It’s National Cocktail Day tomorrow in case you didn’t know (And it’s totally fine if you didn’t know. I forgot too until I read a recent press release). So I thought I’d round up a few of you readers’ favorite posts from the site because, if you’re here, you like cocktails. Funny thing though, you guys seem to like a lot of the DIY syrups/bitters/tincture posts just as much as the drinks. So I’m including those too because it’s always good to have some fun syrups and mixers around to get your creative cocktail juices flowing. Cheers!
We’re all so exhausted from this year. Let’s ring in the new year with a simple cocktail. And a sword.
Keep this year’s style simple with a few glittery tassels and a light box that tells guests to “Make Drinks Here”. If you want a few theatrics, pop that bubbly with a sabre and point guests to the use of your Chambong. Our drink of choice? A Champagne Cocktail: just drop one sugar cube into your glass. Add some Angostura bitters. Pour in the champagne. And don’t forget the Bloody Mary glasses for the morning after.
This post was made in partnership with Sonoma-Cutrer Wine. Recipe and ideas are my own.
No one wants to show up at a party this holiday season to find their host has given up on life and left just one type of appetizer out for everyone. But it happens. Don’t be that person.
Instead, cater to the 4 types of appetizer people. Yes folks, there are 4 types: classic appetizer person, fun appetizer person, bold appetizer person, and casual appetizer person.
Please don’t give me the side-eye when I say you should make 4 separate appetizers! See that bounty of food? Looks good doesn’t it? Looks like someone slaved away in a kitchen all day planning the perfect party bites to serve with their wine. But what if I told you all these dishes could be made in 30 minutes or less for YOUR Holiday Wine Pairing Party? Maybe you’d say, Elana, giiiiirrrrlll that couldn’t possibly be true. Or maybe, Elana, SIGN ME UP LET’S DO THIS.
I like your style friend. Let’s talk about a 30 minute or less Holiday Wine Pairing Party.
Today we’re in the kitchen with Sonoma-Cutrer pairing their Russian River Valley Pinot Noir and Les Pierres Chardonnay with these four different kinds of appetizers. Before you begin to pair some food with the wine, it’s helpful to know your wine. Have a few sips. What do you taste here?
Russian River Valley Pinot Noir: blackberries, jam, vanilla and tobacco aromas with a silky, round flavor of spices and tart cherry fruit flavors.
Les Pierres Chardonnay: bright lemon aroma and subtle spicy aromas bursting with citrus flavors, spice and mineral notes.
Both of these wines are super food friendly, but for the perfect bites, I’m going to help you pair the right foods with them. However, let’s start with YOU first. What type of appetizer person are you?
Classic (pairs with the Chardonnay): you’re wearing a sport coat or a LBD to this holiday party. And you like your appetizers to sound like an appetizer, but elevated. Smoked trout? Herbed cheese? It’s familiar yet different, and you’ll take 6.
Casual (pairs with the Pinot Noir): you’re not wearing a tie and 7pm start time is just a suggestion. A spoonful of marinated mushrooms to walk around and nibble on that only took 5 minutes to make? Sure, that’s cool.
Bold (pairs with the Chardonnay): so you went skydiving this morning and wore white after Labor Day. You need a savory twist with the world’s hottest pepper cheese to snack on and then tell your friends about.
Fun (pairs with the Pinot Noir): sparkly yoga pants are totally party pants and ugly holiday sweaters are the only appropriate sweater to wear this time of year. Just don’t double dip your Pigs in a Blanket in the cranberry mustard sauce or it’s a party foul for you.
Now you can help your guests choose which appetizer they are AND you’ll have a wine ready for them to drink it with. Ready to get cooking? Crack open some wine first and let’s go!
Smoked Trout with Dill and Chive Cream Cheese on Crackers
Yields about 25 crackers
1 8 ounce packet cream cheese, softened
1-1/2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
1 tbsp chopped chives
1 tbsp minced dill
1 8 ounce package smoked trout, shredded
crackers to serve, I prefer some with a little heft for this like oat crackers Chives and Black Salt for garnish
Mix together softened cream cheese, lemon juice, salt, pepper, chives and dill. Set aside. Build your appetizer by spreading about 1-1/2 teaspoons of cream cheese mixture onto the cracker. Top with shredded trout. Garnish with chopped chives and a big flake of black salt.
Pigs in a Blanket with Cranberry Mustard Sauce
1 pack little sausages
1 container crescent rolls
1 tsp dried thyme
1 10 ounce package cranberries (fresh or frozen)
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tbsp water
½ cup dijon mustard
To make the Pigs in a Blanket: Preheat oven to 375°. Lay out crescent rolls and sprinkle thyme over dough, lightly pressing thyme into the dough. Cut crescent rolls in thirds. Wrap around sausages, gently pinching the dough ends together. Lay Pigs in a Blanket seam side down on a sheet pan covered in parchment. Bake 12-15 minutes until golden brown. While Pigs are cooking, make the cranberry mustard.
To make the Cranberry Mustard Sauce: Combine cranberries, brown sugar, water and salt in a medium-high saucepan over medium heat. Stir to dissolve sugar. Lower heat to medium and continue to stir until cranberries release water and pop open, about 6-8 minutes, continue to stir until sauce has thickened slightly, another 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Stir in dijon mustard. Transfer to an airtight container and keep refrigerated up to one month.
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment and set aside.
Dust your counter or cutting board with 1/4 cup of cheese. Unfold 1 sheet of puff pastry over top of cheese. Top with another 1/4 cup of cheese.
Roll out to 1/8-inch thick. Fold the pastry in half. Top with another 1/4 cup of cheese. Roll out again to 1/8-inch thick. I roll mine out about the size of a sheet pan.
Using a sharp knife, cut the pastry into long strips roughly 1-inch wide. Twist strips and gently stick ends onto parchment to prevent un-twisting. Repeat with next sheet.
Chill for at least 10 minutes or up to an hour (if you have time!).
Bake 15 to 25 minutes. Begin checking shorter straws after about 15 minutes, and longer straws after 20 minutes. Remove from the oven once they are puffed and crispy, feel dry to the touch, and are deep golden.
Cool briefly on the baking sheet and transfer them to a cooling rack or serving plate.
Serve warm or room temperature. Puff pastry straws are best served the same day they are made.
Simple Marinated Mushrooms
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
12 ounces small button mushrooms (if you want to make it fancier, use mixed wild mushrooms)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, crushed and minced
1/2 tsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf
½ tsp dried dill
1/2 tsp kosher salt
Heat olive oil in a medium frying pan over medium-high heat. Add in mushrooms when oil is warm and sauté 5-8 minutes. Remove mushrooms from heat and set aside.
In an airtight, nonreactive container (I like Pyrex bowls for this), whisk together red wine vinegar, olive oil, garlic, maple syrup, red pepper flakes, basil, oregano, thyme, bay leaf, dill and kosher salt. Add warm mushrooms into the bowl and toss with the marinade, covering the mushrooms. Let stand 15 minutes and serve. Mushrooms will develop more flavor the longer they sit and are even better the next day if you have the time!
This post was made in partnership with Sheep Thrills Wine.
This year I’m trying to bring simple, spontaneous pleasures into a year that’s been… draining, to say the least. While I am thankful to spend this week with family, I wanted to switch things up a bit after the meal. So, what can you do to entertain a house full of guests this thanksgiving? Send them on a wine scavenger hunt!
If you’re looking to have some adventures with out-of-town guests while being told to stay out of the kitchen, or if you need an activity to do the day after the big meal instead of sitting around arguing politics with your curmudgeonly uncle, or you’re having a few (or 20) pals over for Friendsgiving and it’s going to be in the high 80’s and you don’t have air conditioning (hello, Los Angeles!), this is a fun one!
We’ve teamed up with Sheep Thrills Wine this week to get you out of the house and on this wine adventure! I was always a huge fan of scavenger hunts as a kid and the other day, thinking of what to do with a house full of guests, I thought—adults like this game too! I mean, it’s going to be even better with wine involved.
Check out the printable below to play your own Sheep Thrills scavenger hunt. Or use it as a starting point to make your own game—just get outdoors and have fun!
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.
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.
Whether you’re a Level IV Sommelier or just like mixing your red wine with coke, this guide’s for you!
OK, let’s talk glassware. You can get it fancy (it says so on the glass), or save yourself the trouble and just get some unbreakable glasses (they look so REAL). Or if you just can’t be bothered, you can just attach your glass to the bottle. For your fanciest wine peeps, grab some copper, or a fancy decanter, or maybe a book on the wine regions of Argentina. And what’s the best wine gift of all? Wine. Sent to your home. Every month.