Thursday, April 30, 2015

Kentucky Derby Party Drinks

Guess what? On Willie's Bucket List is The Kentucky Derby. And guess what? This year we will be there. We are so excited and hopefully we will be able to add some photos from our adventure to this post once we get home. 

I took a chance and sent an email to Churchill Downs to get some information about the nonalcoholic drinks available for the 2015 The Oaks and The Derby. Yes, there are two days of races involved in The Kentucky Derby event. Did you know that? We didn't. Churchill Downs put me in contact with the Director of Beverages and with their help and some of my own creativity, following are some drinks you can serve to your party guests who are not partaking in alcohol. 

For those guests who would love an official Grey Goose Oaks Lily or a The Early Times Mint Julep, just click on the links and you will have the official recipes!

The Oaks Lily (nonalcoholic)
by Sandra

Equal parts fruit punch and pineapple juice
A splash of nonalcoholic Triple Sec, also comes in sugar-free
Orange slices
Maraschino cherries

Stir all ingredients in a 4-cup measuring cup. Adjust Triple Sec to taste. Pour in a cup over crushed ice and garnish with an orange and maraschino cherry, or two. Serve with a straw.

Mint Tea
by Sandra

Luzianne Iced Tea Bags
1 Earl Grey Tea Bag
2 Tablespoons mint simple syrup*, such as Sonoma Co.
Orange slices
Fresh or frozen blackberries

Brew iced tea with Luzianne Iced Tea Bags (or your favorite brand) and 1 Earl Grey tea bag. Cool. For every 3 cups of tea, stir in 2 Tablespoons of mint simple syrup. Pour the tea in a large glass full of ice. Garnish with an orange slice and blackberries. Serve with a straw.

*If you decide to make your own simple syrup, please be sure to use spearmint. It makes the tastiest syrup for tea.

P.S. The bow tie shown in the photo above has pictures of lilies and The Grey Goose Oaks Lily. This is one of the official bow ties of the Kentucky Derby and Willie will be wearing it. Everyone wears pink to The Oaks to honor breast cancer awareness.

P.P.S. The orange garnishes are so gorgeous in these photos because they are actually tangelos. They were the absolute brightest and most beautiful fruit at the store! One problem, they are extremely tart! Too tart for us to eat, I'm afraid! But they make a great garnish and they also brought a wonderful flavor to both of these drinks.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Coffee Infused Vodka Buzz Bomb

Coffee Infused Vodka Buzz Bomb
by Lori
Makes 1
Begin by making our own coffee infused vodka. Why, you ask? Because it's simple and delicious. And, simple and delicious recipes are sure to completely impress your friends. Lol Just remember to share the recipe so your friends can make it for you next time. :)
Coffee Infused Vodka
2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
1 Vanilla Bean
2 Tablespoons Cocoa Nibs 
750 Milliliters Titos Vodka 

Using a glass vessel with an air tight lid add your ingredients as follows. With a mortar and pestle, coarse break coffee beans to the size of uncrushed peppercorns. Add coffee and brown sugar and mix together. Add the vanilla bean (no scraping needed), cocoa nibs and vodka to your glass vessel. Gently mix and seal with the air tight lid. Every 24 hours, shake to mix. Let stand for 72 hours. Filter 3 times through a gold mesh coffee filter. Using a funnel, pour the infused goodness into your vodka bottle. Now you're ready to roll!
Coffee Infused Vodka Buzz Bomb 
2 Tablespoons Disaronno 
2 teaspoons Coffee Infused Vodka
2-3 Tablespoons Heavy Cream - slightly whipped to a pourable consistency.
1 Cosmopolitan Glass 
In a chilled cosmopolitan glass, slowly pour the Disaronno, coffee vodka and slightly whipped - cream over the back of a spoon to create a layering effect and garnish with brown sugar if you choose. 
Be sure to make one for a friend and enjoy!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Siboney Cocktail

My aunt Lotus loved to entertain. She owned stacks and stacks of china, drawers full of flatware and cabinets overflowing with glassware. As a kid, I recall that glasses at her parties were always in abundance and always full, usually carried by an adult with an appropriately adult beverage inside. I wondered what the allure was. What was in those pretty glasses? Why did everyone always have one in their hands? I remember seeing a glass sitting on the bar and hearing that it was something really funny-sounding: Cold Duck. How bad could that be? I stole a big sip. Then I probably screamed; I probably even cried after tasting such an abominable thing. Why in the world would adults want to drink this. ALCOHOL?? (I eventually found out <wink>)

Lotus came over to find out what the fuss was all about. She smiled, then poured a Coke in a glass, put a cherry in it and handed it to me. I was relieved to taste something sweet, familiar and comforting. But it wasn't so much the Coke, or even the cherry. It was the glass. I had a BIG PERSON glass. It was the same glass everyone else was drinking from. And that was all I needed.

Forty years later, I find myself poring through a box of Lotus's cookbooks. Amidst the hardcover books, paperbacks and file folders full of hand-scribbled recipes on loose leaf paper, envelopes, napkins and even paper bags, I spy a small, spiral-bound notebook. Inside, I find a virtual compendium of every Polynesian cocktail ever made! In Lotus's unmistakable hand, each recipe had been painstakingly written out. I knew I had to make one of these for this challenge. I chose the Siboney Cocktail, a version of the classic Daiquiri, but close to the classic Hurricane. Lotus was always one to do things a little different and I think she would enjoy this lesser-known underdog of Tiki cocktail lore.

And yes, the glass is one of the pretty glasses she often used. I can just hear her saying "Cheers, toots!"

Siboney Cocktail
by Gary
Serves/Makes 1

1 ounce fresh lemon juice
1 ounce pineapple juice
1 ounce passion fruit nectar
3 ounce Myer's Dark Rum
Lemon wedge, for garnish

In a cocktail shaker half-filled with ice, pour lemon juice, pineapple juice, passion fruit nectar and rum. Shake vigorously. Strain into cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon wedge.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Irish Cooler

In honor of St. Patrick's Day.

Irish Cooler
by Willie

2 ounces Jameson Irish Whiskey
4 ounces Sprite
1 drop of Angostura Bitters
a squeeze of lemon juice
a squeeze of lime juice

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add all ingredients. Shake. Fill a Tom Collins glass with ice and pour the contents of the shaker over the ice. Garnish with lemon or lime or both. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Texas Ruby Red Martini

Boutique distilleries are popping up all over Austin area and are adding a taste of Texas to the spirits map. Local restaurants and bars are sourcing from these distilleries and crafting amazing concoctions. I'm lucky to live in the area to be able to get a taste of what's new.

Have you ever had a drink at a restaurant and thought, "I've got to try to reproduce this at home?" This was the case for me with this grapefruit drink that I had at a local restaurant. The combination of Republic Spirit Blends Prickly Pear Mixer with fresh ruby red grapefruit juice gives the perfect balance of sweet and tart. Layering Deep Eddy Ruby Red Vodka with the juices makes the grapefruit shine in this drink.

Texas Ruby Red Martini
by Tonda

1 ounce St-Germain
6 ounces Deep Eddy Ruby Red Vodka
6 ounces Republic Spirit Blends Prickly Pear Mixer
6 ounces freshly squeezed Ruby Red grapefruit juice
1 ounce simple syrup

Add ice to a martini shaker and add all of the ingredients. Shake until well mixed. Serve in a martini glass.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Minty Carrot Gingerade

I bought my husband a Ninja Professional Blender for his birthday and we love mixing up our own fresh and healthy concoctions. We hadn't tried carrot juice as an ingredient, because I didn't think my husband would like it. However, when I saw See and Savour Blog's recipe for Carrot Lemonade, a light bulb went off in my head on how I could get him to enjoy it. With a few of our favorite things added, it is now a refreshing, healthy drink we will enjoy time and time again.

Minty Carrot Gingerade
by Linda
Adapted from See and Savour - Carrot Lemonade

6 large carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
1 16.9-ounce bottle of diet ginger ale
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 cubes Dorot Crushed Ginger or 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
2 Tablespoons fresh orange mint, finely chopped*
6 large ice cubes

1. Place carrots in saucepan and cover completely with water.
2. Place on medium heat and cook for approximately 30 minutes, until carrots are soft and tender.
3. Remove from heat, drain and allow carrots to cool.
4. Place carrots, diet ginger ale, lemon juice, ginger and mint in blender (I used my Ninja Professional Blender)
5. Blend until smooth.
6. Add ice cubes and pulse until ice is crushed and incorporated with juice.
7. Serve and enjoy!

*Special thanks to Old School Produce for providing me with my fresh mint and the adorable miniature carrots in my picture.

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!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Ambrosia Martini

I grew up eating ambrosia for special occasions. While I don’t eat it quite as often anymore, it is one of my guilty pleasures. Full of orange, pineapple, whipped cream, coconut, marshmallows and cherries, my mom made the best. This drink is inspired by her fruity, creamy, coconut goodness.

Ambrosia Martini
by Tracy
Serves 1

1/2 Tablespoon honey
1 Tablespoon coconut, colored green, using this method
1 maraschino cherry
1 ounce coconut vodka, I used Skyy Coconut
1 ounce marshmallow vodka, I used Smirnoff Fluffed Marshmallow
1 ounce Cointreau
1/2 ounce pear vodka, I used Grey Goose La Poire
1/2 ounce brandy
2 ounces pineapple juice
1 ounce heavy cream
1 Tablespoon grenadine
Yellow Peeps

Prepare glass by coating rim with honey and dipping into colored coconut, making sure to cover rim all the way around. Slice the cherry without cutting all the way through and place it on the rim of the glass. Set aside

Fill a martini shaker with ice and add all of the drink ingredients. Shake well and strain into prepared glass. Top with a Peep. Enjoy!