Thursday, April 16, 2015

Vodka Apricotini (a/k/a “Mine!”)

This was a fun challenge. I had a lot of fun making it and my husband had a lot of fun drinking it. But, I think the funniest part of this challenge was the day I prepared the cocktail for a photograph. From the outset, I had decided that no matter what I was going to use the two funky martini glass (pictured here) that I won at a fundraiser in January this year. I filled one of the glasses and walked it out to the garage to show my husband and to give him a sip. I asked him what I should call it and he promptly said “Mine!” Ultimately, I landed on Apricotini. But that wasn’t the funny part. I left him with the drink, went back inside and made another one to photograph. Picture taken, I drank it. Only trouble was I ended up wearing most of it. I could have sworn I aimed for my mouth. I mean, I’ve been eating and drinking things my whole life. Why, all of the sudden, can I not get the edge of the glass to my mouth? I made another cocktail and it happened again! Seriously? What was wrong with me? Just then, my husband came back into the house…with cocktail down the front of his shirt! We decided that the funky shaped martini glasses were the problem. That’s our story and we’re sticking with it!

Vodka Apricotini (a/k/a “Mine!”)
by Maryjo

1 cup of ice
1 Tablespoon apricot puree (recipe below)
1 Tablespoon flavored simple syrup (recipe below)
1 1/2 ounces of your favorite traditional Vodka (right now, my fav is Ivanabitch)
1/2 teaspoon lime juice

Shake all of the above ingredients in a cocktail shaker until well blended. Strain into your favorite martini glass and enjoy!

Apricot Puree
by Maryjo

20 dried apricots
2 cups water
2-inch knob of fresh ginger, sliced into 1/4” pieces
1 teaspoon ground cardamom

Place the dried apricots in a small sauce pan, cover with 2 cups of water, the sliced ginger, and the cardamom. Stir, bring to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer for 30 minutes. Turn off the heat and let it cool to room temperature. Drain the liquid from the apricots and ginger into a bowl to be used in the simple syrup. Pick out and discard the ginger. Put the now plump apricots into a blender with about 1/4 cup of the drained liquid. Blend until it is a smooth puree. Press the puree through a fine mesh strainer to be sure all of the lumps are out. You’ll be left with about 1 Tablespoon of pulpy (is that a word?) stuff in the strainer that should be discarded. You've made a beautiful, bright orange colored apricot puree with a hint of ginger and cardamom. This recipe will make about 1/2 cup of puree, or between 6 and 8 Apricotinis.

Ginger/Cardamom Flavored Simple Syrup
by Maryjo

Using the liquid from the puree above, filter the remaining apricot and ginger liquid through a coffee filter to remove the gritty ground cardamom. Discard the cardamom. Now it’s time to make a simple syrup with 1/2 cup of the filtered liquid and 1 cup of white sugar (if you don’t have enough filtered liquid, just top it off with water until it measures 1/2 cup.) If you've never made a simple syrup before it’s super “simple”! In a small sauce pan, add the 1/2 cup of liquid and 1 cup of sugar. Over medium high heat, stir until the sugar is dissolved. Just be careful not to boil the mixture (it’ll mess with the sugar to water ratio.) Remove it from the heat and let it cool to room temperature. Voila! Sweet, sticky goodness.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Cherry Amore

I've had enough of winter already! It's been colder and snowier than usual here (I'm in Michigan) and I'm just about ready to declare it's time for sun, summer breezes and fruity drinks.

This is so simple, I almost hesitate to dignify it with a recipe. To make up for it, I'll list instructions for making the cherry cordial that forms the base of the drink. Plan ahead, you'll need fresh sour cherries in season to make it, and six months to age it properly. Once that's done, though, you're all set for an unseasonal sip of summer whenever you've had enough of cold, nasty weather.

Cherry Amore
by Maurita (Good Stuff Recipes)
Makes one - as large or as small as you like. Play around!

1 part cherry cordial (see below)
1 part Amaretto liqueur (I like Lazzaroni Amaretto, with the orange label)
Splash fresh lime juice, to taste

Combine all ingredients, pour over 1 or 2 ice cubes, garnish with a lime twist.

Summer's Harvest Cherry Cordial
by Maurita

You can use this method to make a cordial from just about any fruit. Have fun!

Start with a sparkling-clean one-quart Mason jar. To this jar, add 1 pound fresh sour cherries, sliced to expose the pits. This should fill the jar about three-quarters full. Pour in a couple handsful granulated sugar (oh, if you must measure it, this is about one-half cup.)

Now completely fill the jar with a decent, but completely neutral, vodka. My brand of choice is Sobieski.

Cover the jar tightly, shake it a few times, and store it in a cool, dark cupboard for 6 months or so. Strain and save the cordial in a fancy bottle with a good cork - and if you like boozy fruit, eat the cherries over ice cream.

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Spring Fever

I'm obsessed with juicing - the combinations are endless and freshly extracted juice tastes incomparably better than anything you can buy at a supermarket. One of my favorite combinations is pineapple and fennel - the pineapple is sweet and acidic, and the fennel lends a slightly herbaceous freshness to the juice.

I'm also fond of drinks that are relatively strong - and the Spring Fever is no slouch. The egg white gives it a charmingly frothy top, and the ginger gives it a nice little burn. For an egg-free, alcohol free version - give the second version a try!

The Spring Fever
by Sarah

Lemon juice
Chile salt, for rim (I make my own chile mix, here - and mix it with salt in a 1:1 ratio)
1 ounce pineapple fennel juice (for juice: 1/2 large gold pineapple, 1/2 large bulb fennel)
1 teaspoon ginger juice (or less, to taste)
1 teaspoon honey
1 ounce white rum (I used Bacardi Superior)
1/2 ounce St. Germain
1 large egg white (approximately 1 ounce)
Basil leaf, for garnish

Rim a coupe cocktail glass by dipping the edge of the glass first into lemon juice, then into chile salt.

In a cocktail shaker, combine liquid ingredients. To make the egg white frothy, first do a dry shake (without any ice) - shake vigorously for about 10 seconds. Add a scoop of ice, then shake vigorously again, harder and longer than you normally would shake a cocktail.

Strain into the glass (if the egg white doesn't come out of the shaker, scoop it out with a spoon), and top with a basil leaf.

The Spring Flush (egg-free, alcohol-free, light)

Fill a double old-fashioned glass halfway with pineapple fennel juice, then add a teaspoon each of ginger juice, lemon juice, and honey. Stir well, then top with tonic water and a basil leaf. You could also add a shot of vodka, if the "alcohol-free" thing doesn't work for you.


Thursday, April 9, 2015

Try a "Peach Tart" for Zing and Refreshment

When I was given the task of creating my own libation, I immediately though of one particular drink that I've had many times, but only in one place that we frequent when on vacation in Florida. I've begged for their recipe for years now, but they've never given up their secret. I figured that this would be the perfect time to try my hand at recreating their "Signature Sip".

While my interpretation is not exactly like their offering, it is pretty close and it is also very tasty. I did cut the sweetness down a bit and added a touch of zing, as per the feedback from my Taste Testers. The resulting concoction is not too alcoholic (you can enjoy more than one), has a nice citrus note to it and is crisp and refreshing. Perfect for a lazy Spring afternoon, or maybe a brunch. Give it a try- I'm pretty sure that you'll enjoy. Cheers!

"Peach Tart"
by Chris

2 ounces peach rum (I used Cruzan)
1 ounce orange juice
2 dashes blood orange bitters
2 dashes Angostura bitters
3 ounces ginger beer (I used Fever Tree)
1/2 ounce lime juice (optional)

In an ice-filled shaker, combine the peach rum, orange juice, blood orange bitters and Angostura bitters (if you want the drink to be more tart rather than sweet, add the optional lime juice as well. My Taste Testers were torn on this one - 2 preferred the drink with the lime juice, 2 preferred it without.) Shake well for about 20-30 seconds. Strain into a highball glass that is half-filled with ice. Top with the ginger beer, and stir gently to combine. Add more ice if needed or desired. Sip and Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Brad's Smooth n Spicy

It's Happy Hour and time for a cocktail. I've always enjoyed a unique martini. I don't like my drinks to taste like straight up alcohol. I also don't usually make my own cocktails and leave this one for the professionals.

I knew I wanted to go with something from Colorado where I live. So I visited my local liquor and wine store. They've always advised me well in the past. Vodka? No. Whiskey? No. Spiced Rum? Ooh, this could be good. I picked up the bottle and being a graphic designer, fell for the label. It happens. But I read that it was an American Distilling Institute Silver Medal Award Winner from 2012, so it must be good.

I got the bottle home and started messing with simple syrups. I first tried a spiced one with cinnamon, clove and allspice. But it seemed too much like the rum. Maybe fruity would work?! I've always loved the combination of orange and ginger and went with that. The aroma from my kitchen soon filled my house and smelled absolutely divine!

This is where my brother-in-law, Brad, steps in. Being a former bartender, I knew he could lead me in the right direction not only with taste, but proportions. Like I said before, I order drinks, I don't make them. He advised me to definitely go with the orange-ginger syrup, not spiced. Told me how to garnish my drink properly. And ta-da, the perfect sipping cocktail.

So, this one is for you, Brad. You rock!

Brad's Smooth n Spicy
by Holly

For the simple syrup:
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
Rind of a medium orange
1 teaspoon crystalized ginger, smashed

For the glass:
Orange zested sugar
Orange peel curly cues

For the cocktail:
2 parts (shots) of Dancing Pines Distillery Spice, spice flavored rum
1 part (shot) simple syrup

To make the simple syrup, combine the sugar, water, orange peel and ginger in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook and stir occasionally until the sugar and ginger have dissolved, about 15 minutes. Strain and reserve.

In a shaker, filled with ice, add the rum and simple syrup, swirl (do NOT shake) until chilled. Dip a martini glass 1/4" in water and dip into the orange sugar. Strain and pour the cocktail into the glass. Garnish with an orange curly cue and enjoy!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Thin Mint & Godiva Chocolate Liqueur Milkshake

When the "It's 5:00 Somewhere" challenge was presented, the ideas started flowing. Originally I thought of a boozy banana chocolate milkshake. After some research, I decided I wanted to use Godiva’s Chocolate Liqueur. While I was shopping for this challenge, I saw the Girl Scouts selling cookies so I bought my favorite, Thin Mints. Driving home, I had an epiphany! I changed the bananas to Thin Mints. If you don't have, or can't find, Girl Scout Thin Mints, use the closest substitute.

Thin Mint & Godiva Chocolate Liqueur Milkshake
by Sharyl

1/2 cup of whole milk
2 - 3 Tablespoons of Godiva’s Chocolate Liqueur
4 scoops of vanilla ice cream (in Texas, our preferred is Blue Bell and I used the French Vanilla)
10 Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies

Add the milk and Godiva liqueur to the blender and then add 1/2 the ice cream. Blend. Add the rest of the ice cream and the Thin Mint cookies. Blend to mix. Pour into a frosty mug and top with whipped cream and a Thin Mint cookie. Makes 2 servings. Enjoy!