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Tag Archives: olives

June 21, 2011 – La Crosse, WI

I’d been hearing about the Starlite Lounge for years from my buddy Greg.  His daughter Katie had gone to college at UW La Crosse and as a result, Greg and Patti had numerous opportunities to enjoy the retro and swinging atmosphere of the Starlite.  So, when I had the opportunity to spend a night in La Crosse on a recent business trip I knew exactly where I was headed.  As luck would have it, I even managed to select a hotel right next to the Starlite…it was fate!

Beca was behind the bar for the evening and proved to be an incredibley good bartender and host.  She took care of all her guests deftly and during the peak rush was banging out martinis and various assorted cocktails with no muss and no fuss.  Great job Beca!

The decor of the Starlite is exactly what you’d expect.  Plenty of 50’s style light fixtures and vinyl covered bachelor pad chairs down in classic Howard Johnson aqua and orange.  A mix of Rat Pack and other lounge music was in the background, loud enough to add to the atmosphere, but soft enough not to be intrusive. 

As I perused the cocktail menu, my eye immediately was drawn to the drink I knew I’d have to have first.  The Daddy-O martini just called to me, and I could not resist its singsong melody.  Made with four parts vodka and one part dry vermouth, and garnished with an olive, it was the perfect way to unwind from the days meetings and travels. 

As I contemplated what to have from the appetizer menu I next had a Rusty Nail (yeah, by now Beca was beginning to think I was old…).  Made with Macgregor and Drambuie, this was a nice follow up to the martini, was well made, and went with the seafood stuffed mushrooms perfectly.

For a night cap, I finally cajoled Beca into making me her favorite drink.  Given that it is Wisconsin, she popped out an excellent and authentic Brandy Old Fashioned, complete with muddled orange and cherries at the bottom of the glass and an extra dose of bitters.  I have to admit that the bitters through me for a bit and I originally guessed that it was whiskey, but Beca was delighted to correct me on that score.  It was perfect way to end my visit to this terrific throwback lounge!

Day 325, Cocktail 329

The day before St. Patrick’s day and I was going to have one last Irish cocktail to prepare myself for my all day pub crawl with my buddies Mike and Brett.  As I thumbed through the Ultimate Bar Book I found a cocktail named Everybody’s Irish.  How could I lose with this cocktail, right?  Well, I lost.  Big time.  For once my thought that there’s no way this combination of ingredients can taste good came true.  I’m going to post the recipe here, but I can not suggest that you actually try this one, unless of course, some person in the distant future attempts to recreate my journey because I’ve become famous.  Even then, though, I’d give dispensation to skip this drink!

So, without further adieu, I give you Everybody’s Irish.

  Everybody’s Irish

  • 2 oz Irish Whiskey
  • 1/4 oz green Chartreuse
  • 1/4 oz green Creme de Menthe

Combine the ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake, shake, shake.  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a green olive.

Overwhelming mint and anise flavors just knocked me on me ass with this one.  While I did drink it all, it was awful, with the brine from the olive just adding injury to the insult of this cocktail.  I think it’s whole purpose is to be green, which it is – a very bright, almost flourescent, green!  One last note, Chartreuse is one of the few liqueurs not in stock at the Twilight Lounge, so substituted Pernod.  The flavors of the two are very similar although the Pernod is not green like the Chartreuse.

My next post will get into our adventures from St. Patrick’s day.  Until then…


Day 210, Cocktails 202 & 203

As I was writing my blog post last night I decided to enjoy a cocktail that would be the feature for today’s post.  Being adventurous, I hit CocktailDB and use the random drink feature.  It’s kinda’ like eating from a box of chocolates…you just never know what you might get.

What I got was a variant on the Rob Roy cocktail.  I’ll delve into that classic in tomorrow’s post.  This post is about the Dry Rob Roy.  The first one I tried was 1-3/4 oz scotch (I used Cutty Sark) and 3/4 oz of dry vermouth, garnished with an olive.  While I did manage to drink it all, boy, it wasn’t the most pleasant of experiences.  I couldn’t tell if it was the olive or just the mix of scotch and vermouth, but it had an odd, almost medicinal aftertaste.  I love scotch and like dry vermouth with my gin, but this baby just wasn’t working for me.

However, being the intrepid soul that I am, I decided I could make something of this cocktail.  So, I tried again using the same proportions of scotch and vermouth, added a dash of Agnosturo bitters and swapped a lemon twist for the olive.  And?  It really wasn’t any better.  Thus, for one of the few days of my quest I came up goose eggs with not one, but two cocktails that I just can’t recommend.  Live and learn!


Day 164, Cocktail 162

One of my favorite movies is Pleasantville.  William H. Macy is the erstwhile George Parker, who arrives home with a hearty “Honey, I’m home!”  Of course, his on screen wife Betty Parker played by Joan Allen promtply greets him at the door, martini in hand.  George takes a swig and then sniffs and asks “Is that meatloaf I smell?” to which Betty says, “of course, it’s Tuesday.”

Well, its Tuesday, and yes, we had meatloaf for dinner.  So of course, a martini style cocktail was in order.  I found this cocktail in The Martini Book.

  Fare Thee Well

  • 2-1/4 oz Plymouth gin
  • 3/4 oz dry vermouth
  • 1/8 oz sweet vermouth
  • 1/8 oz Cointreau

Combine all the ingredients in a mixing glass with ice.  Stir to combine and chill.  Strain into a chilled coupe and garnish with unstuffed cocktail olives.

This was a very nice, light variant of the classic martini that I do so adore.  The vermouth flavors were very much present but did not overpower the gin, allowing it to still shine through.  The Cointreau added just a hint of orange, making this an interesting twist on my classic martini.  So fire up the oven, make yourself a meatloaf and mashed potatoes and enjoy a cocktail with your dinner!


Gin, check. Maraschino, check. Dry vermouth, check. Bitters, check.








Day 18, Cocktail 18

It’s hump day and it’s been cool, cloudy and generally cruddy here in Milwaukee for several days now.  So what better pick me up for the mid-week blahs than the grand daddy of them all, the one and only, the original martini, (drumroll please!), The Martinez!

The Martinez seems to have been around since the 1848 or so.  Various stories place it’s creation in the town of Martinez, outside of San Francisco, in Brooklyn by a bartender named Martinez and at nearly every point between.  What we do know is that the historical Martinez was made with Old Tom gin, Italian vermouth and a dash of maraschino liqueur.  Over the last several years I’ve come across numerous Martinez recipes.  Some purport to be as close to the original as possible while others are updates for the modern palate.  The Martinez that I mixed up for myself tonight is more along the lines of the historical recipe, although I still didn’t use nearly as much vermouth as some of the “classic” recipes call for.


  • 2 oz Plymouth gin
  • 1 oz Martini and Rossi dry vermouth
  • 1/4 oz Luxardo Maraschino liqueur
  • 2 dashes Agnosturo bitters


Combine the ingredients in a shaker and shake until your hands grow numb from the cold (OK, not really, how about for about 20 seconds).  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  Garnish with olives.

Every other recipe I’ve seen for the Martinez calls for a lemon twist, but I just have to have olives in my martini, or in this case, my Martinez.  At first the flavor of the vermouth was the overwhelmingly dominant taste.  However, as I’ve been sipping my way through this classic the flavor if the maraschino is starting to assert itself on the back end of a sip.  Overall, this has been an interesting flavor experience.  I don’t think I could make a regular habit of the Martinez, but as a change from my usual martini it’s pretty good.  Give it a try and let me know what you think!