The Crafty Norseman

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!

Continue reading “The Crafty Norseman”

Vodka of the North

To kick off the #MNinMarch cocktail line up, I wanted to pick a few staples. My staple cocktail ingredient is vodka, so I went with a new Minnesota home-grown that I hadn’t tried before:  L’etoile du Nord.

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This is a vodka with a particularly distinct and unusual flavor. I haven’t tasted anything quite like it before, and trust me when I say that’s a good thing. What makes this vodka so unique is its ingredients: Sugar beets (apparently the Red River Valley produces more of these than anywhere in the US) and corn. To steal their wonderfully witty marketing, this truly is a “spirit with Minnesota roots,” which is probably what makes it so delicious.

The other staple, at least one for the Minnesota music scene, is Prince… so I figured, why not combine the two!? Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Purple Rain:

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Ingredients:

● 1.5-2 oz L’etoile du Nord Vodka
● 1 oz blue curacao
● 3 oz cranberry juice
● Lime

In a cocktail glass, combine vodka, blue curacao, and cramberry juice over ice. Stir, then top with a hearty squeeze of lime juice. Garnish with a lime slice, and enjoy!

Now, if you’ll excuse me I’m going to go get my jam on. Cheers!

Taylor

To the Master

I had a different cocktail slotted for the week, but in light of the recent loss I felt I needed to make an adjustment. This week is in tribute to Alan Rickman.

I borrowed the base of this recipe from one of the many Snape-inspired cocktails that grace the internet and adapted it slightly. The flavor profile is as complex as the character – the main flavor is a dry, semi-harsh kick, but a hint of sweetness makes it lovable. While the combination may seem frightening at first, I think you’ll warm up to it in the end.

Pour one out for a great actor, and enjoy a Potions Master:

TaylorCathleen_Potions_Master_Cocktail

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 oz pepper vodka
  • 1-1 1/2 oz Pimms Blackberry and Elderflower
  • 1/2 oz simple syrup

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until it’s deathly cold, pour into a glass over ice, and enjoy.

To Alan – my favorite not-so-evil professor, most wicked sheriff, and sleazy musical judge.

Cheers,
Taylor

 

Yuletide Sweet Tooth

This week, I’m putting a holiday spin on a popular cocktail with the help of one of my very favorite Christmas villains turned harmless – The Bumble! I mean, why do you think Hermie had to pull out his tooth to begin with? Too many sweet cocktails! He’s part monster, part lush 😉 We all know Bumbles bounce, but I wonder if that includes bouncing back from hangovers…

At any rate, here is the Yule Mule!

TaylorCathleen_Cocktail_Yule_Moscow_Mule

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz gin or vodka (drinker’s choice)
  • 1/2 oz cranberry juice (the more tart the better)
  • 2 oz ginger beer
  • 1/2 oz simple syrup
  • Rosemary and cranberries for garnish

Combine gin/vodka, cranberry juice, and simple syrup in a glass with ice. Stir well, then top with ginger beer. Garnish with cranberries and rosemary. Enjoy!

This drink can teeter on the side of being overly-sweet, so if you are worried about that you can always lessen the amount of simple syrup you use. Now, I’m off to make sure that Bumble doesn’t get himself into any more trouble.

Cheers,
Taylor

Ain’t that a Snow Breeze

It’s officially December which means the start of holiday cocktail season! I’ll be featuring Christmasy concoctions all month long. This week, I thought I’d start off with something slightly non-traditional – my Snow Breeze.

It doesn’t have any ingredients that make me think Christmas right off the bat. In fact, some of you may even think it seems summery, and it sort of is. Here’s the deal: This one is all about a flavor profile that’s easy to please! If you’re entertaining this holiday season, you know it’s hard to find that one signature cocktail that’s going to appeal to everyone’s taste buds, so keep things simple with something you know is tried and true. For me, that’s vodka.

Other than that, it’s easy to sprinkle in some garnishes to give your drink that holiday nod it deserves. Check out what I mean:

TaylorCathleen_Vodka_Cocktail_Snow_Breeze

Ingredients:

  • 1 oz vodka
  • 1 oz freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
  • 2-3 oz tonic
  • 12ish pomegranate seeds
  • mint for garnish

Add vodka, grapefruit juice, and tonic to a glass with ice. Stir well, garnish with the pomegranate seeds and mint leaves, and enjoy!

Check back next week for another delicious holiday beverage!

Cheers,
Taylor

The Witching [Happy] Hour

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:

TaylorCathleen_Halloween_Vodka_Cocktail

Ingredients:

  • 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!

Cheers!
Taylor

In case you were wondering, this is what it looks like all mixed up… kind of gross, right? Good thing it still tastes great!
My productivity saboteur decided to make an appearance. Luckily she's the perfect prop for Halloween!
My productivity saboteur decided to make an appearance. Luckily she’s the perfect prop for Halloween!

*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 🙂

Hail Mary!

Well sports fans, today marks the beginning of the NFL’s 2015/2016 season and I could not be more excited! You see, football is my fan-cheering-sport of choice. While it may be repeated bouts of heart break, I’m a hometown girl and root for the Vikings with absolutely no fair-weather tendencies. SKOL!!!

Therefore, in anticipation of the season, I am sharing with you one of my favorite football drinks. Even though the season kicks off on a Thursday night, and the Vikings have this week’s Monday night game, I can’t NOT think of football and a Bloody Mary because at some point – they WILL play on Sunday!

TaylorCathleen_BloodyMary

Ingredients:

  • 6 oz Charleston Bold and Spicy Bloody Mary Mix
  • 3 oz Norseman vodka
  • Garnishings of your choosing
    (I opted for sharp cheddar cheese, salami, a pickle, celery and a cocktail onion)

Pour in vodka. Pour in mix. Add fixin’s. Watch football.

Let’s be real… time outs are only 1 minute and 50 seconds. That doesn’t leave a lot of time for craft cocktailing or measuring out perfect portions! This is a perfect pour-and-go drink that’s just right for any given Sunday (see what I did there?).

The secret that makes this one better than all the others? The mix. Seriously you guys I have never had a mix as good as the Charleston Bold and Spicy, and honestly all you need to add is vodka and a skewer smorgasboard, and it’s pure perfection. The thing that makes this mix better than most other bottled mixes is the perfect balance of spice, heartiness and a little mellowness for depth. Taste it and tell me if you don’t agree.

BUT! I can’t be repping Panther country without feeling guilty. That is why the Sunday vodka of choice between now and January will be exclusively Norseman! It’s a small batch, hometown distillery straight out of Northeast Minneapolis, and it’s hand-crafted vodkas and gins are absolutely dynamite. In fact, Norseman has supplanted my long-running local favorite Prairie Vodka as my Twin Cities top shelf of choice. The best part about Norseman? Scott Ervin, Norseman’s master distiller, sources all of his own grains and oversees every single step of the distillation process. That’s how you know you’re getting a very high quality vodka that’s incredibly fresh and even more delicious. GET SOME.

Now, time to go bust out that jersey!

Cheers!
Taylor

Happy Birthday America!!!

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!

AmericasBirthday

Ingredients:
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.

Laurie’s Lemonade:
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.

Cheers!
Taylor

It’s Derby Time!

For those of you who don’t know me, let me just say that I reeeeeeeeally love the Kentucky Derby. Everything from the race itself, to the fashions, traditions and yes, cocktails make me almost giddy. Since the race is this weekend, it was a no-brainer as to what to showcase for my recipe this week. The surprise element? It’s NOT a mint julep!

Mint Juleps are great, and tradition, but today is Friday which means it’s not actually Derby Day… today is the Kentucky Oaks which is the race run the Friday before. And did you know? They have their own signature cocktail and, in my humble opinion, it tastes better than a julep ever will. When I was lucky enough to attend both the Oaks and the Derby in 2012, I definitely enjoyed more of these babies than anything else. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Lily: Lily 1 1/4 oz Grey Goose vodka
1 oz Sweet and Sour Mix
1/4 oz Triple Sec
3 oz Cranberry Juice
(taken straight from the official recipe)

Mix ingredients together either by pouring and stirring or using a shaker. Pour into a glass and garnish with a few blackberries and a lemon wedge. There’s also a short cut way to just mix 1 oz vodka with 4 oz of cosmopolitan mix, but that seems less fun and tasty. How appropriate though, that I even had an extra Kentucky State Love glass lying around!

It’s seriously so delicious I recommend making an entire pitcher’s worth if you’re going to have more than a couple of people enjoying these. You’ll definitely need that much! Also… if you’re jealous of the Derby sign in my photo, head over to Hostess With the Mostest Blog for all of the outrageously adorable and completely FREE printables your heart can download. They will definitely be the perfect finishing touch to any party.

Now, I’m off to place my wagers for tomorrow’s big race… CAN. NOT. WAIT.

Cheers and they’re off!
Taylor 575151_602791654258_530026075_n