It’s that magical time of the year where you have a weekend full of reasons to make bad decisions. Place your bets! And let’s make some drinks!
It’s that magical time of the year where you have a weekend full of reasons to make bad decisions. Place your bets! And let’s make some drinks!
This post is brought to you by Tequila Cazadores.
Grab your cocktail shakers! It’s National Margarita Day folks!
Out of all the drink holidays out there, this is probably one of my favorites. Why? Well, who can say no to a Margarita?! Well made and they’re a perfect blend of sweet and sour, and as I mentioned earlier in the week… SO riffable. To help celebrate, I’ve teamed up with Cazadores Tequila, a recognized premium tequila since 1922, to bring you all one of my FAV variations, the Jalapeño Margarita.
Cazadores has been one of my go-to tequilas for quite some time. It’s super reasonably priced but it’s also 100% blue agave—not mixed! Cazadores has five types of tequila in their portfolio: Blanco, Reposado, Añejo, Extra Añejo, and Cristalino; for today’s recipe we’ll be using the Blanco (you’ll recognize the bottle by its hint of blue and the stag gracing the front). Because we’re making a mixed drink, the Blanco expression is the perfect product. It’s light, clean taste has a slightly sweet finish that highlights the agave. It also makes for a balanced cocktail so you taste all the components.
Now, I can take a bit of heat and I love the play of spicy and sweet here. That said, you can totally adjust this to your spiciness level. Want more spicy? Keep the seeds in the jalapeño slice and add two if you’d like. Just want a hint of spice? Take out the seeds and don’t garnish with a second jalapeño slice (the longer the garnish sits in your glass, the more spice it imparts to your drink! Remember that!).
Ok! Let’s shake up some cocktails! And remember, if you celebrate with one of these for #NationalMargaritaDay, remember to tag us so we can peep your creation!
Recipe Courtesy of Manny Hinojosa, Global Brand Ambassador
1-1/2 part Cazadores Tequila Blanco
1/2 part premium Triple Sec
1/2 part agave nectar
1 ounce fresh lime juice
1 slice of jalapeño
Method: In a cocktail shaker with ice combine all the ingredients, shake, and serve over the rocks in glass.
Garnish: with lime, jalapeño slice and salt optional.
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.
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 is brought to you by Specialty Retailers, Inc. Recipes and ideas are my own.
Did you know that Margaritas are the most popular cocktail in the U.S.? Probably not surprising when you think of the amount of frozen, neon colored drinks you encounter walking down the main strip in Las Vegas. I’m sure those are being counted in this statistic. And that bottled drink mix with the svelte lady on the front; that’s probably being counted too. But here in my home bar, a Margarita is a solid, easy to mix drink with endless variations. And today we’ll be making them holiday ready for a little online party!
Today I’m taking part in Stage’s virtual holiday party and sharing my Cranberry Sauce Margaritas to help celebrate and #SetYourHolidayStage! I’m making them extra festive with an easy DIY rosemary sugar rim you can whip up in minutes and use all holiday season long. As my older readers know, I have an entire front yard full of rosemary. So when the Fall and Winter seasons are upon us, I’m sticking it in everything. Food, of course, but also in lots of cocktails. If you’re finding us through the Stages Holiday Party, a quick search through the archives will introduce you to a whole new world of using rosemary in cocktails; take a look!
We still have two whole weeks until Christmas and who knows how many parties we’ll be going to or hosting up to then. If you’re in charge of drinks, Stages has all the accessories you need to make prepping and decorating easy! We did a quick shopping trip online to get all our gear for our virtual party including glasses, those cute gold foil holiday napkins, a caddy to hold the napkins and straws, a chalkboard sign to write out the name of our Signature Cocktail, the containers to store the rosemary sugar, a dipping tray for all the ingredients for the Cranberry Sauce Margaritas, as well as some festive decorations like this teeny tiny lights and the nutcracker. Even my holiday sweater came from there! SO MANY GREAT ENTERTAINING OPTIONS.
Ok, so you set your holiday stage and are ready for guests. Let them feel in charge with a little DIY bar set up. This 3 cup dipping tray could hold snacks any other time of the year, but today it will hold all the components for the Cranberry Sauce Margaritas: cranberry sauce, lime wedges and the rosemary sugar. Put out some little spoons for the dishes and some shot glasses for the booze components. Holiday parties should be about coming together with friends and family, and having this little DIY bar lets guests mingle about with one another.
The recipe for the Cranberry Sauce Margaritas has just a touch of sweetness in it from the cranberry sauce and the Grand Marnier. You can adjust going up or down with either to your liking. I also think adding just a touch of the rosemary sugar into the drink doesn’t hurt either, just remember to shake it really well to combine it all! TIP: use the spent lime wedges from the cocktail recipe to help rim the glasses. Then you won’t need to waste additional lime wedges just for rimming. Also, when rimming your glass, use a shallow bowl or rimmed plate and push the sugar out towards the edges so that the sugar will evenly coat around the glass.
Let’s make some drinks!
1-1/2 ounces blanco tequila
1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 ounce Grand Marnier
1 tablespoon cranberry sauce
rosemary sugar (see recipe below)
First, rim a rocks glass with the rosemary sugar. Set aside. Combine all ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled 2/3 with ice. Shake well to combine, about 30 seconds. Strain over fresh ice into the prepared rocks glass. Add additional cranberry sauce if desired. Optionally garnish with a rosemary sprig.
2 cups granulated sugar
5 sprigs of fresh rosemary, about 3 to 5 inches long, divided
Take one sprig of rosemary and remove all the needles. Finely chop them. Combine the chopped needles and the sugar in an airtight container. Mix well to evenly distribute the rosemary. Add a few extra sprigs to the jar, shake, and let sit overnight or up to a few days. Sugar may look clumpy but it will dry out and break down. Remove the sprigs, seal the jar, and keep in a cool, dry place up to three months.
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.
Yes, I love the spooks and the change of season, but free candy always topped the list of reasons why October 31st was THE BEST. Now, as an adult, I can hop in my car, or rather, have Instacart deliver, all the candy my heart desires. At any time of year. But I’ve learned restraint and I don’t usually buy any until the week before Halloween when stores start having candy sales. And then again the day before Halloween because I’ve eaten it all the past week.
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!
Lastly, Almond Joy bars in my opinion are far superior to a Mounds bar. Because… almonds!! When I think coconut cocktails, I think Piña Coladas, and Master of Mixes has a perfectly balanced Piña Colada Mixer that will be the base of our final drink. A few drops of almond extract, vanilla vodka, and a chocolate float turns this drink into an over-the-top cocktail for Halloween. I’ve been calling it a Choco-joy-lada, but you can just call it delicious.
So grab some extra candy this year, a couple of Master of Mixes bottles, and let’s plan a sweet Halloween party!
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.
4 ounces Master of Mixes Blood Orange Margarita Mixer
2 ounces blanco tequila
1/2 ounce Dry Orange Curaçao
1/4 teaspoon citric acid
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
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.
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
Warning: do not attempt to set off firecrackers after drinking these cocktails.
Cocktails that stick with me tend to fall into two categories: those that tasted amazing and those that appealed to me visually. For example, I can tell you the first time I tasted bell pepper in a cocktail and fell in love with a whole new world of savory cocktails (Las Perlas in downtown L.A.). I can’t recall what it looked like, but I can remember how it tasted. I’ve gone to that flavor combination many times (and a few cocktail riffs have shown up on this website too).
And then there are those cocktails that, visually, wowed the pants off me. When I was in Chicago years ago for a trip I decided to pop over to The Aviary because a friend had recommended it. We went at opening and did not get a reservation as advised (Which seemed like such a crazy idea at the time. Oh how times have changed!) but lucked out and got a table with little wait. I can see the plastic bag filled with smoke, a cocktail glass hidden away within. I remember the small crack of opening the ice sphere that housed a cocktail. The feel of the paper bag wrapped glass bottle. But–– I could not tell you what any of these tasted like. I sat here and tried but it’s the memory of how they looked, more than taste, that has stuck with me.
Today I’m hoping to bridge that gap for you all with this newest cocktail. With flavors both familiar and a little outside the box, and a touch of theatrics in the garnish, this cocktail, which I’m calling The Purple Halo (that will make more sense later) is both tasty and a stunner to look at.
I’ve partnered again this week with Exotico Tequila, and long time favorite Mountain Valley Spring Water to make a cocktail you can impress your guests with all summer long. The base of the cocktail is Exotico Tequila Blanco, made from 100% blue agave and has a slightly spicy flavor profile that mixes really well here. I paired it with agave, lime, and fresh basil to play off its herbal notes. The cocktail then gets a good splash of Mountain Valley’s Sparkling Essence Blackberry Pomegranate Water. Mountain Valley has smaller bubbles, so it adds just a touch of effervescence to the drink without overpowering it. The all natural flavors also add subtle hints of flavor and don’t hijack your drink (or make it taste artificial) resulting in a nicely balanced cocktail.
While delicious on its own, I wanted you to also remember this visually, and that’s where butterfly pea flower tea comes in. If you’ve come across those color changing cocktails on Instagram, this is where they are getting their magic from. You don’t need to be a cocktail wizard to pull this trick off; you just need to be able to order online and make a cup of tea. I was introduced to this tea a few years back when I was still making cocktails with the local Los Angeles pop up The Coconut Club. We made a welcome Ti’ Punch that changed color before the guests’ eyes. They got a kick out of it; we got written up in the local paper. And now your guests will remember your drinks and talk about it for years to come (I cannot guarantee this). The tea changes color, from a dark cobalt to purple or pink, depending on the pH of the liquid you add to it. In this cocktail, the lime juice will start that color change as the ice cube of tea melts into the drink, creating rings of color in the glass.
The butterfly pea flower tea is very, very mild and with the slow dilution does not contribute significantly to the overall flavor of the drink… but it does look cool! So, if you don’t want another box of tea bags taking up real estate in your pantry, you can leave this out and enjoy the cocktail as is.
Ok, so let’s make something cool now!
1-1/2 cups Mountain Valley Spring Water
2 tea bags Butterfly Pea Flower Tea
1-1/2 ounces Exotico Tequila Blanco
5 basil leaves
3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 ounce agave syrup
2 ounces Mountain Valley Sparkling Essence Blackberry Pomegranate
basil leaf for garnish