Thursday, January 31, 2019

What's Jayme drinking?

Well, what do you know--I've managed to complete one last mocktail recipe for the whole Dry January thing. Talk about coming in under the wire. Just for the record, I don't really participate in Dry January or Dry July or whatever, because despite the idea these blog posts on tiki and beer may give, I don't drink that much. I learned long ago I don't enjoy being drunk all that much, and I enjoy hangovers even less, so moderation is the rule of the day.

That said, I like the idea of entertaining guests in my home tiki bar, but not everyone is going to be partaking in alcoholic cocktails for whatever reason. Someone has to drive home. Kids don't need to be drinking Mai Tais, either. So when I started this I wanted to come up with three mocktails these folks could enjoy that 1) looked as flashy and ornate as any tiki cocktail I could make, and B) have unique flavors and textures so that the guest is distracted from the fact their beverage is lacking any intoxicating spirits. I like to think I've accomplished that with these three recipes. Here's the latest:

By Jayme Blaschke
2 oz. Mango juice
1 oz. White grapefruit juice
0.75 oz. Prickly pear shrub
0.75 oz. Ginger syrup
0.5 oz. Lime juice
0.5 oz. Coconut milk
0.5 oz. Tonic water
0.25 oz. Honey syrup (2:1)
8 oz. Crushed ice

Combine all ingredients in blender. Blend on high until thoroughly liquified. Pour unstrained into poco grande glass. Garnish with mango balls and umbrella pick. Plastic monkey optional.

In keeping with my tiki-themed drinks, I wanted one frozen mocktail to round out my menu, something that could stand alongside fruity piña coladas and the like. A frozen drink is going to lean toward the sweet side, but at the same time I wanted it to have some balance, so that it wasn't simply a one-dimensional sugar bomb. The other week I tried my hand at making a prickly pear shrub, using a couple of pounds of prickly pear fruit I'd stored in the freezer since last fall. A shrub is an old way of storing perishable fruits in a vinegar mix to preserve the nutrition and prevent spoilage. It was a popular drink in the days predating refrigeration--think of it as old-school kombucha without the tea (although once can make shrubs with tea as well). I thought the soft, melon-like flavor would pair well with mango (I use Sunberry Farms mango juice), and I was right. But bringing added dimension and balance to the drink proved to be a pain. I tried different combinations of ingredients, but some mixes were too syrupy, others flat and one-dimensional, some unpleasantly bitter. For example, I really wanted to use lemon juice, as lemon and mango go well together, but the acidity of the lemon wasn't enough to stand out among the other ingredients. I eventually went with the more potent lime. The ginger and honey syrups added complexity and sweetness, while the white grapefruit juice and tonic brought a balancing bitterness. The coconut milk was a late addition for an improved mouthfeel. The resulting cocktail is a frosty, sweet treat, but it's not a cloying sugar bomb.

As for the mocktail's most striking quality--Anyone who's ever worked with prickly pear fruit knows the juice is an incredible magenta-burgundy color. Even the limited amount of shrub in this drink completely dominates, color-wise. To be honest, I overdid the amount of apple cider vinegar in the shrub, which is why I limit the amount to three-quarters of an ounce (more than that and the otherwise-mild vinegar flavor because a distraction). That eye-watering neon pink is completely natural. A friend observed this mocktail is the same color as American Beauty Berries, which, you know, is exactly right. Imagine the color with even more prickly pear involved!

As for the cocktail name, I have to give credit where credit is due. Thank you John Prine.

All photography by Secrets By Miss Lisa.

Now Playing: Various Artists Two Zombies Later
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Friday, January 25, 2019

Friday Night Videos

Friday Night Videos

I've been a fan of EJ Jones for more than 20 years, since I first saw him performing with Clandestine way back in the dark ages. Like many in Texas, I was sorely grieved when that band broke up, but have followed Jones' work ever since. He's the guy who taught me to appreciate bagpipe music outside of a formal parade setting, and opened up the whole Celtic music genre for me. And now he's got a new song and video out, "Take to the Skies." It's good stuff!


Previously on Friday Night Videos... ZZ Top.

Now Playing: Martin Denny Exotica vol. 2
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Thursday, January 24, 2019

Chicken Ranch rides again!

It's been a while since I shared anything related to Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch here, but I've got a couple of upcoming events folks in the Houston area might find of interest. This Saturday, January 26, I'll be guest speaker for the Baytown Historical Preservation Association's 2019 Saturday History Lecture Series. My presentation will be held in the big red barn meeting room of the Republic of Texas Plaza, 5117 N. Main Street. Doors open at 9:30 a.m., with the program beginning at 10 p.m. I'll give an entertaining and informative audio/visual presentation filled with rare, vintage photographs and artifacts, followed by the always-popular question-and-answer session. Those are invariably a hoot. Books will be available for purchase, and I'll be happy to sign anything and everything. As a bonus, the good folks there will have the historic buildings at the Republic of Texas Plaza open for free tours afterward.

If you can't make Baytown this Saturday, you're not out of luck--the Bellaire Historical Society has booked me to give a presentation on the Chicken Ranch Thursday, February 14. Yes, that means you can learn all about the Chicken Ranch on Valentine's Day! What could be more romantic? The presentation will be held in the CenterPoint Energy Community Room at 7001 5th Street in Bellaire. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. with the program beginning at 7:00.

If you know of a civic or business group in need of a speaker who can entertain and enthrall audiences with tales of a popular, yet widely misunderstood episode of Texas history, I am accepting bookings for the remainder of 2019!

Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch: The Definitive Account of the Best Little Whorehouse is available from both and It's also available as an ebook in the following formats: Kindle, Nook, Google Play, iBooks and Kobo.

Now Playing: Combustible Edison I, Swinger
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Tuesday, January 22, 2019

What's Jayme drinking?

And it came to pass that Jayme developed another tiki mocktail recipe in the Lagoon of Mystery. He tasted it, and it was Not Good. So he tweaked it, and it was significantly less Not Good. And thus the cycle continued, until the day came where the Not was dropped from the description, and the drink could simply be described as Good.

Ha ha, you'll forgive me a little silliness. Continuing to draw on inspiration provided by Home Bar Awards' monthly challenge--Dry January alcohol-free cocktails--I have come up with another recipe suitable for sharing (and ultimately going on my home bar's menu). My goal is to have three different mocktail recipes for those who aren't imbibing alcohol to enjoy whenever they visit the Lagoon of Mystery, but the third potential recipe still has a lot of work to do and I don't have a clear idea when it will come together. Some, like Kokoleka Wai Niu, clicked fairly early from the point of concept and only needed a few minor tweaks before attaining final form. Others, like this new one here, were a bit less cooperative:

By Jayme Blaschke
2 oz. Rooibos tea (triple strangth)
2 oz. Ginger beer
1 oz. Coconut water
0.5 oz. Lime juice
0.5 oz. Tamarind syrup

Combine all ingredients in shaker with a cup of crushed ice (don't overdo the ice—remember there's no alcohol to induce melting). Shake vigorously to combine. Strain into poco grande glass and top with crushed ice. Garnish with scored lime wedge and candied ginger on a pick.

This one turned out somewhat differently than I initially envisioned, but that's all part of the creative process, isn't it? I began with the idea I'd do a frozen blender drink with coconut milk, but shelved that idea because I'd already used coconut milk in the Kokoleka Wai Niu, and didn't want to revisit the same ingredients so soon. With only a few non-alcoholic drinks on my home bar menu, I wanted a distinct diversity in flavor profile, mouthfeel and appearance.

Thinking over the classic tiki cocktails I like, César's Rum Punch stood out. I like the tartness of the drink, and used that as a guide. I wanted to use rooibos tea because of it's unusual flavor profile. I brewed it triple strength, both for flavor and to increase rooibos' generally low tannin levels. Circling back to the tart flavor profile, decided to pair the rooibos with my homemade tamarind syrup, suspecting the flavors would work well together. I added lime to boost the tartness, then ginger beer (Gosling's) for carbonation and strong ginger bite. The result was so powerful sour, and not in a good way. I tried a bunch of different juices as a buffer, but either they added too much sugar, didn't mute the acid enough, or both. Finally I hit upon using coconut water as a dilution agent and dialed back the lime. Striking the right balance took a lot of trial-and-error, so much so that I got completely sick of the drink and had to put it aside for several days. Thankfully, when I came back to it I was able to strike the right balance of all the ingredients.

The resulting cocktail is a bright, crisp effervescent drink that has a complex interplay of flavors. It's a beautiful, fruity crimson color with a lightly foaming head. The tannic and tart elements combine to suggest there may be some spirit present, which is what I was hoping for, and am delighted to have achieved in small measure. It's an imperfect illusion, to be sure, but it's gratifying to achieve so many of the goals I set for myself with this recipe.

All photography by Secrets By Miss Lisa.

Now Playing: ZZ Top El Loco
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Saturday, January 19, 2019

What's Jayme drinking?

As work has progressed on my tiki bar, the Lagoon of Mystery, I've been giving more thought toward the eventual cocktail menu of late. After hosting a number of events this past year, I realized I needed to include a selection of nonalcoholic mocktails for those who, for whatever reason, aren't imbibing. For a home tiki bar, a can of Sprite just won't cut it when everyone else is enjoying elaborately garnished rum rhapsodies. So I set about creating some original mocktails. This is the first:

By Jayme Blaschke
2 oz. Coconut milk
0.5 oz. Ceylon cinnamon syrup
0.5 oz. Orgeat
0.5 oz. Lemon juice
0.5 oz. Passion fruit juice
1 tsp. Powdered 100% cocoa
0.5 oz. Egg white

Combine coconut milk, cinnamon syrup, passion fruit juice, orgeat and cocoa in shaker with half a cup of crushed ice (don't overdo the ice—remember there's no alcohol to induce melting). Shake vigorously to combine. Strain to remove ice, add egg white and reverse dry shake to build a good froth. Serve in a chilled coupe, garnish with shaved cacao.

It's no secret most mocktail recipes default to an overly-sweet mix of juices and sodas. I wanted to avoid that, but still craft something that was recognizably tiki in its ingredients whilst simultaneously sporting a complexity of flavor and elegant presentation. Early on, I knew I wanted to make this one a flip. I've made a few flips before, and the foamy drinks have always gone over well and impressed guests. I also wanted to use coconut milk, which is readily available and versatile, yet under-used as an ingredient in cocktails in general. The idea of chocolate coconut milk suggested itself. I couldn't use any chocolate liqueurs for a mocktail, and I knew any syrup would make the drink way too sweet, so I went with Hershey's Special Dark powder, a 100% unsweetened blend of natural and Dutch process cacao. This added the chocolate flavor I wanted with a hint of bitterness without introducing additional sugar. The homemade cinnamon syrup is based on Martin Cate's recipe from the book Smuggler's Cove, although I prefer Ceylon cinnamon for its more delicate, floral flavor. Orgeat syrup is another tiki staple I knew would play well with the coconut and cinnamon (I used B.G. Raynolds), and I added passion fruit juice to bring a little brightness and just a touch of acidity to the drink (Sunberry Farms' passion fruit is what I used--it's technically a cocktail with white grape juice, but it's the only commercial brand I've found where passion fruit is the primary ingredient. It tastes authentic). Finally, I grated a bar of 100 percent cacao (baking chocolate, they call it) for the shavings used as a garnish.

The result is a non-alcoholic beverage that has a decadent, luxurious mouthfeel and multiple layers of flavor that play off of one another. It is a sweet drink, but not cloyingly so. I wanted something that would lend itself to a slow sipping experience, and I like to think this does just that. 

As for the name, unless online translators have lied to me, Kokoleka Wai Niu roughly means "Chocolate coconut juice" in Hawaiian. That's as perfect a tiki cocktail name as I've ever heard. Drink up!

All photography by Secrets By Miss Lisa.

Now Playing: Ixtahuele Call of the Islands
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Friday, January 18, 2019

Friday Night Videos

Friday Night Videos

Time for a blues break. A dirty, gritty, old school blues break from ZZ Top: "Fool For Your Stockings."

Previously on Friday Night Videos... Whitehorse.

Now Playing: ZZ Top Rio Grande Mud
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Friday, January 11, 2019

Friday Night Videos

Friday Night Videos

Whitehorse has a new album coming out, The Northern South, vol. 2, and that's cause for celebration. I just adore their work. Here's an advance single from the new album, "Who's Been Talkin'" and it hits pretty much all the boxes on why I love their sound so much.

Previously on Friday Night Videos... Weird Al Yankovic.

Now Playing: Martin Denny Primitiva
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Thursday, January 03, 2019

Chicken Ranch anniversary: Happy Birthday Miss Edna!

On this date in 1928, Edna Arretha Milton was born in Caddo County, Oklahoma, the 8th of 11 children. She would've been 91 today. Miss Edna passed away in February of 2012, the last surviving madam of the infamous Chicken Ranch in La Grange, Texas, and inspiration for Miss Mona Stangley and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.

Throughout the six-plus years it took to research, write and publish Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch: The Definitive Account of the Best Little Whorehouse, there was no bigger supporter of mine than Miss Edna. As I've said elsewhere, my biggest regret is that she did not live to see the finished product. I can't say for certain what she'd have thought of it, but others who were close to the Chicken Ranch have given me the thumbs up, so I like to think Miss Edna would've approved (while giving me an earful about what I got wrong).

Let me share something about her that didn't make it into the book. When I first met Miss Edna, she asked where I was from. I answered that I was originally from Columbus. Miss Edna paused a moment, then said, "Twenty-two miles." Then she asked my wife where she was from. Bastrop, Lisa answered. Miss Edna paused again, then said, "Thirty-six miles." Almost four decades removed from her life in La Grange, Miss Edna still remembered those details that would've mattered to her prospective out-of-town customers. I'll wager we could've sat there for hours, tossing out town names like Brenham, Hallettsville, Bryan, etc. and she'd have come up with the distance between them and La Grange like there was nothing to it. I have long felt that a fascinating glimpse into her character.

Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch: The Definitive Account of the Best Little Whorehouse is available from both and It's also available as an ebook in the following formats: Kindle, Nook, Google Play, iBooks and Kobo.

Now Playing: Gene Rains Far Away Lands
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