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Monday, March 12, 2012

Happy St. Patrick’s Month!!

It’s never too early to start thinking about St. Patrick’s Day. I know it’s only the wee early days of March, but (happily) I received my invitation to our annual Guinness-flowing, limerick-reciting, gold coin-hunting, beef stew-slurping party weeks ago – second only to Zane Patrick’s Day I am sure, but, while that happens to take place on the other coast, The Irish Riviera (Scituate, Massachusetts) is as far as my rainbow extends this year.

I am sure I am not the only one who already has plans for this “Everyone is Irish Today” celebration. Like most, you probably don the colors, paint a shamrock or two on your face and happily assimilate into the culture, traditions and fun of the day (otherwise known as “Jameson”, “Baileys” and “Murphy’s”) without much thought of from whence it all came.

After all, being 75% Irish myself (maiden name ‘Kearney – “nuff said), I’ve always, without much thought, just gone with the lure of these rich traditions and expressions of my Celtic, though twice-removed, homeland. I’ve hung an Irish flag in my dorm room, permanently marked myself with a shamrock tattoo, and made a habit of commemorating each wedding or organized function with at least one Car Bomb cocktail.

And while the shamrock tattoo used to come in handy getting in, sans cover charge, to Boston’s finest St. Patrick’s Day parties (and I am sure it had nothing to with its location on my very upper thigh) and the flag was a great conversation starter (especially with m y hall mates who were atheist teetotalers), I am not sure I ever really gave much thought to the religious foundation of this gent we call St. Patrick. Honestly, I just toasted him – like the rest of the green beer hoisting Irish lovers do that day.

But now, a few years removed from those rowdy bars and tattoo contests, I find myself not just drinking for the hell of it on St. Patrick’s Day (do you believe that?), but equally interested in the “why” of St. Patrick’s Day. Or maybe I just like having the knowledge and trivia to impart upon fellow drinkers, customers at my bar and just any old leprechaun who crosses my path. So, now you’ll have these Irish blessings as well, as we can now drink with wit and wisdom together – and isn’t that what it’s all about?

Where Did the Custom of Drinking on St. Patrick’s Day Come From?

Well, not that the Irish – or we Americans – really need an extra excuse to drink on any given day, the celebration of St. Patrick on March 17th really does involve some extra imbibing not present, or nearly as sanctioned, on any of those other days. And the reason is because St. Patrick, who is credited with bringing Christianity to the once multi-religioned Irish in the 400’s, died on March 17th. And we all know that Irish wakes involve quite a bit of drinking. So, to commemorate this little bit of trivia, I would then pour my bar mate a nice, Leprechaun Marti ni:

Leprechaun Martini

2 oz. vanilla vodka

½ oz. Irish Cream

½ oz. Green Crème de Mint

Combine all ingredients in cocktail shaker over ice. Shake vigorously and strain into chocolate-swirled cocktail glass. Good luck only having one!

Okay, So…Why Do The Irish Drink At Wakes Anyway?

This is because the Irish like to celebrate the life of the departed, rather than solemnly mourn the passing. A traditional Irish wake involves certain preparation, keening (vocally lamenting for the dead), visitation rituals, the saying of the rosary, and staying at the deceased’s house until midnight – even until morning if you were close friends. During this time, the guests drink and reminisce – and drink some more – for the dearly departed.

And that’s just for regular old dead folks. When you put it that way, it’s no wonder that we celebrate the life and accomplishments of a famous Saint with the royal treatment: parades, beers, parties, whiskey, limerick contests, green cocktails…and so on…

For this reason, make yourself a strong Irish Coffee (as I am sure wake guests need a few to avail themselves ‘til morning.)

Authentic Irish Coffee

2 oz. Irish Whiskey (Jameson and Paddy are authentic favorites)

3 sugar cubes

Strong black coffee

Whipping Cream

Heat a stemmed goblet with boiling water to warm. Pour in the whiskey and sugar cubes. Fill with coffee to one inch below top, and stir to dissolve sugar. Top with the cream, using back of bar spoon to float on top. Do not stir before serving.

And What Exactly Makes St. Patrick So Famous?


St. Patrick was a Roman Brit who was kidnapped as a child and held for years by Irish captors. While there, it is believed that he was visited by God in a dream, who told him how to flee, which he did. Back in Britain he became a priest and then returned to Ireland to teach Christianity to the Irish. He influenced the great leaders, and Christianity fiercely caught on. He died after more than 30 years of evangelizing and has been known as one of Ireland’s patron saints ever since. After this part of the lesson, an Emerald Isle seems in order:

Emerald Isle

2 oz. gin

1 oz. green crème de menthe

2 dashes bitters

Pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice cubes. Shake well, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

So What’s With the Shamrock?

St. Patrick supposedly used the shamrock to illustrate the interconnectedness of the Holy Trinity to his parishioners. It became a symbol of Irish Christianity, and shamrock designs have been adorning clothes – and thighs – ever since. This is where the phrase “the wearing of the colors” originated. Not actually from wearing the color green.

Feeling more enlightened? You should naturally have a Shamrock now:

Tri-Color Shamrock Shotfor an extra Irish feel


1/3 oz. Brandy

1/3 oz. Baileys

1/3 oz. Green Crème de Menthe

Layer the ingredients in a shot glass to create the Irish colors. Then shoot for posterity!

And the Green Colors, and Green Beer?


You would be hard pressed to find an establishment that actually serves green beer in Ireland – except maybe one that honors the American customs of such. That is pretty much a stateside ritual – gross that it is. And the green pancakes that my Dad made every year, or the chartreuse cookies we’d bake and food-color? Probably never happens in Ireland.

Actually, the colors that are worn on St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland are not just green; but orange, green and white, all worn together. This represents the North, the South, and white as the connector that brings the two together.

So, looking back, when I wore my bright orange denim jeans that made everyone strangely upset with me, it was because I was unknowingly showing my support for Northern Ireland in the midst of a largely immigrant suburb full of Southerners?? Hmmm… why can’t we all just get along, right?

And with that lesson in Melting Pot 101, I would recommend a nice pint of Guinness – because, usually, everyone can agree on that. Some would add a shot of ½ Baileys, ½ Jameson (me me me!), and some would have it unadulterated, straight and perfect as it is (me me me!), so I give you the one, authentic, American-untouched legacy of Ireland – the Guinness Stout.


Find a bartender that will pour it the correct way (me me me!), and will allow it to settle and release the full aroma of the beer. It takes two steps – and about 5 minutes (10 if you are in Ireland, as I was fortunate enough to be last year… but that, my friends, is another blog. Murphy’s is a close contender as well for the perfect Irish beer to finish all perfect Irish drinking lists like this one…)

And, enjoy!

So now that you have all these recipes, and a little bit of history behind each one, you can extend your St. Patrick’s Day celebration throughout the entire month of March. Or, at least get a head start on them. So grab your ingredients, start composing those limericks, and practice face-painting those shamrocks. By the time the 17th rolls along, your trivia knowledge, as well as your tolerance, should be at its finest. Slainte!

Drink Well!



Twitter: @TheLiquorChick

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A Holiday for Margaritas? Could it Get Any Better? Well Actually...

Let low calorie, high fun maragaritas be a part of your National Margarita Day celebration this Wednesday, February 22. Go back to the roots of this historical day -- when real margaritas were made with nothing more than fresh squeezed limes, triple sec or cointreau, and tequila. 

Except now we know better than we did in the 1930's -- we subsitute natural sweeteners like Agave Nectar or Stevia for syrupy, sugar-laden triple sec. And we toast with a second Margarita, having saved 45 carbs and over 200 calories (as compared to sugary and artifical mixers).

So, if it's possible to make this fabulous day any better, we just did. Drink well!

Better Than Ever Margarita

2 oz. tequila

1 oz. fresh squeezed lime juice

3/4 oz. agave nectar (or simple stevia syrup)

Pour all ingredients into cocktail shaker. Add 1/2 cup of ice. Shake vigorously and strain into margarita glass over ice. Garnish with lime wheel.

For more remakes of already fabulous drinks, just without all the calories, sugar, guilt and accompanying big-girl pants, visit


Friday, February 3, 2012

Be the MVP of Your Superbowl Party: Low Calorie Cocktails for High Scoring Fun

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The 2012 Superbowl : Giants and Patriots. Yes, they played each other 5 years ago, and I am sure there were lots of drink recipes bandied about then as well. But I wasn’t yet writing this blog – and besides lots has changed since then.  Only 10 players collectively are still on the two teams.  Manning is a lot more seasoned of a quarterback than he was then.  And most importantly, Stevia was not the near-household name that it is today.

And that’s an important change. Your drinks in 2007 may have been sugar-laden and not that imaginative – like the way our offense was based mostly on the long pass back then. Today, we have crisper, shorter (no, that’s not a shot at Welker) passes, and our fair share of running plays. I think you’ll be just as excited by our choices in beverages now too.

First Half

Things will start out strong – both for these two teams looking to make a quick impact, and for your drinking pleasure. After all, you’ve got a long way to go, and you will want to start it off with a drink that packs some punch, and has some lasting power, so you won’t need to refill too often and miss the commercials that potentially may be the best part of the whole 3 hours.

Plus, we need to pay some homage to our hometown team. We can accomplish all these things with a traditional-type drink, but with a new spin:

The New England Sidecar


1 oz. brandy

1 oz rum

1 oz. LiteHouse Mix (or ½ oz. lime juice and ½ oz. triple sec, for those less diet-inclined)

Combine all ingredients in a shaker over ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange wedge.

This cocktail is good for both guys and girls. It’s got some sweets so that the women will like it. But it also is a smooth, not froo-froo kind of drink so that the guys will enjoy it too. And if they’re already thinking you’re less than football worthy because all you care about are the commercials and gossiping with your friends during the point afters, then you should at least show that you know how to drink…

Half Time

Regardless of what team is winning, half time is fun for all. Well, except that this year, Madonna is the half time show, so maybe those same guys that were dismissing your football acumen, will be more interested in drowning her out with a keg stand than sampling one of these next drinks. But when they see that it involves champagne, and we all know that champagne makes us women giddy… well, maybe they’ll turn away from Madonna to have one of these with you too:

Eye-Black(berry) Champagne Cocktail


3/4 oz. blackberry simple syrup (recipe below)
1.5 oz. gin
Sparkling wine
Fresh blackberries for garnish

Put two blackberries in a champagne flute. Pour in blackberry simple syrup and gin, then carefully top off with sparkling wine.

Blackberry Simple Syrup

1 cup water
1 cup stevia
1 basket of blackberries

Bring all ingredients to a boil. Strain into a container, pressing the blackberries to push juice through the strainer.

Second Half

This is when things get anxious. Either we’re winning, and we know we have to do everything right to hang on to the lead. Or we’re battling back and every play could be the next big moment. Whatever the case, there’s not a lot of time to mix up a drink. Even if you’re not glued to the TV like the rest of them, getting up and down to make your drink will be an interruption to the serious, armchair quarterbacks you surrounded yourself with today.

That’s where this drink comes in. It’s easy, can be made ahead, and can be sipped either slowly, or with a vengeance, depending on what your shaky nervous hands are able to do. It has a nice kick to it, and is aptly named – though not if we’re referring to Billy Cundiff (hopefully he’s been having lots of these over the past week and a half)

Cranberry Almond Kicker


2 cups light cranberry juice
1 cup vodka
1/2 cup a
3 tablespoons low carb orange juice
Ice cubes

Mix ahead; cover and chill until ready to serve. Can be prepared 1 day ahead.

These three cocktails will take you happily through the Superbowl this weekend.  And if you’re looking for a game-cap at the end of the night – then you haven’t done these drinks justice. My advice would be mix, drink, repeat. And call in sick on Monday. You won’t be the only one…

Go Pats!!

Monday, August 22, 2011

The "Lazy" Days of Summer

More than two months has passed since my last entry. Was this long dry spell due to the fact that business has been booming and I haven't had time for anything of my own, nevermind writing? I suppose that's true in some way. But I always believe if you have a desire to do something, you will do it - no matter how much time you "don't have."

The real reason could be something as simple as "my husband commandeers the laptop every night".  He expects me to jump on it during the day - you know when I am "home with the kids". That's laughable -- because hardly ever are we home.  In the months since school got out, I have taken my 3 summer interns on all things Liquor Chick with me.  They have been my navigators to new stores (the 9-year old is pretty handy with a map. Which helps because the 38-year old is not); cheerleaders at my farmers' markets (though many times they often sampled more salsa than cheerled for me -- but that's another business venture, yet to be chronicled - maybe in a few paragraphs, or blogs...); and company-keepers at the manufacturing plant (AKA the restaurant kitchen that so generously allows me to concoct LiteHouse mix on premises in order to have health board approval). Not too often do we find ourselves at home.

So while the kids and I have ridden up and down the South Shore selling, and traveled into and out of Boston and Cambridge numerous times sourcing, and stayed with babysitters, camps and playdates during the times I traveled alone -- I did not one time break open the laptop and update my blog accordingly. Shame on me.  But at least now there's lots to tell.

Since beginning this journey in May, much has changed. I started selling to stores in July.  A friend of mine gave me that boost, talking me up at a local liquor store.  So when I approached this "warm call", and they were receptive to buying a couple cases of LiteHouse, I decided to try my hand at the cold calls too. And strangely enough, even though I despised that aspect of every other sales-related position I ever held, I actually now enjoyed the challenge of the completely blank slate.

I started calling up several stores a day, telling them about my new product, and how it fills a gap in the low calorie cocktail market.  A fresh, all natural, healthy approach to drinking.  It was not the oxymoron that most have always thought it was. Making impressions and affecting perceptions was something I now enjoyed.  Almost every store I asked, decided to stock LiteHouse.  There are still two hold-outs, that I am not willing to give up on. As of the writing of this blog, LiteHouse Mix is being sold in 11 different towns - mostly in high-end liquor stores.  And it was just accepted into Whole Foods in Hingham. I am hopeful that all the regional Whole Foods will soon be stocking it as well.

It seems like all this has happened extremely fast, looking back over the past few months.  Yet it seems like I have been perfecting this product forever. I have always tried my hand at making health-conscious alcoholic drinks -- especially those that I could still partake in while on any kind of diet.  Most of my diets were usually of the low-carb variety, so  that's what I would focus on. And I also was known for bringing whatever pitcher of mixed fun I had made at the moment, to whatever party or outing I was attending.  It was a natural leap to take the idea of making drinks, and then move to selling the drinks. The 'Aha moment' actually happened at one of these parties.

I had been taking the Liquor Chick business in the direction of bartending services and mixology classes, when at this one party, I was approached 14 different times by people I had just met that same night, and was asked if I would sell bottles of the drink mix, a fresh zero-carb margarita mix, I had brought that night. After about the 4th requester, I realized I was about to embark upon a new prong in the LC business.

That next day, after the party, I was phoning bottle suppliers, lime wholesalers and ingredient sourcers to see if this "idea" had any legs.  (It better, I thought, since I had promised 14 women bottles within 2 weeks!). Looking back, it did - and still does. The potential is limitless. I have expanded recipes to include vodka, rum, wine and champagne cocktails. I have been conducting tastings and events in order to gain exposure and publicity.

I am so incredibly small in comparison to the large liquor brands -- they have million dollar advertising and marketing budgets and I create P.O.S. from my home laser printer (when the husband isn't occupying that either). But I must be doing something right to swing a Whole Foods deal, to attract the attention of a few different liquor distributors and to be contacted by each and every store for re-stocks.  So when I get laptop time, kid-free time and lab-time, I create, expand and even blog.

I've got many issues, concerns and decisions to make.  The most pressing one is whether or not to keep the mix a fresh, cold and preservative-free one.  A less pressing, but equally interesting one is to decide what flavor mixer will be my next concoction.  Oh, and where to put the inground pool when I make my first million...

Next up: Networking: Behind every great woman...are more helpful and great women!

This is really happening! They want ten cases by the end of the week - what are you doing tomorrow????