Traveling to Armenia with ARARAT Brandy

I’ve hiked the Rockies, danced all night in Spanish ruins, and soaked in secret lagoons in Iceland surrounded by wild horses and bubbling earth; I’ve toured swamps deep in the bayou, broken bread with the locals in the mountains of Galicia, and kayaked the bioluminescent waters of Puerto Rico. I count myself lucky to have visited the places I’ve been – much of it through my role as a blogger for Bit by a Fox. With each new adventure I realize how much of the planet I have yet to see, and it leaves me wanting to discover more. After a trip I remain on a high for weeks, if not months, continuing to summon up the food and drink and people and culture that I was just immersed in.

My recent trip to Armenia was an especially extraordinary one that continues to sustain me. I was there to visit the 130-year-old ARARAT Brandy company with four other writers.

This trip was as much about experiencing the ancient city of Yerevan and the Armenian culture as it was about familiarizing ourselves with a spirit that is so intrinsic to its home country.

Having never been to that part of the world, I was a little nervous about what to expect. But, once there, I was surprised by how quickly I’d fallen for it. I found myself trying to compare Armenia to other places I’d been…

There was something familiar about the massive European-like plazas and bustling sidewalk cafes, the vineyards akin to Southern Spain, the dramatic mountain ranges much like the Pacific Northwest, and the Mediterranean-style olives and cheeses and spreads.

But so much was unlike anywhere else I’d ever been. As the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world, the Armenian capital of Yerevan wears its political history in its architecture, like layers of clothing in different states of repair; A mix of ultra modern structures all built within the last 20 years is juxtaposed against buildings dating back to the Russian Empire through the Soviet Era.

Yerevan is known as “The Pink City” because many of the buildings were constructed from pink stones taken from lava rock found in the surrounding area, giving the impression of a rose-colored city set aglow at that magic hour before sunset.

It’s only been 26 years since Armenia was granted independence from the Soviet Union, and Yerevan feels very much like a city that is going through an exciting metamorphosis, still undiscovered by American tourists.

Despite this cosmopolitan transformation, the soul of ancient Armenia remains – modern art sits alongside sacred structures, sophisticated boutiques share space with traditional rug vendors, and while acapella voices fill ancient temples with classical music during the day, jazz clubs light up the night.

Ok, so Armenia is beautiful and special and this trip was an exciting one and all but…how is the brandy?! The thing is, I can’t talk about the brandy until I talk about Armenia. ARARAT Brandy claims to be the “Symbol of Armenia” and if ever there was a spirit that represented a culture, this is it. Ask any Armenian, it is the pride and jewel of the nation.

From the moment you land in the Zvartnots International Airport, you are inundated with billboards, and banners above the gates, and sexy videos of slow-mo brandy flowing into snifters playing on loop hovering just above each ticket line. Upon entering the city of Yerevan, some of the first buildings you see clustered high on a hill, looming large over the capital city and the Hrazdan river, will most likely be The Yerevan Brandy Company. This is where the parent company of ARARAT Brandy has its headquarters, distillery and ARARAT Museum and Visitor Center. It made sense that this was our first stop on what would be an epic, brandy-filled visit.

The ARARAT Museum and Visitor Center is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Armenia. Guides conduct tours 7 days a week in Armenian, Russian, English, French and German.

People from all over the world leave their mark here.

Including us!

Now, about that brandy…

While ARARAT’S brandy range spans 3 years to over 30, a tasting at the visitor center will most likely include three of their most popular: Akhtamar (10 years), Nairi (20 years) and Dvin (Collection Reserve) – said to be Winston Churchill’s favorite brandy.

ARARAT is made in a Cognac style, double distilled and matured in oak barrels made in Yerevan Brandy Company’s workshop from trees over 70 years old. Each expression has its own personality, but I’ve found ARARAT in general to be slightly softer and floral than a lot of Cognacs. The ten-year old Akhtamar is rich, with dried fruit and big exotic spices coming through. The Nairi is my personal favorite. It is voluptuous and complex and intense with delicate oak lingering. Winston Churchill’s favorite brandy is said to have been the exclusive ARARAT Dvin. Aged longer in oak casks, it has a heavy tobacco quality, not unlike Churchill’s other favorite vice, cigars! Nutty, coffee notes and rich cooking spices come through.

The day after our distillery visit and tasting, we spent an afternoon in a vineyard under the commanding presence of Mount Ararat, the symbol of Armenia, said to be the resting place of Noah’s Ark.

Only Armenian grapes can be used in the production of ARARAT Brandy.

We had the opportunity to get acquainted with these native grapes fed by 300 days of Armenian sunshine that thrive in high altitude and their dry climate.

Our visit was just after harvest season and we were able to witness truckloads of these small, sweet white grapes get pressed. Exciting stuff!

After familiarizing ourselves with everything that goes into the production of ARARAT Brandy, we were led on a comprehensive tour of Yerevan and its countryside, with stops at historic monuments and ancient temples.

Each meal better than the next. With plenty of ARARAT Brandy involved.

Our last night culminated in a dinner with the international ARARAT team and Russian media celebrating ARARAT’S 130 year anniversary, and an unveiling of its Single Cask bottle. A special end to a trip for the ages.

I’ll be carrying this visit to Armenia and my experience with ARARAT Brandy with me as I do all of the places that have touched me and changed me so profoundly. The people, the culture and the heart of its nation, their brandy, will forever stay with me.

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A Special Whiskey for a Thanksgiving Cocktail: Remus Repeal Reserve Bourbon & the Old Pal

It’s here – my most favorite time of year! We get to surround ourselves with loved ones, think about all the things we are grateful for, and eat our weight in mashed potatoes! Wheeee! What more could you want? Well, booze of course, duh. Don’t worry your sweet potato head about it. I gotchoo, boo.

I always tend to think this special occasion is deserving of a special cocktail. I mean, what kind of cocktail blogger would I be if I didn’t think you should go big or go home for your signature Turkey Day cocktail?! Let’s bring in the big guns…

Just look at that sexy mofo. Beautiful Art Deco cuts and curves and swerves, and inside that beauty is an exquisite high rye bourbon blend of aged reserves to match. Style & substance – my favorite combo. Swoon-worthy on many levels.

As of last Monday – the birthdate of legendary “King of the Bootleggers,” George Remus – the American distilling powerhouse, MGP Ingredients has added a limited release, premium bourbon, Remus Repeal Reserve Bourbon to its expanding spirits portfolio. MGP, a historic 170-year-old distillery in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, (that I was lucky enough to visit recently!) is known for producing quality juice for some of the top whiskey brands in the country. They have only recently dipped their toes into producing their own line of products. And they’re taking their time to get it right. For their first reserve bourbon, the talented distillery team at MGP has chosen to use high rye bourbons from 2005 and 2006 to create a spicy, complex whiskey that will have you wondering if it’s an aged rye or unusual bourbon. Perfect for an Old Pal cocktail!

A close relative of the Negroni and Boulevardier, as it’s usually made with equal parts spirit, Campari and vermouth, the Old Pal, unfortunately, is often forgotten about. It was first published in 1922 – at the height of George Remus’ fame – in Harry’s ABC of Mixing Cocktails written by Harry MacElhone of the famed Harry’s New York Bar in Paris. I can’t help but think that if old George Remus actually drank (that’s right, he was a teetotaler!), this might be one of his favorite cocktails!

Aside from wanting to share this oft forgotten about cocktail, I also want to note how the Old Pal is the PERFECT spirit forward cocktail that you’ll need to whet your whistle with before that bird comes out, during the feast and after, with dessert. Remus Reserve holds up to the bold personality of Campari, and the blend of dry vermouth makes it less sweet than a Boulevardier. Upping the amount of whiskey versus using equal parts makes this cocktail really let the whiskey shine. So, grab that special bottle and make this classic cocktail for a memorable day of thanks, indeed!

Old Pal
1 1/2 oz Rye or Bourbon – Remus Repeal Reserve recommended!
3/4 oz Campari
3/4 oz Dry Vermouth
Garnish: Lemon Peel

Place all ingredients in an ice-filled mixing glass and stir until well chilled. Strain into a chilled coupe or cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon peel.


Remus Repeal Reserve will be available in select markets across the country, rolled out in a series of events leading up to Repeal Day, December 5, commemorating the end of Prohibition.

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Pineapple Ginger Sparkler #WhatsInYourValdo Contest

Do this booze blogger a solid and vote here, please!

Since moving to Los Angeles from New York City, my relationship to the seasons has become…complicated. I still crave all of the things you would during the colder months  – cozy fires inside, hot cider, crunchy leaves underfoot. But because this place is so head trippy with its perfectly warm sunshine-filled days EVERY DAY, you often forget what time of the year it really is. The upside is that I get to indulge in cozy fires outside all year-long, when it’s chilly at night, a casual poncho can still do the trick, and most importantly, sparkling wine can be sipped ALL year round.

Well, I suppose it did when I lived on the east coast too. But I just feel like I drink it so much more out here.

Valdo Prosecco has easily become one of my go-to bottles of bubbly. It’s priced well, extremely effervescent and dry with a toasty finish. There’s a reason it’s the number one selling Prosecco sold in Italy. It’s classic and tastes much more expensive than it is.

When wine importer, Esprit Du Vin announced that they were having a cocktail contest on Instagram called #WhatsInYourValdo, with the winner getting a trip for two to Venice, I couldn’t help but throw my hat in the ring!

I’m still getting used to the lack of extreme season changes, but I wanted this drink to be inspired by the slightly cooler months in Los Angeles! While pineapple and tequila feel like vacation, which is very much LA, ginger always makes me think of fall and winter. Topping this mixture with a crisp, dry Prosecco like Valdo keeps the sweetness at bay and makes it extra festive! The contest ends today, but if you haven’t already voted for your favorite booze blogger 😉 here’s your chance!

Pineapple Ginger Sparkler
1 ounce Pineapple Juice
1 ounce Blanco Tequila
1/2 ounce Ginger Liqueur
3 ounces Valdo Prosecco.

Shake juice, tequila and liqueur over ice until well chilled. Strain into a chilled coupe glass. Top with bubbly!

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Skull & Brew: a Halloween Cocktail Made Two Ways

It has finally FINALLY dipped down to the 60s in Los Angeles and I can’t even tell you how happy these last two days of cooler, overcast weather has made me. (Apparently, I’m officially an Angeleno because I’m celebrating the brief disappearance of sunshine.) LA may not have all the autumnal magic of the Northeast, but it IS #SweaterWeather, y’all! And I’ll take it.

I’ll also take a Halloween-inspired cocktail that celebrates the season without giving me too much of a sugar hangover. I’ll save that for the mini candy bars that I’ll pretend to buy for the kiddos but will inevitably end up in my gullet…

I wanted this drink to be an easy, large format cocktail that could be made ahead of time. And I knew that I needed to use Crystal Head Vodka’s Aurora expression for this. If that bottle doesn’t scream Halloween, I don’t know what does! The bottle, which took two years to execute, is made by Milan-based glass manufacturer Bruni Glass. Also, those skull shot glasses?! SO good.

Crystal Head Vodka, made in Newfoundland, Canada was created by actor Dan Aykroyd and artist John Alexander in 2008. Free from additives – no glycerol, citrus oils or sugars – the Aurora expression is made from English wheat from North Yorkshire, England and is distilled five times in a traditional column still and then reduced with Newfoundland water. Aurora is filtered using activated charcoal and then filtered three times through Herkimer diamonds. Diamonds, y’all! We fancy for All Hallows’ Eve!

The other key ingredient that I wanted to experiment with for this seasonal cocktail was beer from a new Mexican-influenced craft brewery in San Diego, California, SouthNorte Brewing Company. They only just launched last month, but their two releases, No Güey (Mango IPA) and Sea Señor (Mexican Lager) are already getting noticed.

Sea Señor, is SouthNorte’s flagship Mexican-style lager. Clean and refreshing, their inaugural release is classic in style with a slightly sweet malty quality. The No Güey Mango IPA was inspired by street vendors in Mexico selling fresh fruit with lime and chili. The flavors are subtle enough here to not overwhelm this hop-forward IPA, but there is a very lively fruit quality and slight zing that adds quite a bit when used in a cocktail. These beers are both clearly very good on their own, but I couldn’t help using them to create different styles of the same basic cocktail, with slightly different results!

A lager will definitely be a mellower version of this drink, and I loved the Sea Señor in this. It was crisp and bright and went down waaaay too easy. The No Güey added more of a bite with the addition of hops and spice. And for some reason the apple cider seemed to pop more. Whichever way you go, the Skull & Brew should be your go-to drink tomorrow night.

When all the kids are getting hopped up on candy, you can get “hopped up” grown-up style.

Skull & Brew – makes 1 drink
2 oz Vodka
2 oz Apple Cider
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1 oz Maple Syrup
4 oz Beer (IPA or Lager)

Fill a shaker with all of the ingredients except for beer. Shake until well chilled. Strain into a chilled pint glass or something similar. Top with beer and stir.

Large Batch Skull & Brew – makes 10-12 drinks
1 750 ml bottle Vodka
3 cups Apple Cider
1 cup Lemon Juice
1 cup Maple Syrup
6 cups Beer (IPA or Lager)

Batch all ingredients in a large canister, stir and serve immediately. Since this is not shaken with ice, you may need to serve with a few cubes to cool down.

#FlashbackFriday: Louisiana Adventures With Bayou Rum

It was exactly a year ago this week that I had the opportunity to visit the heart of Cajun Country, Southwest Louisiana’s beautiful Lake Charles area, and the Bayou Rum distillery. If you paid attention to my social media at that time, then you know what an incredible adventure that was. It has had me thinking about that wonderful trip last fall and how I’ve been wanting to share the experience on this here blog ever since! Let’s go back, shall we…

First of all, I can’t think of a better time to visit Louisiana than in the fall. The intense heat of summer has subsided, but it’s still warm enough to wander the streets sans jacket and eat an al fresco meal under some Spanish moss. Also, those Louisiana sunsets are as spectacular as ever. Lake Charles, a historic waterfront town that once held a special allure for pirates and privateers, located 30 miles from the Gulf of Mexico, is especially charming.

While the kind folks behind the Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana Convention & Visitors Bureau took care of every last detail while we were there, you too can recreate this entire experience! In fact, I highly suggest it!

To kick off our visit, we were treated to a horse-drawn carriage ride from the Lakefront Promenade through the Charpentier Historic District, known for its Victorian architecture dating back to the late 1800s.

All the while getting spooked with ghost stories about the town care of our very knowledgable tour guide, author and historian Adley Cormier. It WAS nearly Halloween, after all!

We were then treated to my favorite meal of the trip, at one of Lake Charles’ newest restaurants, Restaurant Calla. Chef David Sorrells, formerly with The French Laundry, and his team source all local ingredients for seasonal small dishes in a farm to table style that highlights the region’s specialties.

The specialty cocktail for the night was a play on the Halloween season, “REDЯUM”, with Bayou Select, Benedictine, honey, lemon juice, mint leaves, and El Guapo Polynesian Kiss Bitters.

Did I mention those Louisiana sunsets?

The next day, our ragtag group of journalists and bloggers got down to business and visited Louisiana Spirits in Lacassine, Louisiana, for a tour and tasting. This is the distillery that produces what locals like to call “The Spirit of Louisiana”, and why we were all there: Bayou Rum!

Louisiana Spirits was founded in 2011 by brothers Tim and Trey Litel and their longtime friend and business partner, Skip Cortese. In July, 2013, they launched Bayou Rum, and it quickly became Louisiana’s best-selling craft rum brand in the state.

At +36,000 square feet (including the visitor center and gift shop) Louisiana Spirits is the largest private label rum distillery in the U.S.

Louisiana has a long history of producing cane sugar dating back to the 1700s when early Jesuits grew it for their own form of rum which the French called “tafia.”  But through the years and due to the Civil War, Prohibition and the Great Depression, rum distillation in the region completely died out. Louisiana Spirits wanted to bring back the tradition of local rum production while sourcing 100% of their sugarcane from the state.

Using Louisiana cane sugar and molasses, Bayou Rum distills in traditional copper pot stills.

Our tour guide was co-owner, Skip Cortese who gave us a peek into the production process of Bayou Rum and all the work that goes into bringing this spirit to market.

It’s always fascinating to see the inner workings of a distillery, especially those that distill, bottle, label, box and age all under one roof!

You know what the best part of a distillery tour is? The tasting! All of that walking around sweet-smelling rum and handling unopened bottles of booze can make a gal thirsty!

Luckily we had some knowledgable fellows to relieve us of our thirst! Our tasting was led by Master Distiller, Jeff Murphy and Master Blender, Reiniel Vicente Diaz.

We tasted all of the Bayou Rum expressions – Silver, Spiced, Select and a special liqueur made from local citrus, Satsuma.

Having tried them all on their own and in various cocktails, I found the Silver to be the most versatile in cocktails, but the Spiced was surprisingly good in a simple highball with soda. The Select is their higher end release and works well in a rum Old Fashioned. One of their best sellers is their Satsuma Liqueur, to be drunk on its own or (how I preferred), used as a modifier in a cocktail.

Oh, and did I mention we got to hang out with a baby alligator named Gumbeaux?! Uh, yeah. And I’m not posting any pics of me and him because I was not the most gracious of alligator handlers (I freaked out more than an adult woman should). But I fell in love with him in the end!

Our Louisiana adventures didn’t end there! After a lunch of Crawfish Jambalaya, Fried Catfish and Green beans with red potatoes…we were off to the next spot!

You can’t say that you’ve done Louisiana until you’ve had a proper swamp tour and we were led by the best – Grosse Savanne Eco-Tours. We saw so many ‘gators over the course of our mini boat ride, that I actually started to feel somewhat comfortable around them!

After cozying up to the ‘gators, we hit the bling-iest place in town, the Mardi Gras Museum, which houses the largest costume display in the world! It’s truly spectacular.There may or may not be some creepy animatronic action in there. Again, a perfect place to visit around Halloween.

This epic day was, of course, topped off with another fabulous dinner and cocktails at The Country Club at Golden Nugget – the fabulous gargantuan casino/hotel we stayed at while we were in Lake Charles. My hotel room had a view of the Vegas style pool and what I assumed was THE Lake Charles, AND had a soaking tub in the middle of the suite. ’nuff said.

We got so much in during those few days we were there and I would totally do it all over again. Louisiana has fast become one of my favorite places to visit and Cajun Country is at the top of my list. Luckily, if you live in the states, you don’t need to be in Louisiana to get Bayou Rum. Since Louisiana Spirit signed a national distribution deal with Stoli Group USA you can find their cajun kissed rum near you!

Laissez les bon temps rouler!

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Pomp & Whimsy Gin Liqueur & a Vesper Variation

Despite how it may appear on social media, the freelance life – writing about booze and such – is not all glamour and day drinking and sleeping until noon…

As much as I’d LOVE to loll around in my velvet robe and sip on freshly squeezed OJ until I can muster the energy to face the world, a good amount of time involves being stuck inside, sitting slack-jawed in front of a hot laptop in the yoga pants I threw on because they were the closest thing to the bed. And then realizing by 2pm it might be a good idea to brush my teeth. It’s not pretty. And since moving to California and freelancing full-time, I’m still working out how to do it.

Taking a break or carving out time for yourself when you work for yourself is a constant challenge. But sometimes that’s JUST what you need to recharge, re-energize and recalibrate in order to shake up that sad routine! Sometimes you just need to get away from it all and change your environment for a few days.

My lovely friend, Georgette – journalist, spirits writer, published author…and fellow freelance captive – had the most delightful plan to head out-of-town for a few days to do just that. Cue…girls’ trip to Palm Springs!

And what is a girls’ trip away with two booze nerds without a signature cocktail? This was not a detox vacay, okaaaay. I brought along one of my new favorite discoveries, an exquisite new gin liqueur called Pomp & Whimsy that launched just this past January right here in downtown Los Angeles.

It is made by infusing classically distilled gin with a liqueur made up of 16 different botanicals, some of which include juniper, coriander, angelica, grapefruit, as well as bitter orange, cucumber, lychee, raspberry, lavender and jasmine pearls. The resulting spirit is a fruity and floral perfume of flavors, a sort of lower alcohol hybrid of London dry gin and St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur. It’s wonderful as an aperitif with sparkling wine or seltzer, or, as we found out while indulging in our poolside villa, in a Pomp & Whimsy inspired Vesper.

The Vesper, introduced in 1953 in the very first James Bond book, Casino Royale, is traditionally made with gin, vodka and the dry vermouth, Lillet Blanc. By using the Pomp & Whimsy Gin Liqueur in the place of a dry gin, the overall cocktail was slightly sweeter and more floral than a classic Vesper. The slight bitterness from the vermouth and higher alcohol and dryness from the vodka made for a perfectly balanced cocktail in the end. This version had a bit of a lychee martini quality to it. And I wasn’t mad at that.

We fell in love with this drink as well as the restored 1930s historic hotel we stayed at in Palm Springs, La Serena Villas. So, it was only appropriate to name it after this enchanting spot in the heart of downtown, flanked by the San Jacinto Mountains and towering palms trees.

Here’s to spontaneous girls’ trips and girly drinks that even James Bond would love!

La Serena Vesper
2 oz Pomp & Whimsy Gin Liqueur
1 oz Vodka
1/2 oz Lillet Blanc

Add all ingredients to a mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir until well chilled. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with edible flowers.

Beer + Tea = Radler? The Owl’s Brew is Shaking up the Radler Game

Since launching in 2013, The Owl’s Brew mixers have made a name for themselves in the home bar world as the first tea mixer specifically crafted for cocktails. Their most recent launch is another first of its kind, a line of organic teas infused with botanicals and fruit juice blended with premium beers called, The Owl’s Brew Radler.

What’s a Radler, you ask? A Radler, like a Shandy, is traditionally a blend of beer and soda. The Radler has German origins and is usually made with a fruit soda, while the Shandy started in England and often involves ginger beer or ale. But in recent years, since both have hit the market in a bigger way, they’ve been interchangeable when referring to these beer concoctions.

Instead of the traditional soda or ginger beer blend, The Owl’s Brew did what they know best and went with fruity infused teas instead. And they totally work!

Ready to drink in a can, Owl’s Brew Radler is made with 60-percent craft beer and 40-percent fruit-infused tea, with only organic, whole ingredients and no added artificial flavors.

I recently had the chance to try some of these with some friends at the beach – because that’s exactly how these should be enjoyed – and we couldn’t decide which one we liked best!

In all honesty, they actually sent me all three flavors that they offer, but we drank The Blondie (a wheat beer blended with English breakfast tea and lemon peel) so fast I didn’t have a chance to take a picture! Whoops!

The other two Owl’s Brew Radler flavors are Wicked Watermelon, a wheat beer blended with organic white tea, watermelon, and pomegranate; and That’s My Jam, which is amber ale beer blended with darjeeling hibiscus tea, strawberry and lemon juice.

The great thing about all of these flavors is that they aren’t overly sweet and the flavors taste real and are fairly subtle. We found these sessionable beers to be balanced, refreshing and appealing to beer enthusiasts as well as those that don’t normally drink the stuff. In short, a perfect beachside summer sipper!

Head to their site for more info and to check out where you can find Owl’s Brew Radler near you!

Cool for the Summer with Chardonnay Box


If your summer jam is lying around on a pool floatie, with a glass of ice cold chardonnay in your hand that someone else has carefully picked out for you, just living your best life…then I’ve got a new wine club with your name all over it.

No, it’s not called “Lazy Lush Wine Delivery” even though that’s sort of a good name and I might trademark it and that just might apply to all of us…It’s much classier than that!

Chardonnay Box is a monthly wine club, carefully curated by expert wine buyers and delivered right to your doorstep, ready to be chilled by the pool and shared with friends.

Or just you. You are the boss of your #ChardyParty.

The point is, this wine club is especially for those chardonnay lovers out there, of which there are MANY – chardonnay is the best selling wine in America! And this service takes the guess work out of discovering new wines you might like and can introduce you to some smaller, boutique wine producers from around the country, many difficult to find in-store.

It might make you just slightly lazier this summer, but you deserve it. And just think, all of that energy you might have wasted on perusing the wine aisle can be applied to creating snacks that pair well with all of your creamy, buttery bottles of chardonnays! Then you will truly be winning at life.

If you are a resident of California, Idaho, New Mexico, Missouri or Washington DC, you are in luck! Chardonnay Box has already rolled out in your state and can be delivered directly to your home. To get 10% off your first shipment of their 2 bottle option, use the coupon code “trynewchardonnay” (valid through August 2017).


Sponsored: This post was made possible by Chardonnay Box and was fueled by delicious white wine! All opinions are my own.

The Sweet Nerd Collab: The Malted Flip & Salted Caramel Ice Cream Stout Cake

One of the most beautiful things about being a part of the food and drink blog community is meeting other bloggers who are doing amazing (and delicious!) things on and offline. I met Cindy of The Sweet Nerd through mutual friends in LA, and right away we knew that we’d make some yummy things together. Oh boy, did we ever!

I had been experimenting with Sapporo Premium Black Beer – Sapporo’s first dark beer – in cocktails since it was released last September, and thought that it might be a perfect base ingredient for both a cocktail and a sweet treat…involving chocolate.

This robust, dark lager has coffee, chocolate and roasted dark malt aromas and it really lends itself to both a decadent dessert and a cocktail with other heavy-duty ingredients.

Once Cindy and I decided on this shared base ingredient, we were off!

She created this insanely delicious Salted Caramel Ice Cream Stout Cake…

…and I decided on a flip cocktail (made with whole egg), which included the Sapporo Black, bourbon, chocolate syrup and Jägermeister.

It sounds like a cluster of the most intense ingredients ever, but the combination was rather smooth, and the added effervescence from the Sapporo lightened the whole thing up nicely.

Head HERE to see more of our indulgent day with the ladies and get the recipe for The Sweet Nerd’s Salted Caramel Ice Cream Stout Cake. It is BEYOND. It has everything you ever wanted in a cake: ice cream, caramel, chocolate, salt and BOOZE. I mean!!!!

The Malted Flip
2 ounces bourbon
1 oz Sapporo Premium Black Beer
2/3 oz Chocolate Syrup
1/ 2 oz Jägermeister
1 whole egg

Add all ingredients except beer to a shaker and dry shake (without ice) to emulsify. Fill with ice and shake again. Pour in Sapporo Black and gently rock shaker to mix. Strain into a chilled coupe glass.


All photos courtesy of The Sweet Nerd’s resident photographer, Maria Hedrick

This Mint & Watermelon Slushie with El Luchador Tequila is My Mexican Wrestler Personae as a Cocktail: El Zorro Loco!

It’s hot, guys. Real hot. Like crank up the AC and lie nekkid on top of the covers directly under the ceiling fan until that fiery orb in the sky chills the F out, kind of hot. But that’s summer! What are you gonna do? Drink. All. The. Frozen. Things. For starters….


All I’ve been craving lately is cold soups, light salads, frozen fruit and drinks so cold they’re literally half ice. Enter this boozy mint & watermelon slushie that met all of my summer requirements – light, delicious, and cold AF.


Make no mistake, this is not your childhood slushie. 7-11 would SO get into legal trouble if they served up this high-octane slurpee. It packs quite the punch. You can blame that on the 110 proof (yep!) El Luchador Organic Tequila that plays a starring role. Ever since I tried 123 Organic Tequila founder, master distiller & tequilero David Ravandi’s surprisingly smooth overproof tequila, I was determined to work it into a cocktail worth its fuerza.

El Luchador (“The Wrestler”) was inspired by the famous masked wrestlers of Mexico’s Lucha Libre. No doubt its strength, style and finesse has something to do with it! This agave heavyweight had me thinking about what MY Mexican wrestling name would be. Although there’s a name generator website for this, because of course there is, I thought it wouldn’t be right unless a fox was involved, so here we have it – El Zorro Loco (“The Crazy Fox”)!

Also key to this cocktail is freezing the heck out of watermelon chunks.

Blend in some fresh mint & lime juice, Campari, simple syrup, ice and a pinch of salt….and there you have it. Fierce, frozen, refreshing…and foxy, of course!

El Zorro Loco – Makes 2
2 cups frozen watermelon chunks
3 oz El Luchador Organic Tequila
1.5 oz Campari
1 lime (juiced)
1 oz simple syrup
1/2 to 1 cup ice
2 sprigs of mint
salt to taste

Add all ingredients to a high-powered blender and process until it’s a slushie consistency. Add more ice if too watery. Garnish with lime wheel, mint and watermelon.

Now body slam that baby directly into your mouth, you crazy fox! Enjoy!

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