Tuesday, July 31, 2012

THIS GIRL's Pick of the the WEEK: Cheese Tasting Party Kit

I was in my favorite San Diego independent bookstore The Grove which besides carrying our book always has the most interesting and unusual books and gifts to offer.

The Cheese Tasting Party Kit caught my eye with its clever concept and delightful packaging. The book is written by Janet Fletcher and filled with beautiful photos by Victoria Pearson. It comes with toothpicks, cheese cards, die-cut cards and suggestions on what wines to drink with your cheeses. Definitely an excuse to have a party and eat lots gourmet cheese.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Basil Lime Cucumber Cocktail

This could be one of the most refreshing and aesthetically pleasing drinks I've ever had. It's an easy cocktail for one and just as simple to make in large quantities for a group. Serve up in a martini glass or on the rocks with a fresh leaf of basil and a thin slice of cucumber.

Basil Lime Cucumber Cocktail
3 ounces vodka
2 basil leaves
4 cucumber slices
1 spoonful of sugar
Squeeze of half a lime

Muddle the cucumber and basil in the vodka until the vodka takes on a light green color. Strain into a martini shaker and add the lime and sugar. Stir well until the sugar is dissolved, then add ice, shake, and strain into a martini glass or over ice.

Jump over to our Facebook page for a few images of the steps involved.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Scotty Dog Cocktail

As a graduate of Helix High School in La Mesa and one of hundreds gathering this weekend in San Diego for a reunion, I was happy to contribute a cocktail in my Alma Mater's honor.

Our school's mascot was the ferocious Scotty Dog, a get-up I got to personify during a few football games. My parents discouraged me from trying out for the cheer squad but apparently embarrassing myself in front of hundreds by doing the running man in a 50-pound, 50-year old costume that smelled worse on the inside than the dirtiest dog was fine.

I'm over it (I think) but evidently find solace in naming drinks after the most special moments in my life.

Scotty Dog
2 ounces vodka
1 ounce St. Germain
2 ounces grapefruit juice
Himalayan pink salt

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Mixology 101: Lavender Infused Vodka

Lavender marinating in vodka
Lavender infused vodka is silly simple and renders such a delightful taste that you'll find a way to incorporate the floral herb into every drink.

Step One: Purchase fresh lavender from your local farmer's market or buy a lavender plant to cultivate in your home.

My happy lavender plant
Step Two: Snap off a sprig, wash it, and put it in a jar with your favorite vodka to marinate over night.

Step Three: Strain the vodka into a martini shaker and make your favorite cocktail! Yes- it's this easy!!!

Lavender Martini: 2 ounces lavender vodka, 1/2 ounce Cointreau, 1 ounce pineapple juice, splash chambord

Lavender Sunset: 2 ounces lavender vodka, 1 ounce orange juice, 1 ounce cranberry juice, splash grenadine

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Cocktail Blogger Meets Washing Machine

I'm sitting off on the side pouring wine
on a T-Shirt. Was that weird? ;) 
Recently I went to the premier of the movie The Odd Life of Timothy Green (arrives in theaters August 15th) and have to say that it is a sweet, heart-warming movie with a wonderful message. But this ain't no kid's movie blog so let me get to the point.

The events before we hit the red carpet were sponsored by Frigidaire which just launched new machines that can complete a wash and dry cycle in a total of 45 minutes. But while other women were asking questions about Energy Star ratings, vibration control, and cycle customization I had one question: will the washer remove red wine stains?  Yes, the machine is good enough, tough enough, intelligent enough to even handle red red wine. Just when I thought I was done finding "must-haves" for the home bar, here comes a washing machine.

Summer Cocktails: Watermelon Martini

Watermelon Martini

Watermelon cocktails could be the quintessential summer drink. Once you've made your own watermelon juice (see below), try mixing it with a variety of spirits until you find your favorite combination for a watermelon cocktail. I'd argue that the juice goes well with anything, just remember that it's not as sweet in liquid form.

Watermelon Martini
2 ounces vanilla vodka
Making Watermelon Juice
2 ounces fresh watermelon juice
3/4 ounce mint simple syrup
Splash of soda water
Mint sprig for garnish

To make fresh watermelon juice, chop up bite size pieces without the rind and put them into a food processor or blender. Blend well, then filter into a glass through a colander or even better, a confection sifter. Or buy a juicer :).

If you love watermelon cocktails, try this Watermelon Margarita.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

THIS GIRL's Hot Pick of the Week: Citrus Reamer

We are in the throws of some very intense heat around here and I'm entertaining with refreshing citrus drinks almost every day. 

I finally got my hands on one of these reamers and it really does help to get every drip of juice from the fruit before it hits the compost bin. It may be more of a necessary pick than a hot pick because there's definitely no glamour involved, but it sure does come in handy.

I like this cheery yellow melamine reamer for $4.95 from Crate and Barrel but there are dozens of options to match the tools in your home bar collection.

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Monday, July 23, 2012

Final Stages of Planning our TV Show!

Amanda & Jordan
On Friday Amanda and I met over drinks to finalize the structure of our fabulous upcoming show, SETTING THE BAR! We are so excited to film the first episode next month and cannot wait to share it all with you. I think that it's going to be a hoot to film, especially since Amanda and I have already had a blast shooting a cocktail series for AOL's Patch (though it will look entirely different of course). We will keep you up-to-date with the filming and hopefully be able to share some of the bloopers and behind the scenes footage with you here. Stay tuned!!

To see a few of Amanda & Jordan's previous videos, watch the St. Patrick's Day Video, Valentine's Day Video, and Skinny Drinks Video.

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Friday, July 20, 2012

Upcoming Events: Cointreau Poolside Series

What began last week continues every Friday night until August 24th at The Beverly Hills Hotel in celebration of their 100th anniversary. The hotel has partnered up with Cointreau and the famed Queen of Burlesque, Dita Von Teese to bring guests signature cocktails and magnificant entertainment.

Once you've ordered your cocktail at the cash bar find a seat to relax and enjoy the professional synchronized swimming team The Aqualillies and listen to throw-back Sinatra performed by Luca Ellis.

I can't imagine a more appropriate to celebrate the history of this hotel on a summer evening. I hope to see you there!

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Thursday, July 19, 2012

3-Ingredient Quick Cocktails: Pina Colada

Cut out the junk and a few steps with this simple Pina Colada by using Sobe's Pina Colada flavored beverage instead of traditional pina colada mix. It's just as flavorful, contains no high fructose corn syrup, and is 12 calories an ounce instead of 45. Although coladas are usually blended, the flavors are less diluted served over the rocks and using a blender should be avoided whenever possible (in my opinion).

3-Ingredient Pina Coloda
2 ounces light rum
3 ounces Sobe's pina colada flavored beverage
1 ounce pineapple juice

Mix well and serve over ice. Garnish with a pineapple spear, coconut flakes, or your straw!

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Chalkboard Label Giveaway!

Today we start a slew of fun giveaways, starting with these too-cool-for-school chalkboard labels. Williams Sonoma suggests using them for jam jars but we can think of some way more logical glassware that you'd never sip jam from.

Enter to win over on our Facebook Page until next Wednesday, July 25th. Then tell all your friends about it unless you don't want them to win which we totally get. Maybe just invite them to your next cocktail party if you win and try not to write "Winner" on your own label.

Lots of luck, and it you don't win, there's always next week!!

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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

For the Bourbon Beginner: The Classic Manhattan

Manhattan with Bourbon Whiskey
A bottle of Basil Hayden's Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey landed in my hot little hands the other day and it took everything in me not to pull a swig right there at my PO Box. I know the rest of The Original Small Batch Bourbon Collection family well and almost always order a Booker's neat when I'm too lazy to leave my comfort zone. However, this bourbon was new to me.

For those of you who shy away from bourbon (and I know it's a lot of you), I would strongly suggest you live dangerously and try something new. And when you are brave enough to get out of your own comfort zone, I can recommend that you start with a bourbon like Basil Hayden's. The proof is only 80 (instead of 100 or higher) with a noticeable taste of honey and pepper. You can also ease yourself in as a bourbon drinker by adding a little bit of water to take the edge off, gradually building up to the moment when you order it straight. And then of course there's the classic Manhattan, a sophisticated cocktail that will quickly become a favorite.

Manhattan With Basil Hayden's
2 ounces bourbon whiskey
Splash sweet vermouth
3-4 shakes bitters
Maraschino cherry for garnish

Shake the ingredients together with ice and strain into a martini glass or mix the ingredients at room temperature and serve neat.

If you like bourbon, try this drink I made for The Bachelorette or this one using Angel's Envy.

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Monday, July 16, 2012

Look What We Found: a Beautiful Bottle of Scotch

One of the reasons I'm so drawn to drinking bourbon, whiskey, and scotch, besides the complexity of the spirit, is the story behind the label. Many brands started as a family business hundreds of years ago, and you can seriously taste that love in every sip. Younger companies may not have the history, but their stories never disappoint. I've recently read about a group of guys who pooled together a few years ago to start their own distillery, and a man who traveled the world looking for the right ingredients for his spirit.

For anCnoc (pronounced a-nock), a Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky tucked in the north east corner of Scotland, there is also a story literally about the label. As you can see, the packing is out-of-this-world stunning, sure to match the taste of a Scotch heavy with awards.

Peter Arkle has created a series of limited designs for the anCnoc bottle and case that you must get your hands on before it's too late. We all know that there is an art in the process of making Scotch Whisky, and now there is art on the bottle itself.

When you have a moment, click here to read about how Arkle arrived at his designs and then think about whether you want to order one of these for your wall...or your bar.

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Saturday, July 14, 2012

THIS GIRL'S Basic Bar Bites: Orange Liqueur Carrot Muffins

If I owned my own bar these uber healthy carrot muffins made with orange liqueur and dripping with a brandy cream cheese frosting would be at the top of the dessert menu. But since I haven't opened my own bar yet, you will just have to make these at home.

The muffin recipe was adapted from the food blog, Lauren's Latest, which I highly recommend you visit. And if you have a sweet tooth like me, I'd recommend trying one for breakfast with a black cup of coffee.

Muffin Ingredients (makes 24)
3 cups organic whole wheat flour
1.5 cups organic brown sugar
2.5 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 ounces orange liqueur (such a Mandarin Napoleon)
1 cup strawberry applesauce
1 cup vegetable oil
3 cups finely grated carrots
4 eggs

Frosting Ingredients
1/2 stick of butter, softened
2 ounces of brandy
2 ounces agave nectar
2 cups powdered sugar

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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Crafty Cocktailista: Decorated Wine Glasses

Prepare these glasses ahead of time to perfectly capture the theme of your party or to personalize the event for your guest of honor. You can also make this project part of the evening by having each party-goer design his or her own glass. Ask your friends to write down their favorite memory with the birthday girl, adjectives that describe her, or doodles that symbolize the friendship.

The ink won't stay on forever, but if you wash the glassware delicately, the artistic masterpieces will last until the next party.

Affordable wine or cocktail glasses
Markers made for ceramics or glass
Stencils (if desired)

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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Wine of the Week: Sunce 2010 Sauvignon Blanc

I was at Whole Foods and in a hurry, not paying total attention to what I was buying and came home with this delicious 2010 Sunce (pronounced soon-say) Vinery & Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc from Russian River Valley.

For only being aged 6 months in stainless steel vats, it passed all my taste tests and perfectly complimented the green chili chicken casserole I served for dinner. Described as having flavors of "ripe gooseberries, mixed summer melon, and a hint of dried herbs," this wine has a wonderful crisp finish. And just as the back of the bottle says, only 30 barrels were made. Get it while you can!

Sunce 2010 Sauvignon Blanc
$17.00 per bottle
$204 per case

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Summer Cocktails: Mezcal with Raspberry & Lime

Not overly sweet and very low calorie (about 100), this warm-weather drink is refreshing and extremely easy to make. All you have to do is open the bottles and pour over ice. No shaking, muddling, or straining needed. Sounds like a good summer activity to me. You?

1.5 ounces Zignum Mezcal
1 tablespoon Mandarine Napoleon
2 ounces Raspberry Lime sparkling water
Fresh raspberry and lime for garnish

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Monday, July 9, 2012

Product Spotlight: MIXT Cocktail Mixers

When you don't have a full bar at your fingertips a pre-made cocktail mixer can save the party.  BevMo! carries the all natural MIXT line of hand-crafted cocktail mixers in five varieties: Pomegranate Martini, Lemon Drop Martini, Margarita, Mojito, and Cosmopolitan Martini. They also offer a great sweet n' sour that is an important ingredient in hundreds of cocktails.

Perfect for picnics, hotel room parties, girl's weekends or any event where you want a good drink without too much complication. With this product you can choose your favorite spirit, add the mixer, shake with ice, and serve. They are also excellent to use for sangrias, punch bowls, and mocktails.

Order 32 oz bottles here or check your local BevMo for individual bottles and party packs.

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Monday, July 2, 2012

Summer Cocktails: Pineapple Melon Sangria

I love to serve this sangria in the spring and summer months, varying the fruits depending on what's in season. 

Start with this basic recipe and then add or replace fruit each time you make it. Although I used Champagne for this particular recipe, you can definitely use your favorite kind of sparkling wine in its place.

1 bottle Champagne
1/2 bottle white wine 
1 cup Midori
6 cups pineapple, honeydew melon, lemons, and limes

Mix the ingredients together and allow them to marinate in the fridge for at least an hour before serving. Pour into glasses with the fruit or without, and add ice if desired.

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