Friday Fun: Grasshopper

Drinks and Cocktails, Recipes

I know we’re still celebrating autumn, but mid-November also means that Winter is Coming. (Game of Thrones, anyone?) After all, Starbucks has already switched to their festive red coffee cups and serving up Peppermint Mochas and Eggnog Lattes, so why can’t we start mixing up some colorful and holiday-themed cocktails too? Cue the bright green, minty Grasshopper.

Grasshopper

Grasshopper

Ingredients:

1 ounce green Crème de Menthe

1 ounce white Crème de Cacao

1 ounce light cream (or half & half or whole milk)

Ice

Shake well with ice in a cocktail shaker. Strain and pour into a martini glass. Easy peasy!

Whip up a batch of these for your next holiday party and toast to the drink of choice of Raj on The Big Bang Theory. Enjoy what he likes to call a “sweet, green miracle” (to help enable him to talk to women). Cheers!

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Friday Fun: Gin Smash

Drinks and Cocktails, Recipes

Back in college, I had the pleasure of experiencing my very first speakeasy on a visit to see my BFF in New York City. After asking a friend’s friend for the secret telephone number and managing to score reservations that very evening (it was a Tuesday night). we arrived on the stoop of a tailor shop. Undeterred, we knocked on the door and entered a relic of the 1920s Prohibition era.

Sadly this location of Milk & Honey has recently moved from its inconspicuous home in the heart of Chinatown on the Lower East Side to a more trendy location in the Flatiron District. But still, the covert exterior, the dimly lit booths, the expert mixologists who craft complex and stunning drinks… nothing less than the best in this Sasha Petraske owned haunt. It was here that I discovered one of my favorite cocktails — the gin smash. Sometimes I still dream of that beautifully composed blend of cucumber, mint, and ice cold gin. When we host gatherings at our place, I make sure to have a bottle of Hendricks gin and plenty of muddling ingredients on hand. It’s always a good time for a gin smash.

Gin Smash

Gin Smash

2 oz Hendricks cucumber gin

Few slices of cucumber

Few sprigs of mint

1/2 oz simple syrup

Wedge of lime

Soda water

Ice

Muddle together the cucumber, mint, and simple syrup. Squeeze in the juice of one wedge of lime, add the gin, and shake with ice in a shaker. Strain and pour into an Old Fashioned glass over ice. Top off with soda water and garnish with a sprig of mint.

This particular recipe may not change your world quite like the Milk & Honey version changed mine, but it is a wonderfully refreshing and clean-tasting cocktail. I love the fragrance of Hendricks, described on their website as small-batch gin hand crafted in Scotland, with an infusion of cucumber and rose petals. It’s the perfect cooling drink to enjoy on a hot summer evening or to reminisce about brighter summer days during the dead of winter. Cheers!

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Friday Fun: Vodka Gummy Bears

Desserts and Sweets, Drinks and Cocktails, Recipes

TGIF, everyone! This week for Friday Fun, I have a simple but fun recipe for your next party to spark the conversation with jaw-dropping excitement and exclamations of “Are those really what I think they are…?” But be warned, they take about 3-5 days of advance planning, so mark your calendars accordingly so you can serve up a batch of alcoholic nostalgia with these vodka gummy bears.

Vodka & Limoncello Gummy Bears

Vodka & Limoncello Gummy Bears

That’s right — vodka gummy bears. These seemingly harmless candies pack a surprising kick, and they can really sneak up on you so I go easy on the liquor, especially if they’re being served at a party alongside a full bar. But wait – a quick Google search will yield tons of vodka gummy bear recipes and tutorials. What makes mine different? A touch of citrus in limoncello. You can omit it if you don’t have it (and make up the liquid with more vodka) but I think the lemony flavor really adds something to the otherwise ordinary Haribo gummies.

Yummmm....

Yummmm….

Ingredients:

1 cup gummy bears

1 ounce vodka

1 ounce limoncello

In a plastic container with a lid, toss in the gummy bears and pour in the liquor. Cover and let sit in the refrigerator for at least a few days. Three is pretty good, five is ideal. After the first day or so, you can taste a bear and see if the alcohol level is to your liking. Remember, you can always add more but once it’s in there, the bears are going to soak it all up!

To serve, just transfer them to a dish, grab a few toothpicks (or dig in with your hands if you and your friends are that close), and get the party started!

Soaking in the fun

Soaking in the fun

For alternate versions that will set you apart from the average vodka gummy bear maker, try using a complementary flavored vodka. Vanilla is an excellent choice and can add a “creme soda” like flavor if you use enough of it!

By the way, if you get the brilliant idea to bring a batch of these with you on a group trip to Vegas, be sure that what vodka bears you bring to Vegas, stay in Vegas! Driving them back through the hot desert WILL melt them. Just trust us on this one.

So what are you waiting for?

So what are you waiting for?

So what are you waiting for? Whip together this mini army of fun and be instantly remembered as that awesome person who served alcoholic gummy bears at their party.

Drink responsibly and keep out of reach of children. :)

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Friday Fun: Soju Watermelon

Drinks and Cocktails, Recipes

The weather has been unfortunately gloomy here in LA lately, but July still means summer and summer means watermelons galore. Every time I go to pick out a watermelon, it reminds of a camp activity we played called “Big Watermelon” and how we counselors had to scramble to figure out how to say big watermelon (and the rest of the chant) in different languages. Sandía grande. Dà xīguā (大西瓜). Keun subag (큰 수박). Ookina suika (大きなスイカ). But I digress. This time, I was picking out an 大きなスイカ for a different purpose — soju watermelon.

Soju Watermelon

Soju Watermelon

We were planning for our July 4th barbecue when I saw a photo of it online —  a gorgeous cocktail concoction of watermelon juice and soju served in its own shell. It’s like the Korean-influenced cousin of the vodka watermelon, and I knew we just had to try making it ourselves. It turned out to be very easy and intuitive. Just grab a watermelon that’s an appropriate size for your party (we got a “personal” mini watermelon that made enough for about 5-6 people), a bottle or two of moderate-to-cheap soju, a lemon, a blender, and some ice. Oh, and a knife to (carefully) hack open the melon.

Ingredients:

Ingredients:

1 seedless watermelon

1 bottle of soju (we used Chamisul Original)

The juice of one lemon

Ice

Sugar (optional)

Beautiful ripe watermelon

Beautiful ripe watermelon

Step 1: Split the watermelon in half. Try to go right down the middle, otherwise you’ll end up with one “bowl” that will be more shallow than the other. OPTIONAL: if you are confident in your knife skills, you could also cut in a zig-zag pattern to yield a more interesting-looking vessel at the end.

Step 2: Scoop out the contents of each half. We did one half at a time. Fill up a blender. Pulse until smooth (but not too long or it will get frothy). You may need to push down with a spoon now and then to get the blades to catch.

Step 3: Pour the juices back into the shell and/or into a punch bowl to serve. We were surprised at the volume of juice the blending process yielded, so we had to transfer the leftovers to a large bowl. Also, our melon rinds were a bit too spherical so we placed them in a small bowl for extra support.

Step 4: Add ice, lemon juice, and soju to taste. We added one bottle’s worth to our mini watermelon and provided extra for anyone who wished to top off their drinks for a stronger kick. If your watermelon was bland or underripe, you may want to add sugar (or a simple syrup of dissolved sugar and water) to taste.

Step 5: Find a poolside or barbecue or karaoke bar and enjoy the refreshing taste of summer.

Cheers!

Cheers!

Soju (소주) is a Korean vodka typically distilled from rice. Jinro is the most popular manufacturer with many varieties in their product line. I prefer Chamisul Fresh if drinking soju neat but the more affordable Chamisul Original is fine for mixing, like with this delicious homemade agua fresca. The alcohol content is usually lower than that of vodka (around 20%), but it can still sneak up on you, so drink responsibly. Cheers!