Monthly Archives: October 2013

Drink of the Week: Vampiro

Halloween night deserves a good red cocktail that looks like blood in a glass. While paging through Simon Difford’s Cocktails Made Easy, I came upon just the drink: a Vampiro (Spanish for ‘vampire’). Evidently this tequila version of a Bloody Mary is Mexico’s national drink (further proof that Mexico is awesome!).

This blood-red drink is just what the Count ordered.

The Vampiro, a blood-red drink, is just right for Halloween.

The good news is it doesn’t taste like blood but — as with all tequila drinks that include lime — like a spicy twist on a margarita, with a hint of tomato juice that’s  lovely with the lime and orange. I particularly like its spice factor, and even rimmed my glass with celery salt to enhance the drink’s savoury flavour. Not too sweet, not too strong and perfectly red — just what Dracula ordered.

Go ahead -- drain that glass.

Go ahead — drain that glass.


  • 2 oz Don Julio reposado tequila
  • 1 oz pressed tomato juice (I actually used a lemon press to juice a tomato. I then fine-strained the juice to remove the seeds and some pulp.)
  • 1 oz freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 oz freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 oz grenadine syrup (while I think it would taste better with plain simple syrup, the grenadine enhances the colour)
  • 7 drops hot pepper sauce (I used Tabasco)
  • 1 pinch celery salt
  • 1 pinch freshly ground pepper
  • Lime round garnish

Rim an old-fashioned or rocks glass with celery salt, then fill with ice. Shake all ingredients together with ice and then strain into the glass. Garnish with a lime round.

— Recipe adapted from Cocktails Made Easy

Zombies rule

To say that I am late to the zombie party is an understatement. I didn’t watch my first zombie movie, Shaun of the Dead, until a couple months ago (it came out in 2004). And just this week, in honour of Halloween, my husband and I started watching The Walking Dead (season 4 started up earlier this month), an AMC series that pits human survivors against a lot of zombies.

Run! Zombies! Oh wait nevermind… they are so slow!

Run! Zombies! Oh wait nevermind… they are so slow!

Now that I’ve entered the weird world of zombies, I am hooked. Yes, it’s a bit of a mental stretch to watch a show about zombies — we all know that zombies aren’t real and it boggles to think that the military and police wouldn’t be able to bring down the zombies with all that ammo — and you’d think it would be cheesy. I mean, zombies? Seriously? But I will say this: The Walking Dead is compelling.

After trying to get into acclaimed series like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black (neither of which had me caring much about what happened next), it’s so nice to watch a show where you really want to find out who lives, who gets gobbled up in a surprise attack, or whether redneck Merle cuts off his own hand-cuffed hand before the zombies break down the door.

After every episode Blake and I have conversations like this:

Me: I don’t see how those zombies could’ve snuck up on camp without everyone hearing them. They shuffle loudly and they’re always kind of moaning.

Blake: I know, and they’re uncoordinated and bump into things. But at least they’re easy to kill.

So. Very. Hungry. Zombies have an insatiable hunger for raw meat.

So. Very. Hungry. Zombies have an insatiable hunger for raw meat.

We haven’t talked this much about a TV show since trying to guess what would happen next on Lost. We discuss zombie theory, and marvel that all zombie shows seem to follow certain zombie rules:

  1. There’s always some virus that infects and kills humans on an apocalyptic scale;
  2. The dead then come back to life as zombies;
  3. Zombies walk slowly and incoherently as if in a stupor;
  4. The zombies feed on humans, thus making more zombies from the carcasses (zombies can also feed on animals like horses, but evidently the infection doesn’t cross over to other species, e.g., there are no zombie horses);
  5. Surviving humans can only kill a zombie by bashing its head in or burning it.

Blake: Wouldn’t a zombie eventually starve to death if it couldn’t find food?

Me: I think they just go into some kind of quasi-hibernation until they smell fresh meat.

Some argue the recent spate of zombie shows reflects societal fears of contagion, weaponized viruses and civil collapse. Perhaps. But I think we continue watching because despite all their failings and grotesque, decaying appearance, zombies are more likeable than other monsters of the imagination. They’re slower, stupider versions of humans. They’re not sneaky like werewolves or cunning like vampires. And should you find yourself in a crowd of them, all you have to do is stagger around like a drunk to blend in. As an apocalypse survivor, you might just stand a chance against a zombie.

Drink of the Week: Brandy Flip

Short, cool days make me crave short, strong drinks, like the Brandy Flip. It also helps that I’m researching this particular libation for my March Avenue magazine column, so I decided to make one in the name of journalistic inquiry.

The nutmeg makes a pretty and fragrant garnish on a brandy flip.

The nutmeg makes a pretty and fragrant garnish on a brandy flip.

This drink could be mistaken for eggnog, what with the booze and cream and sugar and egg. And it is rather like a single serving of nog, but it exclusively uses brandy (or even better, cognac) rather than bourbon or rum. And though some brandy flip recipes omit the egg, let’s be honest — do you really want to shake a whole egg (including the yolk!) into your cocktail without a dairy buffer? Adding cream or milk smooths out the drink.

The end result is a strong fireside sip with all the charm of eggnog, but without its baggage (mainly, the name). In a word, you’ll flip for it. (Sorry.)

I prefer cognac in my brandy flip.

I prefer cognac in my brandy flip.

Brandy Flip

  • 1-1/2 oz Remy Martin VSOP cognac
  • 1/3 oz simple syrup
  • 1/3 oz cream (I used 2% milk = fewer calories)
  • 1 fresh whole egg
  • Nutmeg ganish

Vigorously shake all ingredients with ice then double strain into a chilled martini glass. Sprinkle nutmeg on top for garnish.