This post was made in partnership with Everclear. Recipe and ideas are my own.
For years, whenever I ate out at an Indian Restaurant, I somehow overlooked the self serve bowl of seedy bits by the cash registers. Maybe I did notice, but not having a clue as to what it was (or thinking to even ask), it fell off my radar. And then I met my husband, who is half Indian, and going out to Indian restaurants with his mom became a whole new experience. Besides getting stuff not on the menu, or having food cooked a particular way (hello extra spicy!), I began to notice the unspoken ritual at the end of the meal. A small spoonful of those seedy bits, poured into a palm, and eaten, or rather, crunched on.
This post is brought to you by Beaujolais Wines, Regnié, Franck Cinquin, Domaine des Braves, 2014. Recipes and ideas are my own.
As we’re wrapping up Summer and starting to think about Fall, this is the time of year I start to stockpile my end of season summer fruits and veggies. And per usual, I overdo it with the produce.
For our end of summer entertaining post I thought I’d crack open a bottle of Beaujolais and show you this simple but flavorful dish you could serve up while we squeeze in the last few summer parties of the season (check the end of the post for our giveaway if you’re in need of some picnic swag!). Sometimes the perfect late summer get togethers can be as simple that: wine and a beautiful salad that showcases the bounty of the transitioning seasons.
Are you going to Tales this year? Can we meet at Tales? I’m reaching out to you about meeting up at TOTC… Sorry guys, I did not attend Tales of the Cocktail this year. I really don’t know when I’ll make that happen, if ever. However, I was able to bypass the crowds and the sweltering, miserable 105° heat with god-knows-how-high humidity and just look at everyone’s Instagram and Twitter and quite frankly that was great and totally enough, thanks.
Lately though it’s been hard to muster up the interest to pretend everything is OK and go eventing and snap some ‘grams. Instead I’ve been compulsively scrolling through the news with an ever increasing knot in my stomach wondering what the hell is going on in the world. It makes all this social media and even this website seem, well…¯\_(ツ)_/¯
But I’ll save those thoughts and actions for offline, where I can actively do things and not just type type type on here. Anyways, to say the least, I’ve been pretty uninspired with drinks lately. I recently read on article on the End of the Craft Cocktail Movement, and while I initially wanted to get cocky and yell in an obnoxious manner no it’s not, I had to give the author a nod for touching on some truths. The truth being that, yeah, you can get a good cocktail practically anywhere and we as cocktail drinkers have come to expect that now. It’s not novel to be craft and to use fresh ingredients and make your own bitters and muddle in some cucumber. We ALL know how to do that and that’s a good thing. The scary part for people like myself is how do we move on from there.
When I was perusing the images from TOTC, one of the most intriguing things I saw was on Craft & Cocktails’ twitter. It was 4 images of weird stuff with the caption that they were “all cocktails”. You can see that post here and read my comments on it below. To sum up, I was most into the weirdest, the most wrong, the most confusing cocktail of the bunch that was a glass with what looked like dentures sitting in it.
Spectacle. We’re now moving onto spectacle. When we all expect what’s in the glass to taste great, you’re going to need a 3 ring circus to bring the audience in, at least when we’re talking about here in the blog/social media world. There has been a trend with the younger, newer drinking age audience to stop making drinks at home and to cease entertaining. Their eyeballs are glued onto their phones looking for the next great cat bar, not to necessarily go there, but to “like” the idea of it and quickly move on to the next strange idea.
This is a weird spot to be in when you’ve been happily plugging along on your website, coming up in the (second? third?) craft cocktail movement and sharing a love of home bartending. The newer audience will not be home bartenders, and the audience you’ve been talking to is going to start getting home bartending fatigue. Even I see that in myself. I’ve stopped reading a lot of sites, even ones I’ve loved, and stopped browsing through a good chunk of the social media sites, and instead started reading more actual books again. I chuckle at the newest hashtag of #readafuckingbook and am actively giving my brain a break from the nonsense and just the relentless tragedy that coexist in the same feeds.
And so, here’s a little spectacle, wrapped around a good drink. The good folks at Copper & Kings just released an orange Curaçao that is pretty darn great and I added that into my variation here on a Brandy Crusta. First, I swapped some California rye whiskey in for the brandy and then instead of the sugar crusted rim and lemon peel, I made some lemon zest infused sugar and spun that around the glass. The sugar looked like amber when it hardened, and it made me happy to look at it. Like a little artwork on my glass.
I hope you all find a little something that makes you happy this week.
2 ounces whiskey, Spirit Works Straight Rye Whiskey used here*
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 ounce orange curaçao, Copper & Kings intense orange curaçao used here*
1/4 ounce maraschino liqueur
Dash Angostura bitters
lemon-sugar garnish (recipe follows)
In a mixing glass 2/3 filled with ice, pour in the whiskey, lemon juice, orange curaçao, maraschino liqueur and Angostura. Stir to chill 20 seconds and strain into lemon-sugar crusted glass.
Lemon Infused Spun Sugar Garnish
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar and lemon zest, stir to combine. When sugar starts to melt, stir constantly until sugar reaches a golden-brown color. Remove from heat immediately and continue to stir. As the sugar mixtures begins to cool, the liquid will thicken. Sugar is ready when a wooden spoon is dipped in and sugar pours off in a ribbon. Dip a coupe glass into the sugar and slowly pull out, twisting the sugar as you remove the glass. Hold upside down for about 30 seconds and then stand up to finish cooling. Set aside until ready to use.
Yesterday on Instagram a gave a little hint as to what I’ve been working on lately… THE FUTURE OF COCKTAILS is alternative milks?!
Well, in the short-term it is for me anyways.
A few months back I had to cut out dairy, soy, eggs, red meat and shellfish for medical reasons. Not for some crazy diet! It doesn’t cut into the cocktail making that much, but there are a few drinks that I’ve had to shelve because of these restrictions. Eggs are an easy one to cut out since I’ve covered somanyalternatives for them on the site. Dairy though can get tricky, it imparts a particular taste and mouthfeel that can be hard to replicate. With that in mind, there’s just going to be some drinks I can’t have right now. But this also opens up a new door of twists I can make instead.
Today’s drink is a pretty basic recipe riff on a White Russian. Except… with homemade toasted coconut milk. WHAAAAA?!
Sure, you could add coconut cream or regular coconut milk in here, but the toasty quality of this is OH SO delicious and really stands out in the drink when you put it up against the coffee. I got the idea a few months back when I saw Heidi from 101 Cookbooks make this and for whatever reason I immediately thought about subbing it for cream in a White Russian. Fast forward to now and it is so worth the extra steps to make the toasted coconut milk. And it makes enough so you can add it into your coffee all week and maybe eat some cereal with it too.
Now, this coconut milk behaves differently than cream would; it’s not thick and it’s not going to significantly lighten the color of your cocktail. That also means it’s going to give a lighter feel in your mouth and not coat your tongue like cream does. Maybe for some of you this is a plus. That said, it’s definitely worth trying out if you’re looking for an alternative to dairy or just looking to try something new!
The Toasty Russian
2 ounces vodka
1 ounce coffee liqueur, St. George Spirits NOLA Coffee Liqueur used here
3/4 to 1 ounce toasted coconut milk (recipe follows)
toasted coconut flakes for garnish, optional
In a rocks glass, build your drink by pouring vodka, coffee liqueur, and toasted coconut milk over ice. Stir to combine. Garnish with some toasted coconut flakes if you’re feeling fancy.
This post is brought to you by Tres Agaves Tequila. Recipes and ideas are my own.
All of my cocktails tend to take on a blue hue this time of year, even if I’m not setting out to make something patriotic. More than anything, I really just love putting blueberries in drinks right now. But what happens when those blueberries are out of season? We’ve got a trick to fix that!
1-1/2 ounces Tres Agaves Blanco Tequila
1 ounce coconut milk (full fat)
3/4 ounce cinnamon syrup (see recipe here)
1/2 ounce lime juice
1/2 cup dehydrated blueberries, lightly crushed (we used Crunchies* here!)
1/4 ounce of Angostura bitters
In a Collins glass, combine Tres Agaves Tequila, coconut milk, cinnamon syrup, and lime juice. Fill glass halfway with crushed ice and swizzle about 20 seconds. Add blueberries and more crushed ice to the glass. Float Angostura on top.
For more information on Tres Agaves Tequila, please visit their site at tresagaves.com.
For more info on sponsored products, affiliate links, and gifted booze, please visit the About page!
This post is brought to you by Campari. Recipes and ideas are my own.
Your Instagram feed might be turning from #millennialpink to a cheery garnet red next week as we embark on the FIFTH year of Negroni Week!
If you’re not familiar with this wonderful time of year, or have only heard of it in passing, let me loop you guys in. From June 5 through 11 this year, bars, restaurants and vendors from around the world celebrate the Negroni cocktail – an iconic mix of Campari, gin, and sweet red vermouth – to raise money and awareness for great causes. What started as just 100 bars in the US, has now grown into an International event and this year will be bigger than ever.
I was compensated by Nielsen-Massey Vanillas for my time in developing this recipe and post. All opinions are my own.
This past week, Instagram was filled, filled, with weddings. It’s like half the internet decided this was the most auspicious week of their lives and if they were ever going to get married they might as well do it now. And I’m in no way hating on these people, in fact, I loved looking over how different they all were from each other; I’m a total sucker for weddings.
All of this celebrating tuned me in to the fact that we are about to hit summer party season. Already. One would say you can’t tell by the weather here in Southern California, but those of us in the know, know, that summer season starts about as gray and gloomy as they get before the awful heat kicks in.
So today we’ve got a fun punch you can throw together for a wedding or a graduation party or “hey look I’ve got a stoop we can sit on for a few hours let’s make a punch and call it a party” party. You’ll find a reason guys to make this punch. It’s also a lovely pink-hued punch for our SoCal June gloom, but it will work for sunny days too. Let’s just all agree not to call it a millennial pink punch. Ok? It was inspired by Turkish cuisine with pomegranates, pistachio and orange blossom water, otherwise known as “Essential Oil of Neroli”.
I’ll tell you upfront, it’s gin based, and I can already hear some of my pals whining about how they don’t drink gin. But trust me! It layers nicely in here and if you use a London dry, like I tell you to, then it won’t be an overpoweringly “gin” punch. Pairing it with a rich pomegranate reduction give a sharp sweetness with a nutty layer from some pistachio orgeat. The whole punch gets tied together with the amazing scent of Nielsen-Massey’s Orange Blossom Water.
There is a tiny amount of the orange blossom water in the pistachio orgeat, but adding in the aroma directly to the punch makes for a more prominent aroma. Also, if you opt not to make the orgeat then this guarantees that you’re still getting lots of orange blossom with every sip.
I’ve been using the Nielsen-Massey vanillas for over a decade now and have started using their extracts in cocktails these past few years. All Nielsen-Massey products are all-natural, certified gluten-free, certified Kosher, allergen-free and GMO-Free, and there is an expanding line of certified organic products (right up our alley!). Their orange blossom water is my go-to for my obsession with almond-alternative orgeats as well.
Are you ready to start your summer punch party? Let’s get mixing.
Desert Rosé Punch
Serves 5-7 guests
7-1/2 ounces London dry style gin, such as Beefeater
1-1/2 ounces pistachio orgeat (recipe here, or sub in orgeat of choice)
2-1/2 ounces pomegranate reduction (recipe follows)
2-1/2 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice
1-1/2 teaspoons Nielsen-Massey Orange Blossom Water, or to taste
1 bottle of sparkling rosé wine
orange slices and pomegranate seeds for ice block
The day before, freeze together the orange slices and pomegranate seeds with water in a container that will fit your punch bowl.
At least an hour before serving, combine the gin, pistachio orgeat, pomegranate reduction, lime juice and Nielsen-Massey Orange Blossom Water into your punch bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
To serve, stir mixture and add ice block to the punch bowl. Top with sparkling rosé wine.
1-1/2 cups all natural pomegranate juice
In a small saucepan over medium high heat, bring pomegranate juice to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer and let sit until juice reduces to a little over a quarter cup.
Remove from the heat, let cool and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one month.
I need to apologize upfront to the reader who had asked about making this recipe two… three (??) years ago. At this point they’ve probably moved on, but I, however, kept this on my “to make” list and am finally, FINALLY, getting around to posting this. Sorry reader.
This will mark the third variation on orgeat I’ve done on the site (OK, one wasn’t technically mine) and I think this shows how adaptable some of these tried and true cocktail ingredients are. Sometimes plain old orgeat isn’t going to cut it and we need to sub in another kind of nut. Today we’re subbing in pistachios.
Pistachios give a savory, earthiness to the orgeat that you might be familiar with if you eat pistachio ice cream. It’s sweet, but hey, there’s a lot of savoriness in there too. Use this pistachio orgeat to pair with sweet tart flavors like passion fruit or berries.
A few notes on this recipe before you venture forward:
If you can find pre-shelled pistachios you will save a lot of time. You might even save yourself some broken fingernails (ugh).
Use WHITE sugar if you want to keep your orgeat a pretty avocado green. Yes, I constantly advocate for the use of unprocessed cane sugar, but if you use the unprocessed stuff with this pistachio orgeat, your color is going to turn a murky brown. It will taste fine, but won’t look pretty. Trust me, I know this for a fact.
Get yourself a nut bag for straining. Cheesecloth is fine but if you like these kinds of projects then a reusable nut bag will not only catch more of the fine bits while straining, but you get to reuse the bag over and over again. I like this bag, but any bag you prefer will probably be fine.
To orange flower water or not to orange flower water? That is the question with orgeats! Most recipes say optional but I say put it in. However, as always, it’s up to you.
Ok, let’s make this!
Yields approximately 2-1/2 cups
2 cups shelled roasted pistachios
2 cups water
2 cups granulated white sugar (see note above)
1 ounce vodka
1 teaspoon orange flower water, such as Nielsen-Massey (see note above)
Place nuts in a bowl and fill with water to just cover them. Soak them for 30 minutes. Drain, place them in a freezer or Lewis bag, and crush them with a meat tenderizer or mallet.
Place the crushed nuts in a large bowl and add the 2 cups of water to it. Let stand for four hours. Strain the nuts and water into another large bowl through a layer of cheesecloth, squeezing the cloth to extract all liquid. Add the nuts back into the strained water and let stand for another hour. This removes the oils from the nuts.
Strain the liquid into a sauce pan and set aside the nuts for another use (I still recommend making chocolate bark with the nuts). Add the sugar to the pan and stir over medium high heat until sugar is dissolved (scrape the bottom occasionally with a spoon to remove any sugar that sticks). Remove from heat and let cool 15 minutes, then add the vodka and orange flower water. Stir and store in a clean glass bottle or air-tight container.
This post is brought to you by Don Q Oak Barrel Spiced Rum. Recipes and ideas are my own.
I’ve decided I hate the term “binge watching” television. The term makes it sound like it’s a bad thing to watch a few hours of House Hunters International. And that, folks, is not a bad way to spend a few hours of relaxation time (i.e. kids are asleep).
The couples on that show are fantastic to watch. Either they are attempting to look into the camera and say something positive about this bungalow in the jungle with giant flying bugs because they are fulfilling some dumb dream when they spent two weeks there in college and now are realizing how difficult it will be dragging their whole family there… OR their significant other is making them get a second house and they are just seething on the inside while obviously trying not to look angry for a national audience. But we can tell!
At the end of the island episodes, the couple is always cheers-ing with some fantastic looking cocktails and they somehow look content with their decision to be the crazy Americans on that island. If they were in Puerto Rico, by the way, they probably were sipping on a cocktail made with Don Q rum.
Today’s recipe is in partnership with Don Q Rums and we’re featuring their newest rum offering the Don Q Oak Barrel Spiced Rum. Don Q Rum has only been in the States a little over a decade, but has been a popular choice in Puerto Rico for 150 years, making it their #1 rum. This spiced rum packs a punch of flavor with vanilla and pepper and just enough sweetness for my palate. While you can definitely sip this rum, it’s also a great mixing rum to make unquestionably delicious cocktails. So that’s what we’re doing with it now!
With such strong flavors to start with in the rum, I decided to use some equally strong flavors to compliment that spiciness. When you think powerful, do you think about gunpowder? In cocktails?! I do, but this version of gunpowder comes in the form of tea. Gunpowder green tea to be exact. Teas are great options for giving subtle (and sometimes not so subtle. Hello lapsang souchong tea!) flavor to cocktails. I steeped this savory, smoky tea in a simple syrup to lend a savory note to the drink and to balance the sweetness of the other components. Thinking of Puerto Rico, I opted to add some guava nectar for tropical sweetness and a big squeeze of lime finished with a touch of orange curaçao. The drink starts sweet, but ends with a lingering earthiness. To give it a finishing kick, the glass is rimmed in a mixture of salt and cayenne.
Ok, so now that we have our tropical inspired drinks, we can get back to the tv watching. While these house hunters might make very questionable choices, make sure your cocktail is unquestionably delicious.
Spiced Gunpowder Guava Cocktail
1-1/2 ounces Don Q Oak Barrel Spiced Rum
3/4 ounce guava nectar
3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice from about 1 lime (reserve lime shell)
1/2 ounce gunpowder green tea syrup (recipe follows)
1/4 ounce orange curaçao
1 teaspoon kosher salt and a pinch of cayenne pepper for garnish
First, combine salt and cayenne pepper in a shallow bowl. Using your spent lime, moisten the outside of your cocktail glass by rubbing the rim with the lime. Rim the side of the cocktail glass in the salt and cayenne mixture.
Next, in a shaker ⅔ filled with ice, pour in Don Q Oak Barrel Spiced Rum, guava nectar, lime juice, gunpowder green tea syrup, and orange curaçao. Shake for 20 seconds and strain into pre-rimmed cocktail glass.
Gunpowder Green Tea Syrup
Yields approximately 5 ounces
3 bags of gunpowder green tea (or two heaping tablespoons if you have loose tea)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
In a small saucepan, combine sugar and water. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Stir in teabags (or loose tea if using). Steep for 10 minutes. Strain and use immediately or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one month.
For more information about Don Q Oak Barrel Spiced Rum and all their exceptional rums, their commitment to sustainability and quality, and for additional drink & garnish ideas and proper glassware tips please visit their website at donq.com.