2018 Cocktail Gift Guide

You know what time it is. Time to pour a drink, get comfy on the couch, and SHOP from the comfort of your fleece blanket and carefully situated pillows for support. Online shopping is the only way to shop for holiday gifts IMO. Why face the crowds and get angry while trying to pick out the perfectly thoughtful gift for your sister? I can’t be thoughtful while also trying to throw a few elbows to get to the register…

You will find me tucked into my couch with a sappy Christmas movie on and with a very large glass of red wine shopping for all of my holiday gifts. You know, when you start a cocktail blog, you get a lot of questions about how to do things and what to use. Sure, your mom can use that mason jar hiding in her cabinet to shake a margarita – but don’t you want her to have the joy of shaking one up in a shiny, special, cocktail shaker?? Lord knows we all need a margarita to get through the holiday season and into 2019.

Below is a list of some of my favorite cocktail themed gifts. This is not an extensive list to outfit an entire home bar (see here for more of that) – but just some goodies for cocktail lovers in your life!

Cocktail Gift guide 2018

  1. Fred Cap and Mouse Bottle Opener. Everyone needs a good bottle opener. We are a cat (and dog) household so this golden cat opener is perfect for us and our cat loving friends.
  2. Death & Co Cocktail Book. This cocktail book is mecca for cocktail lovers. Death & Co is one of the most influential cocktail bars in the world and if you have a friend who loves the craft – get this ASAP. I have cracked mine open too many times to count for inspiration and general cocktail how-to!
  3. Monogrammed Cocktail Shaker. You know I love anything copper or rose gold. This shaker is stunning and can even be monogrammed! Buy this for the new cocktail shaker in your life or upgrade the expert ones.
  4. Hot Toddy Cocktail Kit. Cocktails are necessary at all times. Including long (or short) flights in tiny seats. Sure, you can get a plain alcoholic beverage on any flight – but why not make the flight a little more special with everything you need for a hot toddy! Make the flight for Christmas a festive one.
  5. Cocktail Glasses. These glasses are gorgeous and will be a statement set for anyone in your life. They are perfect for shaken or stirred cocktails and can be a glamorous addition to any home. I love the detailing on the base!
  6. Cocktail Artwork. Does the cocktail lover in your life already have every tool imaginable? Then get them some special art for their favorite drink! This margarita print is adorable and practical.

Happy gift hunting and I hope the cocktail lovers in your life enjoy these special gifts as much as we do!

**Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn commission if you click through and make a purchase.**

Winter Citrus French 75

Do you know what today, December 5th, is? Repeal Day!! If ever there was a day to celebrate cocktails – today is IT. Repeal Day is a celebration of the end of Prohibition here in the US and marks the ratification of the 21st amendment. Now, we all know that Prohibition did not actually keep people away from alcohol – and during this time some of the most beloved cocktail classics were created.

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Today I am sharing my riff on the classic French 75. This recipe was first printed at the height of Prohibition in the 1920s but has roots going all the way back to the 1800s when Charles Dickens served “tom gin and champagne cups”. The premise remains the same today – gin, citrus, a little sugar, and champagne.

I am taking this classic and adding a few more elements of citrus and some bitters to freshen it up for the holidays. I think a nice, light cocktail is the perfect after-dinner drink when you’ve consumed something heavy. This citrus forward cocktail will light up your tastebuds and leave you feeling refreshed (and a little buzzed).

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For the citrus component I juiced a lovely meyer lemon straight from our family’s lemon tree, an orange, and a blood orange. I also dehydrated some fruit slices to garnish the drinks. I have left a description in the recipe on how to do so! It requires time – but very little energy on your part.

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Once the citrus juice is ready, just add that with gin and simple syrup into a shaker and go to town. This is a shaken drink because there is fruit juice included and we want everything thoroughly mixed. After a good shake, strain into coup glasses and top with champagne or brut (which is typically cheaper and easier to find) before serving.

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This cocktail would also be a great addition to your New Year’s Eve menu if you want to jazz up the typical sharing of champagne! Celebrate the winter citrus any way you can 🙂


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Total Time: 5 minutes

Serves: 2-3

Ingredients:

  • 4 ounces gin (I use Durham Distillery Conniption Gin)
  • 4 ounces citrus juice (lemon, orange, etc.)
  • 2 ounces simple syrup
  • Champagne or brut
  • “Bitterless Marriage” Crude Bitters (optional)
  • Dehydrated fruit for garnish
  • Cubed ice

Instructions:

Dehydrated Fruit Wheels: If you would like to add dehydrated fruit wheels to cocktails, keep reading! This is totally optional, but I think adds a nice touch when you want to be a little fancy. Cut your citrus fruit into thin slices and lay on top of a wire rack on top of a baking sheet. Place in 200 degree oven for 2 hours. Orange slices require an extra 30-45 minutes compared to lemon or lime slices. When dry to the touch, remove and store in airtight container. You can also dip these in chocolate and enjoy for dessert!

Juice 1-2 lemons, 1/2 orange, and 1/2 blood orange to get roughly 4 ounces of citrus juice. Add to shaker with gin, simple syrup, and ice. Shake 20-30 seconds and strain into coup glasses. Top with champagne or brut and add 6-8 drops of bitters. Garnish with fruit wheel and serve!

 

Sparkling Cranberry Fizz

Happy December!! It is currently 65 degrees on this fine December 1st and I am not complaining. Today has been full of Christmas crafting and festive drinks at our house. I have cranked up the holiday tunes, dressed the tree, started DIY-ing Christmas gifts and whipped up a few of these naughty little drinks.

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I love cranberries. I forget they are a thing until mid-November and then I buy bags and bags and bags of these tart little flavor bombs. We use them all over the place. Apple cranberry tarts, cranberry orange relish, holiday potpourri, and cocktails. This Sparkling Cranberry Fizz highlights the brightness of these berries and lets them shine with ginger and lime. Our inspiration comes from our favorite holiday-themed product – Cranberry Ginger Ale! Luke stocks UP on these cans during the holidays and consumes ginger ale like no tomorrow.

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There are a few steps to getting everything together for these cocktails – but a little prep has you ready to serve these up in a second at your holiday get togethers. The cranberry ginger simple syrup can be made ahead and stored in the fridge for up to one week and the sugared cranberries can be stored in an airtight container for about the same amount of time.

I am using rosĂ© vodka here – because pink – and St. Germain to add some sweetness. I top off the cocktail with lime juice and club soda to add the fizz. You can also use ginger beer if you want to highlight the ginger more – I think that would be a delicious alternative!

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This is a shaken drink, so make sure your arms are ready for a workout! Your friends and family will be so impressed with your shaking skills when you serve these all month long.


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Total Time: 30 minutes

Serves: 2

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cranberries
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 3-inch piece of fresh ginger
  • 3 ounces vodka
  • 3 ounces St. Germain
  • 2 ounces lime juice
  • Club soda
  • Cubed ice
  • Rosemary for garnish

Instructions:

Cranberry Ginger Simple Syrup: Start by making your simple syrup. Add 1 cup cranberries, 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar (or honey), and ginger sliced into thin rounds. Bring mixture to simmer and let simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for 15-20 minutes. With a wooden spoon, break apart cranberries a bit to release more juice. Double strain solids to get simple syrup. This will be thicker than a regular simple syrup – feel free to add a touch of water if you need it to be thinner. This will store in the fridge for about one week and make 4-6 cocktails.

Sugared Cranberries: Add 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup sugar to pot. Bring to a simmer and then remove from heat. Add remaining cranberries to pot and let sit for 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove cranberries and add to bowl filled with remaining 1/2 cup sugar. Coat berries with sugar and let them dry on a plate or baking sheet. Feel free to sprinkle additional sugar on berries after they lay flat to get an even coating. Let berries dry completely and store in airtight container for up to one week. These are a delicious treat to enjoy outside of adding as a garnish to cocktails!

Once syrup and cranberries are prepared – create your cocktails! Add vodka, St. Germain, 3 ounces cranberry ginger syrup, lime juice and ice to shaker. Shake vigorously for 30 seconds and strain into two glasses filled with ice. Top each glass with club soda. Garnish with a pick filled with sugared cranberries and a sprig of rosemary.

Cheers!

 

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.


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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 🙂


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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 – I 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 – but 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 Löwenbräu tent that day. Both were incredible! We also recommend skipping the Hofbräuhaus 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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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 jalapeños for the spicy component to this drink. I added about half a jalapeño 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 jalapeño. 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 jalapeño
  • 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 jalapeño 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 jalapeño. 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!