Monday, April 30, 2007

Bathtub Gin

Ah, Prohibition. That period of time when the US government actually thought that outlawing something would make it go away. Thank goodness it's not like that anymore... ;-)


Sipster Elizabeth (aka: The Tailored Woman) in the Windy City brings us her
grandfather's recipe for bootlegged hooch. How awesomely cool is that?! (btw - As per Elizabeth and myself, make and drink at your own risk...)

While we're on the subject of bathtub gin, I highly recommend one of my favorite books "Bobbed Hair and Bathtub Gin" by Marion Meade. It is a fascinating, intertwined quadruple bio of four of the most intriguing female writers to come out of the 1920's: Dorothy Parker, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Zelda Fitzgerald and Edna Ferber. A must read for writers, bon vivants and lovers of post-prohibition booze!
Welcome to the Website...

If you haven't yet take a moment to check out The Liquid Muse website! It had its "soft launch" on Friday - and there is a bit more work to do - but it gives an idea of what's to come as The Liquid Muse expands its horizons...

Cheers from!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Think Blended Drinks Are For Sissies?

The guys at Leisure Time Products don't...

(and they must have a lot of leisure time to sit around dreaming up these babies!)

Even Jay Leno gave it a whirl!

And, then, of course, there are our friends at Blendtec who created a series of "Don't Try This at Home" videos. Watch one. I dare you! Just put your ipod in a safe place first...

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Revolution Health Interviews The Liquid Muse

Bikini Season Cocktails!

Socialite, blogger, DC Style and Club Rev columnist, Kelly Ann Collins recently inquired as to which cocktails are best for staying slim in summer.

I came up with a few suggestions for her readers and, of course,
Sipsters will not be left out! Read our interview and check out the new, slick, sassy and classy Revolution Health website.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

What does Billionaire Bachelor Calvin Ayre Drink?

His Own Signature Cocktail, of course!

Whether taking in the Kentucky Derby, hosting a $2,000,000 Poker Tournament or lounging poolside in Monte Carlo, founder, Calvin Ayre is the top dog when it comes to living the glamorous life.

Maybe you saw him on last year’s cover of Forbes Magazine’s "Billionaires" issue? Or, noticed his name among People’s “Hottest Bachelors.” Perhaps you caught him on VH1’s Fabulous Life Presents: Secret Lives of the Mega Rich? The underlying message: Calvin’s average day is the stuff of an Average Joe’s fantasies.

So, when Mr. Ayre was ready for his own Signature Cocktail to complement his jet-setting lifestyle, his peeps summoned The Liquid Muse!

Now, creating a cocktail for a billionaire is not to be taken lightly! Let’s face it, he is used to having the best of
everything. So, armed with a bottle of Bombay Sapphire (his spirit of choice) and my trusty cocktail shaker, I pulled out my shot glass and got to work! Pulling from a couple of classic cocktails (the Negroni and the Salty Dog) I added a billionaire twist – and I hear Mr. Ayre is quite pleased with the result…

Billion-Ayre’s Bet
3 ounces Bombay Sapphire gin
2 ounces freshly squeezed grapefruit juice

3/4 ounce Campari
Squeeze of lime


Ice Cubes

Shake gin, juices and Campari with ice cubes. Strain and pour into Rocks glass filled with fresh ice cubes. Top with champagne. Garnish with lime wheel.

Today, is an Entertainment Empire with a multi-media focus.
However, ten years ago, it began as a gambling site, which millions of people still visit to bet on a variety of games and events. With the Kentucky Derby coming up, shares their own version of the traditional Mint Julep for its “dawgs” to enjoy.

btw - I created this, too, and will be enjoying one at the Kentucky Derby myself, this year. (I’ll take big hats over big hair, anyday.) Throw your own Derby Day party and let me know how you like the drink!

Bodog JetSet Julep
3 ounces bourbon (Woodford Reserve is the "official" bourbon of the Derby)
1 ounce Gran Gala orange liqueur (made with VSOP brandy)

1 ounce *mint-infused raw sugar simple syrup

Ice cubes

Crushed ice

Heaping bunch of fresh mint
Shake bourbon, orange liqueur and simple syrup vigorously, with ice cubes. Strain into Collins glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with a handful of fresh mint and a short straw.

*Mint-Infused Raw Sugar Simple Syrup
1 cup raw sugar
1 cup water

large handful of fresh mint

Boil water, sugar and mint until the mixture reaches a rolling boil. Then, simmer for a few minutes. Remove from heat, let cool and strain into a small glass pitcher or jar. Refrigerate.
*Drink photos: Claire Barrett Photography

And, while you’re living the life of a super star, don’t forget to give back. Calvin does. The Canadian-born philanthropist comes from a rural background and funneled his early ambitions into selling fruit from his truck. Early on, Ayre embraced the basic principles of hard work and humility as a “sure bet” for success. He chairs the Calvin Ayre Foundation, which has a strong focus on environmental issues, animal welfare and education for disadvantaged youth. Hmm… If the new Bad-Boy Mantra is 'live large, play hard and give big,' I’ll drink to that!

*Drink like a billionaire! Order your own signature cocktail from The Liquid Muse... (email

Monday, April 23, 2007

It’s Mind Bottling!

Guinness Draft To Go

Ok, so I stole that expression from Blades of Glory. (Will Ferrell is my love-monkey. No, not that Will Farrell, this Will Ferrell. You silly goose.)

But, seriously, aren’t you excited that you can now take your favorite draft with you on picnics, barbeques - even to watch men’s paired figure skating? While you may not get to experience the smell of steaming bangers-n-mash and stale beer on the floor (a staple sensory experience in many pubs) you will get the thick, creamy flavor of Guinness anywhere you may wander. While you check out the Guinness website, take a gander at their new logo. (The classic Irish brew is keeping a slick, modern image...)

And, the best news of all is that a bottle of Guinness Draft has only 125 calories, so manly men and sexy mamas stay looking hot while keeping cool under the summer sun. And, that is so awesome it simply bottles the mind

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Flattery Gets You Everywhere...

(Most Especially Onto My Blog!)

Basically, anywhere I am in the world, I am thinking about The Liquid Muse - searching for fun things to write about, asking bartenders for their best cocktails, etc. While traveling in Bangkok, I noticed a spike in traffic, one day, from Jeffrey Morgenthaler. Of course, I pushed back my sightseeing plans to sit on my compter a while longer and follow the links to see who he was and why I was getting visitors from his cocktail site.

Well, being a full-blown muse (and girl) I was enthralled to read that while referencing some cocktail blogs, he referred to The Liquid Muse as the "Cocktail Goddess to the Rich and Famous." Oh. yeah. baby.

Engaging in mutual admiration society, for a second, I do have to encourage you Sipsters to check out his blog. He rocks. You'll love him. I would know. (Goddesses are privy to that kind of thing...) Below is our interview. He is adorable and knowledgable. You'll see what I mean. Read on!

TLM: How old are you?
JM: Aren't the first few questions supposed to be nice and easy? I'm 35.

TLM: Were you born and raised in Eugene?
JM: I was born in Sacramento, California but I grew up on the Monterey Peninsula. I didn't move to Eugene until I went away for college.

TLM: What did you study in college?
JM: I received my Associate's degree in Physics, and then went on to earn my Bachelor's degree in Interior Architecture from the University of Oregon.

TLM: How long have you been bartending?
JM: I've been behind the bar for eleven years now. It was originally intended as a summer job but ended up being a career.

TLM: How do you define “Mixologist”?
JM: I define 'mixologist' much like I define the words 'biologist' or 'psychologist': it's a person who studies a particular field. The key word for me here is 'study', because I feel that learning everything I can about mixology is integral to what I do behind my bar.

TLM: What do you like most about being a Mixologist?
JM: Amazingly enough, I really enjoy making drinks. We nurture a cocktail culture at our bar, and our customers seek us out as a fine drinking destination. When someone comes in and expresses some enthusiasm for cocktails, it sparks my energy level and reminds me why I do this.

TLM: What is the name of your bar?
JM: El Vaquero. It's the Spanish word for cowboy. I'm the bar manager, so I get to write the schedule, place the orders, clean the floor underneath the ice wells, train the staff and prep some of the more laborious items we carry. Every once in a while I'll even get to create a new drink for the menu.

TLM: What are your inspirations when creating a cocktail?
JM: I start by looking at the classics. I have a huge library of drink books, everything from The Gentleman's Companion up to Gary and Mardee Regan's books. Sometimes I'll delve into a drink family that I've never explored before - lately it's been crustas - and then start going through the kitchen looking for flavors that I can use to add my own touch to the drink.

TLM: What is your favorite cocktail?
JM: I was with a group of bartenders this weekend, and someone asked us each to name our top five drinks. My number one alcoholic beverage would have to be Champagne, but my favorite cocktail is probably the Sidecar. People refer to it as the Mother of Modern Cocktails and I think that's a very fitting moniker.

TLM: How long have you been blogging?
JM: I've had a website since 1996, but the blog is a pretty recent addition - about three or four years ago. Originally my website was just a resume and architecture portfolio.

TLM: What made you start a blog?
JM: I just wanted to be able to post photographs and notes for the handful of people who knew about my website, mostly just my friends and family. Soon I noticed a lot of traffic from people looking for my drink recipes, so I started writing about bartending and posting my drink recipes online.

TLM: What do you like about doing a blog?
JM: The biggest thing for me has been the ability to connect with other like-minded people around the world. I get a new email every day from someone who want to share their ideas with me, and that alone helps keep me inspired. I try to put up a couple of new posts a week, on my days off.

TLM: What is the primary focus / goal of your blog?
JM: I try to mix it up. I'll post drink recipes and product reviews when I'm in the mood, but sometimes I just like to rant about this or that. I love it when I can get my readers involved and a discussion breaks out on one of my topics. My goal is to connect with people who are passionate about the same values I carry: dedication to the craft of mixology, exploration of new flavors and ingredients, and anything else bar-related.

TLM: What is your favorite cocktail to make?
JM: Really, anything that's out of the ordinary gets me excited. I had someone come in looking for an Aviation cocktails a few weeks ago, and fortunately I had just found a bottle of Luxardo maraschino liqueur so we were able to play around with some recipes.

TLM: Can you share a bar tale?
JM: While I was working at a neighborhood dive, one day there was a stabbing in the park next door. A group of people had been attacked, and they all came pouring in to get bandages, use the phone to call the police, and collect their nerves. Although it was a tragic scene, it was amazing to see the whole bar come together to help. That exemplifies what I feel bars should be: community gathering places, for better or for worse.

TLM: What is the best pick-up line you’ve heard in a bar? The worst?
JM: Honestly, I try not to listen. The pickup lines all start to run together after so many years.

TLM: What piece of advice would you give to a bar customer?
JM: Patience is a virtue you will be rewarded for in the end.

TLM: What / where do you drink on a night of?
JM: I don't really drink all that much, but when I do, I just stop in at the little pub by my house. It's usually pretty quiet by the time I get off work, the staff is friendly, the bourbon is strong and the beer is cold. Does that answer your question?

TLM: What do you do besides write and make cocktails? What are you hobbies, interests?
JM: I love to cook, so almost every night that I'm not working I can be found in my kitchen, listening to music and making dinner for my girlfriend and our friends. I also try to avoid the bartender's curse of sleeping all day, so I try to get up early and go for walks or work out in the pool.

TLM: Describe your fantasy life…
JM: I'm the Professor from Gilligan's Island... Oh wait, what?

TLM: What did I not ask that you would like to share?
JM: Whew, I don't know, it took me a day to do this much, Natalie!
Presenting Preggatinis(tm)!

Non-Alcoholic Cocktails for Stylish Moms-To-Be

You know when you have a secret and you're just dying to tell everyone but you have to hold back a little but its just killing you not to tell?

That's how I have felt about my line of Preggatinis
(tm). I've been sitting on these butt-kicking "mocktails" for months now, as I worked on a book proposal for my Preggatini concept.

Things move quickly in the cocktail fast lane and I have since re-structured my cocktail book to focus on alcoholic drinks (duh, right? I am The Liquid Muse, and the world of spirits is where I draw so much inspiration...) But, there will be some Preggatinis
(tm) in my book.

Preggatinis(tm) are perfect baby shower cocktails (aka: Preggatini Parties(tm)). They are also great for anyone laying off the sauce (with or without an inhabited uterus...) I started a new blog devoted to Preggatinis(tm), which I encourage you to check out often, if you or someone close to you, is expecting!

Here is one, to get you started:

Pamper Me Preggatini(tm)
1/2 oz. Freshly squeezed mandarin orange juice
2 oz. Guava nectar
Orange-flavored mineral water
2 tsp. fine sugar
sprig mint

Pour a small amount of grenadine onto a small plate. Pour sugar onto another small plate. Take a champagne flute and dip the rim into the grenadine first, and then the sugar. Let it dry for a few seconds. Pour mandarin juice and guava nectar into the flute. Slowly add the orange-flavored mineral water until glass is full. Garnish with a sprig of mint.

(*alcoholic version for non-pregnant friends: top with sparkling wine instead of orange flavored mineral water)

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Are you ever this productive after drinking a six pack?

Musey Fun at the Playboy Mansion

Not everyone may be aware that The Liquid Muse can create a Signature Cocktail, just for you! Corporate events, launch parties, openings, lifestyle celebrations all call for exciting libations. I am here to help.

Imagine my excitement over creating 4 scrumptious delights for the Celebrity Poker Tournament at the Playboy Mansion, next week. (Girls Next Door is my #1 guilty pleasure!) Here is my ad, which will run in the program, featuring one of those delicious drinks. And, I will have photos from the event - bunnies beware!!! :-)

*Ad layout:

Friday, April 20, 2007

Adding Alcohol Enhances Antioxidants...

According to the LA Times, fruits doused in ethanol - found in rum, vodka and tequila - have heightened antioxident qualities.

Pomegranate-Acai-Blueberry Mojito, anyone?
Jonathan Gold Pops LA Weekly's Pulitzer Cherry

Jonathan Gold, is the first food critic to win a pulitzer. And, its the first such prize for the publication he calls home, LA Weekly. His reports on the porno burrito, claws and effect crab and Izayoi's sake made a big splash.

He first joined LA Weekly in 1982 as a proofreader and later covered cutting-edge music. As he won national acclaim Gourmet Magazine wooed him to the Big Apple where he was their NY Food Critic. Happily for Angelenos, in 2001, he returned to the sunny West Coast (yeah, missed us, eh big guy?) and re-joined his old crew at theWeekly, still contributing to Gourmet.

It has all come full circle for Gold. Proof that "readers" go far in life...
*Photos courtesy of LA Weekly

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Scotch Gin?

It's Not For Everyone

Gin is making a comeback, and Hendrick's is on the lips of every gin drinker I've spoken to lately. Oh yeah, they had good things to say about it, too...

I collect old bottles, and particularly like medicinal ones. This bottle may just join my little grouping, despite the fact that it is brand spanking new. It is short and squat and brown, with "Hendrick's" right in the glass. Puurrrfect.

And, what's inside is quite the cure, indeed. Remember when martinis meant gin? If not, Hendrick's will ignite your memory. If I smack my tongue against the roof of my mouth and concentrate, I can kinda get the cucumbers and rose petal notes it is supposed to eminate. But, basically, I know all I really need to know...

It hails from Scotland, where it has been distilled in small, handcrafted batches since 1886. It is strong, aromatic, with a manly kick and a ladylike bouquet. Hendrick's may not be for everyone but it has something for almost anyone wanting a quality cocktail.
Ask The Liquid Muse... Calvados in DC?

Fellow blogger, Shawn Cox of Rejiggered made this inquiry:

"Any intel on where to buy calvados in DC? The Virginia ABC stores I've visited appear to be conscientious objectors."

As I have no great answer for this one, I am opening it up to The Liquid Muse Community. Any ideas? Comment below!

**Update: Sipster, Brian Corcoran suggests this place. Thanks, Brian!**
Woh. Sad, scary, and yes, sobering.

What the Virginia Tech murderer had to say about his twisted and devastating actions, as reported by Yahoo News:

"Your Mercedes wasn't enough, you brats," says Cho (Seung-Hui), a South Korean immigrant whose parents work at a dry cleaners in surburban Washington. "Your golden necklaces weren't enough, you snobs. Your trust funds wasn't enough. Your vodka and cognac wasn't enough. All your debaucheries weren't enough. Those weren't enough to fulfill your hedonistic needs. You had everything."

(vodka and cognac...?)
New Vodka Flavor Hits US

I hate it when I become addicted to something only available overseas.

Like, when I was living in Cataluna (Spain), a tapas bar down the block made the most succulent “croquettas de bacalao” (codfish fritters). When the tapas craze hit the States, I was hopeful but disappointed - not the same. In New Zealand, I got hooked on the $1 meat pies. In Brazil, I slathered their white, creamy catupiry cheese on everything from bread to fruit, daily. And, who would disagree that there is something about the luscious café crèmes in Paris that just don’t compare to any American-made latte.

So, when I was in Finland, in February, covering Finlandia’s 9th Annual International Cocktail Competition, I knew I was in trouble. Their new grapefruit flavored vodka was only available in Europe. Immediately hooked, I savored every sip, knowing I’d have to wait a few months until I could buy it (regularly) back home!

Why do I like it so much? Finnish water is among the purest in the world, so there is no need for multiple filtering at distillation. (In fact, the water is so clean that it is still "living." Even though Finlandia bottles its own brand of water, it can not be exported because of its short shelf life.) So, while Finlandia grapefruit is a great mixer, its also tasty on its own (over ice with a squeeze of lime). The fresh, citrus flavor is not too sweet or fruity but leaves a whisper of grapefruit on the tongue (and left me panting for more)!

The Good News? American Sipsters, I am very happy to tell you that, as of April, Finlandia’s grapefruit flavored vodka is here!

Below are two drinks I came up with while “playing” with my very own bottle! (By the way - these cocktails are still unnamed… if of you Sipsters want to play “Name That Drink” leave a comment or e-me. Winner will be mentioned on TLM.) Kippis!

Cocktail #1:
2 oz. Finlandia Grapefruit
generous squeeze of lime
dash blood orange bitters (I am addicted to Blood Orange bitters, too!)
2 oz. Freshly squeezed blood orange juice
Splash of soda water

Shake vodka, bitters, and juice, with ice. Pour into chilled martini glass. Top with a splash of soda water. Garnish with a lime wheel.

Cocktail #2:
1 1/2 oz. Finlandia Grapefruit
2 oz. Freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
sparkling wine

Sugar-rim a chilled champagne flute, pour in vodka and grapefruit juice. Top with champagne. (Great with brunch, or an evening soiree.)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

To the students and families of Virginia Tech:

Your friends on the West Coast send you wishes for peace and comfort during this tragic and shocking time.
TLM Globe TreKKs in Downtown LA

Recipe for a Globe TreKK Cocktail:

One part fashion show
One part art show
One part hipster scene
Three parts underground cool
Shake vigorously, with ice. Pour into warehouse/loft art space. Top with Hennessey. Serve on the rocks, in downtown LA.

When I arrived, I wasn’t quite sure what I was walking into. I knew Hennessey had something to do with the event. As The Liquid Muse, of course, anything spirit-related piques my curiosity.

I usually arrive early, at events, so I can peruse the space and get a feel for what’s to come.

This one threw me a little, at first, because there was so much going on. The first thing I noticed as I entered Marvimon (a mind boggling live-in, garage-turned-art-space) was the special edition Volkswagen Eos convertible on display. I wondered what the heck a car had to do with a fashion show but it is
such a sweeeet little sporty thing that I decided not to over analyze it, and just drool on it, a little.

Behind the VW, at one end of the exposed-brick hall, a wall-sized video installation flashed intriguing images. Paintings lined the three-walled room. A band warmed up in the corner.

While there was little-to-no thought put into hors d’oeuvres (which are usually a good idea when liquor is free and flowing) there were colorful cupcakes trees, which added a festive touch to the ambiance.

Overall, I was intrigued by what the evening may hold.

Meanwhile, I headed to the bar, where the Hennessey bottles were lined up like works of art, themselves! The bartenders were adorable and fun, which is always a plus, in my book… although their “cocktail” suggestions, left me cold (Hennessey and Coke? C’mon, folks, let’s get a bit more creative than that!) Taking a quick glance at what was available, I created my own ‘signature cocktail’ for the evening: Henn, with a splash of Grand Marnier, a squeeze of lemon and topped with ginger ale. Quite pleased with my spur-of-the-moment creation, I sipped down a couple of them as the Globe TreKK attendees slowly filed in.

Now, this is where the evening really became interesting. LA is known to be a fashionable place but, let’s be honest. Most people here pick up a gossip or fashion mag, and copy what the celebrities are wearing. What moved me at Globe TreKK was the creativity expressed in the crowd’s ensembles. They were not the run-of-the-mill LA fashionistas but smacked of New York, London, Paris. Edgy and slightly off-center, the hair styles, color combos, short shorts and punky throwbacks all blended into one slick crowd.

I don’t claim to be a fashion maven, myself but I know ‘hot’ when I see it (and NOT in the Paris Hilton way).

Anticipation built, the place became elbow-to-elbow and soon, the energy hit its crescendo as the models finally filed out (and continued to do so intermittently throughout the evening) down the make-shift runway. Sexy little numbers from Xe, Fremont, Nikolaki, JP Dawn, Erudite, Smoke and Mirrors, Maria, and FNA were strutted out on funky models. Nick Verreos from Season Two of Project Runway hosted the show. The event also celebrated Sirens & Sailors 6th anniversary and was co-produced by Sun in Leo.

All in all, I’d call Globe TreKK LA’s mixing of space, fashion, music, visual and wearable art a recipe for success!

*Photos taken by LA-based Photographer, Claire Barrett

Monday, April 16, 2007

Attention Sipsters!

Just in time for our birthday celebration, Ben and Jerry’s offers a
FREE ice cream cone! Yay!!

On Tuesday, April 17, from 12 - 8:00 pm at scoop shops around the world, Ben & Jerry’s celebrates its 29th annual Global Free Cone Day. (Last year Ben & Jerry’s gave away more than 1 million free cones, worldwide!)

"Legend-dairy "classics like Cherry Garcia, Phish Food and Chocolate Fudge Brownie are still featured but I think I am going to sample one of two new flavors:
Crème Brûlée (sweet custard ice cream and crunchy caramelized sugar swirl) or Cinnamon Buns (caramel ice cream with cinnamon bun dough and caramel streusel swirl).

Also, their Vanilla and Chocolate flavors are now made with Fair Trade Certified™ cocoa powder and vanilla extract, joining Fair Trade Certified™ coffee flavors.

Now all we need is free cake! (and champagne, of course)

Friday, April 13, 2007

Happy Birthday to US!

April marks the ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY of The Liquid Muse, and my 250th post!

As much as I love writing about cocktails, events, liquor reviews, the people who make our swizzlers sizzle, and creating signature cocktails for your celebrations, I love knowing that you like reading it! Thank you, Sipsters, for making this journey so much darn fun!!!

And, I have so many new, fun tricks up my sleeve for Year #2! Stay tuned, and subscribe to the Museletter (top, left corner of this blog) to make sure you aren't left out of the fun...

(I say we all run out to celebrate by pampering ourselves
with Allure Magazine's $50 Spa Week, April 16 - 22, available in selected cities.)

*photos courtesy of 1800Flowers
Drink Like Martha

If her stint in the slammer was not enough to convince you that there is more to Martha Stewart than her goodie two shoes, perfectly coiffed, ankles-crossed-knees-together, matching-argyle socks-and-sweater persona, perhaps her freshly re-vamped website will...

The Grand Dame of Home Entertainment still teaches you to whip up the perfect souffle, turn everyday egg cartons into stunning centerpieces and arrange sticks and twigs from your yard into fine art, only now you can do it with The Liquid Muse twist!

Scrapbook while sipping her Guava Margarita, or plan a 5-course, sit-down dinner for 8 over a Capote Martini. Basically, her new cocktail section gives you ideas for all sorts of lascivious libations.

Just make sure to keep your stockings straight. You are a lady, after all...

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Win Money With Your Short Film... about BEER!

Are you a Sipster with a flair for filmmaking? Then, I have news for you! Send in your short film for Dogfish Head Pale Ale's second annual contest and you could win:

$1000.00 for Third Prize
$2000.00 for Second Prize

$3000.00 for First Prize

Additionally, the top three winner will be screened at the 10th Annual Rehoboth Beach Independent Film Festival in November. And, the winning short and filmmaker will be featured right here, on The Liquid Muse!

So, whatcha waitin' for? Fame and fortune are a Dogfish Head Ale away... Follow this link to get the appropriate forms and see last year's winners. (My favorite is the one that won second place)

*Photo courtesy of mylifeisbeer

LA Blogger / Ezine Group, Small but Mighty

Joy Kennelly and Thomas Griego are co-organizers of the newly formed LA Blog/Zine group. Last night, we met at Bar Noir, inside Maison 140, in Beverly Hills.

A stylish little gem of a drinking hole, Bar Noir blends French and Asian influences and tops them off with a lovely cocktail list. The hits of the night were Citrus Lychee Martini featuring Belvedere Citrus and lychee puree and the Maison Martini made from blackberry puree, pineapple juice and vodka (tastes like cobbler with a kick!) The Manhattan, according to its anonymous consumer, tasted a bit watery - perhaps shaken a bit too vigorously for too long...?

(BTW - Every third Monday, chefs from blue on blue -at Maison 140's sister hotel, the Avalon- present Vin et Fromage tastings at Bar Noir for $45 per person. How

At our gathering last night, Joy, Thomas, Jaimi the Marketing Maven and Ann (the non-blogging blogger) and I were surely the most raucuss in the joint. Still, as we twittered away about online media, interspersed with personal gossip and juicy tid-bits, we could not help but be a bit distracted by the trendy couple at the next table, canoodling in the corner while blabbing on cell phones. Yes... canoodling with one person and blabbing with another on the phone... hmmm... would that be a
fiber-optic menage-a-trois?

Anyway, Joy and Thomas shared many valuable pearls of wisdom from OMMA, which they attended a couple of weeks ago. (kicking self for not going!!!) As far as increasing blog popularity, etc. a couple of highlights include linking with others and adding video from popular topics. (I also vow to get some cool cocktailing video on my own You Tube account!)

If any of you LA Sipsters want to join our group, do so here!

Monday, April 09, 2007

La Vie Boheme Leaves TLM Speechless

Exquisite” is the word that came to mind. Then, I wasn’t sure what else to say. Is it possible for one sip to be so subtly fragrant and refined that it leaves an opinionated spirits commentator at a loss for words? Oui, c’est possible!

St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur transports me to my own fantastical scene where I become one of Erte’s lithe figurines - swathed in silk, languishing on a velvetine fainting couch, with an extended cigarette holder in one hand, and a crystal liqueur glass filled with this delightful nectar in the other. Aahhh, a Muse-y thought, indeed…

Ok, back to the booze!

The Name: After World War II, the Parisian neighborhood of St. Germain-des-Pres became a hangout for artists, writers, wanderlusts, conventional misfits and social rebellion which marked the early decades of 20th century Paris. Nestled into the Left Bank of the River Seine, St. Germain still boasts art galleries, the historic Café des Duex Magots and open-air markets.

Named for this center of Parisian intellectualism, and stomping ground of bon vivants, the actual liqueur is made from wild elderflower blossoms, handpicked in the French Alps, then (supposedly) bicycled down to the distillery. (Is there any more romantic imagery than a capped Frenchman lovingly gathering fragile blooms on a sunny day above Provençe?)

The Liqueur: After harvesting, the ephemeral elderflowers quickly lose their delicate fragrance and flavor. For this reason, until now, non-alcoholic elderflower syrup has been more readily available behind the bar, and made from frozen flowers. In order to make St. Germain Liqueur, the elderflower essence is quickly extracted at the distillery then blended with their eau de vie produced for three generations. The outstanding liqueur is then presented to the public in an elegant art deco-style bottle.

St. Germain is slowly making its way Stateside. I strongly encourage you to take a few seconds
to slip away to your own Bohemian Rhapsody, one exquisite sip at a time…

Lovely on its own, here are a few cocktail recipes and photos, supplied by Maison St. Germain:

The Can-Can Martini
2 ounces gin (vodka, ok, too)
1 1/2 ounces St. Germain
1/4 ounce dry vermouth (or white wine)

Shake, with ice, then strain into chilled martini glass. Garnish with lemon or orange twist. (High-kicks and petticoats optional...)

French 77
1 ounce St. Germain
1/4 freshly squeezed lemon juice

Pour liqueur and lemon juice into chilled flute, top with champagne.

The St. Germain Cocktail
2 ounces dry white wine (sauvignon blance) or Prosecco
2 ounces St. Germain
Soda Water

Stir ingredients in a tall, ice-filled Collins glass. Reminisce Paris circa 1947...

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Seattle Sipsters celebrate Easter “a la CAMPAGNE

One may expect that in the Land of The Liquid Muse, brunch means one thing… free license to drink in the morning. However, any true “gourmande” knows that nothing complements champagne before noon like a sumptuous feast.

This Sunday, April 8, Seattle based food-lovers and Francophiles flock to Campagne, which opens its doors for one of two brunches per year (Easter and Mother’s Day). Chef
Daisley Gordonwill's Fête de Pâques features: Oeufs à la truffes (truffled eggs); house-smoked salmon; saucisson d'agneau (lamb and sweetbread sausage) and house-made Dungeness crab quiche. (Trés yummy!) Café Campagne also serves the regular brunch menu until 4pm.

Joyeux Pâques, Seattle!
Ask The Liquid Muse

Following my review of the herb-a-licious Zen Green Tea Liqueur, Sipster, David Manowitz, from Washington DC emailed this request:

"Do you know of any place around DC that sells Zen? I had a little bit of it in San Diego a year or so ago, but I haven't been able to find it around here."

After a bit of digging around, I am pleased to let David, and you other DC Sipsters, know that you can Zen-out at the following establishments (and, please report back to dish about their Zen cocktails!):

Halo - 1435 P Street NW
Maggiano's - 5333 Wisconsin Ave. NW
Kaz - 1915 I Street NW

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

X Bar Marks the Power Spot

Century City Goes Hollywood...

The only thing more important than schmoozing, in Hollywood, is having the right setting in which to do it. Happily for recent Century City arrivals such as CAA, ICM and United Artists, Avenue of the Stars is finally living up to its name. A stone’s throw from Beverly Hills and around the corner from Fox Studios, Agents, Movie Execs, Starlets and hunky Leading Men have a new casual-yet-refined “second office.”

Whether sharing story lines at the bar or snuggling in a comfy booth, X Bar’s stylish ambiance, “x-otic” cocktails and eclectic small plates draw in LA residents looking for fun and Power Hitters, alike.

When I went to the preview party, I was enchanted by the lavender-rosemary margarita. It had aroma and flavor without being too sugary… which, to me, makes for a perfectly balanced drink. The passed appetizers ranged from the standard ahi tartare to a decadent crab dip. Though, to give a proper opinion on the food, I’ll have to go back and try an actual dish. (Oh darn, twist my arm…)

X Bar’s concept began during the remodeling. The architects at Gensler found an
enormous steel 'X' to be integral to the building's foundation. Rather than work against the organic structure of the building, it became the heart of the design. Furthermore, the décor “brings the outside in, and the inside out” highlighting four natural elements: earth, fire, water and plant life. Inside, wood and flowers blend with finely upholstered furniture. Outside the fire pit makes a dramatic patio centerpiece, and the screening wall reflects celluloid images before the twinkling Angeleno skyline.

Nestled into the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza, X Bar should definitely be put on your happy hour hot list. A great place to unwind after work, or a super spot for a drink before a show, you may decide to hang around until curtain call… or last call. Or, even until you see your own name in lights…

Xotic Cocktail
Absolut Ruby Red Grapefuit Vodka
Stirring's Tangerine Extract
Freshly-Squeezed Ruby Red Grapefruit Juice
Garnished with a Blood Orange and Sugar Cane

Grapefruit Sake Sipper
Fresh Squeezed Grapefruit Juice
Edible Flower as garnish

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Pho Phreakin' Phantastic

Have you ever...

woken up with a pounding head, in full (smeared) make up, drool on your pillow and a vague recollection of a bottomless champagne glass and toasting among men with Italian accents? Me neither. (Ahem...)

A former woman of ill-repute, I am now a respectable married lady - which, of course, means that this morning's
headache was a total and utter mystery. It certainly had nothing to do with Santa Monica hot-spots Makai, Tengu and Penthouse. My girlfriends were definitely not accomplices, and there is absolutely no connection what-so-ever between my headache and Fancisco, Vincezo, Antonio or those other guys...

It started off as an early appetizers-and-cocktail evening. Umoja and I met Jackie and Melanie at Makai, where they cheered on UCLA. We arrived as the Bruins lost, and decided to drown our sorrows in sushi and cocktails, down the block. If theyhad won, we would have done the exact same thing but labeled it "celebrating their win." Either way, we were going to Tengu, which I first visited shortly after its opening with fashion blogger, DC Celine during her LA visit. The food is AMAZING, the scene is ON and the cocktails are tasty lil' suckers. Last night, my first one featured fresh ginger... delish. My second drink was a bit too sweet but I didn't exactly send it back...

We were going to end it there - plus Tengu can deplete the budget very quickly - but Umoja hadn't seen
Penthouse, down the road, so we decided we'd do a quick lap . If you haven't been to Penthouse yet, its high time you high-tail it over. Melanie and I remember it when, a decade ago, it was a cheap margarita and free taco Mexican joint. The perfect after-beach party spot, it was frequented by surfers, volleyball players, students and the general public low on cash. The outdoor glass elevator provided a great view of the ocean, and city lights.

Today, when the elevator hits the 17th floor of the
Huntley Hotel, the doors open to wall-to-wall people, packed into a lavish white-on-white setting. Breezy curtains section off large private booths, the cocktail waitresses sport the perfect "little black dress" and the crowd is there to see-and-be-seen. We jostled our way around the bar, taking in the change in atmosphere, and Jackie struck up a conversation with a familiar face. Next thing we knew, we joined the Italians' table and the J Champagne (Californian, woman-owned vineyard) was flowing...

Needless to say, this morning, as the sunlight burned holes clear through to the back of my skull, I knew what I needed. (All this time as a cocktail chick has taught me a few tricks...) My understanding and non-judgmental husband fetched me a tall glass of water and some aspirin, and we headed down Sepulveda for the all-time #1 hang over cure at Pho 999.

Pho has all the right ingredients for a hang-over remedy: broth (ie: water), protein, veggies and lively spices. After a big steaming bowl (loaded with spicy Sirachi), a pineapple boba drink and lots more water, all was right with the world. And, the headache born amidst giggly bubbles in Santa Monica, died a peaceful, timely death in Sherman Oaks...