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!

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!

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!

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 gin
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.

LABOR DAY PARTY IDEA ~ THROW AN END OF SUMMER BASH!

I have mixed emotions about the end of summer. While I’m going to miss the warm nights and long days with family and friends, I do look forward to the Labor Day holiday as a time to transition into that fall state of mind. Although I’m not quite ready to turn in my summer sandals for tall black boots, I am ready to embrace the last weeks of summer the right way by launching into the Labor Day holiday and throwing an End of Summer cocktail party!

With delicious food, refreshing drinks, and good company, everyone loves a great party. But how do you make sure your end of summer cocktail party is truly great? I think throwing a picnic-style party extends the casual feeling of summer for all your guests. From there you’ll need a fantastic cocktail (or three!), some entertainment to keep your guests mingling and amused, and one final surprise to send them all home smiling. Check out the article we wrote for TheGoodStuff to see how to easy it can be!

As always, we think it’s fun to start off with the cocktail menu, so here’s a great way for you to have a little fun pumping up the patriotic theme for the Labor Day holiday. Everyone loves a good cocktail, and what a better way to get your party started then by offering them three delicious drinks to choose from?

Mason jar cocktails in red, white & blue? 'Merica!

Mason jar cocktails in red, white & blue? ‘Merica!

Pre-mix each cocktail and place them in Mason jars (you can use the 8-ounce size) so have time to enjoy mingling with your guests. With a simple, hand-drawn sign, a stack of lime wedges, and a bucket of ice you’re ready to celebrate in red, white, and blue style! Your guests simply grab a jar with their libation of choice, remove the cap, and add some ice and a lime wedge. Voila, cocktails are served!

Recipes below and ingredients listed are per cocktail.

Red Cosmo

  • 2 ounces citrus vodka (regular vodka works fine, too)
  • 1 ounce Cointreau or Grand Marnier
  • 1/2 ounce fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • 1 1/2 ounces cranberry juice

White Gin & Tonic

  • 2 ounces quality gin
  • 5 ounces tonic (I love Schweppes or Fever Tree)
  • Juice from one wedge of fresh lime

Blue Margarita

  • 3 ounces silver tequila
  • 1 ounce blue Curaçao
  • 1 1/2 ounces fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 ounce Cointreau or Grand Marnier
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup

As the carefree days and warm nights of summer come to a close, let everyone enter into fall with wonderful memories of an afternoon spent with friends enjoying the warmer weather and a few cocktails. There will be smiles all around!

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BUILD YOUR OWN BLOODY MARY BAR

We love a cocktail party and quite frankly Bloody Mary’s are one of our favorite classic cocktails. So why not marry the two? You see, not only do we love Bloody Mary’s because you get away with drinking an amazing cocktail during the daylight hours (no judging here), but we also love that you can add all kinds of delicious, savory and salty mini-appetizers right into your drink! Since Bloody Mary’s provide the perfect opportunity to host a brunch cocktail party, we thought it time to provide a DIY bar with all the key ingredients for you to enjoy this true classic and show off your hostess skills.  Behold: the Bloody Mary Bar.

The secret to a great Bloody Mary Bar is having a lot of options for your guests to choose from. We’ve compiled a list of ingredients we think are essential (and a lot of fun) to setting up the perfect bar. Since everyone likes their brunch cocktail a little differently, you can pick and choose your favorite ingredients to customize your bar to reflect your own personal style.

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Juice
A prepared tomato juice makes it simple to serve Bloody Mary’s to a crowd. We think it’s important to choose a quality juice with good ingredients like real tomatoes, horseradish and spices for the best flavor. If you’re feeling adventurous enough to mix the Bloody Mary juice from scratch, you’ll need a few essentials like lemon and lime juice, horseradish, and Worcestershire sauce. Mix everything together in a pitcher, and keep it simple; a basic mix makes an ideal starting point for guests, who can add their favorite flavorings from your bar. We provided one basic version and another pre-spiced version for that extra kick! Since juice is a major part of any Bloody Mary Bar, feel free to play around with V8, Clamato juice (using Clamato makes this a Bloody Caesar!) or other tomato-based concoctions.

Booze
BloodyMaryBoozeMost people instantly think Vodka when they order a Bloody Mary. While this traditional take on this cocktail is fine, don’t rule out other liquors to experiment with. First on the list: Tequila! This version is called a Bloody Maria and it’s delicious. The benefit of building your own bar is that you can put out any base spirit you’d like. Got Gin? Gin works great with Bloody Mary’s. Hot Pepper Vodka? Try it! Think of it as science with tomato juice! Bar set-up tip: be sure to put a shot glass next to each bottle you choose.

Glass Rimming Spices
Everyone knows you need ground pepper on hand for your Bloody Mary Bar, but there is a world of wonderful spices just waiting to perk up your cocktail. Many people love adding Celery Salt to their BM, and we’ve fallen in love with rimming our glass with Old Bay Seasoning which adds a spicy yet smoky touch to every sip. If you want to go classic, make sure to plate up some kosher salt so those salt crystals are nice and chunky.

Spice-It-Up Sauces
A group of delicious hot sauces at the end of your Bloody Mary Bar is a way to help guests enjoy adding that final personal accent on their creation. A group of sauces that range from mild to fiery hot gives everyone the chance to experiment and build a cocktail that meets their spicy preference. Tabasco is an all-time favorite and Worcestershire sauce is simply a must have. From there you can have fun adding any hot sauce that suits your fancy.

Fresh Veggies & Citrus
We’ve seen every vegetable under the sun in a Bloody Mary Bar, but we think Bloody Mary’s simply need a little citrus. It’s an essential element that adds the right balance to the drink. We think the more the merrier (pun intended!) so be sure to have lots of lovely lemon and lime wedges on hand for that essential zing! Another classic and essential Bloody Mary element is the celery stick. Not only do they look beautiful grouped together on your bar, but they provide each cocktail with a fresh swizzle stick! Carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes and cucumber wheels are other great additions.

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Pickled Goodies
Take a peek at the photos above for a few ideas on how to stock your BMB with some fun pickled and marinated garnishes that will bring any cocktail to life. Classic items start with cocktail olives and onions, then expand into other varieties like pepperoncinis, roasted peppers, pickled asparagus or even pickled green beans. Let your imagination run free on items in this category because almost anything pickled – we love pickled ochre for example – will work with your Bloody Mary.

Meats & Fish
This is where you can get a little adventurous with your Bloody Mary Bar garnishes. Bacon swizzles are all the rage right now along with pepperoni sticks. We think any way to add bacon to a cocktail is worth trying, so we sprinkled ours with some brown sugar before grilling and highly recommend the combination. For the Bloody Maria, sliced chorizo sausage is a perfect compliment to the tequila. From there you can add in rolled proscuitto, boiled shrimp and steamed oysters to give your BMB the full gambit of protein and flavor.

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FINISHING TOUCHES – Now that you’ve got your shopping list of ingredients lined up, there are a few other things to consider to make your Bloody Mary Bar absolutely top notch fabulous!

Signage
Let’s face it – not everyone knows how to mix a good cocktail. Providing a little direction so guests can easily mix their own cocktail keeps the conversation entertaining and helps guide even a rookie mixologist. We used an old frame and a water-based paint marker to help our guests follow the Bloody Mary making process and the sign became the backdrop for our table so it doubled as decoration! 

Glassware
To serve your cocktails, you don’t need to set the bar up with fancy large glasses that require a lot of juice and ice to fill them. In fact, given how much people will enjoy making their Bloody Mary’s and adding all those custom garnishes, you might consider a glass that’s no bigger than an Old Fashioned. It’s the perfect size and everyone will want to come back for seconds so this controls portion sizes.

Gidget_BloodyMary_Garnish2Serving Containers
When it comes to providing vessels for your pickled goodies and veggies, think mid-size containers. You don’t need to spend a lot of money on containers for your Bloody Mary Bar, but unifying them with a color or shape helps to showcase the ingredients. Have some fun thinking outside the box and get creative with your containers. We hit up our local thrift store and found these glass containers for a dollar a piece and they worked great!

Ice
You’re going to need quite a bit of ice for all those cocktails your guests will be making! Set up a fancy ice bucket and ice scooper next to your glassware for a special touch. Be ready to keep an eye on the ice and keep it filled at all times. We recommend a few extra bags of ice in your freezer for quick and easy refills.

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Bloody Mary’s are a classic cocktail meant to be enjoyed at a brunch with friends, but who wants to worry about making cocktail after cocktail when each one requires a bit of tinkering to satisfy the flavor preference of each guest? Solve this conundrum without running yourself ragged and still make sure everyone gets a drink they’ll love! Follow the guidelines above and build a memorable Bloody Mary Bar. Your friends will have a blast mixing and customizing their cocktails and they’ll have you to thank!

REFRESHING + DELICIOUS WATERMELON COCKTAIL

Today is National Watermelon Day! It’s true — there’s a day dedicated to celebrating the amazing qualities of this luscious summer fruit. What is it about watermelon that makes it simultaneously cooling, refreshing and thirst-quenching all at the same time? We just love it!

There’s something about this wonderfully juicy fruit that seems to conjure up memories of backyard BBQs and picnics in the park. With these joyous feelings surrounding this summer fruit, we decided it was time to dream up a new watermelon cocktail recipe. Now you can shake up a few drinks, get your summer smile on and create a few more happy (watermelon) memories.

Juicy sweet and irresistibly fresh, watermelon juice is like pouring summer into a glass. This easy seasonal sipper features fresh-muddled watermelon combined with Limoncello, fresh lemons, vodka, and a hint of orange to provide a concoction ideal for sipping your way through a summer afternoon.

Watermelon Cocktails are like summer in a frosted glass!

Watermelon Cocktails are like summer in a frosted glass!

GIDGET’S WATERMELON COOLER

TOOLS: Cocktail shaker, muddler, fine mesh sieve
GLASS: Collins
EXTRAS: Watermelon ball and lemon wheel for garnish
SERVINGS: 2 cocktails

INGREDIENTS

4 oz. vodka
4 oz. fresh watermelon juice
1 3/4 oz. Limoncello
1 3/4 oz. Grand Marnier
Juice from 1 lemon (in a pinch for fresh lemons? You can sub a good scoop of frozen lemonade concentrate)

HOW TO MAKE IT:

Cut about 1 cup of fresh watermelon into chunks and place into cocktail shaker. Using muddler, press to make juice. Pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a cup, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard solids. Once juice is made, assemble all ingredients into an ice-filled shaker. Shake it like you mean it, then strain into ice-filled glasses. Garnish, serve and enjoy!

BLUEBERRY COCKTAILS ~ I THINK I’LL HAVE ANOTHER!

Yes, July really is National Blueberry Month and last week we started you off on your blueberry cocktail journey with a yummy tequila cocktail named ZIGGY. This week we have a simple and refreshing cocktail that introduces you to the delicious Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur, a beautifully packaged liqueur produced in France. It contains syrup made from crystallized Chinese baby ginger, Grand Champagne cognac, orange blossom honey from Provence, France and an oh-so delicate touch of vanilla. You’ll be happy to add it to your home bar and even more excited when you shake up this lovely libation. And when we say lovely, we really mean it! The gorgeous color this cocktail presents once mixed inspired it’s name. 

Launch into National Blueberry Month with this beautiful libation!

Launch into National Blueberry Month with this beautiful libation!

VIOLET BEAUREGARDE

TOOLS :: Cocktail shaker
GLASS :: Collins
EXTRAS ::  Basil + blueberries for garnish
SERVINGS :: 2 cocktails

INGREDIENTS ::
4 oz. Vodka
3 oz. Blueberry Basil syrup {get the recipe HERE}
2 oz. Domaine de Canton
2 lemons ~ make fresh squeezed juice

HOW TO MAKE IT :: Assemble all ingredients into an ice-filled shaker. Shake it like you mean it then strain into ice-filled glasses. Garnish, serve and enjoy!

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BLUEBERRY COCKTAILS FOR NATIONAL BLUEBERRY MONTH

July is National Blueberry Month and we think there’s no better way to celebrate this wonderful little berry than by mixing it into our summer cocktail menu. It’s well known that blueberries are packed with antioxidants and loaded with vitamin K and vitamin C. They’re also high in fiber and low in calories, so it’s no wonder the month of July is dedicated to enjoying these little blue dynamos.

Did you know that blueberries are grown in 35 states in the U.S. and that the U.S. produces over 90% of all the blueberries in the world? Now that they’re in full harvest and likely tempting you as you stroll through your local farmers market, we’re going to help you take advantage of this fruit bounty. We’ve rounded up a few blueberry cocktail recipes to help you make the most of this sensational super-fruit! Visit our latest article on TheGoodStuff for a variety of blueberry cocktails and read below for one of the cocktails we created exclusively for them!

A DELICIOUS COMBINATION

Now that you’ve got your basket filled with a pint or two of blueberries, you might also notice the smell of summer herbs is bursting from every fresh veggie aisle in your grocery store — are we right? Just as you’re passing the lettuce section, a deliciously sweet smell hits you — its basil! It makes you pause for a minute and take a deep breath in. “Mmmmmm!”

Are you lucky enough to have this in your backyard? Mmmmm...basil!

Mmmmm…basil!

Some of you might be lucky enough to have this amazing herb right in your backyard. To get you started on your blueberry cocktail journey, you’ll need a bunch of basil along with those berries, because we’ve discovered that blueberries and basil make an amazing base for delicious summer cocktails!

BLUEBERRY BASIL SYRUP

Put aside about a half hour to make this Blueberry Basil Simple Syrup and refrigerate until ready to mix up a few outstanding drinks for your next gathering.

Little Blue Dynamos!

Little Blue Dynamos!

TOOLS :: Medium saucepan, stirring spoon, fine wire mesh strainer
SERVIINGS ::  Makes about 1 1/2-2 cups

INGREDIENTS ::
– 1 cup water
– 1/2 cup sugar
– Zest from one lemon {be careful not to get too much of the white pith in the zest}
– 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
– 1 cup packed fresh basil sprigs

HOW TO MAKE IT ::

In saucepan, stir together all ingredients over medium heat until the sugar has melted. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. Using fine wire strainer, pour contents into a bowl, pressing blueberries and basil against the strainer to release all juices. Discard solids. Let cool to room temperature, then pour into airtight container and store in the refrigerator until cold. Your syrup will last for up to 3 weeks.

TIME FOR A BLUEBERRY COCKTAIL!

Now that your yummy blueberry basil syrup is ready, here is a cocktail to entertain your friends and celebrate National Blueberry Month in style! This first cocktail adds a blueberry basil twist to your traditional margarita. We’ll be releasing another Blueberry cocktail tomorrow so come back for a visit!

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ZIGGY

TOOLS :: Cocktail shaker
GLASS :: Highball
EXTRAS :: Limes and blueberries for garnish
SERVINGS :: 2 cocktails

INGREDIENTS ::

  • 4 oz. Silver Tequila
  • 4 oz. Blueberry Basil Simple Syrup
  • 2 oz. Cointreau
  • Fresh-squeezed juice from 2 limes

HOW TO MAKE IT ::

Assemble all ingredients into an ice-filled shaker. Shake it like you mean it, then strain into ice-filled glasses. Garnish, serve, and enjoy!

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