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BBaF Podcast Episode 49: Dry January with Selena Donovan

Listen to Episode 49: Dry January with Selena Donovan”

I’m doing Dry January this year and dragging you all with me! For this week’s Bit by a Fox Podcast, at least! In this week’s episode (our last in the first season, btw!), I brought in seasoned spirits industry vet Selena Donovan, West Coast Grey Goose Brand Ambassador, who is also going dry this January. We spoke at the cozy cocktail den, Melrose Umbrella Co. in Hollywood about why we both decided to dry it out for this month…and we drank lots of delicious water!

The cocktail recipe this week is Selena’s take on a lighter version of the Pornstar Martini with and without alcohol:

Pornstar Martini Soda:
1.5oz Grey Goose La Vanille
1/2 can Passionfruit La Croix
.5oz Lime

No ABV version:
1/2 can of Passionfruit La Croix
.25oz Vanilla Simple Syrup
.5oz Lime

In an ice-filled highball glass add all ingredients. Give it a good stir and enjoy!

A Cocktail for the New Year, New You: Pom 20/20

How did this happen? We are well into the new year and I’m still mentally preparing the resolutions I’d like to make! (stop procrastinating should be one of them, eh?)

Last year I made a whole vision board with some of my biggest inspirations, tacked it up on my wall, and eyeballed it every night before drifting off to snoozeville, hoping it would all somehow come together through osmosis. I even started journaling again. I live in LA, people. This is what we doooo. I had goals and I was determined to actualize them. I kicked it all off with a “Dry January” and healthy eating plan.

This year, I feel so far behind. My Christmas decorations were up entirely too long, it took me until recently to fully unpack from vacation, and I certainly have not been “dry” nor particularly healthy since the calendar shifted to 2020. That journal hasn’t been touched in a while and there is NOT a vision board pinned to my wall, reminding me to stay the course. My holiday indulgences have somehow crept into January. But I keep telling myself – “It’s not too late!”

It’s not! There’s always so much pressure this time of year to get it all together. But I actually think in order to really stay the course, you have to do it in your own time. January is a long month. And so it’s actually the perfect time to ease into what it is you want your year…and your life, for that matter, to look like. 

For instance, I’d like to cut down my booze and sugar intake. If you’re anything like me, you may have embraced the “Treat Yo’Self” spirit of the holidays and really treated yo’self in excess. No judgement. It’s sort of what this time of year is about. I know that I’m not going to eliminate all of my favorite vices entirely overnight, or even this month, but I’d love to take steps to make it easier to pull back. One of my tactics is creating yummy alternatives that I can feel good about. 

Reed’s Zero Extra Ginger Beer makes things a little easier. Having partnered with Reed’s Ginger Beer over the course of these last 6 months, I’ve had a chance to really get to know their entire product line-up. I was a fan of their all-natural, super-spicy ginger beer well before working with them, and was excited to try and work with some of their new, recently launched products. Surprisingly, one of my favorites has been their sugar free ginger beer. It has the same fresh ginger spice and familiar flavor profile as their other expressions but doesn’t have the additional sugar. Most importantly, it doesn’t taste like a sugar free product – most likely because they have a proprietary blend of natural sweeteners, including monk fruit and stevia. Whatever it is, it works! 

The Pom 20/20 cocktail with Reed’s Zero Extra Ginger Beer is a great booze-free and sugar-free alternative to the boozy sugar bombs you may have been imbibing over the holidays. It’s also a nod to the new year, fresh starts and seeing into the future with 20/20 vision! I’ve used pomegranates before in a new year’s cocktail, and I like the tradition. Not only are pomegranates a superfood with a ton of health benefits, according to the Greeks, they are luck fruit, and in many cultures they represent life, fertility, prosperity and health. 

Cheers to a new year, and a new you in however much time you need to get there!

Pom 20/20
2 oz Pomegranate Juice
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1 tsp orange extract
pinch of sea salt
Reed’s Zero Extra Ginger Beer
Garnish: Pomegranate Seeds

In an ice-filled shaker add juice, extract and salt. Shake until well chilled. Strain into a cocktail glass and top with Zero Extra Ginger Beer. Garnish with pomegranate seeds.


This post was sponsored (and powered!) by Reed’s Ginger Beer. As always, all opinions are my own.

‘Be Mixed’ Cocktail Mixers – Your New Secret Boozy Weapon

Did you make New Year’s resolutions this year? How’s that going for you? Now that we’re full-on into mid January, have you stuck to your guns or chucked those notions of perfection out the window? In the past, I’ve done the ‘Dry January’ thing and I considered doing it again this year, but then I was like…”no”.

bemixed bottle and cocktails

I’m not saying it’s a bad idea to take a break from the hard stuff after the booze-festation of the holidays, but going cold turkey may not be realistic. For me. Right now. Ok, I may do it in February! That’s a shorter month anyhow.

In any case, I am trying to make an effort to be healthier. While whiskey may be considered vitamin-enriched health food, cocktails, not so much. Mixed drinks tend to be high calorically due to a lot of added sugar. I don’t care for super sweet cocktails and I tend to keep my recipes lower on the sugar spectrum, but in order to achieve a balanced drink, there does need to be a sweet element. A lot of times people reach for sugary sodas or pre-made mixers to fulfill this component. And, if they are trying to be “healthy”, they’ll use a diet soft drink or something with “skinny” in the name. Ugh. Please don’t do that. Whenever I hear the word skinny next to the word cocktail my hackles get raised. The ingredient list in those things is, undoubtedly, long, indecipherable and 100% garbage. Don’t mess with my cocktails, skinny bitches! LOLz. JK, I love skinny people.

But, not all low calorie, sugar-free cocktail mixers are created equal.

bemixed boxes

Be Mixed is a single serving, bottled cocktail mixer that is zero calories, is sugar-free, and is actually pretty yummy. Best of all, it doesn’t have a bunch of chemicals in it masquerading as “skinny”. They use all natural ingredients, including monk fruit, long used in China for medicinal purposes and as a sweetener. Cristina Ros Blankfein and Jennifer Ross, the powerhouse ladies behind Be Mixed, which has been slowly launching since October, came up with their business idea while at Harvard Business School. Jennifer has Type 1 Diabetes and has spent a lifetime avoiding sugar. But not fun! It was important to both of them to create something that was not only enjoyable as a spirits mixer and easy to entertain with, but was also a product that was low in sugar and used natural ingredients.

Be Mixed founders

Their Ginger, Honey, Lime is the first mix they’ve rolled out with, and they are intending to reveal another by next month. The mini bottles are single serving portions. On the bottle itself, you are directed to mix the whole thing with a shot of your preferred spirit, and then you’re good to go! But, after getting my hands on a couple of these babies, I couldn’t help messing with them to create whole new cocktails! And to see if it could go with a variety of spirits. Turns out, it does!

bemixed bottle with whiskey

I wanted to experiment with a typically boozy cocktail like a Boulevardier, with the intention of lightening it up with the mixer and a little citrus. Testing out the recipe a few times, I decided to take out the vermouth, up the Italian bitter quotient with Cynar, and back off on the Campari so it wasn’t the dominant flavor.

bemixed whiskey cocktail all

With equal parts Rittenhouse Rye and Be Mixed, and the addition of Campari, Cynar and lemon juice, The Bitter Rye turns into a decidedly different cocktail, but with remnants of that original pre-prohibition era inspiration.

whiskey cocktailThe Bitter Rye
2 oz Rittenhouse Rye Whiskey
2 oz Be Mixed Ginger, Honey, Lime
3/4 oz Cynar
1/2 oz Campari
1/2 oz Lemon Juice

Shake all ingredients over ice until outside of shaker is nice and frosty. Strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a lemon peel.

bemixed gin cocktail all.jpgFor a totally different cocktail using the same exact mixer, I made the The Hayworth Honey – a gin-based highball that uses the entire single serving bottle, as intended. Caledonia Spirits Barr Hill Gin with raw Vermont honey, seemed like a perfect complement to the flavors in Be Mixed. I decided to mirror the other flavors in the mix as well, ginger and lime, by including Barrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur and fresh lime juice. The touch of Yellow Chartreuse helps to elevate the honey and herbaceous qualities, and the splash of bubbles makes this cocktail slightly effervescent.

gin cocktailThe Hayworth Honey
2 oz Caledonia Spirits Barr Hill Gin
Bottle of Be Mixed Ginger, Honey, Lime
3/4 oz Barrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur
1/4 oz Yellow Chartreuse
1/2 oz Lime Juice
Club Soda

Shake all the ingredients except the soda over ice and strain into an ice filled high ball glass. Top with club soda and give a stir with a straw to combine.

Aaaaaand, We’re Back!

Oh, heeeeeey! Long time, no write. How’ve you been, my foxy friends?? Is 2014 living up to your expectations? Are you downing kale & beet juice every morning before hitting spin class or have you already ditched your cleanse/diet/workout plan for a cute pair of stretchy pants and a resolution to just accept your flawed self, damnit!? Whatever it is, I hope you feel good about it!

Welp. It has been a full two weeks since I last posted something here and (possibly, not coincidentally) a full two weeks since I poured any booze down my gullet. New Year’s Day called for multiple rounds of Bloody Mary’s at my fave brunch spot in the hood, duh. But after that, it’s been a bone dry January for this kid. I hadn’t even realized that ‘Dry January’ was a thing when I made the decision to give my liver a vacation in the zenith of my booze consumption sometime towards the end of the holidays. All I knew was that my insides needed a break before they were completely pickled.

Dry January is actually a campaign/challenge, officially set up by the UK organization, Alcohol Concern, to encourage people to abstain from alcohol for a month while raising money for alcohol related diseases. Their Twitter page has 3400 followers devoted to this booze-less month. And, of course, Drystagram is a thing that exists. Although, it’s not very visually exciting, I’m afraid. They don’t really make NOT drinking look very fun. It’s really just a bunch of pictures of very sober looking people holding up the same sign saying: “CAN YOU STAY OFF BOOZE FOR 31 DAYS?” Um…not if I’m forced to look at this snooze-fest for a month. It’s not particularly inspiring. They need to step up their ‘Gram game. At least show us some delicious looking mocktails or exciting activities you probably shouldn’t be doing while drunk, like hang gliding or texting your ex.

In any case, I’m back. I may not be diving headfirst into cocktails, myself, just yet but I am willing to get back on the boozy blog wagon, at least!

BBaF Podcast Episode 50: Clean + Dirty Drinking with Gaby Mlynarczyk

Listen to Episode 50: Clean + Dirty Drinking with Gaby Mlynarczyk”

It’s our one year anniversary of the Bit by a Fox Podcast and we are diving headfirst into our second season with Episode 50! In continuation of our discussion from last week about mindful drinking or not drinking, and wellness, this week’s episode has a little bit of everything. I spoke with Gaby Mlynarczyk – bartender, drinks writer, and author of Clean + Dirty Drinking, 100+ Recipes for Making Delicious Elixirs, With or Without Booze.

This week’s cocktail recipe – Gaby’s Carrot + Cardamom cocktail – includes the “Clean” and “Dirty” version

Clean:
1/4 cup and 2 Tbsp of fresh carrot juice
2 Tbsp of Cardamom Simple Syrup*
1 Tbsp fresh yuzu juice or fresh lime juice
1 drop of alcohol-free gentian root tincture
Ice cubes for shaking and serving
fennel frond, parsley sprig, or pea shoot for garnish

Add ingredients to a cocktail shaker, add 5 ice cubes, and shake hard for 3 seconds. Fill a stemless wineglass or double Old-Fashioned glass with ice cubes. Using a Hawthorne strainer, strain the drink into the glass. Garnish with the fennel frond, parsley sprig, or pea shoot.

Dirty:
3 Tbsp Old Tom Gin or other dry gin
3 Tbsp fresh carrot juice
1 1/2 Tbsp Aperol
1 Tbsp fresh yuzu juice or fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp Simple Syrup
2 dashes of Scrappy’s Cardamom Bitters
Ice cubes for shaking
fennel frond, parsley sprig, or pea shoot for garnish

In a cocktail shaker, combine the gin, carrot juice, Aperol, yuzu and lemon juices, syrup, and cardamom bitters. Add 5 ice cubes, and shake hard for 3 seconds. Follow the same instructions for the Clean version, garnish and enjoy!

*Cardamom Simple Syrup
First make a simple syrup with 1 cup sugar & 1 cup water.
Add 1/4  cup ground cardamom to 4 cups warm simple syrup. Stir and let sit for 2 to 3 hours to get a full infusion before using.


photo of Gaby by Eugene Lee
photo of Carrot + Cardamom Cocktail by Grant Cornett

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.

Cocktail Crush: Dr. Dave’s ‘Scrip Pad

Bit By a Fox in Snow.jpg

The Northeast (and much of the country) is in the midst of a NEVER-ENDING POLAR VORTEX OF BULLSHIT. It’s cold. Like, angry-making cold. The kind of bone chilling cold that just hurts your goddamned feelings. My extra thick, full body down comforter coat doesn’t help my self esteem. But it does help to keep out some of the pain. So does whiskey. I had decided around the holidays to go dry for January. But this soul crushing cold has had me rethinking giving up booze for the LONGEST MONTH OF THE YEAR.

I’m not gonna lie, last week, as temps dipped into the teens and single digits, I spent many a night gazing at my fully stocked bar, fixed, especially on the amber colored whiskeys. ‘Just a nip?’, I asked myself. ‘It’s 12 degrees outside!’, I’d rationalize. ‘I’m eating an enchilada!’, I’d reason. ‘Soooo thirsty!’, my inner lush whined. But, I abstained…a little longer. Until I reached that three week mark and figured, ‘fuck it, good enough!’ I had two birthday dinners and a second date that I really didn’t feel like teetotaling through. I decided that I’d make up those last eight days sometime in February. That’s a better month for a detox anyway. It’s shorter.

whiskeyWhen I voluntarily fell off the wagon, it was into the arms of a dark, strong whiskey cocktail that I landed. And…it was ok. It wasn’t as magical as I wanted it to be. It wasn’t rainbows and unicorns in a glass, like I imagined. I mean, I managed to get it down, ok? It was drinkable. It’s just, in retrospect, I should have come out of the super sober, pink-livered gate directly to a cocktail like Dr. Dave’s ‘Scrip Pad. Now THAT is a cocktail that will sweep you off your feet. A perfect winter tipple, designed to warm your spirits, sooth your soul and make you thankful for being inside with a stiff drink in hand. I’m not saying you’ll totally embrace this eternal arctic chill that has taken over the world or anything, but this drink will help you to dislike it a little less.

DrDavesScripPadCocktail.jpg

Alder Restaurant’s Dr. Dave’s ‘Scrip Pad

Alder, celebrity/mad scientist chef Wylie Dufresne’s nearly year old restaurant in the East Village, seems to have a pretty solid cocktail program managed by Kevin Denton. But I wouldn’t really know since I didn’t try anything else. I only had eyes for my latest crush, a mix of Old Overholt rye, Ramazzotti Amaro, yuzu juice, and smoked maple syrup. Bam! Winter, you haven’t beaten me yet. In your face, Polar Vortex!