Blood Orange Old Fashioned

It’s that time, ya’ll. The resident photographer finally gets his fave drink highlighted on the blog. The Old Fashioned! A tried and true cocktail for the hardiest of drinkers. There is no hiding behind fruity juices or syrups in this one. The bourbon is in your face and ready for a fight.

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While he may be a purist here – I am not. I always find a way to add some pizzazz to a stuffy old classic. Remember my love for blood oranges in my last post about sangria? Well I found a use for all those delicious little spheres in this new and improved Old Fashioned! This cocktail includes the juice from half a blood orange, burnt rosemary, and bitters from our fave local spot, Crude Bitters. Charred rosemary is my new favorite trick. Drinking a cocktail should tap into all of your senses and the smell of this smokey rosemary just before taking a sip is **kisses fingers like an Italian talking about pasta**. Not to mention the fantastic bitters with rosemary, grapefruit, and peppercorn. It matches with the blood orange and bourbon perfectly. You can certainly use Angostura bitters to be traditional, but again, I like PIZZAZZ.

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This cocktail is the perfect way to impress your fam at Thanksgiving and show them how refined your cocktail tastebuds are. Plus, it takes a whole 60 seconds to whip this drink up – so procrastinate your recipe planning all you want and know you will have a delicious cocktail no matter what! Happy turkey hunting.


Blood Orange Old Fashioneddsc01079

Total Time: 2 minutes

Serves: 1

Ingredients:

  • 2 ounces high quality bourbon
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 blood orange
  • Rosemary sprig
  • 6-8 drops rosemary, grapefruit, peppercorn bitters (“Rizzo” Crude Bitters)
  • Large ice cube

Instructions:

Add sugar and juice from from 1/2 blood orange to empty old fashioned glass. Muddle together until sugar is mostly dissolved. Add bourbon and single large ice cube to glass. Top with bitters and gently swirl. Garnish with peel of blood orange and charred rosemary sprig. Sip and serve!

Apple Cider Sangria

Happy Halloween! November is coming… That means simmering soups, roasting turkeys, prepping for Christmas, and VOTING. Seriously people – go VOTE. Looking for last minute voting info before the big day? Head to Vote Save America to learn more about the ballot in your state.

Now, listen up. The looming election has about as much spookiness and horror that I can handle this year, so this is not a special Halloween post. Can you keep a secret? I hate Halloween. I am terrified of my own shadow on a bright, sunny August day. Add some rolling fog, scary masks, and people jumping out of bushes? NOPE. I will gladly hand out candy to children on my very brightly lit front porch and ohhh and ahhh over their costumes – but that is the extent of my Halloween participation. Tonight, I am putting on my comfy cozies, striking up a “one for you, one for me” deal in the candy bowl, and sipping some of this apple cider sangria from my not-so-discreet travel mug.

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I love sangria. I seriously LOOOOVE it. I got hooked on this fruity concoction while living in Spain during the winter months so my favorite sangria is always made with red wine. This fall version is trashed up with some fresh apple cider, oranges, cinnamon, maple syrup, pomegranate and Grand Marnier for an extra kick in the pants.

The only reason I don’t make sangria on the reg is that it requires patience. REAL patience – not “oh this needs to sit for 30 minutes? Cool, it’s been 10 so let’s drink” kind of patience. I think a great sangria needs a solid 4-6 hours to marinate and get all spiced up. So prepare in advance! Think ahead! Don’t decide you want sangria at 5pm when your friends are coming over at 6pm.

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I also am not picky on the type of red wine for my sangria. I grabbed whatever red I had on hand, which ended up being a red blend, and used that here. The only “rule” that I have is that the wine needs to be the drier side. You are adding sugar with the fruit and cider and syrup, so keep the wine dry.

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To feel EXTRA festive (for fall of course, not Halloween…) I added a cinnamon sugar rim and some blood oranges to this version. I may have let out a little squeal in the store yesterday when I saw the blood oranges out. They are so juicy and gorgeous in desserts and cocktails – so expect some more blood orange love in the coming weeks!

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Now go forth and participate in democracy and reward yourself with some apple cider sangria! Happy fall ya’ll ūüôā


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Total Time: 5 minutes prep, 4-6 hours total

Serves: 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 cups apple cider (to taste)
  • 1/2 cup Grand Marnier
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 bottle dry red wine
  • 2 apples, sliced
  • 1 orange
  • 2 blood oranges
  • 4 sticks cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate arils
  • Cinnamon sugar for rim
  • Cubed ice

Instructions:

Thinly slice apples and place in large pitcher. Slice 1/2 orange and one blood orange into  rounds and add to pitcher. Save a few slices to garnish if you wish. Juice remaining half of orange and second blood orange into pitcher. Add cinnamon sticks and pomegranate arils (save some for garnish!). Pour in apple cider, maple syrup, Grand Marnier, and red wine. Stir to combine and refrigerate for 4-6 hours.

To garnish, use a slice of orange to wet the rim of the glass and roll into cinnamon sugar mixture. Add cubed ice to glass and pour in sangria! Top with fresh pomegranate arils. You can also add some fresh cut fruit if you want, but I like to just make sure every glass has some juicy sangria-fruit for everyone to munch on after. Nothing better than a boozy apple slice to top off your drink!

 

Spiked Almond Milk Chai Lattes

Happy hump day! We have had such a busy week that it feels like we should at least be to 3pm on a Friday. Why isn’t the weekend here yet? My body is feeling that 3pm Friday feelz where it has had ENOUGH of working and craves some weekend lounge time.

As I am not able to move the clocks à la Hermione Granger РI will sip on these spiked almond milk chai lattes to wish the days away until Friday instead. These hot spiked lattes are like a nice hug wrapped in a sweater and hiding under a fleece blanket. Soooooo comforting and warm. You can leave out the rum if you are looking for a breakfast version of this treat Рbut promise you will spike it later, ok? Dark spiced rum is just another beautiful layer of joy in this cup.

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I chose almond milk for these lattes because I think it adds a nice nutty flavor and cow’s milk doesn’t always agree with me, especially in the evening. You can use any milk that you prefer in this recipe! Make your tummy happy.

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The best part about this cocktail is that it all comes together in one pot. You can make this ahead of time (add rum just before serving) and keep warm until ready to serve. These cocktails would be great with some molasses cookies or pumpkin pie – any fall treat you are currently craving! If you do make ahead, be sure to remove the spices and tea bags so they don’t over-steep and overpower the latte.

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Speaking of spices… there are some real winners in here. Obviously chai tea bags come with a mix of warming spices already – but I added extra cinnamon sticks, ground cloves, and star anise to pump up the flavor. This recipe is adapted from Toast Magazine so head on over there for even more inspiration!

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Now go perk up with some spiked almond chai lattes and wrap yourself in a blanket until Friday arrives!


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Total Time: 15 minutes

Serves: 3-4

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups hot water
  • 2-3 chai tea bags (3 if you want a stronger chai flavor)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 4 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 6 ounces dark spiced rum (to taste)
  • Ground cinnamon for garnish

Instructions: Begin by bringing water to a light simmer. Add tea bags (remove any paper tags) and heat on low for 5 minutes. Add spices and continue to steep for 5 more minutes on low heat. Add milk and sugar and increase heat for 2-3 more minutes until very hot.

At this point you can consume as is for a regular chai latte. If you are preparing a large batch for a party, remove all tea bags and spices now and keep warm until read to serve. When you are ready to serve, move to the next step.

Remove from heat and remove tea bags and spices. Add dark spiced rum (please please please do not use light rum). Taste – add more sugar or rum as needed. I add a bit more brown sugar this point after tasting.

Serve in heat proof mugs or glasses and garnish with ground cinnamon. Enjoy!

Adapted from Toast Magazine.

 

Adventures and Spiced Apple Mocktails

Wow! It has been a month since our last post and what a month it has been. I would say I’m sorry for the delay… but I’m definitely not. I put my phone down and thoroughly enjoyed our European vacation like no other vacation of my life. I went through a Twitter detox and seriously came out fresher and happier on the other side. I had a brief moment of FOMO when I dove back in, but stopped myself from the constant scroll to catch up. Instead, I have been constantly scrolling through all of our photos from the trip!

I want to share a few memories with you all from our trip, alcohol-focused of course, and then dive in to a mocktail that is getting me through this re-entry into life. Did I mention that I am also on an alcohol and sausage detox? I cannot look at another sausage or glass of beer for at least two more weeks. That is what Oktoberfest does to you apparently! To get through this week of veggies and water consumption, I whipped up a spiced apple and ginger kombucha mocktail. We had a taste of crisp fall weather while in Europe and I am back with full fall intensity. Gimme all the pumpkin, apple, and spiced products ASAP! I don’t care that it is still 80 degrees in NC, I am ready for sweater season.

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Before we get into sweaters and cinnamon sticks and apples, let me tell you about our journey through the Netherlands, Belgium, France, and Germany. I won’t tell you the entire story, send me a message if you want the full scoop (I am happy to share all the deets!), but I will share some information about the best places to grab a cold one! This is a booze blog after all.

First Stop – Amsterdam, Netherlands

How does a city become so perfect? Amsterdam is unlike any other city in the world. It has the charm that is inescapable when it is built around canals, yet remains completely modern and bustling with business. And of course the bikes, everyone tells you about the bikes. It is impossible to really understand the magnitude and importance of bikes until you experience it. I am a total failure at riding bikes, which was evident on our ride through wine country in France, so I am not the perfect resident of Amsterdam – but I’d like to be! And what better way to quickly hop between bars than on a bike!

I am going to share two spots with you from Amsterdam, as we were only in town for two nights and saving our drinking for the heavy hitters in Belgium.

  1. Tales and Spirits. This cocktail bar is INCREDIBLE. They are so warm and welcoming and the space is so cozy. We walked in with a group of six just before dinner and they were happy to accommodate us. They recommended drinks based on our preferences and really made us feel at ease. The menu is monstrous, which typically makes me feel inadequate and unprepared for selecting the right drink, but there was no judgement here for taking your time to read through all the options. I ended up with the Body and Soul which includes Sake, plum wine, purple carrot juice, lemongrass syrup, ginger and yuzu juice, and Bittermen’s Hopped grapefruit bitters. I needed a little boost after our 24 hours of traveling and this really hit the spot. dsc08710
  2. The Heineken Experience. Sure – this sounds touristy. But why not?! Heineken is a beer that I overlook here in the states because we have so many amazing local beers, especially here in Raleigh. But I gotta hand it to them, it was wonderfully refreshing after miles of walking and sightseeing. The experience is truly an EXPERIENCE. There is the history and touring of the original brewery and then there is this wild lights and sounds “show” that leads you to your first beer. All in all, you get about two and and a half beers with admission and it was a great two hours spent with friends. They even have a little competition for the best pour at the end. If you are into learning about how beer is made – check it out.¬†img_1841

Second Stop – Bruges, Belgium

Bruges was a dark horse for us on this trip. We had no idea what to expect and after just a day and a half, we were sold. This place is ADORABLE. Restaurants and bars are tucked in tiny little alleyways and they all lead you to this beautiful central square. The chocolate is plentiful and the beer is pumped through the city in underground pipes – what’s not to love! Please see below for all of our beer drinking stops, there were many.

  1. Le Trappiste. This is a bar in a basement cellar and a must-see stop. The beer options are sketched out on the wall in chalk and they are plentiful. There is a special glass for every beer, and this is a great way to try lots of different beers from across the country. dsc09150
  2. Brewery Bourgogne des Flandres. Sure, it’s a mouthful. It is also a gorgeous brewery along the canal with plenty of seating and flights of all of their beer! This was not our favorite beer of the city, but a great option to try lots of different flavors.¬†img_20180921_144851
  3. De Garre. Ok, now listen up. This is the best beer we had in all of Europe. Everything was right. Tucked down a tiny alleyway? Check. Salami, cheese, and mustard? Check. Awesome glassware? Check. Best freaking triple of all time?!?! Check. Go here and order the Triple Van de Garre and you won’t be disappointed. And be careful, three is the limit with these powerful 11%-ers.
  4. Huisbrouwerij De Halve Maan. This is the “city beer” of Bruges and what is pumped through the city in underground pipes. This is a family brewery with a beautiful space to spend an afternoon. They have a full menu, so stop here for lunch. We tried a variety of their beers and were pleased with all of them!¬†LRG_DSC08343

Third Stop – Strasbourg/Colmar/Eguisheim, France

You wanna know where the inspiration for Beauty and the Beast came from? Visit Colmar and Eguisheim. These towns are straight out of a fairytale. We spent two nights in Strasbourg and used our full day to visit Colmar and ride bikes to Eguisheim. We had a perfect sunny day and were convinced we died and went straight to wine heaven on this bike trip. Eguisheim has wineries and shops at every turn and we stopped every chance we had. Our favorite stop was this little family owned spot,¬†Vins d’Alsace Joseph Freudenreich. They have a courtyard for drinking and it is so serene. This region is known for Riesling and Gewurztraminer – so try them both!

Final Stop – Munich, Germany

So you know the deal here. Oktoberfest all the way. This was the main reason for the trip and everything else was built around this day. We were ready. We bought our traditional¬†Lederhosen and Dirndls and had a table reservation and practiced for this. It was everything we expected and more. The beer tents are HUGE and the liters are plentiful. Pretzels are everywhere and the half chicken we had for lunch was delicious. Our only mistake, we went a little too hard on the liters a little too early… It would have been great to have more time to see the grounds, but we were laser focused on that tent and then stumbled our way home after we had our fill. We visited the¬†Hacker-Pschorr and¬†L√∂wenbr√§u tent that day. Both were incredible! We also recommend skipping the¬†Hofbr√§uhaus tent at Oktoberfest and making a dinner reservation the night before instead at their full restaurant. That was another wonderful experience itself! Moral of the story – go and do it. It is not overrated, it is worth it.

You made it! You made it all the way through friendcation and to the actual recipe you probably came here for. As you can tell, plenty of alcohol was consumed on this 10-day jaunt through Europe. As a result, this week I am sharing a mocktail recipe to get us back on track and propel us straight into fall.

This spiced apple and ginger kombucha mocktail is as exactly as the name says. I have no brain power left to come up with a clever name, so too bad. The first half of this recipe is just about making a spiced apple cider – so you can stop right there if you want to serve a hot cider. You can add bourbon or brandy and serve warm with a cinnamon stick if you so desire! I was craving something cold and bubbly, so I let my cider cool and then mixed it with ginger kombucha over ice for this fall mocktail. It is still 80 degrees after all…

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Proost!


Spiced Apple and Ginger Kombucha Mocktail

Total Time: 20 minutesdsc00882

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups apple cider
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 2 teaspoons allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 bottles ginger kombucha
  • Cubed ice

Instructions:

Start by spicing up your apple cider by adding all ingredients through nutmeg to a saucepan. Heat on stove until simmering and let simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. You can also serve this cider warm now and top off with bourbon or brandy!

Add cubed ice to glasses. Pour cooled spiced cider about half way up and top with ginger kombucha. Stir and enjoy!

Plum Gin Sour

September is hereeeeeee. Fall weather and booties and scarves and VACATION is almost here! We are only six days in and I am as giddy as can be. Our house is a flurry of activity as we prepare for our trip to Europe in two weeks and this is my favorite state to live in. Planning for trips and packing and buying travel sized toothpaste is my jam. I love it. I plan vacations that I am not even going to take… just for the fun of it. I can’t stop.

In all of the hubbub to get ready – we have been slacking on our trips to the grocery store. We clearly need real meals and are not leaving the house for another week and a half, but I am in full “we dont need that – we are leaving!” mode. We were rushing through Whole Foods this week and came across some gorgeous plums so we threw them in the cart without much thought. When I finally got around to eating one, I was floored. They are incredible! I felt inspired to try something new and knew they had a place in a special cocktail.

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This cocktail is our first attempt at adding egg whites for the signature foam that you find in a gin sour. I have done plenty of research on the best way to get silky smooth cocktails and everyone swears by a little egg white. I was a bit nervous about including raw egg in a drink – all I pictured was a beefy man cracking eggs straight into his mouth – but I was delightfully surprised at the texture!

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To spice up this gin sour, I made a fresh plum simple syrup to add some color and sweetness to the drink. I only included plums, sugar, water, and lemon juice – but a chunk of ginger or other spices would be fantastic in this as we get closer to cooler days. Once you have the plum simple syrup ready it is just a matter of shaking. Lots of shaking. This cocktail requires a two-step shaking process. First, the dry shake with all of the ingredients and no ice to build that nice egg white foam. After one full minute of dry shaking, which is one full minute of a total arm workout, you add a bit of ice to wet shake for 30 seconds. The wet shake calms everything down (including cooling everything down) and gives you that silky smooth texture that you only find in cocktails with egg white.

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Ready to shake your way to a plum gin sour? Have I convinced you to add some egg whites to your cocktails? I certainly hope so!


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Total Time: 15 minutes

Serves: 1

Ingredients:

  • 2 ounces gin
  • 1 ounce lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 to 2 ounces plum simple syrup
    • 2 plums
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 1/2 cup water
    • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • Egg white
  • Cubed ice

Instructions:

Start by cooking plum simple syrup. Roughly chop plums and add to pot with water, sugar and lemon juice. Heat until bubbly and then simmer for 10 minutes. Let cool with plums still in mixture. Strain twice to ensure a clear syrup and store in fridge up to one week.

Add gin, lemon juice, plum simple syrup, and one egg white to shaker. Ensure a tight seal and shake vigorously for one full minute. Stop and add 3-4 ice cubes to shaker. Continue shaking with ice for 30 seconds or until cold. Strain into coup or old fashioned glass and enjoy!

The Jungle Bird

Welcome to the tiki tiki tiki tiki tiki post! We are so excited to share some knowledge with you about tiki drinks. We recently attended a cocktail and bitters class at The Bittery in Raleigh and came home with tiki bitters, recipes for days, and a newfound excitement for mixing drinks. Tiki style drinks are everything we love about cocktails – juicy, tangy, fresh, and filled with rum. What’s not to love? We tried out a few tried and true recipes this week and settled on sharing this one! The Jungle Bird.

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The Jungle Bird is rumored to have started back in the 1970’s at the Kuala Lumpur Hilton. This tiki drink is newer and a bit different from the classics like the Pain Killer and Mai Tai because it includes Campari. Now if you remember from our post on Negronis, you know we are a bit hesitant about this bitter liquor. Fortunately, the ratio of Campari to rum and tropical juices really balances out the sweetness of this drink and makes for a more interesting cocktail.

The secret to this particular version of the Jungle Bird is the inclusion of coconut rum in addition to dark rum AND the use of special tiki bitters. The bitters are not necessary – and a bit challenging to replicate if you are not local to NC – but what a fantastic surprise they play in this cocktail. This recipe is from Crude Bitters and calls for 6-8 drops of their small batch tiki bitters. Cocktail bitters are essentially flavored extracts made from infusing herbs or fruits or flowers with alcohol. They are incredibly powerful and only require a few drops to change the flavors of a drink. These tiki bitters include toasted almonds, pineapple, and allspice.

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After experimenting with tiki recipes and these bitters, we know there is plenty more to come in this realm of cocktails. Stay tuned for more tiki-inspired drinks as we drag these summer flavors straight into cooler months! For now, take your Jungle Bird to the pool one last time and close that place down with booze in hand.

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The Jungle Birddsc08361

Total Time: 5 minutes

Serves: 2

Ingredients:

  • 2 ounces dark rum
  • 1 ounce coconut rum
  • 1 ounce Campari
  • 2 ounces pineapple juice
  • 0.5 ounces simple syrup
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • Crushed ice
  • 6-8 drops Tiki Bitters from Crude Bitters

Instructions:

Be sure to make your simple syrup ahead of time. Check out our post on Peach Margaritas if you want to make your own! Add all ingredients (except bitters) to shaker with ice and shake vigorously until frothy and cold. Strain mixture over 2 glasses filled with crushed ice. If you are using bitters, now add 3-4 drops to each glass and stir to enjoy!

 

Spicy Watermelon Margaritas

Happy Fri-yay! I am so jazzed that we are entering the last weekend of August and am ready to bring on the fall weather. We are getting a tiny taste of cooler weather this weekend and I am living for it. I pulled out my jeans, a cardigan, booties – I am all in. To celebrate the end of a season that reminds us all that the earth is melting, I threw together these spicy watermelon margaritas.

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Here’s the deal – I don’t like melons. Cantaloupe and honeydew melons are horrifying to me and I am that brat standing at the breakfast table picking out all fruit but the melons. I am not sorry that the person behind me has an option of ten slices of cantaloupe and one blueberry. Not sorry at all. I can get behind watermelon on occasion though. If the watermelon is super red and juicy – I might be able to partake. If the watermelon is mixed in with some lime juice and tequila… I can definitely partake.

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This is the first watermelon I have purchased this summer and it did not disappoint. This recipe only calls for half of a watermelon and I still have about two cups of juice in my fridge begging to be used in another drink recipe. You can easily make these for a crowd with one small melon!

I start by juicing half of my watermelon in a blender. I find that this is the easiest way to do it because I pour everything from the blender over a fine sieve to get a smooth juice in a matter of minutes. If you are using a full watermelon you may have seen the hip new way of putting an immersion blender straight into the middle of it for juicing. You do you!

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Once you have your watermelon juice ready to go, prep your jalape√Īos for the spicy component to this drink. I added about half a jalape√Īo for two drinks and muddled it with just the watermelon juice and lime juice to start – so taste as you go to make sure the spice level works for you.

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This drink should be shaken once you add your alcohol. I went for the aesthetic of my lovely glass here and stirred instead. Don’t be like me. Any drinks with juice should be shaken and drinks with straight alcohol are stirred. Got it? Good. So shake your drink and then strain out into glasses. I also recommend mixing up your salt rim for this drink. I know, this sounds like crazy talk for margarita straight shooters. I added some fresh cracked black pepper to my salt here. I think it adds some smokey flavor to the drink that compliments the jalape√Īo. Enjoy sparingly and do not take a big ole’ lick of the rim before a drink or you will overpower the flavors with black pepper. Be dignified please.

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Yum, right?

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Spicy Watermelon MargaritasDSC08164.jpg

Total Time: 10 minutes

Serves: 2 – but can be scaled easily

Ingredients:

  • 4 ounces fresh watermelon juice
  • 4 ounces tequila
  • 4 ounces Cointreau
  • Juice from 2 limes
  • 1/2 jalape√Īo
  • Salt and pepper for rim
  • Cubed ice

Instructions:

Prepare your watermelon juice by cutting a small watermelon in half. Add flesh of the melon to a blender and pulse until smooth. Strain through fine mesh sieve and store remaining juice in fridge. This produces about 2-3 cups of juice depending on the size of your watermelon. I would recommend only using a quarter of your watermelon for juice if you are not making large quantities of margaritas.

Slice jalape√Īo into small rounds. I removed the seeds before adding to the shaker, but you can keep them if you want the drink to be very spicy. Add watermelon juice and lime juice to the shaker with jalape√Īo. Muddle gently to combine and then add tequila,¬† Cointreau and ice. Shake vigorously to combine.

Prep glasses by using leftover limes to wet the rim and roll in salt and cracked pepper. Use a 2:1 ratio of salt to pepper – you do not want a ton of pepper on each glass.

Strain cocktail into prepared glasses with ice and enjoy!

 

Weekending in Charlottesville, VA

Welcome to the first post about our travels and drinks consumed while traveling! There is no recipe at the end of this post… but I hope you will keep on reading to learn a little more about our favorite stops in Charlottesville, VA for wine, beer, and liquor.

This past weekend, we gathered up the fam and met in the middle of VA for a birthday celebration with our Dad. Being spread across the east coast makes it a bit more challenging to get everyone together – so this was a special treat! We hired a driver, packed our coolers, and set out to consume as many empty calories as possible. All of these stops were between 5-20 minutes apart – so we accomplished everything within 8 or so hours.

First Stop: Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyard

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Pippin Hill is everything a vineyard should be. Rolling hills, barn doors, farm-to-table food, and rows of fresh grapes greeting you at the front entrance. Our one recommendation for this stop: have it be your first one! Pippin Hill can get incredibly busy and you want some time to explore the grounds before all of the parties arrive. Get there a few minutes before they open to take some photos and keep your eye on a tasting bar. Our group split in two and half of us did the classic tasting that includes whites and reds and the other half did the reserve tasting of all reds. Our favorite for a hot summer day: Zero White.

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Second Stop: Blue Mountain Brewery

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Time for some beer! This is a gorgeous venue with plenty of outdoor tables and a space for lawn games or blankets. Unfortunately, we had a bit of rain come through during this stop and we had to sit under cover at the bar. But have no fear! We enjoyed some great beers here and will absolutely be back. Our favorites: A Hopwork Orange IPA and Dark Hollow Stout.

Third Stop: Veritas Vineyard & Winery

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This winery is adorable with a LOVE sign made of corks greeting you as you enter the beautiful tasting room. Again, the rain was our nemesis for the afternoon and prevented us from spending a ton of time on the grounds, but they have a huge wrap around porch with plenty of space. We stopped here for lunch as this was the first stop allowing outside picnics. We grabbed a table under cover and enjoyed a bold Ros√© and smooth, red blend called Red Star with an assortment of cheeses and dips. Veritas is well prepared for large crowds and they have a great system for keeping tastings organized. You can come by any time and expect an organized line for sampling all of their amazing wines. Bonus – their winemaker is a woman ūüôā

Unexpected Fourth Stop: Silverback Distillery

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This stop was not on our original agenda, but was recommended by our driver, and it was incredible. We did not know what to expect when we arrived, but the small tasting room was packed with excitement and we were greeted with a torch-wielding, badass woman making a smoked old fashioned. The gentlemen in our group tossed aside their menus and promptly ordered two each of these specialities. And man, were they something special. Smoke from an old oak barrel, house whiskey, and a syrup made with maple syrup and chocolate bitters. It rocked our worlds. Now, while I enjoyed a taste of this masterpiece, I spent my 3 oz. limit on 3 tasters of their gin, whiskey, and 151 proof moonshine. I highly recommend going this route if you want a chance to sample all of their products!

Fifth Stop: Bold Rock Nellysford Cidery

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If you like cider, stopping at Bold Rock is a must. They have a great tasting menu with all sorts of fruit-based ciders and even one with Rosé! The tasting room is gorgeous and looks like an old log cabin. We were not here for long, but especially enjoyed the pear cider!

LAST STOP: Devils Backbone Brewing Company

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Honestly, I wish we stopped here earlier on our leg of this trip because this is an amazingly beautiful stop with many many options. As you are certainly aware, we had consumed plenty of alcohol prior to this last leg of our trip and were not prepared for much more of anything else. The boys tried the whiskey and cigar bar and the ladies tried the beers. I had a delicious sour beer that I wish I knew the name of (again, another reason to return!) and tried a tiny sip of the whiskey. I would recommend making this stop a half-day experience or coming on the second day of your weekend to make sure you have plenty of time! Grab an adirondack chair, order some food, smoke a cigar if you so desire, and really take time to enjoy.

And that is it! A weekend of spirits and celebrations with family in Charlottesville, VA. Comment with your favorite stops in Charlottesville and let us know if you have any recommendations for our next trip!

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Frozen Pi√Īa Coladas

It is time for our very first guest recipe! This blog is a family affair. Our friends are a HUGE part of the success of this venture and they are always happy to be our taste testers and brainstorming partners. We have four ride-or-die friends that have made living in the South worthwhile, and they ALL can make a mean cocktail. This specific drink was made by a member of our “Raleigh Babes” crew, Jessie, for our Fourth of July, lakeside shindig and we freaked out at how amazing these were. I have been saving this recipe specifically for National Rum Day and am thrilled that the day is finally here!

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Let me tell you a bit about Jessie, the Pi√Īa Colada connoisseur. Most importantly, she is incredibly generous. She is quick to give heartfelt compliments, always happy to supply excessive amounts of cheese for a game night (although is there such thing as too much cheese…), teaches us how to be crafty, and always says yes to a day of treat yo’ self. She even let us take over her kitchen for this photo shoot and use her belongings as props!! She also takes a big ass wagon to the farmer’s market – no shame in the fresh produce game – and has a greener thumb than the rest of us. She’s awesome!

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Now, back to the alcohol. Pictured above is the day that this delightful beverage entered my life. This Pi√Īa Colada recipe is perfect for hot days at the lake, lazy days at the beach, and any day when you need something a little extra. We also forced Jessie’s husband into taking this photo as we yelled, “THIS NEEDS TO GO ON THE BLOG!!”.

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So here is Jessie’s famous Pi√Īa Colada recipe! This is a no fuss, no waiting around for fresh fruit to freeze, and no fancy juicing type of drink. Grab some frozen pineapple out of the freezer section, some pineapple juice (even better if it is has coconut water in it like this), cream of coconut, coconut milk, limes, and a ton of rum.¬† Throw all of it in a blender and add more frozen pineapple or ice as needed. Top with more rum if you are feeling extra boozy and drink up!

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Total Time: 15 minutes

Serves: 4 generous portions

Ingredients:

  • 4 ounces light rum
  • 4 ounces dark rum
  • 1 12oz bag frozen pineapple
  • 6 ounces cream of coconut
  • 2 ounces pineapple juice
  • 2 ounces unsweetened coconut milk
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • Cubed ice

Instructions:

We recommend packaged frozen pineapple chunks and pineapple juice, but you are more than welcome to cut up a fresh pineapple and freeze it on your own if you have time. We used pineapple juice with coconut water for added flavor, but use whatever you prefer or have available. Add all ingredients to a blender and start with about 1/2 cup of ice. Add more ice as needed to reach desired consistency. Top with additional dark rum if you are feeling frisky and enjoy!

Rhubarb Ginger Gin Fizz

Ready for this week’s cocktail? It’s a mouthful with a mouthfeel that sends you into a mini vacation. The Rhubarb Ginger Gin Fizz is the perfect cocktail to ease you into the weekend and celebrate the end of early-summer harvest. Rhubarb is best consumed in the late-spring or early-summer months and is mostly seen in pie or crumble form here in the South. While I have absolutely consumed my fair share of rhubarb-strawberry pies, it has taken me an embarrassingly long time to learn that rhubarb is actually a vegetable… AND to top it off, it does not produce that bright red juice that I expected out of it. What a letdown. Fortunately, the delicious tart flavor that comes out of these celery-sibling stalks makes up for its lackluster looks.

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To make these cocktails, you have to do a little heavy lifting and *gasp* real cooking. I, of course, think this is all worth it – but I am warning you now! This rhubarb ginger syrup comes together in about 30 minutes and requires you to pull out your cutting board and knife. Make a large batch so you can enjoy the syrup well past a few drinks. Chop up the rhubarb into small cubes and peel one hunk of ginger. Looking for some helpful cooking hints to go with your alcohol? Use the edge of a spoon to peel ginger rather than a vegetable peeler.

Add your rhubarb and ginger to a pot with lemon juice and equal parts water and sugar and set that sucker to high. I bring everything to a boil and then immediately bring back down to a simmer for 5 minutes or until the rhubarb is very soft. I do a little mashing to release more juice and then let the pot sit off the heat for another 10 minutes to steep. After those little nuggets of deliciousness mingle for a bit, strain and keep syrup in the fridge for up to one month! This syrup would be incredible in lemonades or with club soda if you want to enjoy outside of happy hour.

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I am trying not to get too far ahead of myself here, but this may be my favorite cocktail on the blog so far. You all know how much of a sucker I am for pucker-inducing treats. The tartness of the rhubarb is the perfect compliment to the floral notes in gin and spiciness of fresh ginger. This may be my drink of choice for the next few weeks. Move aside Sunday scaries wine night. We are taking these Rhubarb Ginger Gin Fizzes straight into next month!


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Total Time: 30 minutes

Serves: 2 (easily adjusted for more)

Ingredients:

  • 4 ounces gin
  • 1 small bottle ginger beer
  • Juice from 2-3 lemons
  • 4 ounces rhubarb ginger syrup
    • 2 stalks rhubarb
    • 1 medium-sized piece of ginger
    • Juice from 1 lemon
    • 1 cup water
    • 1 cup sugar
  • Cubed ice

Instructions:

Start by preparing the rhubarb ginger syrup. Chop fresh rhubarb into cubes and peel ginger. Add rhubarb and entire piece of ginger into a pot with juice from 1 lemon and equal parts water and sugar. Bring to a boil. Once mixture comes to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes until rhubarb is broken down and soft. Mash rhubarb to release additional flavor and remove from heat. Let mixture sit for 10 minutes, then strain out solids and keep syrup in fridge for up to one month. This makes enough syrup for 6-8 drinks.

Add cubed ice, gin, lemon juice, and rhubarb ginger syrup to tall mixing glass. Using a stirring spoon, stir until cold. I add equal parts gin and syrup because I want the rhubarb to really shine. Use extra lemon juice if too sweet, I find that the juice really cuts through the sweetness and allows the tart flavors to shine.

Add mixture to glasses filled with ice and top with ginger beer (I prefer Fever Tree). Garnish with thyme if you are feeling it and serve!