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CURIOUS TRAVELER SHANDY

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I’m not a big beer person. I mean, I like beer just fine. When it’s football season, sure. Hand me a cold brewski (does saying “cold brewski” make me incredibly uncool??? #rollingwithit). But even then, I’m more likely to have a bottle of wine in tow. Most of the time, I ignore it. I just don’t care. I want wine, whiskey, or gin. When summer rolls around though, and all those lighter, crisper, citrus-y summer beers come out, I get a little excited—I’m not going to lie. I love a cold glass of Goose Island’s Sofie—it’s so tart and bubbly, like a beer champagne. Dogfish Head’s Festina Peche??? Yessssss SO GOOD. And now there’s a new fave in our hearts. A little guy called Curious Traveler Shandy, from Traveler Beer Co. Curious Traveler is America’s first craft/artisinal shandy! Cool, huh? It’s a wheat ale brewed with fresh lemon and lime for a powerful-but-smooth, citrus-y, lemonade-y beer hybrid.

Image via travelerbeer.com

We first tried it at a local tap room in our neighborhood, Zauber Brewing. Short story: Zauber brews their own beer, but due to certain restrictions, the amount they can brew is super limited for the time being, and therefore sells out super fast. This was one of those times—the only beers on tap were everything but their house brews. That’s fine by me, because that led to us trying Curious Traveler on draught (accessorized with a rather delightfully handle, I might add!). It’s been love ever since. We took home a small growler that day. The other thing I love about this beer is that the ABV is only 4.4%, which to me means I can drink it for awhile on a sweltering hot, summer day without getting knocked over the head with a sneakily super strong beer, like some craft beers tend to do. As you all know, we like our strong drinks! But when the heat is on and the sun is out, it’s nice to have something a little lighter if you’re chillin’ at a barbecue. A girl needs to maintain, you know what I’m sayin’?

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There are a few more flavors in the Traveler family, two of which are summery: Illusive Traveler, a grapefruit shandy, and Time Traveler, a strawberry shandy. I don’t care how girly these beers sound, I am psyched to try them and so is George. I’m 99.9% sure we’re going to try hunting one down today, and if not today, within the next day or two. I’m dying for the Illusive grapefruit shandy. I love—nay—I adore grapefruit, and anytime something is grapefruit-flavored my taste buds immediately send a “OOH OOH!!!! ME! ME!” signal to my brain. I can’t help it anymore, so I just embrace it. But if we only come across the strawberry Time Traveler Shandy, I’ll be just as thrilled!

When we find our next Traveler companion, we will be sure to report back! In the meantime, do yourself a favor and hunt down these shandies down. Give them a whirl, and let us know what you think. Better yet, tell us this—what’s your favorite summertime brew that we should try? 

CHILI ORANGE KETTLE CORN & TEQUILA NEW FASHIONEDS

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It’s the end of February/beginning of March. You know what that means? Besides the fact that the weather will be a complete guessing game for the next 30 days? THE OSCARS ARE THIS SUNDAY!!! It’s like the Super Bowl of Awards Season! As usual, I have not seen a single movie. Nope, not even Frozen (though it’s on the list, just like the rest of them). Can I be honest with you? I can’t stay awake during movies. Especially if we’re watching at home. Sure, we could go to the theatre but a) that’s really expensive anymore and b) I feel like the show times never work out well with our schedule. That means watching at home, which is totally fine, but turning the lights out means my eyes close and I’m knocked out on one end of the couch, trying to convince George “No, I’m awake, I’m watching. Yuh-huh. I am.” I’d like to blame my father for this. He’s excellent at falling asleep while watching TV and movies. I inherited this skill from him. So eventually, hopefully, we’ll watch some of these fine films. In the meantime, I’ll still mark up my Oscar ballot (thank you, Kate Spade for this adorable version) and savor every moment of red carpet goodness I can get until next year.

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It’s also an excellent reason to get festive, and we all know how I feel about that! Do you know where I found the recipe for this popcorn? The official Oscars website. Wild, I know. Imagine that, popcorn for a show about movies! How did I ever find it there (#sarcasm, fyi)? I was actually trying to find out if there’s an Oscars cocktail (there is, sorta). Lo and behold, I found a whole slew of party recipes on the Academy’s website. Like this popcorn. Like this delicious popcorn that’s just slightly weird, and makes people cock their heads to the side in consideration of the components, and then delights with its perfect blend of flavors. It’s just unique enough to be different, but totally approachable and tame enough for all kinds of taste buds. Isn’t that what you want in a party food? A crowd-pleaser? Ding ding ding, we have a winner! We’ve actually tweaked it just a little bit to make the flavors even better. You’re welcome.

And of course, we have a drink to accompany this popcorn. This, however, is not an Oscar-sanctioned bev. No, this is straight from our kitchen to yours. Inspired by the chile-orange combo, I thought “Hey, how about doing a classic orange cocktail, but with a twist? Like an Old Fashioned, but with tequila instead of whiskey?” It’s just crazy enough to work. Plus, thanks to the orange zest, I had a naked orange sitting around the kitchen. I mean, I could eat it… or I could make a drink with it. Alcohol wins. It always wins. We’re calling it a “new fashioned” because of the newfangled tequila twist.

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 : : : CHILE ORANGE KETTLE CORN : : :
Adapted from Oscars.org
Serves 2-10, depending on the likelihood of people stuffing their faces

• ¾ cup popcorn kernels
• ¼ cup canola oil
• 4 tablespoons sugar
• 1 tablespoon chili powder
• 2 teaspoons kosher salt
• 3 tablespoons butter, melted
• zest of 1 orange

1. In a large pot or stockpot with lid over medium-high heat, combine the popcorn, oil, sugar, chili powder, and salt. Shake constantly. (Note: The original recipe called for medium heat but I had to use high heat due to my pan’s size and structure. I didn’t feel like standing over my stove for 20 minutes to make popcorn. Use whatever heat level works for you and pay attention to your pot!)

2. When the popcorn begins to pop, lower the heat to the next level down. Continue to shake until the popping begins to slow.

3. Transfer popcorn to a large bowl—you’ll need to toss the popcorn around. Drizzle with the melted butter and orange zest and toss to coat.

4. Grab a handful and stuff your face. 🙂

TeqNewFash_022614_Details: : : FRESH CITRUS TEQUILA NEW FASHIONED : : :
Serves 2

• 4 oz good tequila
• 2 slices of an orange (I used a cara cara orange for this)
• 2 oz fresh orange juice (use the same orange above, just juice the rest)
• 1 oz (2 TBSP) simple syrup
• 4 dashes Angostura bitters
• 2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters or other fancy bitters like Fee Brothers Orange or Grapefruit
• Club soda (about 4 oz)

1. In two cocktail glasses, muddle in each: 1 slice of orange and 1 TBSP simple syrup.

2. In cocktail shaker filled with ice, pour in contents from one cocktail glass. Add 2 oz tequila and 1 oz orange juice; shake shake shake! Shake the cocktail until cold, about 20 good shakes. Strain into cocktail glass filled with ce. Repeat with the other glass and remainder of ingredients. You could also combine everything into one shaker and just divide it among the two glasses in the end. It’s up to you.

3. After cocktails have been shaken and strained back into the glasses, add dashes of bitters and top with club soda. Give it a quick stir, and sip away!

So who will be tuning into the Oscars tomorrow? Who will be watching the red carpet? Lupita Nyong’o has been seriously CRUSHING the fashion scene lately so I can’t wait to see what she wears to the ball. And of course, Jennifer Lawrence. J.Law, what Dior dress will you wear and what crazy thing will you say that makes us fall in love with you all over again? Only one short day until we find out!

 

BLOOD ORANGE GIN MARTINI

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It’s winter, which generally means citrus season. While in the grocery stores a few days ago I was passing by the piles of citrus, saw the blood oranges, and thought “Hmm, why not?” While many people actually eat blood oranges, I was—of course—planning on juicing the little guy and spiking it with booze. Conveniently, due to Valentine’s Day, George was in the mood for a theme-y red beverage. We also happened to have a few too many limes in the fridge. Therefore, our Blood Orange Gin Martini was born.

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: : : BLOOD ORANGE GIN MARTINI : : :
Serves 2

2 1/2 ounces (3 TBSP) gin
2 ounces Cointreau or triple sec
2 ounces freshly squeeze blood orange juice (1 blood orange)
1 ounce lime juice
4 serious dashes orange bitters (for each drink)

1. Juice blood orange and strain. Do the same for the lime juice if using fresh lime.

2. In cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine gin, Cointreau or triple sec, and juices. Shake thoroughly until chilled.

3. Strain into two martini glasses and add 4 dashes of orange bitters to each cocktail.

4. Click, cheers, and drink!

Variations

• For a crowd pleasing punch version, use blood orange soda instead of actual blood orange juice, increasing the quantity of that ingredient by double. Then multiple all ingredients proportionally.

• For a sparkling party bev, distribute the gin-and-juice mixture above among four champagne flutes, then top with sparkling wine.

PARTY PERFECT BEER MARGARITAS

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Sorry, I had to do it.

The Super Bowl is a week away. Do I really care about the game? Not so much. My personal preference is for college football (UC Bearcats and OSU Buckeyes, if you’re wondering) and that season is over until the fall. George cares, but since he doesn’t have a team to root for he’s kind of on the “meh” side. BUT! We do love any excuse to host a party! And while I may not go bananas for pro football, I enjoy the sport and generally miss it once it’s over. Why not usher the season out in style, you know? It gives you a perfectly acceptable reason to stuff your face with chicken wings, Fritos, weird gooey dips, and other stupid food you normally don’t eat/won’t admit to eating in public. #yolo #noshame #i’mjustsayin’ Whether you love the game, you’re just watching for the commercials, or you’re getting dragged to a party by your significant other, it’s time to embrace the culinary aspect of one of America’s biggest sporting events. I’ll drink to that!

Speaking of drinks, let’s start there. Football means beer. But what if you’re not feelin’ the beer that day? What if that guacamole dip is staring you in the face saying “Hey man, doesn’t a margarita sound really good right now?” and secretly you’re like “Yes, guac. It totally does.” I got you covered, my friend. You can combine the two. And yes, it actually works.

Most beer margarita mash-ups involve a frozen can of limeade but I’m going to be honest with you. That kind of makes me cringe. Maybe it’s because I haven’t had great experiences with limeade? It kind of tastes like a cold Jolly Rancher in a weird way? Plus, it’s filled with high fructose corn syrup. Blech. Let’s go a different route. How about fresh limes and simple syrup (or agave nectar) like an authentic margarita? Whereas many margarita recipes add sour mix as filler, there’s really no need for that when using fresh limes. And if not fresh limes, then straight up lime juice from the bottle. A little tequila, a bottle of beer, and we’re good to go!

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The great thing about this recipe is that it’s very scaleable. The base recipe makes 4 beverages (7 oz each), but the measurements are easy enough to double or triple.

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Fresh-squeezed lime juice is best, which is about 6 large-sized limes.
The recipe gives a range for simple syrup amounts. Start with the lesser and test it out. You can always add more, but if it's too sweet it's hard to fix!
We used Corona for our beer. The lime-friendly, uncomplicated flavor is perfect for this.
For tequila, we used José Cuervo Especial, reposado. Now is not the time to break out your fancy, special tequila. This recipe is more punch-like in nature than it is "specialty artisan cocktail." Do you really want to water down Patron with Corona? I will note that reposado tequila gives a nice depth of flavor, since it has been aged in an oak barrel.

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: : : Party Perfect Beer Margaritas : : :

6-7 limes, + 1 extra if you want to garnish
*Note: you will need 1 cup lime juice if you rather use bottled lime juice
1/2 – 3/4 cup simple syrup
1/2 cup tequila
12 oz (1 bottle or can) of beer, like Corona
2 TBSP kosher or margarita salt
lime wedge (still juicy!)

1. Cut limes in half and squeeze using a citrus squeezer or reamer. You will need 1 cup of juice. Pour juice through a strainer to remove the pulp.

2. In pitcher, combine lime juice, 1/2 cup simple syrup (you can always add more), and tequila.

3. For margaritas on the rocks, pour in one bottle of beer then stir. For blended drinks, pour mixture into blender with ice BEFORE adding the beer. Blend until mixture is slushy with a fine texture, then pour back into the pitcher and add beer.

4. Place salt on a small plate. Run lime wedge over rim of glasses, then dip glasses into salt. If making on-the-rocks drinks, add ice to glasses.

5. Carefully pour margarita mixture into glasses. Garnish with lime slices on the edge of the glass.

6. Drink up!

BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE!

As promised, here’s a recipe for homemade sour mix. I promise, using real citrus juices like lime and lemon juice taste a million times better. And if you don’t want to use refined table sugar, then use demerarra/turbinado/etc.

After trying this, I’m really excited for other variations I can make when summer seasonal beers are out. We became huge fans of Leinenkugel’s Orange Shandy this year, so I think an orange-lime beer marg is in our future!

We’ll be bringing you another Super Bowl party (or just generally life appropriate) recipe in a few days that’s perfect for a snacking crowd. Tell us, do you have any Super Bowl plans? What kinds of food or drinks do you like to make for crowds?

GOLDEN NIGHT COCKTAIL

You know what’s awesome/not awesome at all? Technical problems. I had this post COMPLETELY. WRITTEN. And then I hit “Save Draft.” And then it told me I have an error. The specific error said “Are you sure you want to do this? Please try again later.” Um, okay. You’re asking me if I’m sure I want to save? Yeah, I’m pretty sure I do (stupid jerk). So I was like “Okay, well, it usually saves periodically throughout the process so let’s see what I have.” I HAD NOTHING. NADA. It didn’t save ever at all. UGHHHHHHH. So. Here we go. I’m going to try this again.

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The weather outside may (or may not) still be frightful, but the good thing about January? It marks the beginning of Awards Season! Woo hoo! Tonight is the Golden Globes award ceremony, hosted by Amy Poehler and Tina Fey—how can you not be psyched? I love any reason to celebrate, so I use the Globes as a perfect excuse to enjoy a good cocktail in front of the telly. If you want to break free of the typical plain glass of bubbly, then come along with me while I babble about Moët’s Golden Night cocktail.

The official cocktail of the Golden Globes is Moët’s Golden Night. It consists of champagne, pear brandy, and a cardamom simple syrup. Sounds delightful, no? However, who has pear brandy sitting around? We don’t, and we have some pretty rando stuff in our liquor cabinet. You probably do too, but is one of those items pear brandy? Yes? Well then you, my friend, are lucky and you may skip ahead to the recipe posted on People’s website! If you’re like us and you DON’T happen to have pear brandy (and you don’t want to break the bank just for this), then let’s try another route.

Version 1: Since the recipe calls for a cardamom-infused simple syrup, I’ll use that as my vehicle for the pear flavor as well. My original intent was to use Jumex Pear Nectar but you know what? It was not my day because I couldn’t find it ANYWHERE. Which was annoying b/c I’ve purchased it in the past, but neither Kroger nor Whole Foods nor Giant Eagle were feelin’ me on this one. Not even World Market. Pear nectar access denied! So I settled for canned pears in 100% juice. I use the juice from the can as my liquid in the simple syrup.

Version 2: While I may not have pear brandy, I do have pear flavored liqueur (see, I told you—random!). We can try this as an alternate. It won’t have the cardamom infusion, but that could be a nice comparison study as well. I happen to have Rothman & Winter’s Orchard Pear liqueur, but I’ve also seen Mathile’s pear liqueur at my local liquor store, and there’s also Absolut Pear vodka you could try. While you may not have this readily available in your liquor stash, I recommend considering pear liqueur if you’re a fan of the flavor. It’s really lovely with…well, lots of things. Gin? Yes. Whiskey? Why not. Rum? Yeah, sure. Vodka? Obviously. Just some club soda on the rocks? Knock yourself out!

Another note: if you look closely at the photo, you’ll notice the two drinks have slightly different appearances. One is clearer, while one is a little cloudier. That’s due to the two different recipes. The clearer drink on the left is Version 2, and the cloudier drink is Version 1. So with no further ado, let’s get to it!

: : : GOLDEN NIGHT COCKTAIL ADAPTATION, V.1.0 : : :
Simple Syrup
1 can halved pears in 100% juice
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 ground cardamom
— OR —
20 cardamom pods, cracked

1. Strain the juice from the canned pears. I had about 1 c of liquid. If you’re in the ballpark, you’re golden (Get it? Golden? Not that funny? Okay, fine). Heat the liquid in a small or medium sized saucepan over medium-high heat.

2. Add the sugar and cardamom, stirring often to dissolve the sugar. Let the liquid come to a simmer, then lower heat to medium. Let simmer for 7 minutes.

3. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes. Strain using a fine mesh strainer. If you’re using ground cardamom like I am (because that’s what’s in my pantry), the sieve won’t catch all of the spice but it will get the larger pieces. Reserve in an airtight container.

Cocktail
1 oz cardamom-pear simple syrup
1 oz brandy or cognac
4 oz sparkling wine (I opt for brut, b/c the other ingredients are already very sweet)
Splash of lemon juice

1. In a cocktail shaker filled halfway with ice, combine simple syrup, brandy, and lemon juice. Shake until cold, about 20 shakes.

2. Strain liquid into champagne flute. Top with sparkling wine. Garnish with a slice of fresh pear, if you’re feeling extra fancy! Sip, and enjoy Tina & Amy’s opening dialogue!

: : : GOLDEN NIGHT COCKTAIL ADAPTATION, V.2.0 : : :
1 oz brandy or cognac
1 oz pear flavored liqueur
4 oz sparkling wine (again, I opt for brut due to sweetness of the above)

Follow the same steps as the first cocktail, but minus the lemon juice.

So my favorite of the two? It’s actually Version 1! The touch of cardamom is really nice and matches up with pear very well. It’s a bit sweeter, but that’s where the lemon juice comes in. It’s not a part of the original recipe, but I added it to help cut the sweetness and add a touch of brightness. Version 2 is good but much more subtle, so if that’s your thing then go for it! Otherwise, the flavors are much more prevalent in Version 1.

How about you? Are you a fan of awards season? Do you get out the bubbly/wine/gin & tonic/what-have-you and indulge in red carpet time? Whose dress are you excited to see (come on, we all know it’s about the ladies!) and who are you rooting to win?  I’m always a Jennifer Lawrence fan but then again, who isn’t nowadays?

STRONG DRINKS: BRONX COCKTAIL

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So. Here we are. Seven posts and a little over a month in and no drinks. Isn’t that part of the title? And no bevs? Where are the bevs? Well don’t you worry your pretty little face, I got your bev right here.

First, let’s talk about the word “bev.” Bev is my long-time term of endearment for an alcoholic beverage (beverage being the operative word here). Used properly in a sentence: “It’s 6:30 on a Friday night. It’s time for a bev,” or “Let’s go for a happy hour bev.”

It’s five o’clock somewhere, and I need a bev. Don’t you?

Now let’s talk about this fine tipple, the Bronx. It’s a classic gin-based drink that originates in the early part of the 20th century. It’s basically a perfect martini with added orange juice. What do I mean by perfect? Do I mean it’s perfectly awesome? No. “Perfect,” in cocktail world, means the drink contains equal parts of both dry and sweet vermouth.

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I was first introduced to the Bronx at a local fancy-pants restaurant with a great cocktail list. However, it wasn’t called a Bronx; they called it something more suitable to their brand’s personality, so it took me awhile to figure out what it actually was. Lo and behold, one magical day I stumbled upon this drink and was so excited to finally know there was an official recipe that could take me to this happy place. There’s a similar drink called the Minnehaha; it’s mostly the same ingredients but with a different proportions. Since the Bronx is the more classic, standard drink on the docket, we’re going that route.

I should note: a typical Bronx does not call for bitters, but I often like to add bitters to my drinks to deepen the flavors. But more about that on another day. Grab your cocktail shaker and let’s mix this drink!

::: BRONX COCKTAIL :::
2 ounces gin
1/2 ounce dry vermouth
1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
1 ounce fresh orange juice
4-5 dashes Peychaud’s bitters (optional)

1. Grab a rocks glass and a cocktail shaker. Fill both with ice.

2. Pour the gin, dry vermouth, sweet vermouth, and orange juice into the cocktail shaker. Shake for 20 seconds.

3. Strain into rocks glass. Add the dashes of bitters.

4. Sip. Smile. Enjoy.