Chocolate Dipped Strawberry Cocktail

chocolatedippedstrawberrycocktailIt’s almost Valentines Day! This calls for a cocktail. Savvy Housekeeping and I have you covered with this delicious drink that has the delightful flavors of chocolate and fresh strawberries without being syrupy sweet. It’s actually light and refreshing!

The secret to chocolatey flavor without the heaviness of chocolate is chocolate-flavored vodka. Combine that with fresh strawberries and wow! I’m usually not a fan of commercial flavored vodkas because they taste fake to me. But 360 Double Chocolate vodka tastes like real chocolate and is made with natural ingredients. (You could make this with another chocolate vodka. I haven’t tried others, so I can’t tell you whether or not they taste like chemicals.)

This drink is pleasantly sweet with a full flavor that fills your mouth and gets better as it goes. The bitters is a must-have ingredient, because it tempers the sweetness to make it a more complex drink. Cointreau adds another layer that makes this a cocktail experience and not a dessert experience.

Chocolate Dipped Strawberry Cocktail

1 1/2 ounces chocolate vodka
1/2 ounce Cointreau or triple sec
2 ounces fresh strawberry juice (about 4-5 strawberries)
2 dashes Angostura bitters

Make the strawberry juice with a juicer or blender. Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

Photo by Savvy Housekeeping

Blood Orange Old Fashioned

bloodorangeoldfashioned
Now is the time of the dramatic and beautiful blood orange! So Savvy Housekeeping and I concocted a simple and simply delicious drink for the occasion, a variation on the Old Fashioned made with blood orange and maple syrup.

Like the original Old Fashioned, this drink is a good way to enjoy bourbon without hiding it’s flavor. Maple syrup and blood orange are a surprisingly good pair, adding a bittersweet touch to the heat and sweet undertones of bourbon.

If you are one of those Super-Bowl-lovin’ types, maybe this could be your Super Bowl drink? Don’t one of the teams wear orange costumes? Theme drink!

Blood Orange Old Fashioned

2 ounces bourbon
1/2 ounce blood orange juice
1 teaspoon maple syrup
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Twist of orange to garnish

In a glass, combine bourbon, juice, bitters, and maple syrup. Stir with ice. Garnish with orange twist.

Photo by Savvy Housekeeping

Smoky Old Mate

smokyoldmateThe idea of aging a cocktail in a barrel (similar to how whiskey is aged) has always sounded like an intriguing experiment, but I’d sipped some aged cocktails before with mixed results. Some didn’t stand out or seem worth the trouble. A few were damn tasty but also damn expensive, since the bar had to store a bunch of barrels for a month or more and charged for the effort. So I’ve never tried the DIY version.

But The Black Grouse sent me a cocktail aging kit, a recipe, and some of its scotch—the perfect incentive to give barrel-aging cocktails a try. Instead of a whole barrel, this kit came with some barrel staves (tiny aged barrel sticks!) and a small bottle. All I had to do was pop a stave in the bottle, pour in the drink ingredients, and wait a week.

Verdict: Delicious! I sampled the drink before aging it, and while it tasted good, the aging mellowed the flavors and made them deeper. The combination of bitter and sweet flavors seemed more integrated after a week in the bottle. Continue reading

Low-Calorie Blueberry Tarragon Cocktail

2014! Let’s celebrate the new year with a drink … one that is light AND delicious. Savvy Housekeeping and I got together for a January cocktail. In keeping with New Year’s resolutions, we kept the calories on the low side (and the deliciousness on the high side).
blueberrytarragoncocktailBlueberry and tarragon are a delightful combination! The tarragon adds complexity that makes it taste like you added some fancy liqueur to the mix. We used real sugar—just not a whole lot of it–to boost the natural flavors. (I can’t stand artificial sweeteners.) Our version is about 160 calories. If you cut the sugar in half, it goes down to 145 calories. If you’re doing the “Dryanuary” abstaining-from-alcohol-this-month thing, you can skip the vodka and add more club soda. (Skipping the booze makes it a 65 calorie drink.) It’s really a flexible drink–you could use a bit of honey, or gin, or another herb, or whatever floats your boat.

This was so tasty, I could have downed a few more. But I suppose that goes against the whole light, low-cal business.

Blueberry Tarragon Cocktail

1 1/2 ounces vodka
1/3 cup blueberries (one large handful)
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoon fresh tarragon
1/4 ounce fresh lime juice
Club soda to top (about 2 ounces, or more to taste)

Muddle all ingredients except club soda at the bottom of a mixing glass. Add ice and then top with club soda.

Photo by Savvy Housekeeping

Holiday Cheer

holidaycheerchampagnecocktailThe holidays are a time when, dammit, you want something super fancy and wonderful but don’t have a lot of time to make it. This Holiday Cheer cocktail I made with Savvy Housekeeping is perfect for this time of year because it’s exactly that—festive, delicious, and easy.

We used store-bought raspberry sorbet, but you can use any flavor you like. (Perhaps homemade cranberry sorbet, which I think would be great in this) If you want something a little sweeter or just don’t like hard liquor, you can skip the rye and just make it a Champagne Raspberry Float.

Holiday Cheer

1 scoop raspberry sorbet
1 ounce rye whiskey
Sparkling wine

Scoop the sorbet into a champagne flute, add the rye, and then slowly pour in sparkling wine to top. Enjoy and Merry Christmas!

Photo by Savvy Housekeeping

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