Classic Cocktails / Gin

Perfecting A Classic, Vol. 01: The Martini


The Martini-01 If you ask someone how he likes his martini, chances are, you’re going to get a very convicted, passionate response. Everyone likes his or her martini a specific way, which is, to them, the only way. The thing is, I started this blog to shake things up (pun intended) in my home bar. To experiment and make mistakes. To have some damn fun with cocktails! And the classic martini is no exception.

I’ve never been much of a martini drinker, so my predilections for “correctness” were nearly nonexistent. My best reference was to my dad’s preparation of choice, which consisted of mainly just gin with what he called “a whisper” of vermouth—an amount so small he likened it to quietly murmuring across the top of a chilled gin-filled glass, “vermouuuuuth.”

The Gin MartiniMe, I like a little more than a whisper in my martini. I also enjoy a dash of slightly-sweet bitters (oxymoron!) and even a splash of olive juice. My father probably won’t speak to me for awhile after I post this.

Another major martini controversy: shaken or stirred. I read up a bit on this in my new Death & Co. cocktail book (I honestly cannot recommend this book enough), and the general rule of thumb is: if the cocktail contains any opaque or cloudy ingredients, it should be shaken; a cocktail of transparent ingredients should be stirred. Since martinis are primarily gin and vermouth, stirred it is.

Here, I used a new gin recommended to me by my local spirits shop, Alchemy, which they said would be great for martinis and other cocktails alike. I love that it’s made locally, and well, the label is just plain cool.

The Martini 2-01

The stirring technique was a whole new beast to tackle—you can’t just stir it like a cup of coffee, there’s a science to it. I found this video helpful.

I think the version below is pretty tasty, but I encourage you to experiment and find the martini that works for you. Forget the rules. Cocktailing is for rebels.


The Gin Martini
makes 2 cocktails

  • 5 oz dry gin
  • 1.5 oz dry vermouth; I used Dolin
  • 6 dashes of bitters; I used Fee Brothers celery bitters
  • optional: splash of olive juice
  • 6 olives, pitted
  • mixing glass
  • bar spoon


Place 3 olives on each of two cocktail picks; set aside. In a mixing glass, add all other ingredients without ice, and give a good stir. Add several ice cubes (1-inch cubes are ideal), until the mixing glass is packed fairly tight.

Slide your bar spoon down the side of the glass so that the rounded side touches the glass. Place pointer and middle finger on inside of bar spoon (facing the ice) and the other two on the outside of the spoon (closer to the glass). Push the spoon with your ring finger, then pull with your middle finger, using the packed ice’s natural motion to mix. You shouldn’t be moving your arm much, only your fingers. Mix for about 20 seconds. Using a julep or regular cocktail strainer, strain equally into two martini or coupe glasses (chilled if possible!). Top with your olives.

IMG_5427Barware notes: I found the coupe glass at a thrift shop, but these are similar. The mixing glass is also from Umami Mart. Snag the Death & Co. book here. The gold cocktail picks are an old find from Crate & Barrel Outlet; similar can be found at Cocktail Kingdom, another ah-maz-ing bar-building resource. I want all the things.

Cointreau / Gin

Oscars Edition: The Golden Gent


Golgen Gent Cocktail OscarsI am a huge Academy Awards fangirl; I await the nominations announcement like a kid at Christmastime. And for the month following, I spend my free time curled up in the backs of dark theaters, watching as many nominees as I can, soaking in the performances and comparing my own thoughts to the industry’s critiques.

And that’s just before the ceremony itself. On Oscar night, I love to throw parties to gather friends and watch together—formal attire required, monetary bets placed on printed ballots, and plenty of themed eats. It’s such a great excuse for celebration, usually in the dead of winter when extra merriment is so welcome. Unsurprisingly, a themed cocktail is nothing short of mandatory.

Golgen Gent Cocktail OscarsThis year, though, I’ve felt a little meh about the Oscars. I’m not sure if it’s because none of the films really resonated with me or what, but I’m taking in this year’s screening without much jubilation. That doesn’t mean I won’t have a cocktail in hand (even if I am eating take-out in my sweats); a great cocktail does not require an occasion, if you ask me.

I was trying to come up with a good prosecco-based drink, but none stuck out at me. So I decided to go with a frothy something-or-other, and spotted a cocktail called the White Lady from Food52. I’ve only slightly adapted it here, as I wanted to keep it simple and include ingredients most will already have in their barsinal (heh!).

Enjoy the show! If nothing else, NPH as host guarantees a good time, right?


The Golden Gent
makes 2 cocktails

  • 3 oz gin
  • 2 oz Cointreau
  • 1.5 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 1.5 oz simple syrup
  • 2 egg whites


Add all ingredients except egg whites to a shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously until cold, about 20 seconds. Add egg whites to shaker and shake again until frothy, another 20 seconds. Strain into a martini or coupe.


Barware notes: I’ve DIYed these chalkboard paint glasses for my sisters—they make a great gift. Simply tape off the base of a martini or coupe class, spray paint with chalkboard paint, and let dry overnight. Use chalk or chalkboard pens to write the names of your guests on the base. Super cute and no one loses their glass during the party!

The juicer was a 99-cent Crate & Barrel Outlet find. Gold tray was picked up at the Alameda Antiques Faire. Striped napkins and mini clipboard are from Target. Popcorn box and clapboard are from Party City.

Campari / mezcal

The Bloody Valentine


Bloody Valentine Mezcal Cocktail

Valentine’s Day is, in a word, fake. So fake! What is even the significance of having a dozen red roses show up at your desk or going out to dinner with every other schmuck in town on a predetermined day? Thanks, but no thanks. I’m happy to share takeout pizza and a Netflix marathon with my significant other, which, it turns out, you don’t need to make reservations for three months in advance. Valentine’s Day is just like New Year’s Eve: amateur hour.

Things I do love about Valentine’s Day: crafts, chocolate and cocktails. But, really, I like those things every day of the year. I made a DIY version of these adorable cards for my friends, ate plenty of red velvet Oreos, and am going to throw back several cocktails over the weekend. Join me, will ya?

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The Pearisian Pisco + A Year of Grace


pearisian piscoRemember that time I said I was going to write a post about the new year, and now it’s January 27th? Because that’s right now. BUT! It’s still January, so I’m giving myself a pass. We all deserve a little grace to start out the year.

With that said, happy new year! I hope New Year’s Eve graced you with good friends and delicious cocktails and a smooch from someone you love. If you’re like the rest of the world, the arrival of a new year brings about overwhelming feelings of anxiety and the pressure to GET IT RIGHT this year. It’s such a bummer, don’t you think? I’m trying to ditch that mindset and approach 2015 with a little more zen.

Which brings us to: resolutions. A part of me thinks they are such a cliché, an opportunity for disappointment, an overwrought attempt at change based solely on a date on the calendar. But, there’s also a part of me that loves the opportunity for reflection and renewal. What did I do last year that made my heart full? How can I bring more of that into my life this year?

So I made my resolutions with over-arching desires and intention-based values in mind:

      • Create meaningful habits. I want to write in my journal more; I want to learn more about meditation; I want to read more. By creating habits, it takes less effort to carve out time to do the things you love. If I decide that each Monday and Thursday before bed I’m going to journal, I’m more likely to do it because it’s a set habit.
      • Stop phoning it in. Or, rather, the exact opposite. I could probably count on one hand the amount of times I’ve picked up the phone to call a friend in the last year. With texting and social media, who needs it, right? Wrong. The connection is so much greater when you can hear the words spoken by someone you love. And every time I do get off the phone or spend time with someone in person, I ask myself, why don’t I do that more often?
      • Honor creativity. Just because my day job isn’t as creative as I wish it was doesn’t mean I can’t fuel my creativity outside of work. I’m lucky that my job is super flexible – I could easily take an afternoon to walk around the city with my camera. So why don’t I? Excuses, mostly. I’m done with those, though. Find the time. Learn. Grow. A few on my list: calligraphy, photography, prop styling, and of course, this blog.
      • Be present. This year I will try my damnedest to put down the phone. Take out the earbuds. Stop walking so fast. Look around. Have you ever noticed how much more enjoyable a dinner is when you’re not trying to Instagram it? I want to capture meaningful experiences when I can, but not at the cost of the authenticity of the present moment.
      • Practice gratitude. So much easier said than done. Between the too-frequent comparisons to others, the daily annoyances, the routine of life, it’s easy to feel like there’s nothing outstanding to be grateful for. But there always is. I have a warm bed to sleep in every night. I never have to worry about my next meal. I’m healthy. I could weep with gratitude when I think about how lucky I am, but too often I just don’t think about it. I want to change that.

With these in mind, I’m trying to give myself grace in not “following” them all time. I think that’s my word this year: Grace. The courage to grow but the grace to fall. I think 2015 is going to be a good one.


On that note, I bring you a cheery, fruity cocktail to welcome this new year!

To be completely honest, before making this cocktail I barely knew anything about pisco, other than it was used to create the eponymous Pisco Sour. If you’ve been living in a cave like me, here’s the scoop: Pisco is actually a brandy, distilled from pressed grapes into a spirit, in South America (Peru and Chile primarily). It’s hard to describe but it tastes very…boozy. Helpful, right?! If you invest in a bottle, I promise to make more pisco cocktails here. We can experiment together!

pearisian pisco cocktailIt turns out my cocktails typically come about one of two ways: a) by drinking a killer cocktail at a bar or restaurant and using it as inspiration or b) having various ingredients laying around my kitchen and needing to use them before they go bad. This pisco cocktail falls in the latter group. I had pears sitting on my counter, insulted that I had forgotten to use them in my salad the night before, and ginger hovering in the corner, challenging me to just TRY and find a use for it. Good luck, it smirked.

pearisian pisco cocktailI started by creating a simple ginger syrup. I put a lot of ginger in there—I like an infused syrup to be bold, to shout its identity from the rooftops! Next I pureed my pears. Fair warning: the pears will discolor. Such is life. I didn’t want to add lemon juice to keep them from discoloring because it would have changed the taste quite a bit. Embrace the discoloring!

Though this cocktail is tasty, I would venture to say pears may be on the bottom of my list of preferred fruits to use in cocktails. The puree is just a tad grainy. I know you know what I’m talking about. But hey, live and learn—and cocktail with grace.


The Pearisian Pisco
makes 2 cocktails

  • 4 oz pureed pear (approximately 1 large pear, peeled and cored)
  • 4 oz pisco
  • 2 oz ginger simple syrup (recipe follows)

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake until cold. Strain and serve up in a martini or coupe glass (chilled if possible!)

Ginger simple syrup

  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 c. water
  • 1 3-inch piece of ginger, peeled and chopped into small pieces

Heat all ingredients over low heat, until sugar dissolves completely. Remove from heat and let ginger steep for at least 15 minutes, more if possible. The longer you steep, the stronger the flavor!

Barware notes: The glass was a find at Ohmega Salvage, the sidecar and tiny carafe are both from Crate & Barrel. Shaker can be found here.


Sip + Skim
My favorite finds this week, boozy and otherwise

  • Loving the simplicity of the new cocktail site 365 Days of Cocktails. Eye candy + delicious cocktail recipes. Yes, please.
  • I’ll take one of each of these glasses, on sale from Zara Home.
  • Visiting this new cocktail bar in San Francisco, Rx, is currently on the tip-top of my list of to-dos. The menu design alone will make you a believer.
  • Unless you’re on a new year’s anti-social media diet, you’ve probably read this New Yorker piece, “Let’s Get Drinks.” TOO. REAL.
  • As noted above, one of my resolutions is to spend more time writing. Journal 52 offers a simple prompt each week—a subtle kick in the rear when I’m feeling too lazy to pick up a pen. See also: The 5-Minute Journal.
  • Lastly, a new awesome podcast to introduce you to! On the complete opposite side of the spectrum from Serial is Dear Sugar, a podcast of the same name as Cheryl Strayed’s advice column (and later, book). She and Steve Almond (the columnist before Strayed took over) answer reader questions that span all sorts of topics, from infidelity to addiction. The show is genuine and smart and will get you thinking.

New Year, New Barwares!


2015_barwaresBetween Christmas and my birthday, I was lucky enough to receive some of the most thoughtful and beautiful pieces to continue building my bar. Here are my favorites from the holiday season.


one: this gorgeous seamless mixing glass from local Oakland homewares shop Umami Mart—essential for a cocktail stirred, not shaken.

two: Kyle treated me to this fancy bottle of Ardbeg Corryvrecken single malt scotch for Christmas. I’m not typically a scotch drinker, but this one is smoky and complex and could certainly make a believer of me.

three: Liquid Intelligence—a cocktail book with a scientific approach to all things booze. Did you know there’s an actual technique called booze washing, which strips liquor of undesirable flavors? Me neither. I feel smarter already.

four: another awesome cocktail book Death & Co., from a bar of the same name in New York City. The book is written collectively by the speakeasy’s many amazing mixologists, and features stunning pictures and hundreds of unique cocktails.

five: finally! A set of Moscow mule mugs that have been on my wishlist for quite some time. I can’t wait to use them all summer long.

six: my sisters got me this gorgeous wine decanter for my birthday; I’m embarrassed to say I have never owned a decanter (though I have been using this aerator for quite some time and love it). This thing is so pretty it doubles as a work of art.

Not pictured but equally loved: seven: an empire state building cocktail shaker (!); eight: a pair of etched fern coupes.

Your turn! Any great holiday scores I should know about? There’s always room for more, I say.

Gin / Sparkling Wine

Birthday Wishes + Cali 75


cali 75 cocktailCan someone tell me how 2014 is already over?! PLEASE! I remember last New Year’s Eve like it was mere days ago. For the first time in a long time, I spent it with my parents—my dad, specifically. My own birthday falls on December 31st and my father’s is on January 1st, so growing up I was typically able to blow my candles out in the same breath as he did. I didn’t realize it then, but that’s a pretty neat circumstance.

Over the past 12(?!) birthdays, I was either back at college from winter break to celebrate with my friends, or more recently, in New York City where I lived (and when you live in NYC, you don’t really consider spending New Year’s Eve anywhere else, even if you are just sitting in your itty-bitty apartment drinking cheap champagne with your roommate).

Last year, I was finally home for my birthday. And even better: I was turning 30 and my dad was turning 75. A milestone birthday for each of us, celebrated together. We toasted champagne and snapped pictures and felt the joy of the moment, even if we didn’t speak it aloud. It was one of my favorite.

Cali 75 cocktailThis year, Kyle and I are taking a mini roadtrip south, using my birthday and the new year as a welcome excuse to unplug, adventure, and reconnect.

I’m going to be 31. 31! I remember when my thirties felt so far away, so dreaded. I would be OLD when I reached my thirties! Now that I’m here, I feel the opposite. I feel like this decade is one of both comfort and risk, content and anticipation. It began with a commitment to myself and my partner that we were going to take on life together, side by side, forever. What could be a better start to a decade than that?

I won’t post about resolutions here, as I’m hoping to write a dedicated post to it this coming weekend; It’s hard not to get those and birthday wishes jumbled up. So I’ll make my birthday wish a simple one: more delicious cocktails shared with friends and family in 2015. I can’t wait!


For the celebration of 2015, I wanted to create a cocktail that would:

a) be a fun party drink
b) be boozy and simple
c) pair well with (birthday) cupcakes

I have been seeing French 75 cocktails all over my social media feeds, so I set out to adapt it. I had some thyme simple syrup left over from our Christmas cocktails (which my sister dubbed the Auld Lang Thyme: 2 oz bourbon, 2 oz apple cider, 1 oz lime juice, 1 oz thyme simple syrup, shake and top with champagne—so delicious even non-bourbon lovers will convert!), and I subbed in meyer lemon juice for the regular ol’ stuff. And BAM! The California 75, or Cali 75 (I hate the word “Cali” but this has an undeniable ring to it) was born.

I hope you’ll give it a go this New Year’s! It’s full of that gin flavor but has some sparkle from the prosecco, and just enough sweetness.

Happy, happy new year!


Cali 75 cocktailCali 75
makes 2 cocktails

  • 3 oz gin
  • 2 oz meyer lemon juice
  • 1 oz thyme simple syrup (recipe follows)
  • your favorite prosecco or champagne
  • ice
  • champagne flutes or coupes

Add ice and first 3 ingredients to shaker; shake until cold. Strain equally into two champagne flutes or coupes. Top with your favorite prosecco or champagne. Cheers!

Thyme simple syrup

  • 1 c. water
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 5-8 sprigs of thyme

Add all ingredients to a saucepan and heat over medium until sugar has dissolved and thyme is wilted. Remove from heat and allow to steep for 15-45 minutes, depending on desired potency.

Barware notes: To be completely honest, I can’t remember where I got these stemless champagne flutes but I think it was here.

Cupcake notes: I made Raspberry Cupcakes with Champagne Buttercream Frosting from Chasing Delicious, which is fantastic site full of food and photography inspiration. Hot damn are these tasty! And, not coincidentally, they work perfectly with a Cali 75.


Gin / Sparkling Wine / Vodka

Cranberry Sparkler + Christmas Presence


Merry almost Christmas, friends! I had such great intentions of creating several holiday cocktails, but somehow the time has escaped me. Doesn’t it always work out that way? I anticipate the arrival of Christmas all year, and when it finally arrives, it comes and goes in the blink of an eye. I suspect it’s that way for most wonderful things in life: weddings, births, and the many celebrations in between. What’s left is a few memories of time well spent; and, if you’re lucky, the ability to recall the joy felt in those moments.

When I look back on the 30 Christmases of my life, I can tell you with certainty that I don’t remember more than a handful of gifts I’ve received. What I do remember: Reading ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas each and every year, first my mom reading it to me, then my sister reading it to her kids, and now my nephews and nieces reading it to each other.

I remember a letter from Santa written by my dad, one that he spent hours creating—complete with a hole burned into it (from Rudolph’s nose, naturally) and two reindeer prints so realistic that a part of me still believes St. Nick is real.

I remember candlelight services at church, mini-roadtrips to view Christmas lights, and messy cookie-baking. I remember the faces of my nephews and nieces waking up to see that had Santa come. I remember the magic of the moments that we rush through and that rush through us.

So, as the 25th grows nearer, I’ve been trying to slow down and appreciate these little moments that add up to one busy holiday season. As I wrap my gifts, I try to think about the person who will receive them and how I hope the gift makes them feel. I try to wrap up that hope as well.

As I decorated the tree, I paused a second longer to hang my most meaningful ornaments. This was the first year Kyle’s childhood ornaments graced our tree, so I took care in nestling them amongst my own, as our pasts continue to merge into one shared life.

Over the next few days, there will be many opportunities to let such moments slip away from me—and an equal opportunity to stay present in them. Cocktails with old friends, dinners with couples we see only a few times a year, a lazy Christmas breakfast with my family—these are what joy is made of. And if I can hold onto even an ounce of that joy, and carry it with me until next year, it will have been a very merry Christmas, indeed.

As we close on 2014, I hope you’ll include this cocktail in your celebrations. It’s simple and bright and cheery—just like the holidays should be! And, in my opinion, December just begs for a little bubbly. Cheers!

Cranberry Sparkler Gif
Cranberry Sparkler
makes 1 cocktail (build each cocktail individually)

  • Cranberry purée (recipe below)
  • Sparkling wine

Fill Champagne flute about one-third of the way up with the cranberry puree; tilt flute and slowly pour sparkling wine down the side of the glass to create an ombré effect. Sip merrily and enjoy!

Cranberry purée
makes enough for about 6 cocktails

  • 1 c. gin or vodka (I tried both and preferred gin)
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 2 c. fresh cranberries

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Puree at least 1 minute, until no chunks remain. At this point you can use as-is, or strain through a fine sieve. I liked it with the seeds, but Kyle preferred it strained. Up to you!

Barware notes: My Champagne flutes were a Christmas present from my sister, Jen, from CB2. I love their modern take on a classic shape. The striped napkin was a Crate & Barrel outlet find.


Sip + Skim
My favorite finds this week, boozy and otherwise

  • This coming year, I want to experiment more with beer cocktails. Taking a cue from Beautiful Booze’s Whiskey & Gingerbread Porter Sour could be a good place to start.
  • I was reunited with one of my favorite shops of all time, Fish’s Eddy, during my visit to NYC this month—and am keeping their online shop on speed-click for the coolest and quirkiest wedding presents (including, um, maybe a few things for my own registry)
  • End-of-the-year “best of” lists are basically my favorite thing ever. I’m carving out some time to spend with this one, TED’s top talks of 2014.
  • Mourning the ending of Serial with this great list from Slate: What to read, watch and listen to when Serial ends. [Sidenote: I think Adnon did it. Dana’s point in the last episode about him being in too many “bad luck” situations is so spot-on. That said, I still think they should have acquitted him. There was clearly not enough evidence to prove him guilty without a reasonable doubt.]
Bourbon / Whiskey

New York Sour + An Ode to NYC


New York Sour CocktailJust over a year ago, I moved back home to the Bay Area after spending 7 years in New York. When I left home in 2007, I had an inking I would be back; after all, my family was and always would be in California. I was excited for the change, but felt as if living in New York had a timestamp attached to it; there was always an expiration date hovering in the background. I was 3,000 miles from the place I had grown up; how could anywhere else be as important to me as that?

But packing up last summer was much harder than I expected it to be. I had built a life in these boroughs: it was where I had grown from a floundering post-grad to a slightly-less-floundering adult; it was where I found friendships unlike others I had experienced; it was where I had started (and mourned) my own company; it was where I fell in love with the man I’m going to marry; it was where I learned to trust myself. The city was a gift to me in more ways than I think I fully realize, and was a home to me as true as my birthplace ever was.

The other day, I came across a picture that had captured New York in that perfect way that only happens every so often. The sun was setting, the skyline was crisp, the leaves were endless shades of red and yellow and orange. The sight of it hit me like a sucker punch in the stomach; I missed that place so much I could feel it deep in my bones. It felt a little bit like the way you feel after seeing a photograph of an ex-lover, happy and smiling in a new life that doesn’t include you—full of sadness, ache, happiness and nostalgia. It was raw and real and I took a moment to let my eyes well up with tears and feel the feelings I didn’t know I had.

Of course, those feelings lessened as I went on with my week, as most feelings do with the passage of time. I lingered a little longer in the California sunshine, spent time with my nieces, reconnected with high school friends. These things reminded me of why I did end up coming back home, and why I had always known I would. But that longing for New York won’t ever truly end. I can still recall it with memories of late nights in dark Manhattan bars, warm afternoons in Central Park; the million mistakes and accomplishments and joys that are, in my mind, so wonderful if only because they were made in New York City. And those bittersweet, beautiful memories have no expiration date at all.

In celebration of this great city, I decided to make a New York Sour. Just like a traditional whiskey sour, this version includes whiskey, lemon juice and simple syrup—the variation is created with the addition of a red wine float. I know it sounds strange, but it actually works—you’re only adding an ounce or so of wine, which ends up blending perfectly with the whiskey.

New York Sour CocktailI used bourbon instead of whiskey here, mostly because I buy (and drink) more bourbon than whiskey—for no real reason, exactly, except maybe I’ve had more exposure to it and it is slightly sweeter, which I like. What even is the difference between bourbon and whiskey, you might ask? I’m still learning the intricacies myself, but the basics are: bourbon is distilled from a grain mixture that is comprised of at least 51% corn, which gives it that sweetness. There are also some differences in storage methods and proof requirements, but we’ll tackle that another day.

New York Sour Cocktail I picked up this Cyrus Noble bourbon at a wonderful new spirits shop in our neighborhood called Alchemy Bottle Shop. The store is full of unique spirits, many from small distilleries around the country that you won’t find at the big-box stores. The prices are actually pretty reasonable (only a few bucks more than you might pay elsewhere) and the shopkeepers give you the best recommendations without even rolling their eyes at your stupid questions! And trust me, I ask a lot of stupid questions.

The bottle rang in around $30, and I was told is suitable for both sipping and mixing in cocktails. I’m not even going to pretend I know a great bourbon from a crappy one (yet!), but I thought this one was certainly pleasant to drink. It’s distilled in Kentucky, but bottled here in San Francisco. The history of this bourbon is fascinating, created exclusively for SF in the days of the gold rush (1871!). Very cool.

New York Sour CocktailThe wine used was what I had leftover, Cupcake Red Velvet (have you had this? It’s like $8 but I swear is a totally drinkable, cheap wine for a Tuesday night), but anything not-too-oak-y would work in this cocktail, like a Shiraz or Malbec. Once assembled, the result is classic but unique, and has some definite curb appeal—much like the Big Apple itself.

New York Sour CocktailHere’s looking at you, New York!

New York Sour
makes 2 cocktails

  • 4 oz whiskey or bourbon
  • 2 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 2 oz simple syrup
  • 2 oz red wine
  • ice
  • rocks glasses
  • spoon

Add ice and first three ingredients to a cocktail shaker; shake vigorously until outside of shaker becomes cold. Strain equally over ice into each rocks glass. Hold an inverted spoon over one glass and gently pour 1 oz wine over back of spoon; it looks like it is sinking but it won’t! Repeat with the second glass.

Barware notes: My rocks glasses are from cb2—they are paper thin and so lovely to drink from. The shaker is from Bottlerocket in NYC. You can buy it over here.

The juicer is from Crate & Barrel—a recent purchase—and has changed my cocktail game entirely. I was using one of those awful, cumbersome handheld juicers: the worst. Please do yourself a favor and buy one of these. It will be the best $10 you ever spend.

The sidecar (used here for the wine) is also from Crate & Barrel—if you don’t have a sidecar, you must get one immediately! I love making a double batch of cocktails and pouring half of it in the sidecar. That way, you don’t have to go through the whole process again when you wolf down your first cocktail in 10 seconds. Just me?

Aperol / Vodka

A Spooky Spritz!


Spooky_Spritz_aperolIf ever there was a holiday for a themed cocktail, Halloween is it. Though this drink is pretty tame, next year I’m totally going to up my beverage game with something really creepy, involving fake blood or eyeballs or both. Only 365 days to go. Can’t. Wait.

I was inspired to create this number when I spotted the Aperol tucked away in the back of my liquor cabinet, looking sad and neglected. I bought the bottle after my trip to Italy this summer with my sisters, where Aperol is the star in the Italian cocktail staple called the spritz. A spritz traditionally has a white wine or Prosecco base, along with a bitter liqueur (like Aperol or Campari) and topped off with soda water. The sweetness of the sparkling wine perfectly compliments the Aperol, and makes for a super-refreshing sip.

In this version, I used a vodka base rather than wine or Prosecco, and topped the Aperol with ginger beer for that added sweetness. The bright orange appearance of the cocktail screams Halloween—but honestly, this drink is a winner any time of year. I hope you’ll give it try tonight or in July when you can’t possibly consume yet another mojito.

Though Kyle and I won’t be dressing up this year (are we really at the stage in life when watching a scary movie in our PJs is more appealing than partying in costume?! Sigh), I do hope we get a few trick-or-treaters. I stocked up on Butterfingers and Cookies n’ Cream Hershey bars, but I think I might run out and grab some Reese’s too. Ya know, just in case. Ahem.

Have a safe and sip-worthy evening!


Spooky Spritz
makes 1 cocktail (build each cocktail individually)

  • 1.5 oz vodka
  • 1 oz Aperol
  • 3 oz ginger beer
  • 3 oz soda water
  • ice
  • highball glass

Fill a highball glass with ice. Stack ingredients over ice, then give a quick stir.

Bareware note: The highball glasses were found at a thrift shop down the street from me—I love the heavy base of them. The ice was made in a Tovolo King Ice Cube tray—these cubes make any drink look cooler. I scored the paper straws in the dollar bin at Target. I think I spend a liiiittle too much time there.



La Copa Verde


La Copa Verde cocktail Padrecito

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll recognize this cocktail from several weeks ago—mid-August, actually. My New York girlfriends were in town for our weekend getaway to Sonoma, and before departing on Saturday we spent Friday evening in Cole Valley at a little restaurant called Padrecito. I ordered a drink called La Copa Verde, based on the recommendation of the waiter. I always ask the waiter or bartender for his or her recommendations—on cocktails, wine, food, everything. It’s perfect for enabling my lack of decision-making skills.

La Copa Verde was everything I was promised: tangy and herb-y with all that delicious smokiness from the mezcal. If you haven’t become obsessed with mezcal yet, you should start immediately. It has this sort of bold spunkiness to it that I can really appreciate. It’s what you drink when you want to seem sophisticated, but not pretentious. I know you know what I’m talking about.

La Copa Verde cocktail

Here’s a rundown of the ingredients you’ll need: cilantro, lime juice, simple syrup, mezcal, and chipotle chile pepper. Feel free to skip the pepper if you can’t handle the heat (wahhhh), but it does add a little something. I think Padrecito’s version has a secret ingredient I can’t quite place, but this adaptation is still quite similar.

La Copa Verde cocktail

Once the cilantro mixes with the mezcal and the chipotle, it becomes the perfect addition to a Mexican meal. It’s like a taco in a glass! But, in a really good, not weird way. Just trust me on this one. ¡Salud!

La Copa Verde
makes 2 cocktails

  • 4 oz mezcal
  • 1 oz simple syrup
  • handful of cilantro leaves, stems removed
  • 2 oz lime juice
  • sprinkle of chipotle chile pepper
  • ice
  • coupe or martini glasses

In a food processor, combine cilantro and lime juice. Puree. Run through a fine mesh strainer – some small bits of cilantro will pass through; that’s okay.

Add ice, mezcal, syrup and cilantro/lime mixture to shaker. Shake vigorously until cold and strain into coupe or martini glass. Garnish with a sprinkle of chipotle chile pepper.

Barware note: My shaker (not well-pictured here, but alas), is from this wonderful wine and spirits shop in Manhattan called Bottle Rocket. My coupe glasses were an am-az-ing $3 find at a place called Ohmega Salvage in Berkeley. Clear your whole afternoon before going; it’s a gem.

Skim + Sip
My favorite finds this week, boozy and otherwise

  • I’ve been thinking a lot about this article on drinking in moderation while pregnant. I’m not going to lie: I will probably indulge in a glass of wine now and again when that time comes. Ladies: thoughts?
  • I’m heading to The Cheese School in San Francisco tomorrow for a cheese and wine pairing class with my dad. I gave him this as a gift for Christmas, which was really a present for me. Win-win.
  • Working solo from home, I listen to a lot of podcasts. I am O-B-S-E-S-S-E-D with this new one from the creators of This American Life, called Serial. The season covers one murder case, each week uncovering a little more of the mystery. It. is. everything. You can download it for free on their site or on iTunes.
  • I’ll admit it: I don’t really read the news as much as a should. Which is why I love getting The Skimm newsletter in my inbox every morning. It covers the most important news items (everything from Ebola outbreaks to celeb breakups) in just a few sentences each, and is written by two really smart, witty ladies. It’s the perfect compliment to your morning cup of coffee.