Category Archives: spirits

On the receiving end

Happiest of holidays to you! While you can never go wrong with booze (a common gift given and received), Ms. S&C was on the receiving end of a few other shoes and cocktails inspired gifts this year. All courtesy of Mother S&C!

To tell the truth, Ms. S&C doesn’t know a whole lot about wine. She gets her regions confused, her grapes confused, then there’s the Old World vs. New World, wine etiquette, and the science and artistry of wine-making. She wants to know more about these things, so bring on the Wine Wars Trivia Game!

winewarstriviagame

Living in a small house, with tiny closets, and the inherited trait of never wanting to throw anything out (a trait of Mother S&C mind you), additional shoe racks are a welcome gift (and necessity, as clearly one wasn’t enough!).

shoeracks

And lastly, here’s a sassy little stocking stuffer that’s already made its way to the office. While Ms. S&C can agree (somewhat) on the message, she likes to emphasize quality over quantity :)

notepads

Any other fun shoes and cocktails inspired holiday gifts out there? Any self-gifts? Please share!

Happy [Vegan] Thanksgiving

The past two Thanksgivings for Ms. S&C have been meat free. This means no turkey, no Virginia ham, and when she’s visiting family in Southwestern Va., it also means no gravy and no stuffing. Some of you may be thinking “What’s left to eat?” Trust me, you can have a rich and hearty vegetarian (or vegan) Thanksgiving dinner that’s reminiscent of the one you know and love. (And it may be one you feel better about eating.)

Start off with a cocktail we’re calling the Old Fashioned Pilgrim. Adapted from Imbibe Magazine‘s Maple-Cranberry Bourbon Smashed, we used the same ingredients as those in our cranberry sauce (yes, the same sauce that’s served alongside the tofurkey).

The instructions are easy: add a tablespoon of the cranberry sauce to two and a half ounces of bourbon (we used Buffalo Trace). Stir well. Fill glass with ice and garnish with an orange twist. Enjoy a sweet and warming seasonal variation of a classic drink.

cranberryorangesauce

oldfashionedpilgrim

The Old Fashioned Pilgrim is a lot like the classic Old Fashioned but made with fresh cranberries, orange, agave nectar, and cinnamon

Enjoy this beverage while you’re putting the finishing touches on this delicious all vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner.

  • Herbed Tofurkey (we used the Quorn Turk’y and roasted with fresh parsley, rosemary, and thyme)
  • Bourbon Mashed Sweet Potatoes (we mostly followed this recipe but eliminated the cream, almost all of the butter — used vegan butter actually — and the brown sugar)
  • Chorizo-style Protein & Apple Stuffing (we used Field Roast protein sausage in this stuffing recipe and subbed veggie broth and beer for the chicken stuff)
  • Roasted Cauliflower (there’s nothing to it: roast cauliflower with salt, pepper, and olive oil)
  • Cranberry Orange Sauce (we fixed this version with agave nectar so it could be used in cocktail as well)

veganthanksgiving

If you’re not used to eating a protein other than turkey and sausage, the taste will surely be different (and the tofurkey on its own could have used a little gravy), but the spicy stuffing and tart citrusy cranberry sauce are more than enough to give this all veggie dinner a lot of flavor.

A beer drinker’s holiday

Attention beer drinkers. Specifically, Belgian beer drinkers. More specifically, lambic style beer drinkers. This may be a post for you.

Ms. S&C recently took 10 days to spend some time in London, Belgium (Bruges and Brussels), and Amsterdam. When you’re on a holiday such as this one, it’s hard not to visit a pub or a beer bar *at least* once a day. Ms. S&C would argue it’s one of the best ways to settle into a new city, get to know a neighborhood and just get off your feet for a bit. And when visiting these cities in particular, the most interesting — and perhaps the most refreshing — thing to order is beer.

In London, you’re gonna order a pint and you’re gonna order something on draft. Or, there may be a time or two when you order a half pint and that half pint may be cider. Either way, cheers!

In Belgium, ordering beer can be intimidating. Even the smallest of beer bars will have a hundred or more beers to choose from. Ms. S&C stuck mostly with lambic style beers. They’re funky and earthy, and sour, and sometimes with a touch of sweetness. They’re complex. And despite my choice of adjectives to describe them, they’re really, really good.

Here’s an almost complete list of what two beer drinkers can drink in three short days in Belgium (in order of appearance):

  • De Ranke XX Bitter
  • 3 Drei Fonteineri Oude Gueze
  • Girardin Gueze (black label)
  • Girardin Kriek
  • Boom Mariage Parfait
  • Cantillon Gueze
  • Moinette Blonde
  • Brugse Zot
  • Rochefort 6
  • Saison Dupont
  • Troublette
  • Duchesse de Bourgogne
  • Hanssens Artisanal Oude Gueze
  • De Garre Triple (on tap)
  • Gulden Draak (on tap)
  • Petrus Gouden Triple
  • Duvel (triple hop)
  • Cuvee De Ranke
  • Saison de Dottignies De Ranke
  • Cantillon Faro
  • Cantillon Lambic (on tap)
  • Cantillon Kriek (on hand pump)
  • De Rank Gulden Berg
  • Houblon Chouffee
  • Boon Oude Gueze
  • Cantillon Rose de Gambrinus
  • Oerbier

When visiting a new city, one may ask: how do you know where to go? Sometimes you can rely on just popping into the nearest place when your legs are too tired to take you any further. But much of the time, you can benefit from a little research beforehand. For instance, Tim Webb’s Good Beer Guide to Belgium is worth the purchase. Rick Steves is a pretty reliable source too (he also recommended our favorite bar: t’Brugs Beertje in his travel guide). A few spots Ms. S&C would like to find herself drinking a beer again:

  • The Lamb and the Fog (London)
  • Lounge Bohemian (London, cocktails)
  • The Rake (London)
  • The Jugged Hare (London)
  • t’Brugs Beertje (Bruges)
  • De Garre (Bruges)
  • Poatersgat (Bruges)
  • Chez Moeder Lambic (Brussels)

When in Amsterdam, after seven days on the road, you might want to chill out, have a smoothie and stick with a beer you know. Amstel, particularly Amstel Light, has always been a personal go to. But, it’s also a city when you may just want to sit back at a coffeehouse overlooking a canal, drink some mint tea and watch the bicycles go by.

posted by Ms. S&C

Happiness awaits

There’s a sign for Palm Grove Bar & Grill that reads “Where happiness awaits you.”

Ms. S&C just returned from her third trip to Anguilla, and her second to Palm Grove. It was this recent trip that she had the honor of chatting with Nat, the owner, while she ate her grilled lobster (with a tasty curry butter) and drank her Red Stripe. The conversation covered everything from Johnny Cakes, to American politics, to Anguillan heritage, to what it’s like to own a shack (Nat’s word) by the water. Ms. S&C likes this shack by the water. But, Ms. S&C pretty much likes all the shacks by the water in Anguilla.

Ms. S&C and her Red Stripe at Palm Grove, one of many favorite spots on the beautiful, relaxed, 16-mile long island of Anguilla.

Other Caribbean beverages of choice: Pyrat Rum, Carib, and Presidente. And, where are some good spots to drink said beverages? Favorite bars include: Dune Preserve (and if you’re lucky, reggae legend and owner, Bankie Banx, will be around; and if you’re really lucky, maybe you’ll show up on his birthday), and The Pumphouse (if you don’t see Bankie’s son Omari at the Dune, maybe you can catch him here on Friday night).

Favorite restaurants to wine and dine (there are so many!): Tasty’s (the best Johnny Cakes on the island, and they serve them for breakfast, lunch and dinner; Ms. S&C knows because she went there for breakfast, lunch and dinner), Picante (*really* good Mexican), Blanchard’s (for beachfront chic), and Smokey’s (great for live music and fresh fish sandwich). New places that she’ll be back to: E’s Oven (best bite of the trip was the grilled grouper with tomato jam), and Bonjour Cafe (a hippy-ish spot tucked back in the woods with a great vegetable roti).

The best way to hydrate? Fresh coconut water! (A rastaman that’s handy with a machete is particularly helpful in this endeavor.) And hydration is needed after sea kayaking, yoga on the beach, a Thai massage, and a night out at The Pumphouse.

Happiness awaits at many spots on Anguilla. This sunset spot was taken from Ms. S&C’s patio. She viewed it for eight full days. If you are ever thinking of visiting, please let her know (after three trips, she has copious notes that she’d love to share!).

posted by Ms. S&C

How to end summer

You’ve got an abundance of basil in your garden. Your farmer’s market still has cucumbers. You’re not quite ready to say goodbye to summer produce. You’re not quite ready to say goodbye to summer itself. And you want a cocktail.

We give you the cucumber basil gimlet.

This refreshing summer beverage was adapted from a recipe found over at What’s Gaby Cooking (but originally inspired by a Miss Mojito post from a few years back). Gaby probably had some time to think about, and plan for, her preparation of this cocktail. Ms. S&C’s preparation was a little last minute, and she didn’t have the patience for simple-syrup-making and pureed-cucumber-straining. So, her adaptation went something like this. (With more time, she would recommend the simple syrup making and cucumber puree straining.)

Ingredients:

  • Cucumber
  • Basil — large handful
  • Agave nectar
  • Lime — one half per cocktail
  • Gin

Directions (for one cocktail):

Peel cucumber, slice and puree until finely chopped. Fill glass with spoonful of pureed cucumber, 7 or so basil leaves, a squirt of agave nectar, juice of half a lime, and then muddle. Fill glass with ice, add an once and a half of gin and stir well (or preferably, transfer to a cocktail shaker to mix). Garnish with a cucumber wheel and sprig of fresh basil.

As a bonus: maybe you’ve got some extra tomatoes. Maybe that arugula became the bumper crop you never expected. Pick up some pre-made naan, whip up some arugula pesto, and top with whatever is around (maybe some parmigiano-reggiano,  maybe some goat cheese, and maybe fresh basil). And perfetto! Summer ingredients at their best.

posted by Ms. S&C

Lake favorites

Okay, okay, Ms. S&C promises this will be the last of the lake-related blog posts, Twitter posts, and Facebook posts. But, she couldn’t wrap up this year’s lake trip without sharing more of her favorites.

Drink favorites
Bloody Mary’s, Grapefruit Crushes, Pimm’s, Champagne cocktails, red wine, beer, beer, and more beer: there are lots of drink options at the lake. (You saw this picture from last year, right?) Thankfully, Ms. S&C is not charge of them all. Last year, a friend (we’ll call her Mrs. Smith) introduced us to Banks Rum and the Five Island Watermelon Punch. This year, Mrs. Smith, prepared for us a traditional Bajan Rum Punch. We didn’t keep score, but it was likely this year’s winning cocktail.

When Ms. S&C inquired about the recipe, Mrs. Smith shared the traditional (and delightful) saying to help one remember: 

One of Sour
Two of Sweet
Three of Strong

And Four of Weak

It translates into this:

  • 1 cup lime juice
  • 2 cups simple syrup
  • 3 cups white rum, preferably Banks Five Island White Rum
  • 2 cups of ice and 2 cups of cold water

Directions:

Stir all ingredients together in a large pitcher. To serve: fill a highball glass with three or four additional ice cubes. Garnish with a splash of Angostura bitters and a dash of grated nutmeg.

I want to think it is the perfect balance of sweet and sour that makes this a winning cocktail, but I really think it is the bitters and fresh grated nutmeg.

Favorite moments
Like the numerous drink selections, a lot of games are played at the lake: bocce, horseshoes, Scrabble, Mexican train dominoes, Left-Center-Right. But, it was during a competitive guys-against-girls game of Celebrity where a Coach Taylor impression (from Mr. Smith, coincidentally) will go down as my favorite charade moment of all time. With one turn of a hat, breaths were taken away. #fullhearts

Ms. S&C would consider almost any yoga session by the water a perfect moment, but her favorite yoga moment came on a rainy day — with first day jitters behind her — when she led an extensive indoor session that turned into a truly blessed experience. #namastebitches

Playlist favorites
Where there are booze and games, there is music. We marked this occasion with a collaborative playlist, in which everyone submits two song requests. Below you’ll find the complete list of songs, with notations for those currently in heavy rotation in the S&C house.

  1. Mercy — Duffy
  2. When Did Your Heart Go Missing? — Rooney
  3. Birthday — Kings of Leon
  4. Little Lion Man — Mumford & Sons
  5. Loving Cup — The Rolling Stones
  6. Jingling Baby — LL Cool J
  7. Price Tag (feat. B.o.B) — Jessie J
  8. Can I Kick It? — A Tribe Called Quest
  9. Walk On The Wild Side — Lou Reed
  10. Toob Amplifier — The Presidents of the United States of America
  11. Rolling in the Deep — ADELE
  12. Give Me Everything (feat. Ne-Yo, Afrojack & Nayer) — Pitbull
  13. Otis (feat. Otis Redding) — JAY Z & Kanye West
  14. My Mistakes — Eleanor Friedberger
  15. Holdin On to Black Metal — My Morning Jacket
  16. Hold You Back — JC Brooks & The Uptown Sounds
  17. Metal Firecracker — Lucinda Williams
  18. Get Me Bodied — Beyoncé
  19. Look At Me Now (feat. Lil Wayne & Busta Rhymes) — Chris Brown
  20. Am I the Only One — Dierks Bentley
  21. Cheers (Drink to That) — Rihanna
  22. S&M — Rihanna
  23. Baby Got Back — Sir Mix-A-Lot
  24. So Lucky (Eurovision 2011 – Moldova) — Zdob Si Zdub
  25. Your Touch — The Black Keys
  26. Evacuate the Dancefloor (Radio Edit) — Cascada
  27. Everybody Gets to Go to the Moon (Live) — The Three Degrees
  28. True Loves — Hooray For Earth
  29. That Way (feat. Jeremih & Rick Ross) — Wale
  30. On My Level (feat. Too $hort) — Wiz Khalifa
  31. I Gotta Get Drunk — Redbird
  32. Rehab — Amy Winehouse

Until next year!

posted by Ms. S&C

Mango Madness

Miss Mojito finally had the chance to test out a recipe for Mango Margaritas. They’re so refreshing, sunny and dare I say easy that I had to report back on the results. Make the most of your summer and whip up a batch this weekend!

Now, the mango is a notoriously difficult fruit to cut. But that’s the beauty of this recipe – you don’t have to dice the mango into neat, even cubes (although here’s a helpful tutorial for when that’s your goal). It’s perfectly acceptable to butcher the fruit as you see fit, since you’ll be pureeing the whole lot in a blender or food processor later.

Mango Margaritas
Serves five.

  • 2 very ripe mangos
  • Juice of 3 limes
  • 10 oz. tequilo blanco
  • 4 oz. triple sec
  • 8 oz. grapefruit soda (I used the Izzie brand)

Remove as much flesh as possible from the two mangos.

If you’re using a blender: Puree all the ingredients in the blender until you reach a smooth consistency.

If you’re using a food processor: Puree the mango and lime juice together until smooth. Poor into a pitcher and add the tequila, triple sec and soda. Stir well.

Serve over ice in chilled glasses.

Posted by Miss Mojito.