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!

Cherry Limeade Margarita

It’s National Tequila Day! Which, let’s be honest, might as well just be Margarita Day. Yes, yes, there is already a day dedicated to margaritas (February 22nd to be exact) but why not have two holidays for this special nectar of the agave plant?? Today, I am honoring tequila with this Cherry Limeade Margarita.

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I have a thing about cherries. Anyone with me? Cherry-flavored things remind me of cough syrup and other super artificially flavored candies. And don’t get me started on the maraschino cherry… no thank you to those bright red sugar bombs. There is only one time a year that I get excited about cherries, and that is dark, sweet cherry season. No bright red colors or super sweet additives – just dark, luscious cherries from Washington State or Oregon. YUM.

Additionally, as most Americans, I am an Amazon prime member and can never go back to 3-day delivery or shipping that costs more than $0. I am even more devoted now that Whole Foods gives me a hefty discount on a few select items each week with said membership. This week, I walked into my neighborhood Whole Foods and what do I see? Fresh, dark cherries marked at 50% off. A gift from the gods I say. And then that same day, what appears on my doorstep? Oh, that brand new blender I purchased on Amazon Prime Day… obviously my first thought goes to a frozen beverage. Thanks, Amazon.

So here lives the frozen Cherry Limeade Margarita, perfect for a celebration of booze. I pitted my fresh cherries and put them right into the freezer for this cocktail to ensure a smooth consistency. Once they were frozen, I threw them into my blender with tequila, Cointreau, lime juice, a little simple syrup, and a few handfuls of ice. Simple, delicious, and worthy of my $10 sale-priced bag of cherries.


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Total Time: 10 minutes (plus time to freeze fruit)

Serves: 2-3

Ingredients:

  • 3 ounces tequila
  • 2 ounces Cointreau
  • 2 ounces lime juice
  • 1 ounce simple syrup
  • 1 cup dark cherries, pitted
  • Handful cubed ice
  • Sugar and lime zest for rim

Instructions:

Pit your cherries and freeze them for about 2 hours until firm. You can use frozen cherries from the freezer section in the off season, but fresh is best. Once frozen, add cherries to blender with remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. Add 1 cup of ice at a time to reach desired thickness.

Prepare your glasses with the sugar and lime zest rim by taking a slice of lime and circling around the edge. Then roll the glass on a plate filled with granulated sugar and fresh lime zest.

Fill prepared glasses with frozen margarita and enjoy!

 

Maple Bourbon Sours

Nothing screams “mountain vacation” like maple syrup-spiked alcohol in a mason jar. This is exactly what I had in mind this weekend while visiting my parents in the Blue Ridge Mountains. They have this gorgeous log cabin with excellent views of the mountains and a HUGE back deck. This deck is what dreams are made of and it begs you to sit back, relax, and enjoy a morning coffee or an evening cocktail (or two). As I packed up my cold weather gear for a balmy 75 degrees, I made sure to bring along my trusty cocktail supplies and mason jars for these maple bourbon sours.

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I love everything sour. Sour beers, sour cocktails, sour candy – I can’t get enough. I will choose a bag of sour patch kids over a chocolate bar any day. The only place where I DO NOT want artificial sour flavoring is in my cocktails. Sour mixers out of plastic jugs should be banned forever. Fresh lemon juice is the ONLY way to go. I balanced out my lemon juice in these drinks with a little bit of maple syrup. The maple goes wonderfully with bourbon and provides a more complex flavor than regular simple syrup. I recommend using high quality, dark maple syrup in these cocktails to really let the flavor shine.

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I also throw a sprig of rosemary in these drinks to bring some freshness. This is not required, but I think you will appreciate another layer of flavor to brighten up the sweetness. Now go forth and climb a mountain with your maple bourbon sours!

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Total Time: 5 minutes

Serves: 4 (in small glasses)

Ingredients:

  • 7-8 ounces bourbon
  • Juice from 2 1/2 lemons
  • 2 ounces maple syrup
  • 3 rosemary sprigs
  • Cubed ice

Instructions:

Measure out your bourbon, lemon juice, and maple syrup into your shaker. Add ice and one full rosemary sprig. Shake vigorously for 30 seconds until frothy and ice cold. Add ice to 4 small old fashioned glasses and strain mixture into each glass. You can use mason jars here, but know that you might not get large portions in the regular pint jars. Try the 8oz. half pint jars if you are committed to the look. Nothing is wrong with a stronger drink if you need to top them off with more bourbon! Add small sprig of rosemary as garnish.

 

Mango Mojitos

Happy (belated) National Mojito Day! What a perfectly refreshing drink for peak summer heat and outdoor activities. Mojitos really check all of the boxes for a perfect cocktail – sweetness from muddled sugar and lime, freshness from mint leaves, and a little fizz from club soda. And of course you can’t forget the RUM. Everything you need for poolside, lakeside, beachfront, or plain old couch-sitting sipping.

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This week I found wonderfully ripe mangoes at the grocery store, so this is a little twist on a traditional mojito. Before getting to the recipe, I want to share a little information about how to select the perfect mango and chop it up so you can really embrace the fruit in your cocktails. Mangoes were such a mystery to me until I got to college and finally learned how to cut one up. They do have a hard “pit” in the center and cannot be cut down the middle like most fruits. I have butchered my fair share of mangoes trying to get around that tough center. Mangoes can also be super tart and unappealing if you grab them before they are ripe. The best way to check whether a mango is ripe is giving it a gently squeeze and looking at the stem. If the stem pops off easily and the flesh gives a little to your squeeze, you should (gently) throw that sucker in your basket! Do not go off color alone, some mangoes do not change color as they ripen.

Once you are ready to devour your mango, cut it in thirds from the top to avoid the center. You will toss the middle chunk and just cut up the flesh like an avocado. I score my mango using a sharp knife in straight lines. First I score from top to bottom and then side to side. Do not cut through the skin! Try to keep your slices just through the flesh of the fruit so you can then flip the skin inside out and chop off your perfect little cubes! This sounds like some creepy Dexter dialogue – so please see photos below to avoid listening to my “skin” and “flesh” cutting talk any longer.

Once your mango is ready to go – you can make this Mango Mojito! Mojitos have a weird reputation for being challenging to make. I have heard countless stories of friends ordering them at the pool bar and getting an eye roll from the bartender or the “we are out of mint!” story. Don’t fall for it, make these suckers at home any chance you get.

First, you want to muddle your mint, lime juice, and sugar. This will release the oils from the mint leaves and really ensure a strong aroma and flavor. While these mojitos do have mango, I think you still need some of the sugar to add sweetness. Once your mint, lime juice, and sugar is muddled – add your mango chunks and muddle a little more to release juices from the fruit. It is essential that you have a super ripe mango here that is easily crushed and juiced.

Add ice, rum, and shake like crazy! Once my drinks were adequately shaken, I had trouble getting the liquid out because of the mango pulp. My little shaker holes failed me and I ended using a mesh strainer over a cup to get the liquid out. Improvise when you need to! You are at home and no one is judging your choice of cocktail creating tools.

Add your cocktail mixture to a glass with ice, torn mint leaves, and extra mango chunks for the perfect summertime mojito.

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Total Time: 10 minutes

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • 3 mangoes
  • 1 bunch fresh mint leaves
  • Juice from 5-6 limes
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 10 ounces dark rum
  • Club soda
  • Cubed ice

Instructions:

Put 5-6 mint leaves to the side for garnish and then add remaining leaves to your shaker. Add juice from limes and sugar to shaker, and muddle with mint leaves. I like a lot of lime juice in my mojitos, so use 6-7 limes for 4 people if you are like me. Add mango cubes from 2 whole mangoes to shaker and muddle gently. Once you have juiced your mango cubes and broken them down, add rum and ice to shaker. Shake for 30 seconds or until glass is very cold.

Add ice, torn mint leaves, and remaining mango cubes from your third fruit to 4 tall glasses. Strain cocktail mixture evenly among glasses and top with club soda. Give a little stir and enjoy!

Tequila Time Bomb

It is the weekend before a mid-week holiday and July is charging towards me like a ball of fire. Literally. It is so stinking hot and my poor AC unit is struggling to keep up with my desire to live life wrapped in a blanket and sweatshirt. I am also living the single life for the next ten days as the resident photographer takes a cross-country road trip to Vegas. He has decided to swap out a week of cocktail photos for sunsets and open roads. So here I sit, blasting AC to cool an entire house for me and some animals who would rather lay in the sun, and binging on Netflix shows. Nailed It season two, anyone?

I will put my single lady plans on hold for one day this week though and throw back a few frozen cocktails to ring in the 4th of July. Now listen. The 4th of July is very special to me. Not because I bleed red, white, and blue and want to chant “USA” with sparklers in hand all day (although sparklers DO make everything better) but because it was a holiday always spent with my grandparents in a Prowler camper somewhere in the middle of the United States. Bear with me – I promise we will get to the cocktail.

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Now, these vacations were a chance for our parents to get some time away from two screaming girls, time for two screaming girls to bond over a shared twin bed converted from a couch, and an opportunity to explore national parks with our grandparents. We waited for geysers in Yellowstone, pretended to rock climb in the Badlands by jumping off tiny boulders, and painted Christmas ornaments under the awning during rainy afternoons that still hang on my own tree to this day.

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These trips are certainly over now, and squeezing into a pull-behind camper is no longer the preferred method of family gatherings. But these holidays spent on the road with family are what I associate with early July – and I hope you spend yours with the explorers and adventures in your life. (And protect the National Parks, ya’ll)

These trips were also an opportunity to celebrate my grandma’s birthday, July 3rd, by splurging on ice cream bars from the camp store. My preferred treat from the freezer chest? The Bomb Pop. These red, white and blue ice pops changed your mouth purple and left stains all over your hands. They were sweet, a little bit tart, and the BEST summer treat. You can imagine how thrilled I was to see them in my freezer section advertised as “THE ORIGINAL!” last week. This advertisement is 100% accurate. The annoying white plastic is still hard to rip open, the stick still leaves you with sticky fingers, and the blue raspberry section continues to be the best flavor of them all.

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First things first, I ate two of these things straight from the box. Then I decided to be an adult about it and add some alcohol to the situation in order to consume a third. I present to you… the Tequila Time Bomb. This drink goes down smooth and hits you just as you finish the last bit in your glass. The frozen component is tequila, triple sec and lots of lime juice. Essentially, a frozen margarita. The sweetness comes in from the popsicle and it truly gets better with every sip.

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This drink comes together quickly, just add your tequila, triple sec (or other preferred orange liqueur), lime juice and crushed ice to a blender. Mix it up, add your bomb pop and you are ready to ring in the 4th of July!


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Total Time: 10 minutes

Serves: 2-3

Ingredients:

  • 4 ounces tequila
  • 3 ounces triple sec
  • Juice from 3-4 limes
  • 1-2 cups cubed ice
  • Bomb pops

Instructions:

Add tequila, triple sec, lime juice and ice to blender. Start with 1/2 cup of ice and add incrementally until you get your desired consistency. I made mine pretty thick and used just under 2 cups of ice. I also taste tested along the way and added a little more lime juice or tequila based on my preferences. Pour blended cocktail into a tall glass and serve with a bomb pop!

Note: If you really want the juices to melt into the cocktail quickly, leave your bomb pops out on the counter while you are blending the cocktails and they should be softer by the time you add them to the glass.

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!

 

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!

 

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 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.

Peach Margaritas

The rain is finally gone here in North Carolina and we are celebrating with these peach margaritas! It has been muggy and wet for days and I can’t tell you how happy my soul is to see some sunshine. To mark the beginning of June and to use up some fruit from last weekend’s farmers market jaunt, I went to town on some peaches last night.

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Now, let me tell you about the state farmers market. It is paradise. A very crowded paradise, but paradise nonetheless. Freshly cut flower bouquets, tomatoes from every corner of the state, berries picked just hours earlier, freshly baked bread, cheese, more garlic varietals than I thought possible, and the sweetest peaches that I never intended on purchasing. I always go to the farmers market hungry. Why, you ask? Isn’t that the exact opposite of what we should be doing when purchasing food? Well, I can’t say no to a free sample. Especially when that free sample is a juicy sliced tomato, or roasted cajun peanuts, or a plump peach that kept calling to me from across the aisle… These peaches, man.

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I had my list. I wanted strawberries, asparagus, onions, tomatoes, and herbs. I had everything I needed and was on my way out. But then I took a free sample of a peach and thought “oh perfect, a little dessert for the road”. Nope. That was the end of me. Ten seconds later I had an armful of peaches and no real plan for how to consume them all.

When faced with an overabundance of fruit, most people would make a pie or smoothies or freeze them for later – I just mix them with alcohol. So here enters the lovely peach margarita. I adore margaritas. My happiest place is sitting at a picnic table with fresh guac, warm chips, crispy fish tacos, and a pitcher of margaritas. Typically, a classic margarita always does the trick. But when you are looking for something a little sweeter or brighter, make these peach margaritas.

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To really incorporate the peaches, I blend them with simple syrup to get a thick, peach puree. I then shake the puree with tequila, grand marnier, and lots of lime juice to really incorporate everything together. You could use triple sec if you want, but I recommend trying it with the grand marnier. I also skip the salt here and use lime zest and sugar on the rim. It really sends this margarita over the edge. I will never regret grabbing an armful of peaches from the farmers market ever again.


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Total Time: 15 minutes

Serves: 2

Ingredients:

  • 3 ripe peaches
  • 1/4 cup simple syrup
  • 3 ounces tequila
  • 4 ounces grand marnier
  • 3 ounces lime juice
  • Sugar and lime zest for rim
  • Cubed ice

Instructions:

Make your simple syrup with equal parts granulated sugar and water. I make about one cup at a time (1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water). Heat on the stove until hot and fully dissolved. Remove from heat before the liquid begins to boil. Once the syrup is completely cool, reserve 1/4 cup for the peach puree and store the rest in your fridge for up to one month.

Remove the skins from three almost overly ripe peaches and place in a blender with 1/4 cup simple syrup. If you have large peaches, then just use two. Mine were about the size of a lemon. Blend until smooth. This will make enough puree for 4-6 margaritas and can keep for five days in the fridge. I usually make two drinks at a time, but if you are making a batch for a group – just add more liquor and lime juice.

Add three ounces of the peach puree to a shaker filled with ice. Add tequila, grand marnier, and lime juice and shake for 20-30 seconds. Prepare your glasses with the sugar and lime zest rim by taking a slice of lime and circling around the edge. Then roll the glass on a plate filled with granulated sugar and fresh lime zest.

Fill glasses with cubed iced and strain liquid from your shaker into each glass! Top with a lime wedge or a peach slice if you so desire. Enjoy!