Tonight (Wednesday) is the biggest bar night of the year. So they say.
The Wednesday before Thanksgiving. When most or a majority of folks are staying with relatives. Traveling some sort of distance to spend a day or the whole weekend (4 entire days) with loved ones. In close quarters with brothers and sisters. Niece and nephews. Aunties and Uncles. Adults find themselves in bunk beds or camped out on their parent’s living room floor wrapped up in a New Kids on the Block sleeping bag from elementary. Yeah, sometimes you need a drink before that happens. Reason 1, why the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is a busy night at the local watering hole.
Reason 2? Old friends. Catching up. Rehashing. Laughing. Remembering. Having a cold beer with people who knew you in 4th grade. When turtle necks and stirrup pants were the fashion. Friends that you passed notes with in study hall. Or played MASH with on the bus. While we may have dispersed, all going our separate ways, leading our own lives…the Wednesday before Thanksgiving brings most of us back home. Prompting an impromptu reunion of sorts.
Having to cook a dinner for a crowd. Hosting Thanksgiving. If I had to do all the cooking for 15 people…once the house was clean, the prep work complete, and the turkey submerged in a brine, because you refuse to serve a dry bird, a drink would be needed and deserved. Reason 3.
Since I will not find myself at a bar Wednesday night, I wanted to share with you a cocktail I enjoyed Tuesday night. A night early. I spent last night baking this chocolate tart and an apple pie and mixing up an obscene amount of puppy chow. Baking and cocktails…my kind of evening. Oh! and Mark Harmon, he was on TV, not sitting at my kitchen island enjoying a Manhattan. Total bummer.
Anywhoooo….yes, I made Manhattans. Not a drink for the faint of heart or for those that aren’t in love with whiskey. Because it is whiskey and vermouth and bitters. That is it. Simple and straightforward. Bourbon whiskey is what I had laying around, but rye whiskey is more traditional…however, both get the job done. However, if you use scotch whisky it is considered a Rob Roy. There’s a Wednesday cocktail fun fact, for ya.
Safe travels to those that are hitting the road today and over this long holiday weekend!
- 4 Ounces Whiskey
- 2 Ounce Sweet Vermouth
- 3 to 4 Dashes Angostura Bitters
- Maraschino Cherries and orange peel (optional) for garnish
- Combine whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters in a mixing glass with several ice cubes. Stir to combine.
- Strain into 2 cocktail glasses, or tumblers, or mason jars, or jam jars, or a low ball glass…you get the idea.
- Garnish with a maraschino cherry and perhaps an orange peel.
- Sit, sip, and relax.
- (I like my cocktails very cold, so I added ice to my jar….)
I signed up for the Tough Mudder April 2013 yesterday. Remember the Tough Mudder 2012? I do. The memories are rather vivid, maybe because I finished the race feeling 20 years older and looking like I was mugged and then pulled through a gauntlet. Or maybe because I still have a slight bump in my right shin from one serious bruise. Or maybe because I had so much fun. Like serious, to the core, can’t wait to do it again, adrenaline rush, pure exhaustion, fun. Yeah, there was a bit of failure ( i.e. monkey bars and rings), a bit of terror/trepidation ( 30+ leap into an ice cold quarry and electric shock that left me face down in the mud), but I experienced a lot of team work and success ( 13 mile run, 20 foot walls, quarter pipe, etc…). All of which make me excited for April. While jumping off a ledge 30+ feet above a quarry will always make my stomach enter my throat (half the fun, right?) and running 13 miles will always be my strong point in the tough mudder…beyond just finishing, this year I have a few goals to work towards. One being those damn monkey bars and secondly, I plan on leaving the quarter pipe with fewer bruises. And I will try to remember to not chug my beer at the end…talk about a lead weight in the gut, ugh! I was just so thirsty.
What does this have to do with strawberry infused vodka? Nothing. Zero. Zilch. Other than I should have a batch of this ready come April, post race…Anything to ease the pain, right?
Strawberry infused vodka … I am not sure this needs an introduction or an explanation. Strawberries and vodka have a tendency to speak for themselves.
- 2 Pints Strawberries, hulled and quartered
- 2-3 Cups Vodka, your favorite brand
- Mason Jars with tight fitting lids
- Cheese Cloth
- Hull and quarter strawberries.
- Fill mason jars with strawberries, packing them in there.
- Pour vodka over strawberries, filling just below the rim.
- Screw lids onto mason jars and place in a dry dark place for three days, shake jars once daily.
- After three days, line a mesh strainer with cheese cloth and place over a large container that will hold about 3 to 4 cups of liquid. Pour strawberries and vodka into strainer. Let sit and strain for several minutes. Discard strawberries.
- Store strawberry infused vodka in glass jars with tight fitting lids in the fridge until ready to use.
I believe the best naps are taken on the couch, in your work clothes. With your shoes still on.
I believe that beer tastes better from the tap and worst from a bottle.
I believe chocolate should always be close at hand, in the purse, in the cupboard, in the desk, or in your locker.
I believe an afternoon of watching Dirty Dancing will make the world right again. Same is said for The Sound of Music.
I believe that lip gloss and mascara is all a girl really needs…less is totally more.
I believe comfortable silence between two people says more than chatty conversation.
I believe in loud music and singing along, so I can’t hear myself and the wrong lyrics that escape my lips.
I believe shoes make an outfit.
I believe green beans will make my hair grow longer, faster.
I believe God is good. And people are crazy.
I believe in laughter.
I believe that bbq isn’t properly eaten unless you have sauce from ear to ear.
I believe that Diet Coke is liquid crack and popcorn is air popped crack, lightly salted.
I believe ants and spiders should live outside and let me live inside. Alone.
I believe drinks taste better when slurped through a bendy straw.
I believe berries taste like summer. And summer taste like berries.
I believe in celebrating the little things in life, along with the big stuff. Milestone birthdays and Friday evenings. New jobs and new shoes. First steps and first dates.
I believe Friday’s should be celebrated. With cake at work and cocktails at home.
Makes 1 Cocktail
- 6 to 8 Blackberries
- 8 Mint Leaves
- 1 ounce Rum
( I used coconut rum, gotta use what ya got!)
- 1 Tablespoon Sugar
- Juice of half a lime
- A few ice cubes
- 2 to 3 ounces Club Soda
In a glass, combine the sugar and mint leaves. Using a muddler or a pestle, break down the mint into the sugar, releasing its oils and aroma. Add blackberries, rum, and lime juice and continue to muddle the ingredients together. ( I used the back of a spoon to smash the blackberries). Add a few ice cubes and top off with club soda. Garnish with extra blackberries and mint sprigs.
Saturday is Derby Day.
Little Jockeys. They are SO tiny.
Oh the anticipation! The race always makes me anxious and I have never placed a dollar on a horse. I have nothing to lose, but I just get so darn nervous. I can’t explain it. Imagine if I had money on say ‘ I’ll Have Another’ or ‘Bodemeister’. Hell, I got nervous watching Secretariat and I knew the outcome! I have an issue.
Crazy Horse Names. I looked it up…there are rules.
Kentucky and their rolling horse pastures full of Kentucky bluegrass and endless white fences. It is horse country. I want to live there. I think I would probably muck out horse stalls to be around horses every day. I am my mother’s daughter.
And best of all…
Kentucky Bourbon. Mint Julep is the drink of the derby. No margaritas on Saturday (it is Cinco de Mayo), not in my house. Mint Juleps all the way.
Big hats and bourbon. Can’t go wrong.
Do the Preakness and the Belmont have drinks?
Mint Juleps…simple to mix up - Don’t you love how simple cocktails are re-emerging. I do. Mint, sugar, and of course bourbon. Simple. I went the route of making a mint simple syrup instead of muddling the ingredients together. To each their own. The end result is similar. And if you have extra mint syrup left over….great with ice tea or keeps in the fridge for future cocktails.
I am not sure how closely this resembles a true mint julep…maybe one year I can make my way to Church Hill Downs and do a bit of taste testing! And betting. And nail-biting. And hat wearing!
Drinker beware….you better enjoy bourbon. And horses.
1 Cup Sugar
1 Cup Water
1/4 Cup Packed Mint Leaves, roughly chopped
12 ounces Bourbon
Club Soda or Water (just to top off)
Combine sugar, water and mint leaves in a medium pot and place over medium high heat. Bring to a boil and stir mixture until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and let cool for about one hour. Strain to remove mint leaves. Place in jar with a tight-fitting lid and place in fridge until ready to use.
To make ONE cocktail….
In a highball or Collins glass (or a jam jar if you live in my house), fill with ice cubes and combine 2 ounces of syrup, 3 ounces bourbon, and top off with club soda or water. Garnish with an extra mint sprig. Enjoy
I like this version, but it is sweet. If you don’t have a sweet tooth, simply cut down on the amount syrup added. Done.
If you aren’t into making the simple syrup … that is cool. Check out this blog, she makes her Mint Julep a little bit different, but equally good. Trust me!
Food reminds me of people. Lemon – grandma. Black Cherry Ice Cream and peach pie (not together…or maybe together) – mom. Chocolate – my sister-in-law (and her children). Lemonade and Reese’s PB eggs- my younger brother. Chocolate ice cream with ‘stuff’ mixed in (nuts preferably) my dad. Strawberry rhubarb treats and cherry cordial ice cream- my older brother. If you are in my life in some sort of fashion and you either mention a food you love or I notice (and I will) you eating something on a regular basis…it will be ingrained in my brain for eternity. A
stupid human trick talent -or it is just my elephant like brain. Did you know that elephants never forget? A pachyderm I may be…I do walk loudly in my bare feet and enjoy carrots…but i hate circus peanuts. It is a toss-up.
back to food…away from elephants. Why couldn’t I act more like a graceful animal…antelope or cheetah too much to ask for? OK, enough about the animal that best describes me. I am not gonna get a date saying I am more elephant than leopard. Yikes.
I am not sure why I think of my older bro when I see a stalk of rhubarb. He does love the stuff and has helped me in ‘borrowing’ it from the neighbor’s back yard. We both grew up with it stuffed in pies and eating it raw, just dipped in sugar. Who knows, but this time of year…I see the pink celery like stalks and think – what can I make for Jeff?!?
This go around…how about a cocktail. Or a mocktail. Whatever your preference. I am not sure if my brother likes gin…tequila, yes. Gin – I dunno. I guess my elephant brain is faulty or I have never discussed gin with Jeff.
Not a gin lover? Use vodka. Not a lover of spirits…Use a clear pop (Sprite, 7up, Squirt…). The outcome is light, refreshing, and tastes like spring.
Oh and I named this drink a fizz without really knowing what a fizz is, but since it fizzes when mixed together…I figured I couldn’t be far off. A mixologist I am not.
An elephant maybe…they do have long eye lashes, I dig those.
Strawberry Rhubarb Fizz
Syrup (makes about 2-3 cups)
3 Cups Rhubarb, roughly chopped
3 Cups Strawberries, hulled and sliced
2 Cups Sugar
2 Cups Water
Juice of 1 Lemon
Drink (makes 1)
2 Tablespoons Strawberry Rhubarb Syrup (or more depending on your taste)
1 Ounce Gin
5 Ounces Club Soda
(if you opting out of spirits, then substitute the gin and just add club soda or use clear pop instead of gin and club soda)
In a large pan, combine rhubarb, strawberry, sugar, water, and the juice of 1 lemon. Place pan over medium high heat and bring mixture to a boil and stir until all the sugar is dissolved. Reduce temperature to maintain a simmer and simmer for 20-30 minutes until the fruit has softened (the strawberries will start to lose their color). At this point, take a potato masher or a wooden spoon and smash the fruit to extract all the flavor. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
Place a metal mesh strainer over a large bowl and pour fruit syrup into the strainer. Strain. Cool completely before using. Store in the refrigerator covered for up to one week or can be frozen in small batches.
But if you are like me…it is straight to the cocktail!
Pour 2 tablespoons of strawberry rhubarb syrup into a cocktail glass, followed by an ounce of gin, and top off with club soda. Add ice and stir to combine.
Other uses for syrup would include freezing in ice trays – strawberry rhubarb ice cubes, perfect for summer time lemonade. Return syrup to stovetop and bring back to a boil until it thickens. Cool and spoon over ice cream. And the number of drinks you can make with it are endless. I hope you enjoy !Read More