Ask the Bartender, Ask the Plants, Ask Karoline #78

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    Ahhh, yes! A new year, another column to procrastinate on until way, way after deadline and the usual round of babbling on about various subjects which may or may not be of any interest to anyone. Let’s begin, shall we?! I’m sitting here at 1-ish in the morning, eating a piece of vegan chocolate mousse pie from one of our local Milwaukee food co-ops and waiting for my Douglas fir tip tea to finish steeping. It is damn cold out...somewhere in the 9 degree area, but possibly even colder with that darn wind-chill factor. It is at moments like this that I can’t even believe that I thought moving back here after California was a good idea. I feel differently in the summer, of course, but right now it’s just that void of cold, gray skies, some snow and ice and the tug of hibernation that just makes you want to call in sick to work and stay home with a million books (and a little bad reality tv for good measure). I haven’t pursued any herbal studies since my return to the semi-frozen tundra that is Milwaukee, but I’m still using it in my daily life and reading about it whenever I find some spare time. I just haven’t found the classroom opportunities like I did in the Bay Area. I’m sure it’s out there somewhere and I hope to look into it further in the summer months. I now spend most of my nights (and some of my days) managing a fun bar/restaurant called The Palomino and I sling a whole lotta booze for the masses. Always being interested in pushing my vegan agenda, I’m going to share some classic and not so classic drink recipes updated (vegan style, natch) for your enjoyment.
Ask The Bartender...
For all of the following concoctions, I recommend White Wave Silk French Vanilla Soy Creamer. I also recommend buying a cheap cocktail shaker with a built-in strainer. Ready?! Let’s drink!
White Russian:
Vodka, Kahlua, Soy creamer, Ice. Should be about 2/3rds booze, and a little less than a 1/3rd creamer.
Brandy Alexander:
Brandy, Creme de Cacao (preferably brown, not white), and Soy Creamer. Mostly brandy, a little creme de cacao and a little creamer. Shake over ice and  strain into a chilled martini glass. If you have no martini glass and the thought of owning one makes you feel like a pretentious yuppie, go ahead and just serve it in a regular old glass. There are no rules here, just tasty drinks.
Vodka & (Soy)Milk
The first time someone ordered one of these (and they got it with regular milk) all I could think about was Laverne and Shirley (Pepsi and milk) and how disgusting it sounded. I didn’t try theirs (for obvious reasons) but I did make a different version later. Here goes: chocolate vodka, one pack/spoonful of sugar and soy creamer. Shake all of this together really want it to come out foamy (about 1/3 to 1/2 the glass should be vodka, depending on how strong you want it) and then pour it into a cocktail glass. It’s a chocolate milkshake that will get you drunk. Good stuff.
This little ol’ creation was concocted this past summer with the help of my fellow bartender Matt the Ratt. He’s keen on ginger brandy and that’s the not-so-secret weapon of this particular drink.
In a pint glass, you need 1/3rd good strong coffee (we prefer the Fuel Cafe fair trade organic blend, but use whatever ya got), and then equal parts chocolate vodka, kahlua, and ginger brandy, with a big splash of soy creamer. Shake this baby up real good (shake it like a polaroid picture) with a whole bunch of ice and then strain it over ice. It should come out looking like an iced latte (but full of booze, hence the name).
The Pamela
Vanilla vodka, Pineapple juice, Soy creamer. I know that it might sound disgusting, but it’s really, really good. About 2/3rds vodka, the other 1/3rd is mostly pineapple with a splash of creamer. Shake it over ice and strain it into a chilled martini glass (or whatever you’ve got for glassware).
The Silver Stallion
Oh, wait, this is my favorite ‘secret’ drink. If you want one, you’re gonna have to come to Milwaukee to have it. I’m not parting with the recipe!
    Who knows, all that might sound like too much pretentious hooey to bother with, and don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot to be said for a shot of whiskey and a cheap beer. Just remember that it’s fun to try new things (like weirdo fancy cocktails) once in awhile. Also remember the old saying:  beer before liquor, never sicker but liquor before beer, and you’re in the clear. Too much mixing and too much variety in one night and you’ll be sorry in the morning. Don’t forget to drink lots of water over the course of the evening so you stay nice and hydrated (alcohol dries you out real quick).

Second Best Show of 2003
    Last issue I ranted and raved about the ultra fantastic WEAKERTHANS show I got to see in Chicago. Absolutely mind-blowing stuff. Ear to ear smiles. This time around I’m gonna gush for a moment about LUNGFISH. Dan Higgs has got one of the most arresting stage presence’s I’ve ever seen. Completely absorbing, you never want to take your eyes off of him, as you might miss a snarl or growl or bizarre facial tic or body contortion that would never occur to you in daily life...all done whilst wearing a smart suit. There were lots of old and new faces in attendance at the Fireside Bowl, so not only was it a sensory and musical overload but also a family reunion of sorts. I ran into a nice guy named Jesse from the East Coast (New Jersey, I think) that I knew from Citizen Fish tours a long time ago...he had driven all the way to Chicago just to see the show.  The new LUNGFISH record (Love Is Love) is AMAZING (Chris is probably cringing as she reads this) and I highly recommend picking it up.

A Spring In My Step...
    I’ve got big plans for the next season around the corner...hopefully not too far around the corner! Patsy and I are gonna dig up the back yard and do up a huge vegetable garden, plus a whole array of herbs on the upstairs porch. The old man has his eye on a gray water system off of the garage roof (perfectly situated near the proposed garden plot) and there will also be a composting box a little farther out back. I cannot wait! Whenever this weather gets me down, I just keep thinking of all the activity that will be happening in the near future. In the meantime, and on a bit of a somber note...remember that life is short, life is what you make of it and try to never ever take anything for granted. Especially not your health. Take care of yourself...and have a few delicious cocktails every once in awhile. (-karoline) <> (another new e-mail address).