Category Archives: vodka

Drinks at the lake

Here’s the final installment of Ms. S&C’s Seneca Lake recap. Over the course of three fun-filled days, here’s what you could find friends imbibing by the water, on a sailboat, by the grill, on the porch, on a swing, playing games, by the bonfire (did I miss anything?): Grapefruit Crush, Bloody Mary, Mai Tai (for the luau-themed dinner), Gin & Tonic, Dark ‘n’ Stormy, Pimm’s Cup (and variations of), Beer, Wine, Champagne.

One specialty cocktail (that was planned in advance): Five Island Punch.

The Five Island Punch was made with Banks Rum, a new rum on the market that is a blend of aged rums from five island distilleries. Ms. S&C doesn’t know a whole heck of a lot about rum (not like this guy), but she certainly loved it in this cocktail. And naturally, fresh watermelon this time of the year is a perfect mixer for cocktails.

The Banks Five Island Punch

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz Banks rum
  • 1 1/2 oz fresh lime juice
  • 1 oz simple syrup
  • 4 oz watermelon puree

Directions:

Shake all ingredients together, serve over ice, and garnish with mint sprig and lime wheel.

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Another specialty cocktail (that was totally random and totally awesome): Iced Double Espresso.

Coffee is probably the one beverage Ms. S&C can’t live without (actually, coffee may have to fight it out with Champagne). So, when another friend came with a surprise bottle of Van Gogh Double Espresso vodka, she couldn’t have been happier to make iced coffee drinks. Then, the drinks were paired with these amazing orange glazed cookies. The lake is like a culinary wonderland.

Iced Double Espresso

Directions:

Pretty simple stuff: fill glass with ice, pour a few ounces of coffee-flavored vodka, add a dash of cream, milk or half-and-half, and stir.

Ms. S&C’s has a three-part series covering her favorite weekend of the year. Part one: Sights of the lake. Part two: Overheard at the lake. Part three: Drinks at the lake.

posted by Ms. S&C

Get ready, waves coming

As Ms. S&C mentioned in her recent Rehoboth Beach update, the “crush” may be the perfect beach cocktail, which means it may be the perfect summer cocktail. It is certainly a damn refreshing cocktail. And, it is a cocktail that is very easy to make. Did you hear that? It is a cocktail that is super easy to make. Make one. This weekend.

There’s one month before Labor Day, so Ms. S&C begs you — pleads with you — to make a “crush” before summer is over. Did I mention how it is so easy? And, how it tastes like a summer drink is supposed to? If there is one thing Ms. S&C can give you this summer, it is the Grapefruit Crush.

Ms. S&C’s favorite cocktail of this hot, hot summer?
The grapefruit crush.

Grapefruit Crush
(recipe adapted from Going Out Gurus, and what they claim to be a proper and traditional recipe)

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz.  Grapefruit Juice — preferably ruby red, and the fresher, the better
  • 1 oz. Vodka — the original recipe calls for grapefruit-infused vodka (i.e. Absolut Ruby Red)
  • Lemon Lime Soda — Ms. S&C also plans to try it with Fresca
  • Lime wedges — for garnish

Directions:

Fill a collins-style glass with ice. Combine one part vodka, two parts juice, and top with soda. Stir. Garnish with lime wedge.

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When you’re beachside or poolside or lakeside — or, wishing you were beachside, poolside, lakeside — here’s a playlist that can help set the mood.

Some of the songs are on the playlist because of name alone. Beach House is one example  (I’m glad the band name works because I’m totally digging their Teen Dream album right now). The Velvet Underground’s “Ocean” is another (I think the song is about heroin?). Some of the songs are, naturally, from surfer bands: The Beach Boys and Jan & Dean. And bands who are inspired by surfer bands: The Morning Benders, Caribou, and Surfer Blood. (And, good god, it was hard not to pick most of the songs from The Beach Boys’ Surfer Hits album, or from Pet Sounds, which is actually my fave.)

Perhaps Ms. S&C was destined to surf because all these songs come directly from the S&C music library. They’ve just been waiting to be compiled on a playlist, and to be heard with a grapefruit crush in hand.

Surf Songs

  1. Swim – Surfer Blood
  2. The Tide is High – Blondie
  3. Surfer Girl – The Beach Boys
  4. Charlie Don’t Surf – The Clash (this may be my favorite on the playlist)
  5. Ripple – Janes Addiction (yes, the Grateful Dead cover)
  6. Surf City – Jan & Dean
  7. Ocean Breathes Salty – Modest Mouse
  8. Ocean – The Velvet Underground
  9. Redondo Beach – Patti Smith
  10. Wipe Out – The Beach Boys
  11. Inaudible Melodies – Jack Johnson (or any Jack Johnson for that matter — he’s a Hawaiian surfer for crying out loud)
  12. All Day Day Light – The Morning Benders
  13. Melody Day – Caribou
  14. Zebra – Beach House
  15. Tides of Time – The Soft Pack
  16. Surfin’ Safari – The Beach Boys
  17. Sea of Love – Cat Power
  18. Wouldn’t It Be Nice – The Beach Boys

Ms. S&C would like to know: Do you have favorite songs that remind you of the beach? What songs should be added to the surfing playlist? Please share!

posted by Ms. S&C

Beach amusements

Parades of people, salty air, smells of ice cream and boardwalk fries — there are so many delights at the beach! (Ms. S&C wishes she was still at the beach.)

She has shared Rehoboth Beach experiences before (fortunately the weather was much more cooperating this time around). Favorite spots that were revisted during her recent stay included:

  • Dogfish Head – this brewery still has the most interesting beers around. Where else can you find Sah’tea (made with black tea, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and black pepper),  Festina Peche, Saison du BUFF (a collaboration with Victory and made with parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme)?
  • Nicola Pizza – when carrying around the box, on local said to another: “she knows where to get pizza.”
  • FINS Fish House and Raw Bar – great oysters and fun bar staff, one of which we nicknamed Rehoboth’s Vinny Chase.

Ms. S&C also came across some new spots that will now be included in the rotation:

  • The Ice Cream Store – homemade ice cream with over 70 flavors, including: Bacon (more subtle than you think), Better Than Sex (almost), Lucky Charms (yes, the cereal), Mayan Chocolate Cinnamon (made spicy with cayenne).
  • Purple Parrot – modeled after bars in Key West, everyone’s welcome at this karaoke bar.
  • The Starboard – a super fun, high-energy bar in Dewey Beach, who’s motto is: Happy Hour Proudly Starts at 9 am! The Starboard is also famous for their Bloody Mary Smorgasbord which includes a wall of mixers, hot sauces, spices, and tons of garnishes. Ms. S&C made herself a liquid salad indeed!

In Bloody Mary heaven at The Starboard in Dewey Beach.

The Starboard is also famous for their “crushes,” a super refreshing mix of fresh juices (orange or grapefruit), vodka, and soda. Ms. S&C first heard about “crushes,” from Washington Post’s Going Out Gurus. And, she agrees with Fritz Hahn, crushes are a favorite beach drink (recipe to come, promise!).

Orange you glad you tried those crushes, Ms. S&C? Yes, she is.

As for other beach amusements, Ms. S&C tried surfing for the first time. She arranged lessons with Rehoboth Beach Boarding School and will never forget this call: Get Ready (waves coming), Paddle Hard, and Pop-up. The adrenaline rush was pretty incredible. Plus, there’s something great about paddling around on a surfboard in the ocean. (And, there’s something badass about coming home with bruised knees and sore ribs.)

PS) You better believe that a S&C surfer playlist is in the works. Stay tuned for that because it will go great with those “crushes.”

posted by Ms. S&C

The Bloody Mary smorgesbord at The Starboard in Dewey Beach.

The Cosmopolitan Story

Manolo Blahniks and Cosmopolitans are synonymous with “Sex and the City.” And given those strong S&C connections, we are obliged to celebrate the SATC pop cultural phenomenon up until our own Style in the City event on Friday.

You may have remembered from the first movie that our favorite NYC ladies closed with a round of Cosmopolitans. It went something like this:

Charlotte: This is delicious!

Miranda: Why’d we ever stop drinking these?

Carrie: Because everyone else started.

Four fabulous NYC gals brought the Cosmopolitan cocktail to widespread popularity. (photo courtesy of The Gnostic Gospels and Her Name was Lola)

It is true that the fab four of Carrie, Charlotte, Samantha and Miranda are credited for bringing the Cosmopolitan cocktail to incredible popularity. But, the original Cosmopolitan actually pre-dates the TV series. Like most cocktail origins, the history of the cocktail is disputed, but it appears that the real story of the Cosmopolitan starts in the early 1990’s at an exclusive after-party for the Grammy’s, held at the famous Rainbow Room where Dale “King Cocktail” DeGroff was tending bar. Madonna and her entourage settled in the VIP Lounge. When the songstress requested something chic and delicious, DeGroff whipped up a batch of Cosmopolitans – a delectable mix of top-shelf vodka, Cointreau, cranberry juice, lime juice served in a chilled martini glass, and garnished with a twist of orange.

Dale DeGroff has also created a modern version of his famous concoction – something for the more sophisticated lady of 2010. But, there’s no shame in ordering the original – at least this week. The  recipes below are courtesy of Cointreau.

The Cosmopolitan 2010

  • 3/4 oz Citrus Vodka
  • 3/4 oz Cointreau
  • 3/4 oz Cranberry juice
  • 1/4 oz Fresh lime juice
  • 2 1/2 oz Champagne

Assemble the vodka, Cointreau, and juices in a shaker with ice and shake well to chill. Strain into a coupe glass and fill with champagne. Garnish with a flamed orange peel.

The Original Cosmopolitan

  • 1 1/2 oz Vodka
  • 1 oz Cointreau
  • 1 oz Cranberry juice
  • 3/4 oz Fresh lime juice

Shake and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a twist of orange.

posted by Ms. S&C

Getting Spoooooky

Ghosts, ghouls and goblins bring with them a host of exciting cocktail possibilities to usher in the spookiest of holidays. And with Halloween falling on a Saturday this year, those opportunities for celebrating are all the more plentiful.

Here are Miss Mojito’s thoughts on some festive cocktails that might help get you in the Halloween spirit.

  • Go Orange and Black: Mix orange curacao liqueur, white rum and lime; garnish with a licorice stick
  • Go Creepy: Take a nod from Yumsugar.com and mix up a terrifying batch of Eyeball Highballs.
  • Go Spooky: Mix espresso, orange vodka and coffee liqueur for a brooding, macabre and delicious martini.

Shoe-wise, I think something equally black and broodIMG_0894ing is in order. Luckily, I came across these fantastic sandals at Nine West. The hardware toughens up the feminine shape. I’ve been eyeing this particular pair for a while now and am delighted to add them to my collection!

Posted by Miss Mojito.

Anything but revolting

The Restaurant Wars episode is easily the most anticipated challenge of Top Chef. The judges said that this season was the best they’ve seen in TC history. I don’t think the caliber of the cheftestants has ever been higher. And, having said that, I was so glad they didn’t have to bother with the whole decor planning part this go round.

Here’s a much too lengthy recap (but it was such a good ep):

  • The Quickfire Challenge was a tag-team relay/cook-off (which may become the most anticipated Quickfire Challenge). It was super fun. The chefs were separated in teams of two, blindfolded, and had to cook one dish total — with each of them cooking for 10 minutes, one right after the other, not allowed to talk, and obviously not able to see what the chef ahead of them was doing. Yes, this is confusingly written, I know — let’s just say, it was much better watched.
  • The Blue Team (with Jennifer, Kevin, Mike Isabella and Laurine) won with Sablefish, Sauteed Mushrooms, Shitake Broth and Radish Salad. I thought the Read Team (with the Voltaggio Brothers, Eli and Robin) made a tactical error in having the two weakest chefs (Eli and Robin) start off. As opposed to the Blue Team, where perfect-planner-Jennifer started and perfect-closer-Kevin finished.
  • The Blue Team’s tactical mistakes came when their overconfidence let their $10,000 prize ride, and they chose not to make a dessert for the Restaurant Wars (RW) Elimination Challenge.
  • For the RW, the cheftestants took over guest judge, Chef Rick Moonen‘s restaurant, rm Seafood. The Blue Team became “Mission,” (think clean, San Francisco-style), and took over the white tablecloth section of rm. The Read Team became “REVolt,” (think rebellious and play on initials, rather than revolting and disgusting), and took over the more rustic-looking section.
  • REVolt won convincingly, and Michael Voltaggio won $10,000, for his Pressed Chicken with Calamari Noodles, Tomato Confit and Fennel Salad. He shared his earnings with his teammates.
  • I was shaking in my boots, thinking Jennifer would be sent home for her fish dishes. Instead, Laurine was given the boot, for her poor front-of-the-house performance, and not stepping in when Kevin didn’t properly cook her lamb.

TC_pear-des

Robin’s Pear Pithivier with Vanilla Ice Cream and Elderflower Syrup

For the drink pairing, it was hard not to use Robin’s pear pithivier dessert for inspiration, particularly because of the elderberry syrup. I found the Gigi, a pear elderberry cocktail over on Chow.com, which sounds just about perfect (and slightly reminiscent of the S&C celebratory Elderberry Spritz). According to Chow, Jackie Patterson, former mixologist at Le Colonial in San Francisco, created this stiff cocktail, combining three French spirits. When I try at home, I will likely cut back on the liquor portions, and possibly substitute the pear vodka for pear simple syrup. Or, just find a way to add more pear.

Gigi Cocktail
Courtesy of Jackie Patterson, from Chow.com

  • 2 parts Lillet Blanc
  • 1 1/2 parts St-Germain elderflower liqueur
  • 1 part Grey Goose La Poire vodka (or other pear-flavored vodka, if available)
  • Ice
  • 1 part brut rosé champagne
  • 1 pear slice, for garnish

Combine Lillet, St-Germain, and Grey Goose in a cocktail shaker and top with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Float champagne on top of Lillet mixture. Garnish with pear slice and serve.

posted by Ms. S&C

Ups and Downs

Well, you win some and you lose some. Miss Mojito spent the long weekend with friends, with plenty of snacking and imbibing along the way. Of course, there were highs and lows in our drink and cocktail agenda for the weekend. Here’s a quick recap – maybe we can all learn from my failures (and successes)!

Starting to Wine at Keswick
Miss Mojito and pals brought some snacks to Keswick Vineyards, outside of Charlottesville, for a sunny afternoon ofIMG_0209 Viognier-sipping. The wine was sublime, the company delightful and the setting perfect.

Time for  a Drunken Mule
Post-wine sipping, we gathered back at a friend’s house for even more good eats and cocktails. I was truly excited to prepare the Peach Donkey. Somehow, though, I convinced myself that the name of the drink was actually the Drunken IMG_0214Mule. Although neither makes much sense, I prefer the latter. It’s a mixture of peach purée, vodka, Domaine de Canton (a ginger liqueur) and ginger beer. I subbed club soda for the ginger beer and was less than pleased with the end result. Maybe the peaches weren’t peachy enough, or maybe the ginger beer is crucial to the success of this drink. I think it’s a recipe that’s worthy of some more experimentation, particularly now that I’m left with a practically full bottle of Canton (check back for more cocktail recipes inspired by this ginger liqueur).

Drunken Mule
serves one

  • 1 ounce vodka
  • 1/2 ounce Domaine de Canton (ginger liqueur)
  • 3 ounces peach puree (Miss Menu peeled peaches and whizzed them about in a food processor with some lime juice to prevent discoloration)
  • 1 ounce chilled ginger beer

Combine the vodka, Canton and puree in a glass. Stir. Top with ginger beer and serve.

Taking a Trip South
Miss Mojito was excited to hear about the Southside, billed as the gin-lover’s mojito. It combines mint, simple syrup, IMG_0231club soda, lime and gin. So on Sunday evening, we enjoyed a pre-dinner version of the cocktail, subbing agave nectar for simple syrup with delightful results.

Southside
serves one

  • 1 1/2 ounces gin
  • 1 ounce lime juice
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup or agave nectar
  • 1 handful mint leaves, plus more for garnish
  • Club soda

In the bottom of a cocktail shaker, muddle the mint with the simple syrup or agave. Add gin and lime juice and shake thoroughly. Pour over ice and top with club soda. Garnish with more mint leaves.

Posted by Miss Mojito.