A Bourbon Gal in Utah

cocktails, cookery & occasional domestic badassery

Archive for the category “field trip!”

10 AM Green Drinks

SNAP Dragon A zippy flavor bomb for any time of day.

SNAP Dragon
A zippy flavor bomb for any time of day.

Snap Dragon

2 oz mezcal

1 oz snap pea shrub*

2 dashes lime bitters

0.5 oz chilled white tea

Thai basil garnish

To a shaker filled with ice, add mescal, snap pea shrub, bitters and tea. Shake it like a Polaroid picture. Add a bigass ice cube to the prepared glass, and strain the mezcal mix into the glass, and garnish with a big sprig of Thai basil. I also made this beaut of a bevy with vodka and tequila blanco in place of the mescal with great results.

*Snap pea shrub: to a blender add 6 oz. each whole sugar snap peas, white sugar, and champagne vinegar. Zap it until the mixture is smooth and evenly ground up. Place snap pea slurry into a lidded jar and place in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours. Strain through a fine mesh strainer to remove solids, and keep refrigerated until ready to use (up to 4 weeks). Shake well before using.

The story behind the drink….

Veggie nachos and a zippy jalapeño margarita at Zest Kitchen & Bar. Check out Instagram with the hashtag #10AMcocktails to see what all of us ate and drank for brunch at Zest! YUM.

Veggie nachos and a zippy jalapeño margarita at Zest Kitchen & Bar. Check out Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #10AMcocktails to see what all of us ate and drank for brunch at Zest! YUM.

I’ve been inspired by some really delightful green cocktails around town lately! The lovely folks at Zest Kitchen and Bar invited a group of local food bloggers (who also happen to be some badass lady-friends) over for brunch, which starts at 10am at Zest with cocktails- something that in Utah only happens that early with a bar license (21+ only). So, leave the kiddos at home and head on over there for some really delicious beverages. You’ll never know the menu is vegetarian and gluten-free! I felt so healthy for the rest of the day, right up until I made pulled pork for dinner.

I included Zest in my Top Six Picks for great sips for my feature in this year’s SL City Weekly Dining Guide “Sip Well” along with favorites Bar X, Under Current Bar, O.P. Rockwell in Park City, Lucky 13 Bar & Grill, and BTG Wine Bar.

Repeal Day Bourbon Punch

During the crucial taste-testing process! Most cocktails started as punch recipes, so this can also be scaled down to make individual drinks with 0.5 oz shrub, 1.5 oz bourbon, and top with bubbly.

During the crucial taste-testing process! Most cocktails started as punch recipes, so this can also be scaled down to make individual drinks with 0.5 oz shrub, 1.5 oz bourbon, and top with bubbly.

A boozy punch for a crowd!

The key to making this very old school-style punch is making the oleo-saccharum, basically a process for releasing all of the goodness and zing of the lemon oils from the zest, which then gets made into a shrub to balance the fruit/acid/sugar. This is a technique of pre-Civil War era origins which I’ve messed with a bit (see sources below), popular with booze slingers from the Early American Republic through the early cocktail era. It’s a pain in the ass, for sure, to peel all those lemons, but get to work: it’s totally worth it after you’ve completed making the shrub base a couple of days later. I made this punch by request for my friends over at Sugar House Distillery for a private event they held to celebrate the release of their first bourbon whiskey. All grains sourced within 200 miles, then fermented, distilled, barreled and bottled in house! This recipe makes a quart of shrub concentrate, which when combined with three bottles bourbon and three bottles sparkling wine makes enough generous drinks for 40-60 people. Or a dozen of my friends. Collect erry’body’s keys upon arrival, just sayin’. This punch is some potent stuff!

Bourbon made in Utah! Who'd have thunk it? My buddy Jake from Sugar House Distilling and I are pretty dang excited!

Bourbon made in Utah! Who’d have thunk it? My buddy Jake from Sugar House Distillery and I are pretty dang excited!

Repeal Day Punch

1 quart lemon shrub*

3 bottles bourbon

3 bottles sparkling wine (err towards brut profile)

Combine well and serve over ice

 

*Shrub ingredients:

6 big juicy lemons

2 1/4 cups demerara sugar (divided use)

6 allspice berries (or 1/8 tsp. ground allspice)

½ of a whole nutmeg grated finely

6 whole cardamom seeds (or are they pods? whatever, the small green things)

4-5 whole white peppercorns

1″ of a cinnamon stick (more if you really like cinnamon)

To make the shrub:

Prepare an oleo-saccharum (oil-sugar) by completely removing zest (just the peels without any white parts – a swivel potato peeler is the perfect tool for this job!) of six large juicy lemons. In a big bowl, combine the lemon peels with 1 cup demerara or raw turbinado sugar. Stir to combine, smash peels a bit with the back of a wooden spoon to grind in the sugar. Lightly cover with plastic wrap, and move to a warm spot out of direct sunlight- this bowl’s gonna be living there for a while so get used to it! Reserve all those whole peeled lemons in the refrigerator; you’ll be needing them later. Every time you remember (every 3-4 hours or so), stir and smash the sugar and peels some more. Do this for at least 12 hours and up to two days. You’ll eventually have a nice pool of lemony oily, syrupy goodness in your bowl of curly lemon peels.

Image capture from my new friend Amanda (well, new IRL; we've been Instafriends for forever!) So many great folks out supporting the distillery.

Image capture from my new friend Amanda (well, new IRL; we’ve been Instafriends for forever!) So many great folks out supporting the distillery.

While that’s going, you can prepare the spice syrup. To a quart or other large heat-proof lidded jar, add 1 ½ cups demerara or raw turbinado sugar, bring 1 ¼ cups water to a boil, and pour hot water over the sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add up to another 1/4 more hot water to dissolve sugar, if needed. Add the following spices to this simple syrup: 6 allspice berries (or 1/8 tsp. ground allspice), ½ of a whole nutmeg grated finely, 6 whole cardamom seeds (or are they pods? whatever), 4-5 whole white peppercorns, and a 1″ piece of a cinnamon stick. Stir well to combine, then let sit until the syrup reaches room temperature. Remove the cinnamon stick (really, or the entire brew will taste only of cinnamon). Put a lid on that jar, and refrigerate until you’ve got your oleo-saccharum nice and runny.

When the oleo-saccharum is ready, juice the reserved 6 lemons over the lemon oil (it’s great if some pulp and pips end up in the bowl, no worries! You’ll be straining this, anyway). Stir well to combine. Add the spice syrup to the bowl with the lemony goodness. Stir well again, and let sit at room temp to meld for a few hours. Stir again, then strain through a sieve with a couple layers of cheesecloth to catch all the woody bits. Decant into another lidded jar (this should make about a 4 cups/1 quart of shrub, if it’s not quite 4 cups, add enough water to fill the quart jar) and refrigerate until ready for use, up to two weeks.

PUNCH! By David Wondrich. Put it on your booze geek reading list today!

PUNCH! By David Wondrich. Put it on your booze geek reading list today!

For booze geeks wanting to explore the delights of historic punch recipes, I highly recommend picking up a copy of David Wondrich’s treatise on the subject, “PUNCH: The Delights (and Dangers) of the Flowing Bowl” (Penguin, 2010). Therein he discusses the roots and uses of various recipes for making oleo-saccharum and other alcoholically alchemical wonders. The Repeal Day Punch recipe I made is loosely based on Wondrich’s historic research on the Chatham Artillery Punch, and old Georgia recipe that featured bourbon, rum, brandy mixed with lemon oil and juice in horse buckets.

Full disclosure: the guys at Sugar House Distillery paid me to curate this punch recipe for them. Which I did gladly, since their booze kicks ass and they’re fantastic fellas. -abg

Fall Fandango

The Fall Fandango Silver rum, Applejack, stout beer syrup, cardamom & chocolate bitters, and apple Pok Pok

The Fall Fandango
Silver rum, Applejack, stout beer syrup, cardamom & chocolate bitters, and apple Pok Pok

This rum based cocktail combines my favorite flavors of fall: apples, coffee, chocolate, and rum. Yum!

The Fall Fandango

1.5 oz white rum (I used Sugar House Distilling’s Silver Rum)

0.75 oz Laird’s Applejack

0.75 oz chocolate-coffee stout syrup*

0.5 oz Pok Pok apple sipping vinegar

2 dashes cardamom bitters

2 dashes chocolate bitters

tiny splash of seltzer

To a mixing glass filled with ice, add all ingredients. Stir for 50 revolutions. Strain into a highball glass over a bigass ice cube infused with some cacao nibs (about ¼ tsp per cube). Splash in a teaspoon or two of seltzer. Garnish with thin apple slices. Drizzle apple slices with a little more of the beer syrup.

Chocolate coffee stout beer syrup

Chocolate coffee stout beer syrup

*To make beer syrup: to a heavy non-reactive saucepan, add 2 cups of beer. For this cocktail, I used Epic Brewing’s Big Bad Baptist, a stout beer made with cacao and coffee and finished in whiskey barrels. I know, it seems a shame to make syrup out of this amazing beer, but it’s worth it! Bring the beer to a slight boil over med-high heat, then reduce heat to med-low, stir often to prevent scorching, and simmer until the beer is reduced by half (about 30 minutes). Remove from the heat, and cool for about 5-10 minutes at room temp. Add 1 cup raw (turbinado or demerara) sugar and keep stirring until all the sugar is dissolved. Cool completely to room temp, pour the syrup into a lidded jar, and refrigerate until ready to use. It’ll keep for a couple of weeks in the fridge.  

 

The story behind the drink….

About a year and a half ago, I got a call from a colleague who works in philanthropy for a local museum. They were putting together live auction items for their annual gala, and for one item they were planning an “Ultimate Chocolate Experience” private VIP dinner, since the museum had just launched a wildly successful visiting Chocolate exhibit (for which I’d written a promo piece for my other gig at cityhomeCOLLECTIVE). They asked if I’d be willing to create a chocolate-themed original cocktail for the event, to which I replied “Hell, yes!” That’s right up my alley: kind of a H.O.A.G.Y (Help Out a Gal/Guy, Yeah?) assignment on a meta level.

Long story short, some of my dear friends bid on the item and won. With everyone’s crazy busy lives, we finally saw all the stars align and had the dinner for 16 guests last weekend. It was amazing! The talented and generous folks at Millcreek Cacao Roasters provided some of their superb chocolate (really, the quality and sourcing are top notch) for the building blocks of many of my recipes. Luckily, there was a bit left over for me to eat straight from the bar!

This lucky duck is looking over my Oaxaca Old Fashioned during the very important R & D phase of my chocolate cocktail assignment

This lucky duck is looking over my Oaxaca Old Fashioned during the very important R & D phase of my chocolate cocktail assignment

I made the “Fall Fandango” rum-based cocktail using a lot of locally sourced ingredients, and it was far and away the crowd favorite. I also offered a “Oaxaca Old Fashioned” using a shot of cacao nib infused rye, ½ tsp raw sugar, a barspoon of pomegranate grenadine, and 3-4 dashes mole bitters; served over a bigass ice ball, and garnished with a candied orange slice drizzled with some Millcreek Cacao 70% chocolate (and yes, those chocolate candied oranges are insane on their own. Only 2 out of 3 made it into my cocktail kit – the others ‘mysteriously’ disappeared during my kids’ quality control check).

There are always folks who appreciate a non-alcohol option, and it’s been my point as a host to make some effort to serve a drink made with as much detail and care as the boozy crowd gets on the regular. I made a zingy and refreshing spritzer (recipe below).

Me serving up the NA spritzer. Finish it up with a straw and a chocolate drizzled candied orange slice for garnish.

Me serving up the NA spritzer. Finish it up with a straw and a chocolate drizzled candied orange slice for garnish.

Blood Orange & Chocolate Spritzer

To a tall glass filled with ice add:

0.5 oz Pok Pok blood orange sipping vinegar

3-4 dashes chocolate bitters

1 barspoon pomegranate grenadine

Stir well to combine all ingredients, and fill to the rim with seltzer (about 3-4 ounces). Serve with a straw. Garnish with a chocolate drizzled candied orange slice.

Celebrate the Bounty | Eat & Drink Local

I’m the first gal who’ll admit to buying the occasional Costco rotisserie chicken. Hell, I’m getting my dog food and industrial bag of string cheese for my guys anyway and they’re RIGHT THERE. However, when I’ve got the chance, opportunity, and ability to shop at/from locally-owned producers, restaurants, and booze mongers you bet your ass I’ll pick a locally-owned or independent place first. According to Local First Utah, “Studies show that for every dollar spent in a locally owned Utah business, four times more of that dollar stays in our economy than would be the case with a national retailer.”

Photo courtesy of Local First Utah

Photo courtesy of Local First Utah

I’m all behind any campaign celebrating the Beehive State’s bodacious bounty, and am pleased as punch that the fine folks over at Local First Utah have made it their priority since 2006. I recently wrote for my other gig at cityhomeCOLLECTIVE about the awesome annual fundraiser for Local First Utah, “Celebrate the Bounty” 

Supporting locally-owned businesses, artisans, farms, creators, and independent operators, Local First Utah provides tools and resources to keep Utah businesses thriving. They also create buzz to get consumers out of big box stores and into independent shops, making the choice to “Buy Local First” an attractive economic and social imperative. Now that’s a damn fine message. Local First’s annual fundraiser Celebrate the Bounty is coming up October 15th at the rustic Rico’s Warehouse, and the fest will feature nosh from some of our fave local food talents: Avenues Bistro, Frida Bistro, From Scratch, Handle Park City, Pallet, Red Iguana, SLC Pop, and Zest, among a few fabulous others. Dranks will be flowing from the glorious shaker of Bar-X boozeman Jake Hall, vino from IG Winery, and Wasatch Brewery’s got the beer options covered. Sips ‘n’ eats: handled. Your tickets? Go get ‘em.

Purchase tickets HERE!

Local First presents Celebrate the Bounty

Thursday, October 15th, 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm

Rico’s Warehouse, 545 W 700 S, SLC

Smashing Melons

Smashing Melons

Smashing Melons

This summery bourbon-based cocktail’s addition of coarse black sea salt from Hawaii (available online and at specialty stores) rounds out Aperol’s bitter notes and makes watermelon’s sweetness sing.

Smashing Melons

1/4 cup chopped watermelon with juice

½ tsp. sugar

3-4 large basil leaves

½ oz. fresh orange juice

black sea salt

½ oz Aperol

2 oz bourbon

To a cocktail shaker add watermelon, sugar, and basil leaves. Muddle thoroughly. Add two generous handfuls of ice, a big pinch of Hawaiian black sea salt, Aperol, and bourbon. Shake, shake, shake it like a Polaroid picture. Strain into a rocks glass filled with cracked ice. Garnish with a basil leaf and a watermelon wedge sprinkled with more black sea salt.

The story behind the drink….

Chris Panarelli at O.P. Rockwell, downtown Park City, shaking up a lovely Corpse Reviver #2.

Chris Panarelli at O.P. Rockwell, downtown Park City, shaking up a lovely Corpse Reviver #2.

Nothing screams summertime day drinking quite like a fruity cocktail. Especially one made with ubiquitous watermelon and a little hit of bodacious herbaceousness from basil or mint. I recently wrote a piece about using salt in cocktails for Devour Magazine (go check it out! I appreciate the clicks, friends!). I had the great pleasure of hitting some of my favorite SLC hot spots, Undercurrent Bar and Bodega to try what they’ve been mixing up with salt. And up on Main Street in Park City, that hip and moody joint, O.P. Rockwell, I tried a classic gin-forward Corpse Reviver No. 2 prepared brilliantly by barman Chris Panarelli. He graciously added a pinch of salt to the shaker at my request so we could try the original side-by-side with one made by salt to put our salty theories to the test. We liked ‘em both. Inspired by all of this salty sipping, I started working on some re-interpretations of summer favorites, including this kickass watermelon and bourbon cooler.

 

Whiskey n’ Goobers

Whiskey n' Goober highballs. Along with pickled yummies and white BBQ sauce.

Whiskey n’ Goober highballs. Along with pickled yummies and white BBQ sauce.

Whiskey n’ Goobers

2 oz. peanut-infused whiskey*

3-4 dashes Tabasco or other southern-style hot sauce

3-4 oz. Mexican or full strength Coke

lemon wedge

peanuts for garnish

To a Collins glass or tall Mason jar, add peanut-infused whiskey and hot sauce. Stir with a long-handled spoon to combine well. Fill the glass with ice cubes, top to rim with Coke. Squeeze lemon wedge over top and garnish with a few more roasted salted peanuts. Sip with a straw.

*Peanut-infused whiskey: To a lidded glass jar, add 1/3 cup salted roasted peanuts and 1 cup bourbon or Tennessee Whiskey (I used Jack Daniels). Let sit at room temperature for about an hour, gently shaking contents whenever you think of it passing by. Any longer than two hours and beware: the whiskey starts to pick up too many peanut oils and gets a slick, oily finish. Strain whiskey through a fine mesh strainer into a clean jar. Discard peanuts, or use them as a yummy topping for fudge sundaes. Makes enough peanut-infused whiskey for four drinks.

The story behind the drink:

Beach hair don't care. The boys and I with my cutie-patootie niece visiting from Kentucky. She looks very fierce in this photo - probably watching for sharks.

Beach hair don’t care. The boys and I with my cutie-patootie niece visiting from Kentucky. She looks very fierce in this photo – probably watching for sharks.

Our family just got back from a week-long vacation on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, and stayed at a cute cottage a short walk from the beach in the village of Salvo. Yes, right about where all the shark attacks were happening a couple of weeks ago. Loved the beach time and hanging out with the family, and this history dork reveled in all of the wonderful shipwreck, pirate, and aviation history right at our fingertips. But it was definitely one of those times where this Mama was taking the show on the road: still made breakfast, packed beach lunches, and made dinner most nights. And laundry. That shit never stops, especially with beach gear. Like at home, but sandier.

Crabbing! Check regs before you go, but where we were the crabs needed to be at least 5 inches across to keep.

Crabbing! Check regs before you go, but where we were the crabs needed to be at least 5 inches across to keep.

This far south on the Outer Banks meant that many evenings we had the beach entirely to ourselves.

This far south on the Outer Banks meant that many evenings we had the beach entirely to ourselves.

The last day of a vacation rental is like an episode of "Chopped!" Trying to put together actual meals out of leftovers is a pain in the ass, but I feel guilty wasting good ingredients. We made crab and shrimp salad sandwiches with the leftover pickings of our crab boil, mixed with lots of Duke's mayo and Old Bay seasoning. YUM.

The last day of a vacation rental is like an episode of “Chopped!” Trying to put together actual meals out of leftovers is a pain in the ass, but I feel guilty wasting good ingredients. We made crab and shrimp salad sandwiches with the leftover pickings of our crab boil, mixed with lots of Duke’s mayo and Old Bay seasoning. YUM.

 

Shrimp and Grits with andouille at Basnight's Lone Cedar Cafe in Nags Head, NC.

Shrimp and Grits with andouille at Basnight’s Lone Cedar Cafe in Nags Head, NC.

One of the many upsides to a coastal vacay is access to terrific ingredients. We took the kids crabbing, did some surf casting, and there were a couple of great little seafood markets within a short drive of our place. In this bountiful place of vinegary BBQ and the motherland of shrimp n’ grits, I was definitely in my happy place. Even better, I came back with an unfashionably dark tan (hey! Tan cellulite is much more bearable than whale-belly white cellulite. Just sayin’) and a bunch of southern goods we just can’t get in Utah unless I order through Amazon Prime or I make it myself: peach hot sauce, Duke’s mayo, really good roasted or boiled peanuts.

Being back home, I’ve been wallowing a bit in nostalgia for a taste of the South (um, except for the stifling humidity and mosquitos. I’m happy to live without that shit), and have been playing with flavor combos reminiscent of my years there when I’ve been mixing up cocktails for friends back here in Utah. You know, in between the loads of still-sandy laundry. I don’t remember which of my college friends in Memphis introduced me to throwing a few shell-on roasted peanuts into our Jack n’ Cokes on hot summer afternoons, but I do remember that initial taste of salty-sweet and a little roasted nuttiness being a flavor touch-point that I’ve come back to again and again with fondness. Southerners, especially those in the deep and Delta South, call peanuts “goobers,” a term also used to describe a human especially gifted at being a goofball. Much nicer than being known as an asshat. A couple of these spicy-sweet-nutty cocktails with my girlfriend Amaretto Sour while the kids race around having Nerf gun wars, and I’ll gladly relax into full-on Goober status all long hot afternoon. The laundry can wait.

Drinks by the Gallon: Manhattans and Prairie Punch

As part of my Cocktails 101 series over at the cityhomeCOLLECTIVE blog, I recently wrote a history/rant on that gorgeous hit of rye, The Manhattan. For this very tough and hard-hitting bit of research, I spent an afternoon chatting and drinking with bartender extraordinaire Amy Eldridge at the classic Salt Lake watering hole, Bar X. Somebody’s gotta do it. Quite a few folks have been asking me lately about drinks by the pitcher or punch bowl for a crowd over the holidays, so here are a couple of my standards: one is for Manhattans pre-made in the freezer, the other for a citrusyManhattans at Bar X punch that you need to plan about a day of lead time for to make the classic oleo saccharum (“oil sugar”). Both with whiskey, of course!

Manhattans by the Gallon This edition of “How to get your family shitfaced in large batches” courtesy of Amy Eldridge. Perfect for the holidays!

1) Take a very large freezer-safe pitcher or hefty gallon jug, and fill it with:

one bottle sweet vermouth

two bottles rye whiskey

and the equivalent of one bottle filtered water

2) Put upright in the freezer for at least a couple of hours or overnight [it won’t freeze because of all of the alcohol, but may get a little slushy].

3) Portion out cocktails directly into chilled glasses as needed, with a couple of dashes of bitters dropped into each glass first, and a cherry garnish to finish. Or, fill a pretty glass pitcher with the booze and one of those wicked cool ice insert thingies so your Manhattans stay icy cold without getting diluted. Let your guests serve themselves until you call them a cab and boot their ass to the curb. Cheers!

High West Prairie Punch

Prairie Punch: perfect with cheese and savory snacksFinca’s bar man Scott Gardner resurrects the concept of an artisanal punch in this recipe, harkening back to the time when every bar or local watering hole worth its salt had a proprietary and exclusive house punch.   The traditional oleo saccharum (“oil sugar”) preparation takes some lead-time to assemble, but is worth the effort to create a well-blended traditional punch. Here’s his recipe, which makes A LOT (good for a party of 20 or more guests):

1) At least two hours, or up to one day ahead, prepare oleo saccarum by gently muddling 8 oz. granulated sugar and the peels of 6 lemons.

2) After the sugar has turned to a syrup/paste consistency, add 6 oz. lemon juice, stir to combine, and let sit for an additional 30 minutes.

3) Strain out the lemon peels from the mixture and discard

4) In a large punch bowl (or two pitchers), combine:

  • lemon sugar
  • 1 bottle (apprx 25 oz.) High West American Prairie Reserve bourbon
  • 40 oz. cold water
  • ½ oz. angostura bitters
  • Just before serving, add ice to chill your punch
  • Float 8 oz. brut cava on top of the punch
  • Garnish with lemon wheels and a generous grating of fresh nutmeg
  • Note from A Bourbon Gal: Lovely served in shallow ‘coupe’ stemmed glasses

For more punch recipes made the old, old fashioned way [um, not with 7up and floating sherbet], check out David Wondrich’s history of the flowing bowl, Punch [Penguin 2010].

Beehive Distilling Launch Party

Super excited for my friends at Beehive Distilling, who are some stellar guys making delicious gin. I’ve been using their Jack Rabbit Gin in lots of summer cocktails, and it is some tasty booze. They’re celebrating their launch at a big par-tay this weekend at The State Room, with drinks and terrific music. It’s gonna be a blast! Hope to see y’all there, Salt Lake locals. Get yer tickets, herebeehive-launch-party

White Wine Sangria with Melon & Mint  

My guys last season. Awwwww

My guys last season. Awwwww

Nothing heralds Spring quite like baseball season in our house. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a completely shallow fan of the game. I’m not super invested in a particular team, don’t follow stats with regularity, and am an inconsistent televised viewer. But I freaking love the experience of live games. When I worked for the National Park Service based out of Boston [this is pre-kids, y’all], I traveled a shit-ton for my job as a museum consultant, and a couple of my co-workers were also big baseball fans. We’d plan our summer evenings around visiting AAA, double-A, and single-A ballparks for games. We’d get there early, buy a hot dog and some peanuts, and drink draft beers which would invariably get warm long before we’d finish them in the humid dank heat of mid-summer in say, Virginia.

Both my boys play, and my hubster, The Macallan, has been a little league coach for forever. Sure, I love watching my kids’ games, but there’s nothing quite like seeing the pros [or in the case of our town, the Salt Lake Bees, a AAA farm team for the Angels] knock out nine innings. We plan our family road trips around visiting as many MLB ballparks as we can, since we’ve made a goal of hitting every major league stadium for a game before our youngest graduates from high school.

The Colorado Rockies players were super-friendly with the kids and signed a ton of pre-game autographs. Thanks, guys!

The Colorado Rockies players were super-friendly with the kids and signed a ton of pre-game autographs. Thanks, guys!

A couple of weeks ago, we took a break from the mayhem of shoulder season [in our house, it’s the overlap of the kids still ski racing, and the beginning of little league baseball #FML – hence, taking a month off from blog-writing. Sorry!], and went to a couple of preseason games in Arizona during “Cactus League” Spring training. One of the nicer surprises of the visit was checking out the Rockies/Diamondbacks practice facility Salt River Fields at Talking Stick on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. Those folks know how to run a badass ballpark: gracious and helpful staff, parking was efficient and easy, the practice fields gorgeous, and the Rockies players were genuinely fan-friendly and signed tons of autographs for the kids pregame. There were even complementary sunscreen dispensers located around the ballpark, with free-flow SPF 30. Nice.

32 oz. white sangria at Salt River Fields [at Talking Stick, near Scottsdale, Arizona]

32 oz. white sangria at Salt River Fields [at Talking Stick, near Scottsdale, Arizona]

As you’d imagine, I base a lot of my positive stadium experience on the adult beverage and food selection, and Salt River Fields did not disappoint. Lots of great microbrews on tap, terrific selection of ballpark standard fare as well as local nosh [fantastic street tacos and margaritas the size of your head!], and my favorite: 32 oz. sangrias. Choose red or white, mixed up with as my barely-dressed barmaid described, “wine, brandy, Sprite, and fruit juice.” Not what I’d use, but it’s an efficient and delicious vehicle for dispensing alcoholic refreshment. So, while my guys discretely ogled the halter-clad and short-short sporting drinks slingers, I appreciated the players warming up pre-game, and sipped [okay, guzzled] my humongous sangria. I find these athletes vigor, flexibility, and dedication to fitness as showcase exceptionally well in baseball pants inspiring. Very. Inspiring.

Rockies pre-game warm up. Their athleticism is inspiring. Very. Inspiring.

Rockies pre-game warm up. Their athleticism is inspiring. Very. Inspiring.

Mmmm, baseball. A little something for everyone.*

Here’s my version of white wine sangria, which is more flavor-packed than “authentic.” Mix it up on a scorching day for instant refreshment. Halter tops and tight pants optional.

White Wine Sangria with Melon & Mint  [makes about 6 cups]

1 750-ml bottle dry white wine

½  cup Melon liqueur [like Midori] OR orange liqueur [such as Cointreau]

2 Tbs. [or more, to taste] agave nectar

1 cup honeydew melon, cubed into ½” pieces

1 lemon, sliced

1 cup seedless green grapes, halved

1 10 oz. bottle club soda, chilled

6 stems fresh mint

 

White Wine Sangria with Melon  Mint

White Wine Sangria with Melon & Mint

To a large pitcher, add all ingredients. Stir gently to combine. Fill six tumblers or large wine glasses with ice, and pour sangria over ice. Smack the mint sprigs between your palms [as if clapping], to release fragrance and place a sprig of mint in each glass. Split the fruit equally between the glasses as a garnish and for yummy boozing snacking.

* Yes, I realize this is shallow and objectifying the undeniable talent that it takes to mix drinks or play major-league baseball. But this blog is about mixing drinks and enjoying all that life has to offer, not about changing the rules of society. Everybody’s got their thing.

Bloody Marys 2 Ways: Sriracha Basil Lime & Smoky Cajun Bacon

Thanks to Brighton Ski Team for this great photo of the racers at last year's Grand Targhee race.

Thanks to Brighton Ski Team for this great photo of the racers at last year’s Grand Targhee race.

Last Spring, I wrote about our [mis]adventures at Grand Targhee with my boys’ downhill race team, the Brighton Competition Team, and shared a recipe for a traditional spicy Bloody Mary.The madness has continued yet again this season, with both kids competing in alpine race events all over the place. Usually on different mountains on the same day. #FML. The Macallan has finally embraced Google calendar and we’ve synched up our lives to get the boys where they need to go.

Slope-side selfie

Slope-side selfie

Over President’s Day weekend—one of the busiest weekends at every ski resort, just sayin’ in case you are already making vacation plans for next year—my older son Tim Collins raced slalom and giant slalom at Snowbird. One of my favorite traditions of ski racing, and hell, any outdoor sporting event, is the tailgate party. In the past year, our home mountain team has paired up with Summit Ski Team of Park City and put on a seriously festive tailgating party, that is [dare I say it] the envy of other race teams. Well, at least we have the best bar and loudest cowbells.

Summit Ski Team's fantastic "GrillSki" [patent pending, I'm sure].

Summit Ski Team’s fantastic “GrillSki” [patent pending, I’m sure].

Think of moving everything from your truck ONTO the mountain at whatever resort you are visiting: tents, chairs, tables, grills, coolers, bars. You name it. A parent on the Summit team has even become the envy of pretty much every race dad in the Intermountain Division by mounting a grill on SKIS = the GrillSki. Yes, you can slide your grill to the tailgate spot. Ingenious. It’s up there with the ‘shot ski’ as best re-appropriation of old gear.

On Monday, our family’s contributions to the party were a couple of different kinds of Bloody Mary mix and an XL bottle of vodka. Each of these recipes makes about 1 quart, so increase quantities as needed.  A plastic gallon jug, for instance, is perfect for pouring mixers for a crowd. If we’ve got the space and muscle, I like bringing pint Mason jars to serve the drinks; just put ice and all of your ingredients into the individual jars and they become both the shaker and the glass. Keep all the lids on hand to seal up the jars for mess-free clean up and transport.

Bloody Mary Bar

Bloody Mary Bar

Sriracha-Lime-Thai Basil Bloody Mary Mix

As one race dad said, “This isn’t a cocktail. This is the best freakin’ breakfast I ever had in a glass.” Aw, y’all say the sweetest things.

3 ½ cups [about 28 oz. +/-] tomato juice or original V8 juice

¼ cup Sriracha hot sauce

½ cup packed [about 2 large heads] Thai basil leaves

4 scallions

Juice of 3 fresh limes

Sriracha Bloody Mary with Lime, Thai Basil, and Scallions

Sriracha Bloody Mary with Lime, Thai Basil, and Scallions

To a small food processor [or large-mouthed quart jar so you can use a stick blender] add all ingredients EXCEPT for the tomato juice. Blend thoroughly, until basil and onions are minced but not a gooey slushy mess. Add herb mix to the quart jar along with tomato juice, replace lid, and shake to combine. Add some crushed black pepper and sea salt to taste. Mix up with a ratio of 2 parts Bloody Mary mix to one part vodka. Serve over ice. Garnish with a sprig of Thai basil and a slivered scallion.

Cajun Smoky Bacon Bloody Mary Mix

You can either make your own bacon salt—cook down 3-4 strips of smoked bacon until crispy, drain on paper towels and cool, then add to a food processor with a pinch of smoked paprika and ¼ cup kosher salt and buzz until all minced together—or use a commercially available blend. If you have time, infuse your vodka by adding all those leftover bacon drippings to 2 cups vodka, chill for a couple of days, and then strain through a double layer of cheesecloth before use.

3 ½ cups [about 28 oz. +/-] tomato juice or original V8 juice

¼ cup Crystal [or other Louisiana-type] hot sauce

1 Tbs. smoked paprika

1 Tbs. bacon salt [plus additional for dipping the rim of the cup]

2 tsp. liquid smoke

Juice of 1 large fresh lemon

Cajun Smoky Bacon Bloody Mary. Great slope-side or during your next ski tuning session.

Cajun Smoky Bacon Bloody Mary. Great slope-side or during your next ski tuning session.

Combine all ingredients in a quart Mason jar and shake like crazy. If desired, rub the rim of the cup/glass with a lemon wedge and dip in additional bacon salt. Mix up with a ratio of 2 parts Bloody Mary mix to one part vodka. Serve over ice, and garnish with pickled okra, a strip of bacon, olives, or whatever you’ve got on hand.

Thanks BST for this photo of my racer!

Thanks BST for this photo of my racer!

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