Category Archives: cocktails

Bourbon and blackberries

“Does the ‘perfect’ bourbon exist?” That’s a question Washington Post spirits columnist, Jason Wilson, asked in a recent article.

It doesn’t really matter if a perfect bourbon exists. One reason: we probably couldn’t afford it. Another reason: Ms. S&C (and Wilson) agree that Buffalo Trace — who is said to be making the so-called ‘perfect’ bourbon — is an excellent bourbon just as is. (Wilson even goes so far to call it his “desert-island bourbon.”)

Buffalo Trace doesn’t have to be the ‘perfect’ bourbon. It goes perfectly
well as is with blackberries.

Ms. S&C is sure she’s had — and written about — bourbon mixed with berries before. The inspiration comes from somewhere (aside from there being a lot of bourbon in the house). Anyway, this drink came together recently (but not so recently that Ms. S&C hasn’t had time to try it a second time). We give you a bourbon and blackberries cocktail that’s quite good.

Ingredients:

  • Blackberries (three to five per drink)
  • Lime (one per drink)
  • Agave Nectar
  • Bourbon (Ms. S&C likes Buffalo Trace and Maker’s Mark)
  • Ice
  • Seltzer
  • Lime peel (for garnish)

Directions:
(for one cocktail)

Muddle 3-5 blackberries with juice of one lime and a spoonful of agave nectar. Add ice (enough to fill a glass) and 1.5 to 2 ounces of bourbon. Shake well. Pour and top with seltzer. Garnish with lime peel.

posted by Ms. S&C

Three things: tall boots, beer cocktails, yoga

Here’s what’s on the mind of Ms. S&C at the moment.

(1) Tall Boots

Ms. S&C is in love with these Franco Sarto boots. The soft leather, the detail around the outer zipper, the buckles, the rubber outsole — and, they are comfortable! Tall boots are nothing new, but Ms. S&C happily spent the whole weekend wearing these shoes (and she would wear them again tomorrow if she could). PS: she bought the cuoio calf color (reminds her of caramel) and looks great with burnt orange tights, jeans and black leggings (yes, that was the weekend wardrobe).

(2) Beer Cocktails

Ms. S&C can’t stop thinking about the honey beer cocktail she had at JoeDoe’s in New York a few weeks ago. Made with Dale’s Pale Ale, gin, lemon juice and delicious, delicious salted honey that dribbled down the side of the glass. It was so tasty and so refreshing, she can’t wait to recreate this beer cocktail at home. Ms. S&C also loves the idea of beer cocktails so much that it will likely be the signature cocktail for her ninth annual (yes, ninth) Super Bowl party. (By the way, discovery of this cocktail came courtesy of Frank Bruni’s excellent Tipsy Diaries column in The New York  Times.)

(3) Yoga

Now, for the unrelated segment: Ms. S&C likes yoga. She likes it so much, she almost wants to rename the blog: Shoes, Cocktails and Yoga. (Not really, but it is important to her.) She doesn’t think of herself as a purist when it comes to her practice, but she respects tradition and history. She also appreciates that yoga has evolved, and that yoga *can* evolve. That’s why she doesn’t hate this Tara Stiles person. (I’ll admit: at first, I wanted to hate everything she stood for.) For more on Tara Stiles and yoga, this blog post by YogaDork is worth a read.

The three things blog posts give Ms. S&C an opportunity to share a combination of shoe and cocktail-related finds, along with something else. That something else usually includes music or yoga.

posted by Ms. S&C

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?

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

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?

Three (farm-related) things

Three quick things. All farm-related (sort-of).

(photo from The Sartorialist)

(1) Farmer’s Market Chic

Ms. S&C loves this farmer’s-market-chic-look. Perfect blue eyes (that match the shirt, that match the apron). Perfect use of the tie. Perfect hat. Perfect coat. Perfect rugged pants. Perfect weathered boots.

(photo from little brown pen)

(2) Applejack

Hello, fall produce. Ms. S&C is glad you’re here. Ms. S&C is also glad she recently came across Applejack (apple brandy) in her bookclub book “The Group.” Now, she must use it in a punch, in an Old-Fashioned, in something! (Especially if that something includes apple cider, fresh sliced apples, and maybe a dash of maple syrup?)

(3) Country-rock

The Flying Burrito Brothers: the Gram Parsons’ band that made country music cool — the band that made 70’s rock laid back — is in heavy rotation in the S&C household. Ms. S&C thinks you should listen to the “Hot Burritos” anthology album, particularly songs: Dark End of The Street, Hot Burrito #1, The Train Song, Image of Me, and their cover of Wild Horses.

The three things blog posts give Ms. S&C an opportunity to share a combination of shoe and cocktail-related finds, along with something else. That something else usually includes music or yoga.

posted by Ms. S&C

Tell me

Herbal spirits like Chartreuse, Bénédictine, Pimm’s, and Lillet are all the rage these days. Why are these liqueurs appearing on just about every cocktail menu put in front of you? They aren’t new spirits. In fact, most are quite old (Pimm’s was created in 1859, Bénédictine in the late 1860’s). Maybe that’s why? What’s old is new?

Ms. S&C isn’t complaining. She likes herbal aromatic additions in a cocktail. They add a layer of complexity, and without any danger of making the drink too sweet. Ms. S&C has come across a few other, lesser know, botanical spirits that she’s fallen for:  Dimmi and Aperol. Both of which happen to be Italian herbal liqueurs, and that’s particularly apropo since Ms. S&C is traveling to Italy (for the first time ever!) today!!!

Dimmi translates to “tell me,” a phrase used frequently between friends in Italy, especially on the telephone. Dimmi includes a secret blend of herbs and fruit essences such as liquorice, vanilla, rhubarb, ginseng and bitter orange. It is great with citrus and strawberries. Ms. S&C first experimented with Dimmi by pureeing *very* ripe strawberries, adding the liquor, ice, and topping it with seltzer. She also garnished with rosemary from her garden, for extra aroma. It was an intensely refreshing cocktail — one that she needs a name for.

Ms. S&C tries out a few herbal Italian liqueurs, like Dimmi, in preparation for her first visit to Italy.

Ms. S&C also tried the “Herbal Sour” cocktail recipe from the Dimmi website. This drink includes one of Ms. S&C favorite cocktail techniques: infused simple syrup (using  thyme and rosemary from her garden). Infusing simple syrup takes a little bit of work (so does fresh-squeezing grapefruits, lemons, and limes), but it is all worth it for this cocktail.

Ms. S&C’s colorful concoction of Aperol and Prosecco match the colorful concoction of her Nanette Lapore pants.

Aperol has been mentioned on the S&C blog before. Miss Mojito came across it last fall at a restaurant in Richmond. Ms. S&C found herself at the same restaurant not too long ago and tried Aperol for the first time. It was like love at first site. The spirit is bitter, colorful, and a lot like Campari. Ms S&C’s drink at Acacia was called the Mid-town Spritz and ingredients included:  Aperol, gin, orange juice, housemade fennel syrup, Prosecco. However, when at home, she can also recommend a simple mix of Prosecco with a few splashes of Aperol.

Ms. S&C wants to know: Ms. S&C wants you to tell her you would like to see more of (or less of). She’s going to be on vacay for a little more than a week, but during this time, she’d love for readers to tell her what they want on this blog. More pictures? More style tips? More menswear (any menswear?) More food and drink pairings? More bar recommendations? More shoes? More outfits? More party planning? Tell me!

posted by Ms. S&C

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.

————————————————

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

Collaboration

Miss Mojito thought she was really on to something when she decided to whip up a batch of Cherry Bourbon Lemonade for a bourbon-loving-pal’s recent summer birthday picnic celebration. Sweet, dark cherry juice and tart lemonade would be the perfect companions in this delectable punch.

And they were – sort of. The punch was good. Very good, in fact. But something was. . . missing. The drink was sweet, but not too sweet. It packed a lovely, bourbon-y punch. But it just wasn’t spectacular.

So, what is any responsible cocktail-maker to do when faced with such a conundrum? Why, collaborate, of course! A friend and fellow picnic-goer came up with an idea that turned this cocktail into something truly special: a splash of sparkling wine gave my Cherry Bourbon Lemonade a bit of light fizz.

+ + + = YUM

I highly recommend you make the most of this recipe before the last days of summer slip away!

Fruity Bourbon Fizz
Serves one.

  • 1.5 ounces bourbon (nothing too fancy, Miss Mojito used Jim Beam)
  • .75 ounces cherry juice
  • Large splash lemonade
  • Small splash sparkling wine or champagne

Mix bourbon and cherry juice in a large glass. Top off with a healthy splash of lemonade and a slightly smaller splash of sparkling wine – just enough to add some fizz. Serve on ice and garnish with maraschino cherries, fresh cherries or lemon slices.

Posted by Miss Mojito.