Summer Sippers, Beer…

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What’s more American than Beer? Okay, well maybe not…

According to Wikipedia, “Ale is one of the oldest beverages humans have produced, dating back to at least the 5th millennium BC and recorded in the written history of Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia.  Beer was part of the daily diet of Egyptian Pharaohs over 5,000 years ago. Then, it was made from baked barley bread, and was also used in religious practices.  Beer was one of the most common drinks during the Middle Ages.  Today, the brewing industry is a huge global business, consisting of several multinational companies, and many thousands of smaller producers ranging from brewpubs to regional breweries.”

But we American’s do love a frosty cold one, on a hot summer’s day, don’t we?!?!  I’m usually a wine girl myself but lately we’ve been drinking more beer…helping to beat the heat wave that is slightly giving us a reprieve this week.  All in time for the 4th of July!  So I thought what a better time to highlight cocktails made with beer than this week!

Beer

Surprisingly, this post was harder to do than expected…we need more cocktails made with beer people!  Although, as I said before, not much is better on a hot summer’s day, then a cold frosty one, noting the picture above, it was a hot day and these Leinenkugel’s Honey Weiss were floating in an icy cold bath!  I originally planned on sharing a recipe for a Dark & Stormy, but as you’ll read below…it’s not really a beer cocktail!  So, sadly I didn’t have time to do a separate recipe myself this week.  I wanted to be able to get this out before the 4th of July this week!

DadsKillerMargaritas_thumb1

I did however find this GREAT recipe for Dad’s Killer Beergarita’s, as shown in the picture above, and being an Iowa girl myself, I can totally get behind this drink!  Be sure to visit Kristin at Iowa Girl Eats for the recipe and 25 Fresh 4th of July recipes!  I am loving her blog!

As I said before, I had planned on making a Dark & Stormy for you this week, as I have been dreaming about it for quite some time!  So I was surprised to learn that Ginger Beer isn’t actually Beer, and thought about not including it here in this post, but it’s so prevalent when you search for “cocktails made with beer” that I wanted to include it, but giving you the information that I learned along the way…

Wikipedia noted on this page that “The ginger beer soft drink may be mixed with beer (usually a British ale of some sort) to make one type of shandy, or with dark rum to make a drink, originally from Bermuda, called a Dark ‘N’ Stormy. It is the main ingredient in the Moscow Mule cocktail (although in some cases ginger ale is used as an alternative, where ginger beer is not available). Another variation is a mix of three bar shots of Canadian (rye) whisky to four parts Crabbies Alcoholic Ginger beer, to make a cocktail called The Angry Teacher. This drink originated in Canada in the early twenty-first century.”

ginger beer photo

So there.  You’ve been schooled in Ginger Beer! 🙂

If you want to try one for yourself, this one from Nutmeg Nanny includes a Lime Bitters and looks delish!  She’s also got her own series going, The Boozy Days of Summer with some great cocktail ideas!

The Irish in me loves a Guinness and the thought of putting anything other than another Irish beer to make a Black & Tan, into it, makes me feel like I am violating the Irish rule of beer drinking…but this Pineapple Mint Beer Cocktail made with Guinness by Food Fashion and Fun looks ridiculous!

Here is a link to a couple of beer drink ideas, the Briar Patch and the White Plume both from the Chilled Magazine site.

One thing I am constantly craving is a good Bloody Mary, (you know, the kind with a meat stick, cheese, olives…a salad on the side almost!) and this Michelada on Food52 looks just as delicious without the fuss of a beer on the side!  This post also walks you through the process of making it!

And oh, this Pear Ginger Beer Cocktail and the pictures that go with the post on Use Real Butter looks SO delish!

Wishing you & yours a wonderful, hot eats, cool drinks and a safe & happy 4th of July!

Cheers, Shawn

Summer Sippers, Tequila…

Margarita SQ

I love Margarita’s….always have.  Over the years, I’ve refined my taste for them…originally loving the super sweet, slushy kind you get from one of those big Margarita machines, but now loving the traditional kind, good tequila, lime juice, ice, salt and a splash of Grand Marnier.  But you don’t always have to choose a Margarita to enjoy Tequila in a cocktail.  And no, I am not talking about shooters, (I’ve done plenty of that when I was younger!) or even the old-fashioned Tequila Sunrise…oh the memories of that… But so many other fruity options are available to enjoy your Tequila!

One thing I am so excited to talk to you about…that my family is sick of hearing me talk about, is my new-found obsession lately with Podcasts!  I have a few favorites, some are Social Media related, pertaining to my new business, but the rest are all food-focused.  My favorites include America’s Test Kitchen, Spilled Milk…and recently, The Sporkful  had a Tequila podcast, and it’s a must listen.  Do you have any Podcasts you are obsessed with that you want to share with me?

Taken straight from The Sporkful blog, “Like so many people, Dan was scarred by tequila at a young age, and hasn’t been able to drink it for years. In Sporkful Episode 159, he sets out to overcome his aversion and learn to appreciate good tequila with help from Ilana Edelstein, author of The Patron Way: The Untold Inside Story of the World’s Most Successful Tequila.  Dan rates each tequila they taste by how strongly it evokes the “hot car trunk” rating in which that fateful bottle was stored so many years ago, and Ilana shares recipes for a couple of her favorite tequila cocktails.” 

It’s very informative when it comes to how Patrón is made and classified.  I am TOTALLY trying her recipe for Margaritas that includes Squirt! 🙂  You can also sign up to be a member of the Patrón Social Club with access to recipes, events etc.

So I don’t really have a “recipe” for you today, as when I drink Tequila, in the past, it’s been as a basic Margarita.  However, I did make a small batch of Rhubarb Syrup the other day, you can find the recipe here, and because I used the green variety of Rhubarb, it ended up looking much like a normal Margarita!  So here’s the basic recipe for that drink…you can play with the amounts…

Tequila, choose a good one, like Patrón (2oz. +/- per drink)

Grand Marnier (orange & cognac, 1/2oz. +/- per drink)

Lime juice, fresh limes…or if you have to, the best mix you can find/buy

Rhubarb Syrup (see link above for recipe, 2oz. +/- per drink)

a splash of something bubbly…I used Seagrams Orange Citrus sparkling seltzer water

Ice

Rhubarb Margarita

If you are paying attention, you’ll notice the drink above is slightly pink….I may have added a bit of Pomegranate juice to it….so it looked more “rhubarb-like”…don’t hate me 🙂

Anyway, here are some great ideas of ways to enjoy Tequila beyond the typical Margarita!

Tequila Cherry Mostarda from Mama Knows (Best) Her Cocktails

Another great cocktail I found on Mama Knows (Best) Her Cocktails is for a Tequila Tonic.  It include Coconut Water and a Ginger Simple Syrup…um YUM!

These Fresh Pineapple Margarita’s from Gimme Some Oven look insane!  So fresh & sweet!

I pinned this recipe for Lime Sorbet Margarita’s from Real Simple Magazine a long time ago and know they would make a great refreshing drink this summer!

So many cocktails are emerging lately with Watermelon as a main ingredient!  What says summer more, right?!  The Watermelon Tequila Cocktail from Bobby Flay via Food & Wine is just the ticket!

How about a Cucumber Margarita?  Or a Celery Margarita?  Or even a Red-Chile Guava Margarita?  They are all here in this list of Margarita Recipes from Chow.com

Hope you’ll take a break from this awesomely hot summer we are off to, and enjoy one of these great Tequila cocktails!  Please share with me any great recipes you have for Tequila as well!

Until next time, cheers! ~Shawn

Summer Sippers, Wine…

Sangria

I love Pinterest.  Can I just say that?  Seriously, I swear, it has become a search engine for me and all things food & beverage!  I “googled” the search term “cocktails made with wine” while researching for this blog post and the second listing in Google was a link to a board on Pinterest titled Cocktails Made with Wine.  Click on the link to see this board; it’s pretty incredible how creative people are with wine!  Gone are the days, where the only way you found wine, other than by itself in a glass, was as a spritzer!

Fruit

In putting together this post, I decided my focus was to be Sangria.  I had many friends share their Sangria recipes with me.  One of those, listed below, was given to me by husband & wife foodie duo, Lynne & Keith Morioka.  It’s what I will be making next!  I was also surprised to see what a popular drink it has become, with so many delicious variations on the traditional white or red Sangria.  We are gearing up for a birthday-Father’s day camping weekend and so I thought it would be fun to make a batch to bring with us.  I decided to try the Grilled Citrus and Grape Sangria.  In the future, I am going to try to gently smoke some fruit for a Sangria too!

Apothic

St. Germain Sangria-  “we hosted a party last summer, and I made this up to be our signature cocktail for the party, and everyone loved it. Even the people who normally are just beer drinkers were loving it…”  Sounds like a winner! 🙂

Here’s what you’ll need to make it:

1 bottle of Sauvignon Blanc
3/4 cup St. Germain
1/2 cup Simple Syrup (you could probably substitute fine sugar if you want, but reduce the amount if you do)
3/4 cup San Pellegrino Limonata
1/4 cup White Grape Juice
1 Green Apple (Diced)
1 Pear (Diced)
Some White Grapes (cut in half)
Club Soda

Combine everything but the club soda together in a pitcher, and chill for several hours. When ready to serve, pour some club soda in the glass, pour Sangria in to top it off. I prefer not to have any ice in the glass, as I don’t like to water my Sangria’s down as the ice melts. With the fruit, I think that I actually used less than a whole apple and less than a whole Pear. The fruit will soak up the booze, so make sure that you eat that too!

And another recipe, from the wonderful John Michael Lerma was for his famous Hollywood Sangria.  Sounds like another winner to me!

JOHN MICHAEL’S HOLLYWOOD SANGRIA
4 bottles Cabernet Sauvignon, warm
1 bottle White Zinfandel, warm
4 cups freshly squeezed orange juice
1 ½ cups pineapple juice
1 can lemon-lime soda
¼ cup Grand Marnier
3 oranges, cut into slices or stars
3 limes, cut into slices or stars
6 strawberries, sliced
Additional fruit for garnish
1. Place all ingredients into a large glass or ceramic container. Cover and let flavors blend while warm for 2 hours, then refrigerator overnight. Serve in decorative glasses filled with ice and fresh fruit. Serves 24 or more.

Pineapple Sangria

Another gorgeous Sangria recipe I found on Pinterest was that of this Pineapple Sangria, Erin’s Food Files.  She graciously allowed me to use her picture, which makes my mouth water!  I love how she uses Pineapple soda as well!

Yet another food blogger friend’s recipe for Diane’s Sangria

Cooking Channel’s Tropical Sangria

Food and Wine’s Watermelon Sangria

Bon Appetit’s Stone-Fruit Sangria

How Sweet It Is, food blog’s Blood Orange Sangria

Girl versus Dough shares her Sangria Slushies, totally a grown-up snow-cone in my book!  In this same post, she shares a recipe for White Wine & Elderflower Sangria, so be sure to check that out too!

Here’s hoping for a long, hot summer, where we can sit back and enjoy these perfect Sangria recipes!

Until next time, cheers!

Shawn

Summer Sippers, fruit/herbs, mixers & cubes…

Bar recipe books...

Greetings cocktail lovers!  First, I am sorry for not posting when I said I would…life took over this past week and so here I sit, 9:19pm on a Saturday night, trying to get this ready for your viewing pleasure as soon as possible!  One thing I failed to mention in my last post, that when you are setting up a bar, it’s helpful to have some sort of bar recipe guide.  I have a couple physical recipe books and probably my favorite one I have for my iPhone, it’s from Food and Wine, it’s free and you can get it here!

This week we talk mixers, cubes, fruit and more!  Of coarse you’ll want the basics for your bar, when it comes to mixers.  Sweet & sour, margarita mix, club soda, tonic water, and various other bubbly sodas etc.  You’ll also want bottles of grenadine, tabasco, bloody mary mix if you are planning on making those.  The recent explosion of “craft cocktails” has found the resurgance of “shrubs” and other delicious “craft” fruit & herb cocktail syrups.  No, I am not talking about the shrub out in the front yard, but about the kind you can mix in a cocktail, taking it to yet another level.  To learn more about what a shrub is, and how to make your own, visit the Serious Eats-drinks section and the “Cocktail 101: How to Make Shrub Syrups”.

shrub-syrups-best

One local favorite making all things fruity goodness, is those you’ll find at HeathGlen Farms.  They offer several different varieties of both shrubs & fruit/herbs syrups, all which you can find listed on their website here.  I’m thinking I need to pick up some of the Ginger Lime Syrup and the Blueberry Tarragon Shrub Syrup!

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Probably one of the biggest movements within the craft cocktail phenomenon is that of the small but mighty Bitters.  And locally, two gifted bartenders turned craftsmen led the way.  Meet Bittercube.  Not only providing unique Bitters, free from extracts & oils, using only “raw” ingredients, this creative duo provides consultation for food & dining establishments and “designs unique craft cocktail menus for bars, restaurants, weddings, anniversaries, corporate events, and private parties. We also create signature cocktails with event specific ingredients and names.  Beyond cocktail menus, we offer libations expertise and execution for trade shows and other events.

      Mint Simple Syrup Cubes                    Mint simple syrup in cube trays

I am honored to belong to a community of local food bloggers called Fortify.  The other night, I stalked a conversation that was happening in our private Facebook group about someone who was trying to figure out what to make with some orange bitters he recently acquired.  The conversation eventually moved to making simple syrups, something that I had recently started experimenting with myself.  I started off simple (no pun intended) with Mint Simple Syrup and then froze them (as much as they would) in ice cube trays for later use.

Lemon Thyme Simple Syrup

Then, feeling a little braver, I tried my hand at Lemon Thyme Simple Syrup.  It was really good, and has left me inspired to try many of the other herbs I have bursting in my garden already.  I envision an Oregano Simple Syrup you could add to sweeten a Bloody Mary or as basic as a Basil Simple Syrup that could be added to the kids Lemonade on a hot summer day!

Lemon Thyme Simple Syrup2

Interested in making your own Simple Syrup?  It’s easy!  Take a cup of water and a cup of sugar, place in a small pot on the stove.  Stirring constantly, once the mixture has boiled & the sugar has melted, remove from the heat.  Take your cleaned & dried herbs and place into the pot, cover with a lid and steep for at least ten minutes or until your syrup has infused to your liking.  While perusing one of my favorite cocktail blog sites, Imbibe, I found this great list of Simple Syrup ideas & recipes!  Enjoy!

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I tried my Lemon Thyme Simple Syrup with both Rum & Gin tonight, using Club Soda as my mix.  I preferred the Gin, as I suspected I would.  Both were better with a healthy squeeze of lemon and in the drink made with Gin, I felt I could taste the Thyme better.

Bacon Ice Cubes

And of coarse there’s always fun ice cubes you can use to add a bit of whimsy to your cocktails.  I found these awesome bacon strip ice cubes trays at Target the other day!  If you are on Pinterest, you can follow my Beverages & Cocktails board where I’ve pinned some really fun flavored ice cube ideas!

I hope you’ll expand your cocktail menu and try some of the great things I’ve listed here!  When you do, be sure to share it with me either here in the comments, or by posting a comment on my Facebook Page!

As always, thanks for following along in this #summersippers cocktail series and until next time, cheers!

Shawn

Summer Sippers, starting with the basics…

Trio of cocktails

Alright, so here we are, on the verge of the unofficial start to summer, Memorial Day weekend.  What do you have planned?  Picnics?  Fishing?  Spending time with those who’ve served and honoring those who can’t be here with us?  Oh yes, that’s what I am planning too!

Will there be some cocktails in your weekend plans?  I know there will be in mine 🙂  And so we begin post number ONE, #summersippers!  Over the next fifteen weeks (if I say it out loud here, I’m obligated, right?) I will share one cocktail post a week..each week, highlighting a different liquor and a few different varieties of cocktails you can make with that liquor.  I am going to get help from some of my amazing Minnesota food blogger friends along the way, so don’t think these are going to be your run-of-the-mill cocktails, I plan to share unique twists on the basics!

So, let’s start today with basic bar set-up.  First, an explanation taken from the Huffington Post Taste blog, of basic alcohol terminology:

Two terms are often confused: liquor (lik-er) and liqueur (li-kur). Here’s a breakdown of what you need to know:

Liquors are hard alcohols, a.k.a. spirits, such as gin, vodka, whiskey, or brandy. They are distilled from grains, fruits or vegetables and contain no sugar.

Liqueurs are alcohols flavored with herbs, fruits, nuts and/or spices and have sugar added. A liqueur can be enjoyed sipped as an aperitif (pre-dinner drink) or digestif (post-dinner drink) or mixed to make cocktails.

Bitters are a very concentrated form of liqueur (yet they don’t taste sweet, but rather bitter as their name suggests) used in small amounts (a few dashes is all you need) in drinks and cocktails.

Mixers are non-alcoholic additions in mixed drinks and cocktails. They include sodas, such as tonic water, seltzer, lemon-lime soda, and juices such as cranberry, orange, lemon and lime.

Syrups are used to sweeten drinks and cocktails. The classic type is a simple syrup, made from equal amounts sugar and water heated to a simmer and then chilled. Simple syrups can further be infused with fruits, herbs or spices or they can be made from alternative sweeteners like honey or agave syrup.

I’ve linked to this particular blog post because it gives more great info on what to stock your bar with if you want to make what type of drinks etc.

Next week I think I will talk about Mixers, bitters, syrups, fancy cubes etc.  So we move from the basics, to bases and then we’ll get into the good stuff!

Alright, so your opinion of what to have on hand might be different from mine and that’s perfectly okay!  I am just giving you a basic list of what a home bar might have.

Basic booze set-up

My booze list:  Vodka, Gin, Rum, Whiskey and/or Bourbon, Brandy, Tequila…I like Grand Marnier instead of Cointreau and I like to have Bailey’s and/or Kahlua on hand for bedtime/bonfire sippies or adding to coffee on a Sunday morning!  Of course within each of these categories you’ll have MANY different varieties of that particular alcohol.  For example, Smirnoff Vodka has 33, yes, 33 different flavors of Vodka.  This number doesn’t even include the mixers, pre-made cocktails, malt beverages etc. they produce.  They even have a new line called “Sorbets- without the spoon”.  Check it out here.  I will admit to having a bottle (almost empty) of BACARDI Limón in my cupboard.  But, sadly, I don’t drink enough cocktails (one of the reasons I am doing this post series!) to remember why I bought it and how I drank it! 🙂

Wine & beer opener, jiggerStir sticks & umbrellas

zester, strainer & juicerfun straws

Now let’s talk a bit about bar tools & equipment.  Pictured above, are a few basic ideas of what to start with.  Most of these items are fairly inexpensive to pick up.  I use my zester for cooking all the time so that was probably the most expensive item of the lot.  And don’t give me a hard time for all the colorful straws, stir sticks and yes, drink umbrellas!  My kids love them!  (oh ok, so do I!)

Variety of wine glasses

So, you can probably tell that we mostly drink wine, right? 🙂  Glassware can be a bit tricky and at the same time, you could just use the same type of glass for all of your cocktails!  There is no right or wrong way, it’s your house!  We have white & red wine glasses.  We have stemmed & stemless.  When I was a kid, I would tag along with my grandparents to flea markets & garage sales.  I started collecting mason jars (the large kind I used for flower vases over the years) and match books (don’t ask) and since then have been using smaller mason jars for drinking glasses over the years and now they are actually in style to use as a drinking glass!  Ball even just came out with a retro line of jars in a beautiful blue color.  I gotta get me some of those!

Beer mug & pint glass

Over the years my hubby has collected beer glasses, so we have LOTS of that style beer glass.  Last year, when I was posting about my Beer for a Year (see previous posts) win from Summit Brewery, I picked up these two from their store at the brewery.  I love the mug, but oddly enough, it holds more than just one beer!  So yeah, I guess I have to drink two then, right?

Margarita & Daiquiri glasses

A few years back, my husband and I were on a Margarita kick and I decided I HAD to get traditional glasses to use.  Let me just say, they are adorable, but they are hard to drink out of!  You really have to be quite sober so you don’t spill it on yourself.  And, uh…you are drinking right?  Get where I am going with that?!  🙂  Anyhoo, the other glass pictured is from a set an awesome friend just gave me and could be used for margaritas, daiquiri’s, iced tea and as you’ll see in a later post…sangria!!

Martini glass

So….I had to go buy this gorgeous Martini glass, cause, big surprise, I am not a Martini drinker!  But, I am going to try a few fun things over the course of this series, so we’ll see if that statement remains the same at the end of all this!

Cordial glasses

My husband loves his nighttime “sippies” (don’t get mad at me honey…) so we have always had plenty of snifters, cordials glasses etc.  You can use they glasses for brandy, cognac, even shots.

Rocks & Highball glasses

Above are just a few basic drink glass sizes (there’s the mason jar!)  that you can use to make your basic cocktails.  I am sure you have something in your cupboard that would work.

Additional bar stuff...

In addition, you might want to have a few miscellaneous items as shown in the picture above.  We always have Kosher Salt on hand for cooking; you’ll need this for rimming your glasses for Margaritas.  Lemons, limes, oranges and other fruits (we’ll talk more about that next post) are good to keep on hand.  Bitters, again, we’ll talk about this, but many basic cocktails call for this, so pick up yourself a small bottle to keep on hand.  And for fun, colored sugars are great to use when rimming the glass for some specialized drinks.  More on that as we move along.

Below I’ve listed a couple of great links I didn’t include above.  A delicious foodie-friend of mine, Joy Summers (of City Pages blog & other fame) put together this great list of the top ten Craft Cocktail bars in the Twin Cities for my Minnesota followers.  And the last link is one I found from Martha Stewart and in addition to basic bar set-up, she gives a breakdown of different liquors/liqueurs and cocktails you can create from each.

Top 10 Craft Cocktail bars in the Twin Cities

The Basics on home bar set-up, from Martha Stewart

So friends, I hope you enjoy a long, relaxing weekend and thanks for beginning this #summersippers cocktail journey with me!

Cheers, Shawn