Monthly Archives: November 2010

Healthy Sips

These next few weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas can be taxing on a girl’s schedule, emotions and waistline. While I’m coming up empty on helpful advice for the former two, I’ve spent a bit of time brainstorming on solutions to the latter: How can we translate healthy eating principles to the cocktail world?

The most obvious change to make is the least fun: fewer drinks! But when it’s time to socialize and cocktails are in order, I need to be prepared.

So what’s the best way to balance (relative) healthiness and flavor in a cocktail? Here are a few tips I’ve discovered – some of them are super obvious, others are a bit more creative, but all will put a healthier spin on your cocktail indulgences.

  • Use good liquor: Using high-quality liquor means you can usually go lighter on the mixer, or just add calorie-free soda water or water to let the flavor shine through. And Sister Mojito is teaching me to like scotch & soda, the perfect waist-friendly winter cocktail.
  • Make friends with citrus: A squeeze of lime or lemon

    Sparkling wine with pomegranate seeds & juice? Yes, please!

    can add tons of flavor while adding far fewer calories than other mixers.

  • Add instead of take away: I like to take advantage of a few mixers that add a healthy boost to my drink. Pomegranate juice for antioxidants, for example, or grapefruit juice for a smidge of vitamin C.
  • When it doubt, make it bubble: A bit of club soda added to white wine can stretch the drink into a refreshing spritzer without adding calories. And some bubbly champagne on its own rings in at a cool 75 calories.
  • Make friends with agave: This sweet nectar is a great alternative to simple syrup, and packs fewer calories.
  • Don’t take things too far: I tried to switch out my standard gin & tonic for a gin & soda. Bad idea.

Just because I’m relying on these simple tips doesn’t mean I’ll turn up my nose at a well-made margarita or mojito! But during the busy holiday season, it’s nice to have a few lighter options up my sleeve.

Miss Mojito wants to know: Do you have any tips for upping the health-factor in your drinks and cocktails? What’s your beverage of choice when you’re trying to be a bit calorie conscious?

Warms my heart

There’s nothing that could warm Ms. S&C’s heart more than to receive these texts and emails over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Text from DD: “…I have cinnamon infused simple syrup chilling in the fridge for the cinn. apple punch you suggested. Can’t wait to try it :)”

Text from Brother S&C: “We made your spiced autumn punch!”

Ms. S&C is particularly pleased that these two took her up on her Thanksgiving drink recommendations. Now, she wants to know how they turned out, and who you served them to?  

Email from KS: “Frozen ice cubes with mint and cranberries. Aren’t they pretty? Wish we could share a cocktail… Two weeks… xoxo.”

KS, PLEASE tell me what you used these flavored ice cubes for? They are so pretty and make me so happy.

Text from KG: “That’s an empty martini glass that previously contained THE best cosmo I’ve ever had…at Farmers and Fishers.”

KG, Ms. S&C tried one (or several) of those very same cosmos at that Style in the City party she hosted at the beginning of the summer. And yes, it was the best one she’s ever had.

Family, friends, readers: keep the messages coming, okay? Ms. S&C wants to know what you are eating, drinking and wearing!

posted by Ms. S&C

What to drink on Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving from S&C!

Over here at S&C, we are grateful for a lot of things this Thanksgiving. We’re grateful for loving family and friends. We’re grateful for our good health. We’re grateful that we continue to be inspired. We’re grateful for you!

Thanksgiving is a great holiday. It is a great holiday filled with some really great food. (Ms. S&C *loves* Thanksgiving Day food.) In addition to that turkey you’re brining, that homemade cranberry sauce you’re making and that pumpkin pie you’re baking, there are beverages to think about! Don’t get overwhelmed though, Ms. S&C is here to help.

PUNCH

Why not start off the afternoon with a seasonal punch? Your guests (especially if you have a lot of them) will think it is festive and fun and delicious. You can go with the Autumn Spiced Punch (a S&C fave that has been referred to as “autumn in a cup”). Or, you can try this new S&C punch recipe (which is good with or without the booze). It is another crowd-pleaser, not to mention it looks so pretty with the floating apple slices and cinnamon sticks.

Sparkling Cinnamon Apple Punch

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 gallon apple cider , chilled
  • 4 cups cranberry-apple juice, chilled
  • 12 bottles sparkling wine , chilled (or sub one liter ginger ale for mocktail version)
  • Fresh apple slices
  • Cinnamon sticks

Directions:

In a saucepan, bring the water, sugar and cinnamon to a boil; stir until sugar is dissolved. Chill (preferably overnight). Just before serving, combine the syrup mixture, juices and sparkling wine in a punch bowl or large pitcher. Garnish with fresh apple slices and whole cinnamon sticks. Serve over ice, or use an ice block to chill.

BEER

For those non-punch-drinkers, offer them beer before dinner. And if you are going to drink beer on Thanksgiving, you might as well drink a pumpkin beer, right? There are some good ones out there. There are a lot of good ones, actually. There are some mild ones and there are some full-bodied ones. Ms. S&C gave a rundown of her faves awhile back. (And yes, Dogfish Head Punkin Ale is still high on the list.)

WINE

Opinions run far and wide about what wine to pair with Thanksgiving dinner. Some say Zinfandel goes best with turkey. Others say Riesling, for its acidity and touch of sweetness, is a good match. You could have the best of both with a rose. Or, Beaujolais Nouveau is often a popular choice because it is light and fruity, and it goes well with turkey and the melange of side dishes. Ms. S&C says drink what you want! (But you should probably have a mix of red and white. And don’t forget the champagne! Because: it truly goes with everything.)

NIGHTCAP

Have a bourbon. Or a glass of prosecco. Or a cognac like B&B.

Ms. S&C wants to know: What’s on your Thanksgiving dinner menu? What will you and family and friends be drinking around the dinner table?

posted by Ms. S&C

Cocktails by numbers

Ms. S&C hasn’t blogged a lot recently, but that doesn’t mean she hasn’t had some notable experiences to share — especially on the cocktail front. Here’s a little glimpse of what she’s been up to.

13 — Points scored in a blind beer-tasting game

Friends, who host an excellent Halloween bash each year, led guests in a blind tasting of eight beers at their most recent party. Points were awarded for correctly guessing the beer style, brand and country of origin. Ms. S&C had a respectable third place finish.

2 — Punches made in a one-week period

Ms. S&C made a punch for her friends’ Halloween party. Ingredients included: cinnamon-infused simple syrup, lemon juice, apple cider, apple brandy, sparkling wine.

Ms. S&C made a second mocktail punch for a co-worker’s baby shower, using many of the same ingredients: cinnamon-infused simple syrup, apple cider, cran-apple juice, ginger ale. Please note the lovely garnishes of fresh apple slices and cinnamon sticks.

2 — Parties hosted in a three-day stretch

The two cocktails Ms. S&C created for her bookclub and a post-dinner party deserve their own dedicated posts. The Clover Club Cocktail was tres apropos for discussing “The Group.” And the pear margarita (secret ingredient: pear-infused simple syrup) was an inspired choice for post Mexican dinner imbibing.

7 — Football games left in the regular season

One recent game day beverage was a Red Eye (or Michelda). A simple combo of lager and tomato juice (but feel free to add lime and spices), is a great treat for those days when you want something more than just beer.

posted by Ms. S&C

Not your husband’s shoes

When Ms. S&C was on her way to work recently, a man walked by and said: “Your husband is going to be mad.” Ms. S&C, a little puzzled, responded: “I’m sorry. Excuse me?” The man said: “Your husband is going to be mad because you’re wearing his shoes.”

Ms. S&C was wearing these Frye oxfords during said encounter. There’s not much to say really: she loves them. Loves, loves, love them. Not only for the cognac color and the soft leather, but because they are the second most comfortable shoes she owns (the first being her Justin cowboy boots, which have a very similar structure). She has worn these oxfords with shorts, with mini skirts and with jeans. Now, she needs to find the perfect wide-leg, wool, camel-colored trousers. (If you spot some, alert her, will ya?).

And, in case you haven’t noticed, Mr.-you-should-try-another-line-that-is-more-charming, oxfords are everywhere. These J.Crew high-heel oxfords are another awesome example. The combo of the wool herringbone fabric and leather give them a funky, vintage appeal. Or, how about these cool, two-toned (and at a much better price) Nine West lace-ups in dark grey?

To complete Ms. S&C’s menswear look? Get the lady a whiskey, please.

posted by Ms. S&C

Getting Experimental

I do believe I’ve found a new signature cocktail for fall, and I couldn’t be more excited to spread the word. Miss Mojito encountered this particular cocktail at Balliceaux, a Richmond restaurant with a truly creative menu. The charmingly-named Down the Rabbit Hole combines an unexpected mix of muddled blackberries, tequila, red wine, ginger liqueur and lime juice. The wine tempers the kick of the tequila, while the muddled fruit provides the perfect touch of sweetness. The end result is a ruby-red concoction that is as easy on the eyes as it is on the taste buds. Now it’s time to start experimenting with proportions. I’m thinking equal amounts of wine and tequila with a small handful of berries, a splash of ginger liqueur and the juice of half a lime.

As long as I’m experimenting with my cocktails, I figured it couldn’t hurt to do a bit of shoe experimentation, as well. And there’s no better way to experiment this fall than with one of the season’s most intriguing – but potentially most difficult to pull off – styles: the over-the-knee boot.

My top pick is by Frye, but I hate to shell out major cash for a shoe that qualifies as a trend. And the $500 Frye boot certainly qualifies as “major cash.” That’s why my top pick is this $120-pair by Naughty Monkey, available on Piperlime. I love the sculptural heel and slate gray color.

Miss Mojito wants to know: Is anyone else getting experimental with their shoes and cocktails this fall?