Cocktail Hacker

    Hack What You Drink

Archive for January, 2009

Super Bowl XLIII Food #5: Sweets

Posted by Reese On January - 30 - 2009

As you may have gathered from this week’s other food posts I firmly believe that no matter how healthy you eat the rest of the year, a Super Bowl party is no place for salads and rice cakes.  That said, there is one key category I haven’t touched on as yet, sweets.  I can say with near absolute certainty that if a dessert is present to me I’m going to love it.  That’s just how I am.  What about your party though?  What are your guests going to want and like?  Not surprisingly I have some thoughts on that.

Think homemade.  Even if its something dirt simple I think it always has a bigger impact if you put some effort in to it.  Like the other foods this week, I’d stick with something fairly simple and quick, unless you can make it the day before.  If that’s the case, go nuts.  Some quick, easy options:

Cupcakes – Tiny cakes are always good.  Get a good quality mix, or make them completely from scratch.  For the frosting I’d highly recommend whipping up a batch of your own as it will always taste better than the tubs of frosting you can buy.  My personal favorite is carrot cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.  So good.

Brownies – Another one you could buy at the store but will be much better made at home, even from a mix.  I usually reach for the Ghirardelli Double Chocolate brownie mix and throw in about 1/2 – 1 cup of walnuts.

Cookies – You name it and they’re going to be awesome.  Were I coming to your house for a party I’d vote for some oatmeal chocolate chip cookies that are still a little moist in the middle, but that’s just me.  Colton suggested some sugar cookies iced to look like tiny footballs.  Although they do sound good, it sounds like a lot more work than I’d be willing to put in to sugar cookies.

Chocolate Fondue – This is Lucas’ choice for this year.  He’ll be serving it with fruit and cookies for dipping.  Some other tasty dipping options are pound cake and marshmallows.  If you’re wanting to booze this one up you could also add a bit of a flavorful liqueur to your dipping chocolate.  Amaretto and Kalhua spring to mind as winners.

Those are all great options but I have one final suggestion that ties in to the theme of a Super Bowl in Florida.  Make up a homemade key lime pie or two.  If you’ve never had real key lime pie made from scratch you are missing out on some serious deliciousness.  Below is the recipe I was given via a food newsgroup back in the mid 90’s when the internet was just getting rolling.  It’s always come out fantastic and I’ve never felt the need to change it up.


Key Lime Pie
4 Egg Yolks
1 14 oz Can of Sweetened Condensed Milk
1/2 cup Key Lime Juice (I use Nelly and Joe's)
Zest of One Lime
8" or 9" Graham Cracker Crust
Fresh Whipped Cream
1) Preheat oven to 350F
2) Combine yolks, condensed milk, lime juice and zest with a mixer.
3) Pour the filling in to the crust and smooth with a spatula.
4) Bake for 15-20 minutes to firm filling.
5) Chill for at least an hour.
6) Top with fresh whipped cream.

Some quick comments on this recipe.  The filling that results from this recipe will only fill about 1/2 of the pie shell, the other 1/2 can be filled with whipped cream.  However, what I usually do is double the recipe so that it fills the crust completely and bake for 30-40 minutes.  Then still top the slices with fresh whipped cream.  Another twist is you can chiffonade mint and add it to the whipped cream once you’ve gotten to firm peaks.  This adds another layer of flavor and works well with the lime.

Super Bowl XLIII Drink #5: Non-Alcoholic Options

Posted by Reese On January - 30 - 2009

Not surprisingly most of my work for the Super Bowl has been alcoholic.  When hosting a large party though you always need to consider the needs of those who don’t drink.  There are quite a few options.  I’ve offed a few here for your perusal.


The Classics: There are a ton of classics that fill this role.  Most usually soda of some kind.  I offer this as an alternative.  Either buy some specialty sodas (eg Jones, Izze, etc) to offer a bit of spice.  Or, even more creative.  Get some flavored syrups, you can usually get these from a local coffee shop, and create a make your own Italian soda bar.  Flavored syrup, soda water and optionally half and half.  I assure you party goers won’t be expecting that.

Sparkling Cider: Although this is kind of a classic I think it deserves a category of its own.  There are quite a lot of things you can do with sparkling cider.  For example try adding a touch more flavor with a couple dashes of bitters.  This is obviously not suggested for those who drink *no* alcohol as bitters contain some.

Mocktails: There is an entire class of cocktails that have no alcohol at all.  I think the reigning queen of these is definitely Natalie Bovis-Nelsen AKA “The Liquie Muse” who has recently released a book of mocktails called Preggatinis.  If you’d like to sample a couple of the recipes Natalie has a blog for the book.  I think these are a great option for kids especially as it lets them have an adult drink in a cocktail glass, if you dare.

So there you go.  You should be all set for your up-coming Super Bowl party.

Super Bowl XLIII Drink #4: Pre-mixed Cocktails

Posted by Reese On January - 29 - 2009

If you’ve read the week’s previous posts and found nothing that sounds delicious I offer one final alcoholic option.  Some cocktails can be pre-mixed and chilled for later service.  Gary Regan makes pre-mixed drinks an entire category in The Joy of Mixology and I’ll be taking my recipes from there as I don’t have much experience with cocktails of the pre-mixed variety.  I will present one warning about full strength cocktails for a long duration party.  They’re powerful mojo and some of them are very easy to drink.  There is a distinct possibility of over-imbibing which can lead to badness, so be careful with these.

Martini De Luxe

There are any number of cocktails that could be pre-mixed but there are some things to consider when doing so.  If your drink requires anything bubbly (soda, tonic, champagne, etc) it probably isn’t a good choice for a pre-mix.  Fresh fruit juices change flavor in a short amount of time so pre-mix drinks made with them often taste different than you’d expect.  Finally you’ll want to add some water to a normal drink recipe to make it a pre-mix recipe.  This addition is to account for the shaking or stirring which melts ice in to the drink.  Since your pre-mix drink will be chilled before serving the shaking/stirring step is not necessary.

Now for some recipes:

Cosmopolitan (Bottled) - Joy of Mixology
10 oz Citrus Vodka
4 oz Triple Sec
2 oz Fresh Lime Juice
1 oz Cranberry Juice
5 oz Bottled Water
Manhattan (Bottled) - Joy of Mixology
12 oz Bourbon
4 oz Sweet Vermouth
5 oz Bottled Water
1 tsp Angostura Bitters
Maraschino Cherries for Garnish

Margarita (Bottled) - Joy of Mixology
8 oz White Tequila
6 oz Triple Sec
3 oz Fresh Lime Juice
5 oz Bottled Water
Lime Wedges for Garnish
Sidecar Deluxe (Bottled) - Joy of Mixology
12 oz Cognac
3 oz Grand Marnier
3 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
6 oz Bottled Water
Lemon Twists for Garnish

For all of the above cocktails all you need do is mix them up and let them chill for a while.  For the ones with fresh juice I’d suggest making them in the morning of the game.  That way the juice doesnt’ change flavor too much before service.  For each person I’d recommend a 4-5 oz cocktail poured from the above.  That will make them about even with a standard cocktail for those keeping track.

Super Bowl XLIII Food #4: Sliders

Posted by Reese On January - 29 - 2009

Take a moment to look at the picture below, what do you see?  A white castle?  Good.  Now let’s do some word association.  What’s the first thing that pops in to your head when you hear the words “White Castle”?  If you immediately said sliders then allow us to continue on.  If not, please take a moment to bring yourself up to speed.  White Castle’s signature food is the slyder, a diminutive hamburger meant to be consumed in multiples (like 6 or 47, if you’re bold).  I claim sliders (the other spelling being trademarked) are a perfect Super Bowl party food and can easily be made at home.


Sliders are great for a party.  The ingredients are pretty cheap, they’re quick to make, go down easy and you can spice them up in a zillion different ways.  Viola! Great party food.  The first thing you’re going to want to consider when making your slider shopping list is the buns.  Keeping in mind that a standard slider is much smaller than your typical hamburger, standard hamburger buns are going to be much too large.  A couple ready options do exist.  You could go with premade (or bake yourself) dinner rolls which are tasty, but I think there is a better solution, Hawaiian rolls.  King’s Hawaiian makes rolls that are light, fluffy and lightly sweet.  A perfect pairing for the beefiness to come.

Next on the shopping list is meat.  The default is beef, but you could easily use pork, lamb, turkey, chicken or some combination of your own design.  My preference is beef though.  I’d recommend going with something on the fattier side as it will make your final burgers juicier and more flavorful.  My choice would be something like 80/20 or 85/15.  If you wanted to get really in to the meat you could even ask your butcher to grind a special cut for you.

Like other foods we’ve talked about this week there are numerous recipes for how to flavor and form the patties.  Being a huge Good Eats fan my recomendation would be Alton’s recipe.  If you’d like more info on exactly how he makes and cooks his sliders check out the Man Food Episode here and here.  Alton cooks his on a griddle, but you could just as well use a frying pan or even broil them.  I wouldn’t suggest grilling them since they’re so thin, probably have too much break up.

Finally you have to think about toppings.  As you well know there are nearly unlimited options on how to top a burger.  Some suggestions and links to recipes are below.

I could probably go on for another 5 pages, but I think you get the picture.

Finally, you’re going to want some sides.  There are of course the classics: potato salad, baked beans, pasta salad, potato salad, etc.  But, I’d say if you’re going to the effort to make sliders and have some cool toppings then change up the sides as well.  If you like chips try a chip you’ve not had like taro, plantain, lotus root or sweet potato.  If you’re in to potato or pasta salad cruise around the web and find an interesting recipe you’ve not had before.  Or, say to hell with all this fancy crap, make the classic recipes and enjoy the hell out of them.  Whatever you decide to do I’m sure you and your guests won’t be disappointed with these.

Super Bowl XLIII Drink #3: DIY Highball Bar

Posted by Reese On January - 28 - 2009

One of the cocktail variations I have yet to cover in great detail, but would be perfect for this application, is the highball.  A highball is most simply defined as a cocktail composed of a base spirit and a mixer.  Although you may not recognize the name immediately I’m sure you know the cocktails that make up this group.  Well known among the highballs are the Gin & Tonic, Seven & Seven, Jack & Coke, and even the Screwdriver.

Gin and Tonic

This class of cocktails works especially well for a party because you can buy the spirits, mixers and garnishes and let your guests mix their own drinks however they like.  To get you started I’ve come up with a list of base ingredients (and my suggestions for each) and the drinks you can make given a bar composed of only these few ingredients.  My goal in creating this guide was to keep costs on the low side while keeping quality high.


  • Vodka (Tito’s Handmade)
  • Gin (Plymouth or Bombay Sapphire)
  • Rum (Dark – Goslings Black Seal)
  • Whiskey (Jack Daniels or Knob Creek)


  • Cola and/or Diet
  • Tonic Water (Canada Dry)
  • Soda Water
  • Ginger Ale
  • Lemon/Lime Soda
  • Red Bull
  • Fruit Juice (Orange and/or Cranberry Cocktail)


  • Lemon Wedges
  • Lime Wedges


  • Gin & Tonic (2oz Gin, Top with Tonic, Garnish with Lime)
  • Vodka Tonic (2oz Vodka, Top with Tonic, Garnish with Lemon)
  • Jack & Coke (2oz Whiskey, Top with Cola)
  • Rum & Coke (2oz Rum, Top with Cola)
  • Cuba Libre (2oz Rum, Top with Cola, Garnish with Lime)
  • Dark & Stormy (2oz Rum, Top with Ginger Ale, Garnish with Lime)
  • Cape Codder (2oz Vodka, Top with Cranberry Cocktail, Garnish with Lime)
  • Whiskey & Ginger Ale (2oz Whiskey, Top with Ginger Ale)
  • Seven & Seven [Sorta] (2oz Whiskey, Top with Lemon/Lime Soda)
  • Bourbon & Water (2oz Whiskey, Top with Water)

That covers the basics.  There are of course many other high balls that can be made.  I’ve tried to cover all the classics and best loved ones here.  If there are some I’ve missed, let me know I’ll add them to the list.