The White Russian: Happy Halloween from the Dude

This classic sprang about due to a Halloween party this past weekend. We knew about this party, a 90′s themed Halloween party, for at least a couple of weeks, but all the ideas for costumes seemed to be slipping by. Stuck for ideas my husband asked me to just read off the highlights from each year of VH1s I Love the 90s. Then I read off The Big Lebowski.

“Stop”, my husband said, “that’s it.”

Now, it took me a couple times to really get into this movie. Around the time I hit 10 years in L.A. I watched it again and finally had my ‘ah-ha’ moment. And actually liked the film. While I can’t rattle off quotes, I do know what drink the Dude prefers: White Russians.

This was a Friday night when the costume was decided, Saturday was the party. The following day it took a trip to Target, a Halloween store, and a stop at Ralph’s to complete the costume. This was done by 10:30 am.

Part of the costume was to be an empty Ralph’s container of milk, however they only had pints of half and half around. Instead of dumping out the milk when we got back, I can’t waste food, we poured it into some containers and I decided to put it to good use making some White Russians, for help getting “into character”.  

I had to consult The Joy of Mixology since this isn’t a drink I often consume. Or actually, have ever had. But we needed to be authentic for the costume. It’s only changed slightly in that I built it in the glass and stirred it, and subbed out 1/2 and 1/2 for the cream. I know, there’s dairy in there, it should be shaken. But the Dude doesn’t go for that fancy stuff.

2 oz. Vodka
1 oz. Kahlua
1 oz. 1/2 and 1/2

Build ingredients in a rocks glass. Give it a good stir to combine. Try not to get it all up in your mustache.

What’s it taste like? Sort of like sweet, spiked coffee. It’s rich, and I can’t fathom how one could continually throw these back. But to each his own.

Happy Halloween folks, from me and the Dude.

Low Rent Cocktail of the Month: Overnight Adult Slushie, in green

Do you like to get girl drink drunk?

Let’s acknowledge that these drinks are not for people who enjoy drinks. It’s that spoon full of sugar… For kids on spring break, or those yard-long plastic glasses mainly filled with sugar and a thimble of alcohol. You like those drinks? This one is for you.

I’ve seen ‘adult’ frozen beverages done well. There seemed to be a surge of adult popsicles and the like this summer. This is not that. This is a drink you throw together when picking up after a party on a hot night, throw it in the freezer, and enjoy all over again the next day. And now, just when I was breaking out the sweaters and scarves, DAMMIT, it got hot again in L.A. This drink would have come around early September, but didn’t get a chance. So now for your sugary, neon buzzing pleasure– I give you your Low Rent Cocktail of the Month.

One night at a party someone brings you as a mixer a brightly colored soda. Let’s say it’s Watermelon Kiwi. And then you throw some vodka in and call it a night.

Right before you pass out, you empty the rest of the vodka into the last third of that soda. And since you’ve run out of ice cubes you toss it in the freezer.

In the morning, you re-discover this concoction in there and in lieu of a cup (none are clean anyway), you cut off the top and stick a straw in. Or two. Hey, that random person still in the house might like a cold drink as well.

1 cup vodka
3 cups of a fruity, all sugar, soda pop (save the bottle)

The flavor will all depend on what your base is. Or what mixers you had the night before. In this case, it tasted like Pop Rocks!

Chocolate Chili, Mint and Vodka Fizz Cocktail

A couple months back I had more mint syrup sitting in my fridge than I could ever use. I really stretched it out into as many drinks as possible, but still found that its volume was decreasing ever so slightly. Browsing on Foodgawker I caught sight of this drink on there. I filed it as a possibility and then forgot about it, and the mint syrup, until this week. Well, the mint syrup was in bad shape and had to get tossed out. But I still had an idea of reworking this recipe with the chocolate chili bitters I had from Miracle Mile bitters, and I had a bunch of fresh mint hanging around. It could still work, and in the end it did.

The drink came out smooth, minty and flavorful with a subtle kick from the chili in the bitters. The fresh mint and simple syrup were a fine stand in for mint syrup. Why did I keep it as a vodka base? Well, I had a bottle around the house and sometimes I need to come up with drinks for people who only drink vodka. This is one to file away for such a time.

I used a small rocks glass for this drink. It’s really almost a juice glass. But the smallness keeps the flavors vibrant without allowing too much space for melting ice, or for overfilling with club soda.

1-1/2 oz. Vodka
1/2 oz. simple syrup (1:1 ratio)
6 medium sized mint leaves
2-3 dashes of Miracle Mile Chocolate Chili Bitters
2-3 oz. Q-Club club soda
sprig of mint

In the bottom of a rocks glass, muddle the mint leaves and simple syrup together gently just until a minty smell is released. Add the dashes of bitters, a few ice cubes and add vodka. Stir a few times to combine and top with club soda. Garnish with a sprig of mint.

Honey Vanilla Chai Toddy

Mainly due to losing that month in limbo in India and being sick, I’ve been finding it hard to believe that it’s Fall. Also, L.A. having 80+ temps lately isn’t helping. But a night of pumpkin carving, hot spiced apple cider and a smattering of Halloween-themed movies seems to have jolted my system back to normal. A post on a food blog I follow recently had this delicious toddy recipe that enlightened me to what some flavored teas can add to drinks. Maybe my mind is still lingering over some of the flavors of India as I decided a spiced chai toddy might do the trick for those chilly 70 degree gray L.A. days to come (I’m over apologizing to my east coast family that 68 is jacket and scarf weather. After 10 years here this is cold for me and warrants lighting the fire place).

So today I bring you a Honey Vanilla Chai Toddy. So easy you’ll want to double the batch and share. Or drink two really fast.

5 oz boiling water
1 teabag of honey vanilla chai (here I am using Celestial Seasonings, but you can also find just vanilla chai- in which case you’ll want to add a touch more Bärenjäger)
1/2 oz of Bärenjäger
1 oz of Rye Whiskey (Old Overholt Rye here)
1 cinnamon stick

Pour the boiling water over the tea bag in a smaller sized coffee mug or Irish coffee glass (I used a glass that holds around 7 oz of liquid). Steep the tea for 3 minutes and then remove the teabag. Pour in the Bärenjäger and Whiskey, stir gently to combine. Garnish with the cinnamon stick.

If you’re not familiar with it, Bärenjäger taste like the “cough syrup” my dad made for me as a child when my coughing kept him up and my mom was working second shift: honey and booze. I love how strong the honey flavor is, it’s almost like drinking it straight, just not as thick. This drink has many layers of flavors. The tea base has familiar chai flavors: cinnamon, ginger, cloves, cardamom, black pepper with the addition of vanilla and honey. The honey though here is then heightened by the addition of the Bärenjäger. Mmmmm…. and also some sweetness from the Rye. The ‘alcohol’ layer adds some bite, but struggles to keep afloat with all the spice action. But that’s ok, more reason to have another.

And when you’re done taking photos, just shove that stick in the drink.

Fresh Lime Soda Sweet, Salty and Boozy

What happened to September around here you ask? Well, I took my first trip to India. And then came home with a little India in my lower intestines and was horribly sick for WEEKS. Weeks. I’m not a fan of India, apologies to those of you who are. A friend of mine was there in February and had a fine time. Every day of our trip something went wrong. I landed and was sick for 4 days. An accident on a two lane road made a 3 hour trip into an 8 hour trip. A nation-wide protest delayed our stay in New Delhi due to a man lighting his truck on fire on a highway we needed to take. A drunk motorcyclist tried to drag our driver out of our car and beat him up. My Mother-In-Law got Dengue Fever, along with two other relatives. And I learned a baby can cry for 16 straight hours on a plane. The sickness I developed while back in the states put me on a medication that would make my blood toxic if I had any alcohol of any kind, even mouthwash! So that put the brakes on the blog for awhile. But I’m putting all that behind me now and getting back to normal around here. One wonderful thing about India was a drink that my Husband’s mom has been talking about for years that she used to drink growing up in India: Fresh Lime Soda Sweet and Salty. She couldn’t really remember what went into it, so as soon as we got into India, she ordered up a glass and I was impressed. Especially the garnish. I’d never seen olives and maraschino cherries dancing together in a glass before. One sip of this and I took notes and told myself to make this a boozy beverage when we got back to the states. I had this served several ways while in India. Most times everything was made and served to you in a glass, but with a small pitcher on the side of simple syrup to make it even sweeter if you wanted. Indians love the sweet stuff. Another time it was served up sweet with a salt shaker next to the glass. The last time I had it, I was served lime juice in a glass, with a bottle of club soda, a small pitcher of simple syrup, a bowl of salt, and an ice bucket of ice. It was great to make it exactly how I wanted it. And I encourage that here. I had to try a couple times to get the right amounts for my taste here. The idea is to balance the sweet and the salt. Do you like it more sweet? Less sweet? A salt lick? Go ahead and taste as you make this. 1-1/2 oz Vodka 2-1/2 oz of freshly squeezed lime juice 3/4 oz of simple syrup (as always around here I make a 1:1 ratio syrup, not a rich syrup) 1/4 tsp of kosher salt 2 – 3oz Q-Club Soda Garnish: lime wedge maraschino cherry (I used Bada Bing Cherries. An impulse buy,  but mostly because there is no red dye involved. I just can’t bring myself to buy those anymore.) Green Olive stuffed with Pimento (or not stuffed if you prefer) In the mixing glass of a Boston Shaker, fill with ice and pour in vodka, lime juice, simple syrup and salt. Shake well to combine. Strain into a Highball glass with several ice cubes (3-4 large cubes) and top with club soda. Spear the olive, cherry and lime wedge and garnish the glass. Add some festive elephants to remind you of those walking around the streets in India.
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