GRAPEFRUIT-POMEGRANATE MARGI for Cinco de Mayo

GidgetGrapefruitPomMargi1

Let’s start things off with one cocktailing fact—Cinco de Mayo is all about the margarita. Yes, of course there’s the line up of delicious Mexican beers such as Tecate, Dos Equis or Modelo if you’re so inclined. But for me, this is a holiday that brings my cocktail shaker and a bottle of Tequila out, ready celebrate.

Outside of my cocktailing world there are a few more facts about Cinco de Mayo you should know. Such as the fact that it is a holiday commemorating the date of the Mexican army’s 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War (1861-1867). It is not, as most people think, to celebrate Mexico’s Independence Day which is celebrated on September 16th. Here in the United States, Cinco de Mayo is widely interpreted as a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage, where revelers mark the occasion with parades, parties, mariachi music, Mexican folk dancing and traditional foods such as tacos and mole poblano.

But let’s get back to the tequila …

Choosing the right tequila can be confusing to many. Should you spend a bunch of money and get a high-end tequila like Patron or go for your standard issue Cuervo Gold? Truthfully, it all comes down to personal taste (and budget!) but armed with a little tequila knowledge you can head into that tequila aisle with confidence.

Tequila is made from the agave plant. Often mistakenly referred to as a cactus, this succulent plant is native to the dry climates in Mexico. There are many varieties of agave, but distillers use only the superior quality blue agave to make tequila. A blue agave plant can reach eight feet tall and generally matures when it’s around six years old. Interestingly, the region where the blue agave grows has an impact on it’s flavor profile. Higher elevation clay soil sites tend to have plants that produce fruity, delicate and floral drinks. Plans grown in the lowlands or valleys with volcanic soil provide a spicy, earthier flavor.

Now let’s get back to that MARGARITA …

GidgetGrapefruitPomMargi3

For me, May 5th is a day unlike any other when it comes to enjoying a salt-rimmed glass filled with citrus juice and one of the aforementioned tequilas. This is THE day to mix a Margarita for me, so I’m here to share one of my favorite recipes that have made many a friend fall in love with tequila. Trust me, you’ll love this and so will all your fellow Cinco de Mayo revelers!

GIDGET’S GRAPEFRUIT-POMEGRANATE MARGARITA

There’s just something refreshing about drinking a margarita that doesn’t include that tart lemon/lime flavoring. This version mellows things out a bit by highlighting the delicious flavors of grapefruit with a touch of pomegranate. I used Resposado tequila to complement the flavors, but a Blanco tequila is amazing with this cocktail as well.

TOOLS :: Cocktail shaker, wire strainer, citrus juicer
GLASS :: Old Fashioned
EXTRAS :: Kosher salt, grapefruit wedge for garnish
SERVINGS :: 4 cocktails
INGREDIENTS ::
6 oz. Hornitos Resposado tequila
1.5 oz. Cointreau or Patron Citron liqueur
1.5 oz. Pama pomegranate liqueur
1 oz. POM pomegranate juice
Fresh squeezed juice from one pink grapefruit (~4 oz.)
1 Tbsp frozen limeade concentrate
Lots of ice!

GidgetGrapefruitPomMargi

HOW TO MAKE IT ::
Cut grapefruit in half. Twist glass rims on open side of grapefruit to moisten and dip in kosher salt. Set aside.  Juice grapefruit, strain through wire strainer into cocktail shaker. Add ice to shaker and add remaining ingredients.  Shake well to combine ingredients – at least one minute.  Add ice to glasses and garnish with grapefruit wedge. Divide shaker contents into cocktail glasses.

I personally find the bars and restaurants way too crowded on Cinco de Mayo, so I prefer to drink these margaritas in my own home rather than pay the exorbitant cost for watered versions elsewhere. So gather a few friends and celebrate Cinco de Mayo the right way – with plenty of delicious margaritas. Cheers!

GidgetGrapefruitPomMargi2

3 Guinness Cocktails for St. Patrick’s Day

I don’t know about you, but I’m really excited that St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Friday this year. Everyone loves a Friday night and with a fun holiday like St. Patrick’s Day, you’ve gotta embrace the party opportunities. So I’ve decided to seize this serendipitous Friday-and-holiday match up for all it’s worth and invite some friends over to celebrate — Irish style.

What I’m really thrilled about, of course, is my specialty: the cocktail menu! This year I wanted to elevate my Irish cocktail game by utilizing one of the most recognized Irish beers, Guinness.

The fact is, you can’t get more Irish than Guinness. The original brewery was located in the capital city of Dublin, Ireland and was started in 1759. Brewmaster Arthur Guinness purchased the dilapidated St. James’ Gate Brewery on a 9,000-year lease, and 10 years later exported his first barrels of Guinness.

From these first barrels to modern times, Guinness has become quite an empire on its own, brewing its legendary stout and draught beers in even exotic locations like Nigeria and Kuala Lumpur. So, as you can imagine, I had my work cut out for me to work with these fantastic products to come up with some St. Patrick’s Day Guinness cocktails.

After some Gidget Test Kitchen sampling, I decided to focus on using two of the more traditional beers from the Guinness family: the rich and creamy (and distinctively black) Guinness Draught and the Guinness Extra Stout with it’s subtly crisp but roasted barley flavors.

Along with my cocktail research, I was very inspired by the simple cocktails presented on the Guinness website, so I’ll be making two cocktails for my party and saving one for brunch the next day!

GidgetGuinnessBlackVelvet

BLACK VELVET
To celebrate St. Patrick’s Day I love how the champagne brings out the fruitiness in the beer in this simple cocktail. I’ll be serving this delicious wonder as guests arrive because I absolutely love a little bubbly to get the party started!

GLASS :: Champagne flute
SERVINGS :: 2 cocktails
INGREDIENTS::
2 oz. chilled Guinness Draught (also delicious with Guinness Extra Stout)
4 oz. chilled Brut or Prosecco Champagne

HOW TO MAKE IT ::
Pour champagne to fill glass just a bit over halfway.
Add Guinness to fill.
Note: Guinness is much heavier than champagne so if you mix this the other way around it won’t combine evenly and will need to be stirred

GidgetGuinnessOldFashioned

WILDE OSCAR ~ The Guinness Old Fashioned
If I had to list my Top 5 Go-To Cocktails, the Old Fashioned would be on the list. I’ve morphed into quite the bourbon gal and this bonafide classic is one of my favs. Twisting the recipe to include Guinness for St. Patrick’s Day seemed right up my alley. Using Guinness Extra Stout offsets some of the sweetness in the drink and Bulliet Bourbon has a nice spicy note (due to the rye content) which pairs well with the stout. I found this right off the Guinness site, and can’t wait to serve these little gems!

TOOLS :: Mixing glass, cocktail spoon, strainer
GLASS :: Old Fashioned
EXTRAS :: Orange zest, cherry, large square or round ice cube
SERVINGS :: 1 cocktail
INGREDIENTS::
1.5 oz. Bulleit Bourbon
1 oz. Guinness Extra Stout
.5 oz. Simple Syrup {sugar : water = 1:1}
Dash Angostura bitters

HOW TO MAKE IT ::
Add ice to mixing glass and add all ingredients.
Using cocktail spoon stir until well combined and chilled through (30+ stirs).
Strain into ice-filled glass.
Garnish with orange zest and Maraschino cherry

GidgetGuinnessBloodyMary

GUINNESS BLOODY MARY

A Bloody Mary is the classic brunch drink and it’s fun and easy to make at home. It’s also known to help cure a certain headache the morning after a good St. Patrick’s Day party (wink). While this vodka cocktail has endless variations, I fell in love with the addition of Guinness and am planning on keeping the St. Patrick’s Day mood going well into my Saturday morning!

TOOLS :: Cocktail shaker, cocktail spoon
GLASS :: Collins or deep water glass works
EXTRAS :: Celery stalks, lemon wedge or wheel
SERVINGS :: 2 cocktails
INGREDIENTS::
3 oz. quality Vodka
2 oz. Guinness Draught
6 oz. Tomato juice or V8
Juice from one lemon
2 pinches celery salt
2-3 good twists of pepper from pepper mill
3 dashes of Old Bay seafood seasoning
3 squirts each of Worcestershire sauce and your favorite hot sauce

HOW TO MAKE IT ::
Add all ingredients except the beer into an ice filled shaker and shake until chilled.
Strain into ice-filled glasses.
Add Guinness Draught and stir with cocktail spoon to combine.
Garnish with celery stalk and lemon wheel.

Regardless of how you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this year, remember that it’s a Friday night and a time to have a little fun Irish-style! So grab a little Guinness and get into the Irish state of mind.

THE QUINTESSENTIAL MARDI GRAS COCKTAIL

Anyone looking to get their Mardi Gras party started – and quickly – knows that it only takes a few of New Orleans’ signature Hurricane cocktail to do the trick. And if you’ve ever had one you can attest to the fact that they’re difficult to resist. The rum and juice combine into some kind of adult version of Hawaiian Punch with a fancy garnish. The creation of this passion fruit-flavored libation is credited to New Orleans tavern owner Pat O’Brien who poured the concoction into hurricane-lamp-shaped glasses to give away to sailors in the ’40’s. 

If you ever get the chance to visit New Orleans during Mardi Gras, you’ll find the drink all over town – mostly in plastic cups because although drinking is allowed in the streets, glass containers are not. But there’s nothing better than a Hurricane in it’s traditional vessel, so grab a few at BevMo, Target or Bed Bath & Beyond and get ready to celebrate just like your fellow revelers in the French Quarters. 

This Mardi Gras, I decided to take a page out of Pat O’Brien’s cocktail invention book and have a little fun in the Gidget’s Cocktail Lounge Test Kitchen. Truth be told, I couldn’t find any passion fruit juice and decided it was time to come up with a little Gidget twist on the traditional Hurricane. I’ve blind tested these at a few parties and everyone loves my version so I’m confident you’ll be happy with the results. Since I’m all about the classics, I’ve also provided the traditional recipe below which is just as lovely and fun to make.

Gidget Hurricane 2

GIDGET’S TWISTED HURRICANE

TOOLS :: Crushed ice, shaker
GLASS :: Hurricane shaped or large Collins
EXTRAS :: Orange wedge and cherry for garnish
SERVINGS :: 2 cocktails
INGREDIENTS ::
2 oz. Dark Rum (or Dark Spiced Rum)
2 oz. Light Rum
1 oz. Galliano
4 oz. fresh squeezed orange juice
4 oz. unsweetened pineapple juice
2 good tablespoon scoops of “Hawaii’s Own” Paradise Punch frozen juice concentrate*
1 oz. lime juice

HOW TO MAKE IT ::
Fill shaker with ice.
Add all ingredients above.
Fill glasses with crushed ice and strain mixture to fill.
Top with garnish and more crushed ice.

TRADITIONAL HURRICANE – Same tools and instructions as above but with traditional juices.

INGREDIENTS ::
2 oz White rum
2 oz Dark rum
1 oz Lime juice
1 oz Orange Juice
2 oz Passion fruit juice (such as Goya)
.5 oz Simple syrup
.5 oz Grenadine

Gidget Hurricane

COCKTAIL HACKS
I realize that not every home bar comes stocked with fun spirits such as Galliano, so if you don’t have this sweet herbal Italian liqueur in your bar, no worries. As a quick cocktail hack, you can sub-out the Galliano for a tiny dash (less than 1/8 teaspoon) of Anise Extract. I picked this up at my local grocery store and found that it works fine. Also, the “Hawaii’s Own” frozen juice is my go-to frozen favorite (it’s just so easy!), but if you find Passion Fruit Nectar you can use 2 oz. of that in the Gidget’s Twisted Hurricane recipe instead of the frozen concentrate.

New Orleans is a really, really fun place to visit but if you can’t head to the Big Easy this year, either of these recipes will help you party in Mardi Gras style right from home. Grab some party beads and have fun just like you’re in the French Quarters!

5 Steps to THE GREAT PUMPKIN BEER Tasting Party

With Halloween being on a Monday this year, I couldn’t help but think of a way to enjoy the season with a good group of my friends without the mayhem of a full blown Halloween costume party. While I always love a good party, I wanted to find a way to gather friends but take the stress of party planning down a notch. Good news is that I found just the thing and I’m here for you! Think of it this way – everyone is talking about PSL (Pumpkin Spice Latte) season, but I say move over PSL – there’s Pumpkin Beer to enjoy! I know you’ve seen the amazing selection of bottles with orange and fall-hued labels calling from the shelves at BevMo and Costco – Pumpkin beers are out in force! To host this fun night in, all you need is a variety of seasonal brews, some festive snacks and good company! So grab your favorite beer drinking friends and some Pumpkin brews and host a fun tasting party with these easy tips. Here is how to throw a bewitching beer bash.

gidgetpumpkinbeertasting4

STEP ONE :: Set the Scene
Have some fun and enjoy a little seasonal DIY’ing to set the scene for your party. A beer-tasting table should be minimal frills and all fun, so think of this like a visit to a local pub with a bit of personal flair. A rustic wood table topped with a simple burlap runner lays the foundation, while the pumpkin beer bottles and food double as both refreshments and centerpieces. Add a few mini pumpkins, some fall-inspired picks and you’re good to go.

gidgetpumpkinbeertasting1

STEP TWO :: Everything (and everyone) in place
Give everyone a reason to join the table by adding your guests’ names above each place setting. This personalized touch can help you mix up the crowd by dictating seat assignments while also providing a nice take-away gift at the end of the evening. Set casual quilted mason jars at each place setting to keep the vibe easy going. You can use either the 8 oz. size or the 4 oz. sized jars for this event. With the holidays coming up we’ll be providing lots of ways to reuse either size for homemade holiday gifts so pick a size you’re comfortable using and it will work great.

gidgetpumpkinbeergroup1

STEP THREE :: Tap into fall-inspired brews

gidgetpumpkinbeergroup3gidgetpumpkinbeergroup2Since this party is all about the beer, make sure to have some fun and gather at least six or up to eight pumpkin beer varieties. I found that to ensure your guests have fun experimenting with different styles of pumpkin beers I wanted to represent the broad spectrum of lagers, ales, ciders and stouts. The world of beer is booming and most large scale beer companies and micro brewers alike are brewing seasonal beer, you don’t have to understand the difference between a bock and a pale ale in order to throw a great pumpkin beer party. I asked the staff at BevMo and our local Whole Foods Market to give me a variety of beers and they came through with flying colors! Even our local Costco supplied 3 of the amazing beers shown here. What you’re looking for are beers that range in color and variety so have some fun with the selection process and your guests will follow. One essential rule of thumb: beer should be served cold, so keep them in the fridge until ready for tasting.

STEP FOUR :: Get ready to load your plate after some tasting!
Now that your beer menu is ready to go, you need to focus on some simple appetizers to serve to keep your guests from getting too hungry (or a little too tipsy!) during your event. Standard issue snack for beer tasting would of course be pretzels for starters. You can buy pretzel sticks, pretzel twists and even pretzel buns if you want to get fancy. Keep in mind that mustard will impact the flavor of the beer, so keep it simple with your pretzel of choice to keep your guest’s palate clear.

gidgetpumpkinbeertasting2

STEP FIVE ::  Pumpkin beer party time – document the fun!
Now that the party is set and the fun is ready to begin, it’s important to help guests document their thoughts and preferences by providing them with a place to write their tasting notes. I just loved these paper place settings which allow guest to pick the top 4 beers they want to try and write in the name for themselves. I found mine here: http://www.hesterandcook.com/products/KP225 . I worked with TheGoodStuff to create this awesome beer tasting template which is available for download HERE, or simply provide guests with a cute mini notebook for them to use to write down thoughts on each beer. After the party is over, guests can take home their notebook as a fun (and useful!) favor along with their nameplate.

To get the party and the conversation moving, encourage your guests to sample multiple types of beer, starting on the lighter end with pilsners or blonde ales, move up in intensity with some heavier beer with the darker porters and stouts. This can be a fun experience for you and your guests but it’s always helpful for you as a host to encourage a discussion with your guests after tasting each beer to help them reflect on how the beer feels while drinking it and what flavors are pronounced. 

gidgetpumpkinbeertasting5

To help them along, here are some easy suggestions you can provide to direct the conversation and help your guests have a little direction for the tasting:

  1. Look at the beer and describe its color, head (the foam at the top), and consistency. Make a note of this on your placemat or notepad.
  2. Swirl your beer in the glass – this isn’t just for wine tasting! Ask them to pay attention to the aromas that drift from the glass.
  3. Smell the beer. Have them take a couple of quick sniffs with mouth closed, then open. Reflect on the beer’s aroma – make sure they write this down!
  4. Slowly taste each beer by taking a sip and letting the beer sit in their mouth. Note the beer’s body and overall taste, and breathe out during the tasting process. Try sipping the beer again after it’s warmed up a little to note any taste or aroma differences.

gidgetpumpkinbeertasting3

Now that you have a party plan on how to gather friends and partake in the amazing seasonal beers for fall, we hope that you’ll follow our lead and raise a glass to the season! I had a blast tasting all of these beers and encourage you to gather up your friends to do the same.

GIDGET’S PUMPKIN MARTINI

We’ve accepted the fact that fall is here and are ready to cozy up with warm sweaters and festive cocktails. But we aren’t suggesting you only sip Irish coffees for the next three months. This season brings a new roster of autumn-appropriate cocktails for your sipping pleasure.

This drink’s wonder-ingredient is Spicy Pumpkin Infused Vodka which takes a bit of time but is well worth the effort. The great news is that once you’ve made a batch you can sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor with this season-worthy martini. You can also include the recipe with a beautifully packaged bottle of the infused vodka as a hostess gift as you enter into this party season.  Either way, ENJOY!

GIDGET’S PUMPKIN MARTINI

pumpkin-martini

Anything pumpkin makes us happy this time of year, so we wanted to create a cocktail that was the best of these flavors without being overly sweet.

TOOLS :: Cocktail shaker, strainer, 2 small plates
GLASS ::  Martini or Coupe
EXTRAS :: Granulated sugar with Pumpkin Pie Spice for glass rim
SERVINGS :: 2 cocktails

INGREDIENTS :: 
4 oz. Pumpkin Spice Vodka Infusion
2 oz. Captain Morgans Original Spiced Rum (dark)
1 oz. Disaronno liqueur
1 oz. Christian Brothers Honey Brandy
1 oz. Half and Half
2 heaping teaspoons of Pumpkin Butter

HOW TO MAKE IT ::
On a small plate, mix together three teaspoons of granulated sugar and three shakes of pumpkin spice. On second small plate add five tablespoons water. Dip glass rims into water briefly then dip into sugar mixture to rim glasses in pumpkin sugar. Add all ingredients to an ice-filled shaker. Shake well and use a fine wire strainer to double strain the mixture into cocktail glasses.

10-fall-cocktails-cover

 

FALL COCKTAIL ~ MAPLE BACON OLD FASHIONED

We’ve accepted the fact that fall is here and are ready to cozy up with warm sweaters and festive cocktails. But we aren’t suggesting you only sip Irish coffees for the next three months. This season brings a new roster of autumn-appropriate cocktails for your sipping pleasure.

This lovely libation contains a special ingredient – bacon infused bourbon – which is so easy to make you’ll be amazed at how quickly you can ramp-up your Fall cocktail menu with such an easy recipe. You can find the recipe HERE. Once you’ve got that done and proudly sitting on your home bar, mix up this cocktail, surround yourself with friends and relish in the bright foliage of the changing season.

baconbourbonoldfashioned

MAPLE BACON OLD FASHIONED
The savory and smokey flavor of our bacon infused bourbon mixes with velvety maple syrup for this unbelievable fall twist on an old-school cocktail.

TOOLS ::  Cocktail mixing glass, barspoon and strainer
GLASS :: Old Fashioned
EXTRAS :: Orange twist for garnish
SERVINGS :: 2 cocktails

INGREDIENTS :: 

  • 4 oz. Bacon Infused Bourbon
  • 1/2 oz. Grade B maple syrup
  • 2-3 dashes of Angostura bitters
  • Twist of orange

HOW TO MAKE IT ::
Combine bourbon, maple syrup and bitters in a mixing glass with ice. Using barspoon, stir gently until well chilled. Strain mixture into ice filled glasses. Twist orange over glass and use as garnish.

FALL INSPIRED SPIRIT INFUSIONS – BACON BOURBON

This is the first week of Autumn and I’m so ready to dive into the new flavors of the season. Admittedly, I’m a huge fan of bourbon so this recipe has become a personal favorite so I’m happy to share it as part of our Fall inspired infusion line up.

I’ve decided to start this Fall season with a series of infusions that will have you enjoying the season’s best flavors: warm vanilla, inviting pumpkin and even savory smoky bacon. If you like the creativity of cooking and combining flavors–and, like me, you mix a few cocktails now and again – then infusions are a great place to play around and have fun personalizing your home bar. So for the next few days we’re introducing a series of fall-inspired spirit infusions (and a few cocktails too!) for you to kick off the season.

Spirit infusions are very simple. You soak ingredients in a base alcohol until you like the taste. Sounds fun and easy, right? Infusions require a waiting time to properly yield the best results and most robust flavors. Get these infusions started now and your patience will pay off in a few weeks.

BACON INFUSED BOURBON

baconbourbon-ingredients

This combination of flavors is just as delicious as it sounds and the infusion process is simpler than it sounds. With the recipe below and a bit of patience, you’ll be enjoying bacon in your beverage in no time.

TOOLS ::  Large glass container with sealed lid, skillet, mixing bowls (2), cheesecloth

INGREDIENTS :: 
4 slices of smoked bacon (get fresh-cut bacon from your butcher if possible)
750 ml Bourbon

baconbourbon-step1

HOW TO MAKE IT ::

In a large skillet cook bacon until done. Remove bacon slices and set aside. Allow bacon fat to cool slightly. Using a small mixing bowl and cheesecloth, strain bacon fat through cheesecloth to remove all bacon or cooked bits. Once strained, measure out 1.5 oz of bacon fat and set aside. In a large glass bowl combine the bottle of bourbon, reserved bacon fat and 2 slices of bacon.

Cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 4-6 hours. After the 4-6 hour infusion, move bowl into the freezer and freeze for about 8 hours or until the fat has frozen solid. Carefully remove solidified fat and bacon slices from bowl and discard. Strain the bourbon through 2 layers of cheesecloth back into your original bottle or other storage container.

fall-spirit-infusions

The key to all infusions will be to choose a decent quality brand for your base spirit. There’s no need to break the bank for a premium variety, but avoid the cheapest ones because no amount of spice will take away the harshness of cheap alcohol. So get in your kitchen and have fun adding a twist to fall’s scrumptious flavors.

Check out our other Fall Inspired infusions – Spicy Pumpkin Vodka and Vanilla Bean Vodka for more infusing fun!

FALL INSPIRED SPIRIT INFUSIONS ~ SPICY PUMPKIN VODKA

Oh, how I love the fall season! Now is the time to step away from the lemons and limes of summer and head into the cozy cocktails and flavors of autumn with these spirit infusions.

This is the second of three recipes that will have you enjoying the season’s best: warm vanilla, inviting pumpkin and even savory smoky bacon. If you like the creativity of cooking and combining flavors–and, like us, you mix a few cocktails now and again – then infusions are a great place to play around and have fun personalizing your home bar.

SPICY PUMPKIN VODKA

pumpkin-ingredients

A lot of spirit infusions start with vodka. This spirit is an ideal base for liqueurs because it’s colorless and flavorless, making it the perfect start for absorbing your flavors.

TOOLS ::
Large glass container with sealed lid, ice cream scooper, vegetable peeler, foil-lined baking sheet and cheesecloth

pumpkin-step-1

 

 

INGREDIENTS :: pumpkin-step-2
2 cups raw sugar or kabocha pumpkin
3+ cups vodka (we used Kirkland Signature Vodka from Costco and for the price it works great)
1/2 cup brown sugar
Pumpkin pie spice
2 cinnamon sticks
2 whole cloves
2 whole vanilla beans
4 large pieces of candied ginger, cut in half

HOW TO MAKE IT ::
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut pumpkin in half and using ice cream scooper, scrape away all seeds until clean. Using vegetable peeler, peel away all skin from the pumpkin. Cut into 1/4” chunks and place onto foil-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle all pieces with brown sugar and pumpkin pie spice. Bake until just tender, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Place cooled pumpkin, cinnamon sticks, vanilla beans (do not cut beans as they will overpower the other flavors) and candied ginger into glass container. Pour vodka over all ingredients and seal. Let infusion sit at room temperature in a dark space for 10 to14 days, shaking mixture gently every day to combine flavors. Strain infused vodka through cheesecloth to capture all ingredients and funnel final produce back into vodka bottle.

fall-spirit-infusions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spirit infusions are very simple. You soak ingredients in a base alcohol until you like the taste. Sounds fun and easy, right? Infusions require a waiting time to properly yield the best results and most robust flavors. Get these infusions started now and your patience will pay off in a few weeks.

The key to all infusions will be to choose a decent quality brand for your base spirit. There’s no need to break the bank for a premium variety, but avoid the cheapest ones because no amount of spice will take away the harshness of cheap alcohol. So get in your kitchen and have fun adding a twist to fall’s scrumptious flavors.

Check out our other Fall Inspired infusions – Bacon Infused Bourbon and Vanilla Bean Vodka for more infusing fun!

 

 

FALL INSPIRED SPIRIT INFUSIONS ~ VANILLA BEAN VODKA

Oh, how I love the Fall season! Now is the time to step away from the lemons and limes of summer and head into the cozy cocktails and flavors of autumn with these spirit infusions.

I’ve decided to start this Fall season with a series of infusions that will have you enjoying the season’s best flavors: warm vanilla, inviting pumpkin and even savory smoky bacon. If you like the creativity of cooking and combining flavors–and, like me, you mix a few cocktails now and again – then infusions are a great place to play around and have fun personalizing your home bar. So for the next few days we’re introducing a series of fall-inspired spirit infusions (and a few cocktails too!) for you to kick off the season.

Spirit infusions are very simple. You soak ingredients in a base alcohol until you like the taste. Sounds fun and easy, right? Infusions require a waiting time to properly yield the best results and most robust flavors. Get these infusions started now and your patience will pay off in a few weeks.

FRENCH VANILLA VODKA
This infusion is oh-so simple and yields a delicious product. If you’re planning ahead, this is a fantastic DIY holiday or hostess gift. Simply place in smaller decorative bottles and voila!

vanillavodka

TOOLS ::
Glass bottle
Sharp paring knife

INGREDIENTS ::
750ml vodka
2 whole vanilla beans (go for quality beans)

HOW TO MAKE IT ::
Using paring knife, slice vanilla beans down the middle of the pod with the tip of the knife. Place beans into vodka bottle and seal.
Let stand for a minimum of 5 days, up to 2 weeks.
The longer the infusion time, the more robust the vanilla flavor. You will notice the vodka will turn a nice warm brown shade within an hour and after 2 weeks that color will darken over time.
Store in a cool, dark place during the infusion process and be sure to shake your bottle every few days to help distribute the flavor. At the end of 2 weeks, remove the vanilla beans and discard.

fall-spirit-infusions

The key to all infusions will be to choose a decent quality brand for your base spirit. There’s no need to break the bank for a premium variety, but avoid the cheapest ones because no amount of spice will take away the harshness of cheap alcohol. So get in your kitchen and have fun adding a twist to fall’s scrumptious flavors.

Check out our other Fall Inspired infusions – Bacon Infused Bourbon and Spicy Pumpkin Vodka for more infusing fun!

3 SUMMERTIME LEMONADE RECIPES

Lemonade is the perfect combination of sweet and tart, making it just the right refreshment to reach for when you’re looking to quench your thirst. There’s just nothing better than taking that first big swig of ice cold lemonade when you’re outside enjoying a hot day. But classic lemonade — a simple combination of lemon juice, sugar, and water — is really just the starting point for so many exciting summer lemonade recipes.

I realize that sometimes simple is perfect. I love a three-ingredient recipe myself, but when you’re ready to add a little flair and have a few friends over to celebrate all that beautiful sunshine, adding a boozy element to that simple lemonade makes things much more fun!

So why go for plain lemonade when you can add a few simple ingredients and take that classic lemonade up a notch? I’ve come up with a few quick summer lemonade recipes that still provide the cooling refreshment of lemonade while surprising your guests with a beautiful burst of flavor.

Let’s get things started for all you DIYers out there. Here’s the recipe for a classic lemonade to use as a base for the following cocktail and mocktail or to simply enjoy on its own.

GidgetClassicLemonade

GIDGET’S CLASSIC LEMONADE
Making a batch of lemonade is just the thing for adding the perfect level of summer to picnics and backyard BBQs alike. Having a pitcher on hand in the fridge means that fresh lemony flavor is just a glass away, so mix up a batch of this classic lemonade and get ready for some summer drinks.

INGREDIENTS ::
Note: The bonus of making your own lemonade is you can control the level of sweetness — or tartness — by adding more lemons or sugar to your liking.

  • 1-1/2 cups freshly-squeezed lemon juice (from about 12+ lemons, I prefer Meyer lemons)
  • 1-3/4 cups sugar
  • 8 cups water
  • Lemon slices to garnish

HOW TO MAKE IT ::

  1. In a small saucepan, combine sugar and 1 cup of water.
  2. Bring to a boil and stir to dissolve sugar, about 3-4 minutes.
  3. Cool mixture to room temperature.
  4. In pitcher, stir together cooled syrup, lemon juice, and remaining 7 cups of water.
  5. Before serving, add lemon to garnish and plenty of ice.

A SUNSHINE DAY LEMONADE COCKTAIL

It's a SUNSHINE DAY!

It’s a SUNSHINE DAY!

There’s nothing like lemonade in the middle of the day or to kickstart your early evening dinner party with friends. A sweet and sour classic lemonade is mighty tasty indeed and while it’s is great on its own, a little jigger or two of flavor-enhancing liquor certainly doesn’t hurt (and gets your party rolling). This sophisticated cocktail owes its flavor pop to a combo of elderflower liquor and Italian limoncello. Bellissimo!

TOOLS :: Cocktail shaker, jigger
GLASS :: Stemless champagne flute or stemless wine glass
EXTRAS :: Lemon twist
SERVINGS ::  2 cocktails

INGREDIENTS :: 

  • 4 ounces vodka
  • 2 ounces classic lemonade (above) or fresh, purchased lemonade
  • 2 ounces St. Germain elderflower liquor
  • 1 ounces Limoncello
  • Club soda
  • Optional: Juice of 1/2 Meyer lemon

HOW TO MAKE IT ::

  1. Fill each glass to the top with ice and add lemon twist.
  2. In ice-filled cocktail shaker, add remaining ingredients except club soda.
  3. Shake well to mix all ingredients and distribute between glasses.
  4. Top with club soda and stir to combine.

I LOVE BLUEBERRIES! MOCKTAIL

Here’s a non-alcoholic twist on the classic lemonade that will make the non-drinkers at your party feel loved. It’s time to build a drink that looks just as beautiful and specially prepared as its boozy counterpart. Made with an easy blueberry simple syrup, this summer lemonade recipe brings tangy, sweet, and refreshing together in a trifecta of summer wonder. The perfect way to cool yourself down on a hot day!

GidgetBlueberryLemonade1

 

TOOLS ::  Saucepan, fine wire sieve, jigger
GLASS :: Collins or highball
EXTRAS :: Lemon wheels and blueberries for garnish
SERVINGS :: 4 cocktails

INGREDIENTS :: 

  • 3/4 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3/4 cup classic lemonade (above) or fresh, purchased lemonade
  • 1 can of San Pellegrino Limonata sparkling lemon beverage
  • Lots of ice!
  • Lemons cut into wheels

HOW TO MAKE IT ::
Blueberry Simple Syrup 

  1. Combine first three ingredients in a saucepan and heat over medium until sugar dissolves.
  2. Bring to a boil and reduce heat.
  3. Simmer until blueberries have broken down, about 3-5 minutes.
  4. Strain blueberries through a fine wire sieve to remove solids.
  5. Set syrup aside and let cool. Keep any leftover syrup chilled in your refrigerator for up to one month. 

Blueberry Lemonade 

  1. Fill each glass halfway with ice and add lemon wheels. Once lemons are inserted, fill rest of the glass with ice.
  2. Add 1 ounce of blueberry syrup to each glass.
  3. Add lemonade or lemon juice to within 1 1/2-2 inches from the top of each glass.
  4. Top with San Pellegrino Limonata sparking lemon (or club soda or lemon-flavored sparkling water).
  5. Stir to combine and garnish with blueberries.

Spike it! This cocktail would pair wonderfully with either some citrus vodka or gin, so if you want to turn up the fun a little on this recipe, simply add 1 1/2 oz of either spirit after you add the blueberry syrup!

 

TIPSY ARNOLD PALMER ~ A SUMMERTIME CLASSIC

Have you ever noticed that as soon as summer hits, most things in life become less complicated? Life in the summer simply slows down a bit. Meals during the summer equate to anything quick on the BBQ, grilled veggies and a salad. Summer simplicity even takes over my wardrobe. I just reach for that light and flowing summer dress, slip on my jazzy sandals and I’m out the door, ready for the day.

Even when our family schedule boasts errands and to-do lists, there’s always an undercurrent of an upcoming vacation to calm me, or the promise of summer evenings that go on forever that beckon me back into that slower summertime pace.

For those uncomplicated summer get-togethers and impromptu afternoons on the front porch watching the sunset, I’ve got a drink for you that partners well with the effortless mood of the season. Enter the Arnold Palmer, a classic cocktail made by combining equal parts of tea and lemonade with ice.

GidgetTipsyArnoldPalmerSingle

While I think we can safely say that the combination of lemon and tea have been enjoyed for centuries, it was golfing great Arnold Palmer who made the mixture famous during the 1960s and we’ve been enjoying his namesake ever since. When you think about it, there’s nothing better to quench your thirst and cool you down more than either ice tea or lemonade so combining the two is sheer genius!

Even though it’s tough to enhance a true classic like iced tea or the Arnold Palmer, I’m going to add a little booze to the mix for a truly delicious — and simple — summer cocktail that you can have at the ready to enjoy on one of those awesome summer evenings.

TIPSY ARNOLD PALMER

Get started by making your Arnold Palmer base of tea and lemonade. Once you’ve got these key ingredients made and chilling in the fridge, simply grab a glass, add a little booze and you’re ready any time for celebrating or just satisfying that summertime thirst. Besides, I think spiked tea is the best tea of all!

GidgetTipsyAPOverhead

TOOLS ::  Saucepan for boiling, measuring cups, pitcher for chilling and muddler
GLASS ::  Mason jar in any size
EXTRAS :: Oranges, lemons (make wheels, wedges, or spirals) and mint for garnish
SERVINGS ::  1 pitcher

INGREDIENTS ::
Iced tea
6 cups water
8 bags of black tea
1/2 cup sweetening agent (honey, turbinado sugar, crystals, or granulated sugar)

Lemonade
The bonus of making your own lemonade is you can control the level of sweetness — or tartness — by adding more lemons or sugar to your liking. If you’re short on time and just want to get your party started, a good quality pre-made lemonade is perfect!
For all you DIY’ers out there, check out our Classic Gidget+LaRue Lemonade, check out our recipe HERE.

For each cocktail
1.5 ounces Wild Turkey American Honey Bourbon

GidgetTipsyArnoldPalmerWildTurkey

HOW TO MAKE IT ::
Iced tea
 – Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan.
– Remove from heat, add tea bags and let steep for 5-10 minutes.
– Remove tea bags and add sweetening agent of your choice, stirring until dissolved.
– Taste for your desired level of sweetness, adding sweetener until you’re happy with the       flavor and set aside.

Tipsy Arnold Palmer
 – In a pitcher, combine equal parts of sweetened tea and lemonade and let chill for at least 1 hour or refrigerate overnight. Stir again before serving.
– Garnish pitcher with citrus slices.
– Place a few slices of lemon and orange in bottom of each cocktail glass and muddle gently to release flavors of citrus.
– Add bourbon and fill glass to top with ice.
– Fill glass with Arnold Palmer tea/lemonade mixture and give it a good stir.
– Garnish with mint and additional citrus.

GidgetTipsyArnoldPalmerDouble

TIP :: The “Vodka Hack”

If you aren’t willing to dive into the sweet deliciousness that is Wild Turkey American Honey Bourbon (even though I really think you should try this!), you can always keep your tipsy Arnold Palmer more on the lemony side of things by using only lemons and Citrus Vodka instead of the oranges and bourbon.

This version keeps the flavor very refreshing and you’ll be amazed at how you can’t even tell you’re drinking spiked tea!

TIP #2 :: The “Life is Busy Hack”

While making fresh lemonade and black iced tea will make this cocktail epic, sometimes we need to embrace the simplicity of summer and cut some corners to keep life easy.

I found Arizona Sweet Tea in jugs at the dollar store nearby and when added to some store-bought lemonade, it did the trick in a pinch.

The mixture will certainly be sweeter than making your own tea and lemonade, but you can balance that out with fresh lemons and oranges muddled into the drink or added to your chilled pitcher.

CELEBRATE the 4th WITH A WATERMELON MARGARITA

Across the US today, Americans will celebrate the 240th anniversary of our country’s independence with parades, fireworks, rodeos and concerts. The 4th of July festivities often include picnics and parties, complete with that summer party staple ~ the watermelon. What is it about those juicy slices of watermelon that scream SUMMER?! I love it! But that’s not all. I love that you can use it in a cocktail too. This WATERMELON MARGARITA is fun to make and bursting with all the fantastic flavor of summer a watermelon has to offer. Add a little tequila, an orange and you’re off to 4th of July greatness! Can’t ya just taste it?!

Cheers to America!

WATERMELON MARGARITA

Make the watermelon juice ahead of time to speed up production ~ trust us...you'll want more than one!

Make the watermelon juice ahead of time to speed up production ~ trust us…you’ll want more than one!

TOOLS :: Shaker, blender or muddler
GLASS :: Highball
EXTRAS ::  Kosher salt to rim glass, straw
SERVINGS :: 2 cocktails

INGREDIENTS ::
*  3 c. diced watermelon, juiced and strained {see below}
*  4 oz. silver Tequila {we like the lighter flavor of a silver with the watermelon}
*  5 oz. fresh watermelon juice
*  ½ fresh orange, juiced
* 1 oz. Cointreau or Triple Sec
* 1 heaping tbsp. of Minute Maid LIMEADE frozen concentrate

HOW TO MAKE IT ::
Salt rims of glasses with some Kosher (or margarita) salt.
Fill each glass to the top with ice.
In an ice filled cocktail shaker, add all liquid ingredients and shake it like you mean it! You need to really blend those ingredients together, so shake for about a minute.
Strain cocktail into ice-filled glasses

To make the watermelon juice: Place diced watermelon in blender and juice until all chunks are gone. Strain through a fine wire mesh strainer to capture all pulp. Discard pulp. If you don’t have a blender, you can always muddle your watermelon in a shaker and strain. Works just as well!