A New Day

Y’all may have notice a bit of a time gap (a bit = 3 years) on my posting to this here blog, and those who follow along on social media have witnessed some crazy sh*t going down for this Bourbon Gal in real time. IMG_3828

We bought a house a bit further south in the Salt Lake Valley, sold our tiny Sugar House cottage, and started a major renovation/addition project on the new place which is still in progress some two years later. For several months we lived in our pop-up camping trailer — yeah, two adults, two teenaged boys and two goofy chocolate Labs — taking some big road trips and fly fishing up through Wyoming, Montana and western Canada. Then we parked our home-on-wheels in the side yard of our new home and lived out of it for waaaaayy longer than anticipated. Here’s a story I wrote for Devour magazine about kitchen remodel projects that was influenced heavily by our family’s experiences. It reads a lot more up-beat now than I felt at the time (e.g. overwhelmed and about to lose my ever-lovin’ mind on an almost hourly basis). IMG_6563

In the meantime, I’ve been writing like gangbusters at my other paid gigs all over the Beehive State, and will drop some links to those stories soon, along with my backstage cocktail pairings to go with them.

Cheers, all y’all, and thanks for your patience!


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.

Sugar House Slingshot

Sugar House Slingshot: silver rum, charred lemon, honey-thyme syrup, cardamom bitters, and salt.

Sugar House Slingshot: silver rum, charred lemon, honey-thyme syrup, cardamom bitters, and salt.

Sugar House Slingshot

2 oz. silver rum

1 oz. honey-thyme syrup*

1 oz. charred lemon juice**

2 dashes cardamom bitters

Place all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake like crazy. Rub the rim of a highball glass with charred lemon, and dip half the rim into coarse salt (I used Utah-sourced RealSalt). Fill glass with fresh ice, strain drink into glass over ice. Pop a little club soda floater on top, if desired. Garnish with thyme and a slice of charred lemon.

The story behind the drink:

This week I was thrilled to hear that my friends over at Sugar House Distilling got the go-ahead for sales of their latest release, a molasses distilled silver rum. Rum gets me all excited for spring imbibing: tiki drinks, mojitos, anything umbrella embellished and slurped through a straw. Slings are usually short cocktails made with liquor, citrus, sugar, and water, so this is a riff on that theme but using a honey-thyme syrup, instead of sugar.

ImageThis freaky unseasonably warm weather lately means we’ve uncovered the grill for the season—no doubt we should anticipate snow any day as a result of this arrogance—and I always throw on a few extra halved lemons when I’ve got some free space on the grates. The juice of these charred lemons makes a spectacular smoky sour mix, and in this case kicks some serious ass paired with the sweet-spicy notes of cardamom bitters. I’ve been playing around with making homemade cardamom bitters, but until I tweak that to satisfaction, you can find several varieties (like Fee Brothers) at specialty stores.

*To make honey-thyme syrup: in Mason jar mix ½ cup honey with ¼ cup water just off the boil; stir until honey is dissolved. Drop in a generous sprig of fresh thyme. Cool to room temp, remove thyme. This syrup will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks.

**Charred lemon juice: Halve a bunch of lemons. Sprinkle with a tiny bit of sugar over each cut surface. Grill, cut side down, over high heat for about 5 minutes, or until lemons are smoking and well charred. Remove from heat and rest at room temperature for an hour or two. Keep several lemons aside for use as garnishes, and juice the remaining charred lemons, straining out seeds and excess pulp. Juice will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks.

Quick and Easy Irish Soda Bread

Every year I get requests for an Irish Soda Bread recipe, and this is my favorite. It’s a wonderful quick bread I should really make more often. Great slathered with butter and accompanied by a nice dram of Irish Whisky, of course. Enjoy!

A Bourbon Gal in Utah

Image Photo from the Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread. These folks are serious.

Every year I make Irish soda bread for St. Patrick’s Day –slathered with butter and served, of course, with corned beef and cabbage—and I think, “Geez, this stuff is so easy to make.  And super tasty.  I should make it more often!”  Then, I drink too many Irish Coffees, run out of buttermilk*, and forget all about this stroke of brilliance until I start seeing corned beef in the cases at Costco in late February.

As many of y’all know, I really only bake under duress (excepting the “3-Bs”: brownies, biscuits, and birthday cakes).  All that measuring, weighing on scales, perfect ratios.  Accounting for altitude.  Ugh.  There’s a wonderful bakery down the street from my house to which my very responsible children Sprite and Tim Collins can go as my representatives and pick up…

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Oh! You Sexy Beets Dirty Martini – a hot & pink cocktail

Hot Pink Dirty Martinis. My kind of Valentine’s cocktail!

A Bourbon Gal in Utah


Why I don’t dine out on Valentine’s Day, and you shouldn’t either.

I avoid dining out on Valentine’s Day.   With few exceptions, restaurants are packed with starry-eyed lovers ordering off of prix fixe menus with cloyingly sweet and often watery cocktail offerings, cheap champagne and the Cosmopolitan being the most egregious of these, in my book.  The servers and kitchen are overtaxed trying to run a fast turn-over service to a bunch of people who are too busy groping each other under the tablecloth to really enjoy the meal.

My  girlfriends Sangiovese and Saketini argue that Valentine’s Day could be considered the epitome of the asshat guy holiday – he can be a complete douche to his girlfriend/wife/partner all year, but shell out some bucks for awful milk chocolates and dinner out and he’s –at least temporarily- redeemed himself.  Why can’t a guy just be nice, generous and considerate all the…

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A Bourbon Gal at PechaKucha

Awesome PechaKucha poster designed by the uber talented Tim Ross Lee.

Awesome PechaKucha poster designed by the uber talented Tim Ross Lee.

PechaKucha [pronounced “peh-CHA-koo-cha”] night is a not-to-be missed experience, y’all! Think of a dozen or so creative folks, each given the opportunity to present 20 images. But each of those images gets automatically advanced every 20 seconds. Presenters have six minutes and forty seconds to talk about whatever they’re currently working on, passionate about, or find interesting. There are PechaKucha groups in major cities all over the world, so look it up wherever you are and get inspired!

The next SLC PechaKucha night is September 28th, and I’ll be presenting my own sassy spin on whiskey history. I’d love to see some friendly faces in the crowd, so follow the link below and reserve your spot(s)! The show sold out within a day of posting, but I heard from the event organizers they’ve started a waiting list for released tickets.  Follow the link here for more info.

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