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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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 ~ 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

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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.

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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!

 

 

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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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