Beer. Popcorn. Mezcal. We’ve rounded up a few favorite game day recipes.
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!
Cranberry Sauce Margaritas
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!
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.
Sour Patch Kids Cocktail
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.
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
Welcome to day three of our “Outfitting a Home Bar Under $50 (including booze!)” series. These guides are meant to be used either as is, or as a starting point to at least get the essentials in order so you’re not stuck with guests and no cocktails. If you have some extra change we’re also including one way to upgrade it as a bonus at the end of the guides!
It’s Tequila Thursday around here and today’s guide will get you set up with a Paloma cocktail plus a few extra tools and ingredients (Like a pinch tin of salt! Where my salt lovers at??). The grapefruit garnish is optional but I love a big slice of grapefruit in my drink to be honest.
Paloma Home Bar Under $50 ($49.74)
- Grapefruit: as I mentioned in the note above, this is optional, but it does make a pretty garnish.
- Jigger: nothing fancy but it gets the job done. The job being an accurate pour!
- Limes: fresh juice is essential here so make sure you have some fruit on hand all the time.
- Tequila: You can get a 100% blue agave blanco tequila for under $20 so go ahead and get the 750 ml.
- Pairing knife: you can’t cut fruit with your fingers so a basic pairing knife is a must.
- Ice cube tray: 1.25″ ice cubes are the perfect size for your highball glass so get a tray that makes enough for you and guests.
- Bar spoon: for gentle stirring of drinks.
- Salt: throw a pinch into your drink and rim your glass if you like it like that.
- Grapefruit soda: an essential part of the Paloma and these cans are great to stack in your bar.
- Highball glasses: Ikea has 5 glasses for under $5. Go ahead and stock up.
Upgrade to a Spicy Margarita ($42.98)
**Prices on products are subject to change and we cannot guarantee that you’ll still be able to score all this under fifty bucks come holiday season. Or two years from now. Pricing not including shipping and local taxes.
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!
The Purple Halo
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
- First, make the butterfly pea flower ice cubes by bringing 1 cup of Mountain Valley Spring Water to just under a boil. Add in tea bags and steep 10 minutes. Remove tea bags and let cool. Pour water into sphere molds and freeze overnight.
- To make the cocktail, remove ice spheres from molds and set aside. In the bottom of a shaker, muddle basil leaves with tequila. Fill shaker 2/3 with ice and then pour in lime juice and agave. Shake 20 seconds and strain into an oversized coupe or double rocks glass. Add butterfly pea flower ice sphere and top with Mountain Valley Sparkling Essence Blackberry Pomegranate. Garnish with basil leaf. Watch as the rings slowly start to form.
This post is brought to you by El Mayor Tequila. Recipe and ideas are my own.
This weekend we’ve got a double dose of reasons to celebrate. Saturday marks the 144th Kentucky Derby and Cinco de Mayo, both happening on the same day. No need for a sad case of FOMO, we’ve got a drink that celebrates both: the Tequila Mint Julep.
Not long ago a Mint Julep was a Mint Julep: bourbon, mint, sugar, silver cup. Bam. But as bartenders and cocktail enthusiasts have brought an inquisitive eye to old recipes, here today we’re riffing on this classic with our partner, El Mayor Tequila.
El Mayor Añejo Tequila is fantastic sipped on its own, but the tequila also mixes quite well in cocktails. Especially when the spirit needs to be strong and shine through a whole lot of crushed ice! The 100% blue agave añejo is aged in white oak barrels for 18 to 36 months, giving it the distinctive oak-y nose, golden color and slightly sweet and spicy flavor profile. If you’re going to use a tequila in a julep recipe, this is the one.
For this recipe I forgo the muddled mint (*gasp*) and instead opt for a creme de menthe liqueur to add the minty flavor and a touch of sweet. I like the bracingly cool mint liqueur up against the tequila. Also, if you’re serving this up at your party it’s going to save you some time since you won’t have to muddle all those mint leaves. To round out the drink, I’ve added in a few dashes of aromatic bitters and a touch more sweetness with some demerara syrup. The drink needs that last touch of sugar to balance it out along with the bitters.
Lastly, I gave this julep a crown of mint (I couldn’t leave the fresh mint out completely), like its own little laurel wreath. And you don’t have to make it rain powdered sugar on your julep for a garnish, but it sure does look pretty.
So, let’s jump start this Cinco de Derby party and mix up a batch of Tequila Juleps. It’s a sure bet!
The Tequila Mint Julep
2 ounces El Mayor Añejo Tequila
1/2 ounce creme de menthe
1/4 ounce demerara syrup (see notes below)
3 dashes aromatic bitters
mint and powdered sugar
In a silver julep cup, or double rocks glasses, pour in El Mayor Añejo Tequila, creme de menthe, demerara syrup, and bitters. Fill glass halfway with crushed ice and swizzle until glass is frosty, about 20-30 seconds. Fill with more crushed ice. Garnish with fresh mint and powdered sugar. Add a short straw if you’d like!
- To make demerara syrup, combine 1 cup water with 1 cup demerara sugar in a medium sauce pan over medium high heat. Bring to just under a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. When all the sugar has dissolved, remove from heat and let cool. Store in an air tight container, refrigerated, for up to one month.
- Julep cups come in all different sizes but choose one around 12 ounces for this cocktail. A double rocks glass will make an acceptable substitute.
For more information on El Mayor Tequila and their entire product line, please visit them at elmayor.com!
Let’s ring in the New Year with giant flowing bowls and sparkling cocktails. And shove 2017 out the door!
And if you’re looking for a few last minute ideas to decorate your bar cart for your New Year’s Eve party, check out our latest Bar Cart Styling post HERE!
This post was made in partnership with Exotico Tequila. Recipe and ideas are my own.
We’re heading into full-on holiday mode today folks. You’ve given yourself permission to eat all of Santa’s cookies. You’ve said yes one too many times to the egg nog at your company’s holiday party. You may have already put the batteries in your kid’s toy car they’ve been asking for and took it for a spin around the basement.
It’s a bit hazy whether you’re on the naughty or nice list. You might be thinking that you’ve got at least a week or so before you need to start questioning your life choices. So, I’m here to offer you a cocktail that’s on both lists; it’s a little naughty and a little nice.
We’ve partnered with the award winning Exotico Tequila again this week to bring you this refreshing cocktail that will make you feel good for a number of reasons. Their reposado expression, made with 100% blue agave, is a fantastic base for: chocolate! Reishi mushrooms! Kombucha! What what what??? See, we’re balancing the good for you with gooooood for you.
Sound a little crazy? Well, putting all the health benefits aside (like aiding in digestion, a good source of probiotics, its detoxing benefits, etc…) I will tell you that Kombucha makes a great mixer. It’s my favorite addition to cocktails because it adds bubbles and a little sweetness to a drink. The reposado Exotico has a lot of warm, spicy flavors and Health Ade’s Reishi-Chocolate kombucha balances that out with some subtle hints of chocolate and some surprising umami as well (by its own it tastes like a Tootsie roll!). To bring out more of the vanilla in the Exotico I added a splash of Mexican vanilla extract in lieu of a syrup. The vanilla extract adds the extra punch without adding more liquid and sweetness to the drink while also introducing some floral aromas too. A good dose of freshly squeezed lime juice rounds out the drink with some needed acid. The taste is similar to a Margarita with hints of chocolate, spice and an herbal/grassy finish.
It’s not too late to slow it down and rethink your cocktail choices. You can enjoy a drink this holiday season that not only tastes good, but also has ingredients you can feel good about.
Happy Holidays everyone!
lime peel for garnish
Build the drink: in a rocks glass filled 2/3 with ice, pour in Exotico Reposado Tequila, lime juice, Mexican vanilla extract and Health-Ade Reishi-Chocolate Kombucha. Stir gently to combine. Express lime zest over drink and garnish.
For more information on Exotico Tequila, please visit them at exoticotequila.com.
This post was made in partnership with Exotico Tequila. Recipe and ideas are my own.
I think fruitcake gets a bad rap. If someone gifted me one, I’d probably say thank you, dunk a slice in some milky coffee and enjoy my day. Who had it in for this fruit and nut studded loaf? Who made the association between fruitcake and a brick? Was it a slew of poorly made, overly manufactured cakes hitting the market all at once? These are the questions keeping me up at night, making me scratch my head and then making me wander into the kitchen looking for a piece of cake.
So today I thought I’d get a little unconventional and create a cocktail that evoked “fruitcake” but in some surprising ways. I also have your time in mind dear readers and wanted to make sure you had a holiday-ish cocktail in your back pocket you could whip out next week, or in the coming weeks, and not have to do any heavy lifting (No syrups or infusion making today! That’s next week!).
I’ve partnered with the award winning Exotico Tequila and their reposado expression made with 100% blue agave today as the base of the cocktail. Their reposado has lots of warm vanilla, dried fruit and spices in their flavor profile that make it the perfect compliment for those spices you’d find in the cake. I also like the tequila’s more savory notes to balance out the cocktail. To really bring in the fruit and nut flavors I muddled some citrus and dried currants along with maraschino liqueur and rounded it all out with a few dashes of black walnut and Angostura bitters. To brighten it all up it’s topped with just a touch of sparkling apple cider. The end result is tart with lots of spice and a hint of savory from the tequila and the walnut bitters.
It’s an easy to drink, holiday friendly cocktail. You might just find yourself reaching for a real piece of fruitcake too.
A “Fruitcake” Cocktail
2 ounces Exotico Reposado Tequila
1/4 ounce maraschino liqueur
1 orange slice
1/2 teaspoon currants (or one large pinch to taste)
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice from about 1/2 a lemon
2 dashes black walnut bitters
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 ounces sparkling apple cider
orange slice for garnish
In the bottom of a shaker, muddle together maraschino liqueur, orange slice and currants. Fill shaker 2/3 with ice and pour in Exotico Reposado Tequila, lemon juice, black walnut bitters and Angostura bitters. Shake hard about 20 seconds. Strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice. Top with sparkling apple cider. Garnish with an orange slice.
For more information on Exotico Tequila, please visit them at exoticotequila.com.