Monday, October 31, 2011

Trick or Treating Adult Style

One of the best cocktail parties I ever threw was co-hosted with three others in four locations. Perhaps you've already experienced a roaming cocktail party but if not, here's how it works:
  • reach out to your neighbors and to your friends who live within walking distance and suggest having a joint cocktail party.
  • select a convenient date for your event, preferably on a Saturday or Sunday.
  • decide on a theme for your drinks such as spiced rum cocktails, tropical drinks, holiday cocktails, skinny drinks, etc.
  • plan out an appetizer menu so that each home isn't serving pigs-in-a-blanket.
  • ideally you'll want about 45 minutes in each home, plus travel time. It goes by FAST, so start early with a happy hour kick off time. People will need a lot of encouragement to leave the first spot but by the second home they'll get the hang of it.
  • send your invitations out with a reminder to wear comfortable shoes (I know, it sounds so old, doesn't it?
  • keep the prep work super simple. The host for the next party may want to leave a few minutes early to get those appetizers heated, but don't go crazy with the cooking.
  • stay behind at your own home long enough to quickly clean up. It's no fun coming home to a pigsty at the end of a fun night.
  • the first host will get a plethora of hostess gifts: wine bottles, six packs, and spirits. Be sure to spread the wealth with your other hosts.
  • take lots of photos! It's a guaranteed good time that you'll want to remember. 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Spider Egg Brew

Halloween is the perfect time to eliminate any pretense surrounding mixology and just have a bit of kid-like fun. This drink was created using blk black water, which may be quite shocking to see but it tastes no different than water. Here's one more recipe to add to your festive plans for tomorrow night.

Spider Egg Brew
3 ounces Skyy blood orange vodka
2 ounce Galvanina organic blood orange sparkling juice
Black ice cubes made from blk black water

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Halloween Cocktail: Skincrawler

This drink doesn't have to be served in a skull cup, but when other than Halloween will you have a chance to use one? I purchased mine from Party City for $2.99 a piece. The Skyy should be easy to find but I picked up the Blk Black Water from BevMo. The candy blood was purchased at the supermarket in the Halloween candy section.


3 ounces Skyy blood orange vodka
1 ounce Blk Black Water
1/2 ounce candy blood (sweetly sour!)

In a shaker, combine the ingredients. Shake until the syrupy candy blood is well diluted. It's very intense so add more black water to your cocktail if you don't it to over power the vodka. Strain the liquids into a glass with ice and serve (with a cackle).

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Bar Visit: Shangri-La | Santa Monica

Blood of Eden
The Shangri-La Hotel is located on beautiful Ocean Avenue in the heart of Santa Monica. The building recently went through a much needed upgrade including an update of the rooftop bar, which is still, I'm happy to say, a well kept secret. With large windows that open to the ocean, there's a strong breeze that constantly pushes in, filling the room with fresh sea air.

I recently met up with two dear friends for a drink. It was our second time there together...we all love a spot without a crowd. My girlfriends were drinking wine already when I arrived so I quickly chose a cocktail called the Blood of Eden. It's $12 and made with Pearl of Pomegranate, West Indian Orange Bitters, Blood Orange Soda, and lemon.

Jordan, Maryann, & Jenn

The view was spectacular, but the drink was mediocre. I'm finding that in the quest to provide original cocktails bars aren't necessarily hitting home runs. Is it the measurements of the ingredients? The bartender's execution? The quality of the alcohol? I'm not exactly sure. I'll stop by this Santa Monica gem again, order the Cucumber Gimlet, and hope that it's more impressive than my previous choices.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Thirsty Thursday: Ghost Goblet

The Ghost Goblet cocktail can be enjoyed year round but with Casper the Marshmallow, it's perfect for Halloween.

3 ounces Cake Vodka (I used UV)
2 ounces half & half
1 cup vanilla ice cream
1 cup ice
1 Peeps marshmallow ghost garnish

Blend all the ingredients together until frothy. Pour into a goblet and nestle a Peeps marshmallow ghost into the center.

For an alcohol free version, omit the vodka and double the ice cream.

Halloween Party Cocktail Napkins

These are cocktail napkins that I just couldn't pass up. The website is a great find too, filled with the unusual and unique: Halloween Asylum.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Wedding Sangria

Uncle Dan and Megan
This past summer I was very flattered when my cousin, Megan, asked for a sangria recipe for her wedding. She planned to have the drink available right as guests were arriving instead of making people wait until after the ceremony for a little libation. In my opinion, this is the most considerate choice. People come to weddings to celebrate, to rejoice, and to drink.

Megan chose my traditional red wine sangria with apples, oranges, lemons, and limes. She selected her own varietal, as well as the brand of the brandy and the orange liqueur. The beverage was placed right at the entrance of the wedding with moderate sized plastic cups and cocktail napkins.

Although I've shared my recipes many times, the stakes become higher when it's your cousin, and it's your cousin's wedding. I was nervous that the drink would meet her expectations and contribute to the sophisticated event I knew she'd be hosting.

A wedding guest enjoying sangria
Risking looking a little too eager to be the first to hit the sangria, I filled my cup halfway and returned to my seat with our family. After one sip, I was thrilled. Under Megan's direction, the catering company had pulled it off and made a wonderful drink. What made me even happier was watching guest after guest leaving their bench to fill their own cup before the ceremony began.

Megan was so stunning, the wedding ceremony so beautiful, and the dinner and dancing so delightful, that the sangria's success was irrelevant.  However, I was happy to know that the festive wine held its own, and contributed in some small way to a lovely evening.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Mixology. Money & Memory Cards by Carl Grooms

Don't miss Carl Groom's review of our book on his fabulous website, Coastlines & Tan Lines. Please leave a comment. We'd love to hear your thoughts!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Product Spotlight: Refine Mixers Margarita Mix

Photo by Gamma Nine
Making  your own sweet and sour is ideal. But let's face it: who wants to? Especially when there are so many good ready made mixes available. Although I'm fairly certain I've found the perfect store-bought mix from Trader Joe's, I'm always interested in trying something new.

This weekend we used the Margarita mix Refine, a product out of Berkeley, California. I usually stay away from products with a radio-active yellow glow, but the glass bottle, green leaf in the logo, and exclusion of HFCS closed the sale.

What I didn't notice until I'd downed half my Margie, is the zero calorie element. This part makes me nervous. I've read enough about sugar to know that it's a slow poison that may doom the human race. But make believe sugar really frightens me.

I did a little research and Refine uses Stevia, a natural sugar derived from the Sunflower family. I'd heard of the sugar substitute before but never used it. Apparently it is 300 times sweeter than sugar, which could explain the extreme sweetness of this mixer and my only critique of the product. It's slightly too sweet for my liking, overpowering the citrus flavors. There's also a little aftertaste that falls more into the chemical category than the all-natural.

Refine offers several other mixers and I'm eager to try them. I'll also give the Margarita mix a few more tries. I'm thinking positive thoughts.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Candy Corn Martini

If you're a die hard candy corn fan like me, this drink is just for you. You'll want to plan ahead for this cocktail because it takes a little while for the candy corn to dissolve. But overall it's super easy. The martini version is extremely sweet, so beware. You can also try the vodka mixture over ice with soda or tonic water to make it less candy corn-intense.

1/4 cup candy corn
4 ounces vodka
Tonic / soda water (optional)
Garnish with sprinkles (like the bats?)

Put the candy corn in a glass container. Add the vodka and set aside until the candy dissolves. When you're ready to make the drink, shake the vodka/candy corn mix with ice and strain into a martini glass (or mix with tonic or soda water).
Chocolate Bats & Orange Sprinkles

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

This Girl's HOT PICK of the WEEK

The Santa Barbara Sunset Wine Cooler with a Thermal Shield. I love that is doesn't look like a traditional wine basket. If you're planning an after work picnic or a romantic afternoon surprise, this bag is so discreet that you won't draw much attention to yourself, or rather, the luggage. $36.99

Monday, October 3, 2011

Monday Manners Rule #98: Never Insult the Way Someone Orders

What people drink, the way people drink, and how people order drinks will vary from city to city and from country to country to country. When a customer orders in a way that you may be unfamiliar with, or that you disapprove of, do not insult her. Just provide excellent service and the beverage that she ordered. You are there to do a job, and not to pass judgement on others.