Mulled Wine Sparkler

Happy Holidays! Our Christmas itinerary revved up this weekend and the official race to the 25th has begun in our household. We celebrated with two holiday parties this weekend alongside our closest Raleigh friends. In order to mark the occasion, I made these delicious Mulled Wine Sparklers. The inspiration for these came from a holiday pop-up bar downtown at the Haymaker. They had a cocktail with a mulled wine puree and I left knowing that I NEEDED to figure out how to make a mulled wine syrup for cocktails at home.

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This may be my favorite holiday cocktail of all time. It has everything you need! Warm spices, deep red wine, citrusy gin and lemon juice, and the perfect bubbly Prosecco to top it all off. I am in cocktail heaven! The recipe for the mulled wine syrup makes quite a large batch – so I will be sipping on these all week long as we bulldoze right into Christmas. These will be perfect for your next holiday party as it requires very little hands-on time once you make the syrup. I prepped my syrup the night before and it was so easy to serve these up with friends without missing out on all the fun.

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This will likely be our last post before Saint Nick heads to town – so we wish you a very merry Christmas and check back after the holiday for the perfect New Year’s Eve cocktail! Better start brainstorming now for those 2019 resolutions…


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Total Time: 45 minutes

Serves: 1 (syrup recipe can serve 8+)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup water
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 3 whole star anise pods
  • 10 whole cloves
  • Peel from 1 orange
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 cups red wine (Malbec)
  • 2 ounces dark, spiced rum
  • 10 large drops Sycophant (orange and fig) bitters from Crude Bitters
  • 1 1/4 ounces gin (we use Durham Distillery Conniption American Dry)
  • Juice from 1 small lemon
  • Prosecco
  • Cubed ice

Instructions:

Mulled Wine Simple Syrup (adapted from Food & Wine Magazine): Add water, spices, and large peel from 1 orange to pot and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes and then lower heat to a simmer. Your kitchen should start to smell AMAZING. Add sugar and mix until dissolved. Add red wine and continue to simmer for 30 minutes until slightly reduced. Remove from heat and add dark rum and bitters to pot. Let cool with all spices still in the mixture. Once cool, strain out solids and store in fridge for up to one week.

When ready to serve, add ice to tall glass. A tall glass is best if you want to see the layered effect. Add 1 1/4 ounces mulled wine syrup to glass. In separate shaker, add lemon juice and 1 1/4 ounces gin with ice. Shake for 20 seconds and then strain into prepared glass with mulled wine syrup for a layered, ombre effect. Top with Prosecco and sip away!

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!

 

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!

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!

 

The Fizzy Flower

Today marks one full week of vacation for me and man, does it feel good. For the first time in my adult life I have given myself a small break in between jobs. I am the crazy person who decides to move three states away by ending a job on a Thursday, packing up and driving south on Friday, unpacking into a new house over the weekend, and then starting a new job on Tuesday. Who does that?!

No, this time I swore it would be different. And it is lovely. Now, if you know me, I don’t actually know how to “do nothing” for five days straight – so I forced myself into relaxation by scheduling a hair appointment, my very first spa massage, and a nail appointment. I have come out on the other side as a brand new person! Just in time for a weekend wedding in Florida and more relaxation in the sun.

All of this vacation talk leads me right into this next cocktail – The Fizzy Flower. I really leaned into my spa visit and took a note from the herb-infused water I chugged all day long. This cocktail is gin, elderflower liqueur, lime juice, club soda, and lots of fresh basil.

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This cocktail comes together incredibly fast by muddling the basil leaves until they are slightly bruised, and then pouring in your gin, elderflower liqueur, and lime juice. Be sure to wait to add your club soda until the very end or your shake will result in fizzy juice all over the place! Serve immediately, or you can wait to add the club soda until you are ready.

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Now light some candles, put on that playlist of crashing waves, and take a vacation with The Fizzy Flower.


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Total Time: 5 minutes

Serves: 2

Ingredients:

  • 3 ounces gin
  • 2 ounces elderflower liqueur
  • 2 ounces lime juice
  • 4-6 basil leaves (+ 2 for garnish)
  • 1 can/small bottle of club soda
  • Lime wheel
  • Cubed ice

Instructions:

Add 4-6 whole basil leaves into shaker and muddle with a muddler or the back of a wooden spoon. Muddle until the leaves are slightly bruised to release the flavor of the basil. Add gin, elderflower liqueur, and lime juice to the shaker with ice. Shake for 30 seconds or until the shaker is very cold to the touch. Add ice to two glasses and strain mixture into each. Pour club soda on top and garnish with a lime wheel and fresh basil leaf!

 

The Negroni

Did you know that this lovely Italian aperitif has its own week of celebration? Welcome to Negroni Week! The Negroni is a classic that was created in Florence back in the 1920s.

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It has stood the test of time and is difficult to get wrong. The Negroni is just equal parts gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth. It starts off floral and ends on a spicy, bitter note. It is a cocktail meant for sipping and best enjoyed before a nice meal. Campari is a beloved Italian aperitif and has a very bold and bitter flavor. It gives this drink its signature look and can definitely be an acquired taste.

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Now, with that history lesson out of the way, you are probably wondering why we are sharing this drink with you this week. The Negroni certainly strays from our recent fun and fruity cocktail posts – but Negroni Week is special in that it raises hundreds of thousands of dollars each year for charities around the world. Local bars and restaurants can choose their favorite charity to support and then donate profits from their Negroni classics and spin offs for one week each June. What could be better than drinking in the name of charity? It is Tuesday and I am already three Negronis deep! If you also want to partake in drinking for a cause, check out negroniweek.com to find participating bars and restaurants near you. And once Negroni Week is over, use this recipe below to keep the Negroni party going well past June.


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Total Time: 5 minutes

Serves: 1

Ingredients:

  • 1 ounce gin
  • 1 ounce Campari
  • 1 ounce sweet vermouth
  • Orange peel
  • Cubed ice

Instructions:

Pour equal parts gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth into an old-fashioned glass with ice. I use one large cube of ice to keep the process of melting to a minimum. Stir gently for a few seconds and top with an orange peel. If you are feeling timid about trying something this bitter, you can also add a bit of Prosecco or lemon-lime soda to mellow it out.