Monthly Archives: May 2009

Jumping on the Homemade Bandwagon

Ever since Miss Mojito started testing tonics and investigating the possibility of homemade tonic water, she’s experienced a growing interest in the make-your-own-ingredient movement. Expert mixologists are well known for creating their own syrups, cordials and the like, but more and more the trend is for at-home-cocktail-imbibers to adapt these techniques for their own kitchens.

In a May 19 article on San Francisco-based blog Yumsugar.com, the poster recalls her experience at a “House-Made Ingredients How-To” class, where instructors Jeff Holinger and Neyah White taught attendees about the value of experimenting with everyday kitchen items—pickle juice, for example—with a waste-not, want-not mentality. The end results are liquors with new and exciting flavors.

And in Michelle Maynard’s May 19 New York Times article, “Ginger Ale Without the Can,” Ms. Maynard has convinced me to try my hand at a homemade version of the soda to integrate into my home bar. A homemade ginger ale and bourbon sounds like it would literally burst with freshness.

Wikihow even provides an easy, 10-step method for creating your own cordials.  With summer upon us, I’m thinking that a cordial made from strawberries or raspberries might be the ultimate refreshment. I’d love to try a dollop in a flute of champagne.

And the prospect of homemade, pomegranate-flavored grenadine is truly exciting. The process of boiling and reducing a mixture of sugar and pomegranate juice couldn’t be more simple, although I might try replacing the two cups of sugar with agave nectar or Stevia natural sweetener. That’s the beauty of homemade ingredients, after all: you can adapt the recipes to suit your needs.

Miss Mojito is eager to know: do you have any home ingredient experiments to share?

Posted by Miss Mojito.

So much and so little

Ms. S&C has so much to share, but so little time to share it. Stay tuned for the S&C Guide to Key West (which will be heavily focused on the “C” side of S&C), sloe gin fizzes, agave margaritas, and sandals. We definitely need to discuss summer sandals. I want about 100 different pairs.

In the meantime, here are a couple of updates about my beloved topics:yellowbox-sandals

Shoes – For my Key West vacay, I picked up a pair of studded, brown thongs from Zappos. I think they’re cool, in biker-chic kinda way. And, after wearing them all over the southernmost part of the U.S., I’m still a big fan.

Cocktails – I tweeted about Ms. S&C and Miss Mojito’s visit to PX, but wanted to share a few more details. It’s no secret that I have an affection for speakeasy-style bars. Yes, due in part to the glamour and secrecy around them, but the main reason is the cocktails. These establishments serve the most innovative drinks around, and PX is no exception. Before getting to the cocktails, here are a few housekeeping-type notes:

  1. Make a reservation – you’ll likely not get in otherwise. And, a party of three is an ideal number in my opinion (Miss M’s big sis, LC, joined us). PX thankfully doesn’t overwhelm you with cocktail selections, but you’ll want to try e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. Take two others and you’ll make significant dent in the menu.
  2. Sit at the bar if possible – you really should watch the bartenders at work.
  3. Be patient – the cocktails are referred to as “liquid art,” and they do take time.
  4. Ask questions – there will be ingredients that you’ve never heard of, and it is okay to ask.

PX

Here’s a sampling of the cocktails we tried:

Smoker’s Delight
Tobacco honey syrup, honeycomb, and Basil Hayden’s bourbon served in a martini glass.
S&C’s take: Very little smokey or tobacco-y flavor, which may have been the right thing to do, but I would have liked a little more. It also makes me want more bourbon in my life.

Big Ken’s Palomita
Don Julio Blanco tequila, Cointreau, sage tincture, grapefruit juice, and grapefruit soda served over ice with a salted rim.
S&C’s take: Good and very salty dog-ish.

Boris Karloff
House-made elderflower liqueur, Plymouth gin, kaffir lime, and eggwhite served in a martini glass.
S&C’s take: A lovely and elegant cocktail. Second favorite of the night.

Most Aggressive Fish in the Ocean
Cucumber, yuzu, mint, Cruzan rum, Hendrick’s gin, and eggwhite served in a martini glass.
S&C’s take: Interesting and good, but don’t have this and the Boris Karloff back-to-back (too much eggwhite-frothiness pour moi).

Champagne Cocktail
Cherry bitters, cherries, sugar, and Gruet.
S&C’s take: Sounds simple, but there was fire involved in the preparation. And, it was the favorite drink of the night.

posted by Ms. S&C

Beach Twists

A Wednesday-through-Sunday beach vacation with friends from high school and college was the perfect chance to put a multitude of cocktails to the test. It was a relaxing, laid-back affair, so exotic experimentation was not at the forefront of Miss Mojito’s train of thought. Rather, this was an opportunity to mix good ingredients in new and interesting ways with refreshing results.

DRINK: Frozen Margarita blended-margarita
TWIST: Grapefruit Juice
1 cup of tequila, ½ cup lime juice, 1/3 cup Triple Sec and a pitcher full of ice make up a standard batch of frozen margaritas. A ½ cup of pink grapefruit juice adds a splash of color and a touch of tang to this beachy concoction.

DRINK: Salty Dog
TWIST: Lime Juice
2 ounces of gin, a large splash of grapefruit and a salted rim go into a traditional serving of the Salty Dog. We found a ½ ounce or so of fresh lime juice to be a nice addition.

DRINK: Sangria
TWIST: A frozen version
A good friend shared her recipe for a frozen sangria that was the perfect easy beach drink – it was fun, fruity and light enough for some daytime-appropriate imbibing. The night before, mix a bottle of fruity white (we used a pinot grigio), a can of frozen lemonade concentrate and OJ in a bowl. Freeze overnight, then mix and serve the next morning. Repeat as needed to prevent beach-related dehydration throughout the course of your vacation.

Posted by Miss Mojito.

Bright, sunny, beautiful

Miss Mojito is in the Outer Banks, and Ms. S&C is headed to Key West. This can only mean one thing — cocktails beachside and poolside! Hooray for vacays!

As we sign off for a few days, S&C leaves you with one of the most beautiful photographs ever seen. It was taken by The Sartorialist in Sydney, Australia. Not sure what is more beautiful — the sky or the woman? The woman. The over-sized sunglasses, the colorful Missoni dress, those incredible boots. Set against the bright blue sky, the crisp blue water, and the gothic iron fence. You want to know what beauty is — you are looking at it.

sartorialistPhoto from The Sartorialist, April 30, 2009

posted by Ms. S&C

S&C advice–a footwear conundrum

Ms. S&C:

I have a footwear dilemma and need some advice.

My husband’s co-worker is marrying into a prominent Virginia political family and the wedding will be held at their farm in early June. We have been invited for the occasion, which will undoubtedly be a fabulous, swanky affair filled with all the see-and-be-seen people in both Virginia and DC politics.

I must say, I have a smashing dress. The problem? The website says, and I quote: “Flat shoes are recommended since the majority of the location is on grass.” While my feet are already breathing a sigh of relief (think: no blisters after four hours on the dance floor), I’m perplexed when it comes to the idea of fashionable flats.

So, now what? Any suggestions on flats that can go with a cute, tea-length summery ensemble? (Of course, not too pricey since they might get caked with mud or grass stains.) Or, do I tone down the dress to parallel the flats? Help!

–Shoeless & Stumped, Alexandria, Va.

————————————-

Dear Shoeless & Stumped,

Every year before my organization’s annual convention, (when I know I’m going to be on my feet for hours upon hours), I find myself shoeless and stumped, and in need of fashionable flats. Thankfully, this category of shoes has exploded in recent years – so, there are options. Quite possibly too many options. Navigating the choices can be daunting and time-consuming. For your fabulous and swanky affair, here’s what I MIA-flatsrecommend you look for in a pair of flats.

Metallic – This may be the easiest way to dress up a pair of flats. Plus, gold and silver (or bronze) look good with almost any color scheme. Plus, plus – they are very easy to match with your accessories – a silver clutch bag or nice gold earrings equals a great outfit. These silver flats are from MIA and available in many colors at Endless for $69.95.

Patent – Another surefire way to dress up a pair of shoes. And, if the weather is not cooperating, shiny patent is easy to wipe clean.AK-bow

Embellishment – Bows, beading or other embellishments on the toe can turn ordinary flats into fashionable flats. These patent bow flats are Anne Klein and available in a variety of colors at Endless for $79.00.

Prints – Obviously, print or floral shoes are out-of-the-question if you are wearinnine-west-florag a printed dress. But, if you are wearing solid colors, printed shoes are so eye-catching. They can make a statement and one winning outfit. These summery floral flats are from Nine West and available at Piperlime for $59.00.

Lastly, you could wear a pair of wedges. I personally would have a hard time settling on flats, especially if I’m wearing a perfectly “smashing dress.” I just feel more comfortable with a little extra height. Wedges offer stability on grass, while giving you a polished look. Below are a few options that I really like. The braided t-straps are from Etienne Aigner and available in black or gold at Piperlime for $70.00. The peep-toe wedges are Bandolino and available in black, gold and turquoise(!) at Piperlime for $69.00. Yes, something else to consider…

etienne-aignergold-wedge

Thanks so much for your note! Hope S&C has made the world of fashionable flats a little less perplexing. Have fun at the wedding!

Yours in shoes,
Ms. S&C

PS – I do hope you’ll report back on what shoes you wore, and dish about the wedding. Anonymously, of course.

posted by Ms. S&C

An Occasion for Mocktails

Miss Mojito has a confession to make: she has found herself a new favorite drink, and it is NOT a cocktail. The occasion: a baby shower for my sister-in-law (and soon-to-be-born niece). The drink: a fruity mocktail.

Jason Wilson provided the inspiration in his April 5 Washington Post article, “Taking Mocktails Seriously.”  The audience for the mocktail is a sizeable one, not limited solely to mothers-to-be. Imbibers on a budget might find themselves attracted to the mocktail’s relative affordability. Those on a diet might enjoy the favorable calorie count of the liquor-free libation. And others, like Miss Mojito, might just like the drink’s inherent refreshing tastiness!

We took our cues from Mr. Wilson and looked to his “Folic Fizz,” which he DSCN1088adapted from Natalie Bovis-Nelsen’s 2008 book, Preggatinis. We made a few alterations ourselves, and changed the name from the vitaminal-sounding “Folic Fizz” to “Cantaloupe Fizz.” We reduced the sweetness, added a mint garnish and made a big batch for a crowd. The end result is beyond refreshing, with an in-your-face cantaloupe flavor that’s enhanced by the tangy lime and fresh mint. And, for those so inclined, it would transition well to a true cocktail with a shot of gin!

Cantaloupe Fizz
Serves 15

  • 3 cantaloupes
  • 3 teaspoons superfine sugar
  • 8 ounces fresh lime juice
  • 6-7 strawberries
  • 15 ounces lime-flavored sparkling soda water
  • Ice
  • Mint

Cut cantaloupe into chunks and puree in food processor. Strain puree through a fine mesh sieve to extract cantaloupe juice (reserve the “pulp” for another use or discard). Mix cantaloupe juice, lime juice and sugar in a large pitcher. Thinly slice strawberries and add to mixture. Top with sparkling soda water. Serve over ice with a sprig of mint garnish.

Posted by Miss Mojito.

Want but can’t have

For instance, these tie-dyed “Rita” pumps by Bettye Mueller, with a price tag of $375.00. Her “Sunny” cork wedges are pretty awesome too, but at the same want-but-can’t-have price. Both are available at simplysoles, who happens to be hosting a meet and greet/trunk show with the designer at their DC boutique today.

bettye-muller-tie-dyeMs. S&C wants to know: What do you want but can’t have? Share your desires below.

posted by Ms. S&C