Category Archives: News

Right cocktail, wrong day

It is somewhat problematic for me on the eve of our National Day, that Australia does not have a national cocktail.

Plenty of countries don’t have one. Most don’t in fact. And in spite of the centrality of the cocktail to our very existence here at Shake, Stir, Muddle, I will acknowledge that not having a National Cocktail seems to be no impediment to successful nationhood.

However. What are we here for if not to grapple with the important questions?

As the calendar rolls around to January 26 and I stare lovingly at my cocktail cart, I’m struck by the difficulty in coming up with a truly National Cocktail, one that we can all embrace and agree upon as being quintessentially Aussie. True Blue, Fair Dinkum ‘Strayan.

Like this cockatoo on a Hills Hoist, drinking Bundy and Coke out of a can. Very Australian.

I wish I could credit this photo because I love it so much, but I just lifted it from Facebook and it was uncredited there. But to whoever took it, kudos.

And why should I expect it to be simple? We can’t seem to actually agree as a nation that our national day should be one that includes everyone – like January 1st, which in 1901 was the day the States of Australia came together to form the Commonwealth of States that actually is Australia as we now know it.

Or May 8, which cleverer people than me worked out actually sound like “Maaaate” when you say it right, and what’s more Aussie than mate?

Rather than, you know, choosing to stick to the day that was the start of what even the most euphemistic of historians would agree was a genocide, and thinking that we should all just happy up and not worry about shit like that.

We’re in such a lather about it in Australia that even writing that last sentence will likely lead to an exodus of sorts from some subscribers who want me to just shut up and wrote about cocktails and George Michael.

But the entire point of Shake, Stir, Muddle is to bring us together over cocktails and good conversation. We’re a virtual cocktail party and everyone needs to have a good time.

So all I’m asking is that given the world is in such a shitty state that the Doomsday Clock sits at 2 minutes to midnight – the closest it’s ever been to midnight – maybe now’s the time to consider having the party on another day, one that makes us all feel good about Australia. One that gives us all a reason to raise a glass in good humour and have a bloody good time celebrating Straya and everything Strayan.

And that cocktail? What should it be?

Well I started with rum, since our early Colonial history was just awash with rum and we even our earliest political coups involved the sugar cane based spirit.

Except it wasn’t. The Rum Rebellion – the only successful armed takeover of a Government in our history, incited in part by John MacArthur’s continuing desire to make illegal booze, an event which occurred on January 26 1808, further reason to make another day our national day lest we encourage bootleggers to march down to Canberra and oust the Government forcibly (hmmm, hang on…nah, elections are better) – referred to rum in a more generic sense. It wasn’t like the dark or white rums we now know, it would more likely have been a grain based hooch, probably not terribly good but definitely highly-alcoholic. And before Netflix, that was super-important.

Image result for rum rebellion

Anyway, I grew up in Queensland and back then all rum was dark rum. There was Bundaberg Rum – Bundy – or Beenleigh Rum (from Australia’s oldest distillery which, when I grew up in Queensland, used to be called the “Beenleigh Rum Distillery” but sometime in the recent wanky past was renamed “Beenleigh Artisan Distillery”, a move I do not consider to be a great leap forward) which were Strayan and therefore equalled rum. And there was Bacardi, which we didn’t really know was a rum, we just thought it was Bacardi and know that it was foreign and therefore for people who were up themselves.

So I started with dark rum.

I rejected all commercially-available fizzy soft drinks as an accompaniment because the only ones I could think of that were Australian were Kirks Creaming Soda or Ginger Beer. Now there are plenty of fancier (and more delicious) ginger beers now available, all made in Australia from Australian ingredients, but since Bermuda has the Dark and Stormy (rum and ginger beer) as its National Cocktail, it seemed foolish to so blatantly copycat that.


In spite of the prevalence of pineapples in the north of the country, I also rejected tropical fruits and juices because it seemed much more evocative of the Caribbean than Cairns.

I considered taking Dick Bradsell’s Espresso Martini (which, just a reminder, Dick did NOT want his cocktail to be called) and adapting it for the occasion – using rum with black coffee and adding a little sugar cane juice from North Queensland. Surprisingly it was actually ok. And in some ways, a credible option as our National Cocktail since in World War 1, the soldiers apparently had a slug of rum in their morning beverage before charging by the thousands to their deaths under foreign command in Gallipoli.

But we have ANZAC Day which commemorates that. And the Gunfire Breakfast – a pre-dawn beverage with a belt of booze in it – is traditionally consumed before heading to the Dawn Service which is the most solemn and beautiful event on our National Calendar and marks an important step in the maturing of this country as an independent nation (albeit one who still needs the Queen to approve our Head of State rather than being grown-ups who can choose our own) and shouldn’t be lumped in with a day that should just be massive celebration like Australia Day.

And it was tea, not coffee.

So I’ve gone old school. I’ve swapped out the whiskey in an Old Fashioned and substituted rum. Used our own cane sugar and local bitters, served with a twist of orange. It glows red like Uluru at sunset, tastes like a party and for as long as it continues to be served on January 26 is, like its namesake, a bit Old Fashioned.

I call it the Straya.


One critical thing though. To make the Straya truly Strayan, and truly deserving of being served on January 26, you will need to steal all the ingredients.

After all, stealing is just what we’ve done on January 26. Since 1788 anyway.





PSA: It’s just another day


Sad Lewis Xmas
Man, kids just love a Christmas photo, right?

Dear Reader

If you’re not too jazzed about it being Christmas tomorrow, know that you’re not alone.

And hopefully I can help a teensy bit.

So grab yourself a cocktail (Virgin if you prefer), and enjoy the news that however you feel about it, it probably isn’t actually Christmas on 25 December.

Yep. Christmas is probably being celebrated on the wrong date.

So, in fact, December 25th is indeed just another day.

See Christmas only started being celebrated on December 25th back in about the 4th century. That’s a looooong time after the alleged event it was meant to commemorate.

The Bible doesn’t actually say what date Mary checked in to the barn, all cervix dilated and Lamaze a-panting amidst all those lo-ing cattle, but there’s reasonable evidence to suggest that it wouldn’t have been December 25th.

Yes things are mighty warm in the Southern Hemisphere on December 25th, but in Bethlehem, it gets chilly.

Too cold for shepherds to be watching their flocks by night while a “Virgin” gives birth. Yes, the shepherding thing actually IS in the Bible (Luke 2: 7-8), but this was long before North Face mass produced adventure gear that could have made these conditions survivable, let alone tolerable. Best-practice shepherding back in the day was for the flock to be outside in warm months, and in barns overnight in winter.

Secondly, Luke also reports (2:1-4) that Jesus’ parents came into Bethlehem to register the birth in the Roman Census. Fast forward 2000 odd years to Australia’s Census in 2016 which saw a massive internet meltdown, and you can see how difficult the Census would have been at this time. It simply didn’t occur in winter conditions because travel was so difficult.

Roman Census
Wall mosaics of ancient Chora Church, Istanbul. Joseph and the Virgin at the census before Cyrenius, the Syrian Governor
ID 26909533 © Ahmet  Ariturk |

Thirdly, in 2008, Australian astronomer Dave Reneke used his wicked smarts to chart how the night sky would have looked 2000 years ago. Seems that the bright star that guided the wise men to the baby with their gifts, would indeed have been over Bethlehem, but would not have been a star. It would have been an optical illusion with Venus and Jupiter so close in the night sky as to appear as one star.

And it would have been in June. Probably June 17.

Science is the BEST.

So why all the fuss about December 25th?

Well, it’s possible that December 25th was chosen simply to go head-to-head with Roman pagan festivities occurring around the winter solstice.

It’s a bit like scheduling Masterchef against The Voice – you may well be a fan of both, but the networks need you to choose and will throw everything at making you choose them.

So there. I hope that helps.

Meanwhile, due to on-line ordering error, I’m going to be mainlining close to 10kg of pork-products well into 2019 (and bearing in mind Dorothy Parker’s “the definition of eternity is two people and a ham”, I am thinking about an experiment with ham-washing some booze, will report back in the New Year on the results), watching some cricket and reading some books by the beach.

I hope that whether you enjoy Christmas, ignore Christmas or endure it, that you find your drink of choice, some laughs and some rest, and join me back here in 2019 (after first enjoying the classic masterpiece I’ve put below for you to enjoy).


Scofflaws and stupid laws

Quick question: would we call drinking a cocktail at 1:34pm on a Wednesday evidence of a problem, or of dedication to one’s art?

Let’s call it neither and say IT’S REPEAL DAY.

Yes, today, 5 December is the 85th Anniversary of the end of a TRULY STUPID era of public policy (I can no longer say with any certainty that it is the stupidest), with the Repeal of Prohibition.

So of course we need to cover a cocktail.

This week, not an IBA Official Cocktail, but one that has historical importance, the Scofflaw.

The Scofflaw was invented, as you might expect, during Prohibition. It shows the right amount of disdain for this stupid law and should be raised in celebration whenever you damned well feel like it.

I’ve had to shake one up at home, alone, in the middle of the afternoon while my children are at school not just because I am a writer (despite the rich tradition behind writing and daytime drinking), but because I need to review it for you.

So, the Scofflaw.

It’s 60mL Bourbon or Rye (I used Bourbon), 30 mL Dry Vermouth, 10mL fresh lemon juice, 20mL Grenadine and two dashes of bitters (traditionally orange, although I used grapefruit), shaken with ice.

Yes, the pink is alarming, but it’s not as sweet as you might anticipate. I did add more lemon juice though (double strain it to keep your cocktail nice and cloud-free).

Scofflaw at home

It’s nice. Probably not really an afternoon cocktail (I find Bourbon much tougher to justify than champagne or a clear spirit for a good day-time tipple, but I’m old fashioned like that), I do have quite a nice little buzz going on from just a couple of sips but that’s probably the Vitamin C doing its job, right?

One thing I particularly like about the Scofflaw is keeping alive the history of sticking up your middle digit to a daft law.

Of which there are many. Sound-thinking, low-grade subversives like we Muddlers would do well to scoff at a few existing laws, many of which come from my own country.

Like, why not go ahead and treat yourself to that 50kgs of potatoes in Western Australia (actually, make it just over that), in spite of the law saying you can’t possess more than that? Who doesn’t love chips?

And while you’re at it in WA, who the hell should have the right to tell you not to crush a beer can between your bare breasts? (Please let me know in advance if you’re doing this one and I’ll pass the hat around for the $1000 fine just so I can bear witness to such an impressive feat).

I don’t have a picture for that, but Google it and that’s kind of fun.

And you Victorians, rush out and buy yourselves some pink hot pants and bloody well wear those after midday on a Sunday, regardless of the existence of the law forbidding it (actually, on second thoughts, not all of you should be doing that).

Queenslanders, next time you’re in a cab, just ask to check the boot (that’s a trunk to my North American friends) – if your driver doesn’t have a bale of hay in there, you could either enact a citizen’s arrest for this grievous breach of law, or turn a blind eye to it and know you’re playing your part as a member of the SSM Resistance.


Not all laws are stupid, obviously.

For UK readers who like to stay on top of your Omega 3s, I’m 100% in favour of your Parliament’s awesome Salmon Act of 1986 that says it is illegal to hold a salmon and look fishy (I believe they use the word “suspicious”, but as I mentioned, I’m a WRITER, it’s my job to use words to make things more interesting).


Suspicious girl Tawesit Dreamstime
You’re so sexist – why think that it’s just men who would act suspiciously with a salmon? (OK, yeah. I thought so too)                ID 79183568 © Tawesit |


Standards people. Please.

And here’s to the good burghers of Quitman, Georgia who finally dealt with the big issues and declared it illegal to even let your chicken cross the road. I don’t think they disallowed asking the philosophical questions surrounding why a chicken may wish to do so, but it’s kind of mean to press that point, given IT IS AGAINST THE LAW FOR A CHICKEN TO CROSS ANY ROAD SO WHY ARE WE STILL TALKING ABOUT IT?

Chicken road
© Kyle Innes |

And don’t even start whistling in Petrolia, Ontario. There’s a law against it. OK, this one does seem a little Footloose for my liking (and we all know how that ended, although I will take a moment here to say, for those of you who weren’t there, the socks with high heels things was not as prevalent in real life in 1984 as genius Kenny Loggins would have you believe), but I do appreciate Petrolia’s effort. Once I scored an upgrade to Business Class for a long-distance flight and some clown decided to whistle for part of the journey. This should definitely be made illegal. But for some reason it isn’t.

But Petrolia at least is trying and I applaud that.


Here’s a law we’re all going to pretend we followed but pretty much just ignore because, well, just because. YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO PEE WHILE SWIMMING IN THE OCEAN IN PORTUGAL.

Ok, sure.

There’s a million more. The world is full of stupid laws and I say, let us scoff at those that are stupid, or mean, or discriminatory and come together harmoniously over a Scofflaw.

Just maybe save it for after sundown, people are so judgmental.




PS Information contained in this blog should not substitute for legal advice, nor even for basic common sense. It was written by a woman under the influence of alcohol with zero legal training and often questionable judgement.

Yellow Bird drinking in the dead of night…

If you’re new to Shake Stir Muddle, welcome to the party pal.

To bring you up to speed, back in 2015 I started working my way through the International Bartenders’ Association’s Official Cocktail list, shaking them up and sharing some thoughts.

Sometimes we come to praise these cocktails, and sometimes we come to bury them.

Most of the ones we bury have come from the mostly-execrable offerings that make up their New Era Drinks list and I take no pleasure in dipping into them.

CarollSpinneyBut last week I heard the news that Caroll Spinney is hanging up his big orange feet. If you don’t know Caroll, you’ll certainly know the 8’2” costume he’s occupied as Big Bird since November 10 in the same year that I made my international debut, 1969.

Nearly 50 years on Sesame Street.

Sesame Street is an amazing show, so ahead of its time in its positive representation of diversity, its ambitions of educating children in the pre-school years rather than treating them like morons who couldn’t learn until they pulled on a school uniform, and even in helping kids understand death. Like this moving scene where Big Bird’s friends help him understand that Mr Hooper has died (grab a tissue).


So there will be no better time ever than to shake up an IBA New Era Cocktail, the Yellow Bird.

Like many famous cocktails, there are variations.

And typically, the official IBA recipe isn’t the best one.

It calls for

White Rum
Galliano (that golden, anise-flavoured Italian liqueur in the tall bottle)
Triple Sec
Lime Juice

Yellow Bird.jpg

Look, it’s ok.

Because I don’t – and to be honest, probably won’t – own a bottle of Galliano, I took this Cocktail Shakedown to the professionals and ordered one high above Hong Kong Harbour at The Peninsula.

The better Yellow Bird – unphotographed, because sometimes life is like that when you inject yourself into a flock of birds, yellow or otherwise (just ask Tippi Hedren) – contains equal parts of white and dark rum and lime juice (30 mLs each), fresh orange juice (60 mLs) and a small dash of the Jamaican coffee liqueur Tia Maria.

The Yellow Bird is a very tropical drink. It’s a bit too sweet for my liking but does feel like holidays and that’s always good. Possibly even a holiday in Jamaica but I wouldn’t know (although a friendly reminder that Fiji was shit).

Most of what I know about Jamaica comes from Cool Runnings, the Olympics and music. Apparently Bob Marley is pipped as most famous Jamaican by Usain Bolt (let’s ask that question again in 10 years though), but coming in at number 5 on this list is a guy who reworked the lyrics to a song called Yellow Bird in 1957, Mr Harry Belafonte.

Belafonte album

You’d know Harry, but in a perfect world he’d be better known as a social activist than as the Banana Boat guy. He’s done about a million amazing things for the Civil Rights movement, but the two things he’s done that are likely to be of most interest to the Shake, Stir, Muddle audience, he was responsible for 1985’s We Are the World and was the Honorary Co-Chair of the Women’s March in 2017.

BTW, 1985 was also the year that the adults in Sesame Street finally acknowledged Mr Snuffleupagus existed and stopped gaslighting poor Big Bird.

Part of Shake, Stir, Muddle’s brief is to prove each edition how superior the 1980s were to pretty much this entire Millennium so far. We have cited George Michael, Elton John, Sheena Easton and many other famous philosophers as proof of this concept, but We Are the World offers a chance to land the killer blow and silence dissenters.

So you don’t have to, I have watched the March 7, 1985 version and then the 2010 version. Repeatedly.


There is zero doubt that the earlier version is superior. Consider Cyndi Lauper KILLING it at 2:50 into the 1985 version and then see the same bars in the 2010 version sung by someone who, yes, can definitely sing, but…Celine Dion? Really? Guys?

There are many things in the 2010 version that are truly cringe-worthy, mostly by the white people in the room and let’s take a moment to remember Chris Martin from Coldplay trying to match it with Bruno Mars and Beyoncé at the Super Bowl in 2015. I like Coldplay, I really do and Chris Martin was a great sport about it afterwards, but man, that was awkward, right? (In his defence, no man on the planet is going to be able to stand next to Queen Bey and look like an equal).


But back to us all being the World; the 2010 version may indeed have been better (something you will definitely be skeptical about as you who’s singing the first few bars, and that Michael Jackson thing is super-cheesy, and a real Ray Charles is definitely better than an actor-one, and we’ve already addressed the Celine elephant in the room, and…yep, just bear with me).

Counting the solos in the 1985 version, there were 26. Five of those were by women and one, Kim Carnes, was precisely two words long. Even if you only count up to the point they allowed non-singers – Bob Dylan – to have a solo, it was just 25% women.

That’s even less than the Australian Parliament (although more than the Liberal Party).

Fast forward 25 years and the solos total 43 (their version was much longer and more self-indulgent in my view), 21 one of which were by women. In fact, up until Barbra Streisand brings her excellent Broadway diction to her solo at 2:34, it was sitting at 60% female solos before bouncing back to the nearly-half that it finishes at.



So maybe some things are better this century (up until November 2016 of course when everything went to shit even worse than a Celine Dion television interview).

What neither version gave me was a Belafonte solo. In 1985, he’s up the back (next to Dan Ackroyd – ?) and looking like the most joyful guy on the planet.

We need more of that.

But what about Caroll Spinney (he’s kind of become the Chris Martin headliner of this Cocktail Shakedown, but Belafonte is doing a total Beyoncé)?

Well Yellow Bird singer Belafonte sang at Jim Henson’s 1990 Memorial after the 53 year old creator of the Muppets and Sesame Street died of a Strep throat. A bloody strep throat.

Harry sang “Turn the World Around”, the song he debuted on The Muppets in 1977, the clip to which Henson reportedly considered some of his best work.




Another songbird at the Memorial was Caroll Spinney as Big Bird, singing “It’s Not Easy Being Green”, in a tribute to Henson and Kermit the Frog who Henson had voiced.

Well Caroll Spinney, I raise my Yellow Bird (and a Martini, which is a higher compliment) to you in gratitude for some damned fine work that’s been a part of my life as long as I can remember.



Tuxedos optional

Some things are just hard to swallow.

And occasionally, very occasionally, a cocktail may be one of those things.

But we don’t shy away from talking about tough things here at Shake, Stir, Muddle, so yes, this week’s Cocktail Shakedown is one we made, tasted, tinkered with and eventually poured down the sink as a lost cocktail cause.*

Tuxedo .jpg
I know. It looks delicious.


The Tuxedo.

I was excited about The Tuxedo. Any cousin of the Martini is a cousin of mine. But somehow, this gin, dry vermouth, absinthe, orange bitters and maraschino liqueur cocktail just doesn’t work. It’s a bit off.

No you weirdo, it’s not like kissing your sister, it’s more like, um, cough mixture.

So I’d suggest not bothering with this IBA Unforgettable. Or if you do fancy yourself a bit of a Tuxedo, maybe make like George Clooney and loosen it up a bit, probably by dropping the Absinthe. And the maraschino. And probably the bitters too.

Image result for george clooney tuxedo


Yes, that’s a Martini, but what the hell did you expect from me?

If you’re still not convinced that you should WALK AWAY from this cocktail, let me tell you a little about its history.

It’s named after the placed it was invented – The Tuxedo Club, which since 1886 has operated as a private, members-only club in New York State.

Here’s little snippet from their website:

Members embrace a shared tradition of congeniality, high standards of personal conduct and continuity of family association. The celebrated traditions of sport, civility and a commitment to excellent facilities and services will always be the hallmarks of The Tuxedo Club.


Hmmm, there’s something about that language that tells me The Tuxedo Club may be even more difficult to swallow than a goon-bag full of Tuxedos (and if you’re not familiar with a goon-bag, read on and prepare to be delighted).

No, I’m not getting the sense that The Tuxedo Club is a particularly welcoming place. Maybe if you’re Brett Kavanaugh, but not if you’re, you know, not white.

But to hell with them, we don’t want to go there anyway (although I would quite like to meet a real middle-aged woman happy to go by the moniker Muffy and I suspect I could readily fulfil this ambition at The Tux).

So The Tuxedo Club is difficult to stomach, but here’s the good news. There are thousands of bars around the world that will welcome us with open arms.

Much easier to swallow.

So here’s a list of other things you might find hard to swallow, as well as an alternative you might like to occupy your mind with instead.


Marketing 101

  1. We’ve learned in the past week that there actually is NO idea too trashy for some marketer to try to push. Yes, wankers put a horse race on the Sydney Opera House. That’s hard to swallow.
  2. Easier to swallow is that the Cleveland Indians sponsorship team proposed a 10 cent beer night for a game against the Texas Rangers on a Tuesday night in June 1974. Who could possibly have seen this coming, but everyone got so shit-faced that the game had to be called off. Brilliant.

Image result for cleveland indians ten cent beer night

Australian ideas

  1. Back in the day (October 1859), a genius named Thomas Austin wrote to his brother in England asking him to send 24 rabbits for his guests to do some game hunting on his estate near Melbourne, an idea that’s still causing millions of dollars of crop damage every year.
  2. A MUCH better Australian idea is the plastic wine cask – aka the goon-bag – that we all know and love from our teens and twenties.
Image result for goon bag
Not to scale (ABC: Emma Wynne)

Nominations for worst song ever

  1. Journalist Luke Williams once nominated Spandau Ballet’s True as the worst song ever. How very dare he?
  2. Michael Musto in The Village Voice said that Phil Collins’ annoying and pointless and mystifying Sussudio “could have been the theme song for the Third Reich, it was that insidious and evil”. Much easier to swallow.


Sarah Jessica Parker movies

  1. Sex and the City (1 and 2). Both very difficult to swallow.
  2. Instead watch 1985’s super-cheesy romantic comedy dance film Girls Just Want to Have Fun which matched SJP with Helen Hunt AND Shannen Doherty. It’s not very good. But it’s GREAT.



Nicolas Cage rumours – everyone knows a crazy theory (most true) about the creative genius who made Face Off, Con-Air, Raising Arizona, bought a pet octopus to help him act better (costing him $0.5% million in aquarium costs with no apparent improvement in his acting skills), did mushrooms with his cat…

  1. Reportedly very nearly made a Magnum PI movie. But didn’t. That’s hard to swallow.
  2. May actually be a vampire (something he denies)

Nicolas Cage vampire

Some blokes will get away with it

  1. Brett Kavanaugh, now a Supreme Court Justice, would be welcome at The Tuxedo Club
  2. But Bill Cosby – well he appears to have been hit in the face with a piece of chicken by a fellow inmate recently. So that’s good.


Swap your lens (or your cocktail), there’s usually a better way to serve up most things.



*After this we opened a bottle of wine, so the story does have a happy ending

Caipirinha and Caipiroska: Only their bartender can tell them apart

Twins. So weird right?

You know it, we all know it. And we’re fascinated by it. And the more you read about twins, the freakier it gets.


Like that twinning syndrome called “heteropaternal superfecundation”. This is where fraternal twins – the non-identical ones – are produced as a result of another excellent term “separate copulatory events” and have two different fathers.

Not as unusual as you might think.

Imagine what a wanker Hercules would have been at a dinner party

Apparently “even” Hercules, son of Alcmene and Zeus, shared a womb with Iphicles, son of a mortal father whose name I know but choose to remember instead as Darrin Stevens (which should have been “Darren” BTW).

Two Darrins (sic) – apparently the first one had chronic back problems and that’s why they swapped him out


Anyway, these twins wouldn’t look any more alike than standard siblings, so not entirely relevant to the cocktail world.

But there is a cocktail in the list of IBA classics that has a twin – a cocktail that looks like it, has almost the exact same make-up and shared heritage, but unlike its sibling, hasn’t been overlooked by those jerks at the IBA.

Think of it as the cocktail kingdom’s Sly to the Frank.

Frank Stallone.jpg
Let’s face it, the “thumbs up” is never a sign of a career in full flight (even next to the guy who made Tango and Cash)

So to right this wrong, this week we’re looking at the Caipirinha at the same time as its sister cocktail, the Caipiroska aka the Caprioska.

That the Caiprininha is the older sibling should matter not to us.

Loving cocktails is like loving your children, you don’t halve the love you’ve given to your firstborn when you have another (although, I suspect my parents were tempted when their cute-as-a-button girl child came along after 18 months of just that boy child).

Nope. You make like Jackie Stallone and you double your love.

Jackie Stallone
If in doubt, always ask yourself “What would Jackie Stallone do?”

Unless that cocktail is made of Midori and then the whole family metaphor falls over and you just have to cut that shit out of your life and never look back.

So, the Caiprinha.

It’s made of cachaça, which is fun to say. Cachaça is a fermented sugarcane juice from Brazil. Cachaça is different from rum, because that’s usually made from refinery by-products like molasses. Cachaça, on the other hand, is alcohol produced fermentation of the fresh sugarcane juice which is then distilled.

That’s a bit boring and I think we’ve also topped out on the fun-ness of saying cachaça now.

Anyway, it’s the main ingredient in Brazil’s national cocktail, the Caipirinha.

To make it, muddle some fresh lime – aim for about half a lime per cocktail, cut into four wedges – and two teaspoons of sugar in a glass, add ice (not crushed) and pour on 50mLs of your alcohol (cachaça, in case you missed it).


And drinking to someone’s health when you raise a Caipirinha may be historically accurate since there are reports of it being the bastard marketing child of a drink previously made with lemon, garlic, honey and aguardente in Alentejo, Portugal. This was 1918 and the cocktail was served up as a remedy for Spanish flu (which you’ll remember resulted in the deaths of about 5% of the world’s population so let’s call it a “failure” as a remedy).

The cachaça version may come out of Piracicaba in Sao Paulo State where landowning farmers wanted to showcase their product so they made a cocktail. They gave said cocktail a name which roughly translates as “hillbilly”, so remember that next time you’re paying $25 for one.




Anyway, swap out the cachaça for vodka, and you have the Caipiroska, or Caprioska (it seems both names are right but Caipiroska might be a bit righter).

Here are two $25 hillbillies I enjoyed in the name of research.


Bonus points for reusable straws


I used to heavily favour the vodka version and thought I wasn’t a fan of the Caiprinha so much, but on recent taste-testing, have discovered my tastes to have shifted somewhat and I prefer the original.

They look the same, taste very different.

Potato/potato, have what you enjoy.

Perhaps though, rather than the twin metaphor, a Doppelganger reference is more appropriate.

It doesn’t take a genius to work out that this is a German word. Before it came into common use in English, apparently we used the word “fetch” for the same purpose.

How great is that?

Granted it’s not entirely appropriate since it refers to “the apparition of a person living” and we’re talking cocktails, but I think it still vindicates Gretchen Wieners.

Sidebar Your Honour:  HERE’S a great article  on how to make a saying stick if you’re super-keen.

Drink either of these suckers carefully though. Both siblings taste like a summer’s day and go down really, really easily. There are even rumours of possible past involvement in separate copulatory events.

But who can remember?



Keeping things Lo-cal

So I’ve been quiet lately, I do apologise for neglecting you.

Among other things, I’ve been working on the Shake, Stir, Muddle book, which will move slowly through the glacial processes of the publishing industry and you will be the first to know all details on that front.

The other things I’ve been doing is boring, but relatable.

I’ve been off the booze to try to shift some weight. So tedious. And to date – two long weeks – not very bloody successful.

And I’ve been stuck on this post for days on end because it is simply not possible to write about dieting without being a crashing bore.

So let’s cut to the chase; if you want to drink cocktails and not blow your diet, here are the drinks to consider ordering.

And sadly, probably just one.

They’re not calorie-free, they’ll each cost you around 200 calories of whatever your daily limit is – for me, that’s 1200 calories a day right now.

And if you’re wondering why I, an Australian, am talking calories rather than kilojoules, it’s because drinking something that’s 836 kilojoules seems a lot more than 200 calories. It’s stupid, but I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that it won’t even be close to being the stupidest thing you’re going to see on the internet today.

Case in point.


It is a tough time to be avoiding booze friends.


If Gin’s your thing, ordering a Dry Gin Martini with two olives will only set you back about 200 calories (and will improve your demeanor immeasurably).

martini free use

Or a Gimlet (gin, lime juice and soda), will be about 10% fewer calories.

But ordering a Gin and Tonic (which we all know to be a mixed drink, not a cocktail), adds calories but also really ups your sugar intake so be careful there. There are diet tonics, they don’t taste great, but if you’re dieting, it’ll taste like heaven.


A Manhattan (Whiskey, sweet vermouth, bitters) will bring you in about 160 calories for a 90 mL drink and no one eats the maraschino cherries anyway, so you can ignore that.

Maybe steer clear of the Old Fashioned for a while. Even though the sugar cube doesn’t contain much in the way of calories (a surprisingly-low 12 or so calories per cube), it is sugar. And therefore contains sugar (again, not the stupidest thing you’re going to read on the internet today) which we try to avoid when we’re dieting. Ok?


You can have two nips of Scotch Whisky, neat or on the rocks for about the same. Never a bad idea. Ever.


Now this one’s a cracker, especially if you’re funny about grains. It’s plant-based, being made from the agave plant, so perhaps you can call it Paleo too. Up to you. (Any sentence containing the word “Paleo” is getting closer to the stupidest thing you’re going to read today).

Pete Evans idiot

Stay away from the Tequila Sunrise and opt for a Paloma which contains tequila, grapefruit juice (make sure there’s no sugar added, fresh is best), soda water, lime. It’s pretty and tangy and will cost you about 170 calories.


It may surprise to you that Rum is no more of a problem than other spirits. Rum and Coke though, that’s a problem. Pina Colada, that’s mucho problemo.

You could have a Diet Cuba Libre (and check out THIS POST for an explanation why the Fijian Tourism Board has seen fit not to appoint me as one of their social media influencers) – although possibly against the spirit of liberating Cuba to be calorie counting – rum, Diet Coke and lime, but I’d suggest sticking to the White Rum even though it’s less piratey.


Mix up an artificially-sweetened Daiquiri if you must – white rum, lime juice, soda water, artificial sweetener. Most bartenders aren’t going to play if you ask for this, so it’s probably an at-home job. Add muddled mint leaves to make it a Mojito. Both hover around the 170 calorie mark.

So there you go.

Plenty of options.

None of them as interesting to talk about as they are to drink.

200 calories will also buy you about half a litre of full-strength beer, just under half a bottle of champagne, about a third of a bottle each of red or white wine – somewhere between two and three standard drinks, depending on what you choose.

This photo, which I assure you is of glasses filled with water, not Martini (sigh), shows you how much of each that is.

Water glasses
L-R Beer x 2, Wine, Martini, Whisky, Champagne x 2

Yep, it’s boring, but it’s also good to know this stuff. It’s what grown-ups do.

So please, eat, drink and be knowledgeable.


PS I’m giving this non-drinking malarkey until the weekend. Then I’m flipping onto this amazing-sounding diet.

Martini diet book


Boulevardier of Broken Dreams

Asking me to name my favourite Bourbon cocktail is a bit like asking me to name my favourite child – I know what the answer is straight away but fear you will judge me if I don’t pretend it’s a difficult task.

So ahead of one of the happiest days of the year – World Bourbon Day, this Thursday 14 June – I’d like you to spend a few moments reflecting on the merits (many that they are) of the Manhattan, the Old Fashioned, the Mint Julep and the Whiskey Sour before ordering up a Boulevardier.



The Boulevardier is like the bourbon whiskey cousin of the Negroni (which celebrated its own week last week and we wish it well and thank it again and again for its service to cocktailia).

Although we can abbreviate the recipe by just saying “substitute the gin in a Negroni for Bourbon, everything else stays the same,” actually nothing stays the same*. The Bourbon changes the complexion of this delightful cocktail to another, equally delightful offering.

Outrageously, the Boulevardier isn’t on the IBA List of Official Cocktail. Another nail in the coffin of relevance for those clowns as far as I’m concerned.

Anyway, sip this and thank me later.

But do spare a thought thought for those people for whom June 14, 2018 isn’t such a happy day. No, not the non-drinkers, the soccer fans.

Some soccer fans.

You may have picked up already that if I were on a game show, those topics I’d name as my areas of expertise would not include soccer. Or football, whatever you want to call it. I don’t care.

Soccer fans.jpg
Not all of these wholesome young people are as happy as the advertising would have you believe

But I have travelled, and do know that others do care. Very much.

There are countries around the world where qualifying for the soccer World Cup is very important.

Countries like Italy, which has won the whole shebang almost as many times as any country (4 times – same as Germany, but one fewer time than Brazil), and the Netherlands which has never won but has come 2nd on three occasions.

Sad Dutch soccer fans
Here are some sad Dutch soccer fans at Euro 2012 which is apparently another soccer event that is different to the World Cup. Whatever. (Geert Vanden Wijngaert/Associated Press)

Yes, it’s important there.

And in Wales and Scotland and Austria and Chile and Greece and South Africa. And even though it’s not the main sport, it’s important in the USA and New Zealand and a whole bunch of other places where the national team didn’t qualify and where there will be some genuine sad sacks over the next couple of weeks.

209 countries tried to gain one of the 32 positions in the World Cup that starts later this week in the beating heart of the American democratic process.

That’s a lot of disappointed people.

Many of theseGeneral_Pascal_Olivier_Count_de_Negroni countries do have a strong cocktail pedigree that they can look to for solace, so if you’re entertaining during the World Cup, consider pouring up a couple of the following cocktails and try to seem sympathetic.

For your Italian friends: try not to get into a discussion about the Negroni, it was actually invented by a Frenchman (albeit a Corsican). Instead, maybe steer them towards a Cardinale – it’s like a Negroni but switch out the sweet red vermouth for a dry white vermouth and tell them that this was invented in the 1930s in Rome or Venice and is guaranteed to soothe the broken heart (that last bit is made up, but you’re trying to help, right?).

Pour your Dutch friend a genever based cocktail and let them know that you KNOW that without genever, there would be no gin, so to hell with England and what fun are they without David Beckham anyway? The flare of orange juice in the glass in front of them when you mix up a creatively-named Genever Cocktail will be enough to produce tears.

Beckham Haig

For your sad Welsh friend, reminding them that England came second-last in the Six Nations and didn’t make it through to the qualifiers of their own Rugby World Cup will cheer them up immensely. Then mix them up a Red Dragon (gin, Grand Marnier, blood Orange Juice, lemon juice and grenadine) and encourage them to sing.

They’ll be the life of your party within minutes.

Again with the Scots, find your favourite “Scotland is superior to England” fact and your problems evaporate. Then whip up a Rob Roy (a Manhattan with Scotch whisky) and enjoy a few moments of conversation because after their second, you won’t be able to understand a word they’re saying, but it’ll be cheerful.

And look, your friends from the USA won’t really care THAT much that their team didn’t qualify (they would if their women’s team didn’t qualify though – they are the most successful team in international women’s soccer), but they are having a rough time, so I’d say whip up a Manhattan, a Mint Julep and a Martinez to cover the whole country and reassure them that we all know HE isn’t THEM.

Or ignore the whole shooting match, surround yourself with like-mindeds and enjoy your Boulevardier this World Bourbon Day (and gird your loins for World Martini Day coming fast at us on June 19).



*Mix equal parts Bourbon Whiskey, Campari, sweet red Vermouth in a glass over ice, garnish with an orange twist.

You are cordially invited….

Sometimes life is surprising.

Seems that by the end of this week, I’ll be able to add “Royal Wedding Expert Commentator” to my list of achievements.

Image result for prince harry wedding invitation
Not my personal invitation…

This is particularly interesting in that all of the following fall outside of my area of expertise:

  1. Royal Family
  2. Wedding etiquette

What I do know though, better than most, is how to make any event an excuse to drink cocktails, as long as you’ve put the right amount of thought into your theming.

So that’s what I’m focusing on.

Related image
Not my actual crew for my Royal Commentary gig

If you can’t tune in to join me on ABC Radio Sydney at 5:15pm AEST this Thursday, here’s a bit of a cheat sheet for what you should be starting to plan for yourself for the big day (which is Saturday, in case, like me, you didn’t care know).

  1. Royals start their weddings really early. Saturday at midday, which is a massive pain in the arse for anyone with children. And if you were trying to squeeze a quick gym session in on Saturday morning, it’ll be tricky for you too because your bus that takes you to St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle arrives in the grounds at 9:30am, so you’ll obviously be queuing somewhere a good hour before that and even though I’m a really new Royal Wedding Expert Commentator, I’m gonna chance my hand here and say it’s probably good form to have a shower after Zumba if you’re going to a Royal Wedding.
  2. If you aren’t one of the 600 heading into the Chapel, the best place in the world to watch the wedding from is probably Perth in Western Australia. The whole shindig kicks off at 8pm Perth time, finished by 9pm, and then you’ve got another hour or so to talk about it as you watch people who live off the public coffers get ferried about in carriages on their way to a party being hosted by Charles and Camilla. You’re in bed by 10pm on a Saturday night. Bliss.
  3. If you’re in North America or New Zealand, you’re going to need to be really committed to watching this sucker live. Even here in Sydney, I’m going to have to plan my evening carefully to be able to stay up until it’s over at 11pm local time. (Do you ever get the sense that the colonies just don’t feature much in their minds when the Royal Family plans these things? Yeah. Me too)

Assuming you still want to go ahead with it, consider the following libations to keep you in good wedding spirits;

  1. Penicillin – Saturday May 19 was World Whisky Day LONG before Harry and Megs claimed it as their wedding day, so you MUST have a Scotch Whisky cocktail. This Whisky wonder which we covered HERE, is perfect for Harry drinking a cocktailstaving off colds, but also features ginger, a tribute to world’s most famous ginger who is the star of the whole show
  2. Coronation Cocktail No 1 – this Fino Sherry, dry vermouth, maraschino liqueur and orange bitters sensation may seem to fit another Royal experience entirely, but it was created by Harry Craddock at the Savoy Hotel so I think we can slip in here
  3. White Lady – another Savoy creation, this tasty gin offering can be served in homage to the White Lady who presides over the whole circus
  4. Champagne Cocktail – cos’ we’re dead posh (even though we’re Commoners hey Guv’nor?)
  5. Espresso Martini – if you’re not in London or Windsor, it’s either an ungodly early start or a supremely late finish and coffee is very handy for bolstering middle aged stamina
  6. Meghan drinking beer.jpg
    Yes, you can take the girl…

    Old Fashioned – yep, surely we can admit that the whole idea of Royals and Commoners has had its day now?

There you go. Consider yourself schooled by a Royal Wedding Commentator and Cocktail Advisor to the House of Windsor Watchers.



PS If you are in Windsor and they do that thing that sometimes happens at weddings where you have to hang around for hours between the ceremony and the reception, I can recommend the lasagne at that pub near the gates.