3 Hots &
a  Cot


March 10, 2014 (otherwise known as "T minus 7 days 'til St. Patty's Day!")

Luck o’ the Irish

Got Garnishes: Gimmick or Tradition?

Guinness.  Love it or hate it, the black-as-coffee stout with the white top hat has been an institution in every self-respecting Irish pub, dating back to 1759.  The pouring of Guinness is steeped in tradition.  There’s practically an operator’s manual on how to achieve a proper pint of Dublin’s finest:

  1. Hold a tulip shaped pint glass (it’s actually 20 oz.) at a 45 degree angle
  2. Open beer tap all the way to allow nitrogen to bubbles to freely flow
  3. Pour ¾ of the way full
  4. Allow to settle on bar for two minutes…ooh, the anticipation!
  5. Finish pouring remaining ¼ of the way
  6. Top off with a swirly shamrock emblem

The residents of County Kildare must have momentarily felt the ground tremble, for Arthur Guinness just rolled over in his grave.  He was peacefully resting until step #6.

The shamrock in Guinness is probably newer than Mickey D’s minty and beloved LTO – The Shamrock Shake, ca. 1970.  True beer aficionados would scoff at the gimmicky clover traced in the creamy head of the stout; the logo for Guinness is not even a shamrock after all, but a harp.

However the clever dismount has become somewhat of a trademark of the beer.  Although as easily executable, I’ve never seen a bartender serve a Left Hand Milk Stout with a cute clover on top.  But then again that’s brewed in Colorado, not Ireland.

Signature garnishes are a fun and stealthy way for beverage manufacturers to imbed visual marketing into their products.  Beer goggles aside, not only do customers “eat with their eyes”, but drink with them too.  The visual cue tells your brain what to expect; salivary glands fire up and euphoric endorphins are sent to the brain before your first sip.

From across a room, if you saw a tray of opaque, amber colored beers go by and one of them had an orange slice in it, you’d know that one was a Blue Moon.  Slice of citrus = walking billboard = (practically) free advertising.

Have you ever been served a Corona without a lime?  If you have, you are at least 54 years old, or rocked a great fake ID.  Because in 1981 a bartender bet his friend he could start a trend by adding a lime wedge into the neck of the bottle. 

His buddy had to pay up as the gimmicky garnish became so popular it helped Corona boot Heineken out of the number one spot for imported beer in the US.  The last time the introduction of a lime was so important was in the Royal Navy, 1850.

Maybe these garnishes originated as a bartender’s way to pass downtime on a Tuesday night.  But now they are the expectation, not the exception.   A lime-less Corona would look naked, a shamrock-less Guinness would be a buzz kill. 

Arthur Guinness can rest in peace knowing that his beloved brew is in good hands, selling 1.8 billion pints annually.  Perhaps that’s in part to a silly shamrock on top or perhaps a little luck o’ the Irish is at play.  This lass is betting on both.


December 24, 2013

It's a Wonderful Drinking Game

Every family has a Christmas Eve tradition or two: going to midnight mass, decorating sugar cookies, or singing carols by the fire.

Those sound lovely.  My family has even participated in those activities from year to year.  But the tradition that “stuck” is the annual viewing of Frank Capra’s “It’s a Wonderful Life". 

When my sister and I were quite young, my parents took us to an old theater in Boston that was showing the original black and white one December evening.  You wouldn’t think little kids would sit through two hours and fifteen minutes of Jimmy Stewart stumbling around Bedford Falls, but we willingly did.

Every year after, we’d tune in to watch the classic 1946 flick.  Each viewing we’d learn a few lines due to osmosis and repetition.  I can say, with confidence, that I can recite almost every line with 90% accuracy – even the supporting roles like Bert, Ernie, and my personal favorite…Mr. Potter.

My mother doesn’t quite share our enthusiasm for the annual tradition.  Nor has any visiting friend, boyfriend, or husband over the years.  Can you imagine three people trying to “out do” each other’s George Bailey impression: “That’s right, that’s right.  Attaboy Clarence.”

In order to level the playing field, and add to everyone’s enjoyment, a few years back we invented the 
It’s a Wonderful Life Drinking Game.  Each viewer draws a name out of two separate hats.  Hat A is all lead roles like Mary and Uncle Billy.  Hat B contains secondary characters like Mr. Gower and Zuzu.   

Every time your characters are mentioned by name, bottom's up!  In other words, if you get “George”, you might as well tap your own personal keg.  It’s amazing how much they addressed each other by name back in the “olden days.”

To be authentic, you should serve Clarence's drink of choice: Flaming Rum Punch.  But bartender Nick might have to slip you his left to convince you otherwise.

So in honor of my brother-in-law, who has "tolerated" my father, my sister (his wife), and my obsession with IAWL for the past 23 years, I’ll recommend his family’s traditional Christmas cocktail. 

HK's Whiskey Sours
Makes 4

6oz Kessler's Whiskey
6oz water
6oz frozen concentrate lemonade
1 egg white
1Tbsp sugar

In blender, blend well & serve frothy. Serve with slice of orange and maraschino cherry.

Add a little cherry juice at Christmas time to make them pink and festive. 
Giuseppe Martini would approve. 

"Merry Christmas, movie house! Merry Christmas, Emporium! Merry Christmas, you wonderful old Building and Loan!" - George Bailey, the richest man in town 

August 19, 2013

Deep Eddy - Fiesta Fresca

I was in Austin, Texas last week for work and ate at Perla's (
www.perlas.com).  Since I always eat at the bar, I watched the bartender make three beautiful pink shooters.  They were so pretty and refreshing looking in the 104F temperature, I had to ask.  She showed me a bottle of Deep Eddy (www.deepeddyvodka.com) brand Ruby Red Grapefuit vodka.

Then she made me this delicious cocktail.  It was so good, I made it as my "signature" drink at my last house party.  Deep Eddy is hand-made in Austin, Texas and is distributed in 32 states.  Thankfully, I found some in Colorado.  They also make a Sweet Tea vodka, and a straight (aka "regular") vodka.  All distilled 10 times.  This company is going gang-busters!  They outsold their 6 month forecast in the first 3 weeks of business (says a friend of the owners - remember the food and beverage industry is a small world!).

So before summer ends, make yourself this clean, tasty, and refreshing adult beverage that goes down smooth and packs a nice punch.  If you love Fresca like I do (and YES, Fresca still exists...although I'm not so sure about TAB), then you'll love this!
Equal parts Deep Eddy Ruby Red Grapefruit Vodka, pink lemonade (good lemonade - no powdered "Country Time") and club soda.  Serve in an iced sugar rimmed glass (run a lemon around the edge, dip in sugar).  Garnish with lemon twist or red grapefruit slice and ENJOY!
July 24, 2013

Pint-sized entrepreneurs

Hawking cool lemonade and homemade cookies.  T-Hack likes these girls' gumption.


May 14, 2013

When Irish Coffees are Smiling

There once was a bar by the bay
Overlooking the water and waves
Its name: Buena Vista
It longed for touristas
So the bartenders started to play

They mixed and blended and tasted
For they didn’t want anything wasted
They proceeded to get tipsy
When the booze hit their lipsy
Since their livers were properly basted

“I need a coffee!” Jack did scream
“And don’t forget sugar and cream!”
When he wasn’t lookin’
His assistant, Stan, snook in
And spiked that hot drink with Beam

Jack rubbed his eyes and took a sip
“What the devil is this?”
Stan started to chuckle
At his prank, when he fuck-led
With Jack’s precious caffeine drip

A light bulb went off in their minds
“Let’s perfect this and put up a sign”
“That’s just what we’ll do:
Irish Coffee invented, 1952"
On Hyde Street, it’s easy to find

Now this bar is famed
The Buena Vista, so aptly named
So bring your whole posse
And “Irish” your coffee
“It’s delicious!” you’ll surely proclaim

For Laura’s Irish eyes are smiling
When from Denver she comes a flying
It would be a Shame-o
To not partake in some Jame-o
So a coffee or two, she’s buying


Author's Note: This is, hands down, one of my favorite places in San Francisco.  No matter where I'm at in the Bay area, I always make it a point to stop at Scoma's for Cioppino, then walk a couple of blocks to the Buena Vista for a post-dinner Irish Coffee (or two...or three). 

May 1, 2013

Derby Days

Saturday May 4th is the Kentucky Derby.  This is the first race of the famed Triple Crown, followed by the Preakness located outside of Baltimore (May 18), and finally Belmont Stakes in Elmont, New York (June 8).

Growing up I had a very loose affinity towards horse racing.  Our family (i.e. my father) had two “traditions” when it came to the ponies: 

1.  Since the Belmont Stakes inevitable fell on my Gemini sister’s birthday party, he’d gather up all the eight year old girls mid-festivity, to cease playing pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey, and start doing some real gambling.  He’d suspend the party for the mandatory viewing of the race – fortunately this intermission only lasted about five minutes.    All hopped up on butter cream frosting, the girls would cheer, not for the name of their selected horse, but for the color of the jockey's “pretty outfit”.  “Go Pink!  Go Lime Green!  Go Black and Red Checks!”  

2.  The second tradition was the family’s annual summer pilgrimage to Saratoga Springs, NY to watch the races, part with some allowance money, and drink warm Coca Cola in the hot sun.  It was indeed “The August Place to Be” according to my father who grew up in Western Massachusetts.  This is where I learned that it’s wise to factor in the odds, than purely bet on the horse with the cool name like Crème Fraiche or Lady’s Secret. “Girls, John Henry looks good in the warm up,” coached my Dad.  “But Daaaad,” we’d protest, “that name is soooo lame!” 

This Saturday, “the most exciting two minutes in sports” comes with a slew of traditions.  I guess when you’ve been doing something for 138 years, a tradition or two is bound to arise.

From a fashion perspective, it’s all about the hats.  Fabulous cranial accessories aside, I want to talk about something far more important…booze.

The mint julep is the classic Derby cocktail.  And since classic cocktails are trending what better time to reveal the recipe for the quintessential Derby-watching beverage.  No Derby?  No Problem!  This drink will last you through the summer.  Just imagine lazily rocking on a porch swing and fanning yourself in the most civilized Southern manner with a mint julep in hand. Delightful!

For the true mint julep experience, serving it in a silver cup is mandatory.  Some bars opt for the copper mug which is more of a Pimm’s cup tradition.  Copper is an excellent conductor of heat (and thus cold), and keeps this bourbon minty concoction the perfect chilly temperature.  It will certainly suffice if you can’t get a hold of Paul Revere in time for Saturday.   Regardless of the metal alloy you choose, freshness of the mint is key.

Don’t have the time/desire to make your own?  Denver’s Row 14 makes their version called “The Bourbon”.  And if you’re in Dallas, The Library makes a tasty classic one in a beautifully decorated space that is part bar, part time machine whisking you back to the 1940’s.

Even if your pony doesn’t place or show, you can bet sipping a mint julep this Saturday, and all summer long, is a winning idea.  Off to the races!


  • 4 cups bourbon
  • 2 bunches fresh spearmint
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • Powdered sugar
  • Ice

Directions (prepare 1 day in advance)

To prepare mint extract, remove about 40 small mint leaves. Wash and place in a small bowl. Cover with 3 ounces bourbon. Allow the leaves to soak for 15 minutes. Then gather the leaves in paper toweling. Thoroughly wring the mint over the bowl of whisky. Dip the bundle again and repeat the process several times.

To prepare simple syrup, mix 1 cup of granulated sugar and 1 cup of water in a small saucepan. Heat to dissolve sugar. Stir constantly so the sugar does not burn. Set aside to cool.

To prepare mint julep mixture, pour 3 1/2 cups of bourbon into a large glass bowl or glass pitcher. Add 1 cup of the simple syrup to the bourbon.

Now begin adding the mint extract 1 tablespoon at a time to the julep mixture. Each batch of mint extract is different, so you must taste and smell after each tablespoon is added. You are looking for a soft mint aroma and taste-generally about 3 tablespoons. When you think it's right, pour the whole mixture back into the empty liter bottle and refrigerate it for at least 24 hours to "marry" the flavors.

To serve the julep, fill each glass (preferably a silver mint julep cup) 1/2 full with shaved ice. Insert a spring of mint and then pack in more ice to about 1-inch over the top of the cup. Then, insert a straw that has been cut to 1-inch above the top of the cup so the nose is forced close to the mint when sipping the julep.

When frost forms on the cup, pour the refrigerated julep mixture over the ice and add a sprinkle of powdered sugar to the top of the ice. Serve immediately.

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