Give me a single good piece of chocolate and I am usually good for dessert. No need to make it into a fancy cake (although I’d eat it), or melt it into some ice cream (I’d eat that too), just by itself I’m usually satisfied. Now, pair it with a good cocktail and I’m golden…
Which brings us to today’s post. I was recently introduced to Taza’s organic dark Mexican style chocolate discs and a single piece was not enough this time. The rich, crunchy chocolate has started to become my dessert ritual and I figured it was time I made a cocktail to pair alongside it.
So what might become a semi-regular thing around these parts, I’ve decided to create some cocktail and food bite pairings that shouldn’t break the bank. But, at the same time, seem pretty decadent, well thought out, and most importantly DELICIOUS. First up is dessert (which is the way it should be).
It’s summer. It’s hot. You don’t want a cocktail or dessert to weigh you (and anyone you happen to be entertaining) down. This cocktail plays it light with an unexpected main ingredient, Bauchant. I first tasted Bauchant at the WSWA this year and was all goggle-eyed at how delicious this was just on its own. But what is it you ask? Bauchant is an orange liqueur with a cognac base that uses 3 different orange varieties: Andalusian, Mandarin, and Tangerine. It’s complex and lovely and on its own quite sippable, but on the heavier side. I combined it with a splash of gin, another splash of freshly squeezed lemon juice, and a heavy glug of club soda to transform it into a refreshing long drink that’s not too sweet and super flavorful. The sweetness of the Bauchant gets a nice contrast of tart from the lemon, with a few juniper notes from the gin, and mellows out with the club soda. Delicious.
And the pairing for this sipper? Taza’s Coffee Chocolate Mexicano Discs. Their Classic collection has a lot to choose from: Cinnamon, Vanilla, Guajillo Chili, Salted Almond, Cacao Puro, and Coffee. The coffee won me over for this pairing though. The dark, roasted coffee and chocolate flavors contrasted with the sharp effervescent cocktail are a perfect pair.
Are you hungry yet? Let’s get mixing!
1 ounce Bauchant liqueur
1/2 ounce Beefeater London Dry gin
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
2-3 ounces club soda, Q-Club used here
lemon peel for garnish
In a highball glass (or if you have it, Delmonico style chimney glass which is around 5-8 ounces), fill with crushed ice. Build the cocktail by adding in the Bauchant liqueur, Beefeater London Dry gin, and lemon juice. Give it a stir or two and top with club soda. Garnish with a lemon peel and break off a big piece of Taza’s Coffee Chocolate Mexicano Discs, sit back, and savor summer.
*This cocktail pairing post was inspired by Taza Chocolate and Drizly, the on-demand liquor delivery company. I hope I’ve inspired you to make a drink and treat yourself. For more info on sponsored products, affiliate links, and gifted booze, please visit the About page.
Hey guys! I wrote a long, “science” laden post all about aquafaba over here and this post is where I’m sticking the recipe for properly making the cocktail. But for the short version, aquafaba is the cooking liquid from beans like chickpeas (or any neutral tasting legume) that is used in place of egg whites. Hence, a vegan cocktail (unless your bourbon is fat washed or you cooked your beans in chicken stock)!
Note: if you want to make this with an egg white, you can do a 1:1 substitution for the aquafaba. It just won’t be vegan anymore.
1-3/4 ounce sloe gin, I used Spirit Works Distillery*
3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup (1:1 ratio)
1 ounce aquafaba, see note above
2 ounces chilled club soda, Q-Club used here
In a shaker, combine sloe gin, lemon juice, simple syrup and squafaba. Dry shake with 1 ice cube until very frothy (I find this takes anywhere from 15 -30 seconds). Then add ice until shaker is 2/3 full. Shake again to combine and chill for about 20 seconds. Strain into a highball glass and add club soda.
This space is too lighthearted to get very political or get in-depth about current news events, but with Thanksgiving coming next week, it’s a good reminder to be thankful for whatever you have in your life. And if it’s Thanksgiving, I’m shoving cranberry sauce in my face like no one is watching.
I’m of the camp that you need a little sweet with the savory. And while I enjoy pretty much all the flavors that grace the holiday table (except maybe you, green bean casserole), you bet that on every forkful of turkey or potatoes or creamed onions, there is a little bit of cranberry sauce. Ok, maybe a LOT of cranberry sauce.
And I’m not picky either. You want to feed me the jello version from the can? Sure, I’ll take it. Or you made a passed down recipe from your great-grandmother that is laced with a little booze? Sure, I’ll take that too. I’ll take them all.
So why am I not eating it more often so that when Turkey Day comes I’m not feeding myself like a ravenous zombie? Well, I kinda forget about it. I think the ensuing coma from eating resets my brain every year and I spend the rest of the time oblivious until a week or so before Thanksgiving when I see some ad in a magazine and my mouth starts salivating in a Pavlovian response.
This year it was decided that since I have such a short window of time to enjoy cranberries, I’ll make the most of it and enjoy them by not only eating those berries, but also drinking them! In fact, I figured if I made a shrub with them, I’d get to enjoy them a little bit longer (although, it’s so darn tasty I doubt it will stick around for very long).
This black pepper–spiced cranberry shrub is sweet, savory, and tart. It mixes up quick and with a fruity sparkling wine and citrusy bitters, the drink works wonderfully to lighten a meal packed with sweet potatoes, stuffing, turkey, and more. And if you don’t use up the whole shrub in one go, it will keep in the fridge for at least a month.
For the Cranberry-Black Pepper Shrub
2 cups (approximately 10 ounces by weight) cranberries
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns, lightly crushed
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
In a nonreactive saucepan, combine cranberries, peppercorns, apple cider vinegar, sugar, and water. Stir to combine. Cover and place over medium-high heat. Cook, opening the lid and stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves and some of the cranberries begin popping open, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, uncover, and allow to cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Pour entire mixture into an airtight, nonreactive container. Refrigerate at least 8 and up to 12 hours. Strain mixture twice through a fine-mesh strainer, transfer to an airtight container, and refrigerate for up to one month.
For the Cocktails (yields 12 drinks)
36 ounces chilled sparkling wine (from 2 bottles)
20 dashes orange bitters, Regan’s used here
12 ounces chilled Cranberry-Black Pepper Shrub
Cranberries, for garnish
Slowly pour chilled sparkling wine into a pitcher. Add bitters and chilled cranberry-black pepper shrub. Stir very gently to mix. Serve immediately. Individual glasses can be garnished with cranberries.
Note: For a non-alcoholic alternative, combine 1 ounce of the cranberry-black pepper shrub, 1/4 ounce simple syrup, and 3 ounces club soda (I love Q-Club!) in a wine glass. (Add two dashes of orange bitters, if desired—they contain a tiny amount of alcohol.) Garnish with cranberries and serve. This recipe originally appeared on Serious Eats.
This post is brought to you by Aperol. Ideas are my own.
Today’s post is a kind of choose your own adventure. Whether you prefer to stay in an air conditioned home bar, or off under a shady tree on a hot summer day, I’m here to help make sure that wherever you do go, you have a pretty sweet bar set up.
I’ve teamed up with Aperol this summer to help kick off your very own Aperol Spritz Break. What’s that you ask? Italy’s favorite spirit, Aperol, has it’s own signature cocktail that’s the perfect reason to stop and take a moment to relax. Where you relax is up to you, so let’s get you set up for your #SpritzBreak.
The Home Bar
Although you may have a serious case of missing out looking at everyone’s Instagram account that shows off their mid-century bar cart, let me tell you that a decent home bar does not require one. I don’t have one, and look, I have a whole website devoted to cocktails made out of a home bar. This set up just requires you have a small rectangle of space to devote to your seasonal drink.
A seasonal drink? Yes. Why? Because cluttering up your space with a bunch of bottles is messy and if you have everything picked out ready to go, you look so smart when guests drop in and you can offer them a drink within seconds. It also means you get to switch out the area every season and fill it up with a new recipe and accoutrements; man I love the accoutrements. For the summer I’m enjoying an Aperol Spritz.
What makes a great space? The details. Your bar set up should be a tiny party waiting to happen. It should look like fun, but it should also be neat and have everything you need.
Like the proper bottles: have all the bottles you need for your seasonal drink ready and full. And then some. I love the small bottles from Q-Club and Fevertree for when I’m having a cocktail or two at home, or if a friend or Christopher is there enjoying one with me. For the larger crowds I use a soda siphon. Special dibs to you if you have a vintage one that works!
Ice: invest in a good ice bucket that will keep your ice cool. I like to break out my bronze pineapple when I have guests, but if it’s couple night at the house, I have a rugged OXO insulated bucket that gets the job done.
Tools & Glassware: for the Aperol Spritz, no shaker is necessary. Just a stir stick to give it a final swirl before serving. For this punchy-colored cocktail I prefer an equal punchy-colored stirrer. These birds came from South America, but you can just go as far as Amazon and find some colorful ones. For serving, I like to have a few different size glasses available since this recipe is so adaptable. A few stemless wine glasses and some larger goblets for when you’re in the mood. And don’t forget a small knife for your fruit.
And speaking of fruit: always have a full bowl of fruit. Always. It’s not like they need to be kept refrigerated, they pretty up the space, and you’ll need lots of orange slices on hand for that Aperol Spritz.
Extras: It may seem obvious, but have some napkins for you and your guests. I always have paper and cloth napkins at the ready. You know there are just some people you’ll have over that either need a lot of napkins or are going to destroy your nice hand-stamped linen ones: give them paper. Alternatively, there are going to be some folks who scoff at paper. Whether it’s because of the environment or they’re a whole bunch of haughty hoo-haw: give them the cloth. Chances are they know enough not to spit their gum out in it. This same reasoning goes with straws too. Both napkins and straws are the quickest way to change up the whole theme of your bar area.
And lastly, flowers: I’m a glutton for fresh flowers around the house. If I had my way there would be a constant rotation of flowers and my house would always smell amazing. A little bouquet just perks up the bar area and you don’t have to get super fancy. BONUS: get edible flowers and use them in your drinks.
The Outside Bar
Whether you’re moving the party outside to the stoop, out to the park, or over to the beach, sometimes you need to just take it out of the house. Everything you need to have your own Spritz Break party can easily fit into a small insulated bag like this; just stop and get some ice on the way!
Many of the same requirements for your home bar set up work out in the wild:
Bring only what you need: a bottle of Aperol, a bottle of prosecco, and two small bottles of club soda is enough for you and a small group of friends to have a nice round of drinks.
Have the right tools: napkins, straws, a bottle open, a selfie-stick. Only the essentials.
Glassware: leave the real glass at home. Invest in some nice quality plastic for trips out.
A place to sit: blankets are lovely.
Plan ahead though too:
Chill your bottles beforehand. That way your ice doesn’t immediately melt as soon as it hits the liquid.
Cut your garnishes at home. Then you don’t have to bring a cutting board, a knife, and attract bees (trust me on the bees).
Bring along some lazy games like playing cards or dominoes. Or Cards Against Humanity. Something that you only need to give a quarter of your attention to so you really do feel like you’re taking a break.
Regardless of where you head this summer, use these tips to make sure you have the best bar set up, and you’re sure to have a relaxing Spritz Break.
Never had an Aperol Spritz before, or need a recipe refresher? It’s as easy as 3, 2, 1:
3 parts prosecco, Cinzano Prosecco used here
2 parts Aperol
1 part club soda, Q-Club used here
Add prosecco, Aperol and club soda to a glass filled with ice. There’s really no cap on the size of each part; I’ve been known to fill a goblet or two. Top your glass off with a slice of orange, maybe a straw or two, and you’re ready for your #SpritzBreak!
For more Aperol Spritz Break ideas, please head on over to Aperol.com!
Toast Sichuan peppercorns, star anise, cloves, and fennel in a dry, medium skillet over medium heat, tossing and stirring frequently until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add cinnamon stick, sugar, and water and place over medium high heat. Cook, stirring, until just starting to boil. Cover and remove from heat. Let rest for 2 hours. Strain into an airtight container. Five-spice syrup will last up to two weeks in the refrigerator.
For 4 Cocktails:
6 ounces bourbon, such as 4 Roses Yellow Label
3 ounces Five-Spice Syrup (see above)
2 ounces fresh juice from 2 to 3 limes
8 ounces club soda
Lime wedges for garnish
In a pitcher, combine bourbon, 3 ounces Five-spice syrup, and lime juice. Stir well. Add club soda and stir gently. To serve, fill rocks glasses with ice, pour in 4-3/4 ounces of the cocktail and top with lime wedges.
The sweet, savory, and pungent flavors of the Five Spice Syrup are an excellent pair to the rich, slightly sweet bourbon. And when you add in the lime juice and club soda, the whole cocktail gets loosened up a bit and really is quite refreshing.
I wish I could remember the first time I tried mezcal, or even heard of it. Although I’ve tried to rack my brain for that one time, it exists as if I somehow always knew about it. I wish I was that cool. Probably it was sometime over the past 5, maybe 7, years when we collectively started giving other liquors a chance to star in our drinks.
Now I like to put mezcal in everything. And today’s drink is one from my ongoing “to make” list. Here my notes were: meaty, but refreshing. I’m guessing this was a late night scribbling where I had something particular in mind but what exactly is no longer clear. But I like these challenges. To make things even more interesting, bitters will play a unique supporting role in transforming the drink into two different sips. For a slightly savory cocktail, Angostura will be dashed in. And for a sweeter alternative, chocolate bitters will be used. All versions have Aperol there, an assertive liquor that stands up next to the flavors of mezcal without getting lost.
It’s kind of a choose your own adventure cocktail.
Now that I’m remembering that liquor store, I’m realizing that the other reason I liked going over there was that next door there was a Christian store that sold Bible action figures like Samson and Delilah. What a way to get kids thrilled about the Old Testament. When I was Catholic I was all in, until I wasn’t anymore.
Ok, enough about Bible Liquor stores. Let’s get to cocktail making!
1 ounce mezcal, Del Maguey Vida Organic used here
3/4 ounce Aperol
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice from 1/2 lemon
3 ounces club soda
2-3 dashes of either Angostura or Chocolate bitters, like Scrappy’s Chocolate Cocktail Bitters
lemon peel for garnish
In a shaker 2/3 filled with ice, add mezcal, Aperol, lemon juice and bitters of your choice. Shake to combine and then strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice. Top with club soda and garnish with lemon peel.
I’m using the Vida mezcal here because it’s both a wonderful sipping liquor and it mixes well with others. It’s assertive without being aggressive. Aperol is not too bitter and not too sweet. (But it’s just the right amount of both that you don’t need to add another sweetener.) Freshly squeezed lemon juice adds in a touch of tartness, and the whole thing is topped off with a glug of club soda to mellow it out and give some effervescent pep. Angostura adds spice that compliments some of the cinnamon and earthy flavors found in the mezcal. Or you can change that up with a few dashes of chocolate bitters. The sweet, roasted chocolate flavors in the bitters play up the sweet and bitter orange in the Aperol and also some of the vanilla found in the mezcal. This makes the drink excellent for a slightly sweet digestif or a surprisingly refreshing nightcap.
At first glance, the ingredient list looks like the start of some Thanksgiving dessert: brown sugar, apple cider, lemon juice…but then we get some sweet vermouth thrown in there. Mmmm. Carpano Antica provides your boozy boost here and turns out it’s a strong enough player to carry all the elements.
Getting this not to turn into an overly sweet cocktail means a careful balance of ingredients. It’s amazing what a squeeze of lemon can do in addition to a nice glug of club soda. Even with 4 ounces, the drink still feels rich and bright. And don’t forget the lemon zest!
Also, if you haven’t heard, there’s also a giveaway going on right now! Head over here for some Sipp Sparkling Organic sodas – a nice addition to your cocktail bar.
Now let’s start on those holiday cocktails…
2 ounces Carpano Antica
1 ounce apple cider
1 bar spoon brown sugar (or 1 non-packed teaspoon)
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice from half a lemon
4 ounces club soda, Fever-Tree used here
lemon peel for garnish
In a rocks glass, add one bar spoon of brown sugar. Pour lemon juice over the brown sugar and muddle until the sugar is dissolved. Add ice and then pour in Carpano Antica and apple cider. Stir gently to combine and then top with club soda. Garnish with a lemon peel.
**Someone online had asked me about batching this when I originally posted the recipe on Serious Eats and I actually think this would be a fine drink to serve pitcher style. Just mix everything except club soda together ahead of time (multiplied by your number of servings, omitting 1 teaspoon of brown sugar for every 4 servings). When ready to serve, either pour club soda into the pitcher, or top off each cocktail; entirely up to you how you want to serve.
Amari are a great sub in for cocktails of the lighter ABV style (as you’ve seen in this first round here) although as I’ve mentioned before, not all are going to clock in under 40% so read your labels. This drink, written earlier this week for Serious Eats, is all about my love/hate relationship with berry season. Mainly, I can’t stand the damn seeds in berries. They pretty much ruin my enjoyment of one of my favorite types of fruit. However, being the crafty person that I am, getting around the issue of the seeds in cocktails was solved with a pretty simple berry syrup. All the flavor with none of the seeds. Smart.
Combined with Cocchi Americano, this syrup gives just enough sweetness so that it’s refreshing to drink while not being too overpowering in the fruit department. Mainly, it’s balanced quite nicely.
So please enjoy this late Sunday sipper while we still have long, bright evenings here in the Northern Hemisphere (sorry Australia, you get yours in December). And learn to be OK with drinking cocktails that end in -spritz and are pink.
For the Raspberry-Mint Syrup:
1 cup raspberries
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
10 mint leaves
In a medium saucepan, combine raspberries, sugar, and water over medium-high heat. Mash raspberries with a wooden spoon to break up. Bring to a boil and then remove from heat. Add mint leaves and stir to combine. Cover and let stand for 30 minutes. Using a fine-mesh strainer, strain into an airtight container. Syrup keeps up to 1 month in the refrigerator.
For the cocktail:
3 ounces dry sparkling wine
1 ounce club soda
2 ounces Cocchi Americano
3/4 ounce Raspberry-Mint Syrup
Raspberries and mint, for garnish
Fill a rocks glass or goblet with ice. Add sparkling wine, club soda, Cocchi Americano, and Raspberry-Mint Syrup. Gently stir to combine. Garnish with raspberries and a sprig of mint.
I’ve got some more of these low alcohol summer cocktails coming at you over the next few weeks so I really hope you enjoy them! As always, let me know if you’re enjoying one through the internet! It’s online all the time!
Roses in the Snow is a take on a gin fizz and you can read more about that and hydrosols over on the Serious Drinks post.
1-1/2 ounces new world style gin, Uncle Val’s used here
3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup
3/4 ounce Rose Water
1 egg white
2 ounces club soda
3-4 dashes of Peychaud’s Bitters
Add gin, lemon, simple syrup, rosewater, and eggwhite to a cocktail shaker. Dry shake (without ice) to incorporate eggwhite, about 30 seconds. Fill shaker with ice and shake until frothy, about 30 seconds longer. Double strain by pouring through a bar strainer into a fine-mesh or conical strainer set in a highball glass filled with ice. Top drink with club soda and bitters. Gently stir and serve.
There’s a lovely hint of roses without being becoming too perfume-y, and the usual sweet-tartness found in a gin fizz. It’s also pretty to look at too.
What? You’re familiar with Repeal Day, right? Are you holding a drink/about to make a drink/going to go and have a drink? If you are, then you must remember that without this special day in history, you might be drinking grape juice right about now. Or maybe not even have been born! On December 5th, 1933, the U.S. repealed Prohibition making liquor once again a legal and delicious pastime for all citizens.
Today I’m making the Pre-Prohibition drink, the Gin Rickey, with a little spin on the ingredients. Not much mind you, switching the gin to a barrel-aged and adding a little freshly ground coriander because it is awesome. You can make this the good old fashioned way too if you don’t have these around; just cut back the lime juice by 1/2 an ounce.
2 oz. Rusty Blade Gin
3/4 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
4 oz. Q Club Soda
pinch of freshly ground coriander
In a highball glass filled with ice, build the drink by pouring in the gin and lime juice. Top with club soda. Add a pinch of the coriander on top and swirl with a straw gently to combine.
Cinnamon, spices and lime on the nose and the palate. Light effervescence from the club soda with a mild earthy finish.
If you’d like some additional reading on Repeal Day, please visit Jeffrey Morgenthaler’s site (who has multiple postings on the subject and pretty much is the reason we were all made aware of this holiday).