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

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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.

PUMPKIN SHANDY

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

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

Pumpkin Shandy

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

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

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

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!

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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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
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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!

THE BEEHIVE

This is one of those simple, 3-ingredient cocktail wonders. Perfect for a holiday gathering with friends, it’s so simple you won’t be stuck behind your home bar clanking bottles after bottles of liquor just trying to please your guests. Oh no…this one is simple, delish and beautiful all at the same time.

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THE BEE HIVE

Tools: Cocktail shaker and strainer
Glass: Coupe or Martini
Extras: Thinly sliced fresh pears for garnish

Servings: 2 cocktails

Ingredients:
4 oz. Pear flavored vodka (Grey Goose LaPoire or Absolut PEARS are both great)
2 oz. Honey Syrup (honey-to-water ratio = 1:1)
2 oz. fresh squeezed lemon juice

How to Make It:
Fill cocktail shaker with ice. Add all liquid ingredients. Shake it like you mean it! Strain into coupe or martini glasses. Garnish with pear fan.