Serenity Now

Grapefruit Rye Cocktail

Is it Friday yet?  I know, I really shouldn’t be saying that right now, because technically it is only Tuesday – with Monday being a holiday and all.  But for some reason this week has not been any easier, with the chaos growing just a bit each day, as we get closer and closer to the end of the school year.  This week, I have officially declared it insanity…

Normally you would think I would be looking for ways to simplify my life, but no…that is not me.  If a good opportunity comes up, I can’t just let it pass by.  Even if I am in the midst of complete insanity.  I have always wanted to be a bartender – not for a profession, just for a night.  It is almost like playing a real live video game – you know the ones when you have to get all food in the grocery cart before time runs out, or you have to get everyone out of the spa with their hair done and nails freshly painted?  This time it is about making drinks though, and it is not a game.  Yes, that will be me on June 7th.  My husband and I have been going to this little restaurant/bar now for a couple of years.  We love the place – the food is top quality, and the cocktails are the best we have ever had.  It is our happy place.  And the people who work there have become our friends.  Now, I love to make drinks for my friends – and one night I asked half jokingly when they were going to let me be the bartender.  Be careful what you wish for.

So, for the past few weeks I have been working on my cocktail menu, and having a lot of fun naming the drinks with our friends.  This was one of the first drinks I put on the list – it is my favorite one right now.  The grapefruit is so deliciously sweet in the market, it really makes an amazing drink.  I am really not a huge rye fan, but this combination is a winner. Plus, I think we could all use a little serenity now.  So stop by the bar on June 7th if you can…serenity now, insanity later.

Ingredients

  • 2 oz. rye
  • 2 oz. fresh grapefruit juice
  • 1 oz. Campari
  • 1 oz. Lillet
  • Grapefruit twist

Preparation

Add rye, grapefruit juice, Campari and Lillet into a cocktail shaker.  Add ice, and shake for about 30 seconds.  Strain and pour into a cocktail glasses, then serve with a grapefruit twist.

Makes 2 cocktails

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Strawberry Smash

It’s the first weekend of fall, and I should be posting the Apple Cake I made today, or the jam that is sitting in my pantry setting up so it is the perfect consistency – don’t worry, those posts will come – but I had to get one more summer cocktail in before we said goodbye to warmer temperatures and long days.

When we lived in Denver, we had these very good friends that we did everything with.  This was before we had kids – and we had more time on our hands.  This was also before I knew anything about making drinks.  Our friends were from Canada, and his favorite after-work drink was a Rum and Coke.  My husband (boyfriend at the time) were more beer drinkers – but we would also have some cans of coke in the refrigerator in case he happened to be at our house on a Friday or Saturday night.

Years later, after we had our children, I took my older daughter back to Denver for a visit.  We flew in on a Friday, and as a special treat, they made me a Strawberry Margaretta.  I asked what happened to the Rum and Coke – not to worry, that was still his go-to drink, but that this was a special occasion.  I am not crazy about ultra-sweet drinks, but I had one anyway – it was like dessert in a glass.  When I saw this recipe from Cooking Light (which I adapted below), I immediately thought of that night – and decided I needed to see if this would be more my style.

I know that strawberry season is long gone, but if you are lucky, you can still find some shipped from California.  Or, if all else fails – you can always thaw some frozen strawberries.  This is still a sweet drink (omit the simple syrup if you want it less sweet), but not too sweet – it was actually perfect for me.  What a perfectly nice and refreshing drink, made with real strawberries.  So – here’s to the end of summer.  I am actually really excited for fall – it just happens to be my favorite season – for many reasons…and yes, most of them have to do with food, so stay tuned!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup strawberries
  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons simple syrup
  • 1 cup of ice

Preparation

Place the strawberries in a shaker, and using the back of a wooden spoon or a muddler, smash the strawberries.  Put in the rest of the ingredients, shake well and serve, slightly strained.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Strawberry Smash

Blueberry Bliss

It’s time for a drink – a summer cocktail that is, and not just any summer cocktail.  For those of you who drink alcohol, you will understand it when I say that choosing alcohol for your drink, is almost like choosing what you are going to eat for dinner (unless you happen to be in college…then it seems that any alcohol will do, but now that I have children, I am choosing to ignore that for the moment).  Everyone seems to have a personal preference, or at least certain types of alcohol that is off-limits – either the flavor is not appealing, the smell, or you just happened to overindulge a little too much one night, and it reminds you of that time that you really just want to forget.

I am not a big drinker, but making cocktails has become more and more interesting to me over the years, now that it has become similar to cooking.  Mixing different flavors to create something extraordinary – and just like cooking – I love it when I can make something that people gush over.  Gin is one of those types of alcohols that I always hated – that was until I found Hendrick’s.  The combination of cucumber and rose petals really creates an aromatic wonder.  I have blogged about this before, because I am still in awe how different Hendrick’s is to other types of gin.  Recently we came across a local stuff called Counter Gin, which is also excellent – and they even sell it at Cost-Co now!

The other weekend when I was visiting my parents, I made this cocktail for my family.  My step-sister can’t stand gin, but she LOVED this – so did my grandmother, and everyone else who had a sip.  There is nothing not to love about this recipe.  The blueberry infused gin is incredible, and paired with the cardamom simple syrup – I am telling you, this is one to write home about.  The inspiration came from a recipe I found in Cooking Light, but I adapted it below, based on my own taste.  So – if you are looking to wow someone this weekend, look no further.  Now, cheers to that!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups blueberries
  • 1 1/2 cups dry gin
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3  cardamom pods
  • Ice
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • Additional blueberries (optional)

Preparation

Place 2 cups blueberries in a large, heavy stainless-steel saucepan; mash with a fork or potato masher. Place over medium-high heat, and cook 3 minutes or until berries begin to release juice. Remove from heat; add gin. Cover and let stand at least for 1 hour or up to overnight. Strain mixture through a sieve into a bowl, pressing berries with the back of a spoon to remove as much juice as possible; discard solids.

Combine 1/2 cup water, sugar, and cardamom pods in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook 2 minutes or until sugar dissolves. Cool completely; discard cardamom pods.

To serve, add the ice to a cocktail shaker to come halfway up sides of container. Add 1/4 cup blueberry-gin, 1 tablespoon cardamom syrup, and 1 tablespoon lemon juice; shake until chilled. Strain cocktail into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with additional blueberries, if desired. Serve immediately. Repeat procedure with remaining ingredients.

If you prefer a fizzy cocktail, pour gin, cardamom syrup, and lemon juice over crushed ice in a glass; top with chilled club soda.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Blueberry Bliss