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!

Home Bar Supplies

After traveling for a beautiful wedding weekend in Florida (yay Katie and Derek!) and starting a new job (yay employment!) – I have failed you in preparing a cocktail this week. I have certainly consumed many cocktails this past week… but none of my own creation. Fortunately, I have amazing friends and readers who ask the perfect questions like, “how do I set up my own home bar?” and “what supplies do I need?” I am glad you asked!

Today I am going to share with you some information about what I use to make cocktails and how I have set up my home “bar”.

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As I began collecting all sorts of glasses and mixers and liquors, I knew a small bar cart would be the right way to store and display my goodies. This bar cart is actually a utility cart from IKEA and I have plans to spray paint it gold and add some marble contact paper to the shelves (I promise to update you once I get my act together). So here we go! I will tell you a bit about my shelves and talk about what you need to get started!

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Barware: 

To get started, you will need a few key items to mix, strain, measure, and muddle your ingredients.

  • Bar Spoon: This tool is used to mix and layer drinks. The long handle allows you to thoroughly mix all of your ingredients in tall glasses and they are designed to easily circle around a glass. They can also be used to layer drinks and you use the back of the spoon to slowly pour different alcohols on top of each other to create a distinct layering effect.
  • Muddler: This tool is used to gently crush ingredients and release juices and flavors from fruits and herbs. If you don’t have a muddler, you can always use the back of a wooden spoon. I use this tool to crush berries and herbs like basil in the bottom of my shaker before adding liquid. I have found the best technique to push down and gently rotate on the ingredients rather than just mashing them straight up and down.
  • Shaker: This shaker is one that I found in a cute little vintage store and I wanted it because it looks cute on my bar cart. There are all sorts of shakers out there and you should choose the one that is right for you. I like this one because the top has little holes cut into it so I can strain out my shaken cocktail straight into a glass.
  • Jigger: This tool is your best friend for consistently measuring the right amount of liquids into your cocktails. A jigger can come in a variety of sizes, but the most common is 1 ounce/1.5 ounces. Mine is from Crate and Barrel and is 1 ounce/2 ounces. You will see that I always use ounces in my ingredient list, but if you don’t want to buy a jigger, an ounce is roughly equal to 2 tablespoons.
  • Mixing Glass and Strainer: I use a mixing glass with a little spout when I am making drinks that are stirred, not shaken. I stir when I am using bubbly liquids or I want to keep the air out of the drink. A strainer is important here to keep the ice and any fruit seeds or large chunks in the glass and out of your final product!

You will also see some of my larger bottles of liquor up on the top shelf!

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Glassware:

Choosing the right glass is important in serving cocktails. This is certainly not all of my glassware, but I am partial to the look of the coupe glass and our gold rimmed beer goblets from Wicked Weed. See below for common types of bar glassware!

  • Highball Glass: These are most similar to the size of a water glass and are defined by their tall and skinny shape. Highball glasses are for drinks with plenty of ice and can commonly be seen when ordering vodka and soda drinks. They hold between 8 and 12 ounces of liquid.
  • Old Fashioned or Rocks Glass: These are short and seen on the far right side of the photo above. These are good for whiskeys, gin and tonics, and drinks that may use large ice cubes. They hold between 4 and 10 ounces of liquid.
  • Coupe Glass: These are dainty little glasses and make a drink feel quite fancy. Seen in the right of the photo above, they have long stems and are commonly seen holding champagne. You can use them for cocktails that don’t require ice in the glass and I like to use them for frosé!
  • Martini Glass: I don’t own any martini glasses currently, but these are very commonly seen holding martinis (of course), cosmopolitans, and drinks without ice that benefit from having a strong aroma before drinking. The tall cone-like shape enhances the drink’s aroma and the stem keeps the drink from warming up to your touch.

These are just a few of the many types of glassware out there. I think a highball and old fashioned glass will get you through life just fine. I also use my stemless wine glasses when I am feeling extra thirsty. And lastly, I will mention, because they are in the photo, the copper mugs. These are typically used for moscow mules and people say they bring out the flavor of the lime and ginger. I don’t know if that is true, but they are fantastic at keeping liquids hot or cold for longer periods of time – so if you have a set, feel free to experiment and step outside the moscow mule rut!

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You made it to the end! The bottom shelf! This is where I keep liquor that I don’t use very often as well as some bitters and mixers. I believe a well stocked bar should always have club soda and tonic water handy. I really like the Fever-Tree bottles because they come in four-packs that are much more reasonable for having 2 drinks. I used to buy the bottles of tonic water at the grocery store, but they always went flat before I could get through just half! These individually sized bottles have made life so much easier for us. Fever-Tree also has ginger beer in these sizes for moscow mules. Look out for my moscow mule recipe soon!

That is it! My itty bitty bar cart where all the magic happens. I hope this helps you in your quest to perfect your own cocktails at home and please comment with any questions or tell us what you like to use in your home bar!

Happy Mixing!

 

CONTENT COMING SOON

Are you ready to booze it up this summer? Looking for that quick cocktail to throw together for a backyard gathering or something to sip on for the new season of the Bachelorette? Well then… in the words of Becca K. – LET’S DO THE DAMN THING.

Check back soon for actual cocktail content and learn about us while you wait.