REFRESHING CUCUMBER COCKTAIL ~ THE ROYAL KEW

Garden-to-glass ~ The Royal Kew

Garden-to-glass ~ The Royal Kew

Ok, so here’s the deal: Cocktail-friendly plants can be grown in your garden, and with backyard entertaining just a few months ahead of us, this is the time of year to take full advantage of that bounty. If you’re still in the planning stages of your garden, there are a plethora of plants and herbs to consider in your planting plan to bring that garden freshness right into your summer cocktails!

Doesn’t this make gardening seem all the more exciting? You can venture into your garden and encounter a seasonal array of cocktail mixers and garnishes to create a whole new farm-to-glass revolution of your own right in your backyard. There are lots of herbs — think basil and mint — that go beyond simple salad enhancers and add a whole new level to your cocktail. Flowers such as a simple sprig of lavender can elevate your garnish game. Then you have the wonderful world of citrus with lemons, limes, grapefruits, and oranges. The possibilities are endless! And let’s not forget vegetables — they’re right there just waiting to be infused or muddled as the star attraction of your next cocktail party.

So where to start? I’ve got a delicious cocktail that comes straight out of the garden to get you headed in the right direction. The balance and garden power of this cucumber cocktail comes from the refreshing flavor of cucumbers, the delicate and oh-so-delicious floral sweetness of St. Germain (made from Elderflowers), and fresh lime juice. Muddle in aromatic spearmint and add botanical-rich gin as your base spirit and you’re on your way to garden-fresh greatness.

It’s true, this cocktail includes a vegetable, an herb, a flower-based liquor, and citrus, so it’s pretty much the ultimate garden cocktail, wouldn’t you say? While you may not have the exact ingredients growing quite yet, get those seed packets ready because after one sip of this libation you’re going to want these ingredients at your fingertips all summer long!

PREP YOUR GARDEN

Outside of planting a lime tree (which I highly recommend — I love my Tahitian lime tree!), there are two plants for you to add to your garden this summer to fuel making this cocktail all season: Cucumber and spearmint.

Cocktail_CucumberCucumber
Few foods are as cool as a cucumber. These low-calorie veggies contain many nutritional benefits, including hydrating properties and valuable nutrients. Cucumbers are a great addition to your garden and belong to the same botanical family as melons (including watermelon and cantaloupe). In order to get your garden ready for this cocktail, make sure you’re planting slicing cucumbers vs.pickling cucumbers, which are generally smaller and have thinner skins.

SpearmintSpearmint

Spearmint is a pleasantly aromatic herb packed with numerous health benefiting vitamins, antioxidants, and phyto-nutrients. Often overlooked due to its more famous garden cousin mint, spearmint brings a subtle hint of flavor to cocktails where mint packs a real punch. Give this herb a try and you’ll be thrilled with the results. 

 

GIN FOR THE WIN!

I know there are many of you out there who thought, “Oh no, it’s made with gin? I don’t like gin!” Well, it’s time you gave gin a chance.

From a garden freshness standpoint, you can’t get a spirit any closer to the delicious herbs of our world than with gin. While the origins of the clear liquor are often questioned, someone most likely in Holland or Belgium began to infuse alcohol with juniper berries and a variety of other botanicals way back in the Middle Ages. (Think of this spirit as the first flavored vodka!) Gin is still made this way today and each brand has its own recipe and techniques for infusion.

While all gin has some juniper flavor, the other botanicals highlighted in gins today can include a wide array of herbs, vegetables, flowers, fruits, spices, and even tea. So please check out the wide flavor range of gins available now at shops like BevMo and give gin a chance to blow you away with it’s refreshing and summer-sunshine-and-herbs-in-a-glass flavor.

CUCUMBER COCKTAIL RECIPE

National Geographic’s list of the Top Ten Most Beautiful Gardens named the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew as number two in the list. With over 326 acres and 100 world-class attractions created over the past 250 years, what’s not to love about Kew Gardens in Surrey, England?

And since it’s Great Britain who singlehandedly made gin famous over the years with their world-class London Dry Gin, I thought it only fitting to give a shout out to our gin-imbibing partners across the pond.

GidgetGardenCocktail2THE ROYAL KEW

TOOLS :: Mixing glass, muddler, cocktail shaker, metal mesh cocktail strainer
GLASS :: Chilled Coupe
EXTRAS ::  Cucumbers for garnish — make spears, wheels, wafers, or spirals
SERVINGS :: 2 cocktails

INGREDIENTS ::

  • 2 ounces St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
  • 10-12 chunks peeled English cucumber
  • 10-12 spearmint leaves
  • 4 ounces gin
  • 2 ounces fresh lime juice

Gidget_GardenCocktail_Muddle

HOW TO MAKE IT ::
In a mixing glass, add cucumber, mint and St. Germain. Using your muddler, gently massage the cucumber and mint — you aren’t trying to pulverize them, you’re muddling to extract juice from the cucumbers and essential oils from spearmint leaves. Go easy!

Add gin and lime juice into a cocktail shaker, then add in muddled ingredients from the mixing glass. Add ice and shake vigorously.

Using metal mesh strainer, double strain into chilled coupe and garnish with cucumber.

EXPAND YOUR GARDEN ~ AND YOUR COCKTAIL MENU!

For a look back at other cocktails that can utilize the herbs, fruits, and flowers from your garden (or local farmers market), take a peek at a few of my other garden-fresh recipes. As if you weren’t excited enough to get started gardening!

  • Blueberry Basil Cocktails: These two cocktails – The ZIGGY and The VIOLET BEAUREGARDE use a basil and fresh blueberry simple syrup (and it’s simple to make!) to get you started on a cocktail journey you won’t regret.
  • BACKYARD MOJO :  I created this cocktail to celebrate the minty goodness of a mojito and added garden fresh strawberries and lemons for a new twist on the classic.

FOR THE LOVE OF CANDY ~ SKITTLES VODKA IN 5 STEPS

As the weather starts to tease us with spring flowers and warm sunshine, I decided to create a tasty Easter brunch cocktail for you. While the kids have their baskets in hand, searching frantically for colorful Easter eggs hidden between blades of grass and the occasional flower pot, it’s cocktail time for the grown-ups! Where there’s Easter brunch, there are delicious beverages that abound…and we’re not just talking about bubbly Mimosas. This year for your Easter brunch, we’ve decided to take it up a notch on the fun meter and let’s just say there’s candy involved. Add a little vodka and what we have is the perfect brunch cocktail bar – a self-serve Skittles Vodka station! With a little planning ahead, Skittles Vodka brings all the colors of Spring right to your table.

TASTE THE RAINBOW – 5 STEPS to SKITTLES VODKA
When you think of Easter treats, it’s classic candies that often come to mind, like chocolate bunnies or Peeps. For the adults at your celebration, a brightly hued cocktail could also be considered a special treat and nothing beats a frozen bottle of Skittle-fruit-infused vodka. You’ll need to plan 2 days in advance to make your Skittles Vodka, but with only 2 ingredients and a little patience, you will be thrilled with the results. Let’s get started!

TOOLS ::
5 – 8.5 oz glass bottles or flasks with seals – I found mine at The Container Store online
5 cups for separating each Skittle color
Small funnel
Cone coffee filters – 10-20 filters depending on how much you want to strain
Mason jars for straining

INGREDIENTS ::
1.75L bottle Vodka – you don’t need the most expensive vodka, but stay away from the cheap ones
2 large bags of Skittles

STEP ONE

STEP ONE

STEP ONE :: Prep and Organize
Organizing your table with all tools and ingredients ahead of time is essential. Make sure you’ve pre-washed all your bottles or flasks ahead of time. You may want to cover the area in paper because things can get a little sticky. Be sure everything you need is right at hand and things will go quickly.

STEP TWO

STEP TWO

STEP TWO :: Separate your Skittle Flavors
Pour all your Skittles onto the table and start separating them into individual colors. Place each color into it’s own container to keep them from rolling all over the place. You’ll need about 50-60 Skittles per 8.5 oz. bottle.

STEP THREE

STEP THREE

STEP THREE :: Add Skittles and Vodka to Bottles
Place each color of Skittles into it’s own bottle. Using the small funnel, pour vodka into each bottle, within about a half inch or more from the top. You want to leave a little room at the top so don’t fill it all the way.  You should now have 5 bottles with Skittles soaking in the bottom. Give each bottle a good shake and you’ll see the color quickly present itself. You’ll let these bottles sit overnight for the best flavor infusion. Every few hours, make sure to give each bottle a really good shake to help the Skittles dissolve. I shook mine about 4-5 times each to really activate that color and flavor.

STEP FOUR

STEP FOUR

STEP FOUR :: Straining
Here’s where you’re going to need the most time and patience. Your Skittles infusion will now have a bunch of white gunk floating at the top of the bottle from the inside of the Skittles. We need to strain this out, so grab your Mason jar or other cup along with the coffee filters. Fit the coffee filter onto the jar and wrap excess filter around edge to secure. Pour fluid from each color into a jar, through the filter. You’ll have to wait as the infusion soaks through, then pour another bit in until all the liquid has been filtered. If the filter clogs with the white gunk, use a spoon to scrape it away or simply change the filter to a new one (that’s what I did). You can filter out the white Skittles gunk twice if you’d like it to be more clear and if you have the time, I recommend this. Now you’ve got 5 bottles of Skittles infused vodka!

STEP FIVE :: Freeze and Serve
First things first – get those bottles in the freezer! You’ll want to chill these until you’re ready to serve and since vodka doesn’t freeze, you’re fine placing directly in the freezer. Now it’s time to set up your Easter Skittles Vodka Bar. Since the sweetness of the Skittles vodka carries quite a powerful flavor punch, the best way to serve this cocktail – and stay oh-so calorie conscience – is to simply add Club Soda!

Gidget_SkittlesVodka_TheBar

Set the scene for your self-serve bar with a shot glass (for measuring a shot of vodka per drink), a bin of ice, plenty of tall glasses and some Club Soda and you’re ready to go. Guests will love picking their favorite Skittles flavor for their cocktail and trust me…they’ll be coming back for more taste testing as the Easter festivities continue!

BONUS ROUND!
If you’re not hosting an Easter brunch yourself, Skittles Vodka makes a great hostess gift! Simply add a nice hang tag (we got these from The Container Store) with a personalize note and your hostess will be thrilled at your thoughtfulness.

The perfect hostess gift!

The perfect hostess gift!

Get your bunny ears and Easter bonnets ready, as Easter is fast approaching! If you’re ready to put in about 2 days of planning and preparation, you can “wow!” your family and friends with this colorful and tasty treat. So between the egg hunts and filling all those Easter baskets for the kids, it’s important to remember to have some adult treats, too — cocktails included!

MY GOODNESS, MY GUINNESS – AN IRISH MILKSHAKE!

With St. Patrick’s Day right around the corner, I can’t help but mentally flip through visions of the many quintessential St. Patrick’s Day icons. Think Leprechauns and corned beef and cabbage served on menus throughout town. Think mugs of green beer and shots of Jameson’s Irish Whiskey along with “Kiss Me I’m Irish” t-shirt-clad friends. Yes, March is here and it’s time to celebrate all things green, Irish and festive so we’re presenting a drink you’ll soon add to your annual St. Patty’s Day party line-up – a Guinness Stout Milkshake. The best-known of Irish beers, Guinness is a dry stout beer that originated in the brewery of Arthur Guinness in 1759 at St. James Gate, Dublin. And while there are stories and even books written about how to properly enjoy a Guinness (including the science of perfecting the perfect pour into a pint glass!), we’ve found a way to build on this beauty of a beer by making it into a milkshake worthy of even the King of all Leprechauns! Enter Jameson’s Irish Whiskey and some chocolate ice cream and this beloved Irish beer enters a whole new level of St. Patrick’s Day greatness. This milkshake is easy to construct with only 3 ingredients, it’s delicious and as soon as you make it for your friends everyone will be asking for the recipe!

Gidget_GuinnessMilkshake

GUINNESS STOUT MILKSHAKE

TOOLS :: Blender
GLASS :: Pint glass
EXTRAS :: Canned whip cream and dark chocolate syrup for garnish
SERVINGS :: 2 milkshakes
INGREDIENTS::
4 cups Chocolate (or vanilla) ice cream
2 shots Jameson’s Irish Whiskey
1 bottle Guinness Irish Stout

HOW TO MAKE IT :: Add all ingredients to blender in the order listed above. Blend until smooth. Pour contents into pint glasses. Garnish with swirl of whipped cream and ribbon of chocolate syrup.

As you and your friends happily sip away at this delicious Irish treat, you can impress your friends further by explaining to them that not only is Guinness beer famous worldwide (it’s served in 150 countries), but it’s also the reason the Guinness Book of World Records exists! The idea for a “book of records” began in the early 1950s when Sir Hugh Beaver, the Managing Director for the Guinness Brewery created the very first book and provided it as an advertising promotional item to pubs that served Guinness beer! The first edition of the book even carried the historic “Guinness Irish Harp” logo on its cover, much like every bottle of Guinness displays to this day.

So feel free to proudly sport that “Kiss Me, I’m Irish!” t-shirt this year and impress your friends with a little Guinness Stout history and an amazing Irish Milkshake that will make you re-think ever reaching for another green beer on St. Pat’s Day!

Gidget_GuinnessMilkshake3

CELEBRATE SUPER BOWL 50 SAN FRANCISCO STYLE!

Looking for a big game cocktail to serve at your Super Bowl party? The San Francisco Bay Area is host to this epic 50 year NFL celebration, so we thought we’d take some inspiration from the City by the Bay and it’s storied cocktail history to bring you a local cocktail that everyone will love! The city’s Barbary Coast played host to many a gold miner looking to strike it rich during the Gold Rush in the mid-1800’s and bartenders in the area used the exotic ingredients coming into San Francisco’s port to invent new drinks. There are at least 5 cocktails known to have been invented in San Francisco Bay Area bars.

The list of cocktails reads much like a favorite bar menu and includes such classics as the Martini (invented in Martinez, north of San Francisco), Pisco Punch and the ever-famous Mai Tai. It’s true! This legend of a cocktail was created by Victor Bergeron, aka Trader Vic. Trader Vic’s original bar was in Oakland, a Bay Area city. And when it comes right down to it, who doesn’t love a Mai Tai?! This cocktail is so darn tasty and is the perfect crowd pleaser for a party like the Super Bowl. To play up the 50-year NFL celebration we’re going to add a touch of gold and twist the name a bit, but the deliciousness of this drink will not disappoint.

You'll score extra points with your guests when you serve up this cocktail!

You’ll score extra points with your guests when you serve up this cocktail!

THE EXTRA POINT
No paper umbrellas or tiki mugs needed here – go simple with some mint and a glittering gold rim for the perfect Super Bowl 50 party drink.

TOOLS :: Cocktail shaker
GLASS :: Collins
EXTRAS :: Gold sanding sugar, lime wheel and mint for garnish
SERVINGS :: 2 cocktails
INGREDIENTS ::

  • 2 oz. fresh lime juice
  • 4 oz. Aged Rum or Dark Rum
  • 1 oz. Orgeat syrup (otherwise known as Almond syrup ~ Torani’s is great)
  • 1 oz. Orange Curacao
  • 1/2 oz. Simple Syrup (1:1 sugar to water)
  • Lots of ice!

HOW TO MAKE IT :: Add ice to shaker. Add all liquid ingredients. Shake it like you mean it! You need to really blend those ingredients together, so shake for about a minute. Pour shaker contents into cocktail glass without straining. Garnish with lime wheel and mint sprig.

Gidget_TheExtraPoint2

Start making a little party history for yourself and serve this pitcher-style with a line up of pre-garnished glasses and you’ll be “cheering” all the way into the 4th quarter! Simply multiply the ingredients for the number of guests you’ll be serving, keep the mixture chilled until needed and place the ice in a bucket next to your glasses. Guests can make their own cocktails and you can enjoy the game.

If you’re in charge of hosting a SB50 viewing party this year and need some amazing food, check out our TheGoodStuff article HERE. We collaborated with TheGoodStuff to create a cocktail party worthy of this big event so check it out because we’ve got your menu all planned out for you!

YOUR GO-TO CHRISTMAS COCKTAIL

There’s one word that keeps coming up for me during this holiday season: simple. So when I found this cocktail, it was like the Holy Grail of easy-yet-elegant holiday drinks. In the interest of keeping this post equally simple {since if you’re like me you’re probably freaking out about the fact that Christmas is now only 5 days away}, I’m introducing you to a cocktail that will surely become your go-to holiday drink. THE POINSETTIA! Serve this drink at a brunch with friends, at your next holiday party or enjoy it after a long day of shopping. Bottom line ~ it’s easy and delish so I’m sure you’ll fall in love with it like I did. Enjoy!

Festive bubbly!

Festive bubbly!

THE POINSETTIA

TOOLS :: Citrus peeler
GLASS :: Flute
EXTRAS ::  Orange peel spiral – 2” long
SERVINGS :: 1 cocktail

INGREDIENTS* ::
1 ½  oz. Cranberry Juice Cocktail
3 oz. Chilled Champagne

HOW TO MAKE IT ::

  • Add Cranberry Juice cocktail to flute
  • Top with Champagne
  • Twist orange peel spiral directly over top of cocktail and drop into drink

* NOTE :: If you’re in the mood to add a bit more punch to this cocktail you can do so with just one extra ingredient :: vodka. For a festive alternative, in your flute pour 1 oz. vodka and reduce cranberry juice to only 1 oz. Stir to combine. Add crushed ice to fill flute. Top drink off with champagne and garnish as above.

DON’T THROW AWAY YOUR PUMPKINS!

Picture this :: Frosty the Snowman was a happy, jolly pumpkin! There’s an easy way to transition your pumpkins into the Christmas season. You can make a Pumpkin Snowman! Recycle your fall pumpkins with just a little white paint, an old scarf and a hat. It truly is that easy, so follow along and we’ll show you how to brighten up your front porch this season.

I know this is a big stray from my cocktail posts, but if you’d like to sip on a lovely holiday libation while building your Pumpkin Snowman, check out my Pumpkin Shandy or The Queen’s Men, both delicious and on point for the season.

While the list below looks like a lot of steps, it’s really quite easy and you’ll be pleased with the results. Read through the instructions once before diving in so you can have fun while creating your Pumpkin Snowman. Your friends and family will love the result!

Frosty the Pumpkin Snowman & his buddies

Frosty the Pumpkin Snowman & his buddies

MATERIALS NEEDED ::
3 pumpkins
White or light ivory paint {acrylic or spray enamel – Satin finish}
Painters tape {if you’re using orange pumpkins}
Paintbrush
Wood glue
Round sponge brush
Black acrylic paint
Orange acrylic paint {if you want to paint your carrot nose}
Thin paint brush
2 sticks for arms
Scarf
Felt hat

HOW TO MAKE IT ::
IMG_2798Select three pumpkins that can easily be stacked on top of each other. Play around with your pumpkins to find the best combination. You can either choose pumpkins that are all the same size or use one large, one medium and one small pumpkin.

*  Using a damp paper towel, wipe down each pumpkin to be sure they are clean and ready for paint. Let dry. 

IMG_1839*  If you’re using bright orange pumpkins, grab your painters tape and tape off a nose. Be sure to rub down along the cut edge to be sure your tape is stuck to your pumpkin so paint won’t seep through.

*  Cover the area you will be painting with a tarp or old sheet and spread out your pumpkins so you can paint them individually.

IMG_2800

*  Using your spray or acrylic paint, coat your pumpkins with a light first coat of paint. Let dry. The acrylic paint can go on a bit thicker so a second coat may not be needed, but the spray paint works well if you spray a light first coat, dry and then come back with a second coat.

*  Make sure to let the paint dry completely before continuing. This can take between an hour and a half to two hours.

IMG_1847*  Using black paint and your round sponge brush, paint your face and buttons.

*  If you’re painting on your nose, grab that orange paint and paint an elongated triangle, then paint your eyes and smile.

*  Once this detail painting is done, take your painted pumpkins to wherever you’ll be displaying them and get ready to build your Snowman!

Pumpkin Snowmen Painted*  Grab your sticks and position them on each side of your middle pumpkin, marking the spot with a pen or Sharpie.

*  With a nail and hammer, pierce a hole where your arms will go, being careful to only punch a hole slightly smaller than your stick arms. Poke the arms into the pumpkin.

*  Stack your pumpkins. If they are a little wobbly, you can use wood glue to keep them stuck together. Simply place a line of glue where the pumpkins touch and secure in place, holding for a minute or two to let the glue set. If your pumpkins fit nicely on top of each other, you might not need the glue at all.

Pumpkin Snowmen on Sleigh

Time to dress up your Snowman. I used wired ribbon and a felt hat from Michaels Craft Store for mine, but any scarf or hat will do. This is the fun part of creating the personality of your Snowman so get creative! You can also add fake snow, greenery or fun holiday picks around the base of your Snowman Pumpkins for added decoration. Now sit back, have a holiday cocktail and smile at your creation!

CRANBERRY COCKTAILS FOR THE HOLIDAYS!

Everyone I know is getting ready to prepare their favorite Thanksgiving dish next Thursday. I can’t wait for all those flavors and spending time with family and friends. One of my favorite flavors highlighted at this time of the year is CRANBERRIES! I think they’re like little fruit rubies with their glossy, scarlet red hue. And while most of us are familiar with quintessential cranberry juice cocktails such as the Cosmopolitan or a Cape Cod, let’s take you one step beyond these classics and explore that delicious little joy of a berry — the cranberry — and get you set up for the holiday entertaining season. 

Cranberries are unlike any other fruit in the world. I’m intrigued by the fact that they’re grown in a bog and each berry has a tiny little pocket of air that allows it to float to the surface of the water when it harvests. Fascinating! Cranberries are good for you, too! Fresh cranberries contain high levels of beneficial nutrients such as vitamin C, fiber, and an amazing array of phytonutrients. Now that they’re reaching their peak color and flavor from October through December, we’re just in time to add their festive hue, tart tangy flavor, and numerous health protective effects to your holiday cocktail menus. So grab a bag of these power-packed gems and let’s get started on our cranberry cocktails!

For this cocktail, the tangy flavor of cranberries is enhanced with a combination of pear vodka and the lovely floral notes of St. Germain. Top with a little bubbly and you’ll become an immediate fan of this fun and easy holiday drink.

Gidget_PearCranberrySparkler2

PEAR CRANBERRY SPARKLER

TOOLS :: Cocktail shaker
GLASS :: Champagne flute
EXTRAS :: Cranberries for garnish
SERVINGS :: 2 cocktails
INGREDIENTS ::
3 ounces pear vodka
1 1/2 ounces cranberry juice
1 ounce St. Germain
Champagne or prosecco, well chilled

DIRECTIONS ::
Combine first 3 ingredients in an ice-filled shaker and shake well. Distribute between glasses. Top each cocktail with champagne and serve.

ADDITIONAL CRANBERRY COCKTAILS ::
For a full list of delish cranberry-based cocktails, check out my latest article for TheGoodStuff for more cranberry cocktail recipes!

source : creative culinary

source : creative culinary

source: food for my family

source: food for my family

Gidget_PearCranberrySparkler1

Pear Cranberry Sparkler from Gidget+LaRue

SHAKEN, NOT STIRRED: HOW TO BUILD A DIRTY MARTINI

Martinis play an important role in the life of James Bond. They’re nearly as famous as his fast cars and the Bond girls. But it’s that phrase, “shaken, not stirred,” that many of us have tried to mimic with just the right amount of 007 swagger when ordering a cocktail. Admit it, you’ve tried!

Well, with the latest and greatest Bond film which hit theaters on November 6th, I thought it was time to dive a little deeper into the mystique of the martini. Daniel Craig will be playing the debonair spy for the fourth time in the film, which was filmed on location in London, Mexico City, Rome, Tangier, and Erfoud in Morocco. All so exotic! When it comes to world premieres, nobody does it better than 007, so I’m here to help you embrace the secret agent way of life and mix an impressive dirty martini along with the best of them.

James certainly would have loved this one...

James certainly would have loved this one…

GETTING INTO THE SPY GAME

Bond’s cocktail of choice is the vodka martini, but did you know the reason he asks for the cocktail to be ‘shaken, not stirred’ is because a traditional martini should actually be stirred?

Mixology rule number one states that any cocktail containing only spirits — in this case vodka and dry vermouth — should be stirred over ice in a cocktail mixing glass, not shaken in a cocktail shaker. Bond claims to appreciate the extra chill shaking provides, and many people like to see those small ice shards in their cocktail, as well. If you want to follow in the footsteps of James, get that shaker out and get ready to chill that martini.

Now that I’ve cleared that up, there are other considerations for creating the ultimate martini:

Vodka or gin?
First you need to decide if you want your cocktail created with vodka or with gin. Either spirit works well, so it’s a matter of preference. We all know Mr. Bond prefers vodka, but gin is the original ingredient for a martini.

Did you know that three different vodkas have been featured in the Bond films? Smirnoff was the original endorsed brand, then it was replaced by Stolichnaya. InDie Another Day, Finlandia was the vodka of choice.

How dry?
Dry vermouth is the only other ingredient in a martini, and it’s up to you to determine how much you’d like in your cocktail. Ordering a martini without specifying will give you anywhere from six drops to about a half capful of vermouth. Ordering your martini “dry” reduces that by about half.

Some bartenders merely place the vermouth into the martini glass, swirl it around to coat the insides and then toss the leftover liquid. An “extra dry” martini either has no vermouth or less than a splash.

How dirty?
Ordering a dirty martini means you’ll get a few splashes of the briny olive juice from the cocktail olive jar mixed into your martini. Lots of people love the extra flavor this juice provides, so feel free to ask for “extra dirty” if you want to really taste that olive flavor.

Olives or onions...no one is judging...

Olives, onions or even a lemon peel  – no one is judging…


Garnish

Chances are if you’ve ordered a dirty martini, you’re looking for a few olives in your cocktail. All good — feel free to ask for the number you’d like if you don’t know your bartender. Another standard garnish for a martini is a long lemon peel. Be sure to ask if you have a preference.

 

 

 

 

The “other” martini
Keep in mind that if you’d prefer your martini garnished with a cocktail onion instead of an olive, you are ordering a Gibson martini, which is made in the same fashion as steps one and two above, but ensures you’re substituting an onion (and onion juice if you’re inclined) for your cocktail.

LIVE & LET DRINK
Now that you’ve got the intel on martinis, let’s get down to actually shaking one up for you and your guests. You’ve had time to think about your base spirit, your vermouth, and your garnish, so get all those lined up like a pro and let’s get shaking!

HOW TO MAKE A DIRTY MARTINI
Tools :: 
Cocktail shaker, extra ice
Glass :: Martini
Extras :: Cocktail olives in juice (or cocktail onions in juice or lemons for twists)
Servings :: 1 cocktail

INGREDIENTS ::
2 1/2 ounces vodka or din
Half a capful or less of dry vermouth
2 teaspoons of olive brine from a jar

HOW TO MAKE IT ::
Before mixing cocktails, place ice into martini glass and fill with cool water. Set aside. This method ensures the coldest of glasses for your cocktail. Fill shaker with ice and pour vermouth and vodka into shaker. Spoon 2-3 teaspoons of olive brine into shaker. Shake until your hand chills — about 30 seconds or more. Dump ice and water from martini glass. Strain martini into chilled glass. Garnish with olives and enjoy!

Once you’ve made a few martinis, you’ll be able to fine-tune your flavor preference by adding or reducing the amount of vermouth or olive brine to your liking. You can also experiment with the Gibson martini and see how you like the onion versus the olive.

These days, bars are also substituting dill pickles and juice instead of the olives for a whole new take on the dirty martini! While I’m not sure Mr. Bond would look quite so debonair with a dill pickle garnish, just get that accent down and you might be onto something! For another James Bond martini, check out the Vesper cocktail made famous in the movie Casino Royale.

LAST MINUTE HALLOWEEN PARTY MENU – PUMPKIN BEER

Too busy to worry about mixers and fancy garnishes for your Halloween libation menu? Save time and stay oh-so trendy by embracing the wide range of Pumpkin Craft Beer available this season. Keep it simple because sometimes nothing beats an ice cold beer served in a chilled glass and with a quick shopping spree to your local store you’ll find plenty to choose from. Released as seasonal fall beers by many breweries, there’s quite a selection of Pumpkin Beer {from ales, to IPAs to stouts} that all taste amazing and easily fit into your Halloween theme. Grab several varieties to provide your guests the chance to dip into the craft beer phenomenon while keeping things simple for your hostess duties. Packed with pumpkin pie spices like ground ginger, nutmeg and cloves, Pumpkin Beers are typically mild, with little to no bitterness so they are destined to please both craft beer aficionados and newcomers alike.DSC_0287

Ice-up the inside of a pumpkin for a little extra Halloween flare!

Ice-up the inside of a pumpkin for a little extra Halloween flare!

PUMPKIN SHANDY

Sometimes nothing beats an ice cold beer served in a chilled glass. Pumpkin Ales are original American style ales that are often released as seasonal fall beers by many breweries. There’s no doubt that fall is the season for pumpkin flavors and we’re thrilled to bring you a drink that turns the tastes of the season into a delicious shandy. Traditionally made with lemon and beer, this fantastic twist on the classic shandy was designed by Kyle Ford, Cointreau’s master mixologist. You’ll love how the citrus flavor plays so well with the spicy pumpkin ale.

For other Pumpkin Ale inspired cocktails, check out the article I wrote for TheGoodStuff for some recipes.

Pumpkin Shandy

TOOLS :: Cocktail shaker, strainer
GLASS ::  Old Fashioned/Highball
EXTRAS :: thin slice of orange + fresh grated nutmeg for garnish
SERVINGS :: 2 cocktails
INGREDIENTS ::

  • 2 oz. Cointreau
  • 2 oz. fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 heaping spoonfuls of Pumpkin Butter (we love Trader Joe’s version)
  • 8-10 oz. Pumpkin Ale

DIRECTIONS ::
In an ice-filled cocktail shaker, add Cointreau, lemon juice and Pumpkin Butter. Shake well and use a fine wire strainer to double strain the mixture evenly between two cocktail glasses. Top each with beer. Stir to combine and garnish with orange slice and grated nutmeg.

SPOOKY COCKTAILS FOR YOUR HALLOWEEN MONSTER MASH

Ghosts, goblins, witches, and werewolves — Halloween is filled with plenty of spooky and bewitching spectacles to make the evening a thrilling event. It’s also a treat to hang out with friends and have a ghoulishly delightful time engaging in a little cocktail mischief. If you’re planning a wicked Halloween party the following cocktails are sure to create an unforgettable All Hallow’s Eve event. No matter what your Halloween guests’ favorite poison is, I’ve got you covered with these cocktails — all guaranteed to raise spirits at your monster mash.

If you’d like a full list of my Top 10 Spooky Cocktails (including the two I created below), visit the article I wrote for TheGoodStuff for the full list of recipes.

R.I.P ‘RITA

Gidget RIP Rita


Get in the Halloween spirit with this lo-cal twist on a margarita. A dash of red food coloring gives the glass an eerie twist.

TOOLS :: Cocktail shaker, 1 small plate
GLASS ::  Martini
SERVINGS ::  2 cocktail
INGREDIENTS ::

  • 3 ounces TY KU citrus liqueur
  • 1 ounces silver tequila
  • 1/2 ounce agave nectar
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
    Glass rim

    • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
    • 3 Tablespoons corn syrup (I used Karo)
    • Red food coloring

HOW TO MAKE IT ::
On a small plate, mix together granulated sugar, corn syrup, and 5-7 drops of red food coloring. Mix to combine and add more food coloring to get desired results. Dip glass rims into mixture briefly and hold glass horizontally to let excess syrup drip off rim. Place rimmed glasses in freezer until ready for use.
Combine remaining ingredients ingredients to an ice-filled shaker. Shake well and strain into rimmed cocktail glass

THE DEVIL’S CHOICE

Gidget_DevilsChoice

What would Halloween be without a devilish twist? This wondrous, blood-red cocktail comes with a haunting punch of two kinds of rum and delicious pomegranate juice. Hell won’t freeze over if you make this your cocktail of choice!

TOOLS :: Cocktail shaker, 1 small plate
GLASS :: Old Fashioned
SERVINGS :: 2 cocktails
INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 ounces light rum
  • 4 ounces pomegranate juice
  • 2 ounces simple syrup (1:1 sugar to water)
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 1 ounce dark rum per cocktail
  • Cranberries for spooky eyeball garnish
  • Black sanding sugar (I found mine at Williams Sonoma)
  • Lime wedge

HOW TO MAKE IT ::
Pour 4 Tablespoons black sanding sugar on a small plate. Rub a lime wedge around the rim of each glass, then dip into sanding sugar. Add ice to glasses. Combine first 4 ingredients to an ice-filled shaker. Shake well and strain into rimmed glasses, leaving space at the top. Gently pour 1 oz. of dark rum onto each cocktail so it floats on top.