- First, we’re back with our Make or Buy series this month and we’re looking at Grenadine! Check out our results and let us know which one you choose.
- Your crockpot is better than just a way to get slow cooked meats on the table. It’s also a way to get cocktails there too!
- Ok, so one time in SF bar hopping I walked out of a bar still drinking my drink and thus left the establishment with their glass. It was not intentional but I still felt bad. I went to return it and realized I had lost my license so that ended up taking precedence that evening. I still feel awful about it. But these jerks...
- All things bourbon for 2019. Add these events to your calendar!
- Non-alcoholic bitters are a thing! But, should you really make the effort?
- Science read: where does the sugar in your wine come from?
- There’s a 26 ingredient cocktail out there. But should you actually drink it?
- I have a lot of questions about a death match to buy a bottle of $40 booze.
- Fighting in costumes to win a tequila competition. This must be a millennial thing.
- And finally, a follow up to last week’s story about getting banned from Walmart. Should you drink wine from a Pringle’s can? Why is this a story?
Hello and welcome to the second installment of our Make or Buy series. I’m so happy to have you here, especially in January when you can practically hear the crickets on this site.
Today we’re going to be looking at Grenadine. Yes, we already have a recipe here on how to make a basic one, but this version I’ve altered as a step up from the most basic way to make it and it’s how I currently make my home bar version.
Grenadine is one of those ingredients I think everyone buys and no one uses. I think in part because 1. it tends to be associated with that kiddie drink the Shirley Temple (and OH YES, that is what we’re going to make today to compare the make vs. buy options) and 2. the commercial products that have been available were full of super processed ingredients and food dye and just not very tasty. But here’s the thing, there are now some really great options out there for buying grenadine at the store, we’ve got one of those today in fact, and also, grenadine is super easy to make. And I’ll show you how.
First let’s talk about what you can buy at the store. I chose Small Hand Foods grenadine syrup as my pick. Why? Because it’s an excellent product and is my go-to when I don’t have mine own syrup on hand. Second, as usual in this series, let’s address the pros and cons. The pros here are great. All natural products, cane sugar, easy to buy (Amazon!), tastes of pomegranates. The cons here are that I find the flavor a bit muted, and because it is not dyed red, you are not going to get that bright red color that one expects grenadine to have in drinks.
If you decide to make your grenadine, you have two choices in regards to the pomegranate base: freshly bottled juice you can buy, or go crazy and juice your own pomegranates. Clearly this can be a pro or a con depending on YOU. Because I do not have the desire to juice 4 pomegranates (which would yield approximately the 2 cups you need to start with), I went with bottled fresh juice. For this version of the syrup I also finish it off with a tablespoon of pomegranate molasses which adds in a lot of zip and tang to the final product. So the pros here for me are that you get a fresher tasting product that you can alter the sweetness, volume, and overall flavor of. Using the fresh juice also means you’re getting a brighter red color in the final product (still not as bright as a food dye though). Also, I reduce the syrup in half resulting in a thicker, more viscous grenadine. On the con side, if you’re constantly switching up your formulas you’re not going to get a consistent product to make drinks with. Also, fresh juice is going to very from fruit to fruit so you might occasionally get a batch you don’t like the flavor of. It also is possible that getting fresh juice in your area is just not an option (nor would growing a tree be). And with all the “make” versions here, you have to make the product and if you’re short on time or inclination then that’s just not going to be fun for you.
So now the choice is up to you. Do you buy a tested and well-loved brand, or do you make your own batch? Or do you do both and have too many syrups in your house like me?
Well, before you decide let’s talk about how these two work in a drink. Oh, but it’s January and half of you aren’t drinking (but you’re lurking around on booze sites like this, huh?)! No worries! We’ll make what I consider the quintessential mocktail, The Shirley Temple.
My earliest memory of having a Shirley Temple was at some relative’s anniversary party or family reunion or something like that where there was a bunch of elderly people in a banquet hall. I was young, but one of these elderly people put a drink in my hand with a cherry in it and OH BOY did I feel like a fancy lady. In fact, I still feel like a fancy lady when I garnish my drinks. Anyways, I inquired as to what I was drinking and I was told it was a Shirley Temple. And really, if you want to feel even more fancy as a small child, make them a drink, without booze, and give it a name.
The other reason that I chose to use the grenadine here is that it is a pretty simplistic drink, you’ll taste the syrup, and you’ll see how it interacts with just one other ingredient. And just how do they do here? Both were fine! The Small Hand Foods grenadine is much lighter in both appearance and body, so you see that when it’s mixed with the soda. You get more of the soda and less of the grenadine, more like a hint of it. You can adjust here and add more though but I equalled portioned both grenadines out. The homemade batch of grenadine was a thicker syrup so that came across as a brighter red colored drink with more body. The grenadine was more noticeable here in the flavor as well.
And thus concludes this month’s make or buy. Let me know which way you decided to go and don’t forget to tag us in your posts! It’s always fun to see how you all experiment!
In a medium saucepan, pour in pomegranate juice and sugar. Whisk and bring to a boil over high heat. Once at a boil, turn down the heat to a simmer and let simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until mixture is reduced by half. Remove from heat and add in orange flower water and pomegranate molasses. Whisk to fully combine and let cool to room temperature. Once cool, pour in vodka, if using (this would act as a preservative) and bottle in an airtight container. Store in a cool, dry place. If not using vodka, once bottled, store in the refrigerator up to one month.
The Shirley Temple Mocktail
3-4 ounces ginger ale or lemon-lime soda
1/2 ounce grenadine
maraschino cherry for garnish
In a collins glass, 2/3 filled with ice, pour in soda of choice. Top with grenadine and stir gently to combine. Garnish with a cherry.
This post was made in partnership with Truvia®. Recipes and ideas are my own.
It’s January! Has your inbox become filled with emails that are telling you how to be your best self? Or how to lose some weight? Or how you can fix your life?? Are you just deleting them all because they’re all starting to make you feel…overwhelmed? I generally have avoided trying to make over my life every January and have instead opted to start thinking more about the state and quality of my life. I use January as a time to reflect upon the previous year, not rush into the future. Did I connect with family and friends last year? Did I treat my body right? If I answered no, then I’d think about what small ways I could make changes in my life so that I could improve the overall quality in the coming year.
These are no pressure approaches by the way. Being a business owner I have enough deadlines so the thought of adding to that list makes me cringe, so I look at these as fun assignments I will give myself and allow the space to let them happen. I also think of them as ways to incorporate more self-care into the day to day.
When I looked at 2018, I realized that while I was building new parts of my business, I wasn’t leaving much time to spend with friends and family. So for 2019, my assignment is to have more casual get-togethers at home. Nothing requiring lots of advanced planning, but an excuse to sit, eat and drink, and enjoy the company of friends and family. And I’ve already planned my first one with a longtime friend I feel like I barely got to see last year.
We’re calling it brunch, but really it’s an excuse to eat some pastries, buy some fresh flowers, and have some brunch cocktails. This is my ideal self-care weekend date.
We’ve teamed up with Truvia® to help plan a brunch cocktail for two with their Natural Sweetener packets. You just need one packet, split between two friends, to get the ideal amount of sweetness in your brunch cocktail (One packet provides the same sweetness as two teaspoons of sugar). Truvia Natural Sweetener packets are zero-calories and made from stevia leaf extract. The packets are also convenient to carry around, in case your get-together involves a park or a camping trip (if that’s the way you do casual!).
For our cocktail we’ll make use of the delicious, seasonal citrus fruit that is everywhere right now. I’ve always loved how citrus is a winter fruit, bringing a burst of sunshine into all those grey, winter days. Hopefully this cocktail, made with citrus distilled gin, orange blossom water, lemon bitters, club soda, and Truvia sweetener, will bring a little sunshine into your day. It also goes very well with a pastry plate.
Now let’s get brunching!
Winter Citrus Sparkling Brunch Cocktails for Two
3 ounces gin, a new American style with citrus notes will work best
1 Truvia Natural Sweetener packet (if you prefer your drinks on the sweeter side, then you can use up to one packet per person)
1 ounce freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 teaspoon orange blossom water
2 dashes lemon bitters
1/2 cup various citrus fruit segments such as Cara Cara oranges, blood oranges, clementines and kumquat halves
6 ounces club soda, chilled
In a shaker filled 2/3 with ice, pour in gin, the Truvia Natural Sweetener packet, freshly squeezed orange juice, orange blossom water, and lemon bitters. Shake well for 20 seconds and divide between two flutes. Add in your citrus of choice and top with chilled club soda. Cheers!
Low ABV Cocktails, Willy Wonka, and WTF Gutenberg Editor
- First, is the bar industry ageist? Probably, yeah. Let’s do something about it!
- Second, we’ve created a super low ABV adult Chocolate Egg Cream drink with Kerrygold last week and I think you should drink it.
- Did you know there was a Willy Wonka of Scotch Whisky? There is!
- Got a Christmas tree still hanging around the house? Why not donate it so it gets a new life as someone’s beer??
- I’ve read that about this time in January people start to give up on resolutions, so here’s a round up of some low alcohol cocktails for you!
- Looking to learn a new skill in 2019? How about what all those wine tasting words mean!
- Idris Elba has opened a bar in London called The Parrot. Drinks will be named after birds from the Parrot family, an Aston Martin will come pick you up, and HOLD MY COCKTAIL I’M GETTING ON A PLANE RIGHT NOW...
- If you’re thinking of going more green this year, try one of these sustainable spirits (a few of our favs on here!).
- A lot of serious wine people I know will think these wine cups/glasses are dumb, but for the rest of us. I dunno...
- And finally, if you want to get banned from Walmart, try drinking wine from a Pringles can at 6:30 in the morning doing doughnuts in their parking lot on an electric cart. Just saying.
This post was made in partnership with Kerrygold Irish Cream. Recipe and ideas are my own.
January is always a slow start to the year for us booze bloggers; there just tends to be a lot of confusion around alcohol. People tend to fall into one of three categories based on what their personal new year resolution might have been: going dry, keep drinking, or cut back and start drinking lower ABV drinks. One year my husband discovered the joy that was Campari and Soda and now that’s become his go-to low ABV cocktail. Some people give up alcohol for a month, and well, they just stop altogether.
I respect all the choices these people make. Err, except maybe those people who give up drinking for January and then proceed to get black-out drunk on February 1st. Why? Why bother at all people?
But anyway, today I’m offering up a classic drink with a low ABV, but not the usual ones you might think of when I say “classic”. Today I’m taking you back in time to those soda pop shops with long counters and shiny chrome straw holders. I’m giving you a recipe for an Egg Cream, but an adult version made with Kerrygold Irish Cream. The traditional egg cream has neither eggs nor cream in it. It is made with milk, chocolate syrup (and for some people that means Fox’s U-Bet chocolate syrup) and seltzer water, and originated in this form in New York in the early 1900’s (possibly late 1800’s).
Kerrygold Irish Cream does have cream in it, super rich cream from grass-fed cows, and real chocolate. We’ll be boosting the chocolate with a touch of chocolate syrup, just like the original; your favorite chocolate syrup will do just fine here! I happen to own a soda siphon because… I write about cocktails for a living, but bottled seltzer will work just the same. The magic happens once you add the seltzer to the base of Irish cream and chocolate. Like magic, a creamy head forms on the drink making it look almost like a thick, creamy milkshake. But what I love about this drink is that it is not heavy AT ALL. It is light and frothy and you actually want to drink it down quick because the bubbles do not last all that long.
This adult version of the Chocolate Egg Cream clocks in with a proof around 7.5 so it’s definitely a low ABV drink (around 3.75%). So if you’re looking for something that’s a little sweet, a little ABV, and a lot tasty, I think you should give this classic twist a try!
Note: this drink loves a variation! Try one of these combos once you’ve tasted the original recipe below.
- make it minty with 1/4 teaspoon of mint extract
- a little nutty with 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- sub the chocolate syrup with a different syrup of your choice (vanilla is nice!)
Kerrygold Chocolate Egg Cream
1-1/2 ounces Kerrygold Irish Cream, chilled
1 ounce chocolate syrup, chilled
5-6 ounces of seltzer water, chilled
In a soda glass or highball glass, pour in the chilled Kerrygold Irish Cream and chocolate syrup. Top with seltzer water and stir gently to combine. Enjoy!
- First! Have you checked out our RETOX/DETOX Your Bar Cart Style post? It might be the most fun thing you reorganize in your home this week.
- If you’ve celebrated a little too hard this week(end), then here’s a hangover cure that’s new to me. Go grab your bottle of Fernet.
- What’s causing those blackouts when you drink. Besides the alcohol...
- Here’s one list of what we all should be drinking in 2019.
- Here’s another from Neat Pour!
- And another from Liquor.com!
- And here’s a look back at what 2018 had to offer in the drink world (apparently you need a map at some bars…).
- Ok, but what shouldn’t you drink in 2019? Punch has a list for that.
- Got some leftover sparkling wine? Royale the hell out of your cocktails (and, ahem, I made a Sparkling Jungle Bird on this site years ago…).
- And finally, drunk people on social media in 2018. You made me laugh, thanks.
Detox. Re-tox. Whatever your tox. Let’s update that bar cart for 2019.
Time to refresh for the new year. Resolutions? Yes. No. Maybe. A juicer for carrot beet cocktails. A cocktail book that will make them taste delicious. Going dry? Well there’s more than more non-alcoholic booze to try. Please say no to plastic straws. Now your options include hay and more. I’d like a bar cart that matches my mid-century home decor with a brass carbonator and a giant stoneware decanter.
1. Stoneware Decanter 2. Slow Juicer 3. Brass Carbonator 4. Seedlip Distilled Non-Alcoholic Spirit 5. Clean + Dirty Drinking 6. Detox-Retox Cocktail Napkins 7. Mid-Century Bar Cart 8. Curious Elixirs 9. Hay! Straws
Catch up on all the gift guides here!
This post was made in partnership with Kerrygold Irish Cream. Recipe and ideas are my own.
If you were to ask me about superstitions, I’d say they’re not something I believe in. Except… I’d kinda be lying. See, the thing is, some years ago I developed this superstition that how I rang in the New Year would somehow dictate how my next year would be. I took this as vague or as specific as I wanted and I find myself thinking about that now as we approach the coming new year.
Fight with a friend at a NYE party? I’m going to spend the next year having issues with this person. Fell asleep before the ball dropped? I’m going to have trouble meeting deadlines next year. Spend an amazing time with a guy I’d only just started seeing two months ago? Well, then obviously I was going to marry this guy. (All three are true by the way!)
I am a notorious early bird in my family. It’s probably the reason I went to work as a barista instead of a bartender when I first moved out to L.A. It’s part of the reason I heave a big sigh come NYE; I know I’m going to have trouble staying awake. So this year I’m doing a little pre-planning. First, I’m going to push my kids on their grandmother on the 31st and take a long afternoon nap. Next, I’ll be strategically planning my cocktail for the night. It will, of course, have coffee in it. Not just any coffee, I’m infusing some aged rum with a blend of arabica and robusta coffee. Why? Because arabica has a great flavor and robusta brings the CAFFEINE!
I teamed up with Kerrygold Irish Cream to make my perfect NYE sipping cocktail. Mainly, I wanted something reminiscent of a latte that I could enjoy over the course of the night. I’d save the champagne for the countdown toast of course, before making a swift and silent exit. Now, this pre-planning also includes making this coffee infusion; it takes two days. Alternatively, if you’ve got a coffee liqueur you’d rather sub in and save yourself this DIY project, well, then you do you.
If this were to be my coffee order, I’d say it’s a mocha-vanilla-almond-spiced latte. But, you know, spiked. The Kerrygold Irish Cream brings a silky-rich mouthfeel from the cream and just a touch of chocolate, which is how I prefer my coffee drinks when I go the mocha route. The whiskey in there goes quite well with the aged rum and they impart a subtle spice and vanilla flavor that gets enhanced by the addition of Drambuie and a few drops of vanilla extract.
And because it’s New Year’s Eve and we’re feeling fancy, I broke out the edible gold stars for a sparkling garnish for just a hint of glitz. You definitely need a little glitz on this holiday.
Let’s get ready for that countdown and make some drinks!
Up All Night Cocktail
1-1/2 ounces coffee infused aged rum, recipe follows (or sub 1-1/4 ounces aged rum with 1/2 ounce coffee liqueur)
1/2 ounce Kerrygold Irish Cream
1/2 ounce orgeat
1/4 ounce Drambuie
3 drops vanilla extract
edible gold stars for garnish
In a shaker filled 2/3 with ice, combine coffee infused aged rum, Kerrygold Irish Cream, orgeat, Drambuie, and vanilla extract. Shake to combine about 20 seconds and strain into a double rocks glass with fresh ice. Optionally garnish with some edible gold stars, for that NYE glitz.
Coffee Infused Aged Rum
14 oz. aged rum
1/2 cup coffee beans (blend of arabica and robusta), lightly crushed
Combine ingredients in an airtight container (I reused my rum bottle). Swirl to cover the beans. Let sit for 2 days. Fine strain to catch the coffee bean bits (I like using this nut bag for these kind of jobs). Bottle. Use within two years.
Why yes, a bottle of booze DOES fit in a stocking… or 25 bottles of nips.
Stuffing a stocking is about quantity, but you should also consider quality too. From tiny cocktail books, to tiny cocktail kits, shakers for your glitter squad and shakers for your grandpa, gadgets for the oenophiles in your life, and a fancy gold jigger just because. You can never go wrong with more bar tools, and did you know you can make your own gin? The kit fits in here too. And if the person is super picky about booze, get them a gift card and let them choose (we’ve got $5 for all of you).
1. The Mini Bar Book Set 2. Gold Jigger 3. Wine Opener 4. Italian Spritz Cocktail Kit 5. Glitter Shaker 6. Wine Bag and Cooler 7. Ginbrew Kit 8. Wine Preserver 9. Opinel Knife 10. Cocktail Picks 11. $5 off your order from Drizly for booze delivery 12. Wood Muddler 13. Enamel Shaker
Catch up on all the gift guides here!
This post was made in partnership with Truvia®. Recipes and ideas are my own.
I’m hitting peak holiday tradition time right around now. The advent calendar has been going, there’s a tree and decorations and now due to small children’s insistence there’s a second small tree, I’ve sent out Christmas cards, and the majority of the presents have been bought (can you tell I’m a planner??). I’ve also checked off attending the annual Glögg party thrown by some close friends of ours. They’ve been throwing it for close to a decade now and we’ve been attending almost every year (minus a few bouts of the flu). But I’ve kept a secret… I’m not a big fan of hot wine punch.
After reading this my secret will be blown. But, since we’re all friends, I doubt they’ll care all that much. They know I really come for the Swedish meatballs. Are you sitting there reading this thinking to yourself “I like wine, I like spices, but I don’t necessarily want them piping hot…” Well, lucky for you great minds think alike and I’ve got a new twist for your holiday mulled wine traditions!
I’ve teamed up with Truvia® to offer a chilled spin on this traditional holiday drink. The secret to achieving a flavorful mulled wine cocktail is to concentrate the flavors that would ordinarily go into a mulled wine by making a syrup.
For the base I decided to use Truvia Cane Sugar Blend to first create a simple syrup and then add in the mulled wine spices and the wine itself. Truvia Cane Sugar Blend combines stevia sweetener and cane sugar with 75% fewer calories per serving than sugar. Does it make a simple syrup that works just like regular cane sugar? It sure does! Because it is sweeter than cane sugar you also don’t need to add as much into the syrup. After making a quick simple syrup, everything simmers together to make a reduction and extracts those great spices so they really stand out when mixed into a drink. Also, chilling liquids tends to tame the flavors a bit so you want the flavors to be on the bold side.
Since we’re making this into a cocktail I decided to pair this mulled wine syrup with bourbon for a wintery drink. Bourbon imparts some vanilla and buttery caramel flavors into the mix as well. Finally, a burst of citrus comes from freshly squeezed lemon juice and Cointreau. How to garnish is up to you. If you want it to be reminiscent of a Glögg, add in a cinnamon stick, orange slices and a star anise when you serve up the drink. You could also leave all of this out and you’d be fine. Personally I like the aroma that fresh spices add to the drink, but if you’re serving this up at a party you could also just throw in the orange slices. And speaking of parties! This syrup makes enough for plenty of drinks so you might want to consider this for a different take when you host your next holiday party.
One last note. I realize I might be edging out some of you that really enjoy a hot mulled wine. Clearly my friends do since they host this party every year. Here’s a quick tip so you can enjoy a glass of Glögg any time: you can make this drink hot too. Yes! You don’t have to wait for someone to throw a party and use up several bottles of wine and occupy your InstaPot for an entire day. Make the syrup, add the ingredients, and add in some hot water! You’ve got a hot mulled wine cocktail now!
Grab a bottle of wine and let’s make some cocktails!
Truvia Chilled Mulled Wine Cocktail (with Hot Version too!)
Mulled Wine Syrup (Yields 1-1/3 to 1-1/2 cups)
1 cup Truvia Cane Sugar Blend
1 cup water
1-1/2 cups red wine
2 cinnamon sticks
2 star anise pods
4 green cardamom pods, cracked
1 tsp black peppercorns, lightly crushed
4 orange slices, 1/4” thick
For the syrup:
Combine Truvia Cane Sugar Blend and water in a medium saucepan over medium- high heat. Whisk until fully dissolved. Add in red wine, cinnamon sticks, star anise pods, cloves, green cardamom pods, black peppercorns and orange slices. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 30-40 minutes or until mixture has reduced and thickened slightly. Remove from heat, strain out solids and discard them. Let syrup cool to room temperature and then transfer to an airtight container like a swing-top bottle or mason jar. Store refrigerated up to a month.
For the drink:
2 ounces of bourbon
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/4 ounce Cointreau
1 ounce mulled wine syrup
In a shaker 2/3 filled with ice, combine the bourbon, lemon juice, Cointreau and mulled wine syrup. Shake about 20 seconds to combine and strain over fresh ice into a double rocks glass. Garnish with orange slices, cinnamon stick and star anise.
Alternatively, you can make this a hot drink by including 2-3 ounces of hot water. Combine all ingredients for the cold cocktail in a heat proof mug and then add hot water. Stir gently to combine and serve.