peanut butter & banana breakfast smoothie

There’s little to be said about smoothies, I think.

When prepared right, you find yourself using only a select few ingredients – wholesome, fresh, and good for you. I don’t know about y’all, but I’ve never been one of those who loads up the blender with 100+ different ingredients, hoping to whip up some amazing concoction. Give me a handful of fruit, some yogurt, and maybe a handful of ice and I’m a happy camper. Keep it simple, am I right?

That’s where this smoothie comes into play. The hubs and I LOVE smoothies – so much in fact, that I keep a special stash of Mason jars at close hand. They are a weekday staple for us; I can prepare as many as we need for the week, and just store them in the refrigerator {or freezer, if I’m making them a few days in advance}. After dinner you’ll find him at the sink and me with my blender. It’s a safe and comfortable routine, of which I find comfort and enjoyment.

The recipe I’m sharing today is, hands-down, our favorite combination of flavors. Peanut butter and banana, y’all…I mean, it doesn’t get much simpler than that! But what makes them special is the benefit behind these ingredients. Banana provides not one, but two servings of your daily fruit recommendation. Greek yogurt is a protein workhorse, keeping you going strong even through the mid-morning slump. Peanut butter is full of good fats, stabilizing your energy levels. And depending on what milk you choose, you’re reaping the benefits of calcium and other vitamins {FYI: I loooooove to use plan kefir in mine! – talk about a probiotic punch!}.

This won’t weigh you down; rather, you’ll have an extra spring in your step because you’re starting your day of right….healthfully and naturally!

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Peanut Butter & Banana Breakfast Smoothie

Super simple and easy to assemble in minutes, this breakfast drink is the perfect grab-and-go for busy weekday mornings. Packed with healthy fats and protein-packed Greek yogurt, you’ll be feeling ready for the day in no time!

Ingredients:

1 whole banana, frozen

2 heaping tbsp. peanut butter {here’s my go-t0 homemade version}

1 six-ounce container Greek yogurt {we typically alternate between 0% vanilla or 0% plain}

choice of milk, to use as necessary

To Prepare:

Place all of the ingredients, except for the milk, into a high-powered blender. Blend until the frozen banana has been broken down, about 30 seconds. Remove the lid and scrape down the sides. Add in desired amount of milk until it reaches your desired consistency, and blend until smooth. Pour into a tight-sealing cup and store in the refrigerator.

Enjoy!

rise & shine breakfast smoothie

I’m being perfectly honest in saying this, y’all – this is easily my favorite way to start off the workday. A cold smoothie, bursting with fresh fruit flavor provides the perfect wake up and refreshing zing to make your morning just that much better.

I can’t recall if I’ve mentioned this previously; if so, do forgive the rambling. Before we got married {almost two years ago!}, our registry gifts began arriving in boatloads. I was quite the happy bride-to-be, unwrapping kitchen gadgets I had only dreamed of. One of the things that I was most excited about was the prospect of a new blender…ours had seen better days, and had been relocated to the back of the closet because it.just.didn’t.work.

So imagine my happiness on the day when I opened a box containing a top of the line unit – ah!!! I had grandiose plans for this gem; everything from chilled soups to gorgeous purees. But alas – fast forward to this year, and I think we had used it maaaaaybe twice. Fail.

So this summer, when I was on our juicing kick {remember this and this?} I decided that we should be on a smoothie on as well! Being so stocked up on fresh fruit, the hubs and I couldn’t go through them fast enough. I told myself that using said blender for smoothies would be a good test run; after all, what’s the worst that could happen?

If you consider being more or less addicted to smoothies a bad thing, then I am in trouble. We have smoothies at least three times a week, more than making up for that sad time when that beautiful, shiny new blender sat cold and lonely in the cabinet. I’m just making up for lost time, no?

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Rise & Shine Breakfast Smoothie {serves one, can easily be doubled or tripled, depending on the size of your blender}

Use this recipe and quantity simply as a guideline for what flavors and binding agents you like! I’ve outlined the ingredients I use most often in mine; the hubs, on the other hand, prefers slightly different combinations. I’ve outlined below what is good to swap for what – this is truly one recipe where you can’t go wrong! 

Ingredients:

1 large banana, about as ripe as you can handle it

5 large strawberries

1/2 to 1 cup plain, low-fat kefir*

*I am a HUGE fan of kefir; loaded with live-active cultures and a great digestive agent, it provides a protein punch for few calories and added sugar. I love the way it blends into a creamy consistency, and adds just the right amount of tang into my morning smoothie. The hubs, on the other hand, is more partial to using a flavored Greek yogurt – you’ll still reap the benefits of protein power, but the live-active cultures will not be as present as the kefir. 

To Prepare:

Place all ingredients in the pitcher of your mixer. Puree until nice and smooth, then enjoy!

If you like {and I do this regularly} – prep your smoothies the night before, and stash in the fridge for an easy breakfast to grab and go! I often put mine in the freezer when I wake up in the morning, because I like having it as thick and cold as I can.

Let’s Discuss: are there any breakfast smoothie combinations you’re fond of? 

thirsty thursday: homemade bloody mary mix

If mimosas are for Saturday mornings, I’m going to go out on a limb and call Bloody Mary’s the drink for Sunday.

I don’t know about y’all, but I have a special place in my heart for the old fashioned Bloody Mary. Perhaps it’s due, largely in part, to my love of all things veggie-based, but I just cannot get enough of this delicious cocktail.

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Granted, there are few places that do ’em right. You’ve got to be careful of those “cocktails in a bottle” concoctions. Rather than brimming with garden-fresh goodness, they’re typically loaded up with sodium and artificial flavors. This doesn’t exactly spell out a tasty treat; we want to taste each piece of vegetable for what it truly is! Chock full of vitamins and minerals, loaded up with antioxidants…it’s safe to say {occasionally, at least in my book} that the Bloody Mary, when prepared properly, is going to do your body and mind good. Heck, even a splash or two of vodka isn’t going to hurt ya!

I’ve been playing around with my juicer quite a bit as of late, and this particular blend I’m sharing today was sent to me by a dear gal pal. When I was first skimming over the ingredients, or perhaps it was at a dinner date not too long ago, I thought that this was the most perfect recipe for a homemade Bloody Mary mix! A simple whirl down the juicer, and seconds later, you have Mason jars brimming with Sunday morning cocktail potential. And if you’re feeling particularly motivated, whip this up the evening before and you’ll have perfectly portioned glasses!

With the Farmer’s Market brimming with fresh produce, this is one drink that won’t set you back either! Simply buy only what you need, and you’ll be all set for a casual and leisurely Sunday morning. And for the record…this is a beverage best enjoyed with copious amounts of porch sitting, a fried egg on toast, and good company. Enjoy!

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Homemade Bloody Mary Mix 

serves 2, can easily be multiplied

Ingredients:

3 whole tomatoes {I like to use Roma’s, or heirlooms if I have them on hand}

1/3 jalepeño*, seeds removed if less heat is desired

1/4 white onion, with the outer skin removed

2-4 carrots

3 stalks of celery**

1 lemon, peeled

Vodka of choice {to add in once the juice has been prepared. I like to go with 1.5 ounces per Bloody Mary, but you can use however much or little you desire}

Garnishes:

Old Bay seasoning, to rim the glass

whole stalks of celery {for stirring}

pickled veggies {I love asparagus stalks}

olives

lemon and lime wedges

To Prepare:

Thoroughly wash and dry all produce going into the drink. Since we’re processing each piece in its whole, we want to make sure all impurities have been removed.

Get the vegetables ready – cut the tomatoes into quarters, peel the onion skin off, remove the rind from the lemon, and discard the seeds of the jalepeno {or leave them in if you like it hot!}.

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Assemble your container that the juice will enter once processed. I prefer to use a wide-mouth Mason jar, because that way I can give it all a good shake once complete!

Carefully place all vegetables through the mouth of your juicer, being careful not to splatter. I like to put a sheet of wax paper underneath mine, as it makes clean up a lot easier.

Once all has processed, screw the lid on your jar and give it a good shake! From here, build your perfect Bloody Mary.

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Cheers!

 

*be very careful when handling the jalepeno! i like to wear plastic gloves, because the heat from the skin itself can irritate yours. If not wearing gloves, be sure to wash hands thoroughly – rubbing them against the sides of your stainless steel sink bowl is a great way to neutralize the heat. 

**save the leafy greens of the celery! not only are they a beautiful garnish, but add a wonderful flavor to soups, salads, etc. 

thirsty thursday: mother’s day mom-osas

Forgive the cheesy pun, my dears – but on this particular “thirsty thursday” post, we’re raising our glasses to the wonderful mothers in our lives.

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With Mother’s Day right around the corner, I thought it best appropriate to dedicate a cocktail {albeit an easy, but delicious one!} to our moms. After all, they’re the reason we all are here, right? With all the time we want to spend with them on their special day, we certainly don’t want to be pouring over endless glasses, tediously measuring out amount of multiple liquors and juices.#aintgottimeforthat

A simple beverage that is incredibly easy to assemble, but incredibly easy to dress up, a mimosa is the ultimate Mother’s Day brunch cocktail. A pitcher {or multiple pitchers} is my favorite route to take when preparing this particular cocktail. No more difficult than a ratio of orange juice to champagne, this cocktail is the perfect balance of bright, crisp citrus notes with a slight effervescence courtesy of the “bubbly”.

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And like I mentioned, it is so easy to make this pitcher of awesome your own! We always love to add fresh fruit – here we used strawberries, both sliced into the mixture and as a garnish on the glass – but really, any fruit will do! With this drink, you’re only limited to your imagination..

*mangoes and pineapples add a fun, tropical twist

*cherries add a bright, tart flavor which nicely compliments the vibrant orange juice

*blood orange juice can replace navel oranges for a creative and beautifully colored twist

…and don’t limit yourself to just fruits!

*a few splashes of “whipped” vodka adds a subtle sweetness {think of an orange julius, but on the more adult side}

*flavored vodkas can add an extra punch, if you know you’ll be spending hours around the table with your loved ones

*st. germain liquor, garnished with a sprig of mint, makes for an unusual but tasty twist {think grapefruit taste for this one}

And because we’re all about making this for our moms today, I can’t help but say a few words about my own. She is not only the reason that I am who I am today, but so much of what I learned about cooking and spending time in the kitchen, whether relaxing over stirring a pot of soup or lovingly scooping cookies for dear ones, I owe it all to her.

So today, Mom, I raise my glass to you – Happy {early} Mother’s Day! I love you!

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Mother’s Day Mom-osas

{servings vary – I typically plan on one pitcher for 4 people, but amounts of both alcohol and juice can be adjusted accordingly}

Ingredients:

Fresh squeezed orange juice {with or without pulp – I prefer it in}

Champagne, prosecco, or sparkling wine of choice

Garnishes {fruit wedges, etc.}

Additional spirits for flavor…and extra kick! {optional}

*make sure your juices and spirits are chilled well!*

To Prepare:

In a tall pitcher, combine equal parts {I go 50/50} of champagne and orange juice, stirring well to combine. Add in whatever fruits you like, making sure to save a few extra for serving and presentation.

Serve in festive glasses, with slices on the side of each glass. For a bit of extra fun, stir in a splash or two of whatever liquor your heart desires.

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Cheers to all you moms out there! xo

power juice

Want to know my favorite way to start the day?

other than a cup of coffee and catching up on my reading, but that’s irrelevant…

Freshly pressed fruit and vegetable juice! For me, there is nothing better tasting, refreshing, and just plain ol’ delicious than a mason jar brimming with the sweet pulp of fruits and vegetables. This is the best way to pack in your vitamins, my friends!

The hubs and I bought our first juicer late last December – I had wanted one for quite some time, but in typical “Alicia fashion” couldn’t justify the cost if I wasn’t sure how much use it would {or wouldn’t} get. I am not a fan of purchasing anything, only to have it sitting around and collecting dust. We finally bit the bullet after Christmas; a company gift card was put to good used, and we wound up ordering one, this particular model, in fact.

Fast forward to that first day of juicing. Not really knowing what I was getting myself into, I pulled whatever fresh ingredients I had in my bin out and began washing away. A few minutes, and a few passes through the juicer later, I had whipped up a brightly colored, fresh and frothy beverage. One sip was all it took, my dears…one sip, and we were hooked.

We go on kicks where I will juice almost every evening, usually after dinner when there are dishes to wash anyways, and siphon them into waiting mason jars for breakfast the next morning. I’ve experimented with some kooky combinations, but the one I’ve chosen to share here today is a personal favorite of the hubs. Rather than just rave on and on about how good it tastes, let’s take a look at how good it is for you!

-Carrots are perhaps best known for their rich supply of the antioxidant nutrient that was actually named for them: beta-carotene. However, these delicious root vegetables are the source not only of beta-carotene, but also of a wide variety of antioxidants and other health-supporting nutrients. The areas of antioxidant benefits, cardiovascular benefits, and anti-cancer benefits are the best-researched areas of health research with respect to dietary intake of carrots.

-Granny Smith apples have a high fiber content and a low amount of calories, helping you feel fuller longer. They help to slow digestion, regulate blood sugar, and aid in keeping your teeth healthy.

-Ginger is  is a free radical scavenger, antioxidant; thus inhibits lipid peroxidation and that these attributes could be contributing to its known gastroprotective effects. It provides relief from the common cold, and is a great way to keep your stomach feeling comfortable.

This combination is what I call our “power juice”. Taking care of yourself isn’t just about going to the gym, wearing sunscreen, etc. So much of what we do is affected by what we put INSIDE our bodies, so let’s start the day off on a healthy note, eh?

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Power Juice {serves 1}

Ingredients:

5-7 large carrots, washed/peeled, cut into chunks

1 medium sized apple, cut into quarters {I like to use Granny Smith apples}

fresh ginger root, about 1/2″ or so, peeled

other optional add-ins…

-cucumber chunks

-celery stalks

-fresh kale leaves

-half an orange

To Prepare:

Assemble all ingredients as listed above, making sure each piece is thoroughly washed and scrubbed. Add into the feeder tube of your juicer, making to to allow plenty of time between ingredients so each gets fully juiced. I like to do the ginger first, as its small size sometimes doesn’t always make it through – doing the other pieces after it helps to extract more of the pulp.

Drink immediately, or store in an airtight container for no longer than 24 hours. Keep refrigerated.

thirsty thursday: the mint julep

Ladies, it’s time to unpack those floppy hats and gents….let’s brush off those bowties, shall we?

…it’s Derby Season, y’all!

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I thought that, with the Kentucky Derby just a few weeks away, what better cocktail to whip up than the oh-so-classic mint julep. A favorite among the Southern states, the true origin of this simply spectacular drink may never be known. While its first appearance dates back as far back as the 1780s {prescribed for a stomach ailment, no less!} it made its first bar visit right before the turn of the 18th century, at the Willard Bar in Washington, D.C.

However, most people…and myself included…have always associated this delightfully bitey cocktail with the Kentucky Derby. In fact, it has been affiliated and highly promoted with Churchill Downs since 1938{!}. That show of longevity and loyalty, my dears, is how you know this drink is G O O D . Served in gold cups with straws and a sprig of mint, it is said that almost 120,000 cocktails are served. People know what they like, and what they like is a good, stiff bourbon.

So let’s tip it on back classy style today, eh my dears? After all, with spring comes derbies, and where there are derbies – there are drinks.

…ending on that note, it’s time for me to go find my floppiest of hats. Cheers, y’all!

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Mint Julep

{serves 1}

Ingredients:

3 ounces good bourbon whisky {we have been using a Virginia-made bourbon, John J. Bowman}

4 to 6 sprigs of fresh mint

granulated sugar, to taste

cubed ice

 

To Make:

Put mint, sugar, and a small amount of bourbon whisky into the bottom of a mixing glass. Gently muddle the mint and sugar, then let stand for a bit to allow the muddled leaves to release their flavor and aroma.

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Strain and pour into a julep cup {or similar vessel}, rotating during the pour to coat all sides of the cup. Fill with ice, then add the rest of the bourbon whisky. Garnish with a lightly slapped small mint sprig.

 

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thirsty thursday: whipped whimsy

Aside from the obvious reason that I love a good cocktail, I think one of my favorite reasons for the ‘thirsty thursday’ posts here at Kitchen Konfidential is the fact that I get to spend time as the ‘sous chef’ to my husband, whom I’ve begun calling the cocktail master. You all know by now that he is a lover of mixology, and I think that he is pretty darn good at what he does!

{I like to think his specific attention to detail is due to the fact that he is an engineer, and is quite the perfectionist – we’re a match made in heaven}.

This particular recipe is one that he come up with over the weekend, somewhat on the spot. We were between a winery visit and dinner, and thought the afternoon called for a light cocktail. It was the weekend, after all! We had recently purchased a bottle of Smirnoff ‘Whipped’ Vodka, which by now no one is a stranger to. I hadn’t had it in years and thought it could be a fun addition to our home bar. Of course, I had no particular plans for it, but I could see the hub’s brain working as we set it down at the register.

Anyways – getting back to focus. As I mentioned, this cocktail was born on a whim – hence, the name of this cocktail! I always enjoy watching him behind the bar, but it’s even more fun {for the both of us!} when he gets really creative and mixes up fun concoctions. I do hope that you’ll try this one…it’s perfectly refreshing for a warm spring or summer afternoon, and can be enjoyed as easily on the comfort of your couch as it can be on the porch.

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Cheers!

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Whipped Whimsy {original recipe}

Serves: 1  {15% ABV}

 

Ingredients:

3/4 ounce Triple Sec

3 ounces Smirnoff Whipped Vodka

2 ounces pineapple juice

6 dashes bitters

 

To Make:

Shake all ingredients above over ice vigorously in a cocktail shaker. Pour over ice into a tall hurricane glass, and top with 2 ounces of club soda.

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Garnish with a festive straw and pineapple wedge {optional}.

 

thirsty thursday: fresh lime & mint mojitos

The promise of warm air, a crisp breeze, and a bright, vivid sun sounds glorious, no?

We were recently granted a Saturday that offered just that. An early morning 8 mile hike with the hubs and the pup was the perfect way to take advantage of that peak into spring, and we couldn’t resist the opportunity to spend as much time as possible outside. Even after we got home, there was no way we were going to spend the rest of the afternoon inside. After all, if you’re up at 8am on a Saturday, you might as well milk it for all it’s worth, right?

Getting ready for the afternoon bespoke the promise of an afternoon cocktail. With no plans on the docket for the rest of the evening…save for dinner and some quality fire pit time on the back deck, of course, the hubs started rummaging around the bar. Asking my opinion, I told him that I wanted something summery and refreshing, something that would perfectly complement the gorgeous day. He suggested “mojitos” and naturally, I was sold. The sweet combination of fresh lime juice, just a touch of sugar, sparkling water, mint and (hefty dose of) good rum sounded to good to be true.

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A favorite drink of Ernest Hemingway, the mojito traces its roots back to Cuba. Though the origin of this drink is always a bone of contention (it depends on whom you ask!) one thing that is commonly understood among all is the translation of the name. Mojito translates to “something a little wet” and I for one couldn’t think of a better name. Because what doesn’t sound better on a hot day than something to whet you palette, and cool you off?

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Mojito {serves 1}

Muddle fresh mint over a pinch of sugar in a Collins glass.

Add in a few ice cubes and stir to combine.

Add 3/4 ounces simple syrup (I like to use the base of my ginger simple syrup recipe, found here) and the juice of 1/4 of a lime. Add in 3 ounces of light rum, and top with club soda.

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Stir to combine, and garnish with a sprig of mint and additional lime wedge, if desired.

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As Hemingway said, “Drinking is a way of ending the day”…in our case, it was the perfect end to a perfect afternoon. Enjoy!

thirsty thursday: irish coffee

In honor of the upcoming holiday, today’s liquid libation is in celebration of one of Ireland’s most famous drinks – the Irish Coffee.

{Photo Credit: esquire.com}

There are many different variations of this classic drink. It is generally agreed, however, that the original Irish coffee was invented and named by Joe Sheridan, a head chef in Foynes, County Limerick. Approached by a group of disparaged American travelers on a terrible winter night in the 1940s, he decided to add whisky to their coffee, in hopes of warming up. When asked what it was, Sheridan replied “Irish coffee”. A legend was born, and has been around since.

Depending on how much of a purist you are when it comes to this satisfying beverage, several variations do exist. Whisky, coffee, and cream are the basic components, but preparations and additional ingredients are plentiful. Let’s take a look, shall we?

-the use of espresso machines or automatic coffee is now the norm.

-coffee is either a cafe americano (which is espresso diluted slightly with water), or a filtered coffee.

-at least one level teaspoon of sugar is used in the drink.

-some bartenders choose to use whipped cream from a can (resulting in a sweeter finish), whereas some choose to shake unsweetened heavy cream gently, layering it atop the hot beverage by slowly….sloooooowly…pouring it oven the back of a spoon, held slightly above the hot coffee.

Surprisingly, the cream liquors that float on top (i.e. Bailey’s) are not part of the traditional recipe(!). This is one of the many variations that are widely popular. Rum can be used, Scotch, creme de menthe, schnapps, etc…the possibilities are endless. I will be honest and say that sometimes there are those days where I like a little extra sweetness that the Bailey’s brings to the table, but then there are those days where I want to just enjoy the smooth taste of the whisky, unfiltered and pure. To each his, or her, own!

But since we are paying homage to the classic, we’re approaching today’s recipe with no frills, and no fuss. Because sometimes, you just don’t need to mess with perfection, amiright?

Cheers!

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Irish Coffee {recipe from Esquire}

Serves 1

2 ounces Irish whisky (the hubs and I love Jameson’s, but any option will do)

5-6 ounces good, hot coffee

2 tsp. sugar

heavy cream

Pour the whiskey, coffee, and sugar* into a stemmed, heated glass mug. Stir, then top off with a thick layer of lightly whipped heavy cream. Sip slowly, ideally enjoying in front of a warm fire.

* Sheridan’s original formula seems to have called for brown sugar.

thirsty thursday: the classic manhattan

We’re shaking things up a bit here in my little corner of the internet…..and yes, I do mean that literally.

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As you all have probably figured by this point, the hubs and I have a certain love for the liquid libations.** And we’re not talking your run of the mill, standard mixed drink – think more along the lines of handcrafted cocktails, painstakingly made and slowly enjoyed. There’s something so refined about slowly sipping a smooth cocktail. We’re all adults here, so why not celebrate it?

I intend to do just that with you, my dears. Each Thursday, when we’re all itching for 5pm on Friday to show up, let’s talk cocktails! My passion (obviously) is the cooking and baking world, but my dear sweet husband thrives when it comes to mixology. In fact, for our first wedding anniversary…you know, when the traditional gift is paper?…I knew immediately that I would be getting him cocktail books. A bit of history, and a bit of good tastes, he loves to thumb through those books, searching for the perfect cocktail to craft. Depending on our moods, it can be anything from light and refreshing to something that packs a bit of a punch. So let’s get started, shall we?

The first cocktail we decided to share with you is the classic Manhattan. One popular story (though considered highly unlikely) suggests that the drink was invented at the Manhattan Club in NYC in the early 1870s. Dr. Iain Marshall hosted a banquet in honor of presidential candidate Samuel J. Tilden. There are also recipes dating back to as early as the 1860s, where it was crafted by a bartender named Black at a Broadway bar. I’ll let you decide which one you like best…

I will be honest in telling you that it has taken me quite some time to warm up to whisky. I’ll be even more honest and tell you that one of the reasons I am starting to develop a liking towards it is because of my husband’s appreciation for it. I’ve been using it more and more in cooking, and while I am not at the point of sipping it straight, I can most certainly enjoy a small (read: SMALL) sip or two on the rocks.

This is a drink you’ll want to sip slowly, and really enjoy each one. It truly warms you from the inside, and the addition of the cherry makes for a sweet note. So raise your (cocktail!) glass, and let’s toast to new traditions here on Kitchen Konfidential! Cheers!

**in fact, the guest book at our wedding was the book What To Drink With What You Eat. I kid you not….talk about a match made in food & drink heaven. 

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Classic Manhattan {recipe from The Craft of the Cocktail}

{serves 1}

2 ounces blended or straight whisky

1 ounce Italian sweet vermouth

2 dashes Agnostura bitters

cherry, for garnish (we went a little out of the box and used an Ole Smoky Moonshine-soaked cherry)

To make:

Pour all ingredients over ice in a mixing glass and stir as you would a Martini. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass, and garnish with a cherry.

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Variation: if you prefer a dry Manhattan, use dry vermouth and garnish with a lemon peel. A Manhattan made with brandy is called a ‘Harvard’, and with applejack it is called a ‘Star Cocktail’.