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!

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.

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!

YOU MADE IT TO FRIDAY!

After a hellofa week, we think it’s time to grab a bottle of tequila and start celebrating the fact that we did it ~ we survived the week. Even though shots of tequila are the fastest means to an end, we love all the citrus available this time of year so why not slow it down a little and enjoy the evening? This little wonder will have you slowin’ down and heating up at the same time. The combination of fresh grapefruit and tequila – enhanced by sweet vermouth – will set your weekend off on the right track.

KISS ME QUICK

KissMeQuick

TOOLS :: Shaker
GLASS :: Highball
EXTRAS ::  Fruit for garnish
SERVINGS :: 2 cocktails

INGREDIENTS ::
5 oz. Silver Tequila
1 1/2 oz. Sweet Vermouth
3 oz. fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
1 oz. fresh squeezed lime juice
1 1/2 Tbsp of orange marmalade
1/2 oz. simple syrup

HOW TO MAKE IT :: Assemble all ingredients into an ice-filled shaker. Shake it like you mean it and pour into ice-filled glasses. Serve and enjoy!

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COCKTAILS FOR A CROWD ~ A SANGRIA ADVENTURE!

Ahhh it’s finally time…summertime is right around the corner and the entertaining season is upon us. What a better way to spend some time soaking up that extra Vitamin D than to gather with friends and family outdoors and throw a party? As the days get warmer and the sun burns brighter, nothing welcomes the season like an ice-cold cocktail, but serving cocktails to a crowd can burden you with mixing cocktails vs. mingling with guests. So we have the perfect crowd-pleasing—and summer loving—cocktail plan. SANGRIA!

Sangria is the Spanish name for a sugar-sweetened wine and fruit cocktail. Rumored to be first introduced to the US at the 1964 World’s Fair, Sangrias are a seasonal favorite for spring and summer, which is why they are a great choice for outdoor grilling and parties.
The fun part about Sangria is that there are endless combinations of wine and fruit for you to choose from. Feel like peaches? There’s a Sangria for that! How about apples + oranges and a little lemon? There’s a Sangria for that, too!

Better yet, Sangrias are meant to be made ahead of time, saving you prep time on party day. To get you started, we’ve created a simple and light white wine Sangria, with some ideas for fun presentation.

Let’s get this party started!

DECORATIVE ICE

Sangria is made in batches so you need a lot of ice to cool the large volume of liquid. To add in a fun and functional element to your Sangria, consider putting a little time into making a decorative ice mold to keep things stylish and cool! We love Tovolo’s Sphere Ice Molds as the perfect accent to your Sangria. Adding citrus pieces to the slow melting 2.5” sphere brings out the added flavor of your cocktail as it melts. With just three easy steps you’re on your way to beautiful ice!

Gidget_Ice1Step One:

Select the fruit you’ll use in your Sangria. Lemons and oranges are great choices, as are a few limes. Slice your citrus fruit thinly and set aside. Try a citrus peeler for a long strand of lemon or orange.

Gidget_Ice2Step Two:

Arrange fruit inside of the mold. You can wedge pieces into the mold or curl the citrus strand and place into sphere. Slowly pour water into mold up to the fill line and cover. Freeze overnight.

 

 

Gidget_Ice3Step Three:

Run molds under warm water to release and place into bowl. Keep in freezer until ready to add to your Sangria.

 

 

 

ENDLESS SUMMER SANGRIA
GidgetEndlessSummer 2
Now that you’ve got your ice made, this Sangria is ideal for a crowd and makes for a delicious and memorable party drink. For our wine we went with a Sauvignon Blanc, a wine often described as crisp, elegant, and fresh. Add a little brandy and other summer-loving fruits and your guests will polish off every last drop. Cheers to an Endless Summer!

TOOLS :: Pitcher, large stirring spoon, strainer + punch bowl or beverage dispenser
GLASS :: Highball
EXTRAS :: large ice cubes {they minimize melting} and fruit for garnish
SERVINGS :: 15-20 cocktails

INGREDIENTS
1.5L bottle Sauvignon Blanc
1/3 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. Brandy {We used Christian Brothers Honey Brandy}
1/2 c. Triple Sec
1/4 c. fresh squeezed orange juice
1/4 c. fresh squeezed lemon juice {Meyer lemons}
1-2 thinly sliced apples
1-2 thinly sliced oranges
1 thinly sliced lemon
1 1/2 c. Club Soda

Pour wine and sugar into pitcher and stir to combine until sugar dissolves. Add Brandy, Triple Sec and fruit juices and stir to combine. Add apples and oranges only and chill mixture overnight. Make garnishes and set aside. Just before serving, add lemons and club soda, stirring to combine mixture. Pour mixture and fruit into ice-filled beverage dispenser. Provide ice and glasses. Stir Sangria every hour to ensure flavors combine.

Your fancy-schmancy ice spheres look just amazing as they chill your Endless Summer Sangria!

Your fancy-schmancy ice spheres look just amazing as they chill your Endless Summer Sangria!

GET BRUNCH STARTED RIGHT WITH AN EASTER LILY COCKTAIL

The Easter bunny’s not the only one who can bring treats to your Easter brunch celebration! How about a delicious cocktail to kickstart your brunch menu?

The foundation for this cocktail is a drink that debuted in New Orleans, called the Ramos Gin Fizz. Created by a guy named Henry C. Ramos in 1888, the original instructions dictated that it be shaken for a total of 12 minutes, requiring a bit of a bartender relay. We’ve modified the recipe and the shaking method (Hello blender!) to make this easier for all you hostesses out there! Trust us – this cocktail is known for its deliciousness and its ability to kick-start many a brunch celebration, so plan to greet each of your guests with an Easter Lilly as they arrive ~ the perfect set up for a beautiful day.

The ultimate "cocktail appetizer".

The ultimate “cocktail appetizer”.

EASTER LILY

TOOLS :: Blender
GLASS :: Highball or Wine Goblet ~ your choice
EXTRAS :: Fresh ground nutmeg for garnish
SERVINGS :: 2 cocktails

INGREDIENTS ::

  • 4 oz. gin {you can use Vodka if you want, but give the gin a try!}
  • 1 oz simple syrup (1:1)
  • 1/2 oz. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. fresh lime juice
  • 1 fresh egg white
  • 2 oz. heavy cream
  • 1 tsp Orange Flower Water
  • 1 oz. club soda, chilled

HOW TO MAKE IT :: Combine the first 7 ingredients in a blender without ice and blend on low to combine for 1 minute. Add 1 cup of ice to liquid ingredients and blend on medium-high for at least 2 minutes. Pour into a glass, top with club soda and stir. Garnish with ground nutmeg.

TiKi TUESDAY ~ ZOMBIE STYLE

Here at Gidget + LaRue we’ve decided to show Tuesday a little love for the fun day of the week it can be, so last week we launched TiKi TUESDAY! For this week’s cocktail we’re diving headfirst into the ZOMBIE, a mind numbingly delish TiKi drink! The ZOMBIE is a drink with a bit of mystery behind it, so researching the recipe yields a wide range of results. Blame the drinking, but cocktail history is often hazy. So it’s no surprise that the “real” recipe for this cocktail ~ and even its exact ingredients ~ vary depending on whom you ask. Purportedly created by Don the Beachcomber to revive a hungover businessman, the recipe has been twisted in countless ways and some bars limit ZOMBIE drinks to only 2 per customer. We decided to go with a recipe that wouldn’t leave you feeling like the living dead and didn’t require anything fancy other than a few base spirits and fresh citrus fruit. Bring on the fun and let’s get our TiKi on ~ ZOMBIE…stat!

ZombieTitleZOMBIE

TOOLS :: Blender
GLASS :: Highball
EXTRAS ::  Lime wedge and Mint for garnish*
SERVINGS :: 1 cocktail

INGREDIENTS ::
1 oz. Silver Rum
1 oz. Dark Rum
1 ½ oz. orange juice
1 oz. lemon juice
¼ oz. lime juice {NO Roses lime here ~ go fresh or forget it}
¼ oz. grenadine
1 oz. Orange Curacao
1+ C. crushed ice
(optional: if you’re feeling truly ZOMBIE-brave, float an ounce of 151 Rum on top of the drink)

HOW TO MAKE IT ::
Combine all liquid ingredients + crushed ice in a blender. Pulse contents for a few seconds, just to combine ingredients. Pour into glass and garnish with lime wedge or wheel and mint sprig. Simple, fun and delish!

* NOTE on garnishes ::
To elevate a drink from being just another “drink” and turn it into a real TiKi cocktail, spend a little time to create the perfect garnish. Garnishes don’t need to be complicated but they can add that extra personality to your cocktail that sets it off from other drinks. So have some fun with pineapple wedges, cherries, star fruit and go for the paper umbrella! We used the top leaves from a pineapple for a little flare. Keep in mind that garnishes should be made in advance so they can be quickly added. That final TiKi embellishment will make people smile even before they’ve taken their first sip!

FREEDOM COCKTAIL FOR THE 4TH OF JULY

We’ve decided that there is no better way to enjoy the 4th of July than celebrating our independence surrounded by friends, family and a delicious cocktail. Get into that patriotic spirit with these five freedom cocktails to help you raise a glass and give a toast to America the beautiful!

White wine lovers tend to enjoy the fresh citrus and fruit flavors often found in summer wines. Made with lemons, oranges and limes with a hint of rich Brandy, this sangria captures all those summertime flavors. As a host, you’ll love this make-ahead recipe since it is a self-serve punch your guests can enjoy pouring on their own.

Star Spangled Sangria
If you want to get your 4th of July party started with a little red, white and booze, mix up a batch of this delish sangria. Your guests will be whistling Dixie before the fireworks even start.

star-spangled-sangria

Tools :: Pitcher, tall barspoon
Glass :: Highball
Servings :: 6 cocktails

Ingredients ::
1 bottle of white wine (Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier or Pinot Gris are all good choices)
1/3 cup white sugar
3 oranges, 1 lemon, 1 lime and 1 Granny Smith apple, all sliced
4 oz. Brandy
½ liter of Club Soda or Ginger ale (for those with a sweeter tooth!)

Directions ::
Pour wine in the pitcher and squeeze the juice wedges from the orange, lemon and lime into the wine. Add brandy and sugar, stirring to combine. Toss in the fruit wedges (leaving out seeds if possible). Chill mixture overnight. Add ginger ale or club soda just before serving.

Before you shop :: Sangria is all about adapting the recipe with fruit that you enjoy. Try adding diced mango, cubed pineapples, sliced strawberries, peaches, a handful of fresh blueberries, raspberries, kiwi, a shot or two of pineapple juice or even a little spiced rum!

 

CELEBRATE FAT TUESDAY ~ CLASSIC MARDI GRAS COCKTAIL

As we head into March and Mardi Gras, we wanted to help you celebrate Fat Tuesday with a classic Mardi Gras cocktail ~ THE HURRICANE. 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. Here’s a taste-tested Gidget + LaRue twist on the classic. Our recipe is enough for 2 drinks because we don’t like to drink alone!

THE HURRICANE

Celebrate Fat Tuesday G+LaR style

Celebrate Fat Tuesday G+LaR style

TOOLS :: Ice, shaker
GLASS :: Hurricane shaped or large Collins
EXTRAS :: Orange slice and cherry for garnish
SERVINGS :: 2 cocktails

INGREDIENTS ::
2 oz. Dark Rum (or Dark Spiced Rum if that’s all you have)
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
4 shakes of bitters – Fee Brothers or Angostura is great

  • Fill shaker with ice.
  • Add all ingredients above.
  • Shake it like you mean it!
  • Strain into your ice-filled glasses, garnish and enjoy!

++ Here’s your Gidget + LaRue “make it easy” tip ++
If you don’t have Galliano in your bar, no worries. We sub-ed out a tiny dash (less than 1/8 teaspoon) of Anise Extract (from Safeway!) and it worked great. Also, the “Hawaii’s Own” juice is great, but if you’ve got Passion Fruit Nectar around (we couldn’t find it easily), use 2 oz. of that instead. I couldn’t find it and we like the frozen juice because it’s EASY!