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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


The trouble with vodka...

...is that it doesn't taste like much of anything.  C'mon, argue with me.  If it had a flavor of its own, why would Absolut spend all that dough covering it up with a million different flavors?  I mean, marshmallow--really?

That said, I don't buy cheap vodka.  I tend to buy mid-range, decent vodka, and a bottle hangs around my house a very long time unless a bunch of folks show up wanting Cosmos before dinner. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with a Cosmo, by the way.  Forget all that Sex in the City grumbling; it's a nicely balanced, subtle but powerful drink.  Me likey. I'm not a snob.

The clear spirit that I like to mix with the most is gin.  Silver rum has its uses (mostly cosmetic, in tropical-style drinks that want to look like pretty fruit juice). Ah, but gin...gin is flavorful, complex, interesting--and I'd go so far as to say that it makes for especially cheering drinks.  Have an Aviation and tell me that's not true.

But my sister has been in town and she doesn't like gin.  Hates it, in fact, and no amount of Singapore Sling temptation will budge her.  So I've been thinking about vodka drinks for her.  I mixed a batch of 20th Century Cocktails for Mr. Potter and me this week (gin, Lillet, lemon juice, dash of white creme de cacao) and we were both reminded of how much we liked that classic tipple. 

I came across this similar drink on the reliable Internet Cocktail Database.  It's called


1 oz vodka (3 cl, 1/4 gills)
3/4 oz light creme de cacao (2 cl, 3/16 gills)
1 oz fresh lemon juice (3 cl, 1/4 gills)
1/4 oz grenadine (6 dashes, 1/16 gills)
Shake hard over ice, strain into chilled cocktail glass.  Garnish with a lemon twist, sez I, although a chocolate shaving would be festive, too.  Of course, you will use REAL pomegranite grenadine--either Stirrings, or your own homemade (just follow a simple syrup recipe using POM instead of water and you're there).   I left the links in from the ICDB, and you could do worse than follow them and look around the site. 
See you on the air at 4 today!

The Irresisitible Cocktail

Lots of cocktails are irresistible, but there is only one Irresistible Cocktail.  I was honking around on the internet, looking for something to mix for the show this week, and I came across a drink with this name on the trusty Internet Cocktail Database. 

Here's the recipe:

The Irresistible Cocktail

1 and 1/2 oz silver rum

1/2 oz sweet vermouth

1/4 oz lemon juice--to 1/2 oz (start with less, but taste)

1/4 oz EITHER Benedictine or apricot brandy


Shake hard with plenty of ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  What with this warm January and the fact that I've still got tons of it in my garden AND the herbal slug of red vermouth in there, I might be tempted to garnish with a rosemary sprig. 

Interesting, yes? 




A short blast about artisinal cocktail books: I love Nata Traub's slim volume of yummy drinks.  But I'm not in love with the plethora of books from the newly trendy cocktail bars calling for ingredients that a) cost a month's rent b) are wildly overproof and c) are impossible to find outside of Brooklyn Heights.  I'm just sayin' people.


See you on the air at 4 Thursday!


Diet Mixers? Well, actually...

Evil secret of mine: I've tried to quit Diet Coke a hundred times.  I can't.  I have managed to stay off it for weeks or even a couple of months at a time, but there's always that road trip when Mr. Potter is loading up on convenience store goodies and I need something to keep myself from downing all the chip-a-do-does he's just purchased and I succumb to the large, icy cup of DC. 

I don't even like SUGARED  Coke!!  Tastes cloying to me.  I don't drink it.  But DC, well, I guess it's just been a friend too long for me to stop now.

Which brings me to a typical January topic: diet soda as a mixer for cocktails.  Truly, in early January, it's hard to think about the rich and spicy drinks that seemed so alluring just a few weeks before Christmas.  On the other hand, one does not want to go too far with this Resolution nonsense.  Does it make sense to have a highball with sugar-free soda in it?  I think it does.

In the case of a Cuba Libre--a rum coke--DC is a fine mixer.  Especially if you use amber or dark rum as the spirit, there will be no fake-sugar aftertaste, and the traditional squeeze of lime makes the drink even better. Cocktail gourmet stuff?  Nope, but fine in a motel room, or on a night where you want a drink before dinner, but a light one with no sugar whatsoever in it outside of the alcohol. 

I like diet ginger ale and bourbon, too, especially with a cocktail cherry in the bottom--although a lime slice is fine also.  We usually choose Schweppes diet ginger, although Vernors is available on Amazon for folks with an addiction to that spicy brew.  Even diet ginger BEER exists: both Regatta and Goslings make it.  I find there's a bit of an aftertaste on both brands' offerings, but once you get the inky Goslings rum in, it's pretty hard to notice it.  Diet Dark & Stormy?  Do-able.

Diet Tonic water for a gin and tonic?  Not bad.  Again, you want Schweppes or a good national brand at least--don't go diet and budget at the same time!!  Fevertree, I see, is making a diet tonic water, but I haven't tasted it yet. And there's something clean and pure about that quinine taste of a G&T.

One thing I do NOT sanction: those "skinny margarita" or "diet cosmo" mixes you see in the market.  A margarita or a cosmo needs FRESH lime juice and cointreau as well as tequila or vodka.  It's no place to cut back on sugar.  Have one drink instead of two, skip dessert or bread or noodles, or have a salad for lunch instead. 

So, onward into 2013!  Highballs, anyone?  (And I'll see you at Area 24, on the air at 4 today)




Instant Spicy Whiskey Sour!

So my dear, dear friend John Whitley arrived for Christmas dinner bearing a bottle of Christmas Cheer--the Jim Beam seasonal cinnamon-flavored bourbon called Red Stag.  I'm of many minds about flavored spirits, but I do like spiced rum, and it has a venerable cocktail history.  Hadn't had a flavored bourbon before.

The Beam stuff is a tad on the sweet side, obviously designed for after-dinner sipping on the rocks, or perhaps for an easy hot toddy with some boiling water, and a good squeeze of lemon.   However, I am here to tell you that Mr. Whitley's generous offering makes a Kick-Ass (and quick to put together) whiskey sour with an interesting spicy taste.  Here's what we did:


The John Whitley

2 oz Jim Bean Cinnamon Red Stag

1 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice

a shake or two or three of bitters.  I had cranberry bitters, which were great.  Plain old Angostura would be fine, too.

Note: you do NOT need a sweet liqueur in here, or simple syrup.

Shake hard over ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  Garnish with brandied cherry.  Drink before the fireplace, gazing at the Christmas tree.  Do not take the Christmas tree down until 12th Night!


See you on the air at 4 today!


More Cranberries!

...aren't they some sort of super food or something?

Of course, if you mix them with GIN... :-)

I'm still playing with the bottle of unsweetened cranberry juice (available in health food stores) that I bought this week.  It's magical stuff, the cran juice without the sugar in.  It can stand in for a citrus-y acid in many drinks. A touch of sweet liqueur or agave or simple syrup and a base spirit--and you are in business.  Here are two gin-based drinks I came up with--one very light, one pretty powerful.

The Cranberry Collins

1/2 oz cranberry juice, unsweetened

1/4 to 1/2 oz agave syrup

1 and 1/2 oz unfancy gin



Build in Collins glass, drop in ice cubes, give it a stir, top off with seltzer, and stir again.  An orange slice makes a lovely garnish.


The Cranberry 75

1/2 oz unsweetened cranberry juice

1/4-1/2 oz Cointreau

3/4 oz gin, unfancy

some dry, bubbly white wine: prosecco or sparkling California white

Shake everything but the bubbly over ice, and strain over ice into a wine glass big enough to hold two ice cubes.  Top off with the bubbly, give it a stir, and garnish with a long strip of orange rind you've curled attractively around your finger so that it will dangle out of the glass.


Merry Christmas-- and Cheers!