Fall-Inspired Spiced Mango Ginger Punch

img_2497Did you know mangos have two seasons? The first peaks as spring turns to summer and the second as fall gives way to winter, overlapping to provide an almost year-round season for delicious, juicy mangos! I was completely unaware of this delightful fact when searching the interwebs for inspiration regarding two lonely mangos past their prime in the back of my fridge. As soon as I realized mangos weren’t just for summer poolside rum-soaked applications, I couldn’t wait to create a more fall-inspired cocktail.

With Thanksgiving just next week (!!), I also thought it’d be wise to batch this festive cocktail out for all your group drinking needs. Below are recipes for both one drink and ten. Note: the recipes have slight variations in order to make the batched version more hostess-friendly. As I alluded to in Tuesday’s post, I’ve been on the hunt for high-quality mixers for You & Yours‘ debut cocktail program and am #obsessed with East Imperial Mombasa Ginger Beer at the moment. You can buy a 24-pack here (they will not go to waste, trust me!), but feel free to use your favorite ginger beer.

img_2498

Recipe for 1 drink.

Ingredients:

  • 1. 5 oz aged or spiced rum
  • 2 oz. mango juice, puree or nectar (this can be store bought; *recipe for homemade to follow)
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. brown sugar simple syrup, *recipe to follow
  • ginger beer to top
  • 2 T coconut or raw cane sugar for sugar rim, optional
  • mango (fresh, dried or candied!) chunk or slice for garnish, optional

Directions:

  1. Pour brown sugar into a small shallow bowl and use a lemon wedge to wet the rim of a collins/highball glass or other tumbler. Gently dip the rim of the glass in the sugar and fill with fresh ice. Set aside.
  2. Combine rum, mango puree, lemon juice and syrup in a cocktail shaker with ice.
  3. Shake for 10 seconds and strain into sugar rimmed glass. Top with ginger beer.
  4. Garnish as desired and enjoy!

Recipe for homemade mango puree: In a blender combine 1 peeled, chopped mango (or 1 cup frozen mango, thawed) and a splash or two of water. Blend on high until completely smooth, 1 minute or more. Strain through a fine mesh sieve and refrigerate until ready to use, up to one day.

Recipe for brown sugar simple syrup: In a small sauce pan, combine one cup each brown sugar and water and simmer over medium-low heat until completely dissolved. Let cool and store any leftovers in a sealed jar or container for up to one month.

img_2507

Recipe & Directions for batched version (10-12 drinks).

In a large drink dispenser or punch bowl, combine 1 750 mL bottle dark or spiced rum, 1 quart (32 oz) mango nectar, 1 cup (16 oz) brown sugar simple syrup, 1 cup lemon juice and 2 cups ginger beer. Give it a good stir and adjust the sugar syrup and lemon juice to taste if needed. Pro tip: If using a punch bowl, freeze lemon slices in water in a bundt pan and use as one giant ice cube! When the ice melts and the lemon slices float it will be beautiful.

Shopping list for batched version:

  • One 750 mL bottle of your favorite aged or spiced rum; San Diegans – check out Malahat or Liberty Call
  • One quart mango juice, nectar or puree; a mango juice blend or mango lemonade would also work just fine!
  • 6-8 lemons or 8 oz. fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • One quart of your favorite ginger beer (be sure to use ginger beer, as ginger ale will likely make the drink too sweet)

pantry items: brown sugar, raw sugar or coconut sugar

img_2501 img_2508 img_2502 img_2504

 

{ Photos by Caroline Potter }

Share this post!

My New Favorite Cocktail Ingredient

img_2462

With construction at the distillery space well under way (follow me on Snap to see some behind the scenes progress! @laurakj11), we’ve finally begun recipe testing for our debut cocktail menu! Being the Distillerista that I am, I’ve always known that my place of business would never be the type of establishment to serve generic mixers out of a gun.  That in mind, I went to town sourcing specialty tonics and sodas for our cocktail program. Enter East Imperial. East Imperial is a New Zealand-based company specializing in super high quality and super low sugar mixers. I like to think of them as the hipper, southern hemisphere version of Fever Tree.

The guys at East Imperial were kind enough to send us a sampling of each of their products and although my love for their ginger beer knows no bounds, it’s this Yuzu Tonic that has me most excited! If you’re not familiar with yuzu, it’s a north-Asian citrus fruit that tastes like a cross between a mandarin and a Meyer lemon. This yuzu-flavored tonic water is both the perfect subtle twist on my usual G&T and a necessary exclamation point to this yuzu-based cocktail I created for a competition recently. The yuzu flavor is true as can be, not at all artificial, and subtle enough to compliment but not overwhelm premium spirits. If you’re looking to delight and impress your holiday guests this season, pick up a twenty-four-pack here (Trust me, they’ll go fast!).

img_2455

Share this post!

Six Tips for Incorporating Cocktails into Your Wedding

screen-shot-2016-10-17-at-9-31-36-am

I recently had the honor of contributing to Exquisite Weddings Magazine’s Fall/Winter 2016 issue – I wrote about my favorite ways to incorporate craft spirits and cocktails into your wedding celebrations. Although the finished piece only ended up including a few small blurbs (see article above), I wanted to share the entirety of the tips here. Wedding season might be coming to coming to a close but that can only mean one thing: engagement season is right around the corner! Send these tips to a bride- or groom-to-be and you’ll be one happy guest. 😉

1. Choose a cocktail with significance.

Not surprisingly, I’m a big fan of featuring signature cocktails at your wedding. They provide a little something extra, compared to just beer and wine, and are a great way to placate the liquor-loving crowd without blowing your budget on a full bar. Having said that, I feel strongly that the cocktail(s) chosen should mean something to the bride and groom. Don’t just go with the trend of the moment – I can’t tell you how many weddings I’ve been to where the same tired version of a Moscow Mule was being served, much to my judgy chagrin. If your favorite cocktail truly is a Mule then, by all means, serve them (extra points for then offering the – engraved perhaps?! – copper mugs as favors). But what I really find special is when the bride and groom feature something with a story. Perhaps the drink your fiancé made you when you had dinner at his/her place the first time or, the cocktail you shared on your first weekend away together.

2. Cocktail kits as favors.

Another cocktail-inspired idea I love is putting together or purchasing cocktail kits for your wedding favors. My Youtube crush Claire Thomas (of The Kitchy Kitchen) really set the bar with this idea. She and her now husband made their own bitters (!!!) then included little bottles of them in a mini cocktail kit, along with the rest of the ingredients to mix up an Old Fashioned (her favorite drink) for each guest to take home. Talk about a meaningful, intentional and totally useful wedding favor. If that seems like a bit more effort than you’re willing to put in for wedding favors, bid guests adieu with W&P Design’s Carry-On cocktail kits for the plane ride home!

3. Take Champagne to the next level.

One way to easily incorporate cocktails into your wedding is with a champagne toast. Champagne cocktails are easy and affordable to throw together for a crowd (just sparkling wine and your favorite liqueur or juice) while being elegant and celebratory at the same time. Or perhaps consider greeting guests after the ceremony with a simple champagne cocktail (sugar cube + dash of bitters + bubbles) instead of plain Brut.

4. Feature both light and dark spirits in contrasting applications.

If featuring more than one signature cocktail, try to choose one that calls for a clear liquor and one aged liquor to give all imbibers an option. I.e. my two favorites – a fresh gin gimlet and a Bourbon boulevardier – create a nice contrast. The gimlet is light and refreshing while the boulevardier is more direct and warming.  

5. Call in the experts.

There are some fabulous cocktail-centric caterers out there these days. Work with companies like Barçon or Snake Oil to create a unique, custom cocktail (or two!) and offer hand lettered recipe cards with your names and the date of your wedding for a special touch. Guests can then think of the happy couple when they recreate the drink at home!

6. Add a little touch of home.

Craft distilleries are popping up everywhere – did you know that there’s now a craft distillery in every state? If your wedding celebration is far from home, incorporate spirits from a distillery in your hometown or state as a little nod to your provenance. Some of my favorite California distillers are St. George Spirits in Alameda, Spirit Works in Sebastopol, Green Bar Distillery in LA and Malahat Spirit Co. here in San Diego. Each has a wide range of spirits to choose from. Alternatively, offer an airplane-sized or other small format bottle (250 or 375 mL) of a local spirit as wedding favors if you’re having a destination wedding in a locale where there exist popular local craft distilleries.

 

Looking for more entertaining tips? I shared how to throw a craft spirits-inspired football brunch here

 

Share this post!

The 12 Best Store Bought Cocktail Mixers

best-store-bought-mixers

I love whipping up my own syrups and infusions at home but occasionally I want a cocktail mixer that’s already done for me, ready to go. This mostly happens when I’m either a. traveling or b. mixing cocktails for a big group of people. Say we’re staying at an Airbnb for a few days – I’d much rather buy something fun and pre-made than bring along honey, sugar, herbs, etc. etc. for a homemade syrup or mixer. And when I know I’ve got a large group coming over, pre-made mixes are my best friend (just don’t tell my friends! 😉 ). There are so many high quality cocktail mixers, syrups, cordials and the like out there now days, it seems criminal that I haven’t written a post on my favorites until now. Below you’ll find all of my favorite cocktail mixers that you can find right at your local grocer or liquor store. Or via my favorite way of procuring items I probably don’t need but nonetheless want, Amazon!

1. Favorite Soda Water | Boylan Heritage Club Soda

This is the clean, crisp soda water I reach for again and again. It also happens to have super sleek, minimalist packaging thanks to the geniuses at W&P Design. Win-win!

2. Favorite Tonic Water | Fever Tree Naturally Light Indian Tonic Water

I love a splash tonic water to finish a gin or tequila cocktail but I just hate the high sugar content. This “naturally light” tonic from Fever Tree has half the sugar of other brands yet still maintains that quintessential quinine punchiness.

3. Favorite Ginger Beer | East Imperial Mombasa Ginger Beer

This is – no joke – the best ginger beer I’ve ever tasted. Not sure if it’s just me, but I find most widely available ginger beers either way too sweet or way too spicy. This East Imperial is the Goldilocks of ginger beers. Tons of fresh, true ginger flavor without being too spicy plus the perfect amount of sweetness. And the best part? That spicy ginger heat lingers just long enough to make you want the next sip.

4. Favorite Margarita Mix | Tres Agaves Organic Margarita Mix

This has been my go-to marg mix for years. I can usually find it at Costco (always a plus) and I love that it uses all natural and organic ingredients. It’s not too sweet and doesn’t have that awful artificial taste that most margarita mixes suffer from.

5. Favorite Bloody Mary Mix | Powell & Mahoney Bloody Mary Mix

I’m not a huge Bloody Mary drinker but this mix is a real crowd pleaser. It provides a great canvas for adding your own personal twist with hot sauces or other ingredients but is also robust enough on it’s own.

6. Favorite Flavored Simple Syrup | Royal Rose Lavender Lemon Simple Syrup

The syrup I make most at home is lavender honey simple syrup, (You may remember seeing me call for it here and here!) but I’m well aware that most folks don’t have the time or the desire to go out and buy culinary lavender to make their own. That’s precisely why I love that I can recommend this brand of syrups for those who’d rather buy something than make it themselves. Royal Rose has tons of incredible flavors beyond the lavender I’ve linked to above and all are made in super small batches. Their Rose is another favorite of mine.

7. Favorite Mixer for Whiskey Cocktails | White Whale Auntie’s Old Fashioned Bold Mixer

Made with youngberries, pear and rosemary, this is an epic ready-to-drink twist on an Old Fashioned. Might want to buy two.

8. Favorite Big Batch Cocktail Starter | American Juice Company Lady Lychee Cocktail Blend

Developed originally for Michelin Starred chefs, this high end cocktail mixer is comprised of strawberries, lychees and rose petals. Simply combine a bottle of this with approx. 750 mL of your preferred spirit and top with soda water for a quick and insanely impressive big batch cocktail!

9. Favorite Shrub | Pok Pok Som Thai Basil Drinking Vinegar

Have you eaten at Pok Pok?! If you haven’t, I recommend you get your ass to Portland, Los Angeles or NYC and do so IMMEDIATELY. Chef Andy Ricker’s authentic af northern Thai food is the stuff of dreams and his cocktail programs are equally as impressive. The fact that his drinking vinegars, or shrubs as they’re also called, are available for at-home consumption is an absolute Christmas miracle.

10. Favorite Elevated Tonic | Jack Rudy Elderflower Tonic Syrup

When you’re looking for a little something extra in your next G&T, look no further. This elderflower tonic syrup is gorgeous and floral without being too cloying. Just mix gin (or vodka) with this elderflower tonic syrup and sparkling water and you’ve got an upscale cocktail worthy of the fanciest dinner party.

11. Favorite “Instant Craft Cocktail” Mixer | Belvoir Elderflower and Rose Lemonade

This beautiful rose and elderflower lemonade from the UK’s Belvoir fruit farms is a serious workhorse. All you have to do is add a jigger of your spirit of choice and Boom! – you instantly have a craft cocktail bar worthy libation at your finger tips.

12. Favorite Wildcard Cocktail Ingredient | Liber & Co. Pineapple Gum Syrup

If you’re a fan of the Tiki movement or Tiki-esque cocktails in general, this is the thing for you! This tropical fruit laden cocktail syrup (it’s 60% fresh pineapple juice!) is a must for mixing up island-inspired classics like a Jungle Bird or putting a fresh spin on Margaritas.

{ What are your favorite store bought cocktail mixers? I’d love to hear. Top image via. }

Share this post!

Ballast Point Gin & Tonic

Distillerista-Ballast-Point-GT-RTDI first heard canned cocktails were in the works for Ballast Point when I interviewed for a distilling position there years ago. Emotions were mixed upon hearing the news: Canned cocktails? RTDs? In the US? (Traditionally, stats have shown Americans don’t exactly jump for joy re: pre-mixed drinks) I mean I know your Ballast f-ing Point, but you really think you can make that work? #LOLZ… Well guys, they worked. They’re low-key all over grocery stores and liquor stores here in California and to add insult to injury, my local Trader Joes has a whole area permanently dedicated to the colorful 6-packs of all four canned cocktail iterations: Bloody Mary, Rum & Cola, Rum & Ginger and Gin & Tonic. At this point, I think it’s safe to say things are changing on this side of the pond. RTDs (ready to drink, pre-mixed alcoholic beverages) are here to stay stateside and Ballast Point’s entry to the market has done a lot to solidify that. With Labor Day weekend upon us – #RIPWhitePants – I thought it’d be fitting to review one of these cuties for your on-the-go holiday weekend drinking pleasure.

Somewhat unfairly perhaps, I always approach an RTD with caution. I never assume it’s going to be great. This canned G&T was a delightful surprise. Tons of bright, spritz-y effervescence hits you right away thanks to the down right delicious house made grapefruit and elderflower tonic. The gin is there but not nearly as assertive as I like in my G&Ts. After a few more sips, I wanted to pour it over ice and add a shot of my own gin, #sorrynotsorrry. It just didn’t pack enough punch for me. Overall, the flavor and texture are impressive and satisfying. It’s definitely a departure from your classic G&T but I think it’s important and smart for BP to shake things up with the flavored tonic. Excluding the Bloody Mary, all of these cocktail are simple, straight-forward two ingredients cocktails, sans garnish. I mean, isn’t it almost – dangerously so in fact – as easy to pour some gin and some tonic water over ice as it is to pop open a can? By tempting you with that elevated flavored tonic, they’ve given you all the reason you need to give these a try. And in my opinion, you totally should. Just BYO flask of gin, maybe. 😉

Happy Labor Day weekend to all! Xo

p.s. check out my last RTD review: BuzzBoxes

Share this post!

Bartender Know-How: Cocktail Garnishes

Speakeasy-Co-CocktailGarnishes-Distillerista

Speakeasy Co. is back with Cocktail Garnishes 101.

DO NOT OVERLOOK THE GARNISH!

“You eat first with your eyes, then your nose, and then your mouth.”

Yeah, it’s an old saying, but it’s particularly germane this month. And, for the record, we couldn’t agree more. As soon as a dish is served, you’re assessing it without even knowing it. The crust on the steak, the vivid green of the broccoli, plump grains of rice through hot steam. You’re tasting it with your eyes and nose before you ever actually taste it, and a good chef will have you loving the dish before it ever touches your tongue.

Just as it does for food, this holds true for cocktails as well. And this brings us to the garnish.

Garnishes…

As bartenders, there’s nothing that annoys us more than going to a bar and getting a slimy lemon or a gross, browning lime. There’s honestly no better way to tell your customers that you don’t care about what you’re doing than that. Citrus wedges are basic, 101 stuff — appropriate at times, but unimpressive in both sight and smell — and if your bartender can’t do that right, how are you supposed to trust them with an actual drink?

Every time we train a bar-staff, we hit this as hard as we can: garnishes should leap out of the glass. Their job — their only job — is to make the cocktail more appealing. The garnish should smell great, look even better, and get your mouth watering to drink that cocktail.

Most people think garnishes are just what’s in those ugly plastic trays at sports bars: lemons, limes, oranges, olives, and cherries. The truth, obviously, is that anything can be a garnish, especially if you think of them as a way to enhance your aroma, or showcase your creativity, or both.

What’s the coolest or craziest garnish you’ve ever seen? Bloody Marys are famous in this game, as are Tiki drinks. At one bar, Linwood Essentials in Toronto, we’ve seen a cocktail garnished with a love poem, attached to the rim of the glass with a miniature clothespin. It was amazing.

{ article originally appeared here | top image via }

 

Share this post!

#VocabPoolParty Instagram Giveaway

IMG_3482Have you heard?! I’m cohosting a summer pool party in honor of Vocabulary Boutique‘s 7th Birthday at the Westgate Hotel next Saturday August 13th. As a thank you to our loyal readers and followers, my cohosts and I are giving away TWO FREE TICKETS to the party. Head on over to my Instagram to enter!

IMG_3448ENTER to win HERE

IMG_3406

{ All photos by Bryan Miller }

Share this post!

You’re Invited: Summer Pool Party at The Westgate Hotel

IMG_3453

For those of you in the San Diego area, I hope you’ll join me for a pool party on Saturday, August 13th at The Westgate Hotel downtown. The Westgate’s rooftop pool is straight up paradise and most importantly, the cocktails will be flowing thanks to resident mixologist Irving Gonzalez. Chef Fabrice Hardel will be serving up French Riviera-inspired dishes (in addition to a poolside seafood and raw bar) and DJ Aleko will be providing all the summer vibes. I look forward to meeting you!

Details and tickets here.

IMG_3619{ My co-hosts, from left to right: Kali, myself, Cecelia and Krystel }

IMG_3823IMG_3811-2{ All photos by Bryan Miller }

 

Share this post!

Bartender Know-How: The Essential Glassware & Bar Tools

 I’m excited to finally present a comprehensive, collaborative guide to the essential bar tools and glassware any home mixologist should have. In partnership with Thirty3Club.

Bar-tools-glassware-distillerista-thirty3club

1. Coupes and/or Martini glasses for drinks served up…

Screen Shot 2016-03-03 at 5.39.08 PMDistillerista tip: Use a coupe anywhere you’d use normally reach for a martini glass. Their curved lip is infinitely better at keeping the drink in your glass and not all over your new suede pumps. Love these from Anthro.

Screen Shot 2016-03-03 at 5.40.03 PMDistillerista Tip: Yes, the stem keeps your body heat from warming the drink but again, those new suede pumps. Alas, if you’re a fan of the classic conical shape then try a stemless version. Just be sure to hold it from the bottom to keep contents nice and cold!

 

2. High Ball glasses for tall drinks served over ice…

Screen Shot 2016-03-03 at 5.40.19 PM

Distillerista tip: These are my go-to cocktail tumblers. If you want a more traditional shape, these are also gorgeous.

 

3. Rocks glasses or tumblers for short drinks served with or without ice. Also called a DOF, or double old fashioned, glass…

Screen Shot 2016-03-03 at 5.40.30 PM

Distillerista tip: I’m a big fan of a heavy bottomed rocks glass. Maybe it’s just me but the substantial weight of the glass in my hand makes me feel like I’ve secretly infiltrated some swanky men’s club. Win-win!

 

4. A mixing glass & shaker tin (or a traditional 3-piece cocktail shaker) for creating cocktails that call for shaking…

Screen Shot 2016-03-03 at 5.40.38 PMScreen Shot 2016-03-03 at 5.40.55 PM

Distillerista tip: This is my favorite all-in-one bar tool kit including a great Boston shaker-style tin and mixing glass. P.S. Brush up on when to stir and when to shake.

 

5. A jigger for measuring spirits and other ingredients…

Screen Shot 2016-03-03 at 5.41.06 PM

Distillerista tip: I used to think I could eyeball everything but once I started using jigger, my cocktails were infinitely better. My favorite basic jigger, here.

 

6. A muddler & strainer

Screen Shot 2016-03-03 at 5.41.18 PM

Screen Shot 2016-03-03 at 5.41.40 PM

Distillerista tip: When using a Boston Shaker you’ll need a Hawthorne strainer (shown above). When using just a mixing glass (for stirred drinks) I prefer to use a julep strainer. My favorite dishwasher-safe muddler.

 

7. Bar Spoon

Screen Shot 2016-03-03 at 5.41.50 PMDistillerista Tip: A bar spoon is a must for stirred cocktails like Manhattans and Martinis. Love this rose gold one.

 

I hope you enjoyed learning about the essential bar tools and glassware for mixing phenomenal, craft cocktail bar-worthy cocktails at home. A couple of other essentials I keep around: a sharp knife, small cutting board, vegetable/fruit peeler for making citrus peel garnishes and a handheld citrus squeezer. Please comment below with your favorite bar tools and glassware!

{This article originally appeared on Thirty3Club’s Cocktail Education Blog}

Share this post!

Bartender Know-How: When to Shake and When to Stir

WHY JAMES BOND WAS WRONG

Before you can find a cocktail menu, the bartender appears in front of you, drops a napkin on the bar top, and looks at you with eyebrows raised. You tell the bartender you want a cocktail, but you’re not sure what kind.  And if he or she is worth anything at all, they will respond with assistance instead of annoyance, guiding you Socratically toward the perfect drink for that moment, which inevitably begins with some form of the question: “shaken or stirred?”

There are plenty of ways you can mix a drink: you can build it in the glass, roll it or carbonate it, you can throw it over your head and catch it behind your back if you’ve got a mind to. But the two most common ways, by far, are shaking and stirring. So what’s the difference? Why not just pour the ingredients on ice and be done with it, like a rum and coke?

Here’s why: there is a secret ingredient in every cocktail you’ve ever enjoyed, and it’s not salt or sugar or St. Germain, it’s water. When we’re talking about ice, there is no chilling without dilution, and vice versa. Ignore the bartender who tells you that his ice chills without diluting, because he’s wrong. Big ice cubes dilute slower, but also chill slower: use them to keep a low temperature rather than attaining one.

Cocktails are meant to be diluted. It’s implicitly built into the recipe. So when you stir or shake, you are melting the ice, lowering the temperature of your drink, and diluting it all at once. Additionally, when you shake, you’re aerating it, thinning the texture and making it feel lighter. This is an enormous difference, and there’s little to no wiggle room. If someone stirs my margarita, I know they don’t know what they’re doing. If they shake my Sazerac, I’m walking out.

And so, the difference: 

Stir when all the ingredients in the cocktail are alcohol, i.e. no mixers, no juice, no cream, no eggs. Manhattans, Old Fashioned’s, etc. Stirring is gentle and maintains the silky viscosity inherent in such drinks, which is without a doubt one of the most enjoyable parts about them. It renders a cocktail with roughly 30% water.

Shake when there’s juice, cream, eggs, or some kind of other mixer. Shaking aerates as well, thinning the texture and making it brighter and lighter, and makes the final drink roughly 40% water.

{ This article originally appeared on Thirty3Club’s Cocktail Education Blog // top image via }

Share this post!