The Great Pumpkin Pie Cocktail

DSCN2353It’s the most wonderful time of the year!  That is, if you happen to love autumn, as I do.  The leaves are changing colors, it’s cool enough to wear scarves again, and the time is right to watch repetitively It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.  Speaking of great pumpkins, have you yet stocked up on all of the cans of pumpkin that you’ll need for the next three months?  If not, I trust that you’re working on it.  While you’re gearing up to make the first of many pumpkin pies, why not really get into the spirit of the season with a little pumpkin pie cocktail?  Yes, please.

This easy-peezy martini has all of the flavor of pumpkin pie and takes a fraction of the time to assemble and serve.  It involves pumpkin, spices, and a milk product, just like the real thing, but with the pleasant additions of Kahlua and butterscotch schnapps.  If you don’t yet have Kahlua and/or butterscotch schnapps on hand, I highly recommend investing in both; they both can be used throughout the holiday season(s) to make any number of festive cocktails.  For now, however, let’s focus on making this liquid pumpkin pie dream a reality.

The Great Pumpkin Pie Cocktail

Makes 1 cocktail

Ingredients

1.25 oz. Kahlua or another coffee liqueur

1.25 oz. butterscotch schnapps

2 oz. cold milk (any kind)

.75 oz pumpkin puree

1/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

dollop of whipped cream (optional, for garnish)

To Make the Cocktail:

Halfway fill a cocktail shaker with ice cubes.  Atop the ice, ad the Kahlua, butterscotch schnapps, milk, pumpkin, and pumpkin pie spice.  Gently mix with a spoon to start to incorporate the pumpkin and spices.  Vigorously shake the shaker for 30 seconds.  Pour the contents of the shaker into a martini glass.  If you like, garnish the cocktail with whipped cream.  Enjoy!

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Day Out: Casper Fry

DSCN2232Just about everyone has one of those T-shirts with a terrible pun or a slightly (or heavily) crass phrase that makes readers either giggle or cringe.  My mom certainly has one.  It was obtained during moonshine-tasting extravaganza in Tennessee and reads “put the south in your mouth.”  She wears it with surprising frequency and hilarious pride.  It was all I could think about whilst reviewing the cocktail menu at Spokane’s own taste of the South, Casper Fry.

Named after the owners’ great/great-great grandfather, Casper Fry’s classic, locally inclined values harken back to a time before supermarkets and convenience stores, when produce was only available when it was locally in season and chefs were able to pick out exactly which steer to use for dinner that night (gruesome, but great, too).  A large chalkboard mounted on one of the exposed brick walls lists each and every local purveyor and which products come from which source.  The well-stocked bar proudly displays all manner of whiskey, including several brands of bourbon and moonshine, and is made all the more tempting by the additional offering of absinthe and the occasional appearance of a few small Woodinville Whiskey “Age Your Own” whiskey barrels (my family has one, and it’s way fun).  Steampunk-style furniture and the lack of superfluous artwork lend a utilitarian air to the wide-open space and emphasizes the points that Casper Fry lets its food do the talking and speaks for the restaurant as a whole.

shrimp po'boy

shrimp po’boy

On this particular visit, I went with my Texas born-and-raised granddad.  I mentioned to him that prior to visiting Casper Fry, I’d never tried grits before.  He reacted with shock and proudly declared, “I’m from Texas.  We eat grits all the time.”  As I myself lived in Texas for a few months a couple of summers ago, I, too, was surprised that I’d not jumped on the grits bandwagon earlier.  Better late than never, I suppose.  That said, it’s almost mandated that a Southern-style restaurant offer their own version of shrimp and grits, and Casper Fry is not exception.  Served with a hefty handful of monstrous prawns; roasted okra, peppers, and asparagus; a bit of ham; and cheddar red mule grits, this kickin’ dish will fill your mouth with the most savory spices and your head with visions of the French Quarter in no time at all.  If you’re more of a hands-on diner, they’ve got just the thing: the shrimp po’boy is full to bursting with four crispy fried shrimp, as well as fresh red onions, tomatoes, and lettuce.  Drizzled with sweet chili aoili, this behemoth of a sandwich is sure to satisfy even the most voracious appetite.

Omaha sour

Omaha sour

No trip to Casper Fry is complete without a bourbon or absinthe-laden cocktail.  For those feeling both fancy and dangerous, the Corpse Reviver may be just what you need to shake your day up.  Served in a small coupe glass, this mysterious green libation is  sweet, tart, and old-timey as can be.  Made with gin, lemon juice, Dolin Blanc, Cointreau, and absinthe, you won’t be able to resist clinking glasses with your pals and adding a slight drawl to your speech.  For the whiskey-inclined and absinthe-curious, I recommend the Omaha Sour.  This little number involves both bourbon and absinthe, as well as a bit of syrup and lime juice.  As fun as cocktails are, nothing compares to the calming simplicity of a beer, and Casper Fry’s got you covered there, too: they have several taps, including local breweries such as No-Li and Iron Goat, ready to slake persnickety drinkers’ thirsts.

Last Saturday, Casper Fry celebrated its one year anniversary, and I can only imagine that there will be many more anniversary parties to come for this treasure of the Perry St. neighborhood.  Within the past several years, the neighborhood has really turned around and is now home to numerous flourishing businesses and restaurants and a weekly farmers market.  With the upcoming addition of the South Perry Brewing Company, the neighborhood is all but guaranteed to continue to thrive.  Without a doubt, Casper Fry’s arrival and success have had terrific influences on the neighborhood, not only in terms of economy, but in introducing a bit of southern flare to Inland Northwest.  You will, truly, want to put the south in your mouth.

Night Out: IronFest Finale and Twigs

Would anyone care for an Iron Man-hattan?

Would anyone care for an Iron Man-hattan?

It’s finally here.  The end of an era.  After months of anticipation and weeks’ worth of preparation, the grand finale of IronFest 2013 has come and gone.  And what a finale it was!  Complete with with cocktails, themed outfits, and a big-screen premiere, it was definitely an event worth looking forward to.

Last Thursday, Amy, Amy’s husband, two of our married friends, and I sported our crimson and gold and headed out to Twigs Bistro and Martini Bar before heading out to the town’s first showing of Iron Man 3.   Twigs is one of the premiere martini bars in Spokane, and there are multiple locations throughout town.  This evening, we visited the Valley location, which features a spacious dining room and an impressive wall of colorful and well-organized liquors.  When possible, I recommend sitting in the lounge, where you are able to enjoy a warm fireplace, multiple televisions (if you follow sports), and the aforementioned booze array.

After sitting down, my friends and I ordered our drinks and quickly caught up on the news of the week: someone finished with school for the semester, someone else had plans to go out of town in the coming weeks, yet another had a new development at work to share.  Once we were all up to speed on the week’s happenings, we were free to jump into the topic of conversation we were all eager to get started on: what do you think the movie’s going to be like?!  It did make me laugh that despite the facts that we are all working adults with bills and responsibilities, we still get excited about seeing new movies and are willing to stay out late so that we can be the first to see them.

As fun as it is to go to midnight movie screenings, I do have one problem with them: they’re so late!  I realize that this makes me sound like an old woman, but the truth of the matter is, I’m just not a night owl.  I’d much rather get up early than stay up late.  That said, I was secretly thrilled that the “midnight showing” of Iron Man 3 was actually a 9:30pm showing.  Score!  With plenty of time to spare, we claimed our spots in the theater and speculated on the film to come.  Amy’s husband and I, both avid Iron Man fans, shared our thoughts and looked forward to finding out whether our plot hypotheses would prove correct.  As it turns out, most of them would not.

In my opinion, the movie was a blast, and I was glad that my friends and I made the effort to get together and go see it.  There were twists and turns, laughs and suspense, and a plot twist that none of us saw coming (I gasped when it was revealed).  More than anything, I was glad that we all had something to look forward to and enjoy together.  As we all get older, it becomes more and more difficult to coordinate everyone’s schedules.  There’s work, school, family obligations, and myriad other responsibilities that take up time and prevent us from getting together as often as we’d really like to.  It takes effort on everyone’s part to meet up and set aside time to enjoy each others’ company.  On this particular outing, many of us have now known each other for the better part of a decade.  We’ve been able to watch each other grow into the people that we now are and witness the various trials and tribulations that we each experienced along the way.  At times, we’ve grown apart for one reason or another, but it’s comforting that we’ve been able to find our ways back to each other and continue what have become fulfilling and cherished friendships.  Whether it’s to celebrate a wedding, someone’s birthday, or a movie we all want to see, I, personally, am glad that I have people with whom I am able to not only enjoy myself, but be myself, no matter how goofy, nerdy, or otherwise embarassingly unconventional I may be.

Tropic-ale Breeze

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“It seemed like a good idea at the time.”

This statement almost exclusively serves as a disclaimer for an activity that almost certainly turned out to be a bad idea.  The present case is a happy exception.  This cocktail seemed like a good idea at the time, and, to my delighted dismay, it actually was good.  Really good.

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As an admitted beer geek, I had distinct feelings of trepidation and doubt when I first heard the premise of a beer cocktail.  Why would one want to mix beer with anything else?  I understand the allure of a celebratory Irish Car Bomb on St. Patty’s day, but beyond that, it seems like a waste of a good beer to mix it with liquor.  Well, don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it.

The good people of Spokane recently enjoyed the thrill of having a Total Wine & More store added to their growing retail base.  It’s about the closest thing to a grown-up toy store (save the naughty type) that there is.  There are so many choices, and where to begin?!  As part of the “& More” of its name, the store features all manner of peculiar spirits and exotic beers, so the mixing and matching possibilities are endless.  During a recent visit, my curiosity was piqued when I came across  Northwest Brewing Company‘s Mango Weizen.  Color me intrigued!  I had to have it.  That said, I purchased it, and it’s been sitting in my refrigerator ever since.  I didn’t feel right drinking a tropically themed beer while it was still lingering in the 40s outside.  However, the temperature has now warmed, and Mango Weizen’s time to shine has finally come.

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It’s time to get in the spirit of pre-summer.  As I later had plans to watch a film in which a variety of players come together to create one super team on the day I dreamt up this concoction, it was only appropriate that the evening’s selected beverage do that same, albeit with a fruity twist. (If you guessed that I was describing The Avengers, you were all-the-way right.  Well done.)  Mango Weizen will serve as the fearless leader (Captain America), a bit of orange juice will add a bold bit of flash and pizzazz (Iron Man), and a shot of peach schnapps will add some extra power (Thor).  To top things off, let’s garnish it wish a slice of fresh lime (I didn’t forget about you, Hulk).  Done and done.

Tropic-ale Breeze

1.5 oz peach schnapps

8 oz. Mango Weizen

3 oz. orange juice (fresh-squeezed or from concentrate)

1 slice of fresh lime (optional)

To Make the Cocktail:

In a pint glass, combine the orange juice and peach schnapps.  With the glass slightly tilted, gently pour in the beer.  Add a few ice cubes until the glass is full.  Garnish with slice of fresh lime.  Enjoy!

Spokane Sour

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I’ve never been a big fan of casual Fridays.  The idea of taking things down a notch, dress-wise, just never clicked with me.  On the contrary, I enjoy partaking in fancy Fridays.  The end of the work week is cause for celebration!  Dress up for it!

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Cocktails of all sorts just scream “fancy”.  I view the creation of cocktails like a magic trick: I’m curious how it happens, but I know that finding out would ruin it for me.  Nonetheless, it’s good to know how to make a few basic cocktails, just in case you find yourself playing mixologist at your own soiree.  The present beverage puts a snazzy twist on the classic whiskey sour, and the red float on top is sure to impress all of your friends.  Despite its complex appearance, it’s very simple to make.  This fact can be our little secret.  Have fun being fancy!

DSCN1854Spokane Sour

Adapted from Bon Appetit

Makes 1 Drink

Ingredients

2 oz bourbon

1 oz lemon juice

3/4 oz orange syrup

1 oz red wine (something bold and oak-y, like a Cabernet Sauvignon blend)

Equipment

cocktail shaker

spoon

rocks glass

To Make the Spokane Sour:

Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full of ice.  Pour the bourbon, lemon juice, and orange syrup over ice.  Cover the shaker, and shake for about 30 seconds.  Strain the liquid our of the shaker, and pour over ice into a rocks glass.  To top off the drink, slowly and gently pour the wine over the back of a spoon so that it floats on the top of the glass.  That’s it!  Enjoy!