thirsty thursday: spooktacular cocktails

You know that there’s a holiday coming up when I plan a post around themed cocktails! In true Alicia fashion, these festive adult beverages are geared towards toasting Halloween weekend {!!}, in the best way possible – with ‘spirits’, of course. Here are a few of my favorite cocktail and drink ideas for celebrating; may you find in-“spooky”-ration in some, or all, of them!

Cheers! 

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The Black Velvet {image & recipe c/o Real Simple}

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Witch’s Brew {recipe & image c/o Food Network}

Witch's Brew

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The Jack o’ Lantern {recipe & image c/o cocktails.about.com}

Hennessy Cognac Jack-O-Lantern Cocktail - Photo Courtesy: © Shannon Graham

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Swamp Sips {image & recipe c/o Martha Stewart}

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The Green Goblin {image & recipe c/o food.com}

Green Goblin

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The Boo Beverage {image & recipe c/o food.com}

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Spider’s Kiss {image & recipe c/o The Cocktail Project}

Midori® Spider's Kiss | The Cocktail Project

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thirsty thursday: the elder fashioned

Chilly date nights at home call for food and drink that fit the occasion.

Hot and bubbling dips.

Spicy toasted nuts, cheese and other assembled crudite.

Bold red wines.

…and of course, bourbon. Because that warms you from the soul and resonates throughout. Am I right?

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One Friday night not long ago proved no exception. Stuck inside because of torrential downpours, it was an easy decision to start the evening off with a bourbon-based cocktail. I had done a bit of research, and stumbled across today’s cocktail, the “elder fashioned”. I immediately sent it off to the hubs for review, but knew that he would go bonkers for it as soon as he read it. And sure enough, I was right.

This drink is a unique combination of spirits – never in my like would I think that bourbon and St. Germain could pair together so beautifully, but I was happily mistaken. You get all of the warm and fuzzy feelings from the bourbon, while the bright notes from the elderflower liqueur take the cocktail to new heights. The result is warm yet refreshing, complex but clean. It’s a new favorite in our household, that’s for sure.

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The Elder-Fashioned {recipe from liquor.com}

A delicious and refreshing twist on one of the most classic cocktails. 

Ingredients:

1 tsp. club soda

2 dashes Angostura bitters

1 ounce St. Germain

2 ounces bourbon

optional garnish: orange twist

To Prepare:

Add all the ingredients to an Old Fashioned glass filled with ice.

Stir gently, and garnish with an orange peel {if desired}.

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Cheers!

thirsty thursday: mojito margaritas

Autumn, where did you go??

As I sit here typing this, it’s currently 75 degrees and sunny. Let me repeat myself – SEVENTY FIVE DEGREES. Ugh.

Here we are, almost into October…and I’m sharing a margarita recipe. Is this blasphemous? Well, strike that; it’s always margarita time, but I feel that since we’re solidly into fall now, I should be sharing fiery, soul-warming drinks {especially after this post}, but here I am, tempting you with a summery cocktail.

Not that you’ll be complaining after you make this drink. It’s easily a new favorite of ours, even considering that this drink is more adept for spring and summertime sipping. It combines two of my favorite drinks: a fresh, minty mojito with a tart and tangy margarita.

sidenote: how many times do y’all think I can say “margarita” in one post? 

It’s bright and sweet, but not overly so. Ideal for sipping after a long day at work, or kicking off the weekend. There’s plenty room for adjustment with this drink {an extra splash of tequila here, maybe some fresh muddled fruit added in}, and goes down so smoothly, you’ll wonder what happened!

This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled….just to avoid the sin of an empty glass during happy hour.

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Mojito Margaritas {recipe adapted, minimally, from How Sweet It Is}

The combination of these two classic cocktails makes for one perfect, flavorful drink. One sip, and you’ll see why. 

Ingredients:

coarse salt + sugar for the rim
lime wedges
a bunch of fresh mint for garnish
2 1/2 ounces simple syrup {I tend to err on the lower side, as I prefer a drink that is hardly sweetened}
1 1/2 ounces tequila {I prefer silver}
1 ounces Grand Marnier
1 ounce rum
3 ounces lime juice
2 ounce club soda

To Prepare:

Take a chilled glass and rub the rim with a lime wedge. Dip the rim in a mixture of coarse salt and sugar, covering it as much as you can.

In the bottom of the glass, add 1 ounce of simple syrup and a handful of mint leaves. Muddle with a muddler or use the clean bottom of something blunt.

Add ice to the glass, and pour in the tequila, Grand Marnier, rum, lime juice and remaining simple syrup. Mix with a long spoon or knife, stirring well to combine. Add another bunch of mint leaves and a lime wedge or two. Top the glass off with club soda {a few ounces until you reach the top!}.

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Cheers!

thirsty thursday: cheers, & happy birthday to the hubs!

Today is a very special “thirsty thursday” – it’s the hub’s birthday! So instead of posting a recipe, I wanted to do a special shout-out to him, a cheers of sorts…

I am beyond lucky that I get to celebrate his birthday with him today, and even more blessed that we are sharing our lives together! Not only is he an excellent cocktail producer, but my best friend, and the best husband a girl could ask for!  

We’re enjoying a special meal tonight {stay tuned, recipes will be shared soon!} and of course, some fun beverages! 

Happy Birthday, Ross – I love you! 

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love this man! < 3 

thirsty thursday: infused vodka

I love finding inspiration and ideas for food and drink in the most unimaginable places. It’s funny how the mind works sometimes, isn’t it?

The other day, the hubs and I were out for a Sunday afternoon walk, revisiting memories and just talking about what sort of things we have coming up over the next few months {here’s a hint: WE.ARE.BUSY!}. So it was so funny, to me at least, that the thought of doing some sort of infused liquor should pop into my mind – but hey, this girl isn’t complaining! So we quickly switched topics as to what we should use, and what flavors we should incorporate.

After toying around with the idea a bit {we nixed bourbon, solely for the fact that I’ve seen it done countless times}, we settled on vodka. Not only is it the perfect vehicle with its clean bite and clarity, but we have a bit of surplus from summer shenanigans ; ) Our mint plant is practically bursting with fresh leaves on a daily basis, and with a pint of farm fresh strawberries in the fridge, we had come up with a plan.

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The process couldn’t be more simple.

Wash and dry your ingredients, prepare as necessary, measure the vodka.

Combine.

Strain after 24 hours.

…done! It’s as simple as that. And, like the tequila we infused earlier this summer, it will keep for quite some time.

I’m dreaming of this in all sorts of ways – mixed with club soda for a fun afternoon pick-me-up, mixed with some crisp white wine and soda water for a “jazzed up” spritzer, and of course…fun shooters! And for those in need of something quick, simply mix it with some freshly squeezed juice {watermelon, anyone?!} and you’re all set.

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Strawberry & Mint Infused Vodka 

Use this infusion to jazz up any of your favorite vodka drinks – from a fresh fruit Martini to a “kicked up” white wine spritzer, you can’t go wrong with this flavor combination!

Ingredients:

1 cup vodka {we used Smirnoff}

4 large strawberries – washed, hulled, and quartered

1 heaping cup fresh mint leaves, washed and dried thoroughly

To Prepare:

Into the bottom of a wide-mouth container with tightly fitting lid {we used a Mason jar}, pack in the mint first, then add the strawberries on top. Pour in the vodka and seal the rim tightly. Store in a cool, dark place for 24 hours.

Once the 24 hours has elapsed, strain off the strawberries and mint {you can definitely save these in a container in the fridge for a few days, but do note that they are STRONG!}. Pour the remaining vodka back into the jar. Infused liquor will keep several weeks, at room temperature.

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Cheers!

 

thirsty thursday: marinated cherries

Every spectacular drink deserves a spectacular garnish. There’s nothing more unfortunate than a handcrafted cocktail, only to be taken down a notch by a lackluster topper – be it a soggy piece of fruit, wilted herbs or, not tasty but just as ghastly, a paper umbrella {these are only OK if you’re sitting beach side in a festive, tropical resort…and that’s still iffy}.

So today, we’re taking the garnish game up a notch. We’re making marinated cherries, sure to enliven any cocktail you’ve ever imagined.

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After many times of unsuccessfully perusing the grocery store and specialty food stores here in our area, the hubs and I got tired of not finding anything that met our needs. Sure, you could plop a maraschino cherry into a drink that calls for it, but why settle when you can do better? Those cherries are meant for desserts; syrupy sweet and not bringing much to the drink itself. So we got to work, scouring recipes for ideas to make our own cocktail cherries at home.

And boy, did we hit the mark on this one! Never before have I had a cocktail cherry like this; we’ve been to some pretty swanky bourbon bars, and nothing tops these ones. It doesn’t hurt that cherries are in season, either! We used gorgeous, dark Rainier cherries for this recipe, but any one of your preference will do. The fruit soaks up the marinade beautifully – each cherry has sensational notes of bright orange, oaky bourbon and subtle vanilla.

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You’ll find yourself pining for the cherries to be done {darn that 3-day wait period!} as soon as you seal them up. They’re that good, I promise. From an Old Fashioned to a Manhattan, a fancy Martini, or just with neat bourbon, you’ll be happy you have these on hand.

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Bourbon Marinated Cherries {recipe adapted from Tasting Table}

Maraschino cherries have met their match; dare I say, they’ve been far surpassed! These marinated cherries are the epitome of awesome – oaky bourbon notes, sweet hints of orange and a taste that will blow your mind. Get creative when you make these, as they’re equally wonderful in a drink as they are on top of a grown-up ice cream sundae. 

Ingredients:

1 cup bourbon

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

1 {1″ strip} orange peel

1-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract {we used my homemade version for an extra bourbon kick!}

1/2 lb. cherries, pitted and stems removed*

*the hubs came up with a great trick to remove the pits! – simply use a nonflexible drinking straw to force the pit out; starting at the top of the fruit, gently push down until the pit is released through the bottom. Super easy, efficient, minimal clean up…and you didn’t have to buy a cherry pitter 

To Prepare:

Combine the bourbon, sugar, orange juice and orange peel in a small saucepan. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer, whisking constantly, until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the vanilla extract.

Combine the bourbon mixture and the cherries in a 15-ounce jar and seal tightly. Allow the contents to cool to room temperature before transferring to the refrigerator. Chill for at least three days before using.

Cherries will keep up to one month.

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Cheers!

thirsty thursday: minty orange gimlet

In case you couldn’t tell, we’ve been on a bit of a fruity cocktail kick lately.

This drink is no exception…

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Does that not look like summer in a glass? There’s something so gorgeous about summertime cocktails – perhaps it’s the bright colors of citrus, or the aroma of fresh mint {from my herb garden, no less!}, that makes them seem extra special. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’ll take a good cocktail any time of year, but again, they just seem so fitting for summer. Warm, lazy evenings watching the sun set practically begs for a nightcap; albeit a light and refreshing one.

That’s where this drink comes into play. The hubs has been having fun creating syrups and flavor combinations that pay homage to summer, and this cocktail does just that. The clean flavor of vodka is the perfect backdrop for fresh citrus notes, and when topped off with the fresh mint, it really doesn’t get better.

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This has been on rotation for some time already in our household, and I guarantee you’ll be enjoying it frequently too ; ) I’m thinking it might be fun to shake up the next time or two…perhaps with grapefruit instead? Only time will tell – enjoy!

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Minty Orange Gimlet {recipe adapted from Food52}

Fresh and bright, this summer cocktail is bursting with flavor! From the sweet mint to the zesty orange, this drink only gets better as you enjoy it. Easily adaptable to make in large batches, too; perfect for summer entertaining. 

Ingredients:

1/2 to 1 ounce orange simple syrup*

1-1/2 to 2 ounces vodka

1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice

1/4 navel orange, sliced

ice cubes

club soda, for finishing

mint leaves, for the drink and also for garnish

*to make the orange simple syrup: use a paring knife or vegetable peeler to remove the skin of the orange, taking care to maintain large strips. Add in the zest, 1/2 cup sugar, and 1/2 cup of water to a small saucepan; bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Let cool, then cover and chill for at least 2 hours. Leftovers can be stored in the fridge, tightly covered, for several weeks. 

To Prepare:

In the bottom of a glass, muddle the sliced orange and mint.

In a cocktail shaker, combine the syrup, lime juice, vodka, and ice. Shake well and pour into the glass with muddled orange and mint, and fresh ice. Top with a splash of club soda.

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Cheers!