Heirloom: A cocktail inspired by Sufjan Stevens

Anyone who jumped into The Age of Adz when it came out in 2010 and hadn't listened to anything not-Illinois beforehand was probably a little confused. Its electro-apocalypti-prophetic nature is massive and unashamed, and on first listen its biggest peaks couldn't feel more different than the rest of Sufjan Stevens' work. 

But while there are big differences between Illinois and The Age of Adz, they're still more like neighboring towns than cross-country destinations. There's an invisible overlap in there somewhere, isn't there? You might sense a line that exists between them, connecting the stylistic differences to the same artist, even if they are altogether unique experiences. 

The All Delighted People EP is that line. 

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Cocktail Round Up: 5 Drinks for Spring Dreaming

I collect a lot of cocktail recipes. It's my opinion that, in order to create good drinks, you've got to: a.) Try lots of drinks, b.) Be curious about how flavors work together, and c.) Be willing to learn from others. The internet is a goldmine for good recipes, but like anything else, there's a lot of crap to sift through. I figured it might be nice to do some of that sifting for you, since I'm at it already anyway.

Our little corner of the Pacific Northwest is feeling strangely Spring-y already, but Washington weather has a funny way of knocking you down a couple pegs just when you think the season is changing. Sunshine happens in February, and we tend to accept the Vitamin D with open arms... But I, for one, also give it a bit of side-eye:

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Red Riding Hood: A cocktail recipe inspired by Once Upon a Time

I was getting ready to head to a friend's house the other night and wanted to bring a little somethin' with me. Have cocktail, will travel, amiright?* So I packed my fun flask with a bit of absinthe, gin, lemon juice and Grand Marnier (y'know, like ya do), and grabbed a bottle of birch beer I bought on a whim last week (apparently it's a thing). Oh: And an orange for zest. Never leave home without your garnish, y'all.

When I got to the party and mixed myself a drink I was so pleased with my little experiment that I made others try it and asked them my favorite drink-related questions: What do you like? What would you change? And my favorite: Who is it? 

Who is it?

It's a fun question for me. I had a hunch I knew what show this drink belonged to (Once Upon a Time), and a few of my friends are big fans of that show as well. It's awesome to hand someone a drink and ask them who it is because it starts a conversation about what we're drawn to in characters, what kind of stories we find attractive, etc. And that's what it's all about, right? Finding a connection to a story and celebrating it with others. Anyone can do it!

Anyway, when I asked who it was, one of the first suggestions was Red. As in Riding Hood. Looking at this drink you might expect it to be obnoxious and over the top. That shade of red, the bit of bubbles. It's sort of how I felt when I first saw Ruby-- a.k.a. Red Riding Hood-- for the first time on Once Upon a Time.

Ruby, Once Upon a Time.

I'll admit: I was being judge-y. It's what happens when I see "That Woman" now. You all know what I'm talking about. That shallow, sexpot distraction of a character who's there to look good in a tight skirt.

But Red is more than that.

Red Riding Hood, Once Upon a Time.

My friend-- I'll call him Francisco-- suggested that Red was a good fit for this cocktail because it's a little surprising. The absinthe makes this drink smell a bit like anise, but the birch beer-- with its fresh, slightly sweet, slightly root beer-y flavor-- helps keep it in check. I'm going to refrain from saying what makes the character Red so surprising because SPOILERS, but I will say that she's a lot more than she seems when the show gets going. There's a woodsy, caring, intelligent woman under that cloak. She's sweet and complex, and she deserves a drink that does her justice.

A note about this drink: You might notice that I left one of the ingredients out of the recipe below that I initially included in my fun flask above. After testing, I didn't feel like the Grand Marnier added anything bold enough to justify leaving it in. Feel free to try it with and without and see what you think! I'd love to know which you prefer.

Red Riding Hood cocktail recipe, inspired by Once Upon a Time

By Sara Galactica

What you'll need:

  • 1 oz gin
  • 1 oz absinthe
  • Lemon juice, 1/4-1/2 oz
  • 2-4 oz birch beer
  • Orange, for garnish

How to do it:

Combine gin, absinthe and lemon juice in an empty rocks glass. Start with less lemon juice. Things are going to taste a little tart at this point in the process, but don't worry, the birch beer will mellow things out. You can always add a bit more lemon after you've added the soda if you like.

Add ice.

Top with desired amount of birch beer. Stir gently.

Add a nice orange twist. I used a vegetable peeler to get this wide piece of zest.

Red Riding Hood cocktail: Gin, absinthe, lemon, birch beer. saragalactica.com #onceuponatime #cocktail
Red Riding Hood cocktail: Gin, absinthe, lemon, birch beer. saragalactica.com #onceuponatime #cocktail

This photo was taken after mixing 3 or 4 drinks, which means you can make a good chunk of cocktails with one bottle of soda. If you were going to make this for a crowd like I did, I recommend using the following technique.

For a crowd

Makes 4 cocktails.

Mix 4 oz each gin & absinthe with 1-2 oz lemon juice in a small pitcher or empty cocktail shaker. Stir. Like I noted above, start with less lemon and work your way up.

Pour equal amounts (a little more than 2 oz) into each glass, over ice.

Add 3 oz birch beer to each glass.

Stir gently & garnish each glass with orange zest.

*Travel first, then have a cocktail, okay? Not the other way around. 

White Tulip: A cocktail inspired by Fringe

"I, too, attempted the unimaginable, and I succeeded... And since then, not a day has passed without me feeling the burden of that act." - Walter Bishop, "White Tulip," Fringe

I don't know where to start with Fringe, I love it so. It isn't perfect-- anyone who's seen the pilot episode can tell you that much-- but when it's good, it freaking shines. Symbolism. A detailed mythology. Round, juicy story arcs.

It took me pretty much the entire first season of the show to truly care about the characters. I didn't dislike the show, but it didn't hit me until the second season got rolling that I was totally and utterly invested in the characters and their fate. Now that I've watched the first season again, I think this is because, as a viewer, I developed an attachment to the characters at about the same rate as they developed attachments to each other. Their relationships build rather slowly despite the weird and creepy things that happen to them. I don't know if this was intentional on the part of the writers, but it feels like you're part of the rag tag team forming in front of you, and you can almost miss that it's happening until shit goes down and you suddenly realize that you care what happens to everyone else.

 

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Cocktail preview: White Tulip

It's Monday, and that means it's time for a preview of tomorrow's cocktail recipe. This one is inspired by the TV show Fringe, created by J.J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman, and Roberto Orci. Some have described the show as The X-Filesmeets The Twilight Zone. I think that Profilershines through a bit, but I rarely meet anyone who watched that show. That travesty is a post for another time, I suppose. In any case, this cocktail-- White Tulip-- is an homage to one of my favorite story arc details, well... Ever. I'll talk more about why tomorrow. Let this tide you over until then:

White Tulip Cocktail: Inspired by the TV show Fringe
White Tulip Cocktail: Inspired by the TV show Fringe

Tune back in tomorrow. I have a feeling you'll want the recipe for this one.

Actual Out

King George V - A Downton Abbey cocktail

Beware, dear readers. Here be spoilers. Like I mentioned yesterday, Downton Abbey‘s fifth season is in progress here in the US, and the major theme is change. The 1920s provide the perfect backdrop for the big societal shifts the people of Downton-- upstairs and downstairs-- are facing. A few highlights:

  • Lady Mary is playing the field, sleeping with men before marrying them (whoa!). Unfortunately said dudes are all, "Hey, totes sleep with me and figure out if this is meant to be," and then afterward are predictably all, "You're a stupid slut! Why would you sleep with me if you didn't want to marry me?!" Will Lady Mary's budding feminism win over other people's (often faux) propriety?
  • Papa Grantham is still mostly a jerk, but now he's a jerk who is realizing his way of life is nearly obsolete. I would almost feel bad for him if he wasn't so awful to Cora all the time, and if he didn't constantly prove why he's obsolete. I am cautiously optimistic about his decision to preserve the lands surrounding Downton, though.
  • Edith is still crying and making terrible decisions, so no news on that front.
  • Daisy, however, is having moments of clarity, realizing that perhaps she could get an education, and therefore have choices. I almost like Daisy right now. Almost.
  • Rose has turned out to be surprisingly awesome this season, volunteering and standing up for her right to choose a partner when she's ready. She's also that young whippersnapper who is moving the, er, traditional sensibilities of Downton toward progress with regard to art and technology.

And it's that progress that brings me to the subject of this week's cocktail: King George V. You may remember the episode a few weeks ago where Rose tried to convince Papa Grantham to get a wireless radio for the house. She tried just about everything to get him to agree to it, and was unsuccessful until she realized that the King would be addressing the nation via the radio. Stephen Carter of BloombergView notes:

Nowadays, such news would occasion a shrug. At the time, it was a thunderclap.

George V’s address to open the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley in April of 1924 was the first time the monarch spoke on the radio. Historians tell us that the event aroused such excitement that traffic was stopped and loudspeakers were set up on sidewalks outside large stores so people could listen. The occasion was, says Maurice Roche in his history of mass exhibitions, “the first time the British public as a whole had been gathered together to participate in a national event through the new medium.”

I don't know that I could say much of anything about King George V that you couldn't find on Wikipedia, but I will note that this move on his part was a pretty big deal, both for him and "The Empire." For a dude who preferred stamp collecting and maintaining the social status quo, addressing the country on the radio was a bold move. I also just love the way the old school met the new during the portrayal of the address on the show:

The people of Downton Abbey stand for King George V's address on the wireless.

Want to be briefly transported back in time? Take a listen to a portion of another address by King George V and Queen Mary:

The recipe

So how does one make a drink fit for a king? As with any Downton Abbey cocktail, there's a little bit of a balancing act between fiction and history. With this drink I wanted to blend the old school with the new, hence the combination of gin with bourbon. I thought the drink should be citrusy, a little sweet, and reminiscent of a classic cocktail-- fresh and nostalgic, all at the same time. The embodiment of the old guard yielding to the new (if just a little bit).

King George V: An original cocktail inspired by Downton Abbey

Recipe for King George V: A cocktail inspired by Downton Abbey | Sara Galactica
Recipe for King George V: A cocktail inspired by Downton Abbey | Sara Galactica

What you'll need:

  • 1 oz gin
  • 1 oz honey syrup
  • 1/2 oz bourbon
  • 1/2 oz Grand Marnier
  • 1/2 oz lime juice
  • Lemon twist

How to do it:

Combine all liquids in cocktail shaker with plenty of ice. Shake-ah shake-ah shake-ah for about 15 seconds, until everything is nice and cold and those frothy little bits of ice break up.

Strain into cocktail glass. Serve with a twist. Notice the the sweet tang of citrus and subtle warmth of bourbon. Sip. Enjoy.

Notes

  • Honey syrup is easily made by combining equal parts warm water and honey, stirring until dissolved. You can use this immediately.
  • Remember to make your twist right near your drink so you get the little spray of lemon oils while you're zesting-- that's good stuff.

Cocktail preview: King George V

Downton Abbey's fifth season is in progress here in the US. Currently we find the cast of characters in the midst of an era of change. The 1920s are in full swing, and with that comes shifting cultural norms (and fashion, naturally), societal upheaval, new technology, and political challenges. Tomorrow I'll share the full recipe and background for my latest cocktail, King George V, inspired by the monarch who ruled England during this time period (for those of you watching the show, he was the one we heard speak on the wireless radio a couple episodes ago). In the meantime, here's a taste:

King George V cocktail, by Sara Galactica

... I think you're going to like this one.

See you tomorrow!

Actual out. 

Hooked: Once Upon a Time

The purpose of the story... To look out with new eyes upon the many-featured, habitable world; to be thrilled by the pity and the beauty of this life of ours, itself brief as a tale that is told; to learn to know men and women better, and to love them more. Bliss Perry, via "A study of fairy tales."

You probably know by now that I'm a sucker for a good story. I've rewatched my favorite movies and shows so many times I've lost count. I reread my favorite books from time to time. I seek out new stories that I can form emotional attachments to. Stories fill the empty corners of my soul in a way nothing else can.

I know that I'm about 3 years behind the times, but I recently started watching ABC's Once Upon a Time, and promptly sped through 3.5 seasons in roughly as many weeks. I wouldn't say that it is the best show to ever grace my TV screen, but it is the perfect combination of delightfully cheesy, nostalgic, fun, sexy, and-- dare I say-- thought-provoking. I really appreciate the way the creators and writers have interpreted and mashed-up the tales I grew up with, so much so that I find many of these retellings preferable to the originals for many reasons:  Strong female heroes; layered, non-traditional relationships; failure; the collision of fantasy and real life...

I think this show has made such an impression on me because it's left me constantly thinking about stories, especially the stories I grew up with; ones I left behind to "grow up." I have an appreciation for fantasy and folklore, but I can admit to being judgey when it comes to fairy tales. Maybe this stems from a lifetime of exposure to The Disney Princess, but my favorite fairy tale stories from childhood have never felt, well, good enough to love as an adult. They felt too juvenile, too silly. But I think that's exactly what makes fairy tales so important, and Once Upon a Time honors their relevance by giving the stories a modern makeover that remains sincere. I'm feeling a connection to these tales that I haven't felt in a long time.

At the heart of this show is the idea that believing in something-- just about anything-- makes it so. Maybe you can save this weird, cursed little town if you risk believing that you are meant to do so. Maybe your power is greater than you've ever thought, and believing in that power sets you free. Maybe believing in imperfect, impractical, improbable true love (in all of it's forms) makes it a reality. And maybe your story can be whatever you want it to be, if only you believed you could change it.

Maybe. 

Powerful, hopeful possibilities snuggle right into those two syllables.

But hidden between my deep thoughts about story and belief you'll find superficial thoughts about this guy right here.

Once Upon a Time Captain Hook

Captain Motherfuckin' Hook, y'all. Who knew the old guy with the feathered hat was such a babe?

In an era where many popular stories center on the antihero (or, some argue, the villain's origin story {Breaking Bad spoilers}) Captain Hook's OUaT backstory is a rather fascinating creation of an origin that-- admit it-- most of us probably never gave much thought to. It's definitely tailored to fit into the show's world, but Hook's journey is a compelling one that allows the viewer to root for him... It also doesn't hurt that Peter Pan is a creepy little shithead, and that the crocodile is much more vicious than you could've imagined {spoilers abound, dudes}. But whatevs. Did I mention he's devilishly handsome?

Once Upon a Time Captain Hook

You. Are. Welcome.

It seems only appropriate, then, that my first Once Upon a Time cocktail be inspired by this pirate who looks like he's about to head to a Depeche Mode concert. This drink wants to prove itself to you. It's trying to win your affection. It'll probably get you drunk if you go too fast. It's a little sweet, a little bitter, and full of longing. There's also a hint of sea salt; just enough of the briny deep to make you feel all wistful and maudlin. Sigh.

Hook cocktail, inspired by Once Upon a Time
Hook cocktail, inspired by Once Upon a Time

Hook

A Sara Galactica cocktail original, inspired by Once Upon a Time.

Makes one tasty beverage.

Scroll for complete, printer-friendly recipe. 

You'll need:

  • Rum (I used The Kraken)
  • Grand Marnier
  • Amaretto (I used Disaronno)
  • Lemon or lime juice -- I tried both, and they were each delicious
  • Angostura bitters
  • Fleur de sel

Add rum, Grand Marnier, amaretto, lemon and Angostura to a shaker with ice. Cover and shake-ah shake-ah shake-uh until well chilled (about 15-20 seconds).

Strain into cocktail glass. I used a coupe glass here.

Sprinkle with a pinch of flaky sea salt. Admire. Sip. Enjoy.

Hook cocktail, inspired by Once Upon a Time: rum, Grand Marnier, amaretto, Angostura, lemon, sea salt
Hook cocktail, inspired by Once Upon a Time: rum, Grand Marnier, amaretto, Angostura, lemon, sea salt

Notes

  • Pro-tip: If you don't have a shot glass at home (or if you're wanting to get really precise with your measurements), just grab a tablespoon. 1 tablespoon = 1/2 ounce (or 1/2 shot), 2 tablespoons = 1 ounce (or 1 standard shot).
Hook cocktail, inspired by Once Upon a Time: Measuring alcohol with a tablespoon
Hook cocktail, inspired by Once Upon a Time: Measuring alcohol with a tablespoon

Until next time,

Actual out.  

Black Jack Randall: An Outlander-Inspired Cocktail

So how do you create a drink someone will enjoy while staying true to the dark nature of a villainous character? I'd never really tried this before, but my approach was pretty straightforward: Make the drink look like it could be named after him based solely on the color, combine story elements (lavender) with some surprising ingredients (you'll see what I mean), to result in a surprisingly delicious beverage. Randall is, honestly, a deliciously villainous character. For all his inhumane acts (and there are MANY), we do get small glimpses of his humanity. Perhaps there was a good man underneath that icy facade once? If so, this cocktail would be the embodiment of that nature shadowed by darkness.

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Claire Beauchamp, an Outlander-inspired cocktail.

Claire Beauchamp is the heroine of the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon, and is a damn breath of fresh air as far as female characters go. She's smart, stubborn, funny, fierce, and entirely imperfect. No shrinking violet, she's the leading woman you want to root for. Of course she's pretty, but not much fuss is made about that. Her sexy mind and a talent for medicine make her special. She's a little rough around the edges. Sure, she's got love interests, but she is a whole human being with or without a man. I like that about her, and I hope that continues to be the case on the show.

Claire's talent for identifying, making and administering medicine-- and in particular her knowledge of plants-- comes in handy many times throughout the series, so I knew it must be represented in her drink somehow.

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Cocktail Recipe: Sookie St. James

Sookie St. James is perhaps best described as Lorelai Gilmore's accident-prone best friend and platonic life partner.

Played by Melissa McCarthy, she's funny, beautiful, creative, and caring. She also happens to be fat. But you know what's really cool about Gilmore Girls? No one ever mentions that Sookie is fat. It's never a plot point that she can't get a man because she isn't skinny. She's not depressed. There's never a Very Special Episode where she comes to terms with how fat she is and tries to loose weight. She never goes on a binge diet or is seen making herself exercise to make up for whatever she ate that day. She's just awesome. Not "she would be so pretty if she just lost some weight" awesome. Just awesome. Period.

I fell in love with Melissa McCarthy in the role as Sookie because she's just so charming and real, but also because it's so rare to see a woman her size being the love interest on a show, accepted and loved for Who She Is and not What She Should Be.  I wish I could say I've brought myself to watch more of her work since then, but I just haven't been able to. The Chris Farley-esque body comedy where her fatness is her punchline makes me feel all wounded. Maybe it's a good sign that women can have body comedy, too... I just wish a talented fat actress could get noticed for something else. I know that she's at least partially responsible for some of these characters (she wrote and produced her latest film, Tammy), so I suppose she's comfortable with the roles she chooses. I just wonder what the chances are that she'd get a movie funded where she wasn't having the play a variation of the same bumbling fatso?

ANYWAY. Back to Sookie.

Sookie is a talented chef, and much of her screen time involves her in/around the kitchen. She's constantly experimenting with different dishes and ingredients, often allowing her imagination to get the best of her as she prepares incredibly elaborate meals (ahem, not that I can relate or anything). I wanted her drink to be creative and decadent; a little cocktail she would enjoy as a fellow foodie.

MMmm, sauce bath. Images found here.

So, in her honor, I present to you:

Sookie St. James

You'll Need:

Sookie St. James: A Gilmore Girls Inspired Sara Galactica Cocktail Original {pictured: cream, honey, vodka, apricot liqueur}
Sookie St. James: A Gilmore Girls Inspired Sara Galactica Cocktail Original {pictured: cream, honey, vodka, apricot liqueur}
  • 1-2 tsp honey
  • 1 oz vodka [I used Zubrowka]
  • 1/2 oz apricot liqueur
  • 1/2 oz (1 tbsp) half & half or heavy cream. Milk just won't do here, y'all. High fat content = non curdled cocktails. Trust. {I used half & half.}
  • 1/4 - 1/3 cup of clean, fresh lemon balm leaves. Don't have these? If you absolutely can't find them, I'd say a sage leaf or two would probably yield tasty results. Not the same as lemon balm, but still tasty.

Firstly: Prepare your desired cocktail glass by drizzling honey in the bottom of it. I'm actually using what I assume is a pudding/ice cream dish that I just found this past weekend at a garage sale {thanks, friends!}.

Sookie St. James: A Gilmore Girls Inspired Sara Galactica Cocktail Original {pictured: honey in glass}
Sookie St. James: A Gilmore Girls Inspired Sara Galactica Cocktail Original {pictured: honey in glass}

Next: Add ice, lemon balm and apricot liqueur to shaker and muddle the ever lovin' crap out of it. I don't have a muddler right now (gasp!), so I just used a good ol' wooden spoon. Don't worry about getting fancy. Worry about getting it muddled!

Sookie St. James: A Gilmore Girls Inspired Sara Galactica Cocktail Original {pictured: lemon balm}
Sookie St. James: A Gilmore Girls Inspired Sara Galactica Cocktail Original {pictured: lemon balm}

Thirdly: Add vodka and cream. Shake the shit out of it. No, seriously, shake it REAL good. Get that ice all pulverized. We want that cream to get smooth and frothy in there.

Lastly: Strain over honey into your cocktail glass. Garnish with a single lemon balm leaf. Marvel at how well the delicate, vegetal notes of the lemon balm play with the slight sweetness of the cream & apricot liqueur. Feel that vodka flush your cheeks. Get a taste of honey at the end.

Sookie St. James: A Gilmore Girls Inspired Sara Galactica Cocktail Original {pictured: finished cocktail, featuring vodka, apricot liqueur, lemon balm, honey, and cream}
Sookie St. James: A Gilmore Girls Inspired Sara Galactica Cocktail Original {pictured: finished cocktail, featuring vodka, apricot liqueur, lemon balm, honey, and cream}

We have SO much lemon balm in the garden right now. If you or a friend have lemon balm in the herb patch, get some quick! It's pretty darn happy right now, and this cocktail is your summer garden in a glass. Jackson would be proud. Enjoy!

- Actual Out 

Cocktail recipe: Audrey Horne.

This drink is so simple I hesitate to even call this a recipe. That sounds so formal. Like there are steps and measurements and a planned outcome when you start. This drink was unplanned. It happened on a whim when I remembered those cherries I bought at the farm stand, the rye whiskey tucked up on top of the refrigerator where I'm staying, and the honey bear on the counter. It all became so clear. These things were made for each other, I just needed to introduce them. I knew they'd take it from there. I didn't even get around to taking a final glamour shot of this drink. I got as far as the muddle:

It occurred to me after making this cocktail that I didn't have any particular story inspiration in mind when I began. This happens sometimes. I don't always set-out to make a drink based on a character or place. Sometimes it just happens after the fact, and sometimes I just make a damn drink because I want to. This one, however, was in need of a name. I mean, look at it! So I started to think about the sexy, more-complex-than-they-seem characters in my story repertoire, and...

Enter Audrey Horne:

Image via https://vintagethreadspeckham.wordpress.com/tag/audrey-horne/

She's that sexy weirdo on Twin Peaks that, if you're anything like me, you started out kinda hating and then ended up feeling oddly protective over. And we all remember the cherry stem scene, right?

This drink is a sexy weirdo just like Audrey, one you'll definitely feel a little protective over once you have a taste.

How to make it:

Grab 5-6 gorgeous, sweet red cherries. Remove the stems and toss 'em into your glass. Drizzle about a tablespoon of honey over top. Muddle the cherries and honey until the fruit is broken down a bit, and the juices from the cherries have dissolved the honey. Don't worry about the pits, darlin'. You'll drink right around 'em.

Top it all off with an ounce or two of rye whiskey. Bulleit is my standard at home, but you grab what you like, sugar. Pour it on in, add some ice, and stir until just combined. Sit. Drink. Swoon.

Yes, Audrey. It really is.

Actual out.

Stories, Scotsmen, and Starting.

I've been thinking a lot about stories these days. I've always been addicted to them, though until recently I don't think I would've ever described it as that. But I am, you see, so addicted to stories. I suppose it started somewhere around the age of three that it really set in (or maybe  it's just the earliest memory I have). I loved to watch the same movies over and over (and over) again. I know that's not particularly unique, but that desire never really went away. When Piggy and Kermit parted in Muppets Take Manhattan? I cried. Every. Single. Time. I remember my mom being on the phone, long cord forming curlicues to the floor, laughing at me because I was in tears again. I still can't hear "Saying Goodbye" without tearing up, y'all.*

And yeah, I guess I assume most people probably grow out of that? I just haven't figured it out. Sure, I eventually pick up new stories; it just takes me a bit longer than is maybe normal. I'm still driving my mom crazy: Yes, I'm on my third run-through of the West Wing and I watched it for the first time less than a year ago. Stop judging me!

I've been knee-deep reading stories these days, too. Well, one story/series in particular. Maybe you've heard of it? It's called the Outlander series, by Diana Gabaldon. She's been writing these books since the early 90s (the first novel was published in 1991), but I've just recently come down with the Outlander bug. It took me almost a year to give the first book a shot by the time I had it in my hands, but late this last year I picked it back up again, and while I was reading I turned some invisible story-corner that hurtled me into READ ALL OF THE OUTLANDER territory. If you've read the series, you probably know what I'm talking about. If not, I can only hope you give it a shot. It pretty much has everything you need: Strong female lead, historical fiction, romance (which normally makes shudder, but not this one), sci-fi elements, and a ton of action and suspense... And I'm not even mentioning all the sex and kilts and violence and magic and medicine.

So a couple of my newest homegirls, Ginny and Jess, and I traveled down toward Seattle for an author event & book signing with Diana Gabaldon. We and about 800 other nerds sidled into the commons in a building that lost its air conditioning earlier that day (on the hottest day so far this year, of course) to hear Gabaldon speak, and also settle once-and-for-all how to say her last name. She was funny, slightly bawdy, and as whip-smart as you might expect a woman who weaves history and fiction together so beautifully.

It was thrilling to hear her talk about how she became a novelist (secretly, to see if she could), and to listen to the powerful reminder that it's never to late to try something new. She was about to turn 35 when she decided she'd try her hand at writing a novel. She was no old maid by any means, but bold to recognize what she wanted and not see her already established life as a roadblock. I can't tell you how often I hear women my age talk about what they would do if they could start over, if they didn't already have a family, a job, the bills, etc... Diana's story was a great reminder that you don't necessarily have to intend to start over. You just have to start.

Who got to stand quietly next to Diana Gabaldon? This girl right here!
Who got to stand quietly next to Diana Gabaldon? This girl right here!

Outlander is about to become a television show on Starz, with Ronald Moore (of Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, and Carnivale fame) at the helm (I swear I'm not getting paid for any of this Outlander talk right now-- I'm just THAT excited). A show or movie will never be the same as a book, and for that I'm grateful. It means a new interpretation of a story I'm in love with, a chance for me to get acquainted anew with the characters I've spent so much time with, and an opportunity to feast my eyes (and not just my brain-eyes) on what's sure to be an incredibly beautiful setting.

Outlander will premiere online on August 2nd, and I'll be working on a cocktail for you to drink while you're watching. Outlander fans: What would you choose as inspiration for the first episode of the series? I just might take you up on your suggestions!

*Yep, even right then. Good lord.

"I will burn the heart out of you."

Things have been a little quiet here on the blog while I cocktail behind-the-scenes. I'm getting ready for another Study in Drink event at The Temple Bar this Sunday, this time featuring the episode "The Great Game." Now, if you haven't seen this episode, then I suggest going to watch it before continuing this post because there are tiny spoilers ahead:  

The Sherlock cocktails I've made so far have included A Study in Pink, The Watson, The Cipher, and Contraband (a.k.a. Jade Treasure). I'll share those recipes soon, but I am SO EXCITED right now because I have been wanting to create a Moriarty drink but had to wait until we OFFICIALLY meet him in the Season 1 finale.

And THE TIME IS FINALLY HERE.

I'm not going to share what's in this drink YET because I don't want to give any secrets away, but I will share that it will feature Irish whiskey in honor of Andrew Scott, because DUH:

Stay tuned, sweeties. The recipes will be coming soon!

Actual Out. 

Animated gifs found here.

Sara Galactica Presents: A Study in Drink

A Sherlock-inspired cocktail demo series at The Temple Bar!

Each event includes two cocktail demo, two tasty themed cocktail samples, Sherlock BINGO/or other fun activity, and a complimentary screening of an episode of the BBC's Sherlock:

  • Sunday, June 8 at 8pm: The Blind Banker
  • Sunday, June 29 at 8pm: The Great Game

$10, ages 21+

Select a date below to purchase tickets now!

The Lady Mary Crawley.

Today I'm sharing a drink that I made for the first time a little over two years ago. I was on a Downton Abbey kick (who hasn't been there?) and was feeling compelled to make drinks inspired by the dramatic characters of the show. Lady Mary was one of the first inspirations in this series of concoctions because, truth be told, I really sorta love her. Yes: Even the bitchy, cold, viper-like Mary who makes poor decisions and pouts over them. Maybe she's a fellow Scorpio? I digress. I made this drink on a whim, took a photo of it on instagram... And then never made it again, as is the case with most of the Downton cocktails I was devising on weekly basis.

The first The Lady Mary (or Lady Mary 1.0, made in December 2012) was sweet English tea, vodka, homemade rose liqueur, and bubbles:

The Lady Mary Cocktail, A Sara Galactica Original {photo by saragalactica on instagram}
The Lady Mary Cocktail, A Sara Galactica Original {photo by saragalactica on instagram}

It was pretty delicious. I almost thought to make that same drink again for this blog, but it's the wrong season for roses here, and I'd be doing you a serious disservice if I didn't explain how to make that rose liqueur. Can you buy rose liqueur at a liquor store? Sure, sometimes you can find it. But it's a little harder to locate, and I've honestly never owned a bottle of it!

So I got to thinking about a Lady Mary 2.0. Without getting too spoilery, the cocktail above captured Mary in her rosier state of mind, but that's not particularly suitable for the Mary Crawley you might recognize if you've been keeping up with the show. The more recent Mary is decidedly moodier... And I love me some moody characters.

You might notice I'm using tea again in this cocktail. I think tea is a woefully underused cocktail ingredient-- it's got a hint of bitterness, is kinda earthy, and can bring lovely flavors to the party if you know how to use it.

The Lady Mary, A Sara Galactica cocktail original.

Photos by Andrea Holodnick

You'll need:

  • 2 oz Brandy
  • 3 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 4 oz freshly brewed hot black tea (I used English breakfast)
  • Juice from 1/2 a small lemon
  • Honey, to taste

Pour your brandy into the tea cup or mug of your choice:

The Lady Mary Cocktail, A Sara Galactica Original {photos by Andrea Holodnick}
The Lady Mary Cocktail, A Sara Galactica Original {photos by Andrea Holodnick}

Add bitters (not pictured). Zest lemon over cup to get all the juicy lemon goodness. Leave zest in mug.

The Lady Mary Cocktail, A Sara Galactica Original {photos by Andrea Holodnick}
The Lady Mary Cocktail, A Sara Galactica Original {photos by Andrea Holodnick}

Pour hot tea into cup:

The Lady Mary Cocktail, A Sara Galactica Original {photos by Andrea Holodnick}
The Lady Mary Cocktail, A Sara Galactica Original {photos by Andrea Holodnick}

Add lemon juice:

The Lady Mary Cocktail, A Sara Galactica Original {photos by Andrea Holodnick}
The Lady Mary Cocktail, A Sara Galactica Original {photos by Andrea Holodnick}

And honey to taste (I used about a tablespoon or so):

The Lady Mary Cocktail, A Sara Galactica Original {photos by Andrea Holodnick}
The Lady Mary Cocktail, A Sara Galactica Original {photos by Andrea Holodnick}

Stare into the darkness and join Mary in her moody depths. You'll both rebound... But a little brooding never hurt anyone.

The Lady Mary Cocktail, A Sara Galactica Original {photos by Andrea Holodnick}
The Lady Mary Cocktail, A Sara Galactica Original {photos by Andrea Holodnick}