Late Summer Sangria

Sangria-Recipe-Distillerista

I love the concept of Sangria. Use up some leftover or not-so-good wine, add some fruit, maybe drizzle in some liqueur if you really want to spice things up and boom! – a batched drink for a crowd that’s easy and cheap as hell. (Hello0o00 Labor Day weekend!) I used a combination of red wine, cranberry juice and citrus for this casual get together at a friend‘s new backyard, but feel free to mix up your wine-and-fruit pairing to suit both your tastes and seasonal produce availability.

Sangria-Recipe-Distillerista-Cocktail

(Recipe somewhat adapted from the infusion & cocktail recipe book, Infused. See my review and a sneak-peek here.)

Ingredients:

  • one 1.5L or two 750 mL bottles red wine. I used Barefoot Pinot Noir.
  • one 1L bottle good quality, no-sugar-added cranberry juice. I like Trader Joe’s brand.
  • 1 cup orange liqueur. I’m a big fan of Leopold Brothers’ American Orange Liqueur. It’s not too sweet and gives a great kick of true orange flavor but Cointreau or Grand Marnier would of course do the trick as well.
  • 2 apples, sliced
  • 2 oranges, sliced
  • 1 grapefruit, sliced
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 1 bottle sparkling water, optional

Directions:

  1.  Combine wine, juice, fruit and liqueur in a large pitcher or drink dispenser
  2.  Stir gently and let sit in the fridge for 2 hours or up to overnight
  3. Add sparkling water, if desired, right before serving

Craft-Cocktail-Sangria-Recipe-Distillerista{ BB&B Mason Jars (similar) & Drink Dispenser }

Extras:

  • If left sitting over night, I would recommend replacing soaked fruit with fresh for aesthetic purposes. Plus, the best part of drinking Sangria is eating the fruit and let’s be honest, no one wants a mushy slice of apple!
  • On the (exceptionally) rare occasion I actually have left over wine, I like to freeze it in ice cube trays and use it in place of ice when serving to guests. This prevents watered-down sangria and helps keep the drink colder longer. Win-win!

Craft-Sangria-Recipe-Distillerista

P.S. A few other Sangria combinations I’m into for late summer or fall gatherings…

  • Pinot Grigio + Peaches + Basil
  • Rosé + Melon + Mint
  • Grenache + Red Berries + Concord Grapes

What’s your favorite Sangria recipe? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks to Megan Burgess for both the photos and your gorgeous new outdoor entertaining space!

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Simple Gin Punch

Gin Punch-Distillerista

It’s no secret we’re partial to the original flavored Vodka – a.k.a. Gin – here at Distillerista, so it should also come as no surprise that it’s one of my favorite spirits to create drink recipes with. When strolling through the Farmer’s Market a few months ago, deciding what to bring to a friend’s house for the Mayweather/Pacquiao fight that night (side note: I know I need to get over it, but what a waste of a perfectly good Saturday night), I picked up some citrus, trusted my old faithful spirit and came up with the idea for this delicious, honey-spiked juicy Gin punch. It has since become a summer entertaining favorite (even the guys loved it!) and I can’t help but think how perfect it’d be to sip poolside at flash Vegas day party. I’m betting (pun fully intended) Floyd and Manny wouldn’t have minded a cool glass of this post-fight. However Mayweather apparently only likes honey in tea, sooooo maybe not.

Juicy-gin-Punch-Recipe-Distillerista{ Target drink dispenser with spigot | Similar here }

Makes roughly 10-12 cocktails.

Ingredients:

  • 4 Cups citrusy Western-style Gin (I like Tanqueray No. 10 or a Homemade Infused Gin)
  • 4 Cups fresh grapefruit juice
  • 2 Cups fresh lemonade
  • 1-2 Cups honey simple syrup (recipe to follow), depending on desired sweetness
  • 1 bottle sparkling water
  • Several lemon, lime and/or grapefruit wheels for garnish (1 of each should do it)

Directions:

  1. Make the honey simple syrup: combine 2 cups each, water and raw local honey, in a sauce pan over medium heat and simmer until sugar is fully dissolved. Let cool completely.
  2. In a large drink dispenser or punch bowl carefully combine Gin, grapefruit juice and honey syrup. Stir gently and store in fridge if making ahead.
  3. Slice citrus into wheels and store in fridge if making ahead
  4. 10 minutes before guests arrive – or when you get to the party – add lots of ice, the sparkling water and float citrus wheels on top.
  5. Pour over fresh ice. Enjoy!

Distillerista-Gin-Punch

{ Crate & Barrel Bar Tool Set }

Extras:

  • Freeze citrus wheels with water or juice in a muffin pan for pretty – and effective! – ice cubes
  • Sub fresh orange juice and sparkling wine for the grapefruit and sparkling water and you’ve got a brunch-perfect riff on a classic Mimosa!
  • Steep 1 tbsp of culinary lavender in the simple syrup for 10 minutes for a fun floral twist.

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Big-Batch-gin-Punch-Distillerista

k1zRs

Gjjax

Thank you, once again, to Megan of Shortography for the shoot location and photos! How throwback-chic is her new kitchen?!

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Infused Book Review + Lavender Provençal Lemonade

Infused-Book-Review-Lavender-Lemonade-1{ Infused: 100+ Recipes for Infused Liqueurs and Cocktails | Susan Ella MacNeal, Leigh Beisch }

You know your parents have you pegged when your Mom and Dad – unbeknownst to each other I might add – gift you a spirit infuser contraption and Infused, a coffee table book full of different at-home infusion ideas, respectfully, for Christmas. As was the case this past holiday season, and I have to say, both gifts have come in very handy. I tend to come up with random ideas on a whim and not surprisingly, they don’t always work out well. (Candy Cane Vodka, Lime-cello *cough*, *cough*) Thankfully I can now just consult Infused and quickly reference the book’s tips on how long to infuse different ingredients in different spirits. It’d make a great gift for any budding mixologist (21 and over, of course) or even a bride and groom putting together their first home bar. In addition to pages and pages of infusion ideas, Infused also includes several chapters of customizable cocktail recipes in which to use your newly made flavored spirits. Get the book here, then whip up one of my favorite recipes, Lavender Provençal Lemonade, made with some Lavender-infused London Dry Gin. The perfect end-of-summer treat.

Lavender-Gin-Distillerista{ Sempli Spirit Incanter | Anthropologie Tumblers }

Lavender Infused Gin or Vodka (page 21)

Ingredients:

  • 1 750 mL Bottle Gin or Vodka
  • 3 Tbsp Dried lavender buds
  • 1/4-1 C Simple syrup, optional (I most often choose not to add sugar to my infusions, as it tends to mask the flavor(s) I’m trying to procure)

Directions: In a clean glass bottle or a spirit infuser such as the Sempli Spirit Incanter shown here, combine spirits and lavender. Seal tightly and let infuse, away from heat or direct sunlight, for 2-3 weeks, tasting every few days or so for preferred intensity. *I only left mine for 3-4 days and the lavender flavor was delicate but definitely there, so be sure to taste regularly!* Once the right flavor is achieved, strain out lavender and add simple syrup if desired. (Keep in mind the longer you let the lavender infuse, the more simple syrup you might want to add to balance the flavor) Using a funnel, store liquid in original or other glass bottle. Keep away from heat and direct sunlight and enjoy for up to 1 month!

Infused-Review-Lavender-Gin-Lemon

Lavender Provençal Lemonade (page 77)

Makes 1 drink

Ingredients:

  • 2 Oz Lavender-infused Gin or Vodka
  • 1/2 C Fresh lemonade
  • Ice
  • Dried lavender buds and/or lemon wheel to garnish

Directions:

  1. Pour Gin or Vodka into a chilled collins glass
  2. Add ice and top with lemonade
  3. Give it a few stirs and garnish with lavender and/or lemon
  4. Cheers & enjoy!

Infused-Review-Lavender-Gin-Lemon-Craft-Spirits

Lavender-Lemonade-Gin-Cocktail

Infused-Review-Lavender-Gin-Lemon-Distillerista

 

Thanks to Megan of Shortography for the photos!

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José Andrés’ Mexican Gin & Tonic

Mexican-G-and-T-Cover

I have a somewhat mandatory tradition upon landing in Las Vegas of heading immediately to Chef José Andrés’ epic Chinese & Mexican food mecca China Poblano at the Cosmopolitan. A big boozy lunch with friends before hitting the pools is my idea of a perfect start to the weekend. On one recent trip, I was introduced to the cocktail perfection that is José Andrés’ Mexican Gin & Tonic. It seems simple enough on paper: Bombay Sapphire, some tonic water, a few garnishes and a splash of St. Germain. But don’t be fooled by the seemingly basic ingredient list… this is without a doubt the best G & T I’ve ever had. Not only is the drink impossibly beautiful and delicate, it has an intoxicating aroma – thanks to those gorgeous botanical garnishes – that grabs you as soon as the drink hits the table. Served in a gorgeous stemless wine tumbler, each sip is perfectly cool and effervescent, with just the right amount of sweet floral kick from the elderflower liqueur. Next time you’re in Vegas, it’s an absolute must. Until then, here’s my take on recreating the drink at home.

China-Poblano-Mexican-Gin-Tonic

Makes 1 drink.

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz. Bombay Sapphire Gin  – Although any citrusy Western-style Gin would be wonderful as well
  • 1 oz St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
  • 4 oz Fever Tree Tonic Water
  • fresh Orange Peel
  • small Sprig of Cilantro
  • 1 whole Coriander Seed
  • 1 fresh marigold (Calendula) edible flower – special thanks to Specialty Produce for these beauties!
  • 1 large whiskey cube – or sphere-shaped ice mold – I like keep a couple of these in my freezer for such occasions.

Mexican-Gin-Tonic-Distillerista-Flowers

Directions:

  1. Place ice cube/sphere in a large stemless wine glass or DOF
  2. Gently pour in Gin, St. Germain and top with tonic water
  3. Quickly and carefully arrange botanicals – orange twist, cilantro, coriander seed, and marigold – in the drink, giving the orange twist and cilantro a little smack in your hands beforehand to release the oils.
  4. Give it a gentle swirl and enjoy!

Distillerista-Mexican-Gin-Tonic-Cocktail DSC_0268 Mexican-Gin-Tonic-MarigoldMexican-Gin-Tonic

P.S. The ‘When Pigs Fly’ steamed buns, Cochinita Taco and Twenty-Vegetable Fried Rice are also not to be missed! 😉

P.P.S. Photos by Megan of Shortography!

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Peach Rosé-a-ritas

Sparkling-Peach-Margarita-Distillerista

{ Glass Pitcher purchased on the side of the road in Baja }

My dear friend Caroline’s recipe blog, Colorful Eats, is a source of constant inspiration and eye-candy. Her easy to make and gorgeously captured grain- and refined sugar-free recipes are what prompted me to go Paleo Monday through Friday. Since switching to an 80% grain- and sugar-free lifestyle about a year ago, I have more energy and am naturally more focused at work. And incase you hadn’t noticed, thanks to Caroline, most of the drink recipes you’ll see here on Distillerista use only natural, unrefined sugars and as many fresh fruit and vegetable juices and purées as possible.

Needless to say, ever since I launched Distillerista I’ve been dying to collaborate with Caroline. I took full advantage of her extended summer stay here in San Diego last month and invited her over to help me come up with something new and paleo-friendly. (She lives in Hawaii most of the time where her husband – my cousin and bff! – is stationed in the Navy.) We got together on a particularly hot July day and mixed up these scrumptious sparkling peach margaritas in honor of prime peach season. While alcohol in general isn’t exactly paleo-approved, Tequila is a relatively low-sugar spirit and also happens to be Caroline’s go-to. As for the sparkling wine… well, what can I say… any opportunity to spend a little time with friends is something to celebrate!

Craft-Cocktail-Recipe-Sparkling-Peach-Margarita

Makes 8 Drinks

Ingredients:

  • 4 C Peach purée (see recipe below)
  • 3 C Good quality Tequila; Casamigos is a current favorite
  • 2 C Fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 1 Bottle good quality sparkling rosé; I like Lucien Albrecht (I get it here for just $15 a bottle!)

Directions:

  1. Make & chill the peach purée
  2. Combine peach purée, tequila and lime juice in a large pitcher or drink dispenser. Chill in the fridge for at least an hour, up to overnight
  3. As guests arrive, or when ready to serve, pour Tequila mixture into chilled margarita glasses and top with a splash of sparkling rosé
  4. Garnish with a fresh peach slice and wedge of lime
  5. Cheers & enjoy!

Peach Puree: Pit and dice 6 large or 8 small peaches and combine in a medium sauce pan with a splash of water. Simmer over medium-low heat for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool, then blend well in a high-speed blender or food processor and strain through a fine mesh sieve. Chill for at least two hours, up to overnight. Makes roughly 4 cups.

Craft-Cocktail-Recipe-Peach-rose-Margarita

Extras:

  • As I mentioned before, Caroline avoids sugar so these margaritas are on the not-so-sweet side. If a sweeter drink is desired, add up to a half cup of raw honey when blending your peach purée.
  • These margaritas are a bit thick thanks to the fresh peach purée, so feel free to thin the purée out with a bit more water to achieve your desired consistency.
  • If you don’t have access to fresh peaches or want to make these Margaritas during another part of the year, feel free to use frozen peaches for an icier, frozen-style margarita

Rose-Craft-Cocktail-Recipe-Peach-Margarita

{ Matching glasses stumbled upon excitedly at HomeGoods }

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P.S. Check out a few of Caroline’s paleo cocktail recipes: Blackberry Mojitos, Pink Grapefruit Sparklers & Sunrise Squeeze!

P.P.S. Since I can’t work a camera to save my life, Caroline thankfully snapped these drool-worthy photos for us. Download her food photography and styling guide, Scrumptious & Styled, here!

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Free E-Book! Classic Cocktail Recipes Vol. 1

So if you’ve been so kind as to sign up for the Distillerista email newsletter, you might be aware you were promised a free E-Book! Well… a couple months later, it’s finally here! Working on both launching a blog and opening a legal distillery at the same time is just a teeeenssyyy bit time-consuming and this E-Book project fell through the cracks. #Sorry!

EBook Cover final copy{ E-book Cover!}

But the good new is, 1. it should be in your inbox right this very minute! and 2. it’s FRIDAY! Print that baby out – or don’t, we love trees – and get to making some classic cocktails tonight!

P.S. If you haven’t already, sign up for the Distillerista Newsletter on the side bar to the right! –>

The cocktails in this debut Distillerista E-book include the perfect Moscow Mule, a fool-proof Martini and the best ever Manhattan. Each recipe is accompanied by drool-worthy photos à la Megan of Shortography, as well as some tips, extras and creative ways to make the drinks your own.

Enjoy, tell your friends and spread the love by following Distillerista on Twitter, Instagram and liking us on Facebook!

Cheers to the weekend!

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The Gimlet: Three Ways

Gimlet-Three-Ways-Header-Distillerista

A Gin gimlet has to be my favorite classic cocktail. For a couple of reasons… First, it’s so simple and yet so perfect. That blend of Gin (my most beloved spirit), tart lime and smooth sweetness just fits so perfectly into any imbibing mood I’m in. Second, it’s a genius way to introduce the Gin-averse to the error of their non-Gin-drinking ways. Simply put, it’s the perfect starter Gin cocktail. A gateway drug to the realm of Gin, if-you-will. (Ok, I’ll stop.)

However, when I first started ordering gimlets regularly I was always confused as to why I was paying craft cocktail prices for a half-ass mix of Gin and Rose’s Lime Juice… ?! Well, little did I know, that’s the way Gimlets were (sort-of) traditionally made!

First concocted as a way to encourage sailors to down scurvy-fighting lime juice, Gimlets were a common vehicle for daily Gin rations on British Naval ships. {Popular belief has it that the Royal Navy doctor during that time was Sir Thomas Gimlette.} Sailors quickly switched to Rose’s Lime Cordial – a blend of lime juice and sugar that made it easy to preserve the citrus on long oversea hauls – as it had recently been invented. All this time I’ve been scoffing at what I thought was a shitty excuse for a great classic cocktail when really I’d been drinking history! Sailors, forgive me!

While the Rose’s Lime Juice of today (corn syrup, artificial flavors, weird additives) is a far cry from what it originally was, I suppose the OG recipe is still worth including here. I’ve also added a recipe for what I consider the modern day Gimlet (The Contemporary), and a fun twist on a Vodka Gimlet for those who aren’t quite ready to come over to the Gin side (The Lime Hangar Gimlet). Mix up one of each this holiday weekend (Happy Independence Day!) and let me know which you prefer!

Each recipe makes 1 cocktail.

Gimlet-Three-Ways-Traditional-Distillerista

The Traditional

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Pour gin & juice into a cocktail shaker or tall glass
  2. Shake or stir with ice, whatever your preference
  3. Strain into a Martini Glass and garnish with lime wheel if desired

Gimlet Three Ways Comtemporary Distillerista

The Contemporary

Ingredients:

  • 2 Oz Traditional, London-Dry or New American Style Gin (I’m using citrusy Tanqueray No. 10)
  • Juice of 1-2 limes
  • 1 tsp superfine sugar
  • Lime wheel and mint for garnish

Directions:

  1. Dry shake (no ice) lime juice and sugar for at least 60 seconds to dissolve sugar.
  2. Add gin, ice and shake.
  3. Strain into a rocks glass filled with ice. Alternatively, strain into a chilled coupe.
  4. Garnish with lime wheel and sprig of mint. (No garnish if you went with the coupe)

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Lime Hangar Gimlet (ever so slightly adapted from the famous Ivy Gimlet)

Ingredients:

  • 3 oz. Hangar One Kaffir Lime Vodka a.k.a. the only lime vodka you ever need to know about
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Juice of ½ a lemon
  • 5-10 Mint leaves, muddled
  • 1 tsp Superfine sugar

Directions:

  1. Combine muddled mint, citrus juice and sugar in a cocktail shaker.
  2. Dry shake (no ice) for at least 60 seconds to completely dissolve sugar.
  3. Add Vodka, a handful of ice and shake.
  4. Pour into a sugar rimmed glass filled with crushed or cubed ice and garnish with a wedge of lime and sprig of mint. As an option, top with a splash of seltzer or sparkling water. Enjoy!

Photos by the delightfully talented Megan Burgess of Shortography!

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A Father’s Day Cocktail

Distillerista-Fathers-Day-Cocktail-Recipe

The only thing you can get our Dad to drink – besides the occasional glass of Pinot Noir – is vodka (I know…I’m working on him). He’s been known to knock back the champagne when duty calls (4th of July *cough, cough*), but vodka is his ride-or-die. And much like anyone who has enjoyed more than twenty-five years or so of legal drinking, he has a go-to cocktail he sticks to fiercer than you would an alibi. Sure, his tastes are a bit unorthodox compared to your standard male, – don’t even try gifting him a 6-pack of craft beer or a 30 year scotch – but it’s actually a convenient habit, as his family and friends always know exactly what to make him or order him at a bar. SUPER simple and to the point, with just the tiniest hint of tart sweetness, I give you… The SPJ.

Fathers-Day-Vodka-Soda-Distillerista

Makes 1 Cocktail.

Ingredients:

  1. 2 oz Really good vodka (We like Hangar One Straight Vodka or St. George Spirits new St. George Spirits All Purpose Vodka)
  2. 1.5 Oz. Good quality club soda (Can’t beat Fever Tree Soda Water)
  3. Splash or so of cranberry juice (If you can find an all-natural or no-sugar-added version, go for it, but cranberry juice cocktail works just fine)
  4. Generous wedge of lime

Directions:

  1. In a DOF or other short glass filled with ice, combine vodka and soda and stir gently
  2. With a steady hand, splash a half ounce or so of cranberry juice over the soda
  3. Don’t stir. Viciously squeeze a wedge of lime on top, plop it in the glass and let the cranberry mix with the clear liquids gradually
  4. Serve to Dad & Enjoy!

Fathers-Day-Vodka-Cocktail-Distillerista

Cheers to all the papa bears out there! Happy Father’s Day!

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Big Batch Bourbon Cocktail

{Anthropologie Glassware | BB&B Mason Jar Drink Dispenser}

This cocktail is a special one, as it’s a bit famous (or should I say infamous?) amongst my family and friends. It’s been a catalyst for many a late/questionable night, as well as the signature drink for countless get-togethers and celebrations. This mix of citrusy, maple-y goodness coupled with sweet bourbon and a bit of spice makes this a great choice anytime of year, day or night (seriously, we may or may not have finished a carafe by noon before). Ladies and gentlemen, I give you… Luke’s Whiskey Cocktail.

Whiskey Cocktail IngredientsMakes roughly 10-12 Bourbon cocktails.

Ingredients:

  • 1 QT {or roughly half a 2 QT bottle} Spiced apple or pear cider (I’m partial to Trader Joe’s versions)
  • 1 750 mL Bottle good-but-not-too-good Straight Bourbon (We like using Bulleit for this)
  • Juice of 10 or so lemons
  • 2 16.9 Oz Bottles of something bubbly… I like to use a mix of sparkling water and Ginger Ale to keep the sweetness down, but lemon lime and/or club soda would work equally as well

Directions:

  1. In a large drink dispenser or punch bowl carefully pour in your cider and Bourbon.
  2. Squeeze the lemons into the mixture, careful not to get any seeds in the drink. We recommend deseeding the leftover juiced lemons and dropping them into the bowl/dispenser for color, aesthetic and extra lemon flavor.
  3. 10 minutes before guests arrive, add lots of ice and your desired effervescence.
  4. Give it a quick stir with a long wooden spoon, pour and enjoy!

Tray of CocktailsExtras:

  • I love an autumnal riff on this where we sub a quarter to half of the cider for rosemary maple simple syrup.
  • Leave a small bottle of bitters beside the cocktail so guests can add a dash or two for extra depth!
  • Sub half the lemons for grapefruits for a tart & summery, less-sweet version.

Cider Whiskey CocktailWhiskey Cocktail LemonDrink Dispenser Whiskey TablescapeTray of Whiskey Cocktails

[Special thanks to Megan Burgess of Shortography for the gorgeous photos!]

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