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/// LIBATIONS How to: Mix

is no reason not to try. Sour is the single most important mix in the fridge. It makes the aforemen-


Now That’s Italian Bistro Bella Vita, Grand Rapids

Feb. 2, 4:45- 7 p.m. FREE!, (616) 222-4600

Attendees will enjoy a free cultural program, including food, drink, live entertainment, art, a brief cultural lesson and a swag bag with a little ‘cultural’ goodie. Enjoy “Now That’s Italian” with Opera entertainment.

Rockabilly Radio Night with

Delilah DeWylde The Viceroy, Grand Rapids

Feb. 16, 8 p.m.-2 a.m. FREE!, (616) 774-VICE

At Grand Rapids’ favorite throwback cocktail lounge the drinks are even better when accom- panied by authentic vintage tunes. Hosted by Delilah DeWylde & The Lost Boys, Rockabilly Radio Night features live music and great drink specials. (Shhh! The door code is 1-9-3-0.)


involve seductively feeding one’s date, the comforts of fine dining, and the re- peated dipping of sweets into chocolate, only the Melting Pot will truly satisfy. We shall gloss over the details of tableside fondue, however, as filet mignon, cedar- plank salmon, and Gorgonzola-port sauce are not the only delights to be had at this well-loved eatery. Though vintage wine might be the


main attraction, it is not the only player at the bar. The well-trained, solicitous tenders behind the bar are capable of some great mixed drinks. The Melting Pot has foregone the current trend of archaic drinks and unpronounceable liqueurs in favor of more accessible pleasures.

tioned margarita, the classic Tom Collins, pisco sours, caipirinhas, gimlets, and any number of sours, punches and daisies. Make sour mix by juicing roughly equal parts lemon and lime, and mix it in a one-to-one ratio with simple syrup. Citrus juice does not keep well, but the addition of sugar stabilizes the juice and this mix will keep for several days in the fridge. The earliest sodas were concentrated syrup diluted at home with still or

carbonated water. By making a strongly flavored simple syrup and thinning it with fizzy water, one can bypass the cost of buying a soda siphon and the trouble of carbonating with yeast. Wonderful and strange sodas can be made in this way. Try boiling down cider with spices, or ginger with brown sugar, or make a simple cream soda with a vanilla simple syrup and a one-liter of sparkling water. Another widely used, pre-made mixer is Bloody Mary mix. Many ingredi-

ents in this drink are added in such minute quantities it can be nearly impossible to make the drink one at a time and still retain a proper balance of flavor. Bottled mixes vary widely, and the greatest difference between a bottle and homemade tends to be textural. Made from scratch, many Marys lack the mouth-feel and viscosity of the pre-made. This problem is easily corrected by the judicious addition of tomato paste to juice. Beyond that, the vagaries of the Mary are such that no recipe can be given which will satisfy every drinker. As in every other drink, the joy of the Bloody Mary is making it your own . n

FTEN, THE DIFFERENCE between a nice cocktail and a superlative one lies in the most oft-overlooked ingredient, the mixer. Slip someone a top-notch, freshly squeezed margarita, and they will pay no attention to the plastic handle of tequila behind the curtain. Usually the available mixers are a wan array of sodas and reconstituted juices, which are so easy to top there

by Lydia Clowney |


OR CLASSIC ROMANCE, there may be no better venue than Grand Rapids’ Melting Pot. Should one’s Valentine’s fantasies

Featured cocktails are a mix of new clas- sics like mojitos, margaritas and sangria, and fresh iterations of flavored martinis. On Valentine’s Day resist the siren song of the Yin & Yang, a creamy amalgam of Stoli Vanil vodka, Godiva White Chocolate liqueur and ice cream, and try the Love Martini, the perfect drink to buy one’s significant other on Feb. 14. Malibu rum is smooth against the tang of cranberry juice and the sweetness of peach schnapps. Fresh strawberries finish the cocktail, and their bright flavor rings a pleasant note of optimism in the middle of a Midwestern winter. Valentine’s lovers, Hugh Grant fans,

chocoholics, and romantics have com- mon ground at the Melting Pot, where drinks are rosy nectar, and chocolate fondue is spiked with Chambord.



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