Party Cocktails / Vodka

Harissa Bloody Mary with Antipasti Kebabs

05.27.17

Harissa Bloody Mary with Antipasti Kebabs // The Shared SipTo me, a bloody mary is right up there with a margarita—a super simple drink, but a total go-to. I love that you can tinker with it based on what you’re in the mood for (olives? lemon? lime? spicy? mild?). For this take on the cocktail, I wanted to use harissa to add spiciness, rather than my usual tabasco. If you’re not familiar with harissa, don’t worry—I wasn’t either. It’s only recently been added to my kitchen, as I saw it incorporated in more recipes I wanted to make.  It’s a chili pepper paste that originated in North Africa, but is probably most often associated with Middle Eastern cuisine. You can find it at most specialty markets in the international aisle—and it keeps well too, since you’ll be using it sparingly.

Harissa Bloody Mary with Antipasti Kebabs // The Shared Sip

For the kebabs, use whatever you love! I built mine with a mixture of my favorites: spicy dill pickles, sweet cherry peppers, balls of mozzarella and an assortment of charcuterie. This would be great for a bloody mary bar at a party—guests could show off their kebab creations! Who doesn’t love a bite with each sip?

Harissa Bloody Mary with Antipasti Kebabs // The Shared Sip

One other note: I used a store-bought mix for the base of this. I KNOW. Blasphemy, right? Not so fast. There are so many great bloody mary mixes out in the market these days, to slave over the exact spice additions to tomato juice sounds a little silly to me. Plus, you can totally jazz up a store-bought mix, too. In addition to the harissa, I added celery bitters, a squeeze of lime juice,  a dollop of horseradish, and a dash of chipotle chili powder. So good.


Harissa Bloody Mary with Antipasti Kebabs
makes 2 cocktails

  • 2 cups bloody mary mix, of your choosing
  • 4 oz vodka – I used Humboldt Distillery Organic Vodka
  • 2 teaspoons harissa
  • 1 tbsp horseradish (more or less to your liking!)
  • 4 dashes Fee Brothers celery bitters
  • 2 wedges of lime, squeezed
  • pinch of chipotle chili powder
  • For the rim: combine equal parts old bay and salt.

Assembly

Rim two highball glasses with lime, then dip into the Old Bay/salt mixture. Combine all other ingredients in a shaker with ice, including the lime wedges. Shake until very cold, about 20 seconds. Strain into the rimmed glasses filled with fresh ice. Top with an antipasti kebab!

brandy / Cognac

Brandy Old Fashioned

05.10.17

Brandy Old Fashioned // The Shared Sip

If you’ve never had a classic Old Fashioned, first: shame on you. Second: it’s one of the best cocktails in existence. Perfectly boozy, sweet and bitter, it covers all the cocktail bases. A traditional Old Fashioned is made up of bourbon or whiskey, a sugar cube or simple syrup, and bitters. Of course, there are many variations—I just had one in NOLA with demerara simple that was to-die-for—and it’s a classic that begs for a little experimentation.

I had a brandy old fashioned at Sonoma Cider just up the road in Healdsburg (PSA: their new taproom is awesome). Besides crafting some amazing ciders, they also distill their own apple brandy. Though I did try a flight of 6 ciders (no brainer there), I also snagged their cocktail menu and ordered up their brandy old fashioned. It was perfectly sweet, unique, and a drink I knew I wanted to recreate at home.  Read More

Travel

New Orleans Cocktail Guide!

04.27.17

New Orleans Cocktail Guide // The Shared Sip

Earlier this year, my BFF and I decided to meet in New Orleans for a weekend of girls-only eating, adventuring, and—of course—cocktailing. She flew in from NYC, I from San Francisco, and we arrived in NOLA ready for a long weekend of catching up and exploring the city together.

New Orleans Cocktail Guide // The Shared Sip

If you’ve never been to NOLA, you’ll quickly discover that it’s probably one of the most charming, cultured and interesting cities in the U.S. Full of tradition and nostalgia, the city culminates into this amazing metropolis where historic buildings and creole cooking are juxtaposed against trendy cocktail bars and innovative restaurants. One second you’re sauntering down Royal Street in the French Quarter, and the next you’re perusing your way through a hipster marketplace in mid-city. It feels both packed with stories from centuries past, and begging for new stories to be created by tourists and locals alike.

New Orleans Cocktail Guide // The Shared Sip

First, the food: unreal. I am not exaggerating when I say we were consuming something edible approximately 80% of the time we were in New Orleans. On the last day, we had about 2 hours to kill before heading the airport, and so we scarfed down muffulettas and pimento cheese sandwiches at Cochon Butcher, then proceeded to Johnny’s for shrimp po-boys directly afterwards—and mind you, we had already stuffed our faces that morning on biscuits and doughnuts for breakfast at District Donuts. I don’t think either of us ate for 48 hours after we got back to our respective cities. That’s NOLA in a nutshell.

New Orleans Cocktail Guide // The Shared Sip

New Orleans Cocktail Guide // The Shared Sip

Second, the cocktails. We visited many gems, but I think my favorites were Cane & Table and Seaworthy. Cane & Table has a tiki bent, with really innovative and interesting cocktails. The vibe is hip and sleek, bright and airy, located in the heart of the French Quarter. Seaworthy is in the CBD, and is darker, more speakeasy-esque, with tiny tables and kind waiters. Both are cozy and inviting, and spots you won’t want to tear yourself away from at the end of the night.

New Orleans Cocktail Guide // The Shared Sip

When you can’t eat or drink anything else (I’m not familiar with this phenomenon, but maybe you are), there’s so much to do in NOLA—we took a bike ride through the Garden District, rode the street cars through the city, and even ventured out on a swamp tour (so cool!). I already can’t wait to go back.

Ready to hop on a plane? Download my cocktail guide to New Orleans before you go!

New Orleans Cocktail Guide // The Shared Sip

Boozy Eats / Coffee Liqueur

Banana Bread with Coffee Liqueur Glaze

03.27.17

Banana Bread with Coffee Liqueur Glaze // The Shared Sip

Don’t get me wrong—I love creating cocktails. But sometimes I like to play with liquor outside of the high ball. Enter: this spongy, non-too-dense, delicious banana bread topped with a sweet coffee liqueur glaze. YUM.

The bread can be thrown together in minutes, and the glaze is even simpler. Highly recommend working it into your weekend morning rotation. And while you’ve got the coffee liqueur out, don’t be afraid to throw a splash (glug?) of it in your latte. It’s the right thing to do.

Banana Bread with Coffee Liqueur Glaze // The Shared Sip

Banana Bread

Find the full recipe over on How Sweet It Is!

Pro tip: Do NOT skip the turbinado sugar on the top of the bread—it. is. perfection.

Coffee Liqueur Glaze

Whisk all ingredients together until smooth. Pour over cooled banana bread. Allow to set 20 minutes before slicing. Enjoy!

Gin / sake

Sake East Side

03.22.17

Sake East Side // The Shared Sip

My introduction to sake was back in college—gathered with friends around wooden tables on a Friday night at one of Davis’s few Japanese restaurants, taking advantage of sushi specials and all-you-can-drink sake deals. I remember $2 bullets of Asahi and Sapporo poured into small glasses, with chopsticks hovering in parallel over the top. A shot of sake was poured, balanced on the chopsticks, and we yelled (obnoxiously, as college students do): Ichi, ni, san—SAKE BOMB! With a pound of our fists on the table, into the beer slipped the sake and we chugged until we could see the person across from us through the bottom of the glass. It was one of the more sophisticated times in my life.

Sake East Side // The Shared Sip

Sadly, that was as far as my exposure to sake went. I never grew to like hot sake—something about the sourness and the warmth made my stomach turn. Cold sake was a little better, but nothing I felt compelled to seek out.

Recently, though, I set out on a mission to make homemade dumplings—and because I love a good theme night, I decided to make a sake cocktail to go with them. I scoured the internet for inspiration (my search terms were something along the lines of “sake cocktail for people who don’t really like sake”) and I came across a recipe from Food & Wine that sounded perfect—cucumber, mint, lime and gin—I was convinced I would barely even notice the sake.

And that was mostly true—this cocktail is refreshing and simple, but I do think the sake adds a little something that can’t be replicated by anything other sake itself. The bottle of sake I used is super reasonably priced ($14—and you’ll get a ton of cocktails out of it, or sip alone), though I think most dry sakes would work well. Even my non-cocktail-loving (or sake-loving) husband guzzled this one down in record time.

Muddle, shake, sip—and skip the sake bombs.

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Sake East Side
makes 2 cocktails; adapted from Food & Wine

  • 8 slices of cucumber
  • 20 mint leaves
  • 4 oz dry sake – I used Momokawa Silver
  • 2 oz gin
  • 1.5 oz fresh lime juice
  • 1 oz simple syrup

Assembly

Muddle cucumber slices and mint in a shaker. Add ice and all other ingredients. Shake until well combined and very cold, about 20 seconds. Double strain into a glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish with a cucumber wheel.

Aperol / Brunch Cocktails / Gin / Party Cocktails / Punch

Billingsley Punch

03.06.17

Billingsley Punch // The Shared Sip

Is there anything worse than having friends over, and then spending the evening chained to the oven/stove/bar, unable to really be present and enjoy their company? Making cocktails for the people I love is the whole reason I started this blog (did the name give it away?!), so I’m always on the hunt for a great batch cocktail that I can make for a crowd—and leave me free to mix and mingle.

This punch is bright and perfect for spring—the orange flavor of the Aperol, the tart citrus, the earthy gin. Double or triple the recipe and you’ll be set for at least an hour or so, leaving plenty of time to catch up with your people, relax, and even snag a sip of your own.


Billingsley Punch
adapted from Death & Co.; makes about 4 cocktails

  • 12 sugar cubes
  • 8 oz club soda or seltzer, divided
  • 6 oz gin (I used Tanqueray)
  • 2 oz Aperol
  • 2 oz fresh grapefruit juice
  • 2 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 4 dashes of Peychaud’s bitters
  • Grapefruit wedges or wheels

Assembly
In a pitcher, muddle the sugar cubes with 4 oz of club soda or seltzer until fully broken up. Add all other ingredients except the remaining club soda or seltzer. Add several handfuls of ice and stir until cold. Strain into a punch bowl and add a large block of ice, if available. Top with the remaining club soda or seltzer, and garnish with grapefruit wedges or wheels.

If you can’t get your hands on a block of ice, keep an ice bucket next to the punch. Guests can build their drink as needed!

DIY / Holiday Cocktails / Ice / Party Cocktails

Conversation Heart Ice Cubes!

02.14.17

Conversation Heart Ice Cubes // The Shared SipHappy Valentine’s Day! Last year I created a fun blood orange cocktail for the holiday, so this year I wanted to do something a little different. I thought about the iconic conversation hearts and wanted to incorporate them somehow into a drink, but nothing felt quite right. I remembered I had this silicone heart mold hanging around my baking wares—some good homemade truffle intentions gone awry. I had some real success with ice a couple years back, so making heart-shaped cubes seemed like a no brainer. Plus: citrus season!

Conversation Heart Ice Cubes // The Shared Sip

You can really use any type of juice you want—I even added some pureed mint to the lime cubes for extra color. Below are a few ideas for inspiration, but do come up with your own variations!

These cubes melt quick since they are so small, but I found they retained their shape when I used them as a topper rather than as a true chilling tool. Plus they float a little better this way.

So instead of going out for some overpriced dinner or picking a fight with your significant other when he doesn’t come home with flowers, make these adorable cubes, pour yourself a G&T, and sip happily to love.

Conversation Heart Ice Cubes // The Shared Sip

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Heart-Shaped Citrus Ice Cubes

 

You can find the silicone molds at Walmart, Michael’s and probably most dollar stores!

Take about 1/2 c. fruit juice of your choice, pour it into the molds, and allow to freeze about 2-4 hours (depending on how big your molds are).

To use, make a cocktail on ice (I like to make a clear drink, like a G&T, so the cubes really shine), and top with a few cubes of your choice.

Ideas for inspiration:

  • Grapefruit juice
  • Blood orange juice
  • Tangelo juice
  • Meyer lemon juice
  • lime juice and pureed mint
absinthe / st. germain

BEETlejuice

02.12.17

Beetlejuice: A beet juice, lemon and absinthe cocktail

Are you one of those people who consistently plans for the future, has everything organized, and just generally has her life together? Well that makes one of us. More often than not, I’m winging it in this life. I am late everywhere I go. I never put important dates on my calendar. I can be found at the grocery store basically every day of the week because I can’t get my act together to plan ahead. I don’t make my bed, my fridge hasn’t been thoroughly cleaned in months (don’t judge me), and I have dozens of receipts balled up in the bottom of my purse (and not important ones—just ones that detail the $3.99 lint roller I bought. Necessary.)

So when I present to you a cocktail made with beet juice, don’t think this is due to hours of researching, brainstorming and testing. The reason this cocktail exists is due solely to the potent concoction of laziness and convenience that is my specialty.

Beetlejuice: A beet juice, lemon and absinthe cocktail

I saw a jar of beets cowering in the back of my fridge and thought, oh. I forgot those things were in there. Huh. Maybe the juice would look cool in a drink. Maybe?

About 30 minutes later this beet juice cocktail was born. I threw in some meyer lemon juice (also 2 days away from death), some St. Germain (which typically makes anything taste delicious), and added some absinthe for good measure. A sugared rim was added and the Beetlejuice was born.

True to form, I couldn’t even come up with a name for this guy myself (see above re: laziness). So I asked my dad. Despite his bad dad jokes (“What do they serve for breakfast in a lighthouse? BEACON AND EGGS!”), he’s pretty witty and good with a pun. So, Beetlejuice it was. No way I was beating that.

The moral here is: 1) don’t be like me. Seriously. Don’t. and 2) Cocktails can definitely be an art, but don’t always have to be. Next time you want to make a drink, see what’s hanging around teetering on its expiration date. Use it. Add random ingredients and tweak it until you’re happy. Nothing exciting was ever created without a little chaos.

Or, at least that’s what I tell myself.

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BEETlejuice
makes 2 cocktails

  • .5 oz beet juice
  • 1 oz meyer lemon juice
  • .5 oz absinthe
  • .75 oz St. Germain

Assembly
Combine the zest of half the meyer lemon and 3 tbsp granulated sugar. Rim the edge of two coupes with beet juice, then with the sugar mixture. Set aside.

In a shaker filled with ice, combine all ingredients. Shake until very cold, about 20 second. Double strain into the rimmed coupes. No garnish.

Holiday Cocktails / Vodka

Cranberry Moscow Mules

12.23.16

Cranberry Moscow Mules // The Shared Sip

Kyle asked me the other day what I love so much about Christmas. Not so much into the holiday himself—he’s a total Thanksgiving guy—he didn’t understand why I (and the rest of my family) look forward to Christmastime so much.

Cranberry Moscow Mules // The Shared Sip

After I stopped rolling my eyes and shouting, “WHAT DO YOU MEAN WHY DO I LOVE CHRISTMAS!? WHAT’S NOT TO LOVE!!!????” I told him it wasn’t one thing in particular but everything at once: the smile-inducing songs, the colorful decorations, the warm lights, the decades-old traditions, the time set aside just to be with family. It’s the well-wishes of “Merry Christmas” I hear throughout the month. And though the gifting is lower on my list of holiday loves, there is something that makes my heart grow a few sizes seeing someone open a thoughtful present you picked out for them. All of it, combined, is what makes Christmas so magical.

Cranberry Moscow Mules // The Shared Sip

Last weekend we were at my parents house and remembered something I had received from Santa when I was little—probably 5 or 6. I had them pull it out so I could show Kyle. It wasn’t a doll or a toy. That year, I had written a note for Santa and placed it beside the milk and cookies I had set out. I asked him for one small thing: His signature. I’m not sure why I asked for that, exactly, and I’m not sure what I expected to find when I awoke. But whatever it was, the note that greeted me was, I think, what made me fall in love with Christmas.

On a piece of North Pole addressed letterhead, scrawled in script, was a letter from Santa. It bore two reindeer hoof prints—true to size—and a burn hole from Rudolph’s nose. It was signed in big loopy letters, and at the end read a note from Santa’s elf apologizing for the prints, the burn. I was enchanted.

After that, I was afraid to stop believing, even after I knew the truth. I remember how scared I was of losing that feeling, how much I wanted to hold that sense of wonderment in the palm of my hand and never let it go. But like every kid, the time came when I did. It wasn’t until years later that I realized that Santa wasn’t what made Santa special—it was that Santa was really only my father, scheming late at night on Christmas Eve simply for the sake of magic.

I guess my answer to Kyle was only a half-truth. Sure, the songs and the lights are certainly wonderful, but the real reason I love Christmas so much is because of its unparalleled magic. The kind that only lingers in the background the rest of the year. The kind that shows up, scrawled on a piece of paper, with a burn mark and two hoof prints, next to an empty glass of milk and a plate of half-eaten cookies.

Cranberry Moscow Mules // The Shared Sip

Onto this delicious cocktail! Everyone has been posting a variation of this gem of a cocktail, but I had to recreate my own because it’s just too good. Easy to make, cozy, not too sweet, a little tart—it’s perfection. Whip up a whole batch and make them a new tradition this Christmas!

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Cranberry Moscow Mules
makes 2 cocktails

  • 4 oz vodka
  • 2 oz cranberry sauce syrup (recipe follows)
  • 2 oz fresh lime juice
  • 8-10 oz ginger beer (I love Fever Tree)
  • Sugared cranberries (use this great recipe via Holly & Flora!) and rosemary for garnish

Assembly
Combine first three ingredients in a shaker filled with ice. Shake until very cold, about 20 seconds. Strain into two copper mugs filled with fresh ice. Top with ginger beer. Garnish with sugared cranberries and/or rosemary. Sip merrily!

Cranberry Sauce Syrup

I encourage you to make your own favorite cranberry sauce, and instead of allowing it to simmer until thick, let it go only about 10-15 minutes so it’s syrupy and still pourable. That’s it!

The variation I used was simply 1/2 c. sugar, 1/2 c. water, 1 cup frozen cranberries, and the zest of 1 satsuma or orange. Combine all ingredients and let simmer until it barely coats the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh sieve. The syrup will keep in the fridge for about 2 weeks.

Cranberry Moscow Mules // The Shared Sip

DIY / Grenadine

The Best Homemade Grenadine

12.15.16

The Best Homemade Grenadine // The Shared SipIf you’re anything like me, your first memory of grenadine is the sugary, syrupy variation that made Shirley Temples so delicious. It felt like such a treat to order one out at restaurants—showing up to the table almost sparkling, and when done right, the most vibrant ombre filling the glass. It was perfect.

And if I’m telling the truth, I’ll stand by the use of the old school grenadine—usually Rose’s—used in that iconic beverage. But cocktails are another story. True grenadine should made with a base of pomegranate, not cherry, and adds a really special flavor to a drink when you have the good stuff. I had been purchasing mine from small-batch producers, which is great because there are some really wonderful ones on the market. But after stumbling upon so many easy recipes for grenadine, I knew I wanted to try to make my own.The Best Homemade Grenadine // The Shared Sip

But which recipe?! I had a basic recipe I kept coming across, which included the use of citrus, but had also stumbled upon a New York Times variation that used demerara sugar that sounded interesting. And then there was the Death & Co. recipe—the holy grail—that I knew would be amiss to skip.

So I made all three! Below are all of them in full. Which was my favorite? It’s a tight race between the classic citrus variation and Death & Co.’s—they both have unique flavors. But if I was forced to choose, I would have to go with the classic recipe. To me it seems to have just the right amount of flavor to not overwhelm the cocktail, but still add dimension. I would encourage you to gather all the ingredients (which are few!) and do your own taste test!

The Best Homemade Grenadine // The Shared Sip

Most recipes make a ton of grenadine (I halfed or quartered the recipes so I didn’t have vats of the stuff—these quantities are reflected below), and it’s perfect for holiday gifting—the color is gorgeous. Simply include your favorite cocktail recipe (that uses grenadine, of course!) along with the bottle, snazz it up with some twine or ribbon and you’re done! You can buy these bottles on Amazon and they have a ton of sizes.

Bonus! Holly and Flora adds some spices to her grenadine and it sounds incredible. Definitely give this variation a whirl, especially in the winter!

I’ll be posting a few of my favorite recipes using grenadine soon. Stay tuned!

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Classic Citrus Grenadine

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup pomegranate juice
  • 2 dashes orange blossom water
  • juice from half a lemon, strained

Combine sugar and juice over low heat until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and add remaining ingredients. Let cool before use.

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Demerara Grenadine
adapted from The New York Times

  • 1 cup pomegranate juice
  • 1/2 cup demerara sugar
  • 1 scant tsp orange blossom water
  • 1 scant tsp rose water

Combine sugar and juice over low heat until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and add remaining ingredients. Let cool before use.

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Pomegranate Molasses Grenadine 
adapted from Death & Co.

  • 2 cups pomegranate juice
  • 1.5 cups organic cane sugar (often labeled “evaporated can juice”—you can find it at Whole Foods)
  • 3 oz pomegranate molasses (you can find this at Whole Foods as well, or online)
  • 4 large orange twists

Combine sugar and juice over low heat until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool. Add molasses and stir well. Squeeze the essence of the twists over the syrup and mix well.