Pitcher-Style Jalapeño Cucumber Margaritas with Sauza Tequila – #MyKindofCinco

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Cinco de Mayo is the best. I mean it’s basically a holiday that has been hijacked by margaritas and guacamole, and, with all due respect to Mexico’s victory in The Battle of Puebla, I think we’re all ok with that. Because…margaritas.

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I celebrated early this year because I got a little party pants care package from the fine folks at Sauza Tequila as part of their ‘My Kind of Cinco’ campaign. I was able to put my own spin on a bunch of pitcher-style margaritas for a group of friends at the beach this past weekend. And in turn, I ate my weight in guac and chips. It was a win-win.

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When entertaining for a group of people, even if it’s a small group like we had, making a batch of cocktails is key. What’s better than a cocktail? An entire pitcher full of cocktails! People can help themselves and you are not a slave to the shaker. Don’t muddle your life away, people! You can still create quality, craft-style cocktails in a pitcher. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.

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While Sauza Signature Blue Silver Tequila, made with 100% blue agave, was the star in these margs, jalapeño simple syrup and muddled cucumber were featured players. I love the heat the peppers lend and the opposing cooling quality of the cucumbers.

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And because Sauza’s classic silver style has an herbal and almost savory quality from the fresh agave notes, the combo of bright, green flavors works really well together.

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Jalapeño Cucumber Margaritas – (serves 8)
2 cups Sauza® Signature Blue Silver Tequila
1/2 cup Cointreau
1/2 cup jalapeño simple syrup *
1 cup lime juice
1/2 cup muddled cucumber slices
Garnish: cucumbers, rock salt

Lightly muddle cucumber slices at the bottom of a mixing glass and then place in pitcher with the rest of the ingredients. Fill with ice. Serve in margarita glasses rimmed with rock salt and garnish with a thin slice of cucumber.

*Jalapeño Simple Syrup
1 cup of turbinado sugar
1 cup of water
1 jalapeño, sliced, with the seeds removed

Combine the sugar and water over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Add the jalapeño and let sit for at least an hour. Strain through a mesh sieve and store in the refrigerator. Keeps for about a month.

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Disclosure: This post was made possible by Sauza® Tequila in conjunction with their #MyKindofCinco campaign. As always, all opinions expressed are my own.

 

Zen and Tonic: Savory and Fresh Cocktails for the Enlightened Drinker & Massive Bar Swag Giveaway!

Before I knew Jules Aron as the author of the beautiful, new garden to glass cocktail book Zen and Tonic, I knew her online as the Healthy Bartender. As a certified health and nutrition coach with a background in bartending, she was always transforming green juices and fruit smoothies into boozy concoctions, and figuring out ways to get those superfoods and antioxidants in to help balance out that boozy booze. And now she’s created a whole book of these recipes that lean heavily on the local, organic and seasonal and immune boosting fruits, herbs and veggies.

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If you’ve ever gotten a juice or smoothie and thought while sipping on your salad greens or slurping up a fruity ambrosia, “Hey! This would be aMAHzing with a splash of tequila in it!”, (and who hasn’t, let’s be real?!) then this book is for you. Aron breaks the recipes up into different categories: Lush and Fruity, Fresh and Crisp, Garden Fresh, Floral and Fragrant, Sweet and Spicy, and Rich and Creamy. I decided to make a cocktail from the Sweet and Spicy section – the Peach Honey Bomb.

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A blend of whiskey, fresh peaches, lemon juice, honey and ground turmeric, this is one of the easier concoctions in the book, tastes like sunshine and looks like it too!

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I used a new-ish to me whiskey, the “Alabama Style” Clyde May’s. This is a 6 year old bourbon mash with hints of dried apple and cinnamon…a lovely addition to the bright fruit and spices in the Peach Honey Bomb.

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Peach Honey Bomb (from page 199 in Zen and Tonic)
4 ounces whiskey
2 peaches, pitted
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon ground turmeric

Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend well. Serve chilled.

Superfood Spotlight
Turmeric, the bright orange spice, has long been used in the Chinese and Indian systems of medicine as an anti-inflammatory agent to treat a wide variety of conditions. 


MASSIVE COCKTAIL SWAG GIVEAWAY!

You have five days from today to enter the Zen and Tonic giveaway for the chance to win a signed copy of the book and over $500 in bar swag! Some of my favorites like Love and Victory glassware and Gastronomista jewelry are included in this amazing prize, so you don’t want to miss out on this! Enter HERE for the chance to pimp your bar today!

Campari Women Cocktail & Spirits Writer Interview Series with Gastronomista

In partnership with Campari and JUST in time for the last day of Women’s History Month, Emily Arden Wells from Gastronomista, one of my favorites in this industry and my Boozy Babes partner in crime, has started a series of interviews with women Cocktail and Spirits writers on her blog. And I’m so honored to kick it off with the first interview!

If you ever wondered what my journey has been into this crazy spirited world, you can check it out here. I also talk about some of the spirits writers who inspired me when I first was getting into the booze industry, and what I think of the LA cocktail scene so far! (hint: I have a long way to go!) You can also get my recipe for the festive Piña Sparkler, originally created for New Year’s Eve but so easy and delicious any time of year! Check out the interview on her site and check back in to see the rest of the series. Ladies in the hoooouuuusssse!

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photo by This Aperture

Bartender Style – Pamela Wiznitzer at Seamstress

Bartender Style is a collaboration between Bit by a Fox and photographer Rose Callahan. This series, exclusively on the Bit by a Fox blog, explores and documents the personal style of some of the best bartenders in the country. This month, we’re profiling rock star cocktail whiz, Pamela Wiznitzer at her home base, Manhattan’s Upper East Side hotspot Seamstress, where she serves as Creative Director, bartender and all around boss fox.

Pam is your Bartender-Next-Door. She’s your cool-girl confidante – a firecracker of positivity, doling out hugs and advice between perfectly crafted cocktails. She can hang with the boys, work the girl’s girl angle, and imbues equal parts warmth and confidence behind the bar. Pam Wiznitzer is your Bartender BFF.

Bartender Style - Pam Wiznitzer - photographed by Rose Callahan on Aug 27, 2015 at Seamstress bar, NYC

Those who know Pam, have worked with her in some way, and/or have been lucky enough to have been served a cocktail crafted by her, know why she is so well-regarded in the industry. And why she is often a go-to mixologist and face for events and liquor brands looking to sparkle up the proceedings.

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She’s highly skilled, passionate, creative, incredibly charismatic, and one of the hardest working bartenders in the biz. In short, she’s a superstar. Not to mention, she’s also pretty easy on the eyes.

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And, considering the amount of awards and accolades that she’s amassed, and the breadth of titles for various cocktail competitions she’s collected these last few years, her trajectory in the bar business has been off the charts! Pam serves as President of the New York chapter of the United States Bartenders’ Guild and she’s only really been in the game for about 7 years.

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Hospitality is key with all top bartenders, but Pam’s philosophy is next level. And it’s proven successful for her. She has a way of befriending everyone around her. It’s no wonder that she is known for having a devoted clientele. In her early days of bartending, after unexpectedly getting laid off from a startup, she found herself behind the stick during the day shift at a sports bar in Murray Hill. And, making the most of it, she packed them in. Pam’s following only grew as she honed her craft as an original hire at Dead Rabbit, (Tales of the Cocktail’s World’s Best Bar 2015), where she also earned a New York Bartender of the Year title from Village Voice in 2014 as well as landing a top 10 finalist spot for Tales’ Best American Bartender that same year. At the end of 2014, Pam made the move to help open and create the cocktail program for Seamstress, a new restaurant and bar on Manhattan’s Upper East Side that has quickly gained momentum, in large part based on Pam’s connection.

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The Seamstress moniker extends to the interior theme, with vintage sewing machines and scissor designs displayed throughout.

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The theme is also reinforced in the menu. As Creative Director, Pam has curated 50 classics and created 20 signature cocktails that all fall within four different sewing categories: PatchworkOverlayEmbroidery, and Lining.

While Pam wanted the bar staff to wear whatever they felt comfortable and attractive in during their shift, the customized bartender apron that they all wear, ties the Seamstress theme together. They are “unified by one thread while still being individuals.”

The apron serves a basic functionality for the bar staff – the utilitarian style with multiple pockets allows for everyone to keep their tools close and their phones handy.

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It also serves as a stylish outfit topper with sexy leather details that reflect some of the curated items sold in the shop occupying the front of the restaurant.

Pam is a fan of body conscious silhouettes and pops of color behind the bar.

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She believes confidence is key. Owning your fashion. She’s not afraid of bright colors and patterns or taking risks. Patricia Field, famed costume designer behind Sex and the City, has served as one of Pam’s style inspirations.

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Patrick Brauss, a former bar back (in one of Pam’s bars) turned personal stylist at Top Shop, came on board with Pam once she turned 30 and she decided she may need some assistance with all of the outfits she had to prepare for various events and judging panels and gigs where she needed to put her best face forward.

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Patrick is able to push Pam’s fashion boundaries while knowing exactly what she likes: high wasted skirts and crop tops, mixing vintage and new, incorporating classic and chic with a touch of daring whimsy and sexy edge. But most importantly, she says, he always ensures she is presented in a professional way.

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We asked Pam what the most popular cocktail at Seamstress was and without missing a beat, she prepared the Mortimer & Mauve, a rye whiskey based cocktail with chai tea infused vermouth and Barrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur. Simple, delicious and it can traverse various seasons. There’s a reason why this is such a popular cocktail. Our Bartender BFF should know!

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Mortimer & Mauve
1.25 oz Whistle Pig Rye Whiskey
1.25 oz Chai infused Martini & Rossi Rosso
.5 oz Barrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur

Method: Combine ingredients in a mixing glass and stir over ice until well chilled. Strain into glass over large ice cube.
Glass: Rocks glass
Garnish: Use orange twist to extract oils. Discard peel.

Getting Into the Oscars Spirit with The Sparkling Limoncello Drop

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Oh, hello darlings, I didn’t see you there…

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Now that I officially live in La La Land, I’m pretttttty Hollywood. I mean, I lounge around all day in my velvet robe and sip on fresh citrus and bubbly cocktails without a care in the world.

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My meals are mainly variations of avocado toast and the occasional fish taco…if I’m eating at all! And palm trees, crazy beautiful sunsets and 70+ degree weather in February is like…”whatevs” now. It’s pretty zen out here, you guys.

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LOL, JK, I’m still an impatient New Yorker who eats! (that stuff about the avocado toast is pretty true, actually. I’m ODing on the stuff).

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And the palm trees, warm days and sunsets are blowing my mind on the regular. You mean, it’s like this every day? ERRR DAY?! I’m trying not to flood my Instagram feed with just that!

But, moving is harrrrd. And moving across the country, getting a bronchial infection and then trying to set up shop in a foreign, albeit very sunshine-y place, is NOT conducive to updating a cocktail blog. You might have noticed that I’ve been absent here since first announcing the move because…LIFE. But, now that I’m nearly a month in, I may not have gone full Hollywood, but I am starting to get acclimated, and I’m loving so much of it. Including the fresh citrus everywhere!

One thing I have noticed since I’ve been out here is how you can really feel the awards season in this town. The excitement building for the Academy Awards, the grandaddy of them all, is palpable here. (Mainly because the city shuts off major thoroughfares through town about a week before the show even airs. LA traffic, gah!) Since the Oscars are this Sunday and many of you are either hosting or going to viewing parties, I thought you might like to have a festive (and delicious) cocktail in your arsenal to serve for the night.

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Inspired by one of the easiest and most popular of all of my recipes, The Limoncello Drop Cocktail, this sparkling version is a guaranteed crowd pleaser.

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In fact, I even tested this sparkling version out on a group of dinner guests a couple of weekends back (with Sobieski Vodka), and I can safely proclaim, it was a hit!

Even if your favorites don’t win this year (or weren’t even nominated), if you make this sparkling ray of sunshine in a glass, you’ll have a winner of a cocktail at least!

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The Sparkling Limoncello Drop

Ingredients:
3/4 oz Vodka
3/4 oz Limoncello
3/4 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Grand Marnier
1/2-1 oz Sparkling Wine

Garnish:
lemon peel
superfine sugar and lemon wedge to rim glass

To sugar the rim of your cocktail glass, take a freshly cut lemon wedge and slice the middle. Slip the wedge over the rim of the glass where you’ve cut the lemon, and sweep around the entire top of the glass until it is well coated. Gently dip the glass upside down into a saucer filled with sugar until just the tip of the glass is coated.

Directions:
Shake all ingredients except sparkling wine over ice until the outside tin is frosted over. Strain into a well chilled, sugar-rimmed cocktail glass, leaving room for the sparkling. Top with sparkling wine. Add a lemon twist.

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All photos of Prairie Rose taken by the very talented Shannon Carpenter of THIS APERTURE. A Spring Session Discount is currently running on the site. Book by March 15th and receive 25% off your print order.

See you later, New York

See you later, New York

I always wanted to live in New York City. I can’t remember a time when I hadn’t ached to live in the big city with the bright lights, exotic people and constant movement. These fantasies were fed by old movies, family stories, and the TV show Fame, of course. As a young girl, I was lucky enough to have family to visit, to eat lunch at the Russian Tea room, visit the Met and see the Rockefeller Center magically lit up at Christmas time, further feeding my romantic notions of the city. In my teens, I sipped coffee in a tiny, crowded cafe in the east village surrounded by foreign accents. I saw a performance at St Mark’s Church, walked the snowy city streets, and it was then that I knew I had found my city and my people, that I would someday make this place my home. Just a few years after that visit I did. With a backpack and $300 to my name (borrowed from my very worried grandparents), I shared a bed with college friend for a month and then graduated to an egg foam mat in a filthy bachelor pad in Brooklyn for 8 months after that, scraping by on hard-earned tips from a bagel shop on Court Street. And I was smitten.

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New York has surpassed those original romantic notions in so many ways. It is my big love and my biggest heart-break. It is my family and my heart…and it is magic. How do you leave your family and your heart and all of that magic? Knowing that you can’t ever really leave. Even though I grew up on the west coast and I’m so grateful for that, I am a very proud fourth generation New Yorker. I always will be, no matter where I live.

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I wrote this mid-flight, straddling both coasts physically and psychologically, having just come off of a marathon of crying jags, and a flurry of mini panic attacks. I was finally able to address how I was feeling about leaving my home of 18 years. The truth is, it took up until the very last-minute for me to feel the heft of it all. I’ve been so excited about moving to LA and looking ahead, I wasn’t doing a lot of looking back. But packing up my entire adult life in New York City for the past five days straight into medium-sized cardboard boxes to be shipped over 2,000 miles away to an apartment I hadn’t even laid eyes on yet in real life, forced me to let it all sink in. And, hoo boy, did I! While I KNOW that I’ll be back regularly and it’s very important for me to stay connected to New York – it IS still the cocktail epicenter in many ways, I wanted to acknowledge the end of this particular chapter in my life. And because New York has been a huge part of this blog, I wanted to let you all in on that as well. It’s been a crazy, beautiful, mad love affair for nearly two decades, not without its bumps(!), but without any regrets.

Now I can really look ahead with the knowledge that I’ve floundered and flourished and everything in between in one of the greatest cities on earth. And I know there is life and a world outside of that. I’m so ready for what’s next. And to share this next journey here. Los Angeles, I’m coming for you.


 

All photos by Shannon Carpenter from This Aperture

Flashback Friday to a Whiskey & Chocolate Sail and a Special Valentine’s Promo!

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You’d think it would be pretty difficult for me to flashback to this warm summer’s day on the Hudson River nearly 6 months ago now, with the Blizzard of the Century brewing in the mid-Atlantic and all…but I have a pretty active fantasy life. I mean, I’m very much in denial about the fact that my last week in New York may very well be me trapped inside my apartment, packing up my life, forced with the realization that I’ve been hoarding tote bags for the last ten years! Also, is it the magic year I toss all of these boxes of CDs from the 90s? (don’t answer that)

Soooo, let’s just forget about all that and take a look at what a perfect day THIS was.

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Yes, it was August, and as is typical of the season in New York, it was pretty sweltering. But once we caught some wind in those sails and pushed off into the sparkling Hudson, it was perfection. Also, whisk(e)y and chocolate were promised, so this afternoon was just going to get better and better.

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I booked this Whiskey and Chocolate Sail through a company called Cloud 9 Living, an experiential gifting site that features everything from food tours around your favorite city to hot air balloon rides and zipline canopy adventures. You can even learn how to fly a helicopter with expert instructors or dive out of planes! I think I’ll stick with sailboats, with whiskey on them, thanks.

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I don’t know about anyone else, but I felt pretty fancy as we pulled out of the dock, and into the magical waters with a whiskey cocktail already in hand. This is LIFE! I do this all the time! Let me Instagram the h*ck out of this moment! (that was my internal dialogue, btw. also, my internal voice is clearly a braggart)

We were then offered flights of whiskey – one micro-distilled, one small-batch and one mass-produced, as well as chocolate truffles to pair with them. Our guide for this tasting was David Naczycz, Founder of Urban Oyster Tours, who clearly knew a thing or two about whiskey AND how to dress for a nautical adventure.

David from Whiskey & Chocolate Sail

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I gotta say, this was a pretty romantic experience. The sunshine reflecting off the water and the New York City skyline, the lapping of the waves and salty air…and the chocolate and whiskey, of course(!), made for a very romantique afternoon! And it got me to thinking about Valentine’s Day coming up. I love giving the gift of experiences for all kinds of occasions. But this experience would be a really perfect one to share with a love. Same with that hot air balloon ride one…or maybe the glass blowing class! There are so many good ones!

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Also, now that I’m facing the reality of all of the STUFF that I’ve collected over the years, and if I’m going to hold onto it for another ten plus years or toss it to the curb, I’m very happy to avoid getting any more stuff for the rest of my life. (moving is hard you guys, it’s very existential).

So, instead of spending your money on more stuff for your sweetheart this year, put that hard-earned cashola towards something the both of you can experience together!

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Great news, lovers! I have a Valentine’s Day gift to you, my dear readers! To help you stretch those dollars of love, I’ve got a special customized promo code from the good folks at Cloud 9 Living. Please see below for how you can get $15 off your order with them! Bisous!

Bit by a Fox Valentine’s Day promo code details:

  • Code: VDAYFOX15
  • Good for: $15 off total order value from http://www.cloud9living.com
  • Limits: one code per order; one code per customer
  • Valid thru: February 15, 2016

Big News! Bit by a Fox is Making a Move…

From this…

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…to this:

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Yep, this New York City gal is heading to the City of Angels, Tinseltown, La-La-Land, Hollyweird (there sure are a lot of nicknames for LA!). I may be switching out my home-base from the Big Apple (now that’s a solid nickname) to Los Angeles, I aim to be bi-coastal. While I’ve decided to let go of my rent controlled apartment in a lovely part of Brooklyn (I KNOW), and I’ve informed my Facebook friends of the big move (that always makes it official, right?!), after nearly 2 decades in New York, it’s very difficult to TOTALLY commit to another town! So let’s just say, I’m testing out the “Angeleno” moniker for now. No one is revoking this New Yorker’s title just yet!

But here’s the thing: I’m pretty psyched. And terrified. More excited than scared but, as I just mentioned, I haven’t lived anywhere else in a very long time. But I’m so looking forward to exploring a brand new, very sunshine-y world. I’m ready for a big change. And palm trees. I’m pretty into palm trees. And did I mention the sunshine? It’s no coincidence that I’m leaving right before winter really gets into all of our bones and goes in for the three-month soul crush. April is still cold, guys, I know we don’t ever want to believe it!

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So, it’s official. The countdown has begun. Hopefully this time next month I’ll have a house with a yard out back with twinkly lights and enough room for a fire pit and some super Instagram-able cocktail moments. I’ll still be sharing original recipes, my favorite spirits, mixers, books and barware, and covering what’s going on in the cocktail and bar world, but I also really look forward to sharing this new adventure with all of you. I better start getting packing. This is going to be a huge undertaking. Seriously, do you know how much booze I have??

The Piña Sparkler – A New Year’s Eve Cocktail

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Pineapples in the winter! Aren’t they a heavenly sight?! Despite the less than frigid temps in New York this holiday season, it’s still fun to bring a little tropical flair to the proceedings this time of year. And because pineapples have long been known as a welcoming symbol and a sign of wealth and luck, I thought it would be perfect to incorporate this into our New Year’s Eve cocktail!

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I’ve been a big fan of Tres Agaves Tequila ever since I had the chance to taste it and really learn about its production and speak with the passionate Founder & President of Tres Agaves, Barry Augus last July at Tales of the Cocktail. They have created quality tequilas that are designed to be in cocktails.

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Tres Agaves Tequila is only about 5 years old but is produced at one of the last family-owned distilleries in Jalisco, Mexico, which began production in 1900. The agave forward Añejo is aged in American Oak Bourbon barrels for 18 months which produces a rich, smooth tequila with a black peppery punch. Since pineapple juice can be an overwhelming flavor, this cocktail needs a heavier añejo tequila like this one. It also needs to stand up to the fantastic, new Cynar 70. The heavily-anticipated Cynar 70-proof is now available everywhere, thankfully, because I can’t get enough of it! Already a fan of the original Cynar, one of my favorites in the Italian bitter amaro category, this new bottling is more than twice the original formula’s ABV and makes for an incredible cocktail ingredient. It is earthy and spicy and subtly sweet with hints of chocolate. And is really wonderful as the only sweet element in this cocktail.

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And Champagne! We are celebrating the New Year after all. We can’t forget the champers! Don’t go insane buying the most expensive bottle out there but spring for a little quality bubbly for this. Moët & Chandon tastes like what you think Champagne should taste like – extremely effervescent, dry and toasty with hints of stone fruit and honey. In other words, happiness in a glass. It’s also such a lovely, festive bottle!

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So, don your festive apparel, invite over your sparkliest of friends and sip on this bubbly delight! Let’s light up 2016, y’all! Here’s to welcoming the new year surrounded by pineapples and sparklers and glittery pom-poms. (that’s the girliest thing I think I’ve ever written) Happy New Year, foxy friends!

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The Piña Sparkler – makes 3-4 cocktails
2 ounces Añejo Tequila (Tres Agave Añejo)
2 ounces unsweetened pineapple juice
1 ounce Cynar 70
1/2 lime juice
Champagne split (1/4 regular sized bottle) (Moët & Chandon)

Add the tequila, Cynar 70 and juices to an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Shake until chilled. Strain even amounts into coupe glasses and top with Champagne. Pom-pom stirrers and sparklers optional!

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