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Cooking with Spirits

Thanksgiving Recipes
Cooking with Spirits

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays of all time. A holiday based on recognizing all of the good in your life, celebrating it by eating homemade, delicious food and drinking lots of fine wine and spirits – Awesome. Plus you have the added bonus of spending the day (hopefully not at work) with your loved ones.

Thanksgiving is also a time that many of us bust out the pots and pie dishes for their annual use and try to channel our inner Julia Child or Emeril Lagasse.

Once a year I become a master baker and only pies from scratch will do. I bake pumpkin, knead dough and grate the nutmeg all in an effort to add a little something special to the final product.

Did you know that adding vodka to your piecrust recipe makes your crust flakier? Have you ever added bourbon to your pecan pie recipe? The caramelly sweetness of the bourbon complements the pecans perfectly and adds that extra special something to an already delicious treat.

Liquor also makes a great glaze for your meats. Tequila glazed turkey or bourbon and orange glazed ham are both delectable options for a main meal.

Then there are fun concoctions like Fireball Pumpkin Pie, Bourbon-Bacon-Brussels Sprouts and Cointreau Cranberry Sauce.

Liquor can be a great ingredient in the kitchen. If cooked, the hardness of the alcohol dissolves and leaves behind a wonderful flavor. When mixed into cold dishes, it adds both flavor and a little extra kick to be enjoyed by the adult crowd.

This year we’ve compiled some fun recipes to share. So, as you dust off those pots and become a master chef – try something new. Try cooking with spirits.

Pumpkin Spice and all that's nice

Bring on the Fall
Pumpkin Spice and all that

The fall has finally come to Texas! Time to get out the sweaters and the Pumpkin Spice.

Everything about pumpkins feels like fall doesn’t it? They make the perfect fall décor both carved, painted, or plain. And they are delicious – toasted pumpkin seeds, pumpkin bread, pumpkin butter, and pumpkin pie!

Between soccer practice, gymnastics practice and a Fall Festival every weekend, it’s hard to find the time to bake. So instead, I plan to enjoy the pumpkin spice with a warm and relaxing mug of Pumpkin Spice Bailey’s and Coffee or a Pumpkin Pie Martini (on the October evenings that are in the 70s). 

Making the coffee is super easy – just pour yourself a half a cup of your favorite coffee (better to stay away from flavored coffee though) and then fill the cup up the rest of the way with Bailey’s Pumpkin Spice. If you want to get fancy you can even make some Bailey’s Pumpkin Spice whip cream for the top!

For the warmer evenings, I will be springing for the Pumpkin Pie Martini - another easy drink to make and oh, so, delicious. Mix 1.5 oz of Smirnoff or Burnett’s Whipped Cream Vodka, 1 oz of Fulton’s Harvest Pumpkin Pie Liqueur and a half oz of Rum Chata. Shake and serve. For a little fancy sparkle – rim your glass with cinnamon sugar and sprinkle a little on top.

 

So let’s raise a glass to this cooler weather and sip a little Pumpkin Spice. October is busy enough – relax a little and save the Pumpkin baking until November. Let’s bring on the fall!

Long Island Ice Tea

Long Island Ice Tea

I’m one of the many people in this state that will tell you, “I’m not a native Texan, but I got here as soon as I could.” And it’s true, I love the great state of Texas, but that doesn’t change my roots. And as the saying goes, you can take the girl out of New York, but you can’t take the New York out of the girl!

This recipe is a classic and a shout-out to my New York roots. Whether you’re in New York, Texas or anywhere else, this is a great drink to relax with.

Now for you true-Southerners, don’t be fooled by the name. This is a good drink, but it tastes nothing like your Sweet Tea.

Secondly, before you start mixing, let’s make sure you are prepared to relax with this drink and don’t need to drive anywhere. It’s a good one, but it’s strong one too.

Okay, fill your shaker or glass with ice. Next mix together ½ shot of vodka, gin, rum, tequila and triple sec. Add one shot of sweet and sour mix and stir (if you have a shaker, then shake!)

For those of you who don’t traditionally drink gin, Seagram’s is a pretty standard gin and will work well in this recipe, but I would recommend going with Texas Still Gin – it’s an excellent gin and locally distilled. Plus it will add a little Texas sass to this Yankee drink!

Bacardi is the big name in rum, but Don Q Crystal would work just as well and would be a little less expensive.

There is absolutely nothing Yankee about tequila – I would recommend you try Coa tequila, Lunazul or Espalon. These are all very good tequilas, affordable and will help southern-ify your drink!

Once mixed, pour everything into your glass and then top it with a splash of cola. The cola just provides a tiny bit of flavor and a little bit of color to the drink. Garnish your drink with a lemon and if you’re a displaced Yankee like me – toast those Northern roots and then take a sip and enjoy a nice, cool drink in the Texas sun!

Ingredients:

½ oz vodka

½ oz rum

½ oz Gin

½ oz tequila

½ oz triple sec

1 oz sweet and sour mix

1 oz cola

1 lemon slice

Directions:

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Pour vodka, rum, gin, tequila, triple sec, and sour mix over ice; cover and shake. Pour cocktail into a Collins or hurricane glass; top with splash of cola for color. Garnish with a lemon slice.

Frozen Peach Raspberry Dream

Frozen Peach Raspberry Dream

This is one of my all-time favorite drinks and it’s perfect for the summer. The frozen mixture of peach and raspberry, combined with champagne is brilliant and worthy of a celebration. This drink is sweet, it’s bubbly and it’s delicious. Ladies – this one’s for you.

First you will need a blender – this is really meant to be a frozen drink, so don’t skimp on the blending! Combine everything but the Chambord.

Cook’s is a pretty standard Champagne, it’s cost efficient and it has a good taste that will work well in this drink. Next, when you’re looking for Peach Schnapps – DeKuyper’s is a good option. This drink is a great drink for a Texas summer day, so I would recommend a Texas vodka to go with it like Deep Eddy, Western Son or Tito’s, but any vodka will work. If you’re unfamiliar with peach nectar, just grab a can of Jumex and it will do the trick.

Blend until smooth.

Pour your frozen drink into a fun frozen drink-worthy cup. Next pour a shot of Chambord on top. Garnish with a peach slice or a few fresh raspberries and maybe a Hawaiian umbrella.

Cheers!

*If you want to make a fun drink for the kids – substitute peach schnapps for peach juice and the champagne for sparkling white grape juice. To add the raspberry flavor on top, either use a raspberry syrup or fresh raspberries.

 

Ingredients:

1 cup frozen sliced peaches.

2 ounces champagne.

1 ounce peach schnapps.

1 ounce vodka.

4 ounces (1/2 cup) peach nectar.

2 or 3 ice cubes.

1.5 oz Chambord

 

Directions:

Combine one cup of frozen sliced peaches, two ounces of champagne, one ounce of peach schnapps, one ounce of vodka, four ounces of peach nectar and two or three ice cubes. Blend for thirty seconds or until smooth. Pour a shot of Chambord on top and enjoy.

Mojito

Mojito

There is something so refreshing and classic about a Mojito. I love a good Mojito, but don’t make them too often because this drink is a little tricky to perfect. I recommend taking your time when making this drink to ensure it’s perfect. You don’t want to go overboard on the sugar or the mint – you want just the right mix for your taste buds. And you definitely want to take the time to make fresh-squeezed lime juice.

Fill up your shaker with ice and pour in your rum. I would recommend either Don Q rum or Bacardi. Interesting fact about these two – they are both distilled in Puerto Rico!

Before adding your mint leaves, you should gently mash them in a muddler. If you don’t have a muddler, break them up by hand, but don’t shred them. The mint leaves only need to be slightly bruised to release the essential oils needed to make this drink perfect. Next - mix in your lime juice.

Now, add your sugar. Here I would be careful. A good Mojito can easily be ruined with too much, or too little sugar. The recipe calls for 4 tablespoons of sugar, but I would recommend adding to taste. Check as you’re adding so that you can get the exact right amount of sweetness for you.

Shake well and serve over ice and top of your drink with a splash of club soda. This recipe is designed to make about six servings. Garnish with a lime.

And remember - don’t rush making this drink. The difference between an okay Mojito and an amazing Mojito is up to you.

Enjoy!

 

*If you want to make a Mojito mocktail for the kiddos too, I recommend mixing limeade and club soda and serving on ice.

 

Ingredients:

Ice

6 ounces light rum

12 mint sprigs, or spearmint, 8 roughly broken apart

6 tablespoons fresh lime juice

4 tablespoons sugar

Club soda

4 slices lime

 

Directions:

Place ice in beverage shaker then add in the rum, 8 broken up mint sprigs, lime juice and sugar. Shake well and serve over ice in a high ball glass. Top off each glass with a splash of club soda.

Garnish each with a slice of lime and a sprig of mint.

Piña Colada

Piña Colada

Oh, the Piña Colada – the original beach drink. I know it isn’t possible to spend the entire summer drinking Piña Coladas on the beach, but it’s okay to dream, right? The way I figure it, if you make the Piña Colada, you can sit outside in the sun, close your eyes and imagine the ocean is right there.

Piña Coladas were originally made in pineapples. So if you want to go old school, get a pineapple, core it, and use that as your cup.

The beauty of the Piña Colada is the combination of the coconut and pineapple flavors. The recipe calls for regular rum, but I would recommend using coconut rum. Now, Malibu Coconut Rum is a good, solid coconut rum that will make a great drink, but my personal favorite is RumHaven coconut rum, made with real coconut water.

Add pineapple juice, cream of coconut, ice and your rum of choice to a blender. Blend until smooth and creamy. Serve in either a pineapple, or a regular cocktail glass. Garnish with cherries or pineapples.

If you really want to bring on the beach – add a Hawaiian umbrella to the top. Close your eyes, feel the breeze and take a sip. You might find, you don’t need to drive all the way to the ocean to enjoy a trip to “the beach.”

*If you want to make the kiddos a Piña Colada just skip the rum! Or skip the rum and substitute the ice and coconut cream with coconut ice cream – that would make an excellent Piña Colada mocktail for your little ones.

 

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cup pineapple juice

1/2 cup cream of coconut not coconut milk

1/2 cup rum

3 cups ice

pineapple chunks for garnish, optionalcherries for garnish, optional

 

Directions:

Add ice to a blender. Add pineapple juice, cream of coconut and rum. Blend until smooth and creamy. Pour into glasses, garnish with pineapple chunks and cherries. Serve.

 

Watermelon Vodka Cocktail

Watermelon Vodka Cocktail

I love watermelon and I eat it year round, but I go a little watermelon crazy every summer. I pretty much want to eat watermelon all day, every day and I never get tired of it!

In honor of my love for the juicy, delicious, amazing melon that seems to appear at all summer get-togethers – I had to try a Watermelon Cocktail.

Even though this recipe requires a blender (which means extra dishes), it’s super easy. This recipe is designed to be shared with friends, but when I made it, I was flying solo, so I just did a little beer math and made a single serving. 1 Cup of watermelon, a little more than 1 cup of coconut water, a 1/2tablespoon of fresh lime juice and blend.

Next fill up your glass with lots of ice and pour a shot of vodka (this recipe calls for vodka citron, but I used regular vodka). I decided to garnish with a watermelon slice, because I just needed another bite of watermelon!

This is a fun drink – the watermelon, lime and coconut are all equally present in the drink and don’t overpower each other. I hope you enjoy!

 

 

Ingredients:

8 Cups chilled Watermelon

11.5 oz Coconut water

4 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 cup vodka citron

mint for garnish

 

Directions:

Add watermelon, coconut water and lime juice to blender. Blend until smooth. Pour mixture into a large pitcher. Add vodka and stir.

Serve over ice. Garnish with lime wedges and fresh mint.

 

 

Mudslide Milkshake

Mudslide Milkshake

In my house, ice cream is an absolute necessity in the summer. My Yankee blood needs that cold sweet treat to survive August in Texas. Of course, I would eat ice cream in a blizzard. I love ice cream, there’s no getting around that.

This recipe is a bit nostalgic for me, as it was something I cooked up many years ago in my very early 20’s, with a few of my friends.

One of my many jobs during my college years was working as a bartender, and I used to make mudslides for my customers often. When I started making them, it pained me to put ice cubes in the drink. A mudslide just looks like it needs ice cream. So as soon as the opportunity presented itself, I tested out my theory and yes, I was correct – mudslides make the best milkshakes.

This recipe is easy. First, it’s important to note that this recipe is better enjoyed with friends! So have a few over. I’ll pause here to give quick shout out to Vanessa and Erin – the two ladies I first shared a mudslide milkshake with – you ladies are awesome.

Next, if you have kids around, be prepared to make them a fun milk shake too – substitute the Kahlua, Vodka and Irish Cream for some milk though.

Okay, you’ve got your friends, now get your blender. Mix your Kahlua, Vodka and Irish Cream together. While Bailey’s is most common, Carolan’s Irish Cream and Ryan’s Irish Cream are on the same level and sometimes more cost efficient.

Vanilla ice cream is probably the best choice and the standard for this, but if you’re feeling adventurous I would recommend spicing it up with Cookies and Cream. If you live here in Jarrell, do yourself a favor and get your ice cream from Litzy’s – her homemade Vanilla and her Cookies and Cream are top notch. Of course, this being Texas, if you can’t make it to Litzy’s, springing for the Blue Bell would be a just and worthy cause as well.

Add as much ice cream as you want and blend until smooth.

How you top this creation is really up to you – Chocolate Syrup, Whip Cream and Cherries can all play an important role in making this drink – so garnish your drink the way you would your ideal ice cream sundae.

Toast your pals and enjoy a sweet treat!

 

Mudslide Milkshake Ingredients:

1 part Kahlua

1 part Vodka

1 ½ parts Irish Cream Liqueur

Vanilla Ice Cream

Chocolate Syrup

 

Directions:

Mix Khalua, Vodka and Irish Cream in Blender. Add scoop of Vanilla Ice Cream and blend until smooth. Garnish with Chocolate Syrup and enjoy

White Sangria Sparkler

Cocktail Cluster Episode 3
White Sangria Sparkler

The Fourth of July came on a perfect day this year – Thursday. I’ve noticed that means that the celebration can begin on July 3rd and carry on through the weekend! So to help carry on the celebration – today we bring you the White Sangria Sparkler. It’s light, it’s fun and it sparkles just like our nation does when we celebrate our Independence each year!

Start with a pitcher and your favorite white wine. It’s best to go with a medium – not too dry, but not too sweet. You will be adding fruit that will enhance the sweetness! Candoni Pinot Grigio is a great wine to use for this – it’s also one of the organic wines we carry – so a little healthier. Codes and Keys Sauvignon Blanc is another great option for this mix. Of course if you’re headed to a swimming hole this weekend, you might want to grab a box of The Drop White Wine. This is a good white wine blend and it comes in a can – so perfectly suited for water fun!

Just mix your wine and your fruits – peaches, kiwis and raspberries. Any peach will do, but this time of year you can’t go wrong with locally grown Texas peaches! They are delicious and will make this drink even more special. When you’re picking your fruit, it’s okay to use either fresh or frozen – they will both give you a great result. If you go with frozen, make sure to mix the fruit while it is still frozen, that way you won’t lose any of the fruit juices when the fruits defrost.

The recipe calls for sugar, but this is optional and really depends on how sweet you like your drinks.

Next just let this sit for at least an hour. If you use frozen fruit, the refrigerator is optional. Of course if you’re at the pool, maybe stick the pitcher in your cooler. This drink is really meant to be drunk chilled!

After an hour or more, it’s ready to be served! Mix in your sparkling water and serve over ice. A mint garnish is nice, but definitely optional.

We hope you enjoy a little extra sparkle this weekend!

*If you have kids that want to have a fun drink as well – trying making this recipe with white grape juice. *

Strawberry Basil Lime Cooler

Strawberry Basil Lime Cooler

Did you know that strawberries and basil are extremely hardy plants in central Texas? Strawberry bushes will survive the occasional freeze and basil plants are basically a weed. I enjoy gardening a little, but in reality my thumbs are only light green, so it’s important to find plants that do well, with only a little attention. I’ve been successful in that area and now I don’t know what to do with all of the basil in my garden! My family can only eat so much pesto.

I decided that making a fun cocktail is kind of like cooking. Sometimes you look at what ingredients you have and then you figure out what you can make. That’s how I came across this recipe. Strawberries and Basil are both doing well in my garden this summer, so let’s turn them into a drink!

The recipe calls for water, club soda, Vodka, Tequila or Gin, strawberries, basil and limes. Since the liquor is the last step, it’s possible to make a big batch and then let the drinker decide – spirit of choice.

The most important step here is giving the strawberries and basil time to infuse the water. Put your strawberries, limes and basil in water and let it sit for at least eight hours.

Pour one shot of vodka, gin or tequila (we tried gin and it was a win – we recommend Still Gin, distilled in Austin) into your glass, then fill it halfway with your infused water. Finish filling up the glass with club soda and enjoy.

If you enjoy infused water, you will really enjoy this summer treat!

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