Tag Archives: cocktails

TV Night Theme Cocktails

Ok, confession time. I’m really into the ABC Family teen drama, Pretty Little LiarsI’m not alone in my addiction, however. My friends and I have a message thread exclusively devoted to talking about the show. Is it weird that a bunch of grown women spend so much time discussing a TV show about high school students? Possibly. Should we be doing more productive things with that time? Probably. But let’s not focus such trivialities, because group TV watching provides the perfect opportunity to try out new cocktail recipes.

We all started watching the series at slightly different times, well after the first season started, so up until now, our viewings had to happen via Netflix or Hulu somewhat guiltily while our significant others were either out of town or rolling their eyes derisively from the other room. This week was the annual Halloween episode, and just happened to coincide with all of us being caught up, so we could finally watch it all together. Needless to say we were excited. I decided to come up with some themed cocktails based on the four main characters, with some collaborative help from my new friend Kelly. Fun fact: Until last night, Kelly and I had never met in person, but we bonded immediately over email based on our mutual love of PLL, cocktails, and snarky commentary. If you’ve never watched the show, the descriptions of each cocktail might not be as funny, so you should watch all of season 1 as quickly as possible before trying any of these recipes. Or you could just make the cocktails, but you won’t enjoy them quite as much as we did. Here they are in all their glory:

THE HANNA MARIN
handful of mint leaves
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup fresh watermelon
1 1/2 oz rum
juice of half a lime
club soda
muddle watermelon, sugar, lime juice and mint leaves in a tall glass
add ice, rum, and top with club soda
garnish with an umbrella and watermelon slice
Hanna Marin is a fashionista and lover of all things pink. She has a sweet tooth for both desserts and cocktails, but she’s weight conscious, so go easy on the sugar. Hanna thinks drinks taste better with a fancy garnish and a colored umbrella. The Hanna Marin takes longer to make than most cocktails, but Hanna knows she’s worth the wait.

Pink and sweet, kind of like Hanna. Fancy drink umbrella optional.

Pink and sweet, kind of like Hanna. Fancy drink umbrella optional.

 

THE ARIA MONTGOMERY
1/2 an organic grapefruit
7  organic mint leaves
1 teaspoon raw vegan sugar
6 oz champagne (preferably Aria brand)
muddle grapefruit, mint leaves, and sugar
strain into a champagne flute
fill with champagne
garnish with an organic mint leaf
Aria is a vegan. She is also a writer. She likes older men and fancy drinks. Her cocktail is simple, yet elegant, and of course, organic. Aria is also very tiny and doesn’t hold her liquor well. Her cocktail is champagne based, but you can always add a little vodka if you prefer a stronger drink. Aria would approve, as long as you use top-shelf vodka.
Classy and delicate, like Aria. Clandestine relationship optional.

Classy and delicate, like Aria. Clandestine relationship optional.

THE SPENCER HASTINGS
1 1/2 oz coffee liqueur
1 1/2 oz vodka
1 oz espresso
pour ingredients over ice, shake and strain into a martini glass
Spencer is so addicted to caffeine that she puts espresso in her cocktails. Spencer does not have time for frivolous things like muddled fruit or drink umbrellas. Spencer does not have time for more than three ingredients. This cocktail gets shaken vigorously, like Spencer shakes people down for information.
This cocktail, like Spencer, is not messing around. Drinking too many may lead to caffeine jitters.

This cocktail, like Spencer, is not messing around. Drinking too many may lead to caffeine jitters.

The Emily Fields
1 1/2 oz vodka
1 1/2 oz blue curacao
shake ingredients over ice and strain into a martini glass
After a shoulder injury put her on the sidelines, Emily is trying to see herself as more than just a competitive swimmer, but she would like nothing more than to sip a little pool water again.  She likes her drinks strong, so be careful not to wake up next to any open graves after trying her pool water inspired cocktail.  The Emily Fields is prepared by vigorously shaking the liquid ingredients with ice until well blended and cloudy, like Emily’s memory.
**SIDE NOTE: This was the one cocktail we didn’t make, mostly because nobody wanted to commit to buying (or drinking) blue curacao. We came up with a couple of alternatives for Emily’s theme cocktail: 1) Bud Light in a can, because Emily is by far the most boring character on the show. Also, ever since she came out to her parents, her wardrobe seems to consist entirely of sleeveless vests, most of them denim. 2) Bourbon straight from a flask, in homage to the episode where she lost her memory for awhile. If you are easily offended, please refrain from reading the caption in the next picture.
Emily drinking an Emily, complete with rolled up sleeves. Rufies optional. Too soon?

Emily drinking an Emily, complete with rolled up sleeves. Rufies optional. Too soon?

We made three of the four cocktails, and I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but “toot toot,” they were delicious. Much like the Liars themselves they are all very different, so pick your poison and happy mixing!

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A Few Thoughts on Consistency

As most of you know, I have a hard time with recipes. Maybe it’s my theatre training, or maybe it’s just laziness, but I love to improvise. When I cook, I either invent something new based on what’s in the fridge/what looks good at the supermarket, or I start with a vague idea, look up a recipe, and then proceed to change it entirely. I almost never write down amounts of anything I use. I like to think of it as using the force, but I run into problems all the time when I bring something delicious to a pot luck or dinner party, and someone asks me for the recipe.  Errrr…. Usually the best I can do is a list of ingredients and a rough description of the process.

My approach to cocktails is more or less the same. I don’t run into the “can I have the recipe” problem as much with drinks because most people assume that mixing craft cocktails at home is difficult (it’s not), and are happy to drink whatever I happen to make for them at the time. The problem, however occurs when a cocktail turns out really well, or if I want to make another round of whatever I made the first time, but I have a hard time replicating it exactly.

Recently I read an interview of two amazingly talented bartenders. One of them (Lucie Wood)  happens to be the sister of a friend, so maybe I’m biased, but she said two things in the article that were particularly relevant for me as a home mixologist. One was, “Don’t waste money buying expensive mixers. It’s easy to make your own grenadine and infused simple syrups, and it’s way more fun than buying it.” This is pretty much my purpose in creating this blog, so: validation! From an expert!

The second was, “The key to a great cocktail is balance, and the key to a good bar is consistency. There’s nothing worse than ordering a drink from one bartender and enjoying it, then ordering a second one from another bartender and it’s completely different. That’s why we feel it’s vitally important to use measuring tools.” Ok, confession time: I was definitely one of those bartenders who took pride in my eye-balling, free-pouring abilities. I’m not running a bar (at least not currently), but I do want people to consistently enjoy the cocktails I make. And I want people to be able to replicate them at home, whether it’s from a recipe I give them or from reading this blog. So thank you, Lucie Wood. I will do my very best to use measuring tools, and write down my recipes from now on. Pinkie swear.

If you’re interested in the full article, you can find it here. Oh, and there’s even a part two. And if you ever find yourself in Fullerton, you should definitely visit her bar, Steamers.

Coming soon: fall infusions. Look for something spiced up and bourbon-y, and possibly pumpkin pie vodka. Happy mixing!

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Filed under Cocktail Bars, Mixology Philosophy