Well ladies and gentlemen, March has finally (cross your fingers) turned the corner towards warmer weather. Sure we had a snowstorm today, but it was nearly 50° so I am hopeful. The snow nearly all melted. The sun was out. It was gorgeous.
This week, I had the opportunity to attend an interactive cocktail making class at The Salt Cellar in St. Paul. The class was hosted by Salt Cellar head bartender Sean Carmichael, and taught by Nicholas who is one of the bartenders at Norseman Distillery‘s new cocktail room, and I’ve gotta tell you, it was epic!
Do you know what I love? Books. Especially old ones. Even more so, old ones you forgot that you had and you rediscover at a later date. Case in point: The Calvert Party Encyclopedia. This gem of a tome is was published by the Calvert Distillers Company in the 1960’s, and given to me by my mother-in-law. It’s chalk full of all sorts of useful resources, like how to stock your bar based on your party size, recipes for both food and beverages, and “11 Gay, Amusing Party Ideas”. Granted, a lot of it is some seriously out-dated material for those of us living in 2016, but if you want to throw a theme party, this is your perfect accessory.
Tonight’s cocktail also stems from this reference manual – as will many more in the future, I’m sure. Here’s the rundown: I was feeling particularly lazy today, so I had to come up with something using ingredients we already had lying around the house. Josh hasn’t been feeling well so we are stocked up with plenty of orange juice varietals. Using that as my guide (and figuring my immune system could also use a blast of vitamin C ), I settled on the Havana #2:
- 1 1/2 oz light rum
- 1 oz orange pineapple juice
- 1/2 oz lemon juice
Shake well with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass.
This book does not mess around with lengthy directions or complicated concoctions. Straight. To. The. Point. One thing to note, however: The portion you see pictured is actually double the above recipe. Apparently in the 60’s it was cool to have tiny portions. Also – if you have a hard time with really strong rum flavor, or you want a bigger immune boost, you may want to add more juice.
It’s back to the classics this week. I wanted to make a traditional beverage that I haven’t really gotten to enjoy much of, despite its simplicity. Whether you’re in the camp of a London or Paris origin for this drink, one thing is certain: It’s classy. Ladies and gentlemen, The Sidecar:
• 2 oz cognac
• 1.5 oz Triple Sec or Cointreau
• 0.5 oz lemon juice
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until cold. Pour into a glass over ice, and enjoy!
You guys… I have the perfect drink for your upcoming Halloween party! The best part? It looks SUPER creepy AND is low maintenance. WIN. WIN.
I spent quite a bit of time scouring the internet to try and find something that wasn’t so full of sugar that you felt sticky just looking at it. Luckily, I happened across this beauty courtesy of HGTV. It felt pretty perfect, so I added my own little twist and gave the sucker a new name. “Black Magic” just didn’t feel right, so, without further adieu: my Witches Brew:
- 1 cup orange juice
- 1 1/2 oz triple sec
- 1 oz lemon juice
- 2-3 oz black vodka*
Step 1 is to combine the OJ, triple sec and lemon juice in a shaker with ice, and pour or strain into your glass. (Tip: I used medium pulp orange juice because I think the floaties make it creepier, but it’s totally bartender’s choice!). From there, slowly pour the black vodka over the back of a spoon so that it settles on top of the OJ mixture. I opted to garnish with an orange slice dipped in black food coloring, and a straw that reminded me of witches tights.
And that’s it! Now you have a tried-and-true tasty drink (since it’s basically a screwdriver) that people will love. It won’t take you hours to make, and if anyone spills it on your kitchen floor, you won’t be trying to get rid of the stickiness for days.
Now, I bet you’re wondering why I decided to rename it. Well… because it looks awesome when you make it, but you probably don’t want to drink it that way. (If you did, you’d basically be sipping straight vodka by the time you got to the bottom, and that just doesn’t taste as good in my opinion.) However, when you stir it up… it starts looking like a nasty potion of some kind. With that in mind, Witches Brew just felt more fitting.
Happy Halloween everyone! Go get your spook on!
*Scratching your head wondering where the heck to I get black vodka? Scratch no more! It’s crazy easy to make. Here’s the how-to. Or, if you’re feeling a bit lazy and don’t want to click on the link: the food coloring ratio for 1 750ml bottle is 10 drops blue, 10 drops red, 9 drops green. You’re welcome 🙂
It’s the end of summer, so travel has been on my mind quite a bit. A lot of people around me are traveling, but alas I am not… so I decided to travel metaphorically to Italy in this week’s cocktail since that is at the top of my travel wish list.
How did I do that? Limoncello. Can I just tell you – I seriously, seriously am in love with this liqueur and often have it as a sort of liquid dessert when I’m out for a proper Italian meal. However, for some, the taste of limoncello can be slightly on the “punch in the mouth” overwhelming side of the spectrum, so this spritzer recipe is a great way to share the limoncello love in a more moderate way:
- 1 bottle of prosecco
- 2 cups limoncello
- Maraschino cherries for garnish
- Cherry juice
Combine prosecco and limoncello in a pitcher with ice and stir. (Hint: You can also add sparkling water if you’re still feeling like the lemon flavor is too intense) Pour into a glass for serving, then add a teaspoon of cherry juice. This will sink to the bottom and give your drink that beautiful ombre look and won’t be over-powering flavor-wise. It will make people “ooh” and “ahh” and make you feel awesome about your cocktail skills. Garnish with a cherry (or a lemon if you like) and start pretending like you’re hanging out on the Amalfi Coast!
Ok, ok… I dropped the ball last week and left you hanging with no new recipe to speak of. Shame on me! Truth be told, it was just one of those really hard, exhausting weeks and because I’m human, I just didn’t have it in me… that is, until Sunday rolled around and I decided to fix myself a twilight cocktail.
I was getting ready to face the new work week… and if you’re like me, you know there’s a certain amount of grumbling that goes along with that (read: I wanted to curl up into the fetal position and whine about it… a lot). In fact, if I’m honest, I was feeling bitter about having to get back into the grind, and I think that’s where this cocktail inspiration came from. Now, that’s not to say she’s a negative Nancy drink at all… she’s actually quite smooth, and ended up being incredibly calming. The bitterness and sour combination was just right, and as usual, gin was just what I needed.
- 1 oz gin
- 1 oz vermouth (I used dry but you could definitely roll with sweet)
- 1 oz Campari
- 1 oz fresh squeeze lemon juice
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously until well-chilled. Pour into a glass over ice and garnish with a lemon.
Sometimes at the end of a crap-tastic week, all you have the energy for is pouring some tastiness into a glass to make a drink that involves no fancy frizzles. That’s what this drink is and it was oh-so-perfect.
On a more up-beat note, my tardiness means you may get TWO recipes this week, so yay!!
That’s my family’s official July 4th tagline, and while it might be cheesy, I still love it! Independence Day is pretty high on my list of favorite holidays for the simple reason that it’s so laid back. For my family, the 4th means hanging around outside with a beverage in your hand while enjoying a freshly grilled burger. That is, until your uncle throws you in the kiddie pool, you grab your super soaker, as many water balloons as you can carry, and wage water war on your entire family! Okay, okay… so maybe the grown up water fight portion of our 4th isn’t exactly “laid back”, but we still need some excitement! Am I Right?!
What IS laid back is this week’s cocktail. I wanted to showcase something quick, easy and crowd pleasing. There is nothing fancy here, and this will win no “cocktail of the year” awards, but it will taste amazing. That much I can promise you! For added fun, I made a special one-off 4th of July glass that I’m contemplating adding to my lineup. Let me know what you think!
2 oz vodka
1/2 oz Blue Curaçao (or less if you don’t want yours to look like a swimming pool)
4 oz Laurie’s Lemonade
Fill a glass with ice, pour in Blue Curaçao, then vodka, then the lemonade. Garnish with a lemon or cherry if you’re feeling fancy.
What is Laurie’s Lemonade?? My mom’s homemade recipe – AND the secret ingredient to this drink! Sure you could use Minute Maid or Country Time if you’re feeling lazy, but let me tell you… this makes it SO MUCH BETTER.
4 cups sugar
4 cups water
4 cups lemon juice
1.5 gallons of water
Step one is to make a simple syrup by heating the water and sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Let cool. Step two is add the lemon juice and water together with the simple syrup and serve cold.
See! Simplicity at it’s finest!! Now, if you’ll excuse me… I have some water balloons to go fill.
Alright, who says that tequila and rum need to be the reigning summer booze champs? Not me. At Josh’s request, I’ve brought whiskey back into my cocktail lineup with a refreshing drink that will surprise you with strange flavor combinations, delight you with tastiness and would be perfect to sip at any backyard BBQ. (Recipe inspiration courtesy of Life’s A Strawberry).
6 oz. fresh blackberries
1/4 cup sugar
4 oz. whiskey
3 oz. lemon juice
- Heat blackberries and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat for 20-30 minutes stirring occasionally. When the mixture has turned into a thick syrupy substance, you’re good to go.
- Optional step: strain syrup to separate seeds if you don’t want those floating around in your cocktail.
- Let the syrup cool for about 20 minutes before mixing the rest of the drink.
- Combine everything in a large shaker with ice.
- Pour over ice into a glass and devour feverishly.
I ended up making mine with a peaty, smokey whiskey that Josh had at home, and I have to tell you… I’d highly recommend that flavor pallet. The blend of smokey with the intense tart/citrusy flavor of the lemon juice is SUPER interesting and, if you’re like me, you will find yourself thinking: “Jee… this just tastes… strange. I can’t put my finger on it, but it’s so weird I LOVE IT!” Try it out and let me know!
When I think about Easter, I immediately think of brunch. Food is often the best part of holiday gatherings, and Spring’s first fling is no exception. That said, you can’t have an amazing spread of breakfast delicacies without something to wash those down with! In my family, that usually means Mimosas (or OJ for the kiddos) which got me to thinking…What if we had something other than mimosas for brunch?
Crazy concept, right?? The hard part I was having is that the combination of breakfast foods and OJ is one of my favorite things. Not to mention, Mimosas were tradition, so I had to come up with something to fill those classic shoes that would fit the brunch bill perfectly. Ultimately, I decided to stick with the same flavor family – citrus:
½ cup (1 to 2 oranges) freshly squeezed orange juice
½ cup (3 to 4 lemons) freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ cup Triple Sec
½ cup sugar (add more if desired)
1 bottle (750 ml) white wine (go with your flavor preference)
12 oz. sparkling water (I used Pamplemousse flavored La Croix water for extra flavor)
1 orange, sliced
1 lemon sliced
Combine orange juice, lemon juice, triple sec and sugar in a large pitcher. Add the bottle of wine, sparkling water, and chopped fruit. Stirr well. For best results, let it hang out and chill in the fridge for a bit, then to make it Eastery, garnish with jelly beans. This can also be made kid-friendly by substituting sparking apple juice for the wine and triple sec.
I’ve got to say… it was pretty scrumptious, and although I made it in the evening, I must say, I could totally picture it as a breakfast cocktail. In fact, I will likely enjoy the leftovers this weekend with scrambled eggs and toast.
Cheers and Happy Easter!