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.
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!
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.
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
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!
When I think of my childhood summers in the Pacific Northwest, I remember never-ending days outside, playing make-believe for hours on end, building forts in the woods (this is before we thought we’d get murdered there), scream-running through sprinklers, and roller skating. Lots and lots of roller skating.
And those days always involved foraging and scarfing down fresh fruit. Much of it found on our daily adventures. Blackberries on the side of the road, too tart apples plucked from trees prematurely, big fat blueberries confiscated from a neighbor’s backyard, and buckets of Rainier cherries that we risked life and limb for on our treacherous climbs up thick, scraggly branches. I have such delicious memories, and a nice collection of scars that remind me of a time I was equal parts brave, crazy and a little dumb with youth.
It’s no wonder a couple of PNW natives have come up with a way to take advantage of this area’s abundant supply of gorgeous fruit and…infuse it in BOOZE.
Wild Roots Distillery has a pretty extensive line of infused vodkas, all using ingredients found in Oregon’s Willamette Valley – an area mostly known for producing excellent Pinot Noir wine. Turns out that rich soil and amiable climate is also pretty ideal for growing other fruit besides grapes!
I recently got to try two of these beauties from their collection – The Northwest Pear Vodka and The Marionberry Vodka. Soon after, I found out that the two I picked to sample were both winners at the recent Seattle International Spirits Awards just this past month. Like the best blackberry bushes in the neighborhood back in the day, I still know how to pick ’em!
I found The Marionberry Infused Vodka initially pretty rich and sweet but not in a treacly sense. Both bottles I tried had the aroma of real, fresh fruit. And on the palate this was the case as well. Wild Roots’ aim is to be an antidote to the fake flavored vodkas glutting the market. Keeping it all natural has been an important part of their story. And the resulting product reflects that. Apparently 2 pounds of berries go into each bottle!
Because of the sweetness level and the tart berry finish, this is a fun one to mix with and not a lot of ingredients are necessary for a well-balanced cocktail. I found this worked beautifully as a simple fizz type drink. I could also see this in place of Cassis in a Kir Royale type sparkler…
2 oz Wild Roots Marionberry Infused Vodka
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/4 oz Simple Syrup
1-2 oz Club Soda
Shake all ingredients except club soda over ice until well chilled. Strain into an ice-filled rocks glass. Top with soda and stir. Garnish with berries.
Of the two Wild Roots Vodkas that I tried, I think the Pear Infused Vodka might have been my favorite. The aroma is bright and fresh and decidedly PEAR. And it is very much that on the palate, with a slight floral quality. This could also be lovely in a fall cocktail with a little baking spices to warm it up.
Since I’ve had summer on the mind, I made something light and refreshing, however. Again, because of the slight sweetness to this spirit, it doesn’t need the addition of much sugar.
I initially made a Pear Martini and loved the simplicity of that drink. But I came to the conclusion that a Vesper – James Bond’s second most favorite cocktail – would kick this up a notch. The addition of an aromatic gin and herbaceous Cocchi Americano actually brought out the complex pear flavors in this so much more. Bring on the Northwest summers!
Northwest Pear Vesper
1 1/2 oz Wild Roots Pear Infused Vodka
1/2 oz Gin
1 oz Cocchi Americano
Add all ingredients to an ice-filled mixing glass and stir until diluted. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with pear slices.
Baileys, the makers of the most popular Irish cream liqueur in the world, has gone vegan! With the recent launch of Almande, a light but creamy liqueur with an almond milk base, Baileys has created a spirit that is dairy and gluten-free, and after working to remove beeswax from the original recipe, certified vegan.
To celebrate this new release, we had a little soiree here in Los Angeles by doing what Angelenos do best – workout, hang with beautiful celebrities, throw back some boozy smoothies and Instagram the h*ck out of it!
Our new bestie, Tia Mowry, who btw looks casually stunning in workout clothes, because of course she does, hosted at Tracy Anderson Method‘s gorgeous Brentwood Studio.
Guests participated in a crazy hard looking class – I safely observed from a distance 😉 and then they were treated to light, post workout cocktails created by yours truly!
Since Baileys Almande goes really well with coconut water and a little spice, I thought for one of the cocktails a horchata riff would be perfect for the occasion. The Horchata Almande is a combo of rum, cinnamon spice, coconut water and Almande. Light and refreshing and so easy to make.
1.5 oz Baileys Almande
1 oz Spiced Rum
1 oz Vita Coco Coconut Water
2 oz Cinnamon Spiced Tea (sweetened with tsp sugar and cooled)
Shake all ingredients over ice until nice and frothy. Pour into an ice-filled highball and garnish with a dash of cinnamon.
Baileys discovered that Almande also works really well in smoothies, and as far as post-workout treats go, that was a no brainer. The Spring Fling Smoothie combines strawberries, banana, almond milk and coconut water with creamy Almande, for a low alcohol blended cocktail.
Spring Fling Smoothie – makes 2 drinks
1/2 cup Almond Milk
1/2 cup Coconut Water
2 oz Baileys Almande
1 oz Agave
6-8 Frozen Strawberries
1 cup ice
pinch of salt
In a blender, combine all the ingredients and blend until smooth. Pour contents into a chilled glass.
All photos taken by photographer Eugene Lee c/o Baileys
I can’t believe it’s been over a month since I visited the gorgeous Maker’s Mark distillery in Loretto, Kentucky. But if you’ve been following me on social media, you know that it’s been a bonkers few months of travel and imbibing across the country and continents! But it was this Kentucky visit that kicked it all off. And it definitely left its…mark. (see what I did there?)
It was a complete whirlwind but such an incredible experience. As a fan of American history and American whiskey, it was an important one. You see, this was my first time at the historic Maker’s Mark distillery!
From everything I knew prior about the brand and the Samuels family, this visit did not disappoint.
The day that we flew into Louisville, we were treated to a fantastic dinner and tasting at Proof on Main with Bill Samuels Jr, son of Maker’s Mark founders Bill and Margie Samuels.
Listening to Bill’s stories about the origin of this now legendary bourbon was not only fascinating but totally stoked all of us for our visit to the distillery the next day.
For the day of our tour, we were met by Bill’s son and the distillery’s current chief operating officer, Rob Samuels. This is not unusual, however, as Rob is usually on the premises, greeting guests, giving tours and of course, pouring some of that famous whiskey.
Master Distiller, Greg Davis, joined Rob to lead the tour and show the inner workings of the facility.
The Maker’s Mark campus is designed as Margie Samuels envisioned, as a quaint Victorian village in a black and red motif, matching the brand’s colors and spirit.
They have even incorporated the famous bottle shape into the bright red window shutters!
Speaking of Margie, she is also credited for having given Maker’s Mark its name AND coming up with the idea to seal the bottle in red wax, now an iconic (and legally patented) symbol of the brand. Margie was a true pioneer in American bourbon and marketing!
Touring the facilities at Maker’s Mark is truly a lesson in American craftsmanship, precision, and consistency.
Their level of quality control is impressive.
Every step of the way, their operation was a tight ship.
For those that have visited Maker’s Mark, you know one of the greatest thrills is when you have the opportunity to hand dip your own bottles in that signature red wax!
But if you HAVE visited Maker’s Mark in the past, you may notice something a little different the next time you’re there – the addition of Star Hill Provisions, the distillery’s new fast-casual restaurant, located in the beautifully renovated Master Distiller’s House.
Star Hill Provisions was named after the original T.W. Samuels family farm and distillery, Star Hill Farm.
Leading this exciting culinary project is Chef Newman Miller, co-owner and executive chef of acclaimed Harrison-Smith House in Bardstown, Kentucky. Newman Miller has brought with him a devotion to the community – he grew up mere miles from the distillery – and the skill and experience to back up the elevated down home cuisine and seasonal cocktails.
The seasonally changing menu will offer meats and produce straight from the farms of Maker’s Mark employees whenever possible.
One of the most important aspects of this addition of Star Hill Provisions is their offering of cocktails, however. Until recently, distilleries weren’t allowed to sell cocktails under state law. But a change in legislation in 2016 changed all that. So now you can visit this National Historic Landmark, Maker’s Mark Distillery, have a delicious lunch AND fabulous craft cocktail to boot. What more could you ask for?!
I wanted to share my favorite cocktail from Star Hill Provisions created by Chef Newman Miller, called Family Meal. It’s a lovely mix of Maker’s Mark, cold brew and Mexican Coke. So good!
1 ½ parts Maker’s Mark® Bourbon
¼ part Cold Brew Coffee Concentrate (Chef Newman uses Harden coffee, which is house roasted 15 miles from restaurant)
Mexican Coke, as needed
Lemon Peel, for garnish
Build coffee and Maker’s Mark® Bourbon in a rocks or highball glass. Add ice and stir gently. Top with Mexican cola and finish with oil from a strip of lemon peel.
We all like rooting for the underdog. Being popular and a huge success and knocking it out of the park all the time can be sooooo boring. But there’s a reason some things are as successful as they are – donuts, Paris, roses, Beyonce, waterfalls….MARGARITAS! They’ve earned their rightful place in this popularity contest we call life. (BTW, did I just somehow outline the most perfect date weekend in that list of popular things or what? Also, am I basic?)
Soooo, margaritas are not the underdog of cocktails. But there’s a reason why every time those end of the year lists of ‘Most Popular Cocktails’ comes around, the margarita continues to rise to the top. Uh…THEY TASTE AMAZING.
And what’s better than a perfectly made margarita on a sunny afternoon? An entire pitcher full of them! To share with friends, of course! Sauza Signature Blue Silver Tequila, made with 100 percent blue weber agave, is perfect for these pitcher-style margaritas.
In case you didn’t know, Cinco de Mayo is like the Super Bowl of holidays for tequila. And the margarita is the star player. Or if you’re a weirdo drama geek like me, we can use an Oscars analogy instead. And margaritas win Best Picture….like every year. This year, I’ve gotten together with Sauza Tequila to celebrate a little early with some friends. It doesn’t take much to woo my friends. The promise of chips, guac and margs pretty much guarantees I even have friends.
Now, some of you margarita purists may take issue with this blended recipe that calls for canned limeade and beer. But the addition of Sauza Signature Blue Silver Tequila, crafted at the renowned Sauza Distillery in Jalisco, Mexico, has to count for something! I PROMISE that you can save up that side eye for something really worth throwing shade at and instead just get excited for your new favorite, and soon to be every one else’s favorite, sunnytimez beverage of choice. I, myself, admit had to come around…
I was asked to help make this at a party a few months back. I might have been a little snobby about it at first. But I did as I was told, like the kind of guest who has shown up earlier than expected because she got the time wrong and so she helps out in the only way she knows how…with booze. My friend kept referring to it as a Texas-style margarita recipe and that sounded about right. But after I tasted this dream concoction (again and again…and again), blown away by how well it worked, I finally recovered from the Texas sized hangover I subjected myself to, and I Googled “Texas-style margaritas” to get the whole story.
The internet revealed a mixed bag of things. While there are plenty of margarita recipes that involve limeade and beer out there, this wasn’t necessarily a version known in Texas. And none of the recipes were as simple and perfect as the one my friend gave me. So, I just replicated the recipe I made that night, put out some chips and salsa and invited some friends over to appreciate a little early Cinco de Mayo celebrating and decided to share this with all of you!
Blended Beer Margaritas – Pitcher serves 6-8
1 can frozen limeade – 12 oz
Use can to measure 12 oz Sauza Signature Blue Silver Tequila
1 bottle beer – light lager or pilsner
In a blender combine all ingredients and fill with ice. Blend on low until working up in speed, careful not to go too high because of the beer. Blend until smooth.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Sauza® Tequila
Sauza® Blue Tequila, 40% alc./vol. ©2017 Sauza Tequila Import Company, Chicago, IL”
The Last Word, like the Negroni is an equal parts cocktail, but with the added fourth ingredient being citrus, it is shaken, not stirred. Akin to the Negroni, this drink is also having a sort of renaissance with bartenders and home cocktail enthusiasts alike.
Supposedly born at the Detroit Athletic Club around 1916, the Last Word has become more of a modern classic. It went into relative obscurity until the recipe was dug up by Seattle bartender Murray Stenson in the early 2000s. He discovered it in Ted Saucier’s 1951 cocktail book “Bottoms Up!” (which credited the Detroit Athletic Club), and after adding it to the menu at the Zig Zag Café, word spread and a classic was reborn.
People love an equal parts cocktail. You don’t have to remember proportions; They’re brilliant! There was even an entire book devoted to these recipes, but they don’t always work. The balance has to be just right. And you’d think with such dominant spirits as gin, green Chartreuse and maraschino liqueur, that it would all be too much. But somehow that equal parts addition of fresh lime juice sucker punches the rest of those flavors into a bright and herbaceous delight.
I’ve noticed recently that this cocktail is also especially in the zeitgeist at the moment. We are currently in the midst of an international Instagram “event” wherein cocktail enthusiasts and brands and regular ol’ instagrammers are being called upon to create their own riff on this often riffed on cocktail and then post their version. I’ll actually be posting my variations (featured here) right after this post goes up!
I thought that playing with these recipes was a great opportunity for me to experiment with this lovely bottle of Sunday Gin from new San Diego distillery, You and Yours Distilling Co.
Distilled from grapes instead of the usual grain (wheat, barley, rye), the botanicals are softer with a hint more citrus than your typical American style gins. But I found this Sunday Gin was still able to hold up to the other powerhouse flavors in this cocktail. It worked especially well in the Fizz.
My first variation is close to the classic recipe. It was important to keep it equal parts, but I just wanted to sub out the maraschino liqueur for one of my favorite and most versatile liqueurs out there at the moment, Barrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur. When working with green Chartreuse you need something that can match its intensity if you don’t want it to dominate. And Barrow’s is the perfect accomplice to this potent spirit.
Intense Last Word
3/4 Sunday Gin
3/4 Green Chartreuse
3/4 Barrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur
3/4 Fresh Lime Juice
Shake all ingredients with ice until well chilled. Strain into a cooled coupe glass. Garnish with your favorite herb.
For the second variation, I knew that I wanted to make a fizz, still keeping it equal parts of the original ingredients but adding egg white and seltzer to see if that worked. Uh, it does. It SO works.
Refreshing and a little lighter than the classic version, this may very well be what I’ll be sipping this Sunday for Easter brunch. I’m sure you’ll have some extra eggs lying around, right?!
Last Word Fizz
3/4 Sunday Gin
3/4 Green Chartreuse
3/4 Maraschino Liqueur
3/4 Fresh Lime Juice
1 Egg White
In a cocktail shaker add gin, green Chartreuse, maraschino liqueur, egg white and lime juice and “dry” shake vigorously for about 20 seconds. Add ice and shake for another 20-30 seconds. Strain mixture into an ice-filled highball glass. Pour seltzer into shaker to loosen up remaining froth and then top the cocktail with that. Garnish with your favorite herb.