Cocktail Hour: Chai Tea Cocktail

A Feteful Life: Chai Cocktail

A few years ago, we spent some celebratory time in South Carolina and a lot of that time with sweet tea vodka. Needless to say, we’ve been on a sweet tea vodka break for a few years (really, a few years was warranted). But I broke it back out to try this fabulous fall chai cocktail. It’s iced, but still warms you up. And it’s delicious.

Chai Tea Cocktail (adapted from Plum Deluxe)

Ingredients: 
– 4 ounces cold chai tea concentrate
– 2 ounces sweet tea vodka
– splash of cream

Directions: Add all ingredients to a glass filled with ice. Stir gently and sip.

Fete Local: New Columbia Distillers + Green Hat Gin

A Feteful Life: Green Hat Gin

Well, it took two fete locals for us to feature a local distillery, which is about two more than I thought it would. Fortunately, we recently found our way to a tasting of the fabulous Green Hat Gin and a tour of the first craft distillery in DC since prohibition: New Columbia. Co-owners Michael Lowe and John Uselton graciously showed us around their distillery, explaining their craft and how they opened up shop. Oh and pouring a few small tastes of their outstanding gins, of course.

New Columbia currently distills a classic gin and two seasonal editions (a Spring/Summer and a Fall/Winter) — we’ve had all of them and they are all truly delicious on their own or in a cocktail. I particularly like the Spring/Summer edition, which features floral cherry blossoms (from a local florist) and rosemary sunbaked in John’s own backyard. How’s that for local? Plus, keep your eyes peeled for a rye whiskey on which they’re currently working.

In addition to crafting fantastic gins, New Columbia boasts spectacular graphic design (from local Design Army) and an awesome backstory to their gin’s name (it’s the moniker of the legendary bootlegger to Congress). AND you too can check out the New Columbia Distillery, which opens its doors for free tasting and tours every Saturday from 1 – 4 pm. Father’s Day is right around the corner and we can pretty much guarantee that dads would appreciate a tour and tasting far more than another bad tie (or good tie, for that matter). We intended to take both Mr. Fetes with us, but they were too busy being awesome dads. Don’t worry, we picked up a little something for them from the Distillery’s retail store. But if you can swing it, a tasting and tour followed by eats and drinks at nearby Union Market would be fabulous. Also, if you really want to get involved, get on the Distillery’s bottling party list — if you’re lucky, you might get picked to help label and bottle a batch.

If you are just looking for the gins, the Distillery retail store is open Monday – Friday, 9 am – 5 pm. They are also in an impressive number of retail stores, restaurants and bars throughout DC, Virginia, Maryland and Delaware (you can check out all the DC spots right here). Pick up a bottle of the Spring/Summer edition and get busy making one of the Distillers’ favorite cocktails: Michael likes a classic gin + tonic and John’s into a Summer Rickey variation (btw, we learned that the Gin Rickey is DC’s official cocktail and you can expect to see something from us on that soon!).

A Feteful Life: Green Hat Gin

A Feteful Life: Green Hat Gin

A Feteful Life: Green Hat Gin

A Feteful Life: Green Hat Gin

A Feteful Life: Green Hat Gin

A Feteful Life: Green Hat Gin

A Feteful Life: Green Hat Gin

Cherry Blossom Celebration

One of the greatest things about spring in Washington DC is the arrival of the cherry blossoms. There’s nothing like strolling along the Tidal Basin and taking in the natural beauty of thousands of cherry trees blooming in unison.

And since we’re always looking for a reason to party at AFL, here are some simple party ideas for you to celebrate spring and these beautiful little blossoms. Fete on!

A Feteful Life: Cherry Blossom Celebration1. Paper flowers are so easy to make and have a great visual impact. Here’s a quick tutorial how to do it or you could purchase some precut ones like these by Martha Stewart.

2. I love how the pink cherry blossoms look displayed in blue mason jars. So simple, yet stunning.

3. Using wrapping paper is one of my favorite party decoration tricks. It’s relatively inexpensive and can be used in a lot of ways: table runner, placemats, name cards, food cards, flags for drink stirrers, etc. Plus, this Japanese paper from Paper Source is gorgeous.

4. Since the cherry blossom trees were a gift from Japan in 1912, it’s only fitting to serve some Japanese food. Doesn’t that dragon roll look delicious?

5. This pretty pink cocktail with sake and cherry vodka looks so good. It is definitely on my “to do” cocktail list.

6. Don’t these macarons by Kinfolk look amazing? I’ve never made macarons but I might have to give these a try!

 

Cocktail Hour: Blueberry-Cucumber Gimlet

A Feteful Life: Blueberry-Cucumber Gimlet

I figure if I just start making summer’ish cocktails, warm weather should follow. Right? This might be a summery drink, but it tastes just as fantastic in this in between time where you’re just wishing for it to heat up already! And, in the event you’re looking to make this a mocktail, you can replace the gin with sparkling water, and replace the lime juice with lemon juice for a fruity lemonade fizzy (my kids loved them).

Blueberry-Cucumber Gimlet (from The Boys Club, a fabulous blog, btw, which has now become part of Chasing Delicious)

Ingredients (Simple Syrup)
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
Ingredients (Gimlet)
1/4 cup blueberries, more for garnish
8-10 slices cucumber, more for garnish
1 fl. oz. (15ml) fresh lime juice
1 fl. oz. (15ml) simple syrup (recipe follows)
2 fl. oz. (30ml) gin

Directions
Simple Syrup: In a small saucepan, combine ingredients and cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat until all sugar has dissolved. Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer for three minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and allow to cool 5 – 10 minutes in refrigerator or 30 minutes on the counter.
Gimlet: 1. Add blueberries and cucumber into a shaker and smash several times with the muddler until juices are released; add lime juice, syrup, and gin, and top with ice cubes. Cap the shaker and shake vigorously until well combined, about 20-30 seconds. 2. Pour mixture into glass, half-filled with ice. Garnish with cucumber slices and blueberries. Serve chilled.
A Feteful Life: Blueberry-Cucumber Gimlet
A Feteful Life: Blueberry-Cucumber Gimlet

DIY Geo Craft Party

A Feteful Life: Geo Craft Party

It’s no secret that we are obsessed with all things geometric right now. I’ve had my eye on so many different geo projects, I can hardly keep track and I’ve been going back and forth about what kind of party I wanted to have to incorporate them. Then it hit me: why not just have a party about the crafts themselves?! A group of friends + a few geo crafts + some little bites to eat + a great cocktail = DIY geo craft party (plus a little present to take home).

Here’s what we used to pull our bright crafty party together:

1. A Feteful Life’s “Get Crafty” double-sided inviteyou can find it in our Etsy store right here.

A Feteful Life: DIY Geo Craft Party

2. DIY Geometric Party Favor Boxes — I printed Minico’s awesome templates onto brightly colored paper, and folded and glued them together. I also added a little sparkle with Martha Stewart’s fabulous glitter. To use them as favor boxes, simply leave one side unglued, add party shred inside, and glue a few strands of shred to the open flap. When dry, tuck the flap in, but don’t glue it. You can then open the box by pulling on the strands.

A Feteful Life: DIY Geo Craft Party

A Feteful Life: DIY Geo Craft Party

3. DIY Geometric Wooden Bead Necklaces — I purchased two sizes (large and small) of wooden beads and painted them with coordinating colors of acrylic paint (leaving some sides blank and glittering others). String a few on a waxed cord and you’ve got a cute accessory that fits right inside the geometric party favor box.

A Feteful Life: DIY Geo Craft Party

4. Easy DIY Hexagonal Garland — As if I didn’t already have a problem collecting crafting supplies, I found Fiskar’s hexagon hole punch and I’m never looking back. It’s love. I punched a whole mess of hexagons and taped them onto gold and white baker’s twine to make garlands, which we then ran down the center of our crafting table to make a runner.

A Feteful Life: DIY Geo Craft Party

A Feteful Life: DIY Geo Craft Party

5. Drink + DIY Geometric Drink Stirrers — This yummy, fizzy cocktail (we also added a bit of sparkling water) was delicious and matched the colors of our craft party perfectly. To make the drink stirrers, I hot-glued a large and small painted wooden bead (see 3 above) to the end of a 10″ bamboo skewer. I love them.

A Feteful Life: DIY Geo Craft Party

A Feteful Life: DIY Geo Craft Party

6. Food! — Last, but not least, I pulled together a few geometrically-inspired bites to nosh while crafting: pretty macarons; a few little chocolate and caramel treats; and a selection of tea sandwiches arranged geometrically, including:

  • cream cheese + smoked salmon + baby cucumbers
  • curried chicken salad
  • goat cheese + chives + corned beef
  • sharp cheddar + tomato + watercress
  • prosciutto + brie + apple

Geo 24

A Feteful Life: DIY Geo Craft Party

A Feteful Life: DIY Geo Craft Party

There you have it. Until Studio Fete is up and running, you’ll have to host your own craft parties. But at least we’ve given you everything you need to pull it off. Fete on!

Cocktail Hour: Rosemary Margarita

A Feteful Life: Rosemary Margarita

There’s no doubt that I love me a nice, cozy winter cocktail. But I’m ready to start to give winter the slip. I was looking for a bright drink that’d help shake off some of that slumbery feeling hanging around. This rosemary margarita did the trick, for sure. It’s on the sour side (the recipe I was following was waaaay too sour originally), but still has a nice seasonal touch with the herbs. If you’re looking for something different, I’d definitely give this a try.

Rosemary Margarita (adapted from This Girl Walks Into A Bar)

Ingredients (Rosemary Simple Syrup)
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/2 tablespoon chopped, fresh rosemary
Ingredients (Margarita)
1 1/2 ounces tequila
1 – 2 ounces rosemary simple syrup
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
light beer or sparkling water, to taste
rosemary sprig, for garnish

Directions
Rosemary Simple Syrup: In a small saucepan, combine all ingredients and cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat until all sugar has dissolved. Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer for three minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and allow to cool 5 – 10 minutes. Strain out rosemary and store in an air tight container.
Margarita: Add tequila through lemon juice to a shaker and shake well. Pour into a glass filled with ice. Sip. Too sour? Try adding a splash of light beer or sparkling water to dilute slightly. Just sour enough? Garnish with rosemary and proceed with drinking.

Cocktail Hour: Almond Milk Hot Toddy

A Feteful Life: Almond Milk Hot Toddy

I fell in love with the Hot Toddy this winter during a particularly yucky bout of the flu. I stuck with the traditional tea, water, lemon, honey and bourbon mix until, one snowy day, I decided I needed a warm comforting drink without the tea. I played around a bit and came up with this Almond Milk Hot Toddy, which I think is absolutely delicious. Next time you need a hug, give it a try.

Almond Milk Hot Toddy 

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups almond milk
1 – 2 ounces whiskey
2 -3 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Directions
Warm milk in a small saucepan until just about bubbly. Stir in whiskey and maple syrup. Then whisk in spices. Let warm until almost scalding. Pour into a mug and serve with a swizzle stick for re-incorporating spices as they settle. Delish.

Cocktail Hour: The Bourbon Bomber

A Feteful Life: The Bourbon Bomber

My husband is a big fan of bourbon. He normally drinks it just on the rocks, but I took advantage of some holiday downtime {read opportunity for day drinking with childcare covered} to make a round of these winter-perfect Bourbon Bombers. And another round. And then maybe another. They are full of spice and everyone loved them. You might want to get a triple-sized cocktail shaker ahead of time. You’ll  need it.

The Bourbon Bomber (from the Life Styled)

Ingredients
3/4 cup apple cider
1/4 – 1/2 cup bourbon
1 1/2 tsp agave nectar
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp nutmeg, ground
drop of bitters
pinch of grated ginger
rosemary sprig, for garnish

Directions
In a cocktail shaker, add a few ice cubes, bourbon, apple cider, agave nectar, allspice, lemon zest, nutmeg and a pinch of grated ginger. Shake well. Strain the drink into a glass filled with ice. Top with a drop of bitters and a rosemary sprig for garnish.
I used 1/4 cup of bourbon in the first batch, which everyone proclaimed to be over-spiced and under-boozed. They like ’em strong, so I went up to 1/2 cup of bourbon per batch thereafter. It cut the spice, but, be careful, they go down super easy and 1/2 cup of bourbon is not for everyone.

Olympic Viewing Party

We love the Olympics in our house. As a kid I can remember my parents letting me stay up late to watch the ice skaters in the winter games or the gymnasts during the summer games. The anticipation of how these amazing athletes would preform was always thrilling to me.

Fast forward many years to the Bejing Olympics, which started just two days after the birth of my first son. It was perfect timing! We would record the primetime coverage (yes, we were going to bed at 8pm) and then when Brady would wake up at 11, 1, 3 and 5, we would be excited to watch along with the late night feedings. Getting up four times a night sucks but waking up to see if Michael Phelps would win another gold metal made it somewhat more bearable.

Four years later as the London games were beginning, we threw Brady an Olympics themed 4th birthday party in honor of some of our favorite memories of when he was a newborn. We set up mini hurdles, a sack race, bean bag toss, and a mini soccer game in our back yard. It was a blast.

Now that the Sochi games are fast approaching, I don’t think we’ll be throwing a games-themed party but an adult opening ceremony viewing party might be pretty fun. Here’s some inspiration on how you can throw one…

A Feteful Life: Olympic Viewing Party1. Olympic Party Invitation from A Feteful Life.

2. These Photo Booth props from MaroDesigns are so fun.

3. No matter what cocktail you choose to serve, rim the glasses with these edible gold stars so your guests can “go for the gold.”

4. Create your own Olympic themed straws, plates and napkins (photo from Pearl & Earl Loves).

5. A little popcorn in an ice-cream cone and you have an edible torch (photo from A Small Snippet).

6. These Olympic ring inspired cookies by Bird’s Party are surprisingly easy and look delicious!

 

 

Cocktail Hour: Maple Lemon Smash

A Feteful Life: Maple Lemon Smash

Heading into the afternoon of a recent second snow day in a row right on the heels of a weekend {meaning, my kids had been home all day long, 4 days in a row}, I decided it was high time to declare an early snow-emergency cocktail hour and make myself a winter drink. Something sweet and warming, but bright at the same time. I heart Sweet Paul — he gets it right every. damn. time. Ladies and gentlemen, I present, the Maple Lemon Smash.

 Maple Lemon Smash (from Sweet Paul Magazine)

Ingredients
2 lemon wedges
2 ounces vodka
1 ounce unsweetened apple juice
1/4 ounce maple syrup
lemon peel twist
ice

Directions
muddle lemon wedges in shaker
add vodka, apple juice, maple syrup and ice; shake well
pour into a martini glass and garnish with a lemon peel twist