Gourmet Veggie Mama

Tag Archives: Vodka

Grown-up Dreamsicle

Hooray! It’s Cocktail Thursday and I actually feel halfway like having a cocktail tonight! In celebration, let’s crack open the vanilla vodka I’ve been infusing.

vanilla vodka

Bottoms up!

I like vanilla. I like vodka. But commercial vanilla vodka? Not my thing. It’s just too sweet and not “real”-tasting enough. So, inspired by Boozed + Infused, I decided to try my hand at infusing my own. I split 2 vanilla bean pods (from Penzeys, my favorite source for all things spice-related) and filled a quart Mason jar with vodka, adding about  teaspoon of sugar. i allowed the mixture to infuse for about a week, which was just the right amount of time to give it a nice, deep vanilla flavor without turning it into vanilla extract, and just a touch of sugar was all it needed.

Now, onto my second problem with vanilla vodka: Most of the cocktails you can make with it have obnoxious names, contain too much cream or are otherwise unacceptable. Never fear! I put on my thinking cap and came up with a cocktail worthy of a tasty, home-infused vanilla vodka.

Grown-up Dreamsicle

I’ll drink to that.

I love the combination of vanilla and citrus, so a dreamsicle-inspired drink was a natural choice. I did end up adding a little splash of cream to it, just because it kind of needed it to tie it all together, but you’ll hardly even know it’s there, promise.

I’ll be dreaming up a few more cocktails in which to use my delicious vanilla vodka in the near future (espresso martini, anyone?), so stay tuned!

Grown-up Dreamsicle
Serves: 1
  • 2 oz vanilla vodka
  • ½ oz Grand Marnier
  • splash of cream
  • orange slice for garnish
  1. Combine all ingredients over ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake well and strain into a cocktail glass.
  2. Twist the orange slice over the glass and throw it on top as a garnish. Cheers!


The Dude Abides

Editor’s Note: You’ve all heard a lot about the hubby, and he kindly offered to write a guest post for me on this Cocktail Thursday. I’ll have you know, there was plenty of negotiation over deadlines and editorial privilege! I’ll just be putting my feet up with a glass of wine this evening. Cheers!

Now the story of this a-here drink I am about to unfold took place in the late 90’s — just about the time of our conflict with Slobodan and the Kosovars. I only tell you ’cause for some movies, there’s a beverage… I won’t say a “cocktail,” ’cause what’s a cocktail… but sometimes, there’s a beverage…

Image from http://memegenerator.net/instance/17926294

First, I’d like to introduce myself. I am the dear hubby of the empress of this here blog. I shall style myself Gourmet Omnivore Husband. This is my first guest post,* and I am here frankly because this is a drink that Lauren, sadly, does not appreciate. She is a huge fan of the Dude, however… which is good since we’ve seen it probably 50+ times. There is no doubt that without The Big Lebowski, I would probably have never given the Caucasian (as the Dude calls a White Russian) a second thought.

* Ed: Wait, what? I don’t remember offering him more than one guest post!

I’ll have a Caucasian.

It fails to contain my preferred spirit (bourbon), and I usually prefer to keep away from stuff like heavy cream. But, when you watch a movie in which a drink features so prominently, and so brilliantly, you have to drink it, usually while watching the movie itself. Watching Lebowski without a White Russian in hand would be like watching Bottle Shock or Sideways without a bottle of California red.

I reckon we should get on to the recipe, which isn’t that complicated.

White Russian

2 oz vodka**
1/2 oz Kahlua (shade up to 1 oz if you prefer a sweet drink)
1 oz milk (shade down to 1/2 oz if you use heavy cream, which I think is too heavy)

Combine all ingredients. Mix with a spoon or other swirler. Enjoy.

** As with all our vodka-based beverages, I share my wife’s preference for Tito’s, though a strong case could be made that what you add into this one could permit a cheaper choice (although Tito’s is already pretty cheap).

If you prefer not to imbibe, you could always try a Sioux City Sarsaparilla. That’s a good one.

Carrot-ginger martini

Wait, what? A carrot martini? Seriously? That sounds almost… healthy.

Yep, you read that right. I was inspired by the gals over at Boozed + Infused (and also by a glut of carrots just sitting in my fridge, just begging to be put to good use) to infuse my own carrot vodka. I figured, why not? This has to be one of those things that tastes better than it sounds, right? It was.

What’s up, doc?

The carrot infused vodka is not something I’d drink by itself, but it’s earthy with just a hint of sweetness. Add some crystallized ginger and a sugared rim, and it makes a lovely cocktail. The hubby thought it tasted vaguely Asian, so I’d definitely pair this with a stir-fry or something. Drink up!

Carrot-Ginger Martini
Based on this recipe from Boozed + Infused

2 oz carrot-infused vodka*
2 tsp chopped crystallized ginger, divided
Baker’s sugar

Place vodka and 1 tsp of the ginger in a shaker filled with ice. Rim a martini glass with sugar and add the remaining ginger, along with a carrot curl from the vodka. Shake the vodka and ginger until very cold and strain into the prepared glass.

* Briefly, peel 3 or 4 carrots (depending on size) and shave them into curls. Put the curls in a mason jar, fill with vodka, seal, and let it sit for at least a week. Here’s a more detailed how-to from Boozed + Infused.

Mandarin martini

Ladies and gentlemen, we have vodka. Not just any vodka, but Austin’s own Tito’s Handmade Vodka — my all-time favorite.

In honor of our newly restocked bar, I experimented a little and came up with a great new cocktail. I borrowed a few of Nora’s mandarins, but I don’t think she’ll mind.


Mandarin Martini

4 mandarins, juiced
4 oz vodka
splash of lime juice

Combine all ingredients in a shaker filled with ice. Shake well and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a twist or a thin slice of mandarin (if you are garnish-challenged like I am).

Vodka whatsit

I am not really feeling this week’s cocktail (although it did get a rave review from the better half), so I am not even going to put the effort into renaming it. My bar book calls it a kamikaze cocktail, but that’s just too silly.*

* This is a word I hardly ever used before having a baby.

In any case, it’s a good, standard drink that you can make with stuff you most likely already have in your (reasonably well-stocked) bar, but it’s not one that I will probably go back to.

Mediocre, but photogenic!

Here’s the basic recipe in case you’d like to give it a whirl (or a shake, as the case may be). I think it might be better with a sugar rim or maybe a smidge more Cointreau, because it was too tart for my taste.

Vodka whatsit
Original recipe from The Ultimate Bar Book

2 oz vodka
1/2 oz Cointreau
1/4 oz lime juice

Combine all ingredients in a shaker filled with ice, shake well, and serve.

P.S. I have been searching in vain for some fabulous holiday-ish cocktails to try out, but I’m coming up short. Does anyone have a great holiday cocktail to share, or should we all just stick with wine?

Pomegranate cocktail

I will say right up front that I’m not a big fan of this week’s cocktail. It had the makings of a nice drink — fresh, in-season fruit, and a simple recipe — but it was just blah. Frankly, it tasted like an over-hyped cosmopolitan, and I’m so over that. I cosmo-ed myself out in about 2001. But I guess it’s not bad, if you like that sort of thing.*

* Which, apparently, my husband does. He tasted my drink and liked it. For whatever that’s worth.


Pomegranate Cocktail
Based on this recipe

1 1/2 oz vodka
1 oz Cointreau
1 oz pomegranate juice
splash of lemon juice
splash of seltzer
pomegranate seeds for garnish

Combine all ingredients except the pomegranate seeds in a shaker with plenty of ice. Shake and strain into a martini glass, and serve garnished with pomegranate seeds.


Speaking of being cosmo-ed out, I simply cannot do the cocktail-a-week thing. Turns out I am less of a lush than I thought. Huh. I do like to experiment, though, so I’ll still be featuring plenty of new cocktails!

Bloody Marys

This week’s cocktail is a classic, but it’s one I had never made before last weekend. I’m really more of a mimosa girl when I’m drinking before noon — which, for the record, is not often — but circumstances dictated otherwise this time around.

I mentioned that we had people over to watch the Texas-OU game on Saturday, and the game started way early here on the West Coast.* Since it’s uncouth to serve beer at 9 am, Shiner Bock, our standard game-watching beverage, was out. Since we have tons of tomatoes these days, between our CSA and our own plants, we decided to juice them and make really homemade Bloody Marys instead.

*By this I mean it started early for drinking. We had already been up and at ’em for a good three hours around these parts, like we are most mornings, thanks to our little early bird!

I started by asking my good friend Google for advice on how to make a Bloody Mary, and I came upon this site, which is perhaps more comprehensive than I needed. It told me what I needed to know, though, so armed with the basics, I set about making a pitcher for the party.

I started out by using my trusty food mill to “juice” the tomatoes.

It's harder than it looks.

It turned out to be just right for the job with the fine mesh attachment, and before I knew it, I had plenty of nice, pulpy (but not too pulpy) tomato juice.

Then it was time to add the vodka. The internets told me that the ratio was 1:1 tomato juice to vodka, and that sounded crazy to me, but what do I know? So that’s where I started. I gave it a quick taste test, and let’s just say it pretty much made my hair stand on end, so I added a bit of extra tomato juice to tone it down a little. I mixed in the rest of the ingredients (not really measuring much — just eyeballing it since I was doing an entire pitcher), poured a sample glass, garnished it with a leafy stick of celery, and it was go time.


It was a good drink, and, as one of our fellow Texas Exes put it, it turned out to be just the right strength for the game we were about to witness (ouch). Nonetheless, I think I’ll stick to mimosas as my brunch drink of choice in the future — especially when blood orange juice is available… mmm.

Bloody Mary

3 cups tomato juice
2 cups vodka
1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
3 Tbs. lime juice
Black pepper to taste
Tabasco sauce to taste

Pour tomato juice and vodka into a pitcher filled with plenty of ice. Add other ingredients and stir well. Serve well-chilled over ice.

Cucumber-Basil Gimlet

On our most recent date night, the hubby and I went to one of our favorite pre-baby places, Cin-Cin Wine Bar in Los Gatos. They have fantastic tapas, a great wine list offering tastes, glasses and flights, and (so I had heard) good cocktails. I’m too much of a wino to have actually tried one of their cocktails before, though. We were running a little early that night, and we ended up sitting at the bar for a bit, so I decided to trust the bartender and ask for some sort of vodka-based drink. I was not disappointed in the cucumber-basil gimlet he made for me — it was the best new cocktail I’ve had in a long time!

Naturally, I wanted to replicate it at home, since we had a nice cucumber from our CSA in the fridge and plenty of basil growing in the yard. I pretty much winged it, but it turned out awesome. In fact, I think a gimlet (in one form or another) is going to be my new signature drink.

Makes me wish I had actual gimlet glasses...

Here’s my basic recipe, if you want to give it a whirl.

Cucumber-Basil Gimlet

3 oz. vodka*
1 oz. simple syrup
1 oz. lime juice
5-6 slices peeled cucumber
a good handful of basil leaves

Drop the cucumber and basil into the bottom of a cocktail shaker and muddle well. Add ice and the other ingredients and shake well. Makes 2.

* I used Tito’s Handmade Vodka, but I also loved it with Grey Goose at Cin-Cin.

Farewell, summer

As today is the start of Labor Day weekend, which is the unofficial end of summer, I am feeling a little nostalgic for the season. Fall is my favorite season, with a little crispness in the air and the changing leaves, but summer is a time for barbecues and pool parties and sitting outside enjoying a nice, cold beer because it’s just too darn hot to do anything else. I always miss it a little bit when the weather starts turning colder.

What better way to honor of the end of summer than with a classic summer cocktail, the Lemon Drop?

Summer, we hardly knew ye.

Lemon Drop

1 1/2 oz. vodka*
1/2 oz. Cointreau
1 tsp. simple syrup
3/4 oz. lemon juice

Combine all ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker and shake well. Pour into a sugar-rimmed glass, and serve with a lemon twist if you’re feeling fancy.

* I heart Tito’s Handmade Vodka. However, I also happen to have a bottle of Absolut Citron still hanging around, probably from law school days, so I usually throw a little of that in for its extra lemony-ness.

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