Moonshine tastes like piss, it’s because it does. Moonshine is similar to the mouth-watering Everclear.

The point of the posting is this. If you meet someone from West Virginia (or Appalachia) and they have a mystery bottle of liquor, just try it. Or pretend like you try it. You will forever have a new friend, drinking buddy and someone to bail you out of jail when you get arrested for public drunkenness.

People assume that residents of West Virginia like country music, so I close this post with the following video that totally kicks butt in a lot of ways….

(Sources: YouTube.com, Wikipedia.com, ibibilo.org, iehow.com)
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I Like the Barrrrrrr-tennnnnderrrrrrr

Friday, August 22, 2008

Rather than the typical Thirsty Thursday post, I am merging my typically recipe/alcohol posting with some tips for dealing with bartenders when you are drinking at a bar or club.

This past spring, I spent some long hours with four Las Vegas bartenders. Hanging out with the guys early one Friday morning, it reminded me of “morning afters” in the Chi Hoe house. We would sit around and talk about the happenings of the night before. What random snuck past Jamie Patsy, who blacked out and which girl still isn’t home. The bartenders discussed which girl was hot, who’s number they got and random drink requests.

Another popular topic of conversation would be rude customers. We’ve all been there. Waiting forever at a bar for a drink and doing just about anything for the bartenders’ attention.

Recently, I’ve read a few good stories about etiquette when working with a bartender. Below you will see some useful tips to keep in mind when drinking at a bar or club…

* Best Tip Ever: While you can rarely find half-priced drinks in Chicago, if you are drinking during a happy hour special or bar party, tip the bartender just as you would if you paid full price for the drink. Your mixologist is working hard for his/her money and relies on tips!

* Keep Your Hands to Yourself: NEVER reach into the garnish tray for an extra cherry. Would you want someone putting their fingers into your drink? Ask the bartender for a lime wedge – don’t’ do it yourself.

* Know your atmosphere: Don’t order an Appletini in a beer house. Okay, I must confess I pulled this “don’t” once. It happened one Christmas break at The Pine. I was sick of drinking beer so I ordered a glass of wine. To my humiliation, it was served in a ginormous goblet. No, I do not exaggerate. Some graduates of my class stopped by and insisted on doing a toast/cheers/glass cling with them. Keep in mind these were people that rolled with the tough crowd and considered me “preppy” to begin with. I couldn't’t turn them down, so I had to pick up my wine goblet fearing that it may shatter. Save yourself the embarrassment and just stick to beer.

* Mo' Money: Have your money ready and know what you want to drink – this is a priority when the establishment is crowded!

* Get a Clue: If you have no clue what you want to drink, at least you can tell the bartender what spirits you like (dark vs. light) and any special flavors you enjoy (peach, apple, berry, etc.)

* Hey Big Spender: Don’t order more drinks than you can carry. If you have an order for 10, bring someone else up with you to do the ordering and help you carry!

* Don't be that Girl/Guy: Be patient. Don’t jump up and down , whistle and don’t stand on a bar stool and wave frantically, etc.

* More Tippy for the Tini's: Tip more for complicated drinks like flavored martini’s.

Most of these are common sense, but still something to consider next time you order a drink!

(sources: Airzona Republic, flatrock.org photo)
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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Goody Goody Gumdrops: It was very hard for me to part ways with the non-working gumball machine that I proudly displayed in my kitchen, but owning one of these would be splendid. I don’t know what it is, but something about a gumball machine just makes me happy.

Wine-o: First there was Little Black Dress Wine. Now, there is So Chic! While I can’t say that I’ve tried the stuff on the inside, the package had me at hello. If you look closely, you will see a little Swarovski crystal in the O. I wish I could tell you more about the wine, but the Web site is in French. Maybe I will translate some day : )

Love Letters: Call me old fashioned or plain old, but I love sending and receiving hand-written notes. Someone else by the name of Jaclyn Pryor loves hand-written notes too. Jaclyn is taking this concept and bringing it to life through Pink: A (love) Courier Service. As part of an artistic project, Jaclyn has been traveling the country and creating temporary “love factories.” People can visit her space and type a message of affection to someone in the city. Notes are bottled by your very own cupid (minus the diaper) and delivered by bicycle couriers. Pink just wrapped up a stint in Chicago.

Cake Wrecks: I love cake. I love cupcakes even more. But what do I love even more than a cupcake? A Cake Wreck. This blog is hilarious. At Cake Wrecks, they highlight cakes gone wrong. You know what I am talking about. They are the cake you order for a grocery store only to find out they misspelled the recipient’s name or even worse “birthday.” I love the cake to the left. Some clever hostess most likely called up Giant Eagle and asked for a cake with the “Olympic rings,” for a festive Opening Ceremony party, only to find that the uneducated baker on the other end didn’t understand the order. They don’t post a lot, so I recommend checking it weekly.

(Sources: beau-coup.com, sochicwines.com, cakewrecks.blogspot.com )
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Spirited Stories from Across the U.S.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

I mentioned on the first Thirsty Thursday – newspapers around the country publish their food sections on Wednesday and Thursday during the week. Many of these papers (outside the bible belt!), include stories featuring drink recipes.

On this Thirsty Thursday, I’ve took the liberty of sharing some of those summer drink stories with you – my loyal reader.

This summer everyone is buzzing about Rose wine and fresh fruit in cocktails. Click here for a good read on the simplicity of serving a Rose from the LA Times. For some more complex cocktail ideas with fruit, The Chicago Sun Times brings you advanced recipes fresh from the garden.

Infuse your own fresh fruit vodka with tips from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. I am going to try this very soon and I’ll report back on the results.

The Minnesota Star Tribune recommends frozen margarita recipes. My advice: splurge on the tequila. You don’t need to throw a fifty to Pat Rone, but just don’t buy the cheap stuff.

Possibly a reader of A Shot of Brandi*, the Philadelphia Inquirer takes a stab at poptails. There presentation (left) is much more impressive!

If you are a cocktail-geek like me, I recommend following Eric Felton’s column in the Wall Street Journal on Saturday’s. He provides readers with a cocktail recipe, accompanied by a story on where the drink originated. Memorize a nugget from his story and impress guests at your next shin-dig. Last week, Eric featured Planter’s Punch.

While it isn’t a newspaper, the blog Yum Sugar reviewed Food & Wine magazine’s new book on cocktails. I recommend reading Yum Sugar daily for great party inspirations, cocktail and food recipes.

(Sources: startribune.com, Canada.com, wsj.com, yumsugar.com, sun-sentinel.com, philly.com, suntimes.com, latimes.com. Pictures from suntimes.com, philly.com).
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Stop and Smell the Rosettes

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I just can’t help it. I am obsessed with rosettes.

When browsing clothes I can’t afford on-line, I am immediately attracted to shirts, dresses and shoes that bear a rosette.

What is a rosette? If you are a Project Runway fan, you will know it’s the accessory that horrible contestant Angela was obsessed with. While I hated Angela big time, her rosettes intrigued me. It’s basically a flower, made from fabric, sewn or pinned to clothes.

My love started with the black Elijah tank to the left. Last fall, I spotted this beaut via a Saks e-letter. With a price tag of $200+, this top could not be mine on a PR salary. So I drooled for months looking for an inexpensive knock off. Sorry for the pic quality. This sucker is no where to be found on the web.

Then Anne Hathaway redeemed herself at the 2008 Oscars with a gorgeous red dress (left) baring a plethora of rosettes. My obsession grew.

Last spring, a number of mass retailers like Express produced rosette adorned tanks affordable for the masses. I treated myself to a much lower quality tank similar to my Elijah obsession. Sill, my rosette fix was not tamed.

The rosette is popping up again in fall 2008 fashions. Here is my current wishlist…

I adore this Robert Rodriguez silk top from Saks (left). Of course way beyond my price range, but still a pretty color with lovely rosettes!

Along the same over-prices line is this Milly ruffle top (right) from Bloomingdales. Fashion mags are predicting winter floral to be big, so this would be considered on-trend.

Compared to the tops, this Phoebe Couture red dress (left) is a steal. I blogged about this jem in white a few months back and I love it because it shares some similarities to Anne Hathaway’s dress.

Shopping at the new Chicago Juicy Store last month, it is apparent the Juicy handbag designers love rosettes too (right). Flowers are popping up all over its fall line.

With a good pin, you can adorn a rosette pin to almost any shirt. Just purchase a pin a rosette pin and strategically add it to your outfit. to the right is an option from Etsy . More on my love for Etsy coming soon.

(sources: time.com, saks.com, juicycouture.com, bloomingdales.com, neimanmarcus.com, etsy.com)
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The Art of Picnicking

Monday, August 11, 2008


(p k n k-nicking) Verb - to eat or take part in a picnic Yesterday I had the pleasure of taking my Martha Stewart picnic basket for a spin at the Oak Street Beach. My wonderful boyfriend and new bocce set also joined in on the fun. We spent the afternoon munching on some cheese and crackers, while drinking juice boxed wine. The perfect little Sunday.

I love the concept of picnicking, but dining a la fresco means you need to be prepared.
Below is a list of items to make sure you have on hand:- garbage bags
- plastic cups
- napkins, napkins and more napkins
- rocks (to hold down your blanket, napkins, etc.
- water to clean reusable items
- bug spray
- band aids
- moist toilettes
- ice
- sunscreen
- antibacterial gel (to wash hands before eating)
- camera
- entertainment (such as books, magazines, bocce, etc.)

Here are some picnicking tips:
* Don’t be afraid to spend some cash on a good blanket. This is the base of your party! Make sure it is water resistant.
* Pack your basket so that the items you need first are at the top.
* Drink boxed wine – no cork!
* Consider turning your picnic into a make-your-own kite party. Give out prizes to the most creative kite and the one that flies the longest.
* Don’t waste money on icepacks. Fill sturdy plastic sandwich bags with water and freeze.
* Avoid recipes with mayonnaise – it tends to spoil quickly. However, pocket a few mayo packs from Subway and bring them along to compliment your sandwich.
* Make food on a stick, like kabobs. That way, you don’t need a plate to eat!
* Perfect picnic foods include vegetable sticks, trail mix, sliced fruit and cheese
* To avoid soggy bread, don’t make sandwiches ahead of time. Bring meat, cheese and veggies in individual bags and assemble on site. This will also allow your fellow picnickers to customize their meal.
* Keep your cooler or picnic basket in the shade if possible.
* If your picnic is at night, bring candles to set the mood. Be careful not to knock over your candle! Only you can prevent picnic fires.

(sources: dictionary.com, picnictips.com, macys.com, art.com)
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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Today, Sidney Crosby turns 21.

Number 87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins was born 21 years ago today - on 8/7/87 (thanks Tribune Review).

Sid the Kid becomes a man and I can finally stop feeling like such a cougar for drooling over him.

So on this Thirsty Thursday, I will reveal Sid’s beverage of choice.

Iron City Beer? Nah, that is wishful thinking for us Pittsburghers.

Molson? While it may be “Canada’s Favorite Brewery,” it isn’t a favorite of Sid’s.

Captain Morgan? Sid captains the Penguins, but doesn’t ride on this ship.

The legal drinking age in Sid’s homeland of Canada is 19, therefore, I The Kid can already hold his own by sipping on some...

According to Canada.com, Sidney is spending the off-season at home in Nova Scotia, but his first legal beverage in the states will most likely be….whisky. And my heart-throb enjoys Crown Royal – he fits perfectly right into my family. My future husband also mentions that he likes Jack Daniels as well.

While Sid sips from a rocks glass today, let’s hope he rings in 22 by sipping from a large cup. The Stanley Cup.

(Sources: Canada.com, sidcrosby.blogspot.com)
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Playdough or Play-doh? You decide.

I came across this recipe from instructables.com and just had to post it.

One of my most favorite things to make when I was a tot with my mom was Playdough. Yeah, we could go and buy it at the dollar store, but there is a rush when you make your own. Maybe I liked the fact that I could pick the colors.

Regardless, Playdough or Play-doh is fun at any age. Here is how you can make your own.

Brandi* Note: My mom and I used food coloring and didn’t use scents.

How to Make Playdough (Play-doh)
Make your own non-toxic toy with custom colors and fragrances.

Step 1:Ingredients
Playdough is a classic childhood toy everyone can have fun with, and it's so easy to make at home you'll never buy that stinky store variety again.

Basic ingredient ratios:
2 cups flour
2 cups warm water
1 cup salt
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon cream of tartar (optional for improved elasticity)
food coloring (liquid, powder, or unflavored drink mix)
scented oils

Step 2: Mix and HeatMix all of the ingredients together, and stir over low heat. The dough will begin to thicken until it resembles mashed potatoes. When the dough pulls away from the sides and clumps in the center, as shown below, remove the pan from heat and allow the dough to cool enough to handle.
IMPORTANT NOTE: if your playdough is still sticky, you simply need to cook it longer! Keep stirring and cooking until the dough is dry and feels like playdough.

I've gotten many comments asking about sticky dough, so please just keep cooking a bit longer and it will work!

Step 3: Knead & Color
Turn the dough out onto a clean counter or silicone mat, and knead vigorously until it becomes silky-smooth. Divide the dough into balls for coloring. Make a divot in the center of the ball, and drop some food coloring1 in. Fold the dough over, working the food color through the body of the playdough, trying to keep the raw dye away from your hands and the counter. You could use gloves or plastic wrap at this stage to keep your hands clean- only the concentrated dye will color your skin, so as soon as it's worked in bare hands are fine.Work the dye through, adding more as necessary to achieve your chosen color. If you use unsweetened drink mix for color, test on a small ball first- it won't go as far as the "real" food coloring.

Step 4: Play and Store
Play with your playdough- I really don't need to help you there. It's entirely edible, if a bit salty, so it's kid-safe.When you're done store it in an air-tight container. If it begins to dry out, you can knead a bit of water in again to soften the dough back to useability. Once it's dried past a certain point, however, you'll just have to start over; thankfully it's not terribly difficult.

(Recipe and photo reposted from instructables.com)
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Gold Medal Drunk

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

If there drinking were a sport, I would be a world class athlete.

A few weeks ago, reader Jason and I were discussing the Summer Olympics. I mentioned I was excited for gymnastics, synchronized swimming, diving and maybe basketball. He proceeded to disagree with my most sport selections, but he didn’t reveal what he is looking forward too (I will assume its badminton, ping pong and trampoline).

Regardless your sport, the Summer Olympics will consumer the majority of the media for the next several weeks. I can already predict the headlines – doping, US winning gold, close finishes, families that struggled so their kids could be athletes, etc.

If like me, you feel that 90 percent of the events are a bore, consider hosting your own Olympics. A Beer Olympics.

“We Like to Party” - Opening Ceremony
Foursome: Gather together four teams of four – two boys and two girls. If you have more people, add more members to the teams, but keep the guy to girl ratio even.
• Create house rules and post them around the drinking arena. Don’t forget specific rules for each game. This should minimize the amount of arguments! Consider awarding three points for first, two for second and one for third. Last place receives no points.
• Designate a referee to ensure someone doesn’t get too drunk. Have a ref pass out Olympic ring-colored Jell-o Shots to kick things off.
• For an added bonus, convince a friend to sing the national anthem. Set the mood with music about beer and drinking like “40 oz to Freedom” (Sublime), “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” (John Lee Hooker).

“It’s 5 O’Clock Somwhere,” – Timed EventsThree people from the team participate in timed events
Beer Bong: With a stop watch, calculate the time it takes a team representative to chug a beer
Chug & Run: One team member must chug a beer and then run a designated distance.
Pitcher Chug: For the best drinker on the team, the person who chugs a pitcher the fastest is crowned the winner

“I Get Knocked Down, But I Get Up Again,” – The GamesBeer Pong: While the Chinese always dominate the Ping Pong table, American’s excel at Beer Pong. Nominate two members of your team to
Keg Toss: Similar to the javelin or discus, test players agility to toss an empty keg. Make sure you are doing this event in a large yard or park.
Flip Cup: Test the team’s drinking and flipping skills with a mini-flip cup tourney.

If there is a tie, break it with a team waterfall.

“Closing Time,” - Closing Ceremony
It’s not a true Olympics without a podium and medal ceremony. Honor the winners in each sport and the winning team.

(sources: urbandictionary.com, wikipedia, viviansalama.wordpress.com, everydayshouldbesaturday.com )
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