The Toasted White Russian

It is August and ohmygod how did we get here so quickly. August used to be “back to school” month for 18 years of my life and it was filled with excitement and nerves and cramming in pool parties or sleepovers before settling into what was then called “real life”. This August is still a month of preparation for us this year, but for the total opposite of “real life”. We are SIX weeks out from a two week jaunt through Europe with four friends and we cannot wait!! This month will be full of packing lists, itineraries, reservation confirmations, and many many trips to Targets for last minute items. We have just a few short weeks to cram in the last bit of summer before we leave and head straight into rainy European fall weather. Ya’ll remember my love of sweatshirts and cold weather, right? I am built to live in Europe.

This past weekend we planned and prepared for this trip by executing a “Reverse Europe” night of fun. We went to a German restaurant where the boys wore their Oktoberfest Lederhosen and were the evening entertainment, drank French wine, stuffed our faces with Belgian chocolate and stroopwafels from Amsterdam, and ended the night with drunk history PowerPoints about our destinations. It was magical and had us begging for these next six weeks to fly by. In preparation for a night of European debauchery, I was tasked with selecting a special cocktail. As you can imagine, these countries are not well-known for their cocktails because they excel in wine and beer. It took some time, but I learned that Belgium is where the Black Russian cocktail originated!

Black Russians are simply vodka and coffee liqueur – which didn’t quite feel festive enough for a night of drunk PowerPointing… So I added a little cream to turn it into a White Russian and then whipped up some special toasted marshmallow syrup to pay homage to summer nights with friends and getting “toasted” out by the bonfire.

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Here sits the Toasted White Russian! Now, I did not build a bonfire in my backyard just for the sake of creating this drink. Who would do that? Instead, I built a mini bonfire on my kitchen island! This little creation is perfect for those nights when you are craving a s’more (or two or three) but do not have the patience for a bonfire – or even for those of you in apartments with no space to set some logs on fire. This mini bonfire pit came together with $10 spent at KMart on a ceramic pot, tin foil, and some charcoal. Easy peasy!

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Start by rolling some tin foil into a ball and placing that at the bottom of the pot. Then line the rest of the pot with a few layers of tin foil to create a little bowl. Make sure you are using a ceramic or terra cotta pot, do not use plastic. Add a few bricks of charcoal to your pot with some paper, and set ablaze! The charcoal will keep flames for about 5-10 minutes so act quickly. When you are finished, be sure to let your charcoal cool completely before throwing in the garbage. You can even add it to your grill if you have one.

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Once you have a few toasted marshmallows you are ready to make your syrup. Start off like you would for any simple syrup with equal parts sugar and water. Once that is melted together, add a few toasted marshmallows and melt completely. Once melted, strain out any leftover burnt pieces and store for up to one week in the fridge.

To create the Black Russian, add vodka and Kahlúa to a glass with ice. If you all you want is a Black Russian, stop there. But who ACTUALLY wants to stop there? Add a little bit of the marshmallow syrup to taste before slowly adding in your cream. If you want a layered effect, slowly pour your cream over the back of a spoon and it will gently sit on top of the vodka and Kahlúa mixture. If you DGAF like me, just pour that cream (or half and half) straight into your glass.

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And there you have it! The Toasted White Russian. Top with a burnt marshmallow on a stick for added effect. Or don’t. Whatever you want. I encourage any and all types of marshmallow consumption with cocktails.


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Total Time: 15 minutes

Serves: 1 (scale up as needed!)

Ingredients:

  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 1 ounce Kahlúa
  • 1 ounce cream or half-and-half
  • Toasted marshmallow syrup
    • 3-4 marshmallows
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 1/2 cup water
  • Cubed ice
  • Toasted marshmallow for garnish

Instructions:

Start by making your toasted marshmallow syrup by adding water and sugar into a saucepan on the stove. Heat until dissolved and add 3-4 toasted marshmallows. Stir until melted and strain to remove leftover burnt pieces. Store in fridge for up to one week.

Add cubed ice, vodka, Kahlúa, and 1-2 teaspoons of marshmallow syrup to your glass. Taste and add syrup to your preference. It is very sweet so add a little at a time.

Slowly add cream or half-and-half to your glass. Again, add as much as you prefer to reach desired creaminess. Stir together and top with toasted marshmallow garnish. Enjoy!

Strawberry Frosé

Ya’ll. Summer is here to stay and you know what that means… frosé season. Frosé is out in full force here in Raleigh and I can’t exercise any restraint. I don’t really care if I look silly slurping a glass of hot pink slush in a fancy wine bar. I adore this icy wine concoction and I would order it all year long if I could.

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I probably over-indulge in frosé during the summer months because I have never been able to replicate the smooth consistency at home. I always find that my frosé is watery and filled with ice chunks – no thank you. After many failed attempts and glasses of watery wine – I am pleased to present this perfectly silky smooth, strawberry frosé! Make it once and you will be hooked all summer long. The great thing about this recipe is that it makes quite a few servings with just one bottle of wine. You can easily scale this up for a party and impress your friends with this frozen pink treat!

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So. Here is the scoop. Start by freezing your favorite brand of rosé wine in a shallow baking dish overnight. The wine will not freeze completely and you will be left with little crystals of wine slush. This is important because it will reduce the amount of ice needed to get the right consistency and does not water down your frosé.

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Add the wine slush to your blender with vodka, lemon juice, simple syrup, ice cubes, and frozen strawberries.

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I only used half of my wine because I was making 3-4 glasses – but the recipe is easily doubled to use your full bottle. I also am a super basic snob and begged for someone to buy me Rosé Vodka for my birthday. I like to think it adds a little extra something special here, but regular vodka works just as well!

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This strawberry frosé comes cat-approved and you should go make some right now.


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Total Time: 4 hours + 10 minutes

Serves: 3-4

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 bottle rosé wine
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 2 ounces simple syrup
  • 3 ounces vodka (I use Rosé Vodka)
  • Up to 1 cup ice

Instructions:

Pour half a bottle of rosé wine into a shallow baking dish and place in freezer for at least 4 hours. Remove once you can scrape the top with a fork and create ice crystals. The wine will not freeze into a solid block because it contains alcohol. A little bit of liquid is fine. While you wait, prepare your simple syrup with equal parts granulated sugar and water (see previous recipe for instructions).

Once your wine is frozen into an icy slush, pour into a blender with frozen strawberries, lemon juice, simple syrup, and vodka. Add a little bit of ice to get the mixture going and blend until combined. I added more ice cubes until I reached the thick consistency I was going for – but use your own judgement. I did not need more than 1 cup of ice to get a thick frosé.

Pour into your preferred glasses, garnish with fresh mint, and serve with a straw!

The Salty Dog

Alright, ya’ll. Here we are! Blue Juniper is a reality! Welcome welcome welcome. To start, please visit the About Us page to learn more about your hosts. We are just your average, wedded set of humans trying to get through life on a cocktail buzz. It has been a journey to get here and I am thrilled to share our first recipe!

This first cocktail is a simple, yet classic, drink that gets us through those Friday evenings where there is no food in the house and we end up eating a meal of chips, guac, and sliced cheese.

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The Salty Dog is grapefruit, vodka, and a salted rim. Quick, simple, and to the point. I like to add some fresh herbs if I have any, but this is certainly not necessary. We love this cocktail because it is not super sweet and takes just a few minutes to pull together. You can add some simple syrup if you need some extra sugar, but I say embrace the tart!

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Total Time: 5 minutes

Serves: 2 (can easily be adjusted for more)

Ingredients:

  • Juice from 3 freshly squeezed grapefruits
  • 4 ounces vodka (I use Method + Standard from North Carolina)
  • Salt for the rim, preferably sea salt
  • 2 slices of grapefruit
  • Crushed ice

Instructions:

Squeeze three, ripe grapefruits into your shaker. Add four ounces of vodka (or more/less depending on your preferences) along with one cup of ice. Shake well for 10 seconds. Dip your glasses in grapefruit juice or water to wet the rim and then place in a shallow dish of salt to coat. Add crushed ice to each glass and top with strained mix from shaker. Cut your grapefruit slice garnishes and there you have it! The Salty Dog – perfect for lazy summer evenings and a meal made from snacks.