Food, Wine, Good (and Evil) Spirits

sparklingpunch.jpgTired of being the host and the bartender at your party? This is the perfect solution...a festive drink your guests can serve themselves.

When's the last time you brought out the punch bowl? They are hip now and back in style....very retro and not to mention look beautiful on a table. If you don't have one, get yourself over to Goodwill...they have shelves and shelves of vintage ones they are dying for you to take home.

This drink is a very fun way to start of your party. This punch along with some bottles of wine will keep you concentrating on the meal while your guests help themselves to some cheer!

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bloodorangemattbites.jpgLike many of my seasonal affectations, I’m always delighted when citrus season rolls around for three main reasons:  One: because it means the plump, juicy oranges from my tree will soon be ready and two: meyer meyer meyer meyer meyer meyer lemons, and three: blood oranges. And now that all are here I really don’t know what to do with myself. I’m pretty sure the guys at my farmers’ market are glad I’ve stopped running up to them each week asking the same question over and over again.

Unlike autumnal produce (which always seems so exciting but after about 2 weeks I am ready to move on), I could never ever tire of blood oranges.  I wish I had them year round. And here’s where my craziness really kicks in: I enjoy them just as much for their color as their flavor. Correction: even more so, I think. There’s really nothing else like that color. Crimson with hints of sunshine, pink with a touch of vermillion. And the juice? Such an amazing coral and ruby hue, depending on how the light hits it. I’ve been known to juice several oranges and stare at the pitcher for hours in appreciation of that color I hardly see throughout the year. And trust me, I know my colors.

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manlydrinkA few months ago I was at a bar where the hip, mustachioed bartenders were touting their selection of superlative old-school cocktails. So I ordered a Manhattan. My husband turned to me and said, “You know a Manhattan is a guy’s drink, right?”

“No, man, that’s fine,” the bartender interrupted. “You’ve got a woman who knows what she wants.”

Yup, I do. Sure, I like a refreshing mint mojito and a champagne sparkler just like the next gal, but there are times when I crave something stronger, more muscular, like scotch or bourbon.

Since that night I've ordered many a manly drink. I've also asked many a manly man what he thinks of women who imbibe traditional men’s drinks. Everyone I spoke with was OK with it, and many thought it was sexy. But most were quick to add this caveat: “Just not on the first date. You might scare us off.”

They also agreed: Don’t go too masculine too quickly. Want to order an Old-Fashioned? Don’t. Too Don Draper. A Rusty Nail? Too Bob Villa. A Godfather? Too Michael Corleone.

If your current drink of choice is a fruity Cosmopolitan, then don't switch to a bitter Negroni. You might not recover from the shock.

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Old FashionedIt all started with a Napoleon. And a desire for a cocktail after dinner. The Napoleon, uneaten, and so taken away in a box from a late lunch at Petit Trois was the itch, scratching my brain. It’s eggy vanilla aroma permeates the car on the way home and a bottle of newly purchased Bulleit Rye clinks next to me. I get the vision of a vanilla driven rye cocktail sipped along with that Napoleon.

Ludo’s Napoleons aren’t delicate fine things with a slick of sweet white icing across the top. No, they’re robust and sturdy finished off with a perfect shard of bruléed confectioner’s sugar. They are so thick that I’ve never eaten one by cutting down a bite with my fork. Instead I pluck off the top layer of crunchy puff paste and the clinging pastry cream, which leaves another layer of the same to munch later open-face sandwich style. This is the life of the food obsessed.  Upon googling rye and vanilla I found Brandon at Kitchen Konfidence and  a recipe for an Old-Fashioned made with vanilla sugar. I always keep a jar of sugar studded with vanilla beans in the pantry, so his recipe was quick to put together.  Here’s my version. I’m making some vanilla syrup to keep in the fridge for the next one.

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cocktail fznlemonade vodkaI am not a big drinker. It’s rare that I finish a glass a wine at dinner and I rarely order a “cocktail”. With that said, when I do invite friends over for dinner, I like to have a little cocktail on hand for those that simply want one.

Seeing a lot of fruit infused vodka on Pinterest sparked my interest to create a red, white, and blue cocktail for the 4th of July. Seeping the blueberries in the vodka for 36 hours, creates the most amazing scent. For lack of a better word, the smell was intoxicating.

When I do indulge in a cocktail (I much prefer to eat my calories), it’s generally something slushy, fruity, and not overly alcoholic. Grabbing the last of the Meyer lemons from my tree, I made a huge batch of Molly’s raw honey lemonade. Making something slushy was what I was craving. Tossing the lemonade and some ice in the blender, this frozen lemonade and blueberry cocktail was created.

I wanted to use the blueberries as garnish, but didn’t want them simply floating in the glass. Grabbing a handful of small wooden sticks, I skewered them and then put them in the freezer for about an hour. After the fact, I thought how yummy these would have been if I would have sugar coated them.

Freezing fresh, organic, summer berries and fruit from the farmers market is my newest obsession. I see many more fruit and vodka combos in my future.

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