This post was made in partnership with Truvia®. Recipes and ideas are my own.
The last of the Halloween decorations made their way back into the garage this week. The hold outs were the two trick or treat buckets still filled with candy that were slow to empty. Of course, all the good stuff went immediately. And when I say that I mean that my husband and I ate a good portion of the better candy immediately after the kids went to bed. Then there were the thousands of lollipops, off brand candy, and miscellaneous stuff thrown into the buckets that hung around too long. So those got chucked and the buckets, to my children’s surprise, mysteriously disappeared along with all the rest of the decorations by morning.
This post was made in partnership with Loire Valley Wines. Recipes and ideas are my own.
The day after Thanksgiving I’m usually at my all time laziest. My slippers might not come off all day, and forget about those holiday sales… I am not leaving the house. But what happens when there is a house full of people still… at my house?! What will they eat?! The answer: leftovers. Lots and lots of leftovers. I’m a good host though. I may have slippers on, but I am going to provide a few meal options that are fresh, light, or just the right size for people who just ate their weight the previous day in turkey and pies.
First, and very importantly, here’s my wine tip for you holiday celebration. Buy your wine by the case! Lots of stores and wineries give you a case discount which means you don’t have to worry about running out during a meal, or even by Saturday. We’ve teamed up with Loire Valley Wines for our Thanksgiving meal as wines from this region are the most diverse, producing wines in every style to make sure you have the perfect one for your meal. If that makes you feel overwhelmed, don’t worry! Loire Valley Wines are ideal food wines with moderate alcohol levels, refreshing acidity and minerality so chances are most will work with your dinner. They’re also a great price point, so buying a case, mixing and matching styles, gives you even greater success at pairing for your holiday!
Bite Size Croque Monsieur Tartines
2 cups leftover gravy (or make your own bechamel sauce, see note below)
2 cups cooked turkey, shredded
10 slices bread, toasted
Gruyere or Parmesan cheese, grated
cranberry sauce for dipping
quail eggs, optional
Turn on broiler. Place toasted bread on a foil covered baking sheet. Spread desired amount of dijon mustard on bread slices (I used about a teaspoon per slice of bread). Sprinkle a handful of turkey next on the bread, followed by a dollop of gravy. Spread the gravy over the turkey and sprinkle cheese on top. Place under the broiler until cheese is melted and slightly browned. Serve with leftover cranberry sauce! If you’re feeling fancy, add a fried quail egg on top. They make these little bites even more adorable.
Note: to make a bechamel sauce, melt 2 tablespoons unsalted butter in a saucepan. Add in 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour and mix for a few minutes until combine. Slowly pour 2 cups hot milk into the butter/flour mixture and whisk continually until well combined. Remove from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, pinch of nutmeg, and 1/2 a cup of shredded Gruyere cheese. Use immediately.
Whoa. Yeah, I know. It’s not Halloween anymore so what’s up with the “blood” in the title? Well, I’ll start the story at the beginning here by asking a simple question: Who Are You?
Years ago when I first started writing in the small space on the internet known as cocktail blogging, I feel like I had a pretty good grasp on who else was also writing in this space. And folks, this was pre-Instagram days, you had to sometimes do a little leg work to find the other folks. I also had a good grasp on who my readers were. Mainly because people talked a whole lot more on blogs than they do now. But this wasn’t my full time gig, I was creative directing for a living for a company here in Los Angeles and this site was just a fun hobby that I popped in and out of. What that meant was that I also wasn’t super consistent and would disappear for months at a time. Readers came and went and then social media got super crazy and this little space expanded SO much and SO rapidly that it no longer felt so intimate and cozy.
Lately then, when I do speak on here, it’s kinda just like yelling down a deep, dark well. And that’s no fun. I’m writing this for anyone who reads this site, and I’d like us to get to know each other just a little bit. So if you ever wanted to know a few tidbits about me, here you go:
I have zero formal training as a bartender
I have a fine arts background including photography
I have a degree in Art History that concentrated on Mesoamerican Art History (which is how I know about blood rituals and chocolate and how they all tie in together and that’s how this particular mezcal Old Fashioned got its name)
I have two kids that did not exist when I started writing about cocktails
I get motion sickness scrolling on my phone sometimes
I’m terrified of moths (and Ray Liotta and that’s still on my about me page which I should probably update)
I used to DJ all vinyl 45s of girl group and girl garage bands based from the late 50s to the early 70s here in Los Angeles for years before taking a break in 2014
I’m a morning person
Heat Wave by NARS is my favorite lipstick
I have ~75 bottles of bitters I will never use
I wanted to be a race car driver when I was 8
I had a blog in the early 2000’s about live music shows in Los Angeles. It’s still out there on the internet!
Ok, now you!!! I’ve got a super short survey for you all. You don’t even have to answer all the questions if you want! And to make it worth your while, everyone who responds and leaves an email will get the chance to win a $50 e-gift card to Cocktail Kingdom. I like my readers. And I know some of you like pretty cocktail accessories too.
Also! Old Fashioned Week is almost over so I thought I’d squeeze this recipe in before it’s too late. It’s rich and smoky and the chocolate comes through nicely. Don’t forget to express a little grapefruit oil with that garnish. It works best with that touch of bitter citrus.
In a mixing glass 2/3 with ice, stir together the mezcal, agave and both bitters. Strain into a rocks glass with fresh ice. Express the oil from the grapefruit peel over the drink and drop in the peel.
EDIT: giveaway is not affiliated with Cocktail Kingdom. Survey will close on November 26 and winner will be announced via email that week.
This post was made in partnership with Master of Mixes. Recipes and ideas are my own.
The closer I get to Halloween, the more my brain starts chanting…candy candy candy candy candy. I mean, it’s actually Garfield chanting it, because I still think of that Halloween special from the ’80’s that I grew up on, and I still, to this day, identify with his love of sarcasm and, well, candy.
This year I made the exception and bought some candy a little early so I could make some treats for all of you! My readers! Working with Master of Mixes, I’ve crafted THREE tasty candy inspired cocktails you can make for yourself, or batch for your Halloween party this weekend. If you’re not familiar with them, Master of Mixes has been crafting high quality, delicious mixers for 40 years! They have more than 45 flavors in their catalog, but I narrowed down today to just three of my favorites: their Mint Syrup, Blood Orange Margarita Mixer, and Piña Colada Mixer. And my inspiration? Junior Mints, Sour Patch Kids, and Almond Joy.
First up is the Junior Mint inspired cocktail. And it’s ALL about that super mint flavor. Here I’ve used Master of Mixes Mint Syrup to give me a strong punch of mint flavor. Their syrup is made with Pacific Northwest Spearmint and has a clean, fresh taste. I’ve paired this with vodka, cream, and coffee liqueur to mimic the creaminess of the candy, and instead of the richness you’d get with the chocolate, I’ve opted to use a strong coffee liqueur to make this more sophisticated.
My love of sour drinks probably started with my love of Sour Patch Kids growing up. For this next cocktail, I’m taking the sweet and sour citrus flavors of the candy and crafting a Blood Orange Margarita with Master of Mixes Blood Orange Margarita Mixer. To get more citrus in, and to add a bitter element to this, I’ve mixed the blanco tequila with a touch of Dry Orange Curaçao. I’ve also created a “sour” sugar rim with citric acid and sugar to fool the taste buds. The blood orange mix is housed in an ice sphere that will make the cocktail sweeter as you drink it!
Junior Mint Cocktail
1-1/2 ounces vodka
1/2 ounce Master of Mixes Mint Syrup
3/4 ounce coffee liqueur
3/4 ounce cream
In a shaker filled 2/3 with ice, pour in vodka, Master of Mixes Mint Syrup, coffee liqueur, and cream. Shake 20 seconds to combine. Strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice. Pop a couple Junior Mints.
First, to make the Master of Mixes Blood Orange Margarita ice sphere, you will need a spherical ice mold like this. Alternatively, you could also use a large ice cube mold as well. Pour the mix in the mold and freeze at least 6 hours or overnight (depending on your freezer). Next, combine citric acid and sugar in a shallow bowl large enough to fit the rim of your glass. Moisten the rim of your glass with a lime wedge and roll in the prepared mixture. Then, in a shaker 2/3 filled with ice, pour in the tequila and Dry Orange Curaçao. Shake and strain into the prepared rocks glass. Add the Master of Mixes Blood Orange Margarita ice sphere to the drink and stir about 20 seconds to start melting the mix into the drink. Take a few sips and try not to pucker your lips too much.
Almond Joy Cocktail
2 ounces vanilla vodka
bar spoon of almond extract
4 ounces Master of Mixes Piña Colada Mixer
1 – 2 tablespoons chocolate syrup (or if you’re feeling extra fancy, then try it with the chocolate liqueur of your choice!)
In a shaker 2/3 filled with ice, pour in vanilla vodka, almond extract, and Master of Mixes Piña Colada Mixer. Shake 20 seconds and pour everything into a highball glass. Using the back of a spoon, float chocolate syrup on top of the drink. Grab a reusable straw and gently mix it together, or not. Cause sometimes you feel like mixing, sometimes you don’t.
For more information on Master of Mixes, loads of cocktail recipes, and more how-to’s, please visit them at MixologyPro.com
A few days ago I grabbed my phone, opened Instagram, scrolled down to a fellow cocktail blogger I follow and wrote something to the effect of “this is cozy AF” to describe their photo. And it was super cozy! But it got me thinking, when did we collectively decide that we want to curse, or rather, give the illusion of cursing, so frequently on social media?
Now, I’m a seasoned swearer in my day-to-day life. Well, before I had children, and now I’ve adapted to effectively cursing with substitute words as if I was actually dropping an f-bomb (like when I screamed OH FUDGE immediately following a head-butt to my chin rattling my jaws shut the other night while trying to wrestle a kid into pajamas.). However, I have chosen, for the most part, to refrain from using obscenities on my blog or social media sites because it just felt… not necessary. However, there has been a subtle shift with our acronym usage over the past several years where I might not have spelled it out, but I definitely let a WTF slide into a conversation that was being publicly broadcast over twitter. And now, commenting nonchalantly that someone’s fall-themed cocktail is definitely cozy enough to warrant an “AF”.
This masked profanity usage made me do a second glance at an email recently as an online course in social media was being promoted as, and I’m paraphrasing here, “Make your photos cool AF on Instagram”. I mean, sure, I’d like my photos to be professional, cool even. But this marketing ploy felt kinda clumsy, and definitely not geared towards a level I would consider spending money on to become an expert. I half expect the course would show you how to incorporate some animated gifs of cats vomiting rainbows or the like.
All of this, while I accept it, still feels strange. Maybe it’s a turning tide of age lines, and that I have been doing this blogging thing for a while now and there’s a new crop of DGAF social media personalities that don’t want to be too polite (but polite enough not to spell out that they are, in fact, swearing). Or are they even aware that what they’re shortening is a curse word? Or maybe with our collective need for brevity we would all be cursing at each other but we just don’t have the attention span, or time. Well…shit. What do you guys think?
Before we conclude, I actually AM feeling some fall feelings finally and since it got into the low 70s in Los Angeles this past week, I made myself a Hot Toddy! I’ve had “turmeric hot toddy” scribbled on a note for some time now ever since I started making a tea with ground turmeric, black pepper, honey and almond milk. How on trend you might be thinking. But! It actually came from my Indian mother-in-law who grew up drinking something similar when she was sick and suggested I drink it the last time I came down with a cold. Turmeric is supposed to help with inflammation along with the addition of black pepper, and improve immune functions, and blah blah blah, this isn’t WebMD so I can’t say any of this works for sure. What I can say, with certainty, since this is a cocktail blog, that it is very tasty with the addition of rum and apricot liqueur. The earthiness of the turmeric is balanced out nicely with the sweetness from the apricot and honey, then the sharp citrus cuts through so that it doesn’t lean too much toward the sweet side. The aged rum give the whole drink flavors of spice and vanilla.
In a heat proof mug, pour in turmeric powder, black pepper and honey. Mix together until a paste forms. Then add in lemon juice, apricot liqueur and rum. Pour hot water into the mug and then carefully stir to combine. Garnish with a lemon peel.
This post was made in partnership with Truvia®. Recipes and ideas are my own.
Halloween may have you thinking about those sweet treats filling up your jack-o-lantern buckets, but today we’re going to be talking about a different kind of sweetness…how we show a little sweetness to each other every day. And we’ve got a fun cocktail kit we’ll show you how to make when you want to give a little sweetness to a friend, partner, or yourself!
We’ve teamed up with Truvia® to find out “What motivates you to be sweet and kind.” Truvia and Upworthy.com are exploring what motivates individuals to be sweet. Some of the research might surprise you and they have a fun quiz you can take to find out what your sweetness personality type is too. There are four possible types: Purely Sweet, Reciprocally Sweet, Tactfully Sweet, and Graciously Sweet. Curious what kind of sweetness you are? Take the quiz and let me know! I am Graciously Sweet, which means I enjoy doing kind things with the goal of inspiring others to pay it forward. I admit I do love a teachable moment.
So, today I’m going to use this post as a teachable moment. I’m going to teach you all how to put together a simple cocktail kit to give to a friend, partner or yourself. This could be a thank you gift, a hostess gift, something to give for the holidays, or an extra special treat you can tuck away for yourself when you need a little self-care.
Truvia Natural Sweetener packets now come with uplifting sweet phrases on each pack, the perfect little bit of sweetness to add to someone’s day. They are also a great size and amount to sweeten a cocktail with. Adding these single serve packets keeps everything neat and organized.
Ready to sweeten someone’s day? Let’s look at what we’ll need to create this cocktail kit.
For this cocktail kit, I’m putting together a Whiskey Old Fashioned recipe. For one reason, all the ingredients are easy to come by, and everything is shelf stable. Also, if your friend or partner is a novice when it comes to making drinks, this is super easy!
First, find a container that will fit everything. A small box or tin works great. You can keep this simple by visiting a craft store or kitchen supply store to find small bottles and bar tools. Also, Amazon has lots of options. Label all the bottles so your recipient knows what’s inside and measure out the amount you’ll need for your recipes. You can choose to create 2 or more servings depending on the size bottles you get. Then create a recipe card with how much to measure from each bottle. You can optionally personalize the items too. Rocks glasses with initials are not hard to come by, and they show the person you went out of your way to find something unique. Finally, tuck the Truvia Natural Sweetener packets in the glass so they can see the sweet phrases on them. Package up everything and deliver to that special someone!
I hope I’ve inspired you to show a little sweetness to someone in your life!
This post was made in partnership with Truvia®. Recipes and ideas are my own.
Even though fall officially started last week, it feels like we’ve been in it for awhile now. Is it me, or is that certain pumpkin-spiced coffee drink arriving earlier and earlier each year? Now, while I LOVE all the pumpkin things, I really am not a fan of overly milky drinks (like those lattes). But I do love coffee, and it just happens to be #NationalCoffeeDay tomorrow, September 29! And what better way to marry pumpkin spice and coffee than to make a cocktail with them?!
In a mixing glass filled 2/3 with ice, pour in bourbon, coffee liqueur, pumpkin spice syrup, and bitters. Stir 20 seconds and strain over a large ice cube into a rocks glass. Garnish with orange zest and cinnamon stick.
Truvia Pumpkin Spice Syrup
1 cup Truvia Natural Sweetener
1 cup water
2 tablespoons pumpkin puree
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
In a medium sized saucepan over medium-high heat, combine Truvia Natural Sweetener and water, stirring constantly until Truvia is dissolved. Add in pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice and ground ginger. Stir until everything is well combined. Let simmer until thickened, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit five minutes. Strain through cheesecloth over a strainer or use a nut milk bag (this one is my fav!). Syrup will keep refrigerated in an airtight container up to two weeks.
This post was made in partnership with 90+ Cellars. Recipes and ideas are my own.
Here is Southern California, September is a tricky month. While much of the country is starting to get cooler temps and fall into sweater weather, here we get scorching temperatures. Weirdly, if you journey into the mountains, barely an hour away, the apple farms are heavy with fruit ready to be picked; there’s a bit of a disconnect. But that means we can continue to savor summer just a little bit longer and make some cocktail and wine choices that transition between these two seasons nicely.
With a light bubbliness, aromas of berries and rose, and a slight acidity, pairing with sweet, tart apples is a perfect pair. These three dishes we’ve picked out work as part of an appetizer spread, on their own, or even as part of a larger meal, and they all pair very well with this rosé.
“Holiday entertaining” might still be a few months away, but we think there’s always a reason to celebrate with a party and this transitional time between months, with a few extra hours of sunlight left in the day, is definitely reason enough for us! Now on to the pairings!
To start: Apple Jelly with cured ham and Manchego
An easy and quick appetizer to assemble! On water crackers or bread, layer a piece of cured ham, Manchego cheese, and a dollop of apple jelly. The fattiness of the meat and cheese with the smooth, sweetness of the apple jelly pair are lovely with the small bubbles of the wine.
Palate cleanser: Sweet and Spicy Apple Granita (full recipe below)
Enjoy this cool treat on its own, or between meals as a palate cleanser. Just don’t forget your wine! That acidity in the rosé pairs with the slight acidity found in the apple cider and lemon juice in the granita.
With the main meal: Spiced Apple Chutney (full recipe below)
While a rich, spiced chutney might seem like a heavy match for rosé, the 90+ Cellars Lot 49 Sparkling Rosé lightens the dish up and the spices work really well together. The chutney can be enjoyed on a slice of toasted bread, or alongside a main dish like pork.
Sweet and Spicy Apple Granita
3 cups apple cider
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1-1/2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
In a medium sized sauce pan, combine all the ingredients and bring to just under a boil. Remove from heat and whisk to combine. Pour into a 9×12 baking pan and place in the freezer. After 30-45 minutes, whisk mixture to break up any ice chunks. Wait one hour and with a fork, scrape through the mixture so that it is chunky. Wait an additional hour and scrape the fork through again, fluffing up the mixture. Freeze until ready to serve.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
2 diced and peeled apples (I used Gala)
1/4 cup seedless raisins
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons water
Heat a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Add shallots; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add apple; cook 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in raisins, mustard seeds, sugar, pepper, cloves, ginger and salt. Add vinegar and 2 tablespoons water; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until apples are tender and most of liquid is absorbed. Serve warm or let cool and transfer to an air-tight container. Refrigerate for up to one week.
If you’d like to find out more about 90+ Cellars Lot 49 Rosé and all their wines, please visit them at: ninetypluscellars.com/