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

Mocktails and Non-Alcoholic Drinks

Original_Mocktails-Virgin-Grapefruit-MojitoMaybe you overdid it a little on New Year’s Eve, or maybe you just want something delicious to drink that doesn’t contain alcohol. Either way, if you’re skipping the booze, you aren’t limited to water and soda. Previously, I found some tasty non-alcoholic drinks that don’t suck, and here are some more for 2014!

Spiced Thyme and Lime Iced Tea ~ Tea complemented with some herbs and spice (and of course a little lime) is a nice way to get layered, deep flavors without alcohol.

Virgin Grapefruit Mojito ~ Often times the virgin version of a cocktail disappoints or is just a sugary substitute. But thanks to the complexity of grapefruit and a recipe that uses agave or honey instead of sugar, this one is a sophisticated winner.

Horchata de Arroz Tostada ~ Toasted rice and cinnamon! It’s delicious to drink. Sure, it’s not anything like a damn cocktail, but cocktails could learn from this tasty beverage.

Apio-Rey ~ Celery, coriander, and grapes are an unusual combination that make for a satisfying drink made with sparkling water. I’ve never had Cel-Ray soda, but it’s supposed to be a take on that.

DIY Grape Soda ~ This isn’t Grape Crush! Homemade grape soda is like non-alcoholic wine with bubbles (and a little sweetness).

Christmas Cocktails

20121230-231729-diyvsbuy-advocaatMerry Almost-Christmas! Time for some delicious eggnog! Or is it? While I love the stuff, it’s not everyone’s thing. So if you want to celebrate with something that isn’t eggnog, here are some tasty options.

Christmas Cup ~ This light and simple sparkler is made with cherry brandy, ginger ale, and Prosecco. You can keep it flowing as you and yours open gifts or chat.

Lamb’s Wool ~ Christmas is a time where Americans love to do British things. Is this because of Dickens? Colonial traditions? Or just because the English are so damn cozy. This traditional spiced ale is perfect for warming the heart with your loved ones around.

Trinidad Punch ~ Rum, chocolate, vanilla, and coconut milk? Now that’s what I call celebrating. Merry Christmas to me! (Scroll way way down in the post for the recipe.)

Spiced Rum Cider ~ Sip this one as you sing Christmas carols (skipping the rum makes a nice non-alcoholic version for teetotalers and kids).

Advocaat ~ This is the traditional Christmas drink of the Netherlands. Although, it’s actually more like a dessert—egg yolks give a custardy texture that is satisfying to spoon or slurp. What can I say? I like my hoildays eggy.

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

Warm up with Hot Cocktails

Amsterdam Hot Chocolate from 12 Bottle Bar

I must get cold around this time of year, because last year at this same time I rounded up some hot drinks to warm yourself up with. If you want even more options, here are some other delicious cocktails that are served warm for this cozy time of year.

Calientito ~ This hot pear cider with tequila that is perfect for fall. The recipe calls for Asian pears, which are possibly the best ones!

Trinidad Punch ~ Rum, chocolate, coconut milk, and vanilla … I don’t see how you can go wrong with that combination. (scroll to the bottom of her post for the recipe)

Blackberry Hot Toddy ~ This fruity twist on a classic hot cocktail is a beautiful color, so it’s great for a party situation. The tea and herbs sound like a great complement to the fruit and bourbon.

Amsterdam Hot Chocolate ~ Genever and Grand Marnier add a little extra oomph to already-delicious hot chocolate. Mandatory: top with whipped cream!

Hot Rum Cow ~ Rum and milk with just the right spices makes for a simple cocktail that’s reminiscent of all the creamy holiday drinks without all the heaviness.

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.

DIY Liqueurs for Fall

20121116-230136-diycranberryliqueurThe crunch of leaves under my feet. The chill in the air. The desire to cozy up inside with a good drink … or a good project. It’s fall! DIY liqueurs are very easy to make with ordinary ingredients. No special equipment required! Here are a few seasonal cocktail projects that will help you celebrate fall:

DIY Cranberry Liqueur ~ With Thanksgiving just around the corner, you may have a bag of these tart little berries chilling in your fridge already. This liqueur will help you capture that feeling for months to come.

DIY Pumpkin Liqueur ~ Pumpkin pie … in a drinkable format, who could ask for anything more. It’s a surprisingly versatile ingredient that’s great in hot drinks, too.

DIY Honey Liqueur ~ Honey pairs well with the spices and fruits we love to savor during fall. This liqueur is dead simple and delicious.

DIY Allspice Dram ~ Speaking of spice, this allspice liqueur (aka allspice dram or pimento dram) is a staple for Tiki drinks yet also pairs well with apple and pear cocktails. How autumnal!

DIY Pear Liqueur ~ Splash this homemade pear liqueur in some sparkling wine for a quick and elegant cocktail treat. Pears are plentiful this time of year, so you’d better stock up on Champagne, too.

Pear Cocktails

Pear & Bubbles from Spoon Fork Bacon

Pear & Bubbles from Spoon Fork Bacon

Pears are often overlooked for flashier fruits, but it has a delicate flavor that is just right for cozy fall cocktails. They go so well with a variety of spirits, herbs, and spices. Aside from making DIY pear liqueur, here are some other ways to enjoy pears in your drinks this season!

Spiced Pear Punch ~ Roasted pear puree, gin, Cognac, ginger liqueur, and Prosecco? This punch sounds delightful! I will have to have a party just to have an excuse to make it.

Pear & Bubbles ~ Cardamom is another oft-overlooked flavor that I’m always happy to find in my consumables. In this case, it’s paired with pear, cinnamon, brown sugar, and lemon for a festive Champagne cocktail.

Pear Haymaker ~ Vodka, ginger, pears, and lemon combine for a refreshing and clean fall cocktail that you can drink day or night.

Ginger Pear Gimlet ~ Jazz up some gin with pear, ginger, and thyme for a fresh take on a classic.

Spiced Pear Daiquiri ~ Another new twist on a classic, this one uses spiced rum and pears in the simple daiquiri for some autumnal oomph.

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

Halloween Cocktails and Punches

La Llorona from Muy Bueno Cookbook

La Llorona from Muy Bueno Cookbook

It’s (almost) time for Halloween cocktails again! Since I’m not a big fan of cocktails with fake coloring and too much sugar, Halloween can be a challenging time to find the right party drink. Here are a few that get into the spirit without grossing me out!

The Devil’s Own ~ Gin, vermouth, Cointreau, and bitters … simple like a Martini, but with a fun little twist. This one’s for people who love the classics.

Caramel Apple Punch ~ Not sure why “caramel” is in the name, but I won’t argue with the tasty recipe: spiced rum, apple cider, lemon, and fresh apple slices. Great for a group!

Pumpkin Punch ~ There’s nothing wrong with having a little bit of a sweet tooth, and this drink handles it in just the right way. Cinnamon-infused rum is tricked out with pumpkin and sweetened condensed milk for a light dessert touch.

La Llorona ~ (In English that would be “Weeping Woman.”) With Pisco, lemon, lime and a touch of sugar and dash of bitters, this is a straight-forward and refreshing cocktail that will make you feel OK about eating all that candy.

Sinister Cider Cocktail ~ Apple, maple syrup, and vodka make for a balanced and fun drink you can sip all night long.