Thursday, October 16, 2014

Pear and Bourbon Ginger Snap

Pear and Bourbon Ginger Snap

The other day I was poaching pears in a ginger syrup for a cheese course dish and the aroma was intoxicating. Even the next morning, my kitchen still a light ginger fragrance and the leftover pears on my counter were ripe and aromatic. I just had to do something more with all that!

Pear and Bourbon Ginger Snap
I had reduced the ginger poaching liquid and stowed it in the fridge. It's such a lovely addition to beverages or cakes. And, of course, when I say beverages I definitely include cocktails. The warmth of the spicy ginger goes well with the warmth of bourbon and a few ice cubes helped but the strength. I think I should keep ginger syrup around all the time. Cheers!

Per Serving:
1 1/2 oz. Bourbon
1 1/2 oz. Pear Juice
1 oz. Ginger simple syrup (recipe below)
1/2 oz. Lemon juice

Ginger Syrup:
1 Cup Sugar
1 Cup Water
2 Hands fresh ginger, sliced
Tiny pinch of salt

To make the syrup, combine the sugar, water, sliced ginger and salt in a pot on medium heat. Stir until the sugar has dissolved and remove from the heat. Let the pot sit, off the heat, for a couple of hours or until completely cool. Strain, pour into a bottle and keep in the fridge.

To make the cocktail, combine the bourbon, pear juice, ginger syrup and lemon juice in a glass. Fill with ice cubes and stir.

Ginger Poached Pears with Gorgonzola and Walnuts

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Pumpkin Cheesecake Martini

Pumpkin Cheesecake Martini

In case you were concerned that we're already more than a week into October and there haven't been any pumpkin cocktails, rest easy.  We like our pumpkins in all forms and that definitely includes liquid!

Pumpkin Cheesecake Martini
For some reason, I've had cheesecake on the brain lately.  Um... OK, I'm lying because I pretty much always have cheesecake on the brain, but more intensely these days. Probably because I've been planning to bake a pumpkin cheesecake (not something I've made before) and most of my desserts end up recreated as cocktails.

While I was browsing around the interwebs I saw a lot of cheesecake flavored instant pudding granules being used but I didn't have any in the house.  I do however have cream cheese and that is, after all, how I make cheesecake.  It's now also how I make cheesecake cocktails.  Cheers!

Per Serving:
3 oz. Half & half or milk
2 Tablespoons cream cheese
1 1/2 oz. Vanilla vodka
1 1/2 oz. Unsweetened pumpkin puree
1 oz. Simple syrup
1/2 oz. Buttershots liqueur
Pinch of cinnamon
Tiny pinch of salt
Crushed graham cracker for the rim

Place the crushed graham cracker in a shallow bowl.  Rub a tiny bit of pumpkin puree along the rim of your cocktail glass and dip it into the cracker bowl. Refrigerate for a few minutes to set.

In a blender or small food processor, puree the milk, cream cheese, vodka, pumpkin, simple syrup, buttershots, cinnamon and salt.  Pour into the prepared glass and keep in the refrigerator for approx. 15 minutes to cool and thicken.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Sparkling Lemon Pear-tini

Sparkling Lemon Pear-tini

We've been having a mini heatwave in New York the last couple of weeks.  The last bits of summer intruding into our fall. So the bounty of autumn pears in the market are begging to be used, but not exactly in front of a warming fireplace.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Maple Daiquiri

Maple Daiquiri

The basic daiquiri is a wonderfully simple and tasty classic.  Just three ingredients - rum, lime and sugar.  But those few components blend together so harmoniously.  Much more fun, though, is the fact that it's an easy drink to adapt.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Apple Pie Martini

Apple Pie Martini

I still remember the first time I heard about apple martinis. It sounded so unusual and intriguing and, when I was at a restaurant that offered it, I was excited to try. Until it arrived, all neon green and practically glowing in the glass. Hmm. Oh, it tasted nice, even if not exactly like apple, but somehow not quite what I expected.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Fig and Bourbon

The Fig and Bourbon

The temperature has finally fallen a bit around here.  Still warm but no longer hot.  The summer fruits are disappearing, replaced by lovely apples and pears and figs!  Yay for figs.  They have such a short growing season from late summer into early fall and are almost gone already.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Pear Cosmo

Pear Cosmo

Now that Labor Day weekend has come and gone, we're in that place between mourning the passing of summer and the anticipation of autumn and a slight nip in the air.  And while many of the summer fruits are becoming scarcer, they're being replaced with juicy apples and fragrant ripe pears.  I'm actually a little obsessed with pears these days.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Bourbon and Thyme Peach Smash

Bourbon and Thyme Peach Smash

Even though we're quickly coming up on Labor Day weekend, I'm taking advantage of the last bits of summer I can grab.  There's still plenty of beautiful ripe fruit to be had at the market and the August peaches are sweet and juicy.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Blueberry Lemon Drop

Blueberry Lemon Drop

For the last few years, late August has meant vacation heaven on the coast of Maine.  We know where to stay, where to eat and definitely where to drink.  There are always at least a few meals at One Dock and we can't wait to see what specialty cocktail they've added to their menu.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Peach Cobbler Cocktail

Peach Cobbler Cocktail

I've been waiting for the August peaches!  In some ways, they're a frustrating fruit because they're available in my market all year long but they're not worth eating.  Hard as rocks with no flavor or aroma.  But there they are, on display, taunting me.  August, though, is when the peaches become peachy!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Icy Cold Blood Orange Cosmo

Icy Cold Blood Orange Cosmo

Once again I found myself planning cocktails in the produce aisle.  There's always a dazzling array of fruit these days but something usually jumps out.  This week, some blood oranges rolled into my basket and demanded to come home with me.  So ripe they practically juiced themselves and filled my kitchen with a lovely fragrance.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Cheesecake Martini

Cheesecake Martini

Yesterday was National Cheesecake Day and I celebrated with several dozen of my fellow food bloggers.  We each made our own perfect version of cheesecake and my Blueberry Ricotta Cream Cheesecake was definitely my ideal.  But whenever I have a killer dessert, I start to wonder if I can turn it into a killer cocktail.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Golden Kiwi Cocktail

Golden Kiwi Cocktail

Delivery people who come to my door usually have to contend with an eager tail wagger who assumes that they are there to play with her.  But today, the man who delivered my Fresh Direct weekly grocery order also had to contend with me practically ripping the boxes out of his arms.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

S'mores Martini

Summer and s'mores just go together.  The smell of roasted, slightly burned marshmallows conjures up memories of summer camp and long lazy kid days.  Of course, grown-ups can eat s'mores, too, but it's kinda fun to drink them as well.  If you don't already have a bottle of marshmallow vodka, you need to get some.  Right now.  For one thing, you need it to make this drink and you do want to make this drink.  You can also use it to make a Frozen Fluffernutter and you want to make that, too.  Drinking it straight from the bottle is also an option.  Cheers!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Rummy Pistachio Milkshake

Last week I had the good, and tasty, fortune to sample a new line of Häagen-Dazs gelato flavors.  Yes, I realize it's a tough job but I'm only doing it for all of you.  Um, yeah, sure.  Anyhow, I ended up using most of the flavors to make mini crunch cakes but I still had some pistachio flavor left over in my freezer.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Icy Cold Watermelon Martini

Icy Cold Watermelon Martini

So, remember a few weeks ago when I was in such a hurry for summer to arrive?  We can check that off the list now because it's arrived and with a vengeance.  No, I'm not wishing it away.  Not at all.  But I am wishing for something tall and icy cold to drink.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Frozen Apricot Daiquiri

Frozen Apricot Daiquiri

I love farmers markets and big displays of fresh produce and it's one of the many reasons to love summer.  Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of bags of frozen fruit in my freezer.  Those are perfect for smoothies and frozen cocktails.  But they don't have the ability, while I'm wandering through the fruit stalls, to grab me with their fresh aroma and demand to be purchased.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Cantaloupe Melon Martini

Cantaloupe Melon Martini

I love the smells of summer.  Ocean water, suntan lotion, fresh fruit...those aromas all make me happy.  The melons especially call out to me when I'm walking past a display of them.  It's always tricky knowing which ones are ripe but I've found that with most fruit, the fragrance tells the story.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Lychee Martini

Lychee Martini

Do you remember when the world was supposed to end?  It was around May of 2011 when the rapture was supposed to occur.  Since we're all still here, the folks who were predicting it were clearly a little off...and maybe even more than a little off, if you know what I mean.  And before you start thinking that I've gone a little off, I guess I should explain what all this has to do with lychee martinis.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Pineapple Mojito

Pineapple Mojito

Spring is quickly giving way to summer around here with temperatures moving into 80's.  Still not oppressively hot, though.  Perfect for beach days and picnics, street festivals and afternoons in the park.  And, of course, tall cool drinks on the porch.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Thyme and Nectarine Gimlet

Thyme and Nectarine Gimlet

So, last week a made a nectarine cocktail because I couldn't resist the sweet aroma of them on display in my market.  Well, this week, I walked in there with the intention of buying pineapples but those were right next to the nectarine display, still sitting there, wafting nectarine smells in my direction.  Who could resist wafting nectarines?

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Creamy Frozen Nectarine Blitz

Creamy Frozen Nectarine Blitz Cocktail

Happy almost Memorial Day weekend!  The start of summer beach days and grilling and long lazy afternoons sitting on a porch sipping a cool drink.  Yes, I know that's somewhat idealized and there's still work to be done during the week.  But we still need to savor those lazy, cool drink times because they'll be gone before we know it!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Frozen White Pear Cosmo

Frozen White Pear Cosmo

I'm loving the spring weather we're having, even if it's a little on the rainy side this year.  But after such a long, cold winter, I'll take any relief.  And warm weather makes me want to put fruit in a blender and pour vodka on it.  Rum would work, too.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Vodka Sidecar (Balalaika)

Vodka Sidecar (Balalaika)

Bala what?  Balalaika?  Such an odd name for a cocktail, isn't it?  And not one we've often heard being ordered across the local bar.  But it's actually a $25 dollar word for a very simple drink.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Tropical Fiesta Cocktail

Tropical Fiesta Cocktail

It's just a few short days until we celebrate Cinco de Mayo and already I see tons of margarita recipes all around the internet.  The Mexican holiday is always a big deal in New York, mostly as an excuse to go out and eat delicious Mexican food and drink tequila cocktails.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Mint Julep

Mint Julep

The famous Kentucky Derby has been run on the first Saturday in May since 1875.  And though the race itself only lasts about two minutes, the festivities and traditions make for a big party.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Gin and Cucumber Smash

Gin and Cucumber Smash

The first time I heard of cucumbers being used in a cocktail, I was both intrigued and doubtful.  I mean, I really love cucumbers but the thought of drinking them seemed so odd.  But I guess the intrigued part won out because I looked up a recipe and quickly threw together the drink.  Nope.  Not remotely appealing.  Bitter and overly savory, it was more medicine than delightful refreshment.  I shelved the idea.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Pear & Thyme Gin Fizz

I seem to be a little obsessed with thyme these days.  Slow braised beef dishes, veggie sides, you name it and I toss a little thyme in it.  So why should cocktails be any exception?

Using savory herbs in beverages is nothing new, of course, and I'm hardly the first person to muddle some thyme into a drink.  But I keep looking for new flavor combinations to go with it.  The crisp, early spring weather put me in the mood for some crisp pear juice.  Vodka would be great here but I was also in the mood for that juniper aroma of gin.  Happily, the thyme enhanced both flavors.  Cheers!

Per Serving:
2 oz. Gin
2 oz. Pear juice
1/2 oz. Simple syrup
1/2 Teaspoon thyme leaves
2 oz. Club soda

Add the gin, pear juice, simple syrup and thyme to a cocktail shaker.  Muddle the thyme leaves with a muddler or the back of a wooden spoon.  Fill with ice and shake well.  Pour into a chilled cocktail glass and top off with the club soda.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Carrot Cake Cocktail

A few days ago, I got a package in the mail and it contained a whole lotta carrots.  This veggie largess was compliments of Grimmway Farms with whom I will be working on a project next month.  My immediate reaction was to get a tub of hummus and start munching away while I decided what else I could do with them.

Since there's only so much hummus a woman can eat (I'm kidding, actually, because I go through a whole lot of carrots and hummus), I did all the expected things one would do with a big box of carrots.  I tossed them into salads, roasted them with butter and maple syrup and added them to pots of soup and stew.  But there were still more carrots.  With Easter approaching, should I make carrot cake?  Healthy carrot muffins?  I could, of course, but this was way more fun.  Cheers!

For Two Servings:
10 Baby carrots
4 oz. Cream or half & half
2 oz. Vanilla vodka
2 oz. Spiced rum
1 oz. Irish cream liqueur
2 oz. Butterscotch sauce (recipe follows)
Pinch of sea salt
Pinch of cinnamon
2 Tablespoons easy cream cheese frosting (recipe follows)
1 Tablespoon finely chopped walnuts

Easy Cream Cheese Frosting:
2 Tablespoons cream cheese, at room temperature
1 Tablespoon powdered sugar
1 Teaspoon vanilla

Mix all the ingredients thoroughly until the sugar has dissolved.

Butterscotch Sauce:
1/2 Cup sugar
1/2 Cup heavy cream
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 Teaspoon vanilla
Pinch of sea salt

Note:  I noticed that many recipes for carrot cake martinis call for butterscotch liqueur but I didn't have any and didn't want to buy a whole bottle just for this recipe.  I found that making a butterscotch sauce worked jut fine and the remaining sauce is great over ice cream!

Melt the sugar in a pot over a low to medium flame.  Do not walk away.  When the sugar has completely dissolved, remove it from the heat and add the heavy cream.  The mixture will bubble up.  Return to a low heat, add the butter, vanilla and salt and stir until all lumps are gone and the sauce is a light golden brown.

Prepare the glasses by dipping the rims into the cream cheese frosting and immediately rolling them around in the chopped walnuts.  Place in the refrigerator to set while you assemble the rest of the cocktail.

Add the carrots and cream to a blender and puree until the carrots are completely broken down.  Add the liquid to a cocktail shaker along with the vodka, rum, Irish cream liqueur, 2 tablespoons of butterscotch sauce, sea salt and cinnamon.  Fill with ice and shake vigorously.  Pour through a strainer into the prepared cocktail glasses.

Note:  Although I received the carrots as a gift, I was not otherwise compensated and under no obligation to use them in a recipe or write about them.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Frozen Fluffernutter Martini

When I was a little girl, there were only two kinds of kid-approved sandwiches and both involved peanut butter.  The classic PB&J, of course, and the fluffernutter.  That ingenious combination of sweet marshmallow fluff and salty peanut butter was perfect on its own or with the addition of some sliced bananas.  OK, sometimes there was some chocolate hazelnut spread as well but the fluff was the constant.

I really hadn't eaten either sandwich in years but I happened to find myself with leftover peanut butter from a recent chocolate and PB dessert recipe and a bit of fluff from whoopie pies back in the fall.  Ironically, I didn't even consider making a sandwich but instead I hatched an evil cocktail plan.  You see, I also had a bottle of Smirnoff Fluffed Vodka on hand.  And evil is a fitting description for this drink, let me tell you.  Perfectly balanced and not overly sweet, it goes down way too easily.  Cheers!

For 2 Servings:
4 oz. Marshmallow fluff vodka
1 Banana, frozen
3 Tablespoons peanut butter
3 Tablespoons marshmallow fluff
1/4 Cup milk
Pinch of sea salt
Whipped cream, for garnish
1 Teaspoon peanut butter thinned out with 1 teaspoon milk, for garnish

Add the vodka, banana, peanut butter, marshmallow fluff, milk and sea salt to a blender.  Fill with ice and blend until all the ice has been crushed.  Pour into two chilled cocktail glasses, garnish with whipped cream and drizzle with the thinned peanut butter.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Springtime Martini

Hooray for the first day of spring!  It may take a little while longer for the snow to melt and the cherry blossoms to flower but I'm happy nonetheless.  This winter has lasted way too long and I'm ready to celebrate its departure.

As I took the dog for a walk today, I stopped by the fruit cart vendor to see what he has on offer.  For so many frigid and snowy days the past couple of months, he hasn't been there at all, so I was pleased just at the sight of him.  There was a light breeze and I smelled citrus.  And I knew the perfect way to toast the new season.  Cheers!

Per Serving:
2 oz. Gin
1/2 oz. Orange juice
1/2 oz. Pineapple juice
1/2 oz. Lime juice
1/2 oz. Simple Syrup
1/2 oz. Aperol *

Add all the ingredients to a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake well.  Pour into chilled martini glasses and garnish with lime.

*  Aperol is an Italian aperitif, somewhat bitter and with strong notes of grapefruit.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Lemon Meringue Martini

This drink dates back to when we finally broke down and bought our first bottle of whipped vodka.  We scoffed at first but suddenly all these vodka brands were getting themselves whipped and fluffed and we couldn't fight it off anymore.  So when we were browsing around the liquor store (yes, we are the kind of people who browse in liquor stores) one of those bottles went into our basket.  Back home we approached it with some doubt as to whether it would taste sweet or artificial but, it was good.  Really good.

Since then, our whipped, fluffed and flavored collection has grown larger proportions.  And that's meant reinventing some of our older cocktail creations.  Because these vodkas are both sweeter and lower in alcohol than traditional vodkas, we've re-calibrated some older recipes as well as played around with new ones.  This lemony delight is actually a good example of how much different the whipped vodka is because an ounce of lemon juice to two ounces of vodka should be sour as hell.  But this drink is in perfect sweet and sour balance.  It's in perfect yummy balance, too.  Cheers!

Per Serving:
2 oz. Whipped vodka
1 oz. Fresh lemon juice
1/2 oz. Simple syrup
1 oz. Cream or half & half
1 oz. Whipped cream topping

Add the vodka, lemon juice, simple syrup and cream to a cocktail shaker and fill with ice.  Shake well and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  Garnish with the whipped cream topping and a bit of lemon zest, if desired.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Manhattan

I've always thought of the Manhattan as the quintessential grown up drink.  It always reminds me of some dark, oak paneled New York bar with elegant, well dressed people sipping scotch and whiskey.  And it's definitely a drink to be slowly sipped because it will knock you right off that bar stool.  Although, the ingredients are few and simple, the flavor is actually quite complex.  And, to me, the aroma is as intoxicating as the alcohol.  Definitely a classic favorite around here.  Cheers!

Per Serving:
2 oz. Whiskey
1 oz. Sweet vermouth
Dash of angostura bitters
Maraschino cherry for garnish

You can choose to combine the whiskey, vermouth and bitters in a cocktail shaker with ice or simply add the ingredients to an 'old fashioned' glass and serve on the rocks, as shown here.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Strawberry Thyme Gin Fizz

Last year, my good friend Heidi created a line of flavored syrups, called Not So Simple Syrup, and I had the pleasure of trying a few of them.  She and I are bonded in our love of cocktails and natural flavors are important to both of us.  She works with a local bottler and uses only fresh ingredients.  I was impressed the first time I tried them.

Since then, I've been having fun using all the different syrups in different drinks but my favorite remains the strawberry.  It has such a clean, fresh taste and is so perfect for drinks.  So even though strawberries are not in season right now, I can still make a strawberry cocktail.  Her web site is up and running (and no, she's not paying me to say this) so I can order more syrups whenever I run out.  Considering how easy this drink went down, I may be running out pretty quick.  Cheers!

Per Serving:
2 oz. Gin
2 oz. Strawberry Not So Simple Syrup
1/2 oz. Lemon juice
2 oz. Lemon-lime soda
Leaves of two thyme sprigs

Add the syrup and thyme leaves to a cocktail shaker and muddle until the leaves have broken down a bit.  Add the gin and lemon juice and fill the shaker with ice.  Shake well and pour into a chilled cocktail glass.  Top with the lemon-lime soda and garnish with a sprig of thyme.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Chocolate Hazelnut-Tini

There are probably very few treats I love as much as peanut butter.  But chocolate hazelnut spread would come a close second in the 'just hand me a big spoon' category.  I actually grew up eating plenty of it on toast since it was a favorite of my European parents.  But I'm pretty sure they never thought to make a cocktail out of it.

They didn't know what they were missing, though, because it makes a wonderful drink.  Tempered with vodka and some hazelnut liqueur, it's smooth and not too sticky sweet.  You can omit slathering it on the rim of the glass, of course, but...why?  Cheers!

Per Serving:
1 oz. Vanilla vodka
1 oz. Hazelnut liqueur
1 oz. Chocolate hazelnut spread
2 oz. Half & half or cream
Extra chocolate hazelnut spread for garnish, optional

To prepare the glass, place a bit of chocolate hazelnut spread in a shallow dish and run the rim of your glass through it.

Combine the half & half or cream and the chocolate hazelnut spread in a small bowl and microwave for about 10 - 15 seconds.  Pour into a cocktail shaker along with the vanilla vodka and the hazelnut liqueur.  Fill with ice, shake well and pour into the prepared glass.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Tiramisu Martini

It's a good day when free ice cream shows up in the mail, wouldn't you say?  What happened was that the nice folks at Breyers contacted me to let me know about a new line of Gelato Indulgences coming out this month.  They said there would be Vanilla Caramel, Raspberry Cheesecake, Tiramisu and Triple Chocolate and I said "yum."  Then they offered to send me some to sample, if that was OK with me.  Um...yeah...sure.  I mean, if you insist.