Monday, October 31, 2016

FOOD Exhibition at the Smithsonian

We just returned from a weekend in Washington, DC, where we attended the Smithsonian's Food History Weekend and saw, among other fabulous exhibits, the FOOD: Transforming The American Table 1950 - 2000 exhibition. If you have any interest in mid-century American culture, particularly food and drink, do try to get to the National Museum of American History for this fabulous experience! Besides being greeted by Julia Child's intact kitchen, which you can view from many angles, there is everything from a Trader Vic's cookbook and tiki mugs to the first frozen margarita machine to Cheez Whiz! Here are a few of my favorite photos. Admission to the museum is free. While you're there, don't forget to check out Dorothy's ruby slippers, Archie Bunker's chair and the "The Star Spangled Banner" - the flag that inspired the national anthem!

7-Eleven ad: Leave The Youngsters In The Car? I don't think you could do that today and not get arrested!

What will they think of next?

Fast Cheese

Cooking with Fritos

World's First Frozen Margarita Machine, from Mariano's Mexican Cuisine in Dallas, 1971

I think this speaks for itself!

Tiki at the Smithsonian!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Cocktails for Coping: Laurice's Choices

Yesterday we asked what everyone is drinking to cope with election anxiety and, as I expected, we got some fabulous responses! Laurice even got us some shots of her choices, so, without further ado, here are two easy cocktails for coping!


1 1/2 oz vodka
3/4 oz orange liqueur (Laurice has gone with Cointreau - nice choice!)
3/4 oz fresh lime juice

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass!

Black Russian

2 oz vodka
1 oz coffee liqueur

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass or do like Laurice and serve on the rocks.

Thanks, Laurice! Now, what are you drinking?

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

What are you drinking to cope?

We received a message from our very sweet friend Michael a couple of days ago, who said that he had voted earlier that day and had prepared himself a  Bombay gin and tonic with pink grapefruit juice to help wash away the sourness and bitterness that has come with this particular election. It got me wondering what everyone else is drinking to cope? Judging from the crowds I've been seeing in the liquor stores lately, people are drowning their sorrows. If you're among those folks, please let us know what you're imbibing in the days leading up to the election. Snap a photo and we'll feature it here! We could even create a cocktail guide! It would be a public service.

A patriotic pink grapefruit gin and tonic

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Applejack instead of whiskey?

Fall might mean all things pumpkin, but it also means all things apple, and that includes applejack! According to 1977's The Applejack-instead-of-whiskey Recipe Book, William Laird, of Laird's Applejack, which remains on the market today, made applejack at his home in Monmouth, New Jersey as early as 1698. This tiny tome further claims that George Washington himself borrowed the family's recipe and began making it himself sometime around 1760. Fermented and distilled from apples and lovingly tended night and day, applejack is the perfect choice for fall cocktails! Here are a few to get you started, along with an adult Halloween punch they deemed "very relaxing." Bobbing for apples is a lot more fun when you're bobbing in booze!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Why Do We Use So Many Cocktail Bitters?

You've probably noticed that we use bitters in many of our cocktails and may wonder what the heck they are and why we'd bother with such a small amount of an ingredient. After all, when we use bitters, it's typically a few dashes at the most. However, they can add a fun note to a cocktail, alter the flavor slightly and help to balance a drink that's too sweet or too tart. And it's fun to play around with them!

Cocktail bitters aren't the same thing as digestive bitters, which are typically sipped straight up. Campari and Aperol are well-known examples of digestive bitters and, while they make great cocktail ingredients (Negroni, anyone?), are wonderful when enjoyed on their own before or after a meal. You don't want to sip cocktail bitters straight up! That would be a deeply unenjoyable experience!

Originally used as medical tinctures, to oversimplify, cocktail bitters basically consist of roots, barks and herbs infused in an alcoholic base. There are many companies out there now playing with fun flavors, like chocolate and hot pepper, and it's easy to make your own if you don't mind waiting a couple of weeks to use them. You can find lots of recipes by searching on "bitters recipes." Soon you'll start creating your own recipes. I made pineapple and Hess House bitters once and they were fabulous and Paul has made Abbott's bitters. If you don't want to go to the trouble, most supermarkets carry Angostura bitters and many well-stocked liquor stores carry brands like Fee Brothers and Bitter Truth. Gourmet food stores are another good place to check. Pick up a few bottles that sound fun and start experimenting!


Friday, October 21, 2016

Analgesic For An Atrocious Day

Yesterday was one of those epic Bad Days. Not only did someone cancel an appointment I'd been anxiously anticipating for six weeks (back to the drawing board) while another was delayed, but I was fasting for a blood test while already not feeling great, so that in the midst of my disappointment I was physically weak and practically hallucinating. Middletown and New York City lose all of their charm on days like that. Fortunately Paul was home and ready to greet me with this lovely libation when I walked through the door at the end of the day. I call it the Bitter End.

Bitter End

1 1/2 oz vodka
1/2 oz Amaro Sfumato Rabarbaro (rhubarb amaro)
1/2 oz fresh lime juice
1/2 oz ginger syrup (recipe below)

Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Don't waste time garnishing after a bad day!

To make your own ginger syrup, combine one part strong ginger tea made from fresh ginger root with one part simple syrup (which is one part water and one part sugar - combine over low heat until sugar is dissolved without boiling). Store in the refrigerator.

As the saying goes, alcohol never solved any problems, but neither did milk!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

The Costume Closet

I was just asked on our YouTube channel if I make my own dresses for the show. In most cases the answer is yes! It's just not that easy to find a dress that says "Halloween" or "Elvis" or "Jaws" on the rack at the local department store and I'm often scrambling too late to order online. Fortunately for me, at this point I only use two patterns for the show, one of which I've come to call "the VLK dress" and which I can whip up in a morning!

A few examples of the VLK dress

Oddly, Glendora's wardrobe is almost entirely store bought (albeit vintage). I've started seeing things in stores and on women and saying "Glendora needs that," which is probably not sane!

I do have some amazing dresses that I wear for the show that are vintage. I'm sure some of my friends could tell you where to find the best vintage dresses, but I tend to stumble upon mine in thrift stores and at events. 

Our YouTube commenter suggested that we make a sewing video. That is a great idea! In the meantime, if you don't sew and are interested, here are a few tips from a non-expert:

  • Take a class. I found one at Jo-Ann Fabrics and it really helped. You'll mainly learn by doing, but a class (or a friend or relative who sews) is incredibly helpful when starting out.
  • Vintage patterns are far easier to follow than contemporary. I have no idea why this is, but it has definitely been my experience.
  • Insert the zipper, if not first thing, then really early on. Many contemporary patterns have you adding the zipper toward the end, which is a recipe for disaster. Again, I have no idea why.
  • Purchase a seam ripper and keep it handy! It's really annoying to rip out a seam and start over, but it's a great way to learn!
  • Pick up the best sewing machine you can afford. I have a Husqvarna Viking Scandinavia 200 and love it!
Time to start thinking about that video...

Thursday, October 13, 2016

With A Kick!

Monday I shared some non-alcoholic punches from Ocean Spray's 1971 booklet Mix Around With Cranberry Juice. Indeed, most of the recipes in the booklet are alcohol-free, a fact which didn't go unnoticed by a 1971 reviewer, who huffed that there were no recipes with hooch. (See? I RESEARCH these things!) But he was mistaken. Ocean Spray didn't forget the inebriates! Here are some of their selections, including one that's "A Ladies Day Special," and another with "All the fresh excitement of the sea." What more could you want?!

Are they implying that Tom Collins isn't likeable?

I always suspected that the fresh excitement of the sea came on a wave of rum.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Non-Alcoholic Punches With Vintage Flair

Sometimes you need a punch sans booze, whether it's for a kids party, your abstaining or designated driver friends or those who just don't enjoy a drink. These folks often get stuck with juice boxes, soda and other uninspired choices. Well, we're here to change that! Mix Around With Cranberry Juice, a fabulous booklet put out by Ocean Spray circa 1971, has all sorts of recipes ranging from "unusual" to "intriguing." And if you click on the page entitled "Youth Quakes" you'll find options for both fall football games and Halloween! 

Football and Halloween cocktails - it's that time of year!
Perfect for guests who like to act like jerks. Soda jerks, that is!

They didn't neglect the cocktails in this booklet. I'll share those later this week. They are, of course, cranberry juice-centric! 

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Who's Up For 44 Drinks?!

I've been organizing our cocktail guides and I'm rediscovering some real gems, including "How to make 44 drinks that put life in your party" ("advertised in LIFE" magazine), brought to us by the incredibly prolific Southern Comfort. Southern Comfort put out the best cocktail guides back in the day. True every drink featured SoCo, even when it shouldn't have, but, hey, what do you want from Southern Comfort?! The photos were fabulous and the themes, which ranged from disco to the Bicentennial, were inspired. The holiday party season is fast approaching, so let's explore this little booklet!

Any party with 44 drinks will have lots of life. Until it doesn't.

Bonus appetizer recipe, perfect for brunch or the morning after!

More easy appetizers, perfect for folks who may be, ahem, imbibing heavily.

Punch bowls perfect for the holiday season or when you're just looking to get loaded!

More holiday party suggestions coming soon! The mid-century era wasn't much for adult Halloween parties, but everyone knows a kids punch is fabulous with a little liquor added!