Category Archives: gin

Getting Sentimental Over Shoes

A friend who happens to be very in tune with Miss Mojito’s purchasing habits once made the observation that I don’t tend to buy clothes so much as I tend to collect them. And she was at least a little bit correct. I do like to grow and nurture my wardrobe, building it up piece by piece so that I’ll have an outfit ready for any occasion. And if that meant that I had to wait a year before I found occasion to wear the red silk dress with necklace detailing, so be it. Or if a brown jersey cocktail dress with a jeweled tie has remained dormant in my closet for over three years now, that’s alright with me. I just feel better knowing it’s there, at the ready, making my closet more complete.

The same philosophy certainly applies to my shoes. The crown jewels in my footwear collection happen to be two of those pairs that I have never—nay, could never—wear, but for a different reason than you might imagine. The shoes are impossibly small, remarkably narrow, impeccably stylish, and admittedly in need of repair. They also happen to be about 60 years old.

Both pairs of shoes belonged to my grandmother, Bobbie. Based on the fabulousness of these particular pairs of shoes, she certainly shared the same taste for footwear that we here at S&C so value. Both pairs are peep-toe ankle straps, a shoe silhouette that has  retained its popularity today. The black pair, which bears the mark of Paul’s Aristocrats of Brooklyn, is decorated with polka dots and swirls, while the creamier pair is made of satin and tiny rhinestone buckles.

bobbies_shoes

It’s sentimental favorites such as these that turn a wardrobe into a collection, one that inspires memories and a bit of sentimentality. And, on occasion, something to wear, too.

So, what would Miss Mojito sip were she able to cram her feet into these diminutive pumps? Why the Aviation, of course! It’s a classic cocktail concoction that gained popularity throughout Prohibition and into the 1930s, when my grandmother probably wore these shoes.

The Aviation Cocktail
Serves one.

  • 2 ounces gin
  • 1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons maraschino liqueur
  • 1/4 ounce Crème de Violette (optional)
  • Ice

Combine the gin, lemon juice and maraschino liqueur in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a cocktail glass. Add a drizzle of Crème de Violette and serve.

*Miss Mojito makes the Crème de Violette optional because some versions of the Aviation omit the liqueur entirely, plus it’s a bit cost prohibitive.

Miss Mojito wants to know: What “crown jewels” are in your closet? Or, rather, in your “collection.”

Posted by Miss Mojito.

Ready for a Reunion

Miss Mojito will be reunionizing with college friends in Charlottesville this weekend and has been in search of a dress, shoes and a cmaxidressocktail to help prepare for the festivities.

Outfit Requirements: A fun, cool and casual dress (that’s long enough to hide the alarming sunburn marks that are still on both of my legs as a result of my Nags Head vacation over two weeks ago) was my number one requirement. My hope was to find a maxi dress that wasn’t too clingy to match with a pair of comfortable flats.

Outfit Results: I snagged a pearly pair of bone-colored, Pierre DuDSCN1221mas thongs for a cool $24 at Richmond boutique Fab’rik. The flats are a perfect match for my turquoise maxi dress with a braided rope detail, but the best part is that I can pair them with tons of other summer-friendly outfits.

Cocktail Requirements: Blue and orange are the official colors of my alma mater, but I’m coming up empty on ideas for similarly colored cocktails with great flavors.

Cocktail Results: Since I’ve abandoned the color theme, I’m going to focus purely on taste with one of my favorite summer cocktails, the Basil Gimlet. Traditional versions often rely on Rose’s Lime Juice, but Miss Mojito prefers the fresh stuff instead – if you do have some Rose’s on hand, though, it can’t hurt to add a splash. Legend attributes the drink to Sir Thomas Gimlette, who apparently served the concoction to his shipmates in the late 19th century to promote health and prevent scurvy.

I first experienced this herbal version of the gin cocktail at Mas, a tapas restaurant in Charlottesville.

Basil Gimlet
Serves two

  1. In the bottom of a shaker, muddle 1 large handful of basil (torn), with 1 tablespoon superfine sugar using a muddler (or the back of a spoon as a backup).
  2. Add 1 ounce of lime juice, 1 ounce of grapefruit juice and 4 ounces of gin (preferably Tanqueray’s Rangpur version, which is a bit sweeter and has extra notes of citrus).
  3. Add ice and shake well. Strain and serve.

Posted by Miss Mojito.

Beach Twists

A Wednesday-through-Sunday beach vacation with friends from high school and college was the perfect chance to put a multitude of cocktails to the test. It was a relaxing, laid-back affair, so exotic experimentation was not at the forefront of Miss Mojito’s train of thought. Rather, this was an opportunity to mix good ingredients in new and interesting ways with refreshing results.

DRINK: Frozen Margarita blended-margarita
TWIST: Grapefruit Juice
1 cup of tequila, ½ cup lime juice, 1/3 cup Triple Sec and a pitcher full of ice make up a standard batch of frozen margaritas. A ½ cup of pink grapefruit juice adds a splash of color and a touch of tang to this beachy concoction.

DRINK: Salty Dog
TWIST: Lime Juice
2 ounces of gin, a large splash of grapefruit and a salted rim go into a traditional serving of the Salty Dog. We found a ½ ounce or so of fresh lime juice to be a nice addition.

DRINK: Sangria
TWIST: A frozen version
A good friend shared her recipe for a frozen sangria that was the perfect easy beach drink – it was fun, fruity and light enough for some daytime-appropriate imbibing. The night before, mix a bottle of fruity white (we used a pinot grigio), a can of frozen lemonade concentrate and OJ in a bowl. Freeze overnight, then mix and serve the next morning. Repeat as needed to prevent beach-related dehydration throughout the course of your vacation.

Posted by Miss Mojito.

Shoes & Cocktails in Staunton

Staunton, Va, is one of my favorite places for a quick weekend visit. They have a great Shakespeare theater company and beautiful architecture, but most importantly, Staunton is home to some amazing restaurants and great shops.

I’ve been dreaming of sculptural purple heels for a while now, so I decided to indulge myself in this wedge pair at the cute clothing store Design at Nine. The patent body is a very dark purple, while the swath of suede across the wedge itself is a more brilliant shade of violet. Plus, they were a steal at 50 percent off. While there’s still a bit of a chill in the air, I’m pairing these with my black opaque tights, but they’ll also be flattering bare legged as the spring temperatures pick up.

purple_shoes

Miss Mojito was equally excited by the cocktails she encountered that same evening at Staunton Grocery Store. The Gin Fizz was my drink of choice. This quick cocktail relies on just gin, key lime and soda with satisfying results. We also sampled the Dr. Gonzo (pictured in the background), a mixture of Wild Turkey, cherry and lime. Festive cocktails were the start of an excellent meal (not to mention a highly worthwhile weekend getaway).

staunton_cocktails

Posted by Miss Mojito.

Fringe is In

Way back in 2008, celebrity stylist extraordinaire Rachel Zoe predicted that fringe would make heavy appearances in 2009’s fashion forecast. And boy, was she right. It’s fun, it’s frivolous, it’s trendy—it’s just the sort of lighthearted fashion that might take our minds off of more. . . serious issues.

And fringe isn’t just for suede cowgirl jackets anymore. Over at S&C, we’re seeing it on bags, and tops, and most importantly to our kind, shoes.

These peep-toe patent pom pom platforms use fringe in a fun and unconventional way, and are almost too cute to be allowed.

182123_001_ss_011

For the recessionista-minded, you can’t get much better than Target’s fringe pumps by Mossimo, available in black and “dark caramel.” I love the multi-layer flaps of fringe and the sexy ankle strap.

target_fringe1

For a flapper-inspired trend, I recommend a 1920s-inspired libation. In the absence of some homemade bathtub gin, I’m looking forward to trying the Bee’s Knees, a gin concoction that relies on honey, lemon and lavender for flavor.

The Bee’s Knees

  • 1 part hot water
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried lavender blossoms
  • 1 part honey
  • 1.5 parts gin
  • 1/2 part lemon juice

Mix the hot water and dried lavender blossoms in a bowl. Let steep for five minutes. Whisk in honey and strain out the lavender. Add the honey syrup, gin and lemon juice. Pour into a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass (or, if you’re searching for authentic flair, a chilled bathtub.)

Posted by Miss Mojito.

Coney Island

The first—and only—time I overdrew from my checking account was to purchase a pair of brown leather open-toe conical heel pumps. (Miss Mojito Peep-Toe Conical Heelsmust stress that she is normally much more responsible when it comes to her shoe purchases!) I found them after sorting through loads of shoes at Nordstrom Rack, and immediately found myself drooling over the chic peep toe and the bright red lining, but most of all, the eye-catching heel. This was my first encounter with the cone-shaped heel, which starts wide and round at the base of the shoe and narrows to a smaller point. The shape is retro, feminine and utterly irresistible to Miss Mojito.

I recently reintroduced myself to the conical heel at the Asheville, N.C. shoe-mecca, Tops for Shoes, on a weekend getaway. The shop is known for a well edited selection, but even more, they’re known for their regular sales.

Mary Jane Conical HeelsIt was in the clearance section of Tops for Shoes that I came across this pair of gray leather Mary Jane-style pumps with a conical heel by Seychelles. They’re super comfy, and the neutral color pops with my pair of purple gem-tone tights.

For this shoe’s sophisticated and slightly retro silhouette, I think a sophisticated—and slightly retro—drink is in order. For sophistication, you can’t do much better than a martini—served, of course, in a traditional, cone-shaped martini glass.

You might have seen Jason Wilson’s recent Washington Post article, “Stirrings of a Better Martini,” which taught me a thing or two about the classic concoction. According to Mr. Wilson, there is no such thing as a “vodka martini,” which is just fine by this gin-lover. Moreover, the martini’s reputation has apparently been destroyed by macho men who think of the sweet touch of vermouth as a bit too feminine for their tastes.

The Post dishes up four different martini recipes for experimentation. I must admit that the martini has never been my favorite drink, but I’m inclined to give the Martinez a try. Mr. Wilson describes it as the martini for those with a sweet tooth.

The Martinez

  • Ice
  • 1 ½ ounces Old Tom Gin*
  • 1 ½ sweet vermouth
  • 1 teaspoon maraschino liqueur**
  • 2 dashes orange or aromatic bitters
  • 1 twist of lemon or orange peel, for garnish

Fill a mixing glass halfway full with ice. Add the gin, vermouth, maraschino liqueur and bitters. Stir vigorously for at least 30 seconds, then strain into a cocktail (martini) glass. Garnish with the lemon or orange peel twist.

*Some googling around led me to discover that a commonly recommended substitute is 1 ½ ounces of regular gin with about ½ an ounce of simple syrup.

**The recommendation here is for maraschino liqueur, NOT to be confused with maraschino juice, which is apparently sweeter. Since Miss M doesn’t mind her drinks a bit on the sweet side—and because she’s not likely to have the liqueur available in her cabinet—she plans to give the juice a try as a substitute.

Posted by Miss Mojito.

Citrus Juicing and Ice Chipping

I recently tried out two new tools that are sure to enhance the cocktail concoction experience.

I gave the Black & Decker Citrus Juicer to my dad for Christmas in 2008, after spending over half an hour one evening juicing lemons and limes for his family-sized batch of whiskey sours. I decided to invest in this small, affordable home juicer as a present for dad (and to give my poor hands a break). It’s small enough not to take up too much room in my parents’ limited cabinet space.

We finally whipped it out one Sunday to make a batch of the much-lauded whiskey sours. I must admit, even thdscn09052ough I was the one who bought the juicer in the first place, I was still skeptical that it would produce results good enough to convince me to forgo my hand juicer.

For a $15 purchase, the results were pretty stellar. The way it works is this: you fit the citrus over one of the two plastic reamers (a larger one for oranges & grapefruit, a smaller one for lemons & limes). When you press down, the reamer automatically spins, extracting the juice into the awaiting container. Seconds later, you have a bone-dry citrus rind in one hand and a cup full of juice in the other (up to 34 ounces worth). This particular model also has different settings for no pulp, medium pulp and pulp-a-plenty. Brilliant!

dscn0908The other tool I tried out that might deserve a place on your cocktail cart is the manual ice grinder. It’s basically a plastic container with a sharp metal mouth through which you feed your ice cubes. Depending upon the direction you turn the crank, the result is large ice chips or fine ice slush. Though you have to definitely exert some strong arm power to properly chip the ice, the results are worth the effort for those times when ice cubes are just too inelegant and bulky.

I think the best way to make use of these two finds is a mid-winter cocktail that celebrates them both. The Salty Dog is just the ticket: squeeze your own grapefruit juice, chip your own ice, them mix them both together with some gin and serve in a salted-rim glass.

The Salty Dog
serves one

  • 4-5 oz. fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice
  • 2 oz gin
  • Salt
  • Chipped ice

Chill your cocktail glass in the freezer for 10-15 minutes before preparing the drink. Pour salt (a couple spoonfuls should be plenty) on a square of parchment paper. Dip and roll the edge of the chilled glass in salt. (If the salt has trouble sticking to the glass, try rubbing the glass with a wedge of lime, first.). Pour gin and juice in glass; fill with ice and stir to mix.

Posted by Miss Mojito

The city of brotherly love

Mr. and Ms. S&C recently took a short trip to Philadelphia.  We visited the city of brotherly love to catch the Neil Young and Wilco concert at the old Spectrum arena.  Before the show (which was awesome), the mister and missus stopped off at two places that couldn’t be more different.  Our first stop was Midtown II, the quintessential dive bar.  It is a 24-hour, greasy-spoon type of place, that’s dirt cheap, and where you’re not too far removed from the grittier side of Philly.  And, it has a jukebox.  I love bars with jukeboxes.  It is also the type of place that doesn’t serve a garnish in your gin and tonic.  Mr. S&C is usually the one to seek out these bars, and I’m so glad he does.  While I don’t get the off-the-charts inventive cocktail, I get a strong cocktail.  And, I get a lot of atmosphere.

After a few drinks at Midtown II, we headed to its antithesis, Continental.  Continental is an upscale diner plus martini bar.  It has an extensive cocktail menu, and it is place where the beautiful people go.  While the people are not nearly as interesting, we had a great bartender and really good drinks.  I started off with a Side Car, a classic I’m loving right now.  Then, I had a Pimm’s Cup with champagne.  Mr. S&C had a refreshing Tom Collins and a martini with a blue cheese stuffed olive.

side_car

Side Car (circa 1922)

  • Hennessy
  • Cointreau
  • Lemon juice
  • Served with a sugar rimmed glass

Pimm’s Cup (circa 1823)

  • Pimm’s no. 1
  • Champagne
  • Ginger Ale
  • Lemon
  • Slice of cucumber

Tom Collins (circa 1902)

  • Gin
  • Lemon juice
  • Simple syrup
  • Topped with club soda

The Continental

  • Zyr vodka
  • Blue cheese stuffed olive

The remainder of the trip had nothing to do with shoes and cocktails, but it was a great time, so I’ll share it nonetheless.  The next morning, we headed to Reading Terminal Market for breakfast and a little gift shopping.  It is must-see attraction when you’re in Philly.  It is an extraordinary farmer’s market with fresh produce, baked goods, meats, crafts, etc.  Lots of Amish specialties and ethnic vendors too.  Next, we went to the Rodin Museum, which holds his largest collection outside of the Paris museum.  I never get tired of looking at the Gates of Hell and The Burghers of Calais, and was able to see a new sculpture, The Martyr – all so haunting and tragic.  Rodin was a genius.

We saved our grocery shopping until we got to the Italian Market in South Philly, where I picked up ingredients for lasagna: fresh pasta, fresh mozzerella, Sicilian sausage — everything needed for the best lasagna I’ve ever made.  Then, we capped off our trip with an authentic Philly Cheesesteak at Pat’s.

italian_market

pats

A lot was accomplished in the 24 hours we were there.  And, I would go back to every single stop next time.

Knives down, hands up

Top Chef has begun!  Season 5 brings the culinary contestants to New York City, which should make for some awesome challenges.  The first episode starts with 17 contestants, so I can hardly remember who’s who.  I know there’s a group of three two that call themselves “Team Rainbow.”  I think I’ll start calling the German and Italian dudes “Team Europe;” its clear they’ve bonded pretty well.  Then, there’s a faceboy I’ve named “Mr. Hair.”  And, other than our Washington, DC gal, I think everyone else is pretty much from New York or California.

The Quick Fire Challenge has the contestants peeling apples, chopping apples, and cooking with apples.  And then, just like that, we’re down to 16.  Lauren-with-the-overbearing-personality has to hop right back on the boat and head home.  Now, its time for the Elimination Challenge.  The remaining 16 go head-to-head and chose one of eight New York City ethnic neighborhoods to find inspiration for their next dish.  The neighborhoods include:

  • Astoria (Greek)
  • Brighton Beach (Russian)
  • Chinatown
  • Little Italy
  • Little India
  • Long Island City (Middle Eastern)
  • Queens (Jamaican)
  • Ozone Park (Latin)

stefan_dish2Stefan of “Team Europe” wins with his classic Middle Eastern fare, and Patrick of “Team Rainbow” loses with his clichéd Chinese dish.  Stefan served up a lamb chop with tabouli and beef skewers with caramelized onions and hummus.  Guest judge, Jean George Vongerichten, kept commenting on the great lemon flavor found in the dish.  While I would likely be drinking red wine with this meal, here’s a cocktail that may complement nicely.  Given that I love Lillet and lemon these days, and thyme being a natural accompaniment, I think it would pair well, or at least serve as a pretty good aperitif.

This drink is a Shoes & Cocktails exclusive!

Ingredients:

  • 1 part Gin
  • 1 part Lillet blanc
  • 1 part Lemon Juice
  • 1 part Thyme-Infused Simple Syrup

Directions:
For the simple syrup, combine 1/2 cup water, 1/3 cup sugar, and a teaspoon of thyme in a saucepan.  Cover and simmer 10 minutes.  Strain spices from syrup.  Combine all ingredients and shake well.  Serve over ice.   Garnish with lemon twist and sprig of fresh thyme.

Halloween part I–reviving a corpse

Your Halloween Cocktails are here!

After drinking Lillet during my NYC bar hop, I picked up a bottle at Whole Foods.  Then, I ran across the Corpse Reviver, No. 2 recipe – just in time for Halloween.  Other than a fitting name, the cocktail itself has no association with the holiday.

Lillet is a wine, blended with a secret recipe of herbs and fruits.  It pairs perfectly with citrus.  So, the combination of the sweet orange liqueur with the sour lemon juice is scary good.  You can hardly taste the gin, and the dash of Pernod gives a hint of star anise flavoring that really makes the cocktail.  Don’t let the unusual spirits discourage you, this is a very good cocktail.  My new book, The Savoy Cocktail Book, has a funny quote which reads, “Four of these taken in swift succession will unrevive the corpse again.”  Trick or treat!

Corpse Reviver, No. 2
(makes about two cocktails)

  • 1 part Gin
  • 1 part Lillet
  • 1 part Cointreau (or another orange liqueur)
  • 1 part Lemon Juice
  • Dash Absinthe (or Pernod)

Combine all ingredients and shake well with ice.  Strain into chilled cocktail glass.  Garnish with lemon peel.