Tag Archives: mint

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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Wedding Cocktails!

As I mentioned in the previous post, I got recently got married. It was a lot of work, but totally worth it. Me being me, I wouldn’t throw any kind of party without a signature cocktail, or in this case, two. We knew we wanted a bourbon cocktail and a champagne cocktail.

The bourbon cocktail was fairly easy to decide on. After test-driving a couple different recipes, we settled on the Lady Shirley, with some slight modification, because, well, I just can’t ever seem to follow a recipe exactly. The recipe I found online gives you a pretty sweet little cocktail, which might be perfect for some, but here in the Savage-Liszanckie household we like our bourbon cocktails a little stronger. My recipe was more like: 2oz bourbon, 1/2oz grenadine, 1oz lemon juice (or about half a lemon if you’re squeezing them fresh), top with soda water.

We served them in mason jars. They were delicious.

We served them in mason jars. They were delicious.

The champagne cocktail took a little more experimentation to settle upon. Luckily we have plenty of willing guinea-pigs…er, friends, who very patiently drank the cocktails and gave me their opinions. Tough job, I know. What we ended up with was the Feathers McGraw, named after our favorite Wallace and Gromit character. The inspiration for this cocktail came from Martha Stewart, but of course I made a few changes. First, I made a mint-infused simple syrup. For the cocktail recipe, I upped the amount of Campari and Champagne, and lowered the amount of grapefruit juice and simple syrup. What can I say, Martha’s recipe just wasn’t boozy enough for me. Recipe for this one: 1oz Campari, 1/2oz mint simple syrup, fill glass 3/4 full with champagne (approx 4oz), top with a splash or two of grapefruit juice. The result is something like a grapefruit-y mimosa with a boozy Campari kick. Delicious!

The original Feathers McGraw. Ours was just a tasty tribute.

The original Feathers McGraw. Ours was just a tasty tribute.

The great thing about both these cocktails is that you can easily make them by the pitcher for a party…or a wedding. Just keep the proportions the same and increase by the number of cocktails you want to make. I promise, your guests will be impressed. Happy mixing!

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Simple Syrup Infusions

Sooooooo it’s been a really long time since my last post. Lots of life changes between than and now. I quit my job! I got married! Also, I made a lot of cocktails, probably too many to blog about, but I’ll do my best. First up: simple syrup. For those not familiar with it (and believe me, you WANT to be familiar with it, simple syrup is used to sweeten up fruity cocktails. You can buy it pre-made at Bevmo, but where’s the fun in that when you it’s so easy to make at home?  Simple syrup is called “simple” for a reason. Here is the recipe: 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar. Heat the water just below boiling until all the sugar dissolves. See? I told you it was simple.

The great thing about making your own simple syrup is that you can infuse it with almost anything, which is a great way to add extra flavor to your cocktails and impress your friends. “Oh this? It’s just a ginger-infused simple syrup. I made it myself. NBD.” You don’t have to tell them how easy it is, it’ll be our little secret. After the sugar dissolves in the water, turn the heat down as low as it goes, add anything you want for flavoring, stir and taste occasionally until the flavor strength is to your liking. Unlike liquor infusions, with simple syrup it’s best to stick with just one flavor. Some ideas for simple syrup flavors include: ginger, vanilla bean, lavender, mint, lemon zest, jalapeno peppers…feel free to experiment. We all know I’m obsessed with mint, so my latest experiment was a mint-infused simple syrup. Look for an upcoming post where I use the syrup in a cocktail. Happy mixing!

One bunch of fresh mint.

One bunch of fresh mint.

Mint in the sugar-water mixture.

Mint in the sugar-water mixture.

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Cocktail Hour at Home

My bourbon infusion was ready to go, so I decided to invite my lovely friend Brynn over for dinner and cocktails. Before we get into the drink recipes, let’s talk about the infusion by itself. How much do I love grapefruit? So much that I would write an ode to it, if I were any good at writing odes. The substitution of grapefruit zest for lemon and orange was a stroke of pure genius. The citrus did kind of overwhelm the vanilla, though, which was barely detectable. Next time I’d go with two vanilla beans instead of one. Still, it was quite nice, and could easily be a stand alone drink, chilled and served up. But where’s the fun in that?

No, my friends, the fun is all in the mixing, so on we go to the cocktails. The first concoction is something I’ve been making in various configurations for a while now, so it deserves a name. I hereby dub thee “The Savage Refresher.” Doesn’t that sound like something you want to drink?

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It consists of: bourbon (this time I used the infusion, but it’s also delicious with regular bourbon), muddled mint, bitters, and freshly squeezed grapefruit. You can add a little sugar or simple syrup if you like your drinks on the sweet side of tart. Muddle a handful of mint, sugar (if you want), 10ish drops of bitters, and a little ice in a shaker. Add 2 oz of bourbon (depending on how strong you like it), half a grapefruit (squeezed), and some more ice. Shake and serve up in a cocktail glass of your choosing.

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I squeeze the grapefruit by hand, but what I really want is a dedicated grapefruit squeezer like this one. Also, despite our arsenal of bar tools, we still don’t have a muddler at home, which makes me sad. Now you know what to get me for my birthday, right?

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The Savage Refreshers went perfectly with our dinner…I threw some mint in the salad too. Yummy!

Then it was on to post dinner conversation and round two. If you’re as obsessed with Mad Men as I am, you’ve probably had a hankering for an Old Fashioned sometime in the last few months. If you’re a purist, like Don Draper, here is a recipe for the classic Old Fashioned, complements of Esquire magazine. Most bars these days make it with and orange slice and a maraschino cherry, but apparently that’s a recent edition. Fascinating!

Seeing as how I’m all grapefruit obsessed at the moment, I use a grapefruit slice instead of the now-traditional orange slice, a smidge of grenadine, and regular sugar, because really, who has sugar cubes and maraschino cherries at home?

How to make a Grapefruit Old Fashioned: In a cocktail shaker, muddle a large slice of grapefruit, a teaspoon-ish of sugar, a dash or two of grenadine (one cherry’s worth if you can figure that out), and 3-4 dashes of bitters. Once that has been muddled, you add 2 oz or so of bourbon and shake. I like to top it off with another squeeze of grapefruit, but that’s just me. Traditionally, you’d serve this in a rocks glass over ice. What can I say, I’ve never been all that traditional.

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The photo may not look all that impressive, but trust me, they’re delicious. This cocktail makes a frequent appearance in our house. Typically while we’re watching Mad Men. In our fedoras.

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