Tag Archives: cocktails

Clementine Margarita

It is #nationaltacoday so I figured it would be fitting to post a nice margarita to wash down those tacos.  My friend Naz came over this summer with a bag full of her own cocktail kit and shook up a bunch of terrific margaritas for us.  Who doesn’t want a friend like that??  She used tangerine juice but that can be hard to find so I used clementine – they are both delicious.  The sweet tang of the clementine juice is the perfect base for the tequila and she introduced me to Patron Lime Liquor which has a more limey taste then triple sec.   These margaritas would go great with my carnitas tacos or maybe some carne asada tacos.  Don’t forget jalapeno chips (I am making these tonight) or my tex mex quinoa salad.  I also used my favorite pequin pepper salt for the rim as the heat makes a nice contrast with the sweetness of the drink but you could use regular salt or skip it all together.  Happy National Taco Day!

 

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Clementine Margarita (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:   my friend Naz’s delicious drink on the go
Special Equipment:  cocktail shaker

  • 2 ounces silver tequila
  • 1 ounce Patron Lime Liqour
  • 4 ounces clementine juice
  • ice, salt and lime wedge

Shake the tequila, lime liquor and clementine juice in a cocktail shaker with ice until cold.  Pour over ice, in a salt rimmed glass if you prefer (I like to use spicy salt).

Clementine Margarita

  • Servings: 1
  • Print

Special Equipment:  cocktail shaker

  • 2 ounces silver tequila
  • 1 ounce Patron Lime Liqour
  • 4 ounces clementine juice
  • ice, salt and lime wedge

Shake the tequila, lime liquor and clementine juice in a cocktail shaker with ice until cold.  Pour over ice, in a salt rimmed glass if you prefer (I like to use spicy salt).

Summertime Strawberry Sangria

One of the very first dinner parties my husband Patrick and I ever hosted was in the backyard of a house he shared with several roommates.  We invited a bunch of friends over and I attempted to be a hostess in a house I didn’t even live in.  It was a roaring success, which I mostly attribute to this sangria.  It’s that kind of drink that sort of sneaks up on you cause it is so easy to drink.  Mind you back then we were making a modified version with vodka in it as well.  Feel free to add some but it should definitely come with a warning label then!  Following that party we realized if we were going to keep our friends standing upright we would need to tweak the recipe given to us by a bartender at the famous Jose Andres restaurant, Jaleo.  So out came the vodka and I subbed mint with basil because I liked the flavor combos better but otherwise it is mostly as Mr. Andres served it.

If you have never used Liquor 43 before, go ahead and grab a bottle – it’s a citrusy liquor that could sub well in lots of cocktails that call for triple sec or orange brandy.  I think it is a bit more delicate and floral and it goes great in this drink.  The strawberries don’t make this overly sweet – they add a hint of flavor but mostly make for a delicious boozy snack you can munch on while drinking the cocktail.

Summertime Strawberry Sangria (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:  special sangria at Jaleo
Special Equipment:  none

  • 8 strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups white grape juice
  • 1/2 cup Liquor 43
  • ice
  • 1 bottle Cava (I used my house sparkling)
  • a couple sprigs of basil

In a large pitcher combine the strawberries, white grape juice and Liquor 43.

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You can do this several hours in advance.  When ready to serve top with a couple cups of ice, carefully pour in the sparkling wine and toss in the basil.  Stir to combine and serve.

Summertime Strawberry Sangria

  • Servings: 8
  • Print

Special Equipment:  none

  • 8 strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups white grape juice
  • 1/2 cup Liquor 43
  • ice
  • 1 bottle Cava (I used my house sparkling)
  • a couple sprigs of basil

In a large pitcher combine the strawberries, white grape juice and Liquor 43.  You can do this several hours in advance.  When ready to serve top with a couple cups of ice, carefully pour in the sparkling wine and toss in the basil.  Stir to combine and serve.

 

Some Spring Cocktails and Entertaining Goodies

Apparently it is finally supposed to turn warm in DC this weekend (and by finally I mean again, since it was 80 degrees in February).  Nothing like seeing patios opening and flowers blooming to make me want to set down the heavier drinks of fall and winter and start sipping spring flavors.  I thought for the weekend I would pull together some of my favorite spring cocktails to inspire some deck parties.

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Thyme Vodka Lemonade

Mule with a Kick

Blackberry Mojito

The Cherry Blossom

This time of the year also makes me want to run out and buy everything in fun springy colors so I am sharing some of the spring entertaining items I have been drooling over lately (hint hint Mr. Easter Bunny!).

How cute are these Mark and Graham gingham plates?  Perfect for a picnic.

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They would look super cute on this Kate Spade lemon tablecloth that I already have (I found it at Home Goods for $12!!).

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How about these adorable cheese boards from Anthropologie?  It’s hard to pick just one.

I love these peacock blue glasses from CB2 – great for water glasses or any of my spring cocktails.

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And last but not least how cool is this ice mold from Crate and Barrel?  You can put flowers, fruit, leaves etc in the mold and it perfectly fits a bottle of wine.  It chills your wine and makes a functional and beautiful centerpiece!

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I hope wherever you are it’s warming up there to and you have a weekend full of friends, flowers and festivities!

 

ACC Parties: A Classy Cocktail Affair

Happy Valentines day!  This post is a perfect fit for today – romance and cocktails.  This party plan is for a classy cocktail party which I threw to celebrate the engagement of our dear friends, Erikka and Michael.  They are such an amazing couple so I wanted to go the extra mile to make this one memorable which meant dressing up, gold everywhere and thoughtful touches.  One tough issue to tackle as a hostess is either guests who you aren’t super familiar with or guests that don’t know each other all that well.  That was the case here, with family and friends coming in from all over so I wanted to keep the mood light while still making it feel special.  My solution – a make it yourself cocktail bar.  The centerpiece of this party certainly gave me some sleepless nights leading up to the date (are people going to think I am a jerk asking them to make their own drinks???) but it was a hit!  It really encouraged mingling and being engaged in the party and also freed up myself and Patrick to make sure everyone was felt taken care of with food etc.

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Pick a couple of classic cocktails that are relatively easy to make – I went with the  classic martini, manhattans, negroni and vesper.  I printed out the recipes and framed them so even a cocktail neophyte could be their own mixologist.  Then set out everything people will need to make the cocktails – the key here is in the luxe touches.  Instead of setting out giant bottles of vodka and gin I put them out in pretty decanters.  You will also need a selection of liqueurs like vermouth for the martinis.  We also had sparkling wine (my favorite house one of course) for those who didn’t want to do the cocktail thing so I set out casis, framboise and St. Germain as good toppers for the bubbly.  Red and wine wine as well as some beer rounded out the bar.

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Ramekins with all the garnishes needed like stuffed olives, maraschino cherries and citrus twists meant it was super easy for guests to customize their drink.

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Real glasses are a must here, plastic just won’t do.  Shop around to find something that fits your style and budget. I went with these martini glasses from World Market, that were perfect because of the slight bend in the glass they also worked for sparkling wine, almost like a coupe.  I couldn’t help myself and got custom made martini glasses for the happy couple.

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I always like to give out favors and for this party they served a purpose as well.  I found these great mini shakers on a restaurant supply site and got one per guest.  People used them to make their cocktails and then got to take them home to remember all the fun we had.  The shakers set out out on the table added even more metallic glamour.

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If people are knocking back cocktails all night you want to make sure the food is substantial.  I kept with the classic theme and did old school appetizers, just classed up a little.  Pigs in a blanket are always a favorite but made with puff pastry and poppy seeds they have way more flavor than the original.

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Who doesn’t love a cheese puff?  Gougeres are amazing french cheese puffs and best of all they can be made in advance, frozen and then reheated right before the party.  These went FAST.

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The chicken salad veronique cups that I posted a couple of weeks ago were a perfect one bite so people didn’t have to mess around with forks or knives.

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Add a very substantial cheese board, bowls of olives and nuts, and some dips (I made the groom’s favorite with crudite) and people will have plenty to nosh on while they mix and mingle.

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I ordered these beautiful napkins from For Your Party – they are my favorite resource for customized items and they always turn out beautiful.

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Finish off the party with something sweet – I did my Individual Tiramisu because they are a sentimental favorite of the couple.  You could always head to your local bakery and get a selection of cookies, brownies etc to make things even easier.

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It was an incredible night for an incredible couple.  But don’t wait for friends to get engaged to throw this party – this would be a great way to break up the winter doldrums by getting dressed up and shaking some cocktails.  Wishing everyone a very happy Valentines day and congratulations Erikka and Michael!!

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The Ballot Puncher

If any election day calls for a stiff cocktail it is this one!  No matter your party affiliation or level of involvement I am sure we can all say we are glad this campaign season is almost over.  This drink is the perfect anecdote to election night stress – espresso to keep you up for late night results, gin to keep you smiling and some bitter Campari to well…I think you get the bitter part!

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You are going to have to take a leap of faith with this drink – I realize it sounds disgusting.  It all came about when my friend Erikka was travelling and texted a drink menu pic with a negroni that had espresso in it.  Her boyfriend and I immediately decided to try it out and were totally impressed – I honestly have no idea why it works but the floral, bitter and sweet notes all come together for an awesome drink.  Just remember to GO VOTE before you start downing these!

The Ballot Puncher (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:  GO VOTE!
Special Equipment:  cocktail shaker

  • 2 ounces fresh espresso, at room temperature
  • 2 ounces gin
  • 2 ounces Campari

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake until cold.  Strain and serve up.

The Ballot Puncher

  • Servings: 1
  • Print

Special Equipment:  cocktail shaker

  • 2 ounces fresh espresso, at room temperature
  • 2 ounces gin
  • 2 ounces Campari

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake until cold.  Strain and serve up.

A Nautical BBQ

The 4th of July is the perfect time to hang outside with friend and family, especially if you have a great deck like we do.  We are really lucky to have a view of fireworks from ours so usually we just post up on the deck and hang until it gets dark and the show starts.  But you don’t have to wait for 4th of July to roll around to have a lovely and really easy BBQ at your place – this menu is designed so that almost everything is made in advance and can be served at room temperature so you can relax and enjoy your guests.  I decided to go with a nautical theme for the table and even some of the food since it works well for 4th of July.  I also just so happen to have a “boat load” of nautical entertaining gear.

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A party like this screams for disposable serve wear but that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice style.  I love bamboo plates for this because they are really sturdy, are eco friendly, chic and you don’t feel bad throwing them away.  Paired with cute wooden utensils and a large charcoal napkin your guests won’t even care they don’t have the real stuff.  Always remember when you are outside to think about what may blow away – I used my gorg turtle bottle opener as a paper weight but it did double duty with the beers.  I used lanterns filled with citronella candles to keep the DC bugs at bay and just set out all the dishes in the middle of the table so people could help them selves.  Scroll to the bottom for the sources of all this fun nautical stuff.  On to the menu!

Thyme Vodka Lemonade

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Just posted this Tuesday, this drink is perfect for a BBQ.  Not too potent and so refreshing.  I created a self serve bar by setting out glasses and an ice bucket so people could help themselves.  I love stemless wine glasses for parties because they work as a wine glass, water glass or cocktail glass (also my friends seem less prone to breaking these and Crate and Barrel sells them in 12 packs!).  We also had a bucket with summer beers and some crisp summer whites set up next to the bar.

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Open and Serve Snacks

My favorite kind!  The best way to round out a menu is to have some items where you have to do zero work at all.  Since I was already going “overboard” with the nautical theme I even went with nautical snacks.  These Wye River Crabbers are easily available in the Mid Atlantic – I buy them on the Eastern Shore but have seen them in local Harris Tetters – but you could definitely sub goldfish crackers here.  Sandbaggers are these awesome Virginia peanuts that are tossed with salt and fresh black pepper.  Again you can find them locally here in stores but go online and get some if you live elsewhere – they are a revelation.

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Of course I also had to go with Cape Cod Potato chips to make sure New England was represented.  A pretty bowl will class up any snack so make sure to use your best here (ie not disposable) and keep an eye on the levels throughout the party and replenish as needed.

Corn Fritters with Jalapeño Jelly

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These fritters were by far the most popular thing on the table.  The sweet corn is such a good foil to the spicy jelly.  I was nervous about making them in advance but they turned out really well – fry them off earlier in the day and then just reheat in the oven.  Even at room temperature they were delicious.  I topped them with my new obsession, Woodberry Pantry Chile Pepper Jam.  Made in Baltimore with fish peppers that are native to the Mid Atlantic region, it’s pretty spicy but with a nice sweet finish.  You can buy it on line or at Salt and Sundry in DC.

Crab Stuffed Grilled Bell Peppers

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Another really easy make ahead snack set out on a cute whale cutting board.  Crab can be expensive for a crowd but a little goes a long way with this dish.  I grilled the peppers ahead of time and made the filling in advance as well so all I had to do was scoop the crab mixture into the peppers and set them out on this cute whale cutting board my mom got me.  Delish.

Sausage and Peppers

Ok I didn’t take any pics of the main dish of the night – mostly because I was having way too much fun!  Not sure if you all need to know what sausage and peppers look like anyway.  I did a mix of hot and sweet sausages that I just picked up at the grocery store.  I par boiled them for 10 minutes until they cooked through so all the grill master needed to do was throw them on the grill for a couple of minutes to get a nice char on the outside.  I also sauteed up some onions and bell peppers earlier in the day until they were caramelized and soft.  Reheated in a skillet on the grill and with a quick splash of balsamic vinegar they were great piled on top of the sausages in their buns.  You could also sub for regular hot dogs to make life even easier.

Salted Caramel Brownies

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I have to admit – these were not the easiest brownies to make.  When I saw this recipe in the New York Times I immediately printed it out and made it that weekend.  The results were delicious but as you can see from the pic pretty messy!  All the caramel makes them pretty tough to cut but if you have the patience go for it!  If not I think brownies and cookies purchased from your favorite bakery would be a great way to go.  Some fresh strawberries are a great way to decorate the dish and add some fruit to the mix.  Have a great 4th of July – hope you get inspired and whip up some of these dishes!

Sources:  Gurgling Cod pitcher by Shreve, Crump & Low; Silver table lanterns (similar) from Pottery Barn ; Table runner from Serena and Lily no longer available – similar from World Market; Bamboo Plates and wooden utensils from Amazon; Stemless wine glasses from Crate and Barrel; Buoy bottle opener (similar) from Marc and Graham;  Nautical bowls no longer available – similar from Stonewall Kitchen; Fish plate serving the fritters from Come by Chance in St. Michaels, MD; Whale cutting board (similar) from Anthropologie.

 

Thyme for Vodka Lemonade

I am taking next week off for a little R&R but wanted to leave you all with some great ideas for the 4th of July.  We usually go see the Nationals play in the morning and then have people over to grill and relax until the fireworks start.  An informal BBQ like that will be just fine with a cooler of beer and some chilled wine but I always like to have a signature drink as well.  Pitcher drinks are a girl’s best friend in the summer.  Even better if the recipe makes two pitchers!  This spiked lemonade is perfect for the 4th when you have lots of people coming and going.  Also feel free to omit the vodka so it’s good for all ages (or do an adult friendly and a kid friendly pitcher.)

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I love lemonade – really anything made with lemons – but sometimes it can be a little cloying.  The addition of thyme adds a nice herbaceous note that compliments the fresh (yes fresh!) lemon juice perfectly.  I make a thyme simple syrup to infuse the whole drink with the thyme flavor but also have some extra fresh thyme on hand to garnish the drinks.  Simple syrup rather than straight sugar ensures that the lemonade mixes together perfectly – just make sure to use really cold water and a decent vodka.  After juicing all those lemons it would be a shame to use crappy vodka.  I used a new favorite from a local DC distiller, District Made Vodka from One Eight Distilling.  Right in our neighborhood, this distillery takes its vodka making seriously by using a special Russian technique to get a nice smooth finish.  Check back in on Thursday for a whole menu ideal for a 4th of July BBQ to pair with this drink.

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Thyme Vodka Lemonade (printable version at the end of the post)

Inspiration:  Summer BBQ’s
Special Equipment:  juicer (optional)

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 bunch thyme (extra for garnish)
  • 2 cups fresh lemon juice
  • 3 cups ice cold water
  • 3 cups vodka

In a saucepan combine the sugar and 1 1/2 cups water over medium high heat.  Stir occasionally until all the sugar has dissolved, usually a couple of minutes.  Turn off the heat and add the thyme.  Let the syrup steep for 10 minutes, then remove the thyme and place in the fridge to cool.

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While the simple syrup is cooling you can juice the lemons – make sure to use fresh juice.  In two pitchers or 1 large drink dispenser combine the chilled syrup, the lemon juice, 3 cups of cold water and 3 cups of vodka.  Stir to combine.  The lemonade can be made earlier in the day and stored in the fridge – serve over ice.

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Thyme Vodka Lemonade

  • Servings: 2 pitchers
  • Print

Special Equipment:  juicer (optional)

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 bunch thyme (extra for garnish)
  • 2 cups fresh lemon juice
  • 3 cups ice cold water
  • 3 cups vodka

In a saucepan combine the sugar and 1 1/2 cups water over medium high heat.  Stir occasionally until all the sugar has dissolved, usually a couple of minutes.  Turn off the heat and add the thyme.  Let the syrup steep for 10 minutes, then remove the thyme and place in the fridge to cool.

While the simple syrup is cooling you can juice the lemons – make sure to use fresh juice.  In two pitchers or 1 large drink dispenser combine the chilled syrup, the lemon juice, 3 cups of cold water and 3 cups of vodka.  Stir to combine.  The lemonade can be made earlier in the day and stored in the fridge – serve over ice.

 

 

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