Football Brunch | Entertaining With Craft Spirits

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For a die-hard Cowboys fan living in California, it’s really fun that several of the season’s games fall at 10:30 am here due to the time change. It gives me something to look forward to first thing in the morning (Mimosas! Cowboys!) and more importantly, is a perfect excuse to invite friends over for a boozy brunch! Here are some (amateur) iPhone snaps from a recent brunch Luke and I threw to kick off the season! Scroll down for how we put it all together.

Spiked-Almond-Milk-Latte-Distillerista

First thing’s first… I greeted friends with spiked almond milk lattes. Espresso, frothed almond milk, a little coconut sugar and some Leopold Bros. French Press Style Coffee Liqueur to taste.

After some unfortunate McGiver-ing with the whole NFL Redzone/Chromecast/Apple TV/Why-the-F-did-we-cancel-cable/streaming situation, we finally got the games on and moved on to some much deserved hard stuff… And by hard stuff I mean Ballast Point Bloody Marys with Hangar One Chipotle Vodka and my juicy Gin Punch, packed with tons of fresh citrus juice and some KROBĀR Gin I picked up last weekend in Paso Robles!

Football-Brunch-Distillerista-Craft-CocktailsUnfortunately Hangar One no longer produces the roasted chipotle flavor so I would substitute with St. George Green Chile Vodka }

For the food I went a little over board, I’ll admit. But brunch is my favorite and football is my favorite so whatever, I didn’t hear anyone complaining.

FootBall-Brunch-Dishes-Distillerista

I started out with a little platter of smoked salmon, super thinly shaved deli ham, red onion, cucumber and some cream cheese I softened and then mixed with fresh dill, chives and parsley. Add some toasted everything bagels and boom. Done.

Next I did two types of quiche. I loooooove quiche and we have vegetarian friends so I knew I wanted to make two versions. I made this Chicken Tortilla version from the Kitchy Kitchen (anyone else obsessed with her?) and a Mushroom Leek version. Both were amazing but I think the Mushroom Leek took the cake.

Speaking of cake, I made Blueberry Lavender muffins from my favorite paleo baking cookbook, Every Last Crumb, by Brittany Angell. I take her recipe for strawberry cream cheese muffins (page 134) and swap out freeze-dried blueberries for the strawberries, leave out the cream cheese filling and add a teaspoon of crushed dried culinary lavender for a fun twist. Thanks to Caroline for inspiring my love of Paleo baking!

Next up was the healthy addition to our spread. We chopped up one fresh pineapple, half a small watermelon and two mangos. Then we tossed them cocos frescos style with lime juice and Tajin! I’m never making fruit salad any other way again! Inspired by this

You can’t have a Sunday brunch without bacon and oh my god, we did it right. I preheated my oven to 450 degrees F and placed as many slices of bacon I could fit on a parchment lined baking sheet. I let them cook until our desired crispiness, brushing them halfway through – and then again when I took them out – with a mixture of equal parts pure grade B maple syrup and dijon mustard. Side note: I would up the mustard-to-maple syrup ratio next time, as I didn’t get that tangy dijon flavor as strongly as I’d hoped. 

Lastly, another Kitchy Kitchen dish: Roasted Tomato Tart with Paleo Cauliflower Crust. The execution of the crust was a bit touch-and-go, as paleo baking can often be, but the flavors were on point. One perk was that the recipe for the Pisto that goes on top of the crust before baking a second time made way too much and was subsequently amazing over a seared piece of fish last night!

Sadly not pictured is the incredible pumpkin stuffed pretzel french toast my friend Nusha made and brought! She totally outdid herself, this pretzel pumpkin magic was so so decadent and served as the perfect accompaniment to the otherwise savory spread we prepared.

As for decor I kept it simple: fresh flowers, Lilly Pulitzer for Target carafes & ice bucket, disposable “football” plates, napkins (Cowboys blue, obviously), cute little bamboo cutlery and chevron paper straws, duh!

That’s all, folks! I hope this inspires you to throw a football brunch of your own this season. Oh, and go Cowboys!

P.S. Here’s the cute e-vite we sent out a week or two before –>

Sunday Brunch Invite Distillerista

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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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Gin Punch-Distillerista-Recipe

Big-Batch-gin-Punch-Distillerista

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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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The Best Alcohol Delivery Services

Distillerista-Alcohol-Delivery-Services

Hands up if you’ve been in one of these three scenarios…

  1. You’re in the thick of an epic house party and all of a sudden, you realize the hosts’ve run out of booze. You shuffle through the fridge looking for any straggling cans of beer, pilfer through someone you don’t know’s room looking for a lazy half-drank bottle of vodka, aaand you come up short.
  2. You’re semi-bored, home on a Friday night, possibly with roomates. No one necessarily wants to go out but that doesn’t mean no one wants a tasty adult beverage to go along with that take-out, side of Netflix. But wait, you’re already in your yoga pants and embarrassing middle school theatre camp t-shirt and you’re out. of. draaanks.
  3. You show up to a get together thing that you did. not. know was BYO and feel more than slightly awkward asking that guy you think you know from class if you can have a splash or five from his bottle of Captain.

All of these scenarios are painfully annoying and – thank Bacchus! – remedied by the same thing… Alcohol Delivery Services! To save you and your fellow imbibers, should any of these aforementioned sticky situations creep up on you again, I’ve crafted the definitive guide to Alcohol Delivery Services across the country! You’re Welcome.

1. Ezra’s | Although not app-based like most of the other services on this list, Ezra’s is up first because their mission holds a special place in my heart. As a distiller myself, I appreciate a company who’s main goal is to increase the information channels between distiller and end-consumer. This provides a huge leg-up for small craft distillers who may be struggling due to our three-tier dominated industry. In addition to their focus on craft spirits, I love that their emails update you in real time when high-demand products come back in stock. And they ship country-wide! While not technically an on-demand delivery service, I highly recommend using Ezra’s if you’re planning a dinner or cocktail party at your place and want to impress with some lesser-known boutique spirits.

Get 5% off your Ezra’s order with code distillerista. But be quick about it – code limited to the first 30 readers!

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2. Drizly | Drizly is one of the fastest growing on-demand alcohol delivery services. They work with the top liquor retailers in each state to provide consumers the best selection and price on their favorite beer, wine and liquor with delivery in less than an hour (and on average closer to 20-40 minutes!). They service 16 major metropolitan cities. Click here to see if yours is on the list.

The first 50 California readers (Drizly currently delivers in L.A. and Orange County only) get delivery fees waived on their first order with code DISTILLERISTA Offer Ends August 31st, 2015

iPhone Shot, Get the Door

3. Saucey | Saucey is an app, available for download on iOS or Android, that delivers beer, wine, and/or spirits to your door in less than an hour. Currently servicing the west coast in San Fransisco, L.A. and San Diego, Saucey is also planning expansions to Chicago and Dallas very soon. It’s easy as (1) Open the app, drop a pin and choose from a menu of beer, wine, spirits, cocktails and snacks (2) A Saucey driver will be on their way and get to you in about 20 minutes (3) Take delivery and enjoy anywhere, even the beach(!!!)

Get $5 off any Saucey order with code DISTILL

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4. Minibar | Minibar, another app, provides on-demand delivery of wine, spirits, beer & mixers. Minibar gives users a better way to shop by connecting them with local liquor stores to offer the best selection of products. What sets Minibar apart for me is that they also provide tasting notes, pairing recommendations, cocktail recipes, an option to send gifts for special occasions, AND they feature a “Party Planning Tool” which allows users to quickly determine how much of each spirit is needed for the perfect party. Super useful and convenient! Currently servicing 19 major metropolitan cities. Scroll down to the bottom of their home page to see if yours is included.

MiniBar-Distillerista

Get $10 off your first Minibar order with code DISTILLERISTA

5. Thirstie | Thirstie is a leading national on-demand wine, beer and spirits delivery service that delivers in under an hour and provides curated cocktail recipes. It is redefining the way consumers shop and discover the best wine, beer or cocktail with its innovative editorial platform, The Craft. The Craft redefines the way consumers shop and discover the best wine, beers or cocktails and elevates the overall consumer experience by getting people “Thirstie” through curated and original content engagement.

The Craft (2)

Use code DISTILL10 for $10 off your order. Expires August 31.

6. DrinkFly | DrinkFly was started by two brothers in a suburb of Chicago. They’ve now grown into seven cities and continue to add more as they expand.  Drink Fly’s unique selling point is that you have the option to select the specific liquor store from which you buy.  This let’s you get your hands on some booze, quickly, AND support local business.  Win-win!

Get $5 off your first DrinkFly order with code distill5

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7. Klink | Klink is a liquor-store-to-your-door service on steroids. They strive to take the experience one step further by adding a little something extra. Whether they’re delivering liquor-infused cupcakes, sending mixologists along with larger orders to help serve drinks or partnering with a hand-crafted mixer to turn customers’ spirits orders into artisanal cocktails, they’re constantly going above and beyond.

Free delivery on two Klink orders with code distillerista 

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Recap: After downloading each app, playing around with them a bit and emailing with the various apps’ media teams, I can genuinely say I’d happily use any of the above services. As I live in Southern California, not all of them cater to me so I couldn’t actually try every service for myself. I’d advise clicking through their websites, making note of which apps deliver in your city and going from there. Enjoy the discount codes and let me know your experience. Personally,  I can’t wait to try out the Saucey app on my next beach day! Whooop whoooop!

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Bar Basics: Spirits to Keep On Hand at All Times

Bar-Essential-Distillerista-4-Header

One of the things I was most excited about when moving into my first solo apartment was stocking a beautifully curated bar. I have a bit of an obsession with bar carts – there may or may not be an entire Pinterest board to prove this – so I knew I wanted to make mine the focal point of my first big-girl living space. This obsession of mine is so well known that my Mom bought me the gorgeous bar cabinet in these photos as a house warming gift. It’s still one of my favorite pieces of furniture to this day. Here are the must-have spirits I keep stocked at all times for easy entertaining.

Hangar 1 Straight Vodka ($38) // Vodka is my family’s go-to spirit and this is the one we’ve been drinking for years. Made from a blend of wheat-based spirit and grape eau de vie, it has virtually no bite and a gorgeous floral quality. If you can’t find Hangar 1, go for Prairie Vodka or Tito’s in a pinch.

Hendrick’s Gin ($40) // If I’m having a cocktail these days, there’s a good chance it’s made with Gin. As a result, it’s worth it to have my favorite around, even if a bit pricey.

Flor de Caña Rum ($20) // I don’t drink a lot of Rum, but when the mood for a Mojito or Dark & Stormy strikes, I make sure to have both dark and light. Captain Morgan or Bacardi will do the trick for the light stuff, whereas I prefer to have at least a semi-decent dark rum like Flor de Caña or Zacapa on hand for guests who enjoy it on the rocks.

Casamigos Tequila ($57) // Tequila is a must. Whether it’s for weekend margaritas or a quick shot before heading out to a bar (you know you do it too), never be without it. Blanco or Reposado, whatever you prefer. Funny enough, the Kirkland brand Silver and Reposado options are bomb, and a great value too. If I haven’t been on a Costco run in a while, I go for Casamigos, or Fortaleza when I can find it. They’re premium and definitely priced as such, but cheap Tequila can be painful and drinking should not be painful.

Bulleit Bourbon ($28) // This is, hands down, my favorite mainstream Bourbon. Even though I’m pretttyyyy sure it comes from a factory distillery in Indiana, it’s still the best-tasting bang for your buck these days. If you like something a bit spicier, their Rye is also fantastic.

Carpano Antica ($36) // Several of my friends and family enjoy a well-made manhattan so I make sure to keep this vermouth (plus brandied or maraschino cherries) stocked. It also makes an excellent night cap neat or on the rocks.

Wild Card – Hangar 1 Kaffir Lime Vodka ($38) // I’ve gotten so many friends hooked on this spirit, I can’t keep count. Although a little weird (read: surprisingly floral) at first, you’ll quickly decide you don’t ever want to drink anything else. With club soda or in a gimlet, this real-fruit infused vodka is always a hit.

{Exact prices may vary by city and state.}

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I’m curious, what are your favorite every-day spirits? Let me know in the comments below.

Again, thank you to Megan Burgess of Shortography for the gorgeous photographs!

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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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