Posts Tagged With: Beverage

312/365: National Cappuccino Day*

You may feel a little jittery if you miss out on today’s holiday. Actually, you may feel even more jittery if you don’t. November 8 is National Cappuccino Day!

It’s also National Harvey Wallbanger Day. I really, really wanted to celebrate this one. With such a colorful name and history, it was tough to resist! But we’re headed up to Seattle for a long-overdue family visit immediately after work, and can’t in good conscience knock back a cocktail before hitting the road. A Harvey Wallbanger is simply a screwdriver (vodka and orange juice) mixed with Galliano, a sweet (and bright yellow) Italian herbal liqueur. It you believe the tales, it was invented in the 1960s when a party host ran out of everything but vodka, OJ, and Galliano, and was named for a California surfer who would knock back so many of the drinks after a busy day “hanging 10” that he’d stagger into the walls. Probably false history, but it sure does make for a fun story. Note to self: this is one holiday we’ll have to revisit in 2014.

National Cappuccino DaySo, cappuccino it is, and I’ve got nothing against the Italian coffee drink made with espresso, hot milk, and steamed milk foam, other than the fact that it’s a pain in the ass to spell correctly. I keep leaving out a “p” or a “c” or adding an “n” where none belongs. At least this word has an interesting history, too: it comes from the Italian “cappuccio,” meaning hood, and refers to the hooded robes worn by monks and nuns of the capucin order, which were a distinctive reddish-brown in color, in 17th century Europe. It was around this time that people began adding milk to coffee, and in the 1700s, a beverage called a “Kapuziner” began appearing in Viennese coffee shops. This coffee with cream and sugar closely matched the color of those hooded robes, and the name evolved over the years, eventually turning into cappuccino in the 1930s. By then espresso machines, with an ability to brew at a higher pressure and produce a finer grind while also heating milk, had been invented, and Italians began producing the modern version of the cappuccino we are familiar with today.

Tara surprised me by dropping off a cappuccino after lunch. With a cupcake to go along with it. I gots me a good wife, that’s for sure! We are normally both more likely to order a flavored latte, but we found the cappuccino quite enjoyable. Frothy and foamy, with a nice flavor. I’d get one again!

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11/365: National Hot Toddy Day*

January 11th is devoted to two food holidays. Or actually, two beverage holidays. It’s National Milk Day and National Hot Toddy Day. Milk may do a body good, but it’s boring and requires no special effort. I downed my morning pills with a glass of milk, and then ate a bowl of cereal for breakfast, while Tara took a few swigs to wash down her leftover brownie. Technically we could have considered this challenge complete and in the books by 6:45 AM, but the lure of the hot toddy was too strong to resist.

I can’t think of a more perfect time of year to celebrate a hot toddy. Winter is in full swing, and cold and flu season is upon us. In fact, the hot toddy was once prescribed by medical professionals as an ailment to treat the symptoms associated with colds and flu. The train of thought was that the vitamin C was useful for overall health, the honey to soothe the throat, and the alcohol to numb. Hey, it sure beats Nyquil! The exact origin of the hot toddy is unclear, but it is believed to have come from India, where a drink made from fermented palm sap (yum!) called the toddy was popular. Scottish members of the East India Trading Company returned to their native land and introduced a version of the drink to their country mates. Rumor has it sweet and citrusy ingredients were added to cut down on the harsh taste of Scottish whiskey. Odd, considering these are the same people whose national dish is made with sheep’s heart, liver, and lungs, and served in the animal’s stomach casing. But who am I to judge?

Although there are many variations, a traditional hot toddy is a mix of liquor (usually whiskey), boiling water, honey, lemon, and spices such as cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg. In other words, potpourri in a mug! Midwestern folk add ginger ale, while Wisconsinites substitute brandy. People in southern California make theirs using the tears of their fired agents. Err…tequila. They use tequila! Traditionalists that we are, Tara and I stuck with a recipe honoring the original presentation. (Not the palm sap version, the whiskey version). Here it is:


1 teaspoon honey
2 fluid ounces boiling water
1 ½ fluid ounces whiskey
3 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 slice lemon
1 pinch ground nutmeg

Pour the honey, boiling water, and whiskey into a mug. Spice it with the cloves and cinnamon, and put in the slice of lemon. Let the mixture stand for 5 minutes so the flavors can mingle, then sprinkle with a pinch of nutmeg before serving.

The verdict?

IMAG0385 IMAG0384

Let’s just say, the Scottish should have added MORE ingredients to mask the whiskey.

And, I learned a valuable lesson on the economics of buying in bulk. We didn’t have cinnamon sticks or cloves, and when I went to the grocery store this evening to buy them, I almost choked over the prices. A jar of cinnamon sticks cost $5.89, ant the cloves were $4.99. I dutifully put them in my cart, and then stumbled across the organic foods section, where they were selling bulk spices. I grabbed a couple of bags, filled them with the amount necessary for the hot toddies, and ditched the jars. The cinnamon sticks cost me 30 cents and the cloves, 38 cents. I saved over $10 by purchasing in bulk. Whew! Who knew it was that cost effective?

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