My Favorite Mixers for Craft Spirits

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When it comes to cocktail mixers, I’m a big believer in matching quality with quality. What I mean is, I wouldn’t dare disrespect a high-end, ultra premium gin with some shitty tonic water out of a gun… Instead, I’d search for an artisan or similarly premium tonic water that compliments and highlights whatever is already going on in the gin’s botanical recipe. for example, our Sunday Gin is very citrussy and bright, and lighter on the juniper. Instead of drowning it with a high sugar, quinine-heavy base level tonic water, we pair it with a gorgeous low sugar grapefruit tonic water to bring out that juiciness (see photo below!). The low quinine level and subtle sweetness lets the floral and feminine notes of the gin shine, all while putting an exclamation point on those lovely citrus top notes we’re going for.  Similarly, you wouldn’t want to take a nuanced, delicate spirit and overpower it with a sharp, sweet ginger beer or too sweet soda. The mixer should always compliment and amplify the spirit, and most importantly, be of comparable quality. Below are the thoughtfully-crafted mixers I reach for when serving my favorite craft spirits!

East Imperial… East Imperial is by far and away my favorite brand of top-quality mixers. They have a range of products from soda water to ginger beer and ginger ale (shown above), plus four different styles of tonic water. FOUR! If you haven’t seen East Imperial around before, it’s because they’re still fairly new to the US. They’re kind of like the Fever Tree of the southern hemisphere, seeing as the company hails from New Zealand, but the quality and flavor is so much better. To get your hands on some, you can order from their website here, or source through Young’s Market here in California.

0Z0A4362{ Our best-selling cocktail @ Y&Y, the Distiller’s G&T. Built Spanish style with all the botanicals that go into the gin basket when distilling our flagship Sunday Gin! }

Topo Chico… chances are you’ve heard of this cult favorite sparkling mineral water before. It comes from Monterrey, Mexico and I can tell you with 100% certainty, it’s worth the hype and then some! What makes it so good? Two things: bubbles and salt content. The effervescence is like no other sparkling beverage you’ll ever have. The carbonation is just so poppy and satisfying, and a high mineral content makes it both cleansing and thirst-quenching at the same time. It’s my favorite thing to pair with low ABV spirits for a spritz-like tipple.

Lacroix… I have to include Lacroix water here because a.the wealth of flavor options and b. expert subtlety of said flavors. They’re spritzy and refreshing and lend juuuusssst the right amount of added flavor. If you haven’t experimented with Lacroix cocktails, start with my three two-ingredient favorites here!

Lagunitas Hop Water… A bit of a wild card but oh so interesting! Like a zero-ABV IPA, Hop-flavored Sparking water adds dryness and bitterness without overwhelming a spirit. Try splashing some into a Greyhound or pairing with your favorite blanco tequila.

Mead… this one might surprise you but I love mead paired with spirits in cocktails. A vodka + mead + sparkling water spritz is such an underrated delight and seeing as there are so many styles and varieties of mead, the options are endless for coming up with creative new ideas! To test the waters, try a 1 oz. mead float on top of your next margarita!

Nostrum Shrubs… shrubs have been natural partners to spirits for ages, and this is one of my favorite brands. I love to take the kumquat + kaffir lime leaf + lemongrass shrub and pair it with our Y&Y Summer Citrus Vodka and Topo Chico! Divine!

 

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The Man in Black

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Seeing as You & Yours is located just a short walk from the convention center, each year we get (perhaps a little too) excited to create a specialty cocktail in hopes of luring some Comic Con fans into our bright and airy East Village lair. We’re particularly pleased with ourselves over the cocktail we’ve come up with this year, so much so I just had to share!

A handful of us (chiefly, myself lol) here at Y&Y are big Westworld fans, and thus I originally had the idea to create a creamy, opaque white confection (coconut milk? egg white?) and name it after “cortical fluid,” the liquid substance injected into the hosts (namely, poor Bernard) to preserve their functionality. After a bit of deep dive in to Westworld minutia, it turns out cortical fluid is not white; The material the hosts are created from is white. Knowing full well the Comic Con set would call us out on this factual error faster than you can figure out the plot in any given episode, we decided to switch gears.

If you’ve taken a peek at our new summer cocktail menu, you’ve seen we’re featuring a cocktail incorporating activated charcoal, the Basically Vitamins. The ebony powder creates a stunning deep grey-green color once poured over ice, and can transform to a hue as black as night the more shakes are added. Light bulb: The Man in Black! This gorgeous cocktail inspired by the show’s creepiest antagonist is only improved by an “up, on the rocks” presentation… By PURE chance, the ice sphere floating in the couple hints at the spherical core processing unit hidden within each hosts’ “brain.” Does it get get any nerdier? Shake yourself up one of these and find out.

The Man in Black.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 oz Provisional barrel-rested Gin
  • 1 good shake (or ~1/8 tsp) activated charcoal, powder form
  • .5 oz orange cordial (equal parts sugar and fresh orange juice, simmered over low heat until dissolved)
  • 3 dashes Aztec (chocolate) bitters
  • 3 dashes orange bitters

Directions: Shake all ingredients with ice, double strain into a coupe over a large format ice sphere. Garnish with an orange twist.

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Pink Peppercorn + Sparkling Rosé Martini

IMG_1896I first came up with this cocktail one evening (see my IG highlights under ‘Cocktails’) when I wanted to enjoy a nightcap with Luke but wasn’t in the mood for whiskey. Going off what I had around, plus a hankering for our recently released Winter Gin, the rosé martini was created! Although I didn’t have any Sparkling Rosé laying around at the time, it felt like the natural missing link when making this delectable combination of flavors feel more summer-appropriate.

If you know me, you know I loooooove me a sparkling rosé and Santa Margherita Sparkling Rosé is no exception. Long known for their quality, tradition and value, Santa Margherita wines are the perfect choice for mixing up a casual midweek cocktail (such as this), serving at a low key summer get together (see my most recent entertaining post!), or gifting your favorite hostess (isn’t the bottle beautiful?). But what I love most about this sparkling rosé are the delicate floral notes of jasmine and rose – they play so well with our similarly floral and subtly spicy Winter Gin.

IMG_2593Sparking Rosé Martini

Ingredients:

  • 3 oz. You & Yours’ Sunday Winter Gin (our London Dry-style Gin)
  • .5 oz Lillet Rosé Aperitif
  • few cracks, pink peppercorns
  • 2 dashes, Peychaud’s bitters
  • Santa Margherita Sparkling Rosé, to top
  • lemon twist

Directions: Add first three ingredients, plus the lemon twist (express before dropping it in) to a mixing glass with ice and stir for at least 20 seconds. Strain into a martini glass or coupe and top with Santa Margherita Sparkling Rosé. Garnish with a crack or two of pink peppercorns. Recipe can be easily multiplied for batching the martinis – just stir in a larger pitcher.

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Easy DIY Orgeat & My Favorite Army + Navy Recipe

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Although I recently wrote a little essay on why I’m not a fan of tiki drinks, one Tiki-related ingredient I AM a fan of is orgeat (pronounced OR – jhhhaaat, or something to that effect). A nutty, almond-based syrup, orgeat is sweet and complex all at the same time, lending both balance and great depth of flavor.

One of the reasons I’m so drawn to orgeat recipes and cocktails containing them is there’s this certain romance that comes along with orgeat… You can bet almost every self respecting bar makes their own if they offer it, and as such, “house” orgeat recipes are handed from barkeep to barkeep under intense secrecy, if handed along at all.  The pride and seriousness that goes into creating a proprietary orgeat recipe makes them feel somewhat nostalgic as well, as if we were talking about a Mississippi gumbo recipe that my southern grandmother refuses to hand down until she’s on her death bed and not a cocktail syrup.

But what’s also lovely about orgeat is how simple it is to make! There are plenty of complicated recipes out there calling for soaking nuts and boiling barley and what not, but it’s really as basic as making a simple syrup, if you want a quick and painless version that is. In fact, it’s definitely up there with simple syrup on the list things you should never buy. Here’s my fool-proof starter recipe…

Easy Orgeat

  • 1 cup your favorite unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 cup super fine sugar
  • 1 tsp orange blossom water, rose water or both
  • spices of your choice, optional… this is where you can get as creative or as lazy as you want. I like to add some warming baking spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice or cardamom. Start with a 1/4 tsp at a time.

Combine all ingredients over low heat and VERY gently simmer until sugar is dissolved, 5 minutes or so. Adding one teaspoon or more of Angostura bitters is a popular move amongst bartenders, though this will make your orgeat darker, richer and considerably spicier. I prefer a lighter, more floral orgeat but that’s just me. Let cool to room temp, then strain through cheesecloth and store in the fridge for up to one week.

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Perhaps the most famous classic cocktail to enlist orgeat is the Army & Navy. A simple gin cocktail, made anything but by the addition of nutty, intriguing orgeat.

Army + Navy

  • 2 oz Old Tom Gin (I like using richer, maltier Old Tom for this cocktail, though your favorite style of gin will certainly do the trick)
  • 1 oz lemon juice
  • 1 oz orgeat
  • 3 dashes black walnut bitters
  • lemon twist, for garnish

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake for 10-15 seconds. Strain over fresh ice into a rocks glass or straight into a coupe if you prefer your Army & Navy up. Garnish with a lemon twist. 

Photos by Lindsey.

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Why I’m Just Not a Fan of Tiki.

_MGL8349{ Photo by Lindsey }

Well, here goes nothing! I’m sure I’m going to get a ton of side eye for this but the truth is…  I’m just not into Tiki. Like, at all. I’ve been to my fair share of tiki bars across the country, some incredible, some not so incredible. I’ve done my research on the history and origins. I’ve sipped numerous tiki drinks, some reasonably complex, some down right awful. And I have to say, I have a really hard time getting behind this trend. Trend? Fad? Culture? Lost Era? Cult? I don’t even know exactly what to call it. I’m sure it’s in some way all of those things, but for me, Tiki just doesn’t have the allure the general (bartender?) public seems to think it does.

Let’s first address the origins of Tiki so we’re all on the same page. Inspired by the Polynesian travels of one Donn Beach, a.k.a. Ernest Gantt, what would eventually morph into Tiki culture originated at Donn’s Hollywood establishment Don The Beachcomber circa December 1933. (As if I didn’t find Tiki frustrating enough, even this opening statement is not quite true. If you have an imagination, you can somewhat trace Tiki’s earliest origins back to pre-prohibition “bamboo bars,” where island kitsch and escapism were the name of the game).

Now I’m all for a good island-themed bar, an oasis that can transport you to a simpler, more relaxed vibe simply by walking through a palm frond-lined threshold. I think it’s important to note here (if you’re still reading this blasphemy) I’m not necessarily bashing the tropical, vaguely Hawaiian aesthetic. I mean, palm print accessories all day. It’s more the *braces for backlash* drinks I have a problem with…

As a Distiller, the backbone of any cocktail is the spirit it’s built upon. Cocktails should be created to highlight, enhance, punctuate, elevate, and SHOWCASE thoughtfully made spirits. Additional ingredients like syrups, cordials, fresh juices, citrus, modifiers, liqueurs, etc. are welcome and necessary of course but the spirit should always be treated with a certain dose of dignity and I just don’t see how Tiki does that. Even the simplest, most paired-down versions of ALL classic Tiki Canon cocktail recipes boast upwards of six ingredients. Once you layer beautiful high proof rums, gorgeously funky Rhum Agricoles and even gins and brandies with that many flavors, what are you really tasting? I feel myself making enemies as I type this, lol, but it’s kind of just a glorified jungle juice at that point, is it not? And even worse, as Tiki culture has ebbed and flowed over the years, it’s become less and less of a guarantee those ingredients are fresh (not to be a dick, but the jungle juice call is pretty accurate when you’re sipping a concoction of coco lopez, canned pineapple and/or blue curaçao, am I right?).

Additionally, I take slight issue with the recent explosion of tiki-themed “craft” cocktail bars or newly released Tiki-themed cocktail menus at formerly respectable cocktail establishments. We all know (or maybe we don’t) you’re just using the fleeting popularity of Tiki as an excuse to pad margins with your “proprietary,”  or “house” blends of extremely low cost rums. If I am going to enjoy a tiki drink, that rum better be good and it better come through loud and clear over those seven other ingredients your shaking it with. Side note: I’m also just now realizing that some of my indifference towards Tiki could be due to my extreme aversion to crushed ice. But I digress…

The escapism of Tiki, however, I can get behind. Who doesn’t want to walk into a bar and be immediately transported to a warm weather vacation? Just as dingy dive bars have their well-earned place in the world, so should a good island themed watering hole. And as with any bold, polarizing statement, there are always exceptions. I faintly remember having an exceptionally good time at Three Dots and A Dash on a girls trip to Chicago, getting down to the tropical house DJ between Rangoon Gimlets. This is all to say that all categories of drinks deserve respect, but at least now you know why you won’t find Tiki drinks on the menu at Y&Y anytime soon. 😉

What about you? What are your thoughts on Tiki? Love it? Hate it? If you’ve miraculously made it this far through the post, please leave me a comment below and let me know what you think of Tiki culture!

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Sealed With An X

CUPCAKES-CASHMERE-YOU-YOURS-DRINK { gorgeous iridescent coupes accented our cocktail perfectly! photo cred }

One of the most exciting opportunities we’ve had this year was to create and serve a specialty cocktail at Cupcakes + Cashmere‘s Ten Year Anniversary Party! As a longtime Cupcakes + Cashmere reader, it was such a treat and honor to be involved in the milestone celebration. I started reading Emily’s blog when I was a freshman in college after immediately being drawn to her easy breezy entertaining ideas, approachable style, and love for great food & cocktails. When they reached out about providing a cocktail for the evening, I jumped at the chance!

As a long time reader, I knew the founder of Cupcakes + Cashmere, Emily Schuman, was both a gin and a martini fan, so we started there. The C+C team had featured our Sunday Gin in a previous post so we tapped our flagship gin for the job. From there, I wanted to stay as on brand for the blog as possible (soft pinks, floral elements, feminine style) so we did a bit of a riff on a martini-style cocktail while incorporating some additional elements (rose petal tea cordial for flavor and color), lemon oil (to balance the sweetness of the rose yet still remain a stirred and direct cocktail), Peychaud’s Bitters (for color and depth) and festive floral garnishes. See the full cocktail recipe below!

CUPCAKES { Y&Y Tasting Room Manager, April, who helped develop the recipe!photo cred }

CUPCAKES-CASHMERE-EMILY-COCKTAIL { C+C Blogger, Emily, and a friend enjoying their first drinks :) photo cred }

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Stir with ice in a mixing glass & ​s​train into a coupe-style glass. Garnish: micro flowers floated on top

Lemon Oleo*
  • 2-3 lemons
  • 1/2 cup sugar
Peel lemons and combine peel and sugar in a container with a tight fitting lid. Let rest 4+ hours or overnight. Occasionally shake container. Drain off lemon oil and keep in a sealed container.
Rose Petal Cordial**
  • 4 cups water
  • 4 cups granulated sugar
  • 24g Rose Petal Tea
Bring water to a boil, add sugar. After sugar dissolves, add tea and turn off heat. Let sit for 15 minutes, occasionally stir and finely strain. Store in fridge for up to 2 weeks.
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The Bishop’s Wife at Madison on Park

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Madison on Park is the ultimate combination of sophistication and charm. Nestled on the quaint main drag of University Heights, this baby blue gem of a restaurant & bar offers a truly exceptional bar program complimented by an inspired food menu. Upon entering, you’re transported by the chic indoor/outdoor space, complete with high vaulted ceilings and colorful geometric shapes. This funky yet minimalistic spot is a must for date night or a quick cocktail with friends.

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Bar Manager Danny Kuehner runs the ship, turning out everything from perfected classics to one-of-a-kind creations. For those looking for a romantic sip, The Bishop’s Wife is a perfect pink cocktail that’s bound to hit even the non-gin drinker’s spot. It’s no surprise that the Wife is our favorite, as it perfectly compliments You & Yours Distilling Co.‘s Sunday Gin with cranberries, Genepy and lemon. Served in a crystal-inspired coupe and garnished with a pop of fresh cranberries, it’s both eye catching and delicious. 

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As for their cuisine, Madison’s food is as beautifully presented as it is flavorful — make sure to order the Tuna Tartare if you’re looking for a fresh starter, and the Pork Chop won’t disappoint as a main. The watermelon stack & roasted cauliflower gratin are amazing additions to the table as well! 

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All photos by Lindsey.

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Two Ingredient Lacroix Cocktails

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Now that we’re all done with Whole30 and “reintroducing” booze back into our lives (jk, I did NOT do Whole30 HAH), here a few waayyy better-for-you cocktail ideas. But in all seriousness, whether it’s for health purposes or because I’m just plain lazy, I love me a good two ingredient cocktail! Just combine your favorite spirit and an accompanying flavor of fizzy sparkling water and you’re good.to.go. If you want to be an over-achiever (you all know who you are) you can add a squeeze of citrus, a dash of bitters and/or a simple garnish of some sort.

The formula is the same across the board… 2 oz of booze + 2-3 oz. of Lacroix to taste. Stir gently over good ice cubes in a collins or highball glass and enjoy!

1. Vodka & Cran-Raspberry Lacroix // optional add-ons: lime wheel + fresh cranberries

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2. Sloe Gin & Berry Lacroix // optional add-ons: plum bitters + wedge of lime

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3. Tequila & Grapefruit Lacroix // optional add-ons: grapefruit twist

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What are your favorite spirits to pair with Lacroix? I’d love to hear! Leave a comment or DM me on Insta (@LauraKayJ).

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Valentine’s Day 2018 Gift Guide

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I’m admittedly not much of a Valentine’s Day fan… I struggle to think of anything less appealing than braving crowds for an over-priced prix fixe menu just to celebrate a somewhat meaningless holiday. Ever since we’ve been together, Luke and I opt instead for a quiet meal and great bottle of wine at home, which is pretty much my ideal date night. However, what I AM a fan of is any excuse for a romantic little gift exchange! Hopefully this gift guide inspires you to treat someone this Valentines Day, fancy dinner reservations or not.

1. Art of The Bar Cart, a gorgeous new coffee table book, photographed by one of my favorite cocktail bloggers.

2. I FLIPPED out when I saw that Hangar 1 released this Rosé Vodka. My bottle just arrived and I can assure you it tastes as gorgeous as it looks, which is really saying something!

3. A GOLD SWAN PUNCH BOWL! Just ordered two for the distillery, but one mayyyyy end up sneaking home with me ;).

4. A teeeeeensy bit of a departure from our usual distilling/cocktail content, but I’ve been LIVING in this FP Bra and you totally need one too.

5. A Distillery Tour, duh. No matter where you live, just search your city and “distillery tour” and I guarantee you’ve got a craft distillery nearby. And if you live in San Diego, come on down to You & Yours!

6. This sweet Cherry Blossom Matcha Set is perfect for your matcha-obsessed bestie.

7. Use Bloody Shiraz Gin (actually a liqueur!) in place of Sweet Vermouth in a Negroni or mix with Berry Lacroix for a fun, low ABV spritz.

8. A chic Rose Gold & Leather Bar Cart – at a great price point, no less – would be the perfect companion gift to idea #1.

9. Heart Shaped Ice Molds are a sweet gift for your co-worker or whiskey enthusiast s/o.

10. Love these Blush Pink Rocks Glasses …or a better yet, grab a set of vintage glasses from local San Diego retailer Collins & Coupe.

11. And last but definitely not least, tickets for two to a Cocktail Making Class! Enjoy expertly made craft cocktails while learning how to whip them up at home yourself on those cozy date nights in.

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Greens Gone Wild

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This time last year I created three healthier cocktail recipes for those trying to go a little dryer in January, each based on a different fresh pressed juice. (Check them out here, here and here!) This year I’m doubling down by partnering with local San Diego juice company, Suja, on not only a healthy cocktail recipe, but a fun event too!

Come on down to the tasting room this Sunday, January 21st, for our event: GIN & JUICE. You’ll get to try this cocktail AND learn how to make it at home! The event is free to attend and runs from 12 noon ’til 2 pm with the healthy cocktail-making demo kicking off at 1 pm. Plus free snacks and Suja juices! RSVP here and preview the recipe below. See you Sunday!

Greens Gone Wild. Created by Tom Burnett.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 oz Sunday Gin
  • .5 oz fresh lime juice
  • .5  oz honey syrup (equal parts honey and water, combined gently over low heat)
  • 1 oz Suja Uber Greens
  • 2 dashes Serrano bitters
  • Pinch sea salt

Directions: Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake for 10-15 seconds. Double strain into a footed rocks glass and garnish with a slice of cucumber and lime. Enjoy!

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{ Photos by Ellis }

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