Apple Cardamom Toddy!!

Shrub

We are snowed in and the drinking shrubs were getting a little jealous from all the attention the bitters and tinctures were getting, so I had to make a drink featuring them! I have chosen to use the Apple Cardamom shrub from 18-21 Bitters. You will remember them from my previous posts. If you still need to order from them, or need to restock, check them out here…

Let’s get started!

Apple Cardamom Toddy   Makes 2 Toddies (Because a Toddy is better when shared with a friend!)

Ingredients:

  • 2 Cups Water
  • 4 Tbs. honey
  • 2 cinnamon sticks (more if you want to garnish with them!)
  • Juice from 2 Lemons
  • 2 shot Apple Cardamon Drinking Shrub
  • 2 shots of good bourbon
  • Apple slice with cinnamon to garnish, if you choose (I always choose!)

Directions:

  • In a sauce pan, combine water, honey, cinnamon sticks, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil and let then turn the heat down to a simmer. Let simmer for about 5 minuets, letting the beautiful aroma fill your house!  (You can make this in larger batches and keep in your refrigerator for about two weeks. Heat before serving)
  • Divide the heated liquid between 2 mugs and add bourbon and shrub. Garnish with apple slice.
  • Enjoy!
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Ginger Basil Gimlet

Gimlet

We are in Kentucky and about to get pounded with what we consider to be an enormous amount of snow (7-8 inches, not a lot by most standards, but it basically shuts our town down!). My Mom is here with me, and we are preparing. By doing cocktail testing! We are not planning on leaving the house for the next few days and while everyone else was out stocking up on milk and bread, we were buying alcohol for us and diapers for the baby! We are all set to spend this weekend stuck inside next to fire, drinking great cocktails and watching PBS, while the baby entertains the dogs. It’s a win win for everyone. To be honest, I am looking forward to all of the snow and can’t wait for it to get here!

I have been playing around with hot toddys lately and gave a great recipe for one a few days ago. It offered a little inspiration for my favorite drink so far from tonight’s experimenting. I wanted to do something that wasn’t too heavy, but still offered some comfort. That’s how I came up with the Ginger Basil Gimlet! It’s a super easy drink to make and enjoy. The honey syrup that is mentioned is basically just equal parts honey and water boiled together and cooled. You can make a large batch of this ahead of time and store it in the fridge. It will keep for about two weeks, but I can’t imagine it will last that long! I like a lot of lemon tang in my drinks, but if you prefer a sweeter drink, cut back on the lemon and add more honey syrup.

Here goes nothing!

Ginger Basil Gimlet        Makes 1 drink

Ingredients:

  • Juice from one lemon
  • 5 leaves of fresh or  two pinches of dried basil (if you use fresh, break it up in the bottom of the glass with a muddler or something to bruise it, but not cutting it. You want the flavors to escape. Bruised leaves will offer their flavors, while cut leaves tend to hold them in)
  • 4 shots of honey syrup
  • 2 shots of Gin
  • 4 drops of 18-21 Bitters Ginger Lemon Bitters (If you don’t have this, you can order it here. If you want to make this drink now and order these later, you can ommit the bitters and have a perfectly nice Basil Gimlet without the Ginger. You can use ginger powder, or infuse some ginger in your syrup if you like, but it doesn’t offer a huge pop of flavor like the bitters do!)

Directions:

  • Muddle basil if using fresh. Add ice to glass with basil. (Dried basil can be added later)
  • Juice lemon directly into glass
  • Add syrup (you can play with the tart and sweet elements and get a mix that works for you!)
  • Add dried basil (If you are using dried instead of fresh)
  • Mix in Gin and Bitters (if using)
  • Stir together and garnish with a lemon peel if you like! (I always like 🙂

I hope you enjoy this drink and a hot toddy if you are snowed in this weekend like us!

 

 

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How to make the perfect cheese board for National Cheese Lover’s Day!!!

Cheese Lover

Since today celebrates all of us who consider cheese a staple in our daily diet, I thought I would take a moment and let you guys in on what I consider a perfect cheese board.

It can be very daunting to go into a cheese shop or peruse the gourmet cheeses at your local grocer. There are so many varieties and different types within those varieties. Many are turned off by the Blues and Stiltons, because they are often nicknamed the “Stinky Cheeses”. While they do have a more pungent smell than others, they should not be avoided all together. In these situations, it helps greatly to ask the person behind the counter. Let them know what your preferences are and more than likely they can steer you in the right direction, because they have probably tasted everything in the case! They can be your best friend when trying to make a cheese board. They will also give you some samples, if you ask nicely 🙂

Next, you need to know your crowd. If you are hosting a business dinner and the feel is a little stuffy, you may want to stay safe with some predictable choices like Cheddars, Provolones, Americans and maybe a Swiss. Mostly soft cheese that can be easily cut and absent mindedly eaten. If you are having some friends over for a wine night, go a little more wild in your selections. Try some of your stinky Blues and some triple cream goats milk cheeses. If you are buying from a local cheese shop, they more than likely sell wine as well and can point you in the right direction for pairings.

After you get comfortable with cows milks cheeses, you can spread your wings into the sheep and goats milk choices. I personally like both sheep and goats milk cheeses a lot! Often times they are fairly mild and are great vessels for homemade jams or candied nuts. If you are curious, but don’t want to dive all the way in, most places will cut you very small blocks to take home and experiment with. I also recommend going to a cheese class if you ever have the opportunity to. You can try so many varieties and learn more about our favorite dairy product!

As far as variety goes, I like to have at least one Blue or Stilton on the tray, mostly because I really like them! After that, I try to have a Brie of some sort (I really like a sheep’s milk Brie!), a Cheddar and one hard cheese, like a Parmesan or something similar. Unless you are serving an incredibly large crowd, you are probably ok with about four choices. Always remember, you should keep a few safe choices on your board, because many people won’t want to be incredibly adventurous with cheese at a dinner party!  If you know your guests, and know that several like the Blues and Stiltons, put an extra one out. If you are serving a large crowd, and have a lot of cheese, put some out and keep some back for later. Some cheeses sweat after being at room temperature and can become unappetizing looking (even though they are still delicious!) Just replenish every so often to keep your guests happy and enjoying your selections!

This brings us to amount! This is where you are going to want to make friends with the guy behind the counter! They can help you figure out about how much you will need for the amount of people you are having and what type of party you are hosting. If this is a dinner party and the cheese course is just for a little nosh before dinner, you won’t need much at all. If this is a cocktail party and the cheese will be out all night, you will want a little more. In my experiences, you will need less than you think and the seller is probably more than happy to cut you a quarter of a pound of several choices, because they don’t want to waste either! While many of these make great grilled cheeses the next day, I really pride myself on reading my crowd and trying not to have too much excess. Besides, I want fresh cheese for my sandwiches!

Now for the accompaniments….I like a variety if this is for a cocktail party. Not so much if you are just putting cheese out for guests to have as they arrive before everyone sits down to dinner. In that case, I would have the cheese, a little fruit, and maybe some nuts, if I had candied some and wanted to impress my guests! For a cocktail party, I go all out. I like candied nuts, jams, honey, dried fruit, as well as fresh fruit. Most of this is pretty reasonably priced and looks great on a tray! I like to have my jams and honey in small dishes with small spoons for serving and small tongs for the fruit. I never want my guests to have to touch the food on the tray with their hands. If you have apples and pears, slice them so that they can act as a vessel for the cheese. Strawberries can go on whole or sliced, it’s your choice. Candied nuts and dried fruits are always great, because they are easy to eat and pair well with most cheeses. Crostinis are also a great choice, but not necessary. Some people like cheese and bread, but don’t fret if you don’t include them, if you have everything else. However, you can usually get them cut at your local grocer and they are filling and cost effective!

Your harder cheese will need a knife stuck in them to keep them stable while your guests cut off what they want with another knife. Softer cheeses are usually pretty easily cut and only require one knife. I like each choice to have their own knife, because some people are very opposed to certain varieties of cheeses and cross contamination may deter them from enjoying your beautiful cheese board!

I’m pretty sure I’ve covered most of the high points of making show stopping cheese board, but if you have any questions, please let me know!!

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Popcorn and a Hot Toddy!!!

popcorn toddy

Since it’s National Popcorn Day (yeah, I had no idea either, until I saw it on social media!) and it’s freezing outside, we are celebrating with Everglades Seasoned Popcorn and a Ginger Cinnamon Hot Toddy. Both are super simple to make and will be great enjoyed next to a roaring fire on your next cold evening!

For the popcorn….

I can’t get enough of the Lekue Popcorn Bowl, and if you like popcorn as much as we do, you have to have one! Order your on Amazon here.

Once you’ve made your popcorn, obviously you are free to put whatever toppings you want on it, but today, I am challenging you to get out of your comfort zone and try something new. Tonight I went with a flavor that my Mom has loved on popcorn and in general cooking for years, Everglades Seasoning. If you don’t have a bottle of this in your kitchen, run out and get on now! If you aren’t lucky enough (like me!) to have relatives in Florida to get you some at the local Publix, you can order some here. Try more than one flavor… I promise you won’t be disappointing!

After making my popcorn with butter in the bowl while it was popping 🙂 , I sprinkled my Everglades Seasoning on liberally and enjoyed!

For the Ginger Cinnamon Hot Toddy

First, I boiled 2 cups of water together with chunks of fresh ginger, 3 tablespoons of honey, two squeezed lemons, and 2 cinnamon sticks. Bring mixture to a boil and then turn down and cover. Let it steep for about 5 minuets.

Next, I added cinnamon sticks and 4 drops of 18-21 Ginger Lemon Tincture (if you don’t have this particular tincture, check out 18-21 Bitters here and order some! In the mean time, don’t worry, you can add some extra squeezed lemon and ginger powder at the end if you need a more intense flavor.)

Strain the boiled mixture into two mugs. Add desired amount of good quality Bourbon and finish with a lemon peel!

These two pair perfectly together and will bring some warmth to your night!

 

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S’mores Cocktail with a Ginger Cinnamon Kicker!!

ginger chocolate

This week, I am going to revisit the Hot Chocolate Toddy from a few weeks ago, but I am going to add a twist or two to liven it up a bit!!

It’s finally starting to feel like winter here in the Bluegrass State and nothing warms me up faster then Hot Chocolate and Bourbon! With all the rain we’ve been having, it’s added a little extra nip in the air, so I’ve come up with a solution…..I added more to the Hot Chocolate Toddy!

This version takes you to a camp fire with S’mores flavors and kicks up the flavor a notch with the addition of ginger and cinnamon. It can be enjoyed during any outdoor activity (and make it more bearable with there’s a chill in the air!) or in front of a roaring fire in your living room.

S’mores Cocktail with a Ginger Cinnamon Kicker

Ingredients:

  • 1 mug of your favorite hot chocolate (I personally like Xocolatl Small Batch Chocolate out of Atlanta. There website is http://www.xocolatlchocolate.com/ and believe me, it’s worth ordering from them!)
  • 2 shots of good Bourbon
  • 1 Graham cracker
  • Powdered Ginger and Cinnamon to taste (I like a lot of ginger, so I usually make everything, taste, and add more!)
  • Cinnamon sticks for stirring, and because they are fun!
  • Bruleed marshmallow for garnish. Throw in a couple if you want, they look like they’re having fun, floating around in all that goodness!

Directions:

  • After preparing the hot chocolate, add in the bourbon.
  • Next, crumble the graham cracker on top and sprinkle over powdered ginger and cinnamon. The graham cracker should dissolve and give you that perfect, campfire S’mores flavor!
  • Stir with your cinnamon stick and add your marshmallows (I brulee mine over the stove when I don’t have a campfire!)

Sit back and enjoy!

I also encourage you guys to check out a new app called Phoodie. It’s like Instagram, but solely for food and drinks. I love it and find a lot of inspiration through it!

You can find out more at https://www.facebook.com/phoodielife/?fref=ts.

 

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Dog Training: Whistle Sit Progression

Here’s a nice little video to show the progression of training a dog for whistle sits.

 

We start out with Clementine, who is about five months old and just now progressing beyond her basic obedience. She will be starting her whistle sits on a leash with a slight bit of pressure to pair the whistle with the sit command.

Henry is a young dog, with a ton of obedience training. I would like to do some uplands hunting and testing with him and will need him to learn to move away from the handler and quarter in a field. He started his whistle sits the same way as Clementine, and will now get rewarded for creating more distance between his handler and where he is required to sit.

Deacon is a seasoned dog who has done uplands testing, as well as uplands and quail hunting. He is an example of where the other two will be as their training progresses. He will be whistle sitting after he flushes live birds and will remain steady while being shot over.

Enjoy!

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A Simple Take on a Big Tradition….

New Years 3

Little bites of southern goodness!

Every New Years since I moved out of my parents house, I have continued the tradition of having black eyed peas, collard greens, cornbread, and some sort of pork New Years eve and day. Most of the time I am met with weird looks from anyone asking what I’m doing (mostly from my husband!). I think this is because so many people have forgotten some of our southern traditions! The black eyed peas are said to bring you luck, the collard greens represent your money for the coming year, cornbread is for gold, and the pork is from an animal “rich” in fat. For a more in-depth look at what each of these elements represent, take a look at my post from last year, by clicking here.  Well, I am here to bring these Southern New Years staples back to you in a very easy way.

New Years 4

I love to serve on pretty trays. If your Grandmother hasn’t bequeathed you her silver services yet, you can get very nice, very cheap serving trays at the dollar store and your local party stores. I promise, no one will know the difference!

The meal that I usually make is pretty large, and is hard if you are at a New Years party where finger foods are the main sustenance. So this year, I have come up with a way for everyone to get their New Years luck without the hassle of a big, sit down meal.

Basically, you are going to take what was once a very large meal, and make it into a two bite appetizer or finger food. This way, you get your luck, and your friends who aren’t familiar with our customs can get a “taste” (and some luck!), while still being able to enjoy their own favorite New Years treats.

We start by soaking a bag of black eyed peas overnight in a bowl of water to soften them before cooking. You can used canned if you like, but I haven’t found any yet that don’t have a funny aftertaste. Making fresh peas isn’t really that hard, you just have to remember to start a day ahead of time and soak them. There are ways to do a quick soak by heating up the water, but I have never used this method, but I’m sure a quick Google search can get you the information you need.

Clem New Years

Will and Clementine are ready for the ball to drop!

Next, get your bunch of collards and clean them very well. Even when you get them in the produce isle at the grocery store, they still come with a little grit (as my Mom calls it, but it’s really sand stuck to the stalks). Nothing ruins a pot of greens faster than finding grit in your potlikker! (If you don’t know what potlikker is, you need to immediately move further south and find a nice old Grandmother to make it for you. It will change your life!) Soak them in the sink and before removing the leaves from the stalk to get the sand off the leaves. You are going to want to tear your leaves into pretty small pieces for this dish. Sometimes, you can fins bags of collards with the lettuces. These are great and will save you some time!

Now, here is where I start to make things a little easier on you. Rather than cooking your beans and collards separately, cook both of them in the same pot. Add some garlic, bacon or ham hock, pepper, and salt to water (I added a little beef broth, because I had some leftover from Christmas). Taste as you go and adjust your seasonings according to what you and your guests like. Bring everything to a boil and then turn to a low simmer and cover your pot.

You are going to need to give the greens and peas a few hours to simmer on the stove to let your flavors develop. In the mean time, you can work on your cornbread, which for the sake of keeping things simple, is also going to have your pork element worked into it. Every family has their own recipe for the way they like their cornbread. Ours uses cracklins (wonderful pieces of fried pork fat that taste like little crunchy pieces of heaven in your mouth), while other families choose to make a sweeter bread and add (aghast!) sugar. You can use whatever recipe works for you, just bake it according to the directions here, so that you get an almost cracker like element to stack the greens and peas on.

New Years 1

If you don’t have your own recipe, here’s what I do…. I take a cup of corn meal and sift it together with a cup of all-purpose flour and add a tablespoon of baking powder to the mix. I melt a stick of unsalted butter and add that along with one egg and enough milk to bind everything together, but not to make it too soupy. No worries, however, if you do get a little too much milk. Just add a little more flour and corn meal until you a substance that stick to the end of your wooden spoon when you pull it out of the bowl. Once your consistency is where you want it, season with two tablespoons each of salt and pepper. This is where I get excited….this is the point when you add the cracklins! Now, this ingredient can be a little elusive and more than likely your grocer won’t know what you are talking about. I know, because this happens to me all the time! Try a specialty butcher shop first, before going to the grocery store, I usually have the best luck with our local butcher. If they don’t have them, can’t get them, or look at you like you have three heads when you ask for them, attempt the grocery store. They are usually in the meat section, but I have found them in the frozen foods section as well. At least one employee will send you to get pork rinds, and while these will work, if you can get real cracklins, do. They will take your dish to a whole new level! If you can’t find cracklins and pork rinds don’t appeal to you, add come cooked bacon to get some “rich” fat.

Once you get your pork element incorporated, spread the batter out in a well greased baking pan until about 1/2 of an inch thick. This bread shouldn’t spread or rise much, so if you don’t meet the edges of the pan, don’t worry about it. Bake it in a 350* oven for about 20 minuets, but check it after 15 minuets, just to be sure. When you can insert a toothpick into the middle of the pan and it comes out clean, your bread is done.

After letting the bread cool in the pan, you can either cut it into 2 inch squares, or use a 2 inch round biscuit cutter for some fun rounds. I got 10 rounds out of my baking pan, and am using the leftovers to mash up with some black eyed peas for Will to eat to celebrate his first New Years! (I pick the cracklins out, but add more potlikker to his, so he gets his pork from the seasoning fat).

Deacon New Years

Yes, Deacon takes his champagne with Raspberries in it 🙂

You can also get a pan of cornbread at the grocery store and cut it into the shapes of your choice, rather than baking your own. If you do this, I would recommend sticking it under your broiler for a minuet or two, just to toast it up a little. This will keep any liquids from soaking into your bread too quickly. Also, since this bread probably won’t have any sort of “rich” fat added to it, you can top each one with a piece of bacon or pork rind.

Once you get your bread cut, arrange it on a platter for serving. Use some tongs to pull the collards out of the pot and place a few on each piece of cornbread. Then, go back with a slotted spoon and spoon out some black eyed peas onto the top of the collard greens.

At this point, you are ready to serve! I would recommend not building on the bread sooner than 30 minuets before you want to serve them, to keep the bread from getting soggy.

I hope that this recipe helps you to spread the joy of our southern heritage to your friends and family and keep our traditions alive! I wish for you all the luck, money, gold, and riches that 2016 has to offer!

 

 

 

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It’s a simple drink, but it gave me my start!

Bar

I call this “Hemingway’s Shelf”.

This week I’m going to take you guys back. Way back to the first cocktail I ever learned to make. This all came about from baby proofing my house. My Mom has been here, helping me out, and it had been suggested by several people that my craft cocktail accompaniments shouldn’t be within reach of little Bur. I had to agree, but didn’t want to banish all my toys to the garage Besides, Trev’s “Priceless” Bourbon collection gets to stay in the house, why should my liquor not get to be displayed? My Mom, who always has great ideas, suggested taking some of my books off the book shelf and using those shelves to house my craft cocktail necessities. I love books almost as much as I love dogs and drinks, but since I have moved to an eReader, I only use a few of the books on the shelf, so I felt safe putting the rest in storage, until a larger library can be had for them. Besides, the cookbook collection, which I actually use on an almost daily basis, resides in the kitchen and I was able to leave room for my entertaining and dog books. When I was finished with the project, I knew Hemingway would have been proud! I had combine all of my favorite things in one case! Bur plays on the bottom shelf, so yes, he is included in that list!

He would have eaten the cherries and moved the swizzle stick out of his way, just because I made it :)

He would have eaten the cherries and moved the swizzle stick out of his way, just because I made it 🙂

Anyways, I have gotten way off track! While we were moving everything, Mom picked up a bottle of Seagram’s V.O. and asked, “Who drinks this? I’ve never seen you use it in a cocktail?” I had actually forgotten the bottle was there. I only made drinks out of it when I needed some memories and inspirations. I told her it was there for Papa and I would make one whenever I needed to remember him or wanted inspiration for a new project that reminded me of him. I’m ashamed to say that the bottle was dusty, as I haven’t sat down with Papa in a little while.

This is one of my favorite pictures of us together...That is in fact a letter from Santa that I am reading to him.

This is one of my favorite pictures of us together…That is in fact a letter from Santa that I am reading to him.

That night, I sat down and had a V.O. and Coke, over ice (the exact way he would “order” it from me when I was his bartender) and hung out with my memories……

When I was a young girl, about 10 or so (ok, probably younger than that  ), I stayed with my Grandparents, Mama and Papa quite a bit. I learned all sorts of useful life lessons while staying with them, bartending being one of them. They lived in a condo at the time and the bar was conveniently located in a cabinet that was at my level. My Mama kept all of her entertaining ware in the same area and I

These obsessions of mine really did start at a young age....

These obsessions of mine really did start at a young age….

always had fun setting the table for dinner, or taking the flowers we had cut and making a center piece. She really helped to cultivate my love for entertaining!

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My Papa, on the other hand, helped to cultivate my love for cocktail mixing and use to let me drive, a lot, but that’s a story for another time! His favorite drink at that time in my life was V.O. and Coke. Because of that, I have never been able to look at Canadian Whiskey without thinking about him. He liked two fingers of whiskey and just a splash of coke, over ice, of course! This was also one of the first times that I heard “on the rocks.” You can imaging where my little girl imagination took me! I had thoughts of my Mama going out into the yard and collecting the finest rocks for my Papa’s drinks! You can imagine my disappointment when I found out they meant ice cubes!

He really did get on the floor and play with my brother and I all the time!

He really did get on the floor and play with my brother and I all the time!

And so my training as a mixologist began! At the time, I had to use 3 – 4 fingers, depending on how strong he wanted his drink that night, since obviously my fingers were small and two of my little fingers would never do! While I kept the essence of the drink to what he ordered, he had no control over the garnishes that I added to it! We use to watch old black and white movies together and I always remembered the bartenders adding cherries on little plastic swords or a lemon twist. He indulged my creativity. I packed those glasses full of whatever I could find in the kitchen. My Mama, who also indulged me in almost everything, made sure that my bar-ware was always stocked with colorful plastic swords or tiny umbrellas and that I always had cherries to skewer for the perfect display. I learned how to peel a lemon to get the perfect swirl for the rim of a glass. Granted, Papa didn’t want all those extras in his drink, but since I made it, he pushed the umbrella out of the way every time he took a

Again, indulging my creative nature.

Again, indulging my creative nature.

sip and ate the cherries, just to make me happy. When I found out that they made collector swizzle sticks, all bets were off! We were on a constant mission to find different swizzle sticks to put in Papa’s V.O. and Coke. I amassed quite a collection! At some point, I obviously wanted to be drinking fancy drinks with him. That’s when I learned to make a Shirley Temple, basically ginger ale and juice from the jar of cherries, but again I was indulged and got to make myself cocktails with as many garnishes as I could fit in a rocks glass. We would sit together, he in his Lazy Boy, me either on his lap or on the couch next to him, watching whatever old black and white was on that weekend, sipping our cocktails.

The floor stuff wasn't just a one time thing, he really did play with us ALL the time!

The floor stuff wasn’t just a one time thing, he really did play with us ALL the time!

It’s crazy the things we remember from our childhood. I can remember exactly the way the drink smelled and that I liked to use the blue swords more than the red or yellow. I have no idea why, I just liked the blue ones. I could also make three cherries fit on one sword. That was a really big deal to me; seeing how many I could make stay on one sword. I’m up to four now, but I think they are making the skewers bigger… To me it was more than a mixed drink. It was the time we spent together, mostly on the floor, while he put together whatever toy I was into that week or sitting on the counter helping Mama finish

Putting together more of my toys.

Putting together more of my toys.

dinner while he sipped around the umbrella and ate the cherries from his old, Lazy Boy. We had fun and he made me feel important. That’s really what this cocktail means to me.

Bur is still a little young to be mixing drinks, since he’s just now able to pull himself up to a standing position! However, I hope sometime in the future, he and I can play bartender together the way Papa and I did. He can have a Shirley Temple with as many cherries or whatever

This is Papa, Me, and my Dad at a horse show. He really was involved in every part of my life and was always there.

This is Papa, Me, and my Dad at a horse show. He really was involved in every part of my life and was always there.

garnish he wants floating around in it and I’ll drink whatever he makes for me, and move the little umbrella out of my way every time I take a sip. We’ll sit together and watch old movies and he can start to amass his lifetime of wonderful memories to carry him through his life. At least, that’s what I hope the future holds for us. I know the first time I show him what “two fingers” of whiskey looks like and he has to use three of his little fingers to make it work, Papa will be looking down on us and smiling.

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Middle school play, that probably no one really wanted to be at, you can bet he was there 'till the end!

Middle school play, that probably no one really wanted to be at, you can bet he was there ’till the end!

The indulgence started the day I came into this world. I hope that you, my readers have memories as wonderful as mine. If not, go start making them now! It's never too late!

The indulgence started the day I came into this world. I hope that you, my readers have memories as wonderful as mine. If not, go start making them now! It’s never too late!

The drink recipe this week is really easy.
1. Buy a bottle of Seagram’s V.O. Canadian Whiskey
2. Put ice in a rocks glass
3. Pour in two fingers worth of whiskey. Use three or four fingers if you’re little or just need a little extra!
4. Give it a splash of Coke. Just enough to darken the color of the whiskey in the glass slightly. You don’t need much.
5. Sit down, sip your drink, and spend some time with your past.
6. Call your Papa and tell him you’re thinking about him. If you can’t call him, just say hi, he’ll hear you.

He loved life and was always down for a good time. Those are the memories I have of him. Always the life of the party.

He loved life and was always down for a good time. Those are the memories I have of him. Always the life of the party.

I hope this week’s drink brings back some great memories for you. Try to think about what drink means the most to you and make one this weekend. Enjoy it and keep the ingredients around for when you need some memories and inspiration. You won’t be sorry you did, I promise!

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Hot Chocolate Toddy and Mulled Wine….Because I owed you two this week!

You can forgive me if I share this face with you, right? :)

You can forgive me if I share this face with you, right? 🙂

Alright, I admit that I didn’t get around to last week’s cocktail!! We’ve had a busy couple of weeks here and I knew y’all would forgive me this one time! We’ve had a lot of family in town for Bur’s Baptism! It was a great weekend filled with a lot of fun and tradition…two of my favorite things! So to make up for last week, I’m going to give y’all two cocktails this week.

The weather here has turned a little chilly and these are two of my favorite fall drinks. I spend a lot of time outside, so I need a drink that is going to warm me up, but is also tasty. That’s where these bad boys come in. The first one is a drink that I make as soon as the weather gets below 60 degrees.

We REALLY enjoyed Hot Chocolate Toddys on a cold, Keeneland afternoon!

We REALLY enjoyed Hot Chocolate Toddys on a cold, Keeneland afternoon!

It’s a holiday time favorite for my family and has had a few revisions made over the years. The second one is a drink that I enjoy tailgating and hanging out by bonfires. They are both perfect drinks that will take you through fall and into winter with no problems!
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I call this first one a Hot Chocolate Toddy. Even though the only similar ingredient that this drink shares with a true Toddy is the Bourbon, I like the way Hot Chocolate Toddy sounds! This is another one of those great drinks that you can customize in so many ways to make it your own and to cater to your audience. It’s great at a party or tailgating, because, like a few of our past drinks, you can set up the mix-ins in a bar and everyone can put in what they like. You can also have out different varieties of hot chocolate for those with a more discerning pallet…. Serve these in your favorite mugs and you’ll stay warm all through the fall!

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Yes, I drink out of a Miss Priss mug....

Yes, I drink out of a Miss Priss mug….

Hot Chocolate Toddy – Makes 1 drink

Ingredients:
Hot Chocolate (everyone likes their own, use yours)
2 shots quality Bourbon (again, everyone likes their own, use yours)
Cinnamon stick or Peppermint candy stick to stir and add flavor

Optional mix-ins (if you have a favorite hot chocolate mixer, add it to the list!)
Marshmallows
Whipped cream
Peppermint candies (they melt in and are a delicious addition!)
Chili Powder (yes, some people like this kick!)
Cinnamon powder

Directions:
– Make hot chocolate in the way you prefer. If you like a creamier drink with milk, make it that way. If you are a healthier person, and hate things that taste good, make it with water.
– Add Bourbon.
– Stir with your preferred stir stick.
– Add mix-ins.
– DRINK!!

Another great shot from the Baptism...I call this one "It takes a village!"

Another great shot from the Baptism…I call this one “It takes a village!”

Alright, our next drink, that will get me caught up and back on track, is another traditional cold weather drink that will also make your house or tailgating scene smell AMAZING!! It’s mulled wine and once you get past the idea of warm wine, you’ll enjoy this cocktail for years to come!

This drink is actually very old, first being recorded by the Romans in the second century. It must be good to have lasted this long! Most countries have their own variations, using whatever their local, winter time fare is and you can replace the wine with more apple cider if you want a non-alcoholic variation. Kids are always wanting to be a part of the party and this is a great drink for them. Serve them out of kid friendly cups, and you will have happy guests of all ages! I would suggest cutting down on some of the mulling spices for your kid version, because they may not have developed tastes yet and you don’t want to discourage them from trying new things in the future!

Mulled Wine          Makes 8 servings

This is a great drink for fall and through the holidays! Make it before a Christmas open house and your home will smell AMAZING and your guests will enjoy the cocktail!

This is a great drink for fall and through the holidays! Make it before a Christmas open house and your home will smell AMAZING and your guests will enjoy the cocktail!

Ingredients:
4 cups apple cider
1 bottle (yes, you can use the big bottle!) red wine (add more apple cider instead of wine, here for a kid friendly version)
¼ cup of honey
2 cinnamon sticks
1 juiced orange (you can use store bought if you like, it would be a little less than a cup. If you’re feeling domestic, you can zest the orange peel and add it to the mix, but you don’t have to. If you’re making a kid friendly version, you can probably skip the zest)
4 whole cloves (1 or 2 for kiddos)
3 star anise (you can find these in the spice isle. Use one for a kid version or omit them completely)
Orange slices for garnish
(I’ll give you a hint here….. you can buy mulling spices at certain stores and orchards and it will help with your prep time, if you choose!)

Directions:
– Add everything but the orange slices for garnish to a large saucepan.
– Bring to a boil and then turn the heat down to a slow simmer for about 10 minutes.
– Serve in fun mugs and garnish with an orange peel!

Hopefully I will be back on track for next week, but if not, you can bet you’ll get a double header the week after!

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The Red Wedding Cocktail!

This week’s cocktail is still keeping with the Bourbon theme from last month, but it’s a little more complex than some of our past drinks. However, my Aunt Debra gave me the inspiration for it, and after a little research and a lot of taste testing, I decided it had to be included as a Cocktail with Cally!

Game of Thrones! Photograph courtesy of www.wikipedia.com

Game of Thrones!
Photograph courtesy of http://www.wikipedia.com

I’m sure some of you, not all, but some, have seen the show Game of Thrones. It happens to be one of my favorite shows and I love everything about it. It just so happens that there was a bloody scene at the end of one of the seasons at a very important wedding. The episode was entitled, The Red Wedding. This was the inspiration for this very red cocktail. Yes, a little gory I know, but still darn tasty!

One of my favorite restaurants in Charleston, South Carolina is Edmonds Oast and if you get the chance to eat there, please, do yourself a favor and eat at the chefs table and order the full charcuterie and cheese plate. It’s huge, but totally worth it! While Edmonds Oast is a microbrewery, they boast some fantastic craft cocktails. Unfortunately for me, I was pregnant the last time we were there and didn’t get a chance to try one. Apparently it’s frowned upon to drink hard liquor while with child! Just kidding, I knew better and Bur was worth going cocktailess for nine months! Anyways, my Aunt Debra and Uncle Benji are there this week, while they make a trip from Florida up to see me and my family in Kentucky. We are celebrating christening Bur this weekend and it wouldn’t be complete without my Godparents here!

This is the picture my Aunt Debra sent me from Edmonds Oast that inspired this weeks post!

This is the picture my Aunt Debra sent me from Edmonds Oast that inspired this weeks post!

They had dinner there a few days ago and she had The Red Wedding Cocktail and had to send me a picture of it, since she knows of my affinity for a great cocktail! I immediately went to making all the components of it and was so moved by it, that I knew it had to be featured this week! Like I said, it’s a little more involved than our past drinks, but I can assure you that it’s worth it!

This drink boasts its own special ice cubes that are flavored with Thyme and Hibiscus. You will have to make these ahead of time, but you can make a bunch and they keep for about a month in the freezer. They really do make the drink and are very pretty. They would also be good in a lemonade or iced tea.

Now, one component might be a little elusive to find. Averna is an Italian Liquor that you will probably need to go to a specialty store to find. But remember, you will impress all of your friends with your various knowledge and use of these fun little drink additives, so it’s worth the extra stop at a specialty liquor store to grab a bottle.

Since muddling is involved, you’ll want a sturdier glass, like an Old Fashioned glass or a tumbler. However, I plan on making this drink with my travel bar, so it will be on the tailgate of my truck and will be drank out of a Solo Cup. I’ll just have to try and be careful when I’m muddling!

There are several variations and versions of a Red Wedding Cocktail, but this one is by far my favorite and produces flavors that you won’t find in another drink!

First, we have to make the special ice cubes….

Red Wedding Ice Cubes-
Ingredients:

I went local for my Ginger Ale!! You can't beat Gents Original Toasted Oak Ginger Ale!

I went local for my Ginger Ale!! You can’t beat Gents Original Toasted Oak Ginger Ale!

  • 3 cups boiling water
  • 1/4 cup loose-leaf hibiscus tea
  • 1/2 cup brewed English breakfast tea
    6 thyme sprigs
  • 1/4 teaspoon orange blossom water (you can find this in the bitters section of the liquor store)
  • 3/4 cup Demerara sugar (a special type of sugar, but turbine or regular granulated sugar can be substituted in a pinch)
  • 3/4 cup ginger ale (since this drink comes from Charleston, they prefer Blenhiems, but I am going to use a local Lexington favorite, Gents Original Toasted Oak Ginger Ale)

Directions:

In a large heatproof bowl, combine the water, hibiscus tea, English breakfast tea, thyme and orange blossom water and let steep for 5 minutes. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Add the ginger ale, then strain through a fine mesh strainer into a pitcher. Pour into 1-inch square ice cube molds and freeze until solid.

Now for the drink!

Red Wedding Cocktail – Makes one drink
Ingredients:

  • Orange peel
  • 1/2 ounce Averna
  • 2 ounces aged bourbon (they prefer Elijah Craig, and that is probably what I’ll use, but you can use what you have on hand)
  • 3 Red Wedding ice cubes (recipe above

Directions:

My Red Wedding!!!

My Red Wedding!!!

In a double Old Fashioned glass (or Solo Cup, if you’re tailgating!), muddle the orange peel with the Averna. Add bourbon and stir briefly, then add ice cubes and stir until just chilled, about 20 seconds. Serve after ice cubes have melted slightly for the most flavor.

Please make plenty of these ice cubes and try them in different drink! They are amazing! This drink will make you popular with Game of Throne fanatics and cocktail connoisseurs alike!

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