Orange Creamsicle Cocktail

orange-creamsicleWe’ve been enjoying some February sunshine here in California. But even if you’re in a blizzard, this Orange Creamsicle cocktail will give you a little taste of summer (with seasonal fruit). Savvy Housekeeping and I whipped up this cocktail that tastes like a light and sophisticated alcoholic Creamsicle. If only the ice cream man carried these.

Orange Creamsicle Cocktail

1 1/2 ounces vodka
2 ounces fresh orange juice
1 ounce cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 ounces simple syrup
Sparkling water

Squeeze the orange juice. Combine juice, vodka, simple syrup, and vanilla in a cocktail shaker. Add ice. Add cream. Close and shake thoroughly. Strain into a glass and top with sparkling water to taste.

Photo by Savvy Housekeeping

Meyer Lemon Margarita

meyerlemonmargaritaHappy National Margarita Day! I’m not sure who started this holiday, but I’m positive I like the way it’s celebrated. This cocktail uses fresh Meyer lemons, mint and honey to bring a new twist to a beloved classic. This combo gives it a fresh taste that will certainly lift your spirits.

Meyer Lemon Margarita

1 1/2 ounces honey
3-4 generous sprigs of fresh mint
1 ounce fresh Meyer lemon juice
2 ounces tequila

Muddle the mint and honey at the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Add lemon and tequila, then shake with ice. Strain into cocktail glass (serve over ice if desired).

I used Casa Noble Crystal tequila.  This tequila had a nice smooth quality that worked well with the lemon and honey, as a more peppery tequila would have distracted from the flavor combinations. You can use your favorite brand, but be sure it’s 100% agave tequila.

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Persimmon Margarita

persimmonmargaritaAround the corner from Savvy Housekeeping HQ, there were a bunch of free persimmons from a neighbor’s tree. When life gave us persimmons, we made persimmon margaritas! They’re tasty and a lot of fun (and in our case practically free).

We used Hachiya persimmons, which have to be totally soft and mushy to taste good at all. Fuyu persimmons are more common at the store and would also work great. Persimmon puree could also be used in cakes, breads and other cocktails. Get to it, persimmon style!

Persimmon Margarita Continue reading

Punch Recipe for the Holidays: Horse & Carriage

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Horse & Carriage from Saveur

What punch should you make for your holiday party? Here is my official endorsement: Horse & Carriage! I made this last week and it was a hit. Gin, elderflower and champagne are an obvious (to me) combination, but what really made this punch stand out was the chamomile tea. It added complexity and sophistication to what otherwise could have been a bit of a one-note concoction. I wish I had made a double batch! (It went fast.)

I modified the recipe a bit from Saveur’s to include more sparkling wine. I think this is a big improvement on the flavor, with the added benefit of making a larger amount of punch. It didn’t taste very balanced the original way, in my humble opinion.

Horse & Carriage (modified)
4 tablespoons citrus sugar (recipe below)
6 ounces fresh lemon juice
6 ounces gin
3 ounces St. Germain elderflower liqueur
3 ounces triple sec
10 ounces cold chamomile tea
8 oz. sparkling wine
Lemon and orange wheels, pomegranate seeds for garnish and ice block (instructions below) Continue reading

Gingerbread Toddy

gingerbreadtoddyIt’s raining and fall coziness is in full effect. So Savvy Housekeeping and I made the perfect seasonal twist on the Hot Toddy—the Gingerbread Toddy. Made with a delicious gingerbread syrup, this warming cocktail tastes like real gingerbread. The syrup would also be good in other drinks like a Gingerbread Latte.

Gingerbread Toddy
2 ounces bourbon
1 ounce gingerbread syrup* (recipe below)
1/3-1/2 cup hot water
A squeeze of lemon

Combine bourbon and syrup in a mug. Fill to the top with hot water. Add a few drops of lemon juice and stir.

*Gingerbread Syrup:
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup water
1 tablespoon molasses
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice

Combine all the syrup ingredients in a pan. Heat to boiling on a stovetop while whisking until all the powdery substances dissolve. Boil for 2-3 minutes so that the syrup thickens slightly.

Photo by Savvy Housekeeping

Fancy Free

fancyfreeThis little-known classic cocktail is basically a gussied-up Old Fashioned. While the addition of maraschino liqueur makes it a little sweeter than an Old Fashioned, it also gives the drink a funky kick and subtle bitter almond flavor.

Some people like to strain the drink and serve it up (without ice). I don’t. Controversy! Or, you know, personal preference.

Fancy Free

2 ounces bourbon
1/2 ounce maraschino liqueur
1 dash orange bitters
1 dash Angostura bitters
orange twist for garnish

Put several ice cubes (or one large ice cube) in an Old Fashioned glass. Add other ingredients and stir, then garnish with an orange twist.

If you want to learn how to make up your own cocktails based on the classics, buy the DIY Cocktails book. If you are a Kindle Unlimited member, you can read the Kindle version for free.

Photo by Jackson Stakeman

Honey Barbecue Plum Cocktail

bbqplumcocktailThe grill is already out for summer anyway, so why not grill your cocktail? (Or rather, grill the fruit that goes in the cocktail. No glasses or shakers on the grill!)

I got together with Savvy Housekeeping, and that’s exactly what we did. And it’s delicious … just not in the way that we expected. We thought it would just add a smoky flavor to our drink. But grilling did so much more.

Putting the plum on the grill for a bit deepened the plum’s flavor and brought out the sweetness and brightness of the fruit. We were using nice plums that were a little on the tart side, and the grilling brought out the natural sugars and helped the plum blend better with the other flavors in the cocktail.

So grilling is a nice way to improve slightly tart fruit (and let’s face it, supermarket stone fruits are usually too tart). Have some fruit that is a little disappointing? Get that grill out! It’ll make a great cocktail.

Honey Barbecue Plum Cocktail

1 plum
1 1/2 ounces bourbon
3/4 ounce honey liqueur (you can make your own)
1/2 ounce agave nectar (sub simple syrup if needed)
1/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters

Cut the plum in half and remove the pit.Grill the plum on medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, or until it begins to caramelize and you see grill marks. Turn over and let it cook on the other side for another 2-3 minutes, until the plum is soft. Remove from the grill.

In a cocktail shaker, combine all the ingredients except the bitters. Muddle the plum thoroughly. Fill the cocktail shaker with ice. Put on the lid and shake for at least a solid minute, or until ice starts to form on the outside of the container. This is especially important if the plum is still hot. You don’t want a warm cocktail.

Strain the drink into a glass. Add a drop or two of Peychaud’s bitters.

Photo by Savvy Housekeeping

Pimm’s Cup

pimmscupThe Pimm’s Cup is one of my favorite warm-weather drinks. It’s quick and easy, but tastes special. It also involves elaborate garnishing, and I do love when my cocktail comes with a snack.

While the recipe is very flexible and the only right way to make one is the way that tastes good to you … there is a wrong way. A lot of recipes say “lemonade” or “sparkling lemonade” because they are English recipes that assume a less-sweet, effervescent lemonade that’s different than what we have here in the States.

American lemonade is not carbonated, and American sparkling lemonade is actually much sweeter and less bubbly than the kind they have overseas. A lot of people therefore make it with 7Up or ginger ale. Go for it, if that’s your thing. But I’ve found 50/50 combo of lemonade (that is, the kind made with just sugar, water and lemons) and club soda makes a refreshing Pimm’s Cup.

This is how I like my Pimm’s Cup. You can adjust by adding more/less club soda/lemonade and garnish with whatever sounds good to you. Traditional choices include: cucumber, strawberries, orange slices, lemon slices, mint leaves and borage flowers. The strawberry/cucumber/mint combination is my absolute favorite garnish for this drink both for the flavor it adds to the cocktail and for the refreshing snacking possibilities.

Pimm’s Cup

2 ounces Pimm’s No. 1 Cup (If you can’t find it, make your own Pimm’s!)
3 ounces lemonade
3 ounces club soda
Strawberry and cucumber slices, sprig of mint

Add strawberry slices to a Collins glass filled with ice, then pour the Pimm’s, lemonade and club soda in to taste. Add cucumber and mint for additional garnish.