Pretty in Pink: A Cranberry-Prosecco Sparkler

I’m super excited.

Pretty in Pink:  A Cranberry-Prosecco Sparkler

Pretty in Pink: A Cranberry-Prosecco Sparkler

Tonight I am meeting twenty or so women who are guests of Westminster College’s “Party Board” for a gal’s night out fundraising event supporting the general scholarship fund.  I’m a huge fan of the liberal arts—my undergrad years were spent at Rhodes College in Memphis, TN—and I’m an even bigger fan of women getting together for some fashion, fun, and Autumn-inspired cocktails mixed up by Yours Truly.  I promised them in advance I’d post the recipes on the blog so they can look ‘em up later.  Here goes, ladies!

Pretty in Pink: A Cranberry-Prosecco Sparkler

0.5 oz cranberry vodka*

3-4 oz. Prosecco

To a champagne flute, add 0.5 oz. cranberry-infused vodka.  Top with the Prosecco (how much depends on the size of your glass).  Garnish with a skewer of sugar-dusted vodka soaked cranberries left over from your infusion.  When you drop the skewer into the Prosecco, the sugar reacts to the carbonation of the wine and makes it bubble up even more.  Festive!

*To make cranberry vodka:  (Easily halved if you only need enough for a few cocktails) To a large clean quart lidded glass jar add 10 oz. dried unsulfured low-sugar cranberries.  Pour over enough vodka to fill the jar (about 3 to 3 ½ cups).  Place in a cool place away from direct sunlight, and shake daily for 1 week.  After a week, strain the vodka through a fine mesh strainer, reserving the vodka-soaked cranberries to make lovely garnishes.  If you are going to use the vodka immediately, it does not require refrigeration. If you are going to keep the vodka for longer-term storage, remove all sediment and fruit residue by filtering through a triple layer of cheesecloth or a coffee filter.

The Wasatch Mule

The Wasatch Mule

We also made Pear-Ginger Mules:  Here’s a link to the Wasatch Mule recipe on a past blog post. 

XOXO, y’all!


Firecracker Moonshine Jell-O Shots

Layered Jell-O shots.  Party like it's 1847!

Layered Jell-O shots. Party like it’s 1847!

July 24th:  Pioneer Day.  It’s a Utah state holiday commemorating the triumphant arrival of Brigham Young and his band of pioneers to the Salt Lake valley on July 24, 1847.  After he declared “This is the right place,” floods of Mormon emigrants and immigrants followed him to Utah.   Most Utah towns of any size (except for the Independent Republic of Park City, but that’s another topic altogether…) host parades and associated “family-friendly” festivals.  The Salt Lake City parade is the biggest community event of the year.  Last year, lawmakers extended the period during which residents shoot aerial fireworks so that citizens could blow shit up from the  4th to the 24th of July without interruption.  Folks who celebrate Pioneer Day host parties that fall into two camps directly divided by modern religious affiliation, rather than pioneer ancestry:  Pioneers vs. “Pie and Beers.” Makes me want a good, stiff drink.  Or some Jell-O shots. That’s right, Pie & Beer Camp: We are making Freaking Moonshine Jell-O Shots.  With PopRocks on top!

The verdict:  Pretty damn good

The verdict: Pretty damn good

I made the ones photographed here for a July 4th party hosted by Lemon Drop and IPA (a.k.a. Hoss on Hops).  They were a freaking HIT.  Half I made without alcohol; those were topped with cherries (to make sure the kiddos, pregnant women, recovering alcoholics, and Mormons didn’t get the boozy ones by accident).   Half were made using 80 proof white corn whiskey (commercially available “moonshine”) instead of the frat party favorite Everclear.   I left those unadorned until just before serving, then I scattered about ¼ teaspoon of Pop Rocks (yes! The exploding in your mouth candy!) on each shot.  The combination of the whiff of Moonshine with the sweet gumminess of the Jell-O was perfectly balanced by the acoustic and sensory bang of the Pop Rocks.  And nobody died from combining Pop Rocks and alcohol, so take that, urban mythologists. As a basis for this recipe, and for help figuring out how to make the “white” layer, I turned to a Wiki-how tutorial on making Patriots football Jell-o shots.  Of course, you can substitute any colors/flavors you want, and you can always use plain old vodka if you don’t have corn liquor on hand. This recipe makes about 35 shots, depending upon what kind of containers you use and how full you fill them.

Layered Moonshine Jell-O shots

1 – 3 oz. box blue Jell-O

2 packets plain gelatin

1 can (1 cup) sweetened condensed milk

1 – 3 oz. box red Jell-O 3 cups boiling water (divided use)

2 ½  cups clear relatively flavorless liquor (corn whiskey or vodka)

3-4 packages Cherry or Watermelon (red) Pop Rocks

To assemble your shots: Place 35 small plastic cups on a large rimmed sheet tray.  Lightly spray all of the cups with flavorless cooking spray to reduce sticking.

Blue layer

Blue layer

For the blue layer:  combine blue Jell-O with 1 cup boiling water; stir until completely dissolved.  Let cool slightly (otherwise your liquor will evaporate from the heat- we don’t want that!!).  Add the liquor, and pour equally into small cups.  Refrigerate for about 2 hours, or until set.

For the white layer:  sprinkle gelatin packets over 1 ½ cups water just off the boil; whisk quickly to dissolve completely.  Keep whisking and add the condensed milk and ½ cup liquor.   After it’s all combined, pour gently over the blue layer 2/3 the way up the cup.  Refrigerate for about 2 hours, or until set.

White layer

White layer

For the red layer:  combine red Jell-O with 1 cup boiling water; stir until completely dissolved.  Let cool slightly.  Add the liquor, and pour equally into small cups.  Add fruit to top at this point, if desired.  Refrigerate for about 2 hours, or until set. For the PopRocks Firecracker finale!  As you are serving the Jell-O shots, have guest sprinkle about ¼ tsp. Rop Rocks on their Jell-O shot.

Everything was a little blurry by this time, including this shot

Everything was a little blurry by this time, including this shot

A Very Patriotic Gimlet

My high school buddy Cuba Libre posted on Facebook today

“Anyone know any noteworthy red, white, and blue gin cocktails?”
Sounds like another H.O.A.G.Y. (Help Out a Gal/Guy, Yeah?) to me!
Cucmber-Honeydew Gin Gimlet.  Plymouth Gin didn't pay me to use their booze.  I just think it's really tasty.

Cucmber-Honeydew Gin Gimlet. Plymouth Gin didn’t pay me to use their booze. I just think it’s really tasty.

Here’s a slightly sweeter and lighter (alcohol-wise) version of a classic cucumber gimlet.  Add a skewer of fresh cherries–beautiful and in season right now!– a honeydew ball, and a couple of blueberries and your cocktail is officially All-American.

Enjoy your 4th, and stay safe, y’all.
Cucumber-Honeydew Gin Gimlet
In a cocktail shaker muddle:
1/2 (about 1/2 cup) small sliced cocktail cucumber (or the same amount of a regular cucumber, peeled).  Really crush the hell out of it.
Add 1 oz. strained honeydew melon puree,
1 oz. fresh-squeezed lime juice,
1/2 tsp. agave syrup,
2 oz. gin,
and a handful of ice.
Shake like crazy, and strain into an elegant glass.  Add your red-white (well, pale green)-and blue garnish.

Pimm’s Cup: A Summer Classic

Pimm's Cup.  Brilliant!

Pimm’s Cup.   Brilliant!

Why m’dear, don’t mind if I do!

To a short cocktail glass (or half-pint Mason jar) filled with ice add:

2 oz. Pimm’s No. 1 Liqueur

2 oz. Extra Ginger Beer (such as Reed’s)

A generous squeeze of lemon (from about 1/6 th of a lemon, then drop it in the glass)

Stir gently with a long spoon.  Garnish extravagantly with cucumber, strawberries, orange slices, or a gingered kumquat in rum syrup (one of my new canning experiments this season.  I’ll share it with you soon!)

After a couple of these I start dropping the Southern thing and start sounding like Kate Middleton.  At least to myself.


This is my gal Cosmopolitan’s (from our Supper Club) favorite summer cocktail.  I’d put it in my Top 5, for sure.


White Lightnin’ Lemonade

White Lightnin' Lemonade

White Lightnin’ Lemonade

This cocktail is inspired by Belmont Park’s official cocktail, the “Belmont Jewel.”  Since my in-laws are New Yorkers, this is a Kentucky gal’s take on their home racetrack’s delicious libation. 

1.5 oz white corn whiskey (Moonshine)

2 oz. lemonade

1 oz. pomegranate or red grape juice

Mix together and pour over a lot of ice in a pint Mason jar.  Garnish with lemon.  Best enjoyed sitting by the chicken coop in your favorite lounge chair with a couple of bird dogs at your feet.

“White” Corn Whiskey

Have you noticed lately how many unaged corn whiskeys are now commercially available?  I’m seriously going to do a taste comparison some day for the blog, after I do some more research on this fascinating and quickly growing field.  Maybe when I have a few straight days when complete brain function and the ability to operate machinery are not required.

Commercially available 'moonshine': Less than 30 days old

Commercially available ‘moonshine’: Less than 30 days old

Until then, I hope you try one for yourself.  Unlike the sketchy backwoods ones I tried long ago, the ‘legal’ ones are really not much harsher than an inexpensive vodka, though I think the heavy corn profile makes moonshine taste both rounder, slightly fruit-forward (less mineral) compared to vodka, and in the versions I’ve tried the corn mash flavor pleasantly lingers on the tongue.  It’s more than a bit much for me, sipped straight from the jar (although those guys on Moonshiners make it look easy.  Gasp), but mixed with some fruity lemonade it’s juuuuuust right.

Tequila Trifecta: Grilled Pineapple-Jalapeño Margaritas

Frozen grilled pineapple-jalepeno margarita

Frozen grilled pineapple- jalapeno margarita

My girlfriend Big Bold Cab texted me, “My girlfriends want me to make pineapple margaritas this weekend?!”  Oh, BBC, you know this is the perfect second H.O.A.G.Y (Help Out A Gal/Guy, Yeah?) for A Bourbon Gal.  We’ve got your back!

Grilled Pineapple.  It’s fantastic stuff – wonderful on teriyaki chicken burgers, served with pound cake and ice cream, or on grilled Hawaiian pizza (shh, don’t tell The Macallan; he thinks fruit on pizza portends the end of days).  But I always have a few spears left over, hanging around in my fridge wilting sadly, waiting for a greater purpose.  Something larger than chicken salad; greater than yogurt smoothies.

And, my friends, I have found grilled pineapple’s true and righteous calling: Tequila Infusion.

I’m probably not inventing the wheel on this one.  In fact, we’ve seen pineapple infused tequila, and jalapeño-infused tequila featured on foodie boozy sites for years.  So maybe a grilled pineapple-jalapeño infusion isn’t original, but there’s only so much time I’m going to spend on Google this afternoon trying to figure out if this is brand-new information, folks, so here’s what I’ve been using and I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

Grilled Pineapple-Jalepeno Infused Tequila.  Sweet spice in a jar, my friends.

Grilled Pineapple-Jalepeno Infused Tequila. Sweet spice in a jar, my friends.

Grilled Pineapple-Jalapeño (GPJ) Infused Tequila (Method):

To a lidded clean 1 quart glass jar add

3-4 spears grilled pineapple

1 grilled jalapeño, seeds removed

3 cups tequila (no need to use your best stuff, here)

Refrigerate for at least 24 hours and up to 1 week.  Remove jalapeño when the heat is at a level you like or it will keep getting stronger.   This infusion is great for sipping on the rocks with a splash of ginger ale, or in either of the following margarita recipes.

Grilled Pineapple-Jalapeño Margarita, rocks (makes 1)

Grilled Pineapple-Jalepeno Margarita with Hawaiian Alaea sea salt rim.

Grilled Pineapple-Jalapeno Margarita with Hawaiian Alaea sea salt rim.

Rub the rim of a margarita or martini glass with a lime wedgeCoat the rim with crushed pink Hawaiian Alaea sea salt; fill glass with ice

To a cocktail shaker add:

The juice of 2 fresh limes

1.5 oz. GPJ tequila

0.5 oz. Cointreau

0.5 oz. agave nectar

Shake well to combine, and pour over ice.  Add a wedge of lime and a chunk of grilled pineapple for garnish.

Frozen Pineapple-Jalapeño Margarita (makes 2 extra-large cocktails, or 4 Utah-regulated pours)

I’m usually not a fan of margarita in its slushy form, but this is a fantastic exception.  Be careful, the tequila-soaked pineapple packs an alcoholic punch!  I’m not sure how much it adds to the proof, but it will knock you on your ass faster than you can say “who’s the designated driver?”

To a blender add:

2 cups ice

Juice of 5 fresh limes

1 ½ spears tequila-soaked grilled pineapple

3 oz. GPJ tequila

1 oz. Cointreau

1.5 oz. agave nectar

If you like things spicy, also throw in a couple of slices of your tequila-soaked grilled jalapeño here, too.  Insanely yum.

Blend until ice is uniformly crushed and all ingredients are frothy.  Pour into margarita or martini glasses, and garnish with pineapple and lime.

Sunday Brunch: DIY Red Beer Bar & a Layered Potato Baked Omelet

DIY Red Beer (AKA "Beery Mary") Bar

DIY Red Beer (AKA “Beery Mary”) Bar

In much of the rest of the USA, Sunday Brunch is a competitive social endeavor.  Restaurants, soccer moms, sports tailgaters, BBQ enthusiasts, and country clubs vie for popularity in the brunch time slot:   That halcyon time when everyone leaves church, and are starving, but want to show off their fancy duds in public before they head home and put on sweatpants.

A Bourbon Gal and Hoss on Hops= Trouble

A Bourbon Gal and Hoss on Hops= Trouble

Not so much in Utah.  For most of the Beehive state’s denizens, Sunday means church and family, with neither commercial nor social deviation outside this box.  It goes without saying that both caffeine and booze are verboten.  My LDS* friends also often fast as part of their weekend of prayer and mindfulness.  I will repeat in case you missed it the first time:  No coffee.  No Mimosas.  Non-Atkins induced food deprivation. I know, I’m constantly amazed at their fortitude, too.

In case you are still hyperventilating at the thought, perhaps you just need a little re-visualization. Since I moved to Utah over 8 years ago, now Sunday morning means a wide open playing field for we non-Mormon remainders:  Bring on first tracks in the fresh powder!  Hassle-free trips to Trader Joe’s, Home Depot and Costco!  Irish pubs showing European football (but you can only get a Bloody Mary after 12)!  Sure, kids, you can play in the street- there’s no traffic!  Breathe deep, you’ll get through it too.

Okay, so, back to today.  This weekend it was my turn to host our rotating “beer-vana” group.  Between baseball, lacrosse, turkey hunting season and the general mayhem of spring, it’s hard to find a weekend night when we can all meet up with all of our kids.  Thus: we met for Sunday Brunch.

Saketini and Smoked Porter digging in.  Well, Sake will after her Pepcid kicks in #asianproblems  Love ya, girlfriend!

Saketini and Smoked Porter digging in. Well, Sake will after her Pepcid kicks in #asianproblems Love ya, girlfriend!

My buddy IPA (aka the beer blogger “Hoss on Hops“) and the other members of our sketchy beer club came over with their collective spouses and kids.  IPA supplied the brew from his seemingly magical beer fridge, and I provided all of the “Red Beer” fixin’s.  A Red Beer is basically brew mixed with any combination of tomato juice, Clamato (yes= clam juice + tomato), spice, and citrus.  Some folks like to have a 1 part tomato juice to 2 parts beer ratio.  Others go half-and-half, or mostly beer with a splash of tomato; or just beer, spice and lime (like a traditional Mexican-style Michelada).  That’s the great thing about the mixing bar- everyone gets it just the way they want it! Here are some of our favorite combinations:

  • Durango smoked sea salt rim; lime juice, Tapatio hot sauce; tomato juice; Negra Modelo beer
  • Old Bay spiced rim; lemon juice, Worcestershire, and Crystal hot sauce; Clamato juice; Red Stripe beer
  • Ancho chile powder and sea salt rim; lime juice, Cholula hot sauce; tomato juice; HopNotch IPA
  • Bacon salt rim; lemon juice, Worcestershire, Baron scotch bonnet hot sauce; a tiny splash of tomato juice; Carta Blanca or Pacifico beer

For nibbles alongside our cocktails, we kept it kid-friendly with chips and salsas.  I also made appetizer-sized bites of my modified Spanish-style potato tortilla, which can be made using dinner leftovers (keep those extra steamed potatoes, grilled peppers, and green beans. You’ll use ‘em!).

I set out a “build-your-own-sandwich” spread for grazing with lots of bread, deli meat, cheese, and condiment choices.  My gals Saketini and Lemon Drop brought delicious fruit and salads.  Clean-up was a snap.  I only used one vessel for actual cooking:  score!

Now, time for my nap.

 Layered Potato & Egg Baked Omelet (serves 8-10 as an appetizer)Layering your ingredients

2 medium red potatoes (skin on) steamed until soft but still firm, sliced into 1/8” thick rounds

½ cup steamed thin green beans, cut into 1-2” long pieces

1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped (or, if you like it spicy, two roasted red jalepenos – YUM!)

7 eggs

¼ cup half-and-half

2 tsp. kosher salt

½ tsp. fresh ground black pepper

½ cup plain Greek yogurt

2 Tbs. Sriracha hot sauce

½ cup chopped green onions

Method (Preheat oven to 350 degrees):

Spray a 9”x9” ceramic or glass baking dish with vegetable oil or cooking spray.  Line the bottom and sides of the dish with a sheet of parchment paper (this helps prevent the omelet from sticking and makes it easier to cut later).  Spray a light coating of oil on the parchment paper.

Layered Potato Baked Omelet with Sriracha sauce

Layered Potato Baked Omelet with Sriracha sauce

Spread the sliced potatoes in one layer equally over the bottom of the baking dish; overlapping pieces as necessary to fit them all in.  Sprinkle green beans and red pepper evenly over the top of the potatoes.  In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, salt, pepper, and half-and-half until well combined.  Pour slowly over the vegetables to cover evenly.

Bake about 35-40 minutes, or until puffy and cooked through.

Meanwhile, combine yogurt and Sriracha sauce in a small jar or squirt bottle.  Shake to combine well.

After the omelet is done, let rest on the counter until cooled enough to touch (about 15 minutes).  Invert onto a large cutting board, and gently remove parchment layer from the omelet.  Cut into 1” cubes with a sharp knife.

Arrange on a platter; drizzle generously with Sriracha-yogurt sauce; sprinkle on all the green onions.  Great warm or at room temperature (reserve sauce & onion garnish until just before serving).  Enjoy!

*LDS is the preferred abbreviation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  AKA, The Mormons.

Our first H.O.A.G.Y (Help Out a Gal/Guy, Yeah?): Cucumber Gimlet

Of course we take requests here at A Bourbon Gal!

My girlfriend Dirty Martini wrote me, “I can’t make a decent cucumber gimlet. Help!”

Cucumber Gimlet

Cucumber Gimlet

Now, first of all, my gal Dirty Martini has MAD cocktail skillz, so I’m sure her gimlet is pretty tasty, but she is always looking for a more-perfect beverage. And if you’re going to spring for some Very Good Gin (which she does, like Hendrick’s) you want it to be awesome.

Back in the day—meaning Prohibition, gin’s sparkly heyday—a gimlet was usually made with equal parts gin and sweetened lime juice. Another popular gin cocktail, the Gin Rickey, used almost equal parts gin, club soda, and lime juice. Post-WWII, gimlet recipes using lime juice with vodka and either powdered sugar or simple syrup often replaced gin-based cocktails.

Nowadays, if you order a gimlet at a bar you will get a multitude of options: gin or (usually) vodka, lime or another citrus (lemon, grapefruit), and any number of vegetal, herbaceous, and/or fruity additions. A harbinger of the summer party season, super-refreshing cucumber gimlets usually contain vodka, cucumber juice or purée, lime, and sweetener (sugar or syrup). With some pretty cucumber pinwheels in a tall narrow pitcher, cucumber gimlets are lovely made in bulk for quick and easy serving at your next garden party.

Cucumber Gimlet (makes one)

I like using those tiny thin-skinned “cocktail” cucumbers now available in most produce sections. Just a gentle wash and you are good to go: no peeling off the tough bitter skin or scraping out seeds needed. I also like how agave nectar distributes evenly through the cocktail with a nice finish.

1 “cocktail” cucumber, thinly sliced (reserve 2-3 thin slices for garnish), muddled furiously in the bottom of your cocktail shaker (really- juice the hell out of it)

1 tsp. fresh-squeezed lime juice (about ¼ lime)

½ tsp. agave nectar

2 oz. gin

4-5 cubes ice

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker. Shake until very cold and frothy. Strain into a martini glass containing 2-3 cubes fresh ice. Garnish with thin cucumber slices.