Tag Archives: happy hour

Lavender Vanilla Bourbon Cocktail

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It’s not hard to love lavender, with its sweet scent and beautiful soft purple blossoms. We have a huge more-or-less overgrowing lavender bush in our front yard. In June and early July, it’s bustling with bees and the fragrance is intoxicating. As we live right downtown in Ashland, there’s a lot of foot traffic along the sidewalk in front of our home. This particular overgrown, wildly reaching lavender beckons folks to pick a sprig here and there. One new experience this year that our lavender apparently instilled as I looked on from our front porch, included two grown women who stretched their arms wide, crouched to their knees, and took in a full frontal brushing from our [poor] sweet smelling lavender bush. It was very dramatic (although I suppose living in a town known for its nearly year-round Shakespeare Festival, that isn’t entirely surprising).

That aside, one other thing I was excited to learn about lavender not too long ago, was the culinary purposes it could provide. Lavender ice cream was my introduction and it was thoroughly delightful. Fragrant, floral, sweet. Perfect in a creamy ice cream. Most recently I saw a honey simple syrup that had included lavender steeped in it and instantly my mind went to cocktail hour. While I tend to prefer a drink that isn’t overly sweet, the balance of the following syrup and the rich warmth of bourbon works nicely. This is a great drink for the end of the week (or whenever you prefer) and the recipe is easy to double, or triple, if you’re preparing drinks for someone other than yourself (or merely find yourself really thirsty).

Cheers!

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Lavender Vanilla Bourbon Cocktail

Yields one drink, for one lady or sir. Easily doubled.

Ingredients:

For the honey lavender vanilla simple syrup:
1 cup water
3/4 cup honey
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
3 tablespoons culinary grade lavender

For the cocktail:
1 ounce of the above simple syrup
2-3 ounces of good quality bourbon (Knob Creek is my preferred)
1/2 a lime, squeezed
4 ounces ginger ale
ice and slice of lime for serving

Directions:

Make your simple syrup:
In a small pot, combine the water, honey, and sugar. Stir over medium-high heat until the honey and sugar completely disintegrates. Add the vanilla bean (scraped insides and the pod as well) and lavender, stirring to submerge them into the liquid. Bring to a low boil for 10-15 minutes, then cover and remove from heat. Cool to room temperature. Strain the syrup, removing the vanilla bean pod and the lavender. Keep refrigerated in a covered bottle for up to a week.

Cocktail time!
In a highball glass, or your preferred glass, fill with ice. Add the simple syrup, bourbon, lime juice, and ginger ale. Stir until well combined. Add a slice of lime for garnish and drink IMMEDIATELY ;)

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Easy Watermelon Margaritas

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When it comes to cocktails, increasingly I find myself of the opinion that minimal ingredients provide a better drink. Especially when I am making a drink at home. There was a time in my life where I didn’t think this was the case. Probably around the same time I concocted “liquor soup” for my roommates and I, served in a bowl with a straw. (Bad decision.)

These days, I enjoy better quality liquor that doesn’t need to be too dressed up or masked. Generally I am a bourbon kind of lady. Knob Creek is my preference, on the rocks or straight. My husband, on the other hand, is a tequila kind of guy.

One of my favorite tequila cocktails is a simple, classic margarita. When using good tequila and fresh citrus, it’s refreshing and delicious. The following is another close favorite and a slightly sweeter take on the classic margarita. When watermelons start showing up in our grocery store, immediately I begin to think about watermelon juice, which is one of my favorite beverages. Turned into an adult beverage? Absolutely.

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Easy Watermelon Margaritas

Yields 4 drinks.

Ingredients:
4 cups watermelon, cubed
2 tablespoons agave or honey
4 limes, 3 juiced and 1 cut into wedges for garnish
1 small valencia orange, juiced
8 ounces tequila
ice

Directions:
In a blender, puree the watermelon and agave or honey until smooth. Pour the puree through a mesh strainer, transferring the strained juice to a pitcher. Add the lime juice, orange juice and tequila. Stir to combine.

Fill 4 glasses to the rim with ice then pour the margarita evenly into each glass. Garnish each with a lime wedge and serve immediately.

Enjoy!

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Cocktail Classic: Vodka Gimlet

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It’s Friday, which obviously means happy hour is both necessary and probably well earned/needed after the work week. Of course I am a firm believer in happy hour whenever needed or desired, not just Fridays. I am pretty boring when it comes to such things. Cocktails are not my particular thing – I enjoy a good beer, or a good whiskey on the rocks.

But… I also like trying new things. So if we’re out, I will certainly try a new drink, or a new dish, so long as it sounds tasty. I’m not sure where I learned about vodka gimlets. I think it started backwards – I had vodka and limes, and went on the hunt for a drink that would use both. A gimlet is one of those drinks wherein the real beauty is in its simplicity. You can find various recipes that more or less center around three things: vodka or gin, lime juice, and sugar. Or traditionalists who say the only real things that belong in a gimlet are gin, lime juice, and ice.

I say use whatever tastes good to you: if you like your drinks sweeter, add more simple syrup. If you prefer tart, add more lime juice or simply decrease the sugar syrup. Prefer gin? Use that instead of vodka. Personally, I like a stronger cocktail that isn’t overly sweet but doesn’t just taste like alcohol (if it isn’t good whiskey or tequila). Feel free to use this recipes loosely and tweak it to your own preferences!

Cheers!

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Cocktail Classic: Vodka Gimlet

Yields one cocktail.

Ingredients:
2 ounces good quality vodka
1 ounce fresh lime juice
1 ounce simple syrup *
ice cubes
lime wheel or lime zest for garnish, if desired

*To make a simple syrup, you need one part water and one part sugar (i.e. one cup of each). Bring the water to a boil then dissolve the sugar into it, stirring constantly. When the sugar fully dissolves, remove the pan from the heat. Allow the syrup to cool completely before using.

Directions:

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the vodka, lime and simple syrup.

Shake rapidly for about 20 seconds, then strain into a glass filled with ice. Add the garnish if you’d like.

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Mangorita

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Well now, where the heck did summer go? We’ve found ourselves two days into September, I’ve pulled the last of our zucchini and summer squash, the kids are back in school, the sun disappears a little sooner into the evening, and mornings hint at fall weather. There are many ingredients I seek out season by season, preferring to use them when they’re at their peak. However, I approach cocktails with great abandon.

Summer speaks of lazy days and back porch evenings, cold beverages in hand. The following adult beverage is simplistic and delicious, balancing sweet and tart – the important elements of a good margarita. It’s a great way to finish off the last of these summer afternoons, but also fantastic dead in the middle of winter, serving as a reminder for warm weather to come.

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Mangorita

Yields two drinks or so.

Ingredients:

4 ounces blanco tequila *
4 ounces fresh lime juice (approximately 2 limes)
4 ounces mango juice
2 ounces fresh orange juice
2 lime wedges
ice

* When drinking tequila, I actually prefer an añejo or resposado – both of which are aged and more complex in flavor. However, in a margarita, I find that blanco suffices and is often less expensive. You can use whatever you prefer.

Directions:

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the tequila, lime juice, mango juice, and orange juice. Shake for 10-15 seconds, until the mixture is nicely chilled.

Fill two glasses with ice, then pour the margarita into each glass.

Add a lime wedge to the rim of each glass and serve immediately.