You may remember this post titled “One for the Thumb” from a year ago (yes it’s hard to believe but the blog has been going for over a year now – I should have put up a first anniversary post but I missed it).
Last night was the 10th Annual Mondo Martini Madness event at Tony’s Big Easy in State College. Originally, I had not planned on entering (I was going to judge instead) but last week my competitive juices got flowing and I signed up again.
Rather than just whipping up any old drink, I’m always looking for some inspiration (it helps to have a story about the cocktail to tell the judges as I’m whipping it up). This year I wanted to find a way to dedicate my drink to the Penn State students who have been incredibly supportive of the football team over the last couple of years. Kirk Herbsteit called them “the best student section in the country” during the Ohio State game last year.
If you’ve watched any of the Penn State games recently you’ve no doubt seen the kids bouncing around to a techno song whenever there is a big defensive play. The song is often mistakenly referred to as “Zombie Nation” (the real name of the song is Kernkraft 400 and the artist’s is Zombie Nation, sort of,… the actual artist is a German DJ named Florian Senftner aka Spank! who books himself as Zombie Nation) – for more on Penn State’s love fest with the song read this Pgh Post Gazette article).
The Zombie theme became the start of my inspiration. There is a drink called a Zombie that was invented by Don the Beachcomber many years ago. The original recipe is a secret and there are many variations out there but one of the more popular uses Apricot Brandy along with three types of rum and various fruit juices.
When I saw Apricot Brandy in the recipe, it got me thinking. One of the things that Joe Paterno is known for is Peachy Paterno ice cream, one of the more popular flavors put out by the world reknown Penn State Creamery (little known factoid – Ben and Jerry ice cream got it’s start when the founders took a correspondence course from Penn State on ice cream making).
Bingo. I now had a unique name for my drink, i.e. “The Zombie Joe” and it would be peach flavored. However, I didn’t think that just a simple variation like changing the brandy from apricot to peach would be original enough to impress the judges so I went after a more radical approach.
The next step was to find out what peach liquors that Tony’s had on stock at his bar. He didn’t have peach brandy nor did he have creme de peche two typical peach liquors. What he did have was peach schnapps and peach vodka. Also, Southern Comfort is considered by many to be a peach flavored liquor (the reality is that peach is only one of many flavors in Southern Comforts secret recipe). Those liquors became the basis for my drink experimentation.
I had one other idea that I wanted to incorporate. Another unique thing that has stood out about our student section the last couple of years has been their commitment to having a “White Out” for big games. They will dress in white, wear white to whatever it takes to make the student section all white for the game. Well white fits in perfectly with my Zombie theme. Check these PSU students out in a shot from the Michigan game – they are some definite Zombie looking fans. That meant my Zombie drink had to be white and just to be sure the judges got the connection with the students, I renamed the drink “The Zombie Joe aka The White Out”.
After much experimentation with the three liquors and various whitening agents, Godiva White Liqour, White Coconut Rum, and Half and Half, I eventually settled on a drink that had equal parts of Peach Schnapps, Peach Vodka, Southern Comfort, and Half and Half. The drink is well shaken and served in a chilled martini glass. As the final piece de resistance I float two dark Necco wafers in the drink to look like Zombie eyes staring back at you as you drink it.
Once again, the judges liked my work and I walked away with my sixth title in the last seven years (I am undefeated only having my string broken when I sat out a year).
For more photos from the event, check out this link.