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Cocktails with Chris

hosted by Christine Potter   //   Friday at 4p est

"I'm just a gal who likes to mix things up: music, strange cocktail ingredients, and a swanky Nick & Nora ambiance with old school free form rock and roll radio.  It's no secret that I'm a little obsessive about all things Robyn Hitchcock, but my husband's OK with it.  Besides, I end every Cocktails with Chris by standing next to one of the world's great pipe organs for a few minutes and subjecting my listeners to the sometimes-deafening results.  I promise you a tasty cocktail recipe every week, along with music that starts with The Comedian Harmonists, careens through psych and prog rock, and often smashes into the shoals of roots and jazz.  Not to mention a sprinkling of indie pop, and Brit folk. Join me high atop the Potter building, in a swanky neighborhood near you." - cp


Thinking About The Beach, Slushstorm Predicted...

There's a drink--a Trader Vic tiki-style drink--from the late 40's called The Beachcomber.  I've experimented with it, and with various sours much like it for years.  Rum, tart citrus and cointreau--nothing's ever wrong with that.  I was honking around in the Imbibe Magazine back issues online, and I came across this variation on the original Trader Vic cocktail.  I like the idea--especially the addition of just a drop of maraschio--and I think Mr. Potter and I shall be making a test run on it this very evening, as we ponder the coming precipitation. Cheers!


The (New) Beachcomber

2 oz. white rum
3/4 oz. Cointreau
3/4 oz. fresh lime juice
1/4–1/2 tsp. maraschino liqueur
1/4 tsp. simple syrup (optional)


Shake hard over ice, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  I'm thinking a lime wheel, and maybe a silly little paper umbrella garnish?  Might be fun! 

Don't forget about the Area 24 Radio Kickstarter campaign--and I'll see you on the air Thursday at 4 PM.


Drinks for the non-drinker

High atop the Potter building, we extend love and cocktails to all--except as I noted last week, there are some who are unfortunately underage.  Or pregnant.  Or having to get a mole on the leg removed and the doc said no drinkin' for three days prior (poor Mr. Potter). Or who choose not to drink.  Or who are just plain not in the mood for a cocktail in its usual definition. 

Most hosts keep some Perrier around for that and plop a lime slice in and that's that.  And most non-drinkers are OK with it.  But it seems so--non-festive when everyone else is having Monkey Glands or some such. 

There's always alcohol-free beer, but frankly, it's awful. Maybe it's slightly better than the Perrier option if you're serving really intense chili or Indian food, but I'm not even sure of that. 

Our godchildren loved the Shirley Temple, made with diet ginger ale and a shot of real grenadine and richly garnished with cherries and orange slices and tiny paper umbrellas.  And honestly, they're not bad as long as you use the sugar-free soda as a base; using even "good" (small producer, fancy label) sugared G.A. makes a drink too sweet even for the under-12 set. 

But what does one do for college-age kids, or adults?  The answer is as close as the aseptically packaged boxes of interesting fruit juices in your local gourmet store--or if you're lucky, in your mega-mart.  Check out the Latin foods area; Goya has some good ones, but there are more and more companies that put the stuff up.  Read the ingredients and make sure you're buying something that's not too laden with high fructose glop, but most of the ones I've found are basically what they say they are: fruit puree and fruit juice, sometimes sweetened, sometimes not. I found some wonderful sour cherry juice from Turkey once. The market near our house even stocks passionfruit juice, which opens up a world of old Tiki cocktails for those who will pour them with booze--but that's not our week's topic.

Basic recipe:

Get a big red wine glass and put in some ice.  Pour in a few ounces of some exotic tropical juice--passionfruit, mango, guava...be creative.  You can even mix flavors.  Taste with a straw.  Too sweet?  A colorful option is to add a dash of unsweetened cranberry juice, which is also becoming more and more available.  Now you've got something the color of a Hawaiian sunset.  Top off with some good seltzer.  We have one of those soda stream penguin machines, which is worth EVERY PENNY.  Stir, and garnish with a lime or lemon quarter-wheel, perched at a jaunty angle on the rim of the glass.  You could even experiment with making a drink on the tart side and sugar-rimming the glass, especially if you're mixing for someone quite young.

There you go!  No reason the party shouldn't extend to everyone!  Cheers!!  And do join me on the air at 4 at Area 24 Radio!




The Young Man Wants A Whiskey Sour

We had a certain Young Fella staying at our place for a couple of weeks whilst his college dorm was closed in January. Tragically, he's not 21 until the spring, and silly as Mr. Potter and I think the no-booze-for-the-college-set law is, we weren't going to let some local officer of the law make an example of him or us.  Besides, it's winter, and The Potter Building is on a winding road.  And mostly, we didn't want his mom to murder-ize the two of us.  So Young Fella made sorrowful posts on Facebook about his desire for a whiskey sour. And of course, as soon as the dorms opened again, he packed up, left The Potter Building, and got some barkeep on the other side of the Hudson to serve him that which he longed to sip.  And his mom got wind of it (Facebook, again, of course) and threatened to murder-ize him.  At least we're off the hook

Young Fella, in the spring, I will make you this classic old man's drink. 

Whiskey Sour

1  oz lemon juice

1/2 tsp-1 tsp bar sugar or simple syrup or agave syrup--taste for balance; you may need more depending on how tart the fruit is and what your tastes are.  This should be tart, but it shouldn't spin your teeth around.

1 and 1/2 oz bourbon or rye

1 to 1 and 1/2 oz fresh orange juice


Shake hard over ice, garnish with a  home-brandied cocktail cherry and an orange slice.  Serve in a large cocktail glass or a sour glass that you have of course pre-chilled.  Tasty, not too devastating, and just the thing for the newly 21.  Remember, younglings: moderation in all things.

Young or old, I'll see you on the air at 4 tomorrow!


The Hotel Room Cocktail

So Mr. Potter and I called one of our very bestest friends, Tom Jones (of The Logovore's Dilemma) and asked him if he'd house and cat sit.  When he said yeah, we booked a room for two days up at Porches in North Adams and got out of town for a well-deserved respite before the next round of craziness. 

We had a fine room and a great time.  What I'm writing about here, though, is not what we did.  It's about why it's a good idea to carry a simple bar with you when you travel if you like to have a drink before dinner (or thereafter).  And there are many good reasons to do so:a) bar drinks are expensive, b) on the road you're probably driving in places you don't know well, making it a DOUBLE bad idea to get fuzzy and then get behind the wheel, c) unless you're in a hip area, the local bartenders don't know how to make stuff besides the boring basics...  I could go on and on.

Of course when I'm in a major city or in a hotel with a good bar, I go seeking out a mixologist from whom I can learn and chat about brands of creme d'yvette. But when I'm going to be in the sticks, here's what we bring...

A cocktail shaker: you can use the bottom to stir drinks and the whole thing to shake

a small measuring glass (fits inside the shaker)

a few small bottles of whatever I've been thinking about the most lately--usually one of whiskey, one of rum, and one Cointreau.  Add a little bottle of red vermouth, and you're good to go for Manhattans.

a paring knife with a cover over it and a tiny bamboo board I've had for a few years

a few lemons and limes, and a wee bottle of cocktail cherries

If you want to get fancy, throw in a bottle of bitters, a bottle of agave syrup (stands in for simple syrup) and a lemon reamer.  You're now set up to make a whiskey sour, any number of rum sours, rum cokes after you've been down the hall to the soda machine...the possibilities are numerous.

Most hotels are WELL stocked with ice.  You can easily chill the glasses in the room (after you've given 'em a good rinse first; some places are more scrupulous about keepin' them clean then others) by loading them up with ice water whilst you mix your drink.  The internet is FULL of cocktail recipes, and of course you have your laptop or your mobile phone.  Cheers!

My usual hotel-room tipple?  A Manhattan on the rocks.  Easily done, tasty and effective.

See ya on the air at 4!




From the obscure to the incredibly common...the COSMO variations!

These days, I think even more people (well, perhaps I should amend that to say more women) are drinking Cosmopolitans than when Sex and The City was all the rage on the wee and the not-so-wee (as in silver) screens.  As an official cocktail snob, I guess I'm supposed to look down my nose at 'em, but I just can't.  A Cosmo may not be a fascinating drink, but it's a good one if it's mixed right.  I'll admit to drinking them and enjoying them.  They are simple, pretty, and they get the job done was well as any other sour.

I have a basic Cosmo recipe that I've used for years, which is essentially the Harrington one from the 90's classic Cocktail.  It's this:

1 and 1/2 oz vodka

1/2 oz fresh lime juice

3/4 oz Cointreau

a splash of cranberry juice cocktail (but I use more like 1/2 to 3/4 oz)

Shake hard over ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, garnish with half or a quarter of a lime wheel.

This makes a good drink, but I've found you CAN improve upon it.  First off, since my preference for more cranberry juice than he calls for can set the drink off in the sweet department, it's good to start with a little less Cointreau and taste before you put in the full amount.  EVEN BETTER, THOUGH is to purchase some cranberry bitters.  Fee Brothers is making a nice one (search on Amazon.com if you don't see it in your local gourmet grocery), and I have some local tiny-brand stuff a friend brought me down from Maine that's also tasty.  Try the recipe with a shake or even two of bitters in it, and it gets much more interesting.  Bitters pulls some flavor to the fore out of the Cointreau that you might not notice without it.

Harrington himself suggests trying a citrus flavored vodka with this drink.  Also not a bad idea.  Lemon OR orange would work (remember, Cointreau is orange-flavored).

Another suggestion, but you probably don't want to do this AND add cranberry bitters to this variation unless you're really prepared to experiment with the sweet/sour balance of the drink: try unsweetened cranberry juice. Our local snotty food mart stocks it, and it makes for a nicely dry drink.  You'll probably want to start with the original Harrington suggestion of just a wee splash of the cran and taste the first time you do it.

At Area 24, we play the hits when the hits are called for--not very often, but sometimes something is popular because it's just a damn good record.  Too often and you start sounding like every other station in the world.  Cosmos are like that.  

Join me on the air Thursday at 4 and we'll possibly use that thought as a metaphor...or maybe I'll think of something else.  But I'll be talking Cosmo, one way or the other...