Gourmet Veggie Mama

Category Archives: Drinks

Cherries for Cocktails and More!

Oh, you guys. I have so many interesting things all photographed and in recipe-notes form… but I am suffering from the worst case of writer’s block. And I know the best cure for writer’s block is to just effing write.

Something. Anything.

So, I might as well write about the coolest thing I’ve gotten to do in awhile. I got to take a preserving class and make cocktail cherries and cherry pit syrup with Stephanie McClenny of Confituras at Whole Foods fabulous new store at the Domain. How cool is that?

confituras class

I’ve been a huge fan of Confituras since moving the Austin and learning about Stephanie’s sublime products. Frankly, I kinda have a crush on her — she’s my canning idol. Her recipes are just mouth-watering, and they’re all made in small batches and locally sourced. My all-time favorite is her Rio Red Grapefruit Vanilla Bean Jam.

And here it is, cherry season.

cherries

And I do love cherries. We all know, further, that I love a good cocktail, so these two recipes go hand-in hand. Plus, one uses the pits from the other — you can’t go wrong! Make them both at once and reap the rewards for weeks to come.

The cocktail cherries are made with port, and are infinitely more delicious than any florescent red maraschino cherry you might find on a typical store’s shelves. They’re prefect for garnishing a cocktail or even a homemade soda (perhaps even one you’ve made with that cherry syrup).

cocktail cherries

Speaking of which… the cherry pit syrup is brilliant, too. It gets a deep, vanilla, okay flavor from the pits, and it makes a great mixer with soda or prosecco (a combination I tried out a the class, taking advantage of the mimosa and sangria bar generously provided by Whole Foods). The other night, I shook some up with whiskey and added a splash of soda — a great, easy cocktail. You can also pour it over pancakes or waffles, or even ice cream. Enjoy!

Cocktail Cherries
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1½ cup ruby port
  • ½ cup sugar
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1¼ pound Bing cherries, pitted
Instructions
  1. Place port, sugar, and lemon juice in a large saucepan and bring to a simmer.
  2. Add cherries and continue to simmer on medium heat for about 1 minute.
  3. Ladle cherries into a clean quart glass jar, pouring port mixture over.
  4. Allow to cool until room temperature, then and refrigerate for at a few days before serving. Keeps for up to a year refrigerated. Enjoy!
Notes
Makes 1 quart

Cherry Pit Syrup
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 pound Bing cherries
  • Leftover cherry pits
  • ½ cup water
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract (or to taste)
  • ½ cup sugar
Instructions
  1. Place cherries through peppercorns in medium sauce and bring to a boil.
  2. Lower heat and simmer for about 10-15 minutes or until cherries begin to lose their color. Remove from heat and strain liquid.
  3. Add sugar and bring to a boil once again, lower heat and simmer until liquid is reduced by about ⅓ and appears syrup-like.
  4. Add almond extract to taste. Allow to cool slightly then decant into a bottle and chill. Keeps for several months refrigerated.
Notes
Makes 2 cups.

Note: Whole Foods invited me to participate in the preserving class free of charge, but I was not otherwise compensated for this write-up, and my opinions are my own.

 

Iced Vodoo Chocolate Almond Mocha

When we lived in Sunnyvale, my favorite local coffee shop, Barefoot Coffee Roasters, had a sublime drink called the Voodoo, made with sweetened condensed milk, chocolate and coconut. I’ve craved it ever since, so naturally it was the inspiration for the recipe I’m about to share. But, it is eleventy billion degrees outside, so this is an iced version.

We all know that cold brew coffee is the way to go, especially for tasty iced coffee at home — but did you know that CoolBrew was doing cold brew before cold brew was cool?* This New Orleans company has been brewing their coffee using the cold-dripped process since 1989. Yep, they’re the original.

*Okay, cold brew was always cool, technically.

cool brew

When they offered me a sample, I enthusiastically said yes, and I received a big box of goodies to experiment with — which is exactly what I’ve been doing for the last couple of months. The recipe I am about to share is the first of a few I’ll be tossing out over the summer months — and perhaps beyond — to keep you nice and cool.

But first — here’s a cool trick to make sure you don’t water down your iced coffee. Use coffee ice cubes!

coffee ice cubes

It couldn’t be simpler. I just used some of my Original Cool Brew to make a batch of coffee, and then froze it in an ice cube tray to use in coffee-based beverages. How’s that for a stroke of brilliance? Of course, I can’t take full credit for the idea — Dolce Vita, a local espresso bar here in Austin, offers an “upgrade” of coffee ice cubes in any of their iced beverages for a small fee.

coffee 3

As for the Iced Voodoo — you guys. You are going to have to taste this to believe it. I slung together** my Iced Voodoo Chocolate Almond Mocha based on that Barefoot Roasters drink I crave, and I have to say — it’s not the same. I’m not a copycat artist. But when you take inspiration and use the tools you’ve got, sometimes something beautiful happens.

coffee

** I was gonna say “crafted” but, meh. That’s kinda pretentious, at least when you’re talking about my aimless kitchen experimentations. Artist I am not, but I do like to experiment, and I know what tastes good!

Beautiful it is. And delicious. And ever-so-simple to sling together.

Iced Vodoo Chocolate Almond Mocha
Author: 
Recipe type: Drinks
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1
 
Ingredients
  • 1 oz CoolBrew Chocolate Almond coffee concentrate (or other flavor of your choice)
  • 8 oz cold water
  • 2 Tbsp coconut milk (vanilla or regular)
  • 1 Tbsp sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 Tbsp chocolate syrup
Instructions
  1. Measure the coffee concentrate and stir into the cold water.
  2. Add the sweetened condensed milk, chocolate syrup and coconut milk and stir vigorously or shake to combine. Pour into a glass over ice (using coffee ice cubes if you desire).

Note: I received samples of CoolBrew coffee in exchange for this review, but I was not otherwise compensated, and my opinions are my own.

Dirty Martini (Gin, Please!)

Back in the day, when I worked long hours and sometimes went out for drinks with colleagues (sometimes before heading back to the office, natch), my go-to drink was a dirty martini. It was a rather trendy drink at the time, and I heard someone order one and decided to try it. I think the real appeal for me was that you could get one with blue cheese-stuffed olives! Of course, being a relative young ‘un, I ordered my dirty martinis with vodka. Because, well, that’s what you do. At least it was usually Tito’s or Grey Goose (only because Tito’s used to be hard to come by in NorCal).

Long story short, the hubby has been traveling for business a lot lately, and I’m often in need of a good, stiff drink after the kiddos are safely tucked into bed. I decided I wanted a dirty martini on one of those evenings, and I wondered if people made them with gin. A quick Google search later, I was entranced by this article on the dos and don’ts of the dirty martini. To the point: “Purists” (ha!) make dirty martinis with gin, not vodka, because vodka is rather tasteless (by design), so drinking a vodka dirty martini is basically just like drinking olive juice. Huh.

dirty martini

Clearly I had to test this theory. So, I broke out my trusty bottle of gin, cracked open a jar of local olives* and got to shaking. If I had been feeling extra-ambitious that evening, I probably would have stuffed the olives, once pitted, with blue cheese, but — again — hubby out of town, two kids finally in bed, exhaustion.

*Yes! Texas is one of the few places in the U.S. where you can successfully grow olives. We’ve just planted a couple of olive trees in our yard, but it will be years before we reap the rewards. Still, they’re pretty.

I must say, I am a convert. The flavors of the gin mingled quite well with the briny olive juice, and my first gin dirty martini made the perfect drink to sip while winding down after a hard day.

Hubby is gone again this week, so this just may be on my agenda for tonight. We’ll see once the kids are in bed.

Gin Dirty Martini
Author: 
Recipe type: cocktail
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1
 
Ingredients
  • 3 oz gin
  • ¾ oz olive juice**
  • 2 olives (blue cheese-stuffed if desired)
Instructions
  1. Pour the gin and olive juice into a shaker filled with ice. Shake briskly until very cold, and then strain into a martini glass. Garnish with speared olives.
Notes
** Be sure to use relatively fresh olives! Something that has been sitting in your fridge for months is not going to make for a very appetizing drink.

Negroni Week + A Slightly Less Bitter Pill

If you like cocktails, you probably know that this week (June 2-8) is Negroni Week. If you didn’t know, well, I’m telling you. Get thee to a local bar! Over 1,300 bars around the country are participating, including 19 bars here in Austin, and each will donate $1 for each Negroni sold to a charity of the bar’s choice. I’m not going to pretend they let me out of the house for this kind of thing night now,* so I’ll just link to Matt McGinnis’s excellent round-up of the Austin bars participating and what they have going on this week (along with some Negroni-inspired cocktail recipes) over at What Are You Drinking?

* New mommy = close to zero social life. I drink at home.

As for me, well, I have never been the world’s biggest Negroni fan. I find them to be very bitter. I will readily admit, however, that I don’t always take proper care of my sweet vermouth (meaning storing it in the fridge and using it quickly), so that may be a part of my issue. I promise I’ll try to do better.

But, bitter is big right now. So, if you’re like me, maybe you’d rather tame the bitter with a little sweet to see if you can acquire a taste for it. For a Negroni, I accomplish this by adding a splash of Grand Marnier.

Lauren's Special Negroni // Gourmet Veggie Mama

I think it works nicely with the flavors in the classic drink, and it makes the drink more palatable to those of us without a super-human ability to withstand bitterness. Cheers!

Lauren's Special Negroni
Author: 
Recipe type: cocktail
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1
 
Ingredients
  • 1 oz dry gin
  • 1 oz Campari
  • 1 oz sweet vermouth
  • ½ oz Grand Marnier
  • orange twist
Instructions
  1. Combine the gin, campari, sweet vermouth and Grand Marnier in a shaker filled with ice.
  2. Shake vigorously and strain into a rocks glass over ice cubes. Garnish with an orange twist.

 

Mimosas with a Twist, for Mom

Ah, Mother’s Day. For children, it is a time to present the most important lady in your life with a hand-painted mug, handprint ornament, or some other handmade thing that Good Ol’ Dad helped you make (probably at the last minute), and tell her that, despite your attitude most days, you really do appreciate her. For grown-ups like me, with a couple of small children of their own, it’s a time to reflect on how much I really DID appreciate my mom back then, and still do now.

So. Being a mom. It’s not an easy gig. You get spit up on, you have to deal with someone else’s poop on a daily basis (at least for the first couple of years), you get woken up randomly during the night for different reasons throughout your beloved offsprings’ development, you spend a lot of time arguing over matters that completely defy logic with a small but determined opponent,* and you tend to collapse at the end of the day utterly exhausted, but also completely unable to account for anything you really got done.

* Being a corporate lawyer prepared me very well for this part of parenting.

Now that I’m a mom myself, and I have experienced all of those enumerated joys, plus plenty of others that just aren’t springing to mind right now, I really, really appreciate my mom. Really really. And the least I can do is make her a Mother’s Day cocktail.

So, Mom, I’m sorry for every time I threw a fit in public, especially when you had your hands full of groceries and possibly a baby sibling. I’m sorry for every time I told you something on my plate (which you’d probably slaved over and eagerly anticipated my delighted reaction to) was yucky or that I wasn’t hungry or that I just wanted yogurt instead. I’m sorry I took so long to sleep through the night, and once I did, I’m sorry for every time I woke you up in the middle of the night for reasons like “the fan is scaring me” or “I couldn’t find my water.”** I’m sorry for sometimes being a brat who took for granted the loving and comfortable home you provided for me. I wish I had realized at the time how good I had it! I’m sorry for wrecking my car when I was a teenager — even though it wasn’t my fault, I’m sure I could have avoided it if I had been a more experienced driver, and I’m damn lucky I didn’t give you a heart attack. I can only imagine how worried you were when you heard about it. Anyway, I sure do owe you a drink.

Screen Shot 2014-05-07 at 8.36.06 PM

**I don’t know for sure that I did these things, but it seems likely, based on my own beloved daughters and their sleep habits.

When Red Envelope asked me to develop a cocktail recipe inspired by my mom for their Mother’s Day Brunch series, I thought it was a fabulous idea, and I had to put on my thinking cap. My mom is just not your everyday lady. She’s a Texan through and through, a little bit of a hippy, and not too much of a drinker, but she does enjoy a good mimosa. Since Mother’s Day brunch is a thing, I figured mimosas were a perfect starting point. When I saw a few of the last beautiful grapefruit from the Rio Grande Valley gracing my grocery store’s produce aisle, I knew it was fate. One of the best Christmas gifts I’ve ever received was from my mom — a crate of Rio Red grapefruit at the height of the season (delivered after the New Year) when we lived in California, where those sweet, juicy red beauties were not all that easy to get your hands on. Add a cherry, and we’re in business.

rio red mimosa

So, here’s to you, Mom. Thanks for dealing with me for the past thirty-some-odd years. I really appreciate you now, even if I didn’t fully back then. Really.

Rio Red Mimosa
Author: 
Recipe type: cocktail
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1
 
Ingredients
  • 5 oz champagne or other sparkling wine***
  • Rio Red grapefruit juice, freshly squeezed if possible
  • maraschino cherry, for garnish****
Instructions
  1. Fill a champagne flute almost to the top with the champagne. Top off with a splash of grapefruit juice.
  2. Drop in a maraschino cherry (because Mom deserves a cherry on top, damnit!) and serve with breakfast in bed.
Notes
*** I used prosecco, which is my favorite for mixing. Use a moderately priced sparkling -- don't go too cheap (you don't want to give Mom a wicked hangover now do you??) but don't go ruining a bottle of Dom Perignon with grapefruit juice, either.

**** I prefer Tillen Farms maraschino cherries, which are made with pure cane sugar and no red dye. Get 'em on Amazon -- it's not too late for Prime shipping!

 

 

Partida Margarita

Cinco de Mayo is coming up! Do you have a kick-ass margarita at the ready? I do.

This recipe for the perfect margarita has long been my staple, but when the folks at Partida Tequila asked me to try their recipe — and their tequila — I was game. Who doesn’t love a good margarita?

First, I had to give Partida Blanco the sip test. Although blanco tequila (as opposed to aged — añejo or reposado — tequila) tends to be the best for mixing in drinks, any tequila worth its salt (ha!) should taste good when sipped, not just when mixed.

Photo courtesy of Partida

Photo courtesy of Partida

It passed. It was smooth, clean and crisp, and tasted of agave — which, of course, a good tequila should. I read not long ago that the reason tequila has such a bad reputation for causing hangovers is that cheap tequila is often made with a lot of sugar as filler — so be sure to look for “100% de agave” on the label of your tequila. Of course, Partida is no cheap tequila, and it’s made from 100% agave — otherwise I wouldn’t have even bothered with the sip test.

Now, of course, the main event — the margarita! Simple is best, in my humble opinion, when it comes to a margarita. This one contains only Partida Blanco tequila, agave nectar and freshly squeezed lime juice. Perfection.

partida margarita

Here’s to Cinco de Mayo, and many thanks to the folks at Partida for allowing me to experiment with their fine product!

Partida Margarita
Author: 
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1
 
Ingredients
  • 1½ oz Partida Blanco Tequila
  • Juice of one lime (about 1 oz)
  • ¾ oz agave nectar
  • ¾ oz warm water
  • kosher salt (for rimming glass)
  • lime slice for garnish
Instructions
  1. Combine the tequila and lime juice in a shaker filled with ice.
  2. Stir the agave and warm water together to dissolve, and then add to the shaker.
  3. Shake and strain into a salt-rimmed margarita or lowball glass, over ice if desired, and garnish with a lime slice.

 

If you’re looking for something a little, shall we say, less conventional than a classic margarita, check out some of these other recipes, any of which would be delicious with Partida tequila!

Margaritas to Beat the Heat from LiveMom

Chipotle Watermelon Margarita from A Time to Kale

Meyer Lemon Margarita

Pomegranate Margarita

Hibiscus Margarita

Blackberry-Thyme Margarita

White Peach Margarita

Chambord Margarita

Grapefruit Margarita

Mexican Martini

Paloma

Note: I received samples of Partida tequila in exchange for this review, but I was not otherwise compensated, and my opinions are my own.

The Alabazam

The other night, the hubby and I were in the mood for a cocktail, and he suggested a Sidecar. I, however — mindful of how much I’ve neglected Cocktail Thursdays lately — suggested we try a variation. A little Googling later, we agreed on the Alabazam.

alabazam

 

Although it sounds a bit like a cheesy magical incantation, the Alabazam is actually just a subtle variation on the classic Sidecar, with the same ingredients — though bitters are an added touch — in different proportions. In fact, the Alabazam was developed before the Sidecar, at least according to The Straight Up (which has a great walk-through of several Sidecar variations).

The experiment was a success! Although the Alabazam shares most of the same ingredients with the Sidecar, it’s a very different drink. The bitters definitely change the taste (though I opted for a lighter hand with them than the original recipe), and there’s more cognac than citrus, which makes it a bit sweeter with a little more kick. I’ll drink to that!

The Alabazam
Author: 
Recipe type: cocktail
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
Ingredients
  • 4 oz cognac
  • 1 oz Cointreau
  • juice of ½ lemon (about ½ oz)
  • ½ oz simple syrup
  • 4 dashes Angostura bitters
  • lemon twists, for garnish
Instructions
  1. Combine the cognac, Cointreau, lemon juice, simple syrup and bitters in a cocktail shaker filled with ice.
  2. Shake vigorously and strain into two cocktail glasses. Garnish with a lemon twist, if desired.

 

 

The Jasmine

Campari, to me at least, is a warm-weather spirit. I’m so glad, now that temperatures are climbing, and it finally feels like spring outside, that I get to experiment with it some more.

I know it sounds weird, but what first drew me to the Jasmine was that I read an article in which it was described as tasting just like grapefruit juice… yet it contains not a drop of actual grapefruit juice. I was intrigued, so I had to see for myself how these flavors played off each other.

the jasmine

As it turns out, the Jasmine does taste a lot like grapefruit juice — only better. Plus it’ll give you a nice spring buzz. Cheers!

5.0 from 1 reviews
The Jasmine
Author: 
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
Ingredients
  • 3 oz gin
  • ½ oz Campari
  • ½ oz Grand Marnier (or Cointreau)
  • juice of 1 lemon (about 1½ oz)
  • lemon twists for garnish
Instructions
  1. Combine the gin, Campari, Grand Marnier and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker filled with ice.
  2. Shake well and strain into two cocktail glasses. Garnish with a lemon twist, if desired.

 

Sailor’s Ale

I bought a bottle of Flor de Caña gold rum right before I got pregnant with Amelia, around this time last year. I was really looking forward to experimenting with some rum cocktails… and then I was sidelined. So, imagine my surprise when I pulled the bottle out of the back of the bar… and it was mostly empty.

Sigh. The hubby hadn’t realized it was anything special, and thus had been using it to spike his limeade when he went to the pool last summer. A lot.

But, onward and upward!

rum

A toast to Sailor’s Ale — originally a concoction of rum, ginger syrup, lime and dark beer. However, I didn’t quite feel like making ginger syrup, and I happened to have ginger beer on hand (everyone in our neighborhood is currently obsessed with the Moscow Mule), so I made it more like a slightly tricked-up version of a Dark and Stormy — just heavier on the lime.

sailor's ale

It was delicious, refreshing and perfect for this weird patchwork of winter and spring we’re currently experiencing. Drink up!

Sailor's Ale
Author: 
Recipe type: cocktail
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 3 oz gold rum
  • juice of 2 limes
  • ginger beer (1 can)
Instructions
  1. Combine the rum and lime juice in a shaker filled with ice. Shake well and strain into 4 rocks glasses (each will be about half full).
  2. Top each glass with about an ounce of ginger beer. Stir gently. Garnish with a lime slice, if desired.

 

Snow Falling on Agave

My mom gave me the most thoughtful Christmas present this year: A book of “literary-inspired” cocktails called Tequila Mockingbird (ha!), a bottle of Z Tequila to mix with, and (just for kicks) a gift card to Barnes & Noble. What a way to combine a couple of my greatest pleasures! While I look forward to trying out a few of the recipes from the book, none of the tequila-based drinks grabbed me, so I decided to break open the new bottle to try out a great drink from one of my favorite wine bloggers, SAHMmelier — the charmingly named Snow Falling on Agave (actually a Prado in disguise).

snow falling on agave

The combination of tequila and maraschino liqueur is not one I would have thought to try, but it was lovely. This drink is herbal-tasting and smooth — the tequila doesn’t back much of a punch at all. The “snow” is the foamy white layer on top of the drink formed by the egg white when shaken with the drink. Cheers!

Snow Falling on Agave
Author: 
Recipe type: cocktail
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
Ingredients
  • 3 oz tequila
  • 1½ oz freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 oz maraschino liqueur
Instructions
  1. Mix all the ingredients in a shaker filled with ice.
  2. Shake vigorously until cold and strain into two cocktail glasses.

 

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