Cranberry Margarita

cranberrymargaritaIn honor of Thanksgiving, I got together with Savvy Housekeeping for a turkey-day-appropriate cocktail: the Cranberry Margarita! Aside from the gorgeous, deep red color, this drink has a refreshing tartness that is just the thing for a holiday built around heavy savory foods.

We used 100% cranberry juice for that true cranberry pucker. However, if you like things a little sweeter you can either add a little simple syrup (or agave) or you can use sweetened cranberry juice cocktail. Hey, this could even be a job for cran-apple, cran-raspberry, or another cran-juice.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Cranberry Margarita

1 1/2 oz cranberry juice
1 oz tequila
1/2 oz triple sec

Shake ingredients over ice, then strain into a cocktail glass. Spear fresh cranberries for garnish.

Fresh Apple Cocktail: High & Dry

High & Dry(credit Emmanuel Cayere)Let me say it again: Hurray for fall! If you’re looking for a refreshing drink that has a touch of fresh apple and spice, this is the recipe. The bubbles from the club soda made this a good choice for day drinking.

This recipe was developed with Brugal Especial Extra Dry rum, and I’ve found that, as the name says, this really is an extra dry rum without as much sweetness as most silver rums. That worked really well with Demerara (or raw sugar) syrup. With a little tasting and adjusting, you can use a silver rum and/or a rich simple syrup (which is a syrup made with regular white syrup in a 2 parts sugar, 1 part water ratio). Falernum is a liqueur made with lime, cloves, almonds, and rum. Velvet is THE one you’ll see around commercially, but it’s easy (and delicious) to make your own.

High & Dry

2 ounces rum
1/2 ounce Velvet Falernum (or make your own falernum)
1/2 ounce cane syrup or simple syrup made with Demerara sugar
1 ounce fresh lime juice
1 ounce club soda
3 dashes Angostura bitters
Apple wedge

Muddle apple wedge in the bottom of a mixing glass or cocktail shaker. Add all other ingredients (except club soda) and shake with ice. Strain into a highball glass over new ice and top with club soda. Garnish with an apple slice.

Recipe by Trevor Schneider, Goldbar
Photo by Emmanuel Cayere

Hot Buttered Pumpkin Rum

pumpkinhotbutteredrumNow that it’s finally starting to feel like fall, it’s time to get cozy with some hot drinks. I got together with Savvy Housekeeping to mix up this delightfully autumnal pumpkin variation on Hot Buttered Rum. It has a pleasant spice mix and satisfying consistency, in addition to helping to keep you nice and warm. Use a dark or gold rum for the right flavor.

Hot Buttered Pumpkin Rum

2 tablespoons Pumpkin puree (canned is fine)
1 teaspoon Brown sugar
1 teaspoon Ginger
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Allspice
1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
1 tablespoon Butter
2 ounces rum
Hot water (enough to fill the mug)
Cinnamon stick for garnish

Combine the pumpkin and spices in a mug and mix thoroughly so that they are completely integrated. Add the rum. Put the butter on top so it is floating in the rum. Carefully pour hot water over the drink. Stir with a cinnamon stick or spoon.

Photo by Savvy Housekeeping

Apple Brown Bourbon Cocktail

applebrownbourboncocktail
Fall is here! I got together with Savvy Housekeeping to celebrate with a cocktail that brings together the seasonal flavors of apple, maple syrup, and ginger in a lightly spiced cocktail. It’s sweet enough to be a treat without veering into sugary territory, thanks to maple syrup. This delicious apple drink made us think of crisp apple desserts.

(‘Tis the season, so here are even more apple cocktails, including one made with gin.)

Apple Brown Bourbon

1 1/2 ounces bourbon
1/2 ounces ginger liqueur (such as Domaine de Canton or a DIY version)
1 ounce apple juice
1/2 ounce maple syrup
1/4 ounce lemon juice

Shake all ingredients with ice, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Photo by Savvy Housekeeping

Fall Gin Cocktail: Apple Business

Apple Business4 (credit Alice Gao)It’s fall … even though the weather where I am doesn’t quite feel like it yet. To get a little of that autumnal atmosphere into my life, I mixed up an apple cocktail. It’s simple to make, but has a lot of complex flavors going on. The floral notes in the gin really went well with honey. Come on, fall! I’m ready for you!

It’s no secret Nolet’s is one of my favorite gins, so I was more than happy to try this recipe when they sent it to me. I just used plain old clover honey (like the kind that comes in a squeezy bear), but this would be excellent with some blackberry honey or orange honey.

Apple Business

2 ounces gin
1 ounce fresh apple juice
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
1/2 ounce honey

Shake all ingredients over ice, and then strain over fresh ice into a rocks glass. Garnish with apple slice.

Recipe by Theo Lieberman, Milk & Honey (NYC)
Photo by Alice Gao

Cynar Cocktail: Red Letter Day

redletterdayI didn’t realize what Cynar could do until I went to Buenos Aires, where it’s a more popular cocktail ingredient than vodka. Even though Cynar is made with artichoke leaves, it doesn’t actually taste like artichokes. It has more of a bittersweet herbal flavor that adds a little kick to drinks. (The Cynar folks tell me it’s named after cynarin, a property of artichokes that makes your tastebuds perceive food and drink as sweeter.)

Speaking of the Cynar folks … they sent me a lovely package that included Cynar and some other cocktail ingredients. I don’t post recipes sent by brands unless I like them. And this one was a big hit with me! It’s light and refreshing (perfect warm for late-summer nights) but with a sophisticated depth and hint of sweetness that doesn’t take over your palate like sweeter Mojito-style cocktails can.

Cynar isn’t as whammo bold as Campari, though they are both aperitifs. But it still offers that touch of Italy and bitterness that is perfect for before a meal (or after).

Red Letter Day

1 ounce Cynar
1 ounce Applejack
3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
1/2 ounce ginger syrup
1/4 ounce grenadine
Club soda to top (about 4 ounces, according to taste)
2 dashes Angostura bitters

Pour all ingredients except the club soda and bitters into a cocktail shaker with ice and shake. Then strain into a Collins glass filled with ice and top with soda and bitters.

I used Laird’s Bonded Applejack, Morris Kitchen ginger syrup, and Fee Brothers grenadine. But you could make your own ginger syrup by cooking up  2 cups sugar, 2 cups water, and a six-inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced. As for grenadine, I recommend making DIY grenadine.

Recipe by Tonia Guffey of Dram in Brooklyn

Cucumber Basil Gimlet

cucumberbasilgimlet

The garden at Savvy Housekeeping is overflowing with cucumbers! So we got together and made this lovely, late-summer cocktail with some of the bounty. It has a delicate and sweet flavor that’s a good antidote to the muggy weather we’re having now. We used lemon cucumbers and purple basil, but you can also use English cucumber and whatever your favorite basil variety is.

Cucumber Basil Gimlet

1 English cucumber or 2-3 small lemon cucumbers
8 basil leaves
1/2 oz fresh lime juice
1/2 oz simple syrup
2 oz gin

Peel the cucumbers, then chop into chunks and discard the peels. Muddle basil, cucumber, lime, and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and gin, then shake for 15-30 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Photo by Savvy Housekeeping

Hemingway Daiquiri

hemingwaydaiquiri-diycocktailsJuly 21 is Ernest Hemingway’s birthday. I’m using that as an excuse to mix up some Hemingway Daiquiris, so named because the drink was (supposedly) invented for good old Papa by Constantino Ribalaigua Vert at El Floridita in Havana, Cuba. So shake up a few of these bad boys, grab a copy of your favorite Hemingway novel (might I suggest “The Sun Also Rises”), and celebrate!

I made mine with Brugal Extra Dry, because those folks are always sending me lovely samples. But you can use whatever white rum you like. I would not suggest using dark or gold rum at all. Some say Hemingway liked his frozen and doubled in size (aka the Papa Doble), which would mean blending this with some ice instead of shaking. I haven’t tried it myself, but the weather definitely calls for it. Remember that maraschino liqueur is NOT maraschino cherry juice. Not even close. Luxardo is the most common brand, and it’s a good one.
Hemingway Daiquiri

1 1/2 ounces white rum
1 ounce fresh Ruby Red grapefruit juice
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon maraschino liqueur

Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice and shake for about 15 seconds. Strain into coupe or Martini glass. Optional: Garnish with lime wheel or grapefruit twist.

Fresh Cherry Margarita (and Camarena Tequila review)

CherryMargaritaFamilia Camarena sent me some tequila to review, along with a cute little cocktail tool kit. All I could think when I saw it was “Margarita time!” But all the summer fruit around made me want to get a little more creative than that. Since I couldn’t get Margaritas off my mind, I mixed up some Cherry Margaritas. I made this a little strong, since I like to taste the tequila and this is nice tequila. You can adjust the tequila and lime to your tastes.

(After the recipe, I’ll give my thoughts about Camarena Tequila.)

Cherry Margarita

12 cherries (pitted)
1 ounce light agave nectar
2 ounces silver tequila
1 1/2 ounces fresh lime juice

Muddle the cherries and the agave nectar at the bottom of a shaker or mixing glass. Add the tequila and lime juice along with ice and then shake vigorously. Strain into rocks glass with fresh ice.

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Low-Calorie Piña Colada (aka Skinny Piña Colada)

skinnypinacoladaThis drink has that lovely coconut-pineapple flavor that makes the Piña Colada so popular … only with half the calories. Savvy Housekeeping made coconut-infused vodka, and we got together for a low-calorie summer tropical cocktail party. Call it a Skinny Colada or whatever you like, but one thing is for sure: It’s damn tasty!

The infusion uses dried, shredded coconut (the kind used for baking, so you probably have half an old bag of the stuff in your cupboard). Using vodka let the pure coconut flavor shine through, but it would also be good with a light rum. We made ours a double, but you could easily halve it for a smaller drink. We also juiced a fresh pineapple, but the canned stuff would work just as well. Grab your tiny umbrella and get mixing!

Skinny Piña Colada

3 ounces Coconut-infused vodka (recipe at the link)
2 ounces pineapple juice
1/2 ounce lime juice

Combine the ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Add ice. Shake drink and strain into a glass.

Photo by Savvy Housekeeping