Apple Cider Margarita

Apple Cider Margaritas for fall

This year, this Apple Cider Margarita has been my drink of choice, especially when I’m entertaining. I’ve made it for almost everyone I know at this point, which means, that after a whole season of pours and tweaks it’s finally time to measure it out, write it down and share my Apple Cider Margarita with you. There are a few twists and turns in my Apple Cider Margarita that admittedly bring into question naming this lovely fall cocktail after the margarita at all. But because of the lime juice and the tequila, and because it’s just so tasty, I feel confident that no matter you call it, guests are going to accept the glass graciously and then praise it genuinely. I add a little bit of the Italian bitter Cynar, to give the cocktail some extra depth, but there’s no need to wait to make my Apple Cider Margarita if you don’t have any on hand. I assure you that you’ll love this cocktail equally well with and without the bitter oomph, and of course, you could always add a dash of any bitters that you do have on hand instead. The striking garnish adds a festive quality that bridges … Continue reading

Grown Up Root Beer Float

Grown Up Root Beer Float with stoli vanilla

Summer BBQs are a great time for classic root beer floats; you can take it to the next level with vanilla vodka and make my Grown Up Root Beer Floats. While of course the vanilla vodka is an extra little treat your guests won’t necessarily be expecting, you can dress this up even more with some fancy straws and your iced tea spoons, if you have them. What a fun reason to break out the silver. Guests will love the whimsy- talk about comfortable, elegant entertaining. When it comes to ratio, it’s all about personal preference in a Grown Up Root Beer Float. Definitely let guests mix their own so they can get just what they want. And you may wish to put out bottle of classic coca-cola as well. For many people a vanilla coke will take them right back to memories of old fashioned soda fountains. To prevent a spill over, start with the ice cream. When you add the soda, the Grown Up Root Beer Float will foam and fizz. Make sure you go slowly, kind of like pouring champagne. With a little vanilla vodka in the Grown Up Root Beer Float, kids and big kids alike … Continue reading

Rhubarb Lillet Rose Spritzer

rhubarb aquavit lillet rose spritz

While I absolutely love savory cocktails, not everyone does; some people prefer something a little sweet, like this Rhubarb Lillet Rose Spritzer. So when you’re serving a drink like my Celery Aquavit Spritzer for your big, fancy schmancy Scandinavian Thanksgiving menu, it’s best to make two cocktails for a large group. After all, two cocktails is better than one anyway, right? When I was making aquavit, I wanted to make some Northern, Scandinavian flavors and rhubarb was at the top of my list for pairing with holiday flavors. I also finally procured a bottle of lillet rose, which can be surprisingly tricky to track down and wanted to feature it and it’s lovely pink color. The rhubarb aquavit fit this Rhubarb Lillet Rose Spritzer in that dimension as well since it is also a beautiful pink shade. I have to admit, this isn’t a particularly complex cocktail; it’s light, smooth, and easy to drink. But that’s perfect when you have a huge menu with many courses and lots and lots of awesome wine pairings. In fact, this simple and easy Rhubarb Lillet Rose Spritzer it perfect when it needs to pair with three very different appetizers, like a gjetost fondue, … Continue reading

Celery Aquavit Spritzer

Celery Aquavit spritzer

I find that a good cocktail, while not essential, is a great social lubricant to get a party started off right, and this Celery Aquavit Spritzer certainly set the right tone when paired with a Rhubarb Lillet Rose Spritzer at the beginning of my Scandinavian Thanksgiving Menu. It’s light, bright, and very dry, which goes well with the Gjetost fondue, pickled carrots and cauliflower, and salmon mousse, as well as the fact that Thanksgiving is a long night with lots of courses! It’s also another fun excuse to use the Celery and Caraway Aquavit I made. I love serving savory cocktails, like this Celery Aquavit Spritzer because they’re a little unexpected by guests, which makes them all the more fun. And this Celery Aquavit Spritzer is great for improvising and trying new things. It makes a great martini shaken and served up with a lemon twist (and no club soda). I think a tiny bit of dill, or even a dill simple syrup in place of the celery would be a great variation as well but I haven’t yet tried it out. And whether this Celery Aquavit Spritzer is shaken or stirred, it’s a delicious drink that will get any party … Continue reading

Celery Caraway and Rhubarb Aquavit

Celery Aquavit

Aquavit, or “water of life” in Swedish is basically a high proof Vodka, but you can tell from it’s name, that it’s also culturally important. Afterall, it’s a long cold Winter so far North, and there is a lot of time for staying indoors, sitting around fires and telling stories with friends. Aquavit is often flavored and it’s hard to find in the United States’ but good news: Aquavit is easy to make your own. I made three flavors: Celery Caraway and Rhubarb Aquavit and used them to make some fabulous cocktails to start the night off right for my Scandinavian Thanksgiving using, you guessed it fresh caraway seeds, frozen rhubarb stalks, and fresh celery. When crafting the cocktails, I used the celery and caraway seed aquavit together with a celery simple syrup to make a very cool Celery spritzer and then I used the rhubarb with some Rhuby, a local Philly spirit from Art in the Age to make a rhubarb spritzer. I also used the leftover celery aquavit to make some of the best Bloody Mary’s and Sunny Mary: a Bloody Good Alternative cocktails I’ve had. It was a great excuse to set up a Bloody Mary Bar … Continue reading

Bloody Mary Bar

Bloody Mary Bar the drinks

One fine day, with four of my best Bloody Mary drinkers, I set out to make the perfect mix for Bloody Marys by setting out a Bloody Mary Bar, or lab, with lots of ingredients for us to experiment. The results were a different story. We definitely didn’t create a best possible mix. Instead, it turns out, we each made a VERY different version of the classic drink, and almost all of us strongly preferred the version we created. So what I learned was that for serious Bloody Mary conoisseurs, a Bloody Mary Bar is the way to go, so guests can customize their Bloody Mary to suit their particular tastes. Aside from a Bloody Mary Bar yielding the best possible results, it also was incredibly fun. It turns out hosting a Bloody Mary Bar is a brunch in and of itself it you set out enough ingredients. I also recommend asking guests to bring any special fixings that are unique, or that they can’t live without in their desired concoction. I served my Bloody Mary Bar with killer chilaquiles, but really, what wouldn’t pair well with a customized drink? Also, this Bloody Mary Bar was decked out with homemade … Continue reading

Baltimore Orange Crush

Baltimore Orange Crush at the Os game

This weekend I’m headed to Baltimore for an Oriole’s game and I’m quite sure I’ll have a Baltimore Orange Crush or two. My dear friend Kate lives in Baltimore, so I get down there time to time to enjoy the city and visit her. Last summer, she introduced me to the delicious Baltimore Orange Crush (or grapefruit crush if you like) and I’m headed back for more. The Baltimore Orange Crush is straightforward, easy to make, delicious and so refreshing on a hot summer night. Of course, because the concept is so simple, there are lots of variations on the Baltimore Orange Crush. It’s no secret that different bars make it different ways, but here’s a great place to start, courtesy of the Baltimore Sun and a famous Baltimore bar. But you should feel free to change it up and make it just how you like it. Sub regular vodka for the orange, use sprite and no triple sec, use triple sec and no sprite. Just don’t forget the fresh squeezed OJ and you’ll make the Baltimore Orange Crush your own. … Continue reading

Rainier Cherry Scotch Thyme New Fashioned

Rainier Cherry Scotch Thyme New Fashioned on ice

I love Ranier cherries but I’ve had to wait a long “thyme” to finally enjoy this Rainier Cherry Scotch Thyme “New Fashioned” cocktail. The idea for my Rainier Cherry Scotch Thyme “New Fashioned” came to me sometime last fall. Oh the torture of having to wait for Rainier cherry season to get to finally make one. I have to say, this Rainier Cherry Scotch Thyme “New Fashioned” was absolutely worth the wait. Considering it’s made with Scotch, it’s still a very light and refreshing cocktail. It’s woodsy and herbaceous without being overwhelming. It’s quite perfect for the early summer late spring season during which it’s easiest to find Rainier cherries. Hint, this is no coincidence. The scotch you select will have a big impact on the flavor of the drink. I recommend that first and foremost, pick one you like. It seems obvious, but sometimes when reading a recipe it’s easy to forget the most important part of cooking and eating: your taste buds rule! I chose a medium/light peatiness so as not to overwhelm the cherries. Thyme is strong though, and it holds its own with the peat in my Rainier Cherry Scotch Thyme “New Fashioned” cocktail. … Continue reading

Door County Cherry Spritzer

Door County Cherry Spritzer

If you happen to live somewhere where Door County Cherry Juice is available, you probably already make a version of this Door County Cherry Spritzer. It’s a no brainer to make for summer parties since it’s delicious and an easy sipper that you can adjust to suit your individual sweetness, booziness, and sparkliness preferences. It also makes a great Door County Cherry Spritzer cocktail for teetotalers and kids alike. I keep this one on the tame side and let guests amp it up if they like because it goes down easy and I try to help friends stay out of trouble, but you don’t have to be so kind. I also have a few modifications for you if you can’t find sweetened Cherry juice, etc. Everyone agreed that my Door County Cherry Spritzer was a great way to get our Midsommar’s Eve Party started, even the staunch beer drinkers. And that’s saying something when there’s plenty of New Glarus Spotted Cow around to tempt people. It goes well with salty hors d’oeuvres in particular because of the sweet and tart elements, so don’t be afraid to pair this Door County Cherry Spritzer with all sorts of cheese, pretzels, and even things like smoked fish dips.  … Continue reading

Cucumber Lychee Pimm’s Cups

Cucumber Lychee Pimms Cups with thai basil

Finally, picnic season is fully upon us and these Cucumber Lychee Pimm’s Cups are perfect for a leisurely afternoon picnic. In fact, I have them in mind as the light, low-alcohol cocktail for my English Polo Picnic Menu. After all, next weekend there’s a match in Jersey City and yours truly intends to be there, friends and picnic in tow, including these Cucumber Lychee Pimm’s Cups. The distinctively subtle cucumbers, lychee and thai basil muddles perfectly into herbaceous flavors of the Pimm’s No. 1 liquor. A little lychee syrup goes a long way to sweeten it up just a touch, and the effervescence from the sparkling water keeps the drink light and refreshing. Serve these Cucumber Lychee Pimm’s Cups with lots of ice, plenty of gorgeous lychees, cucumbers and thai basil for garnish and they’ll help you keep the party going all afternoon long. As the drink for my Polo Picnic Menu, I paired these Cucumber Lychee Pimm’s Cups with my Salmon Burgers with Curry Mayo and Saffron Poached Apricot Almond Trifle. It’s hard to tell you which dish stole the show since leftovers were few and far between, but I will say that even the non-cocktail drinkers got on … Continue reading

Cucumber Mint Lime Agua Fresca

Cucumber Mint Lime Agua Fresca with mint leaves

We’ve got leaves, we’ve got flowers, we’ve even got some legitimately hot days head our way and since it seems I’m determined to skip right into Summer this year, we’ve got refreshing Cucumber Mint Lime Agua Fresca just in time for Cinco de Mayo. In Spanish, “agua fresca” means cool waters, and I first really learned about the wonder that is agua fresca living in the San Francisco Bay Area, where every good burrito stand has some form of house agua fresca that they serve to counter the heat of the hot weather and the spicy food. I’ve had a lot of different flavors over the years, but recently a friend of mine made a Cucumber Mint Lime Agua Fresca (like this one) that she had at the restaurant Lemonade in L.A. While I don’t promise that this is their exact recipe, I can promise that I like it a lot, it is delicious and refreshing, and it’s easy to make. And once you make it the first time, you’ll be persuaded to make it often. It’s a great beverage to keep on hand for guests who aren’t imbibing, too. Just serve it in a big pitcher with lots of … Continue reading

White Cranberry Sprinter Cocktail

White Cranberry Sprinter Cocktail with lime

It’s five o’clock somewhere, and it’s almost five o’clock here, so it’s time to get ready for the weekend with this White Cranberry Sprinter Cocktail. Sprinter, that’s spring, plus winter, see what I did there? Corny, I know. But here in Philly, it’s definitely Sprinter. Yesterday it was 70. Today it’s 40. What gives? And what’s a party thrower to do? Hot Chocolate or Piña Coladas? Don’t worry, of course I have the drink for you. I highly recommend mixing up a batch of this delicious White Cranberry Sprinter Cocktail which perfectly navigates the challenges of the in between season with its light nod to winter in the form of cranberry and rosemary, and its playful spring inclinations with a little spicy ginger and Caribbean inspired rum. If you’ve been persuaded by me in the past to keep some herbal simple syrup on hand, all you need to do is add a couple of tablespoons of rough chopped ginger into some rosemary simple syrup and rewarm it. It will infuse while it cools leaving you with a woodsy, spicy syrup that goes great with the tartness of the lime and cranberry. If you’re starting from scratch, it’s a cup of … Continue reading