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)
– 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.
Ok, you’re just going to have to trust me on this one. I was a bit hesitant to give this one a try because the thought of using balsamic vinegar in a cocktail sounded a bit weird to me and I like weird cocktails. But then I remembered just how much I love those Olive Oil Muffins I make and they have balsamic in them so I figured I should give it a try. And boy am I glad I did – I absolutely love this drink! It is refreshing but deep in flavor and not overly sweet. I used a very spicy ginger ale so that probably helped cut the sweetness a bit.
Bufala Negra (from Food & Wine)
4 basil leaves
1 teaspoon aged balsamic vinegar
1/2 ounce simple syrup
1 1/2 ounces bourbon
1 1/2 ounces ginger ale (I like Q Drinks the best and I find it at Whole Foods)
In a cocktail shaker, muddle 3 of the basil leaves with the vinegar and Simple Syrup. Add ice and the bourbon and shake well. Strain the drink into an ice-filled rocks glass, stir in the ginger ale and garnish with the remaining basil leaf.
It took me a little while to join the Campari bandwagon but once I did, there was no looking back. At first glance you may think this pretty red aperitif is sweet like cherries but it is anything but. It is bitter with hints of grapefruit and herbs and adds the perfect antidote to those sweet, sugary cocktails (e.g., the mai thai) that you usually come across when the weather turns warm.
Campari + Orange Cocktail (adapted from Martha Stewart)
1 ounce Campari
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons lemon simple syrup, recipe below
Fill a glass full of ice. Add the Campari, orange and simple syrup. Top off with club soda.
Lemon Simple Syrup
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
zest from 1/2 lemon
Combine the sugar, water & lemon zest in a small pan. Heat over medium high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and let it cool completely before using.
You’ll also be alliterating after you twist your tongue around this insanely delicious tropical punch. It’s sweet, it’s sour, it’s simple. It uses up leftovers (pineapple peel!). It technically has fruit in it. You really cannot go wrong.
Pineapple-Ginger Pisco Punch (A Feteful Life)
1 ounce pineapple-ginger simple syrup (see below)
1 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 ounces Pisco
pineapple chunks and leaf for garnish
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake to combine. Pour over crushed ice into a glass and garnish with pineapple chunks and leaf threaded onto a stirrer.
Pineapple-Ginger Simple Syrup (from Martha Stewart)
peel and core of one large pineapple
1, 3-inch piece of ginger, thinly sliced
4 cups water
1 cup sugar
Cut pineapple peel + core into 1-inch pieces; place into medium saucepan with ginger, sugar, and water. Boil until reduced to 1 cup; 25-30 minutes. Strain, discarding solids. Chill.
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
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
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.
There’s a restaurant in DC called Estadio that serves some really good Spanish Tapas but their drink menu is just out of this world. Last time we were there we ordered the orange-thyme gin & tonic based on the recommendation of a friend and it became one of my all-time favorite cocktails. I’ve been thinking about it ever since and was determined to figure out how to make a similar version at home. Lucky for me, it turns out the Washington Post loves it as much as me and has the recipe online. Score! The original recipe calls for a soda syphon and some quinine powder (neither of which I have) to make a homemade tonic but I adapted the recipe using tonic water instead.
Orange-Thyme Gin & Tonic (recipe adapted from Estadio, as printed in The Washington Post)
Ingredients (serves 5)
1 Orange-Thyme Syrup recipe (see first step in directions below)
4 ounces fresh lime juice
7.5 ounces gin (Old Raj is recommended but I used what I had on hand)
High quality tonic water like Q Tonic (Schweppes and Canada Dry are too sweet)
Orange-Thyme Syrup – Combine 6 ounces sugar and 6 ounces water in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil, then remove from the heat. Add 5 thyme sprigs and orange zest from half of an orange; let sit for 1 hour, then strain into a container with a tight-fitting lid. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.
Combine the orange-thyme syrup and lime juice.
Combine 2.5 ounces of the syrup & lime juice mixture with 1.5 ounces of gin in an old-fashioned glass filled with ice. Top off with tonic and garnish with an orange peel and some thyme leaves. Enjoy!
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
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
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.