Shake Your Razz

A big sassy drink brimming with raspberries and rye, this is a terrific cocktail for pre-batching to serve a crowd. Perfect for tailgating and picnics!

Shake Your Razz. Thanks to my girlfriend Pink Lady for coming over to be my drinks research partner/hand model.

Shake Your Razz. Thanks to my girlfriend Pink Lady for coming over to be my drinks research partner/hand model.

Shake Your Razz

To a pint mason jar add:

2-3 basil leaves

3-4 dashes Peychaud’s bitters

1.5 oz. raspberry-champagne vinegar shrub*

1.5 oz. black sun tea

0.5 oz. Disaronno

2 oz. rye whiskey

Fill jar almost to the top with ice, screw on the lid, and shake shake shake it like a Polaroid picture. Fill with more ice, if needed and serve with a straw.

*a cold shrub with a ratio of 6 parts fresh raspberries, 6 parts baker’s sugar, and 5 parts champagne vinegar (7% acid min.) by weight. Macerate for 48-72 hours and strain to remove solids.

The story behind the drink…

We’ve chatted about shrubs on this here blog before, as they’re dead easy to make with whatever you’ve got on hand. Shrubs are something I like to throw together as I’m going through fruits and vegetables during canning: the perfect specimens go into the canning jars, the moldy bits go into the chicken-feed bowl, and the bruised and banged-up pieces go into another bowl to be made into shrubs. Since all of my shrub recipes use pretty basic ratios by weight, it doesn’t matter how much or little fruit you end up with, as long as you’ve put enough acid in the ratio. Raspberries have a notoriously short window of ideal preservation; it seems like about a third of every package are a goopy mess. Perfect for making shrubs.

I was super honored to have my girlfriend Lime Rickey invite me over last weekend to co-host a party she threw for a cocktail club here in town run by SLC boozy blogger Chelsea (better known as Heartbeat Nosh). Her cocktail club is fancy, y’all. They have dues and a calendar going out for a whole year, and they are all very young, hip, tattooed mommy bloggers with Pinterest-worthy sponsorships and fabulous shit like that. The bar was set HIGH, and I was definitely the oldest and least inked gal in the room. And since when I get nervous my voice gets even higher and more twangy than usual (think Wynonna Judd channeling Minnie Mouse- it ain’t pretty), the ladies were a very tolerant group for me goin’ on and on about how much I love shrubs. And whiskey. They’re a hilarious and fun group of gals; check out their collective Instagram feed at #hbncocktailclub for some great ideas.

I chose this cocktail to shake up for them for three reasons: 1) I thought they might want to learn a bit about shrubs, ’cause they’re freakin’ awesome, 2) it’s easy to pre-batch for a crowd, and 3) it’s fun and pretty and requires a bit of audience participation, which is always a hit in my book.

It also happens to be pretty damn delicious: the amaretto gives a nice mellow sweet base note, where rye’s spicy kick (use at least 95 proof for this one) comes right through the zing of the shrub. Peychaud’s bitters keep the color bright and add a nice licorice tickle to keep things interesting, even as the drink gets watered down a bit. Black tea adds body and volume to this boozy drink without clouding the flavors, making it a great session cocktail. This is a primo drink for tailgating parties or picnics, since you can pre-mix all the ingredients in individual mason jars for shaking AND serving, load them all right back into the cardboard carriers by the dozen. Just add ice and a straw when you get to your party spot. Bring a few backup ingredients to mix refills on site and you are golden, my friends. I’ve made this exact same drink swapping out apricot, peach, or pear shrubs for the raspberry and they’re all pretty delightful. Try using mint, tarragon, or rosemary instead of basil, too. It’s all good.

 

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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

Green Envy

A vibrant cocktail made with herbal gin, dry vermouth, zucchini juice, and celery bitters. These bright, elegant flavors eek out the last of summer’s bounty with a boozy kick. AND, it’s yet another way to use up that wheelbarrow full of zucchini!

Green Envy Gin, Ransom dry vermouth, celery bitters, zucchini juice, tarragon, and a bigass ice cube

Green Envy
Gin, Ransom dry vermouth, celery bitters, zucchini juice, tarragon, and a bigass ice cube

Green Envy

2.5 oz strained zucchini juice

3-4 dashes celery bitters

1 oz Ransom dry vermouth

2 oz Beehive Jackrabbit Gin

tarragon sprig

To a bar glass, add zucchini juice, bitters, vermouth and gin. Stir well with ice. Strain into a rocks glass over a bigass ice cube. Garnish with a tarragon sprig.

The story behind the drink….

This is NOT the side of the fence she's supposed to inhabit.

This is NOT the side of the fence she’s supposed to inhabit.

Every year I get requests from friends on how to use up zucchini, so this is a general H.O.A.G.Y (Help Out a Gal/Guy, Yeah?) response to add one more recipe to the arsenal, y’all. With a boozy cocktail!

This year’s garden situation has been hit-and-miss. My man The Macallan graciously built garden fence version 9.2 to keep the dogs and chickens out (this’d be an annual endeavor that has been unsuccessful every damn year). Sure enough, we get everything up and thriving, then BAM, come some dark August night I go out to investigate rustling in the tomatoes and find one or both of our chocolate Labradors gleefully gobbling down veggies left and right, waging destruction on the tender fruits in their 80 pound wake.

Zucchinipalooza! Fried, casserole-d, and in dense bread that's more like dessert than bread.

Zucchinipalooza! Fried, casserole-d, and in dense bread that’s more like dessert than bread.

We’ve been able to salvage a few baseball bat zucchini that the canine horde missed in their grazing, and I’ve been doing the usual harvest blitz of convincing my family that one of my favorite vegetables should be theirs, too. Zucchini bread’s always a winner, and who doesn’t love anything stuffed with cheese and then tempura battered and deep fried (that’d go for the zucchini blossoms). They are beyond tired of grilled zucchini already, and gave a “meh” vote to the buttery casserole. Whatevs. I will persevere.

Persevere with booze in my glass, anyway. After squeezing the shredded zucchini to release much of the liquid before it goes into the bread batter, I’m left with a few cups of gorgeous vibrant green juice. Sure, I could be all healthy and put it in a smoothie, but I’d rather toss it in a cocktail. The Macallan and I drank a couple of these sitting in the garden while trying to figure out Fence Version 9.3, and finally decided that we’d give up this season and go for full electric badassery next year. And those dogs’d better get their asses in gear for duck season to redeem themselves or they’re gonna be on my shit list for a while. Who am I kidding? They’re adorable and sweet as can be. It’s a good thing they’re so damn cute. And at least they don’t eat the lettuce.

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.

 

Basil Mojito

No mint? No problem! Make your Mojito with basil, instead:

Basil Mojito!  Now does that look refreshing or what?

Basil Mojito!
Now does that look refreshing or what?

Basil Mojito

1 oz. gold rum

1 oz. silver rum

0.5 oz Cointreau or triple sec

juice of 1 lime, plus save hull of ½ lime

5-6 basil leaves

1.5 oz basil simple syrup*

3-4 drops lime bitters

2 oz (about) club soda

 

To a tall glass add lime juice, hulls, and 2-3 basil leaves. Muddle until basil is a bit bruised but not black and in a million pieces. Add all remaining ingredients except club soda. Stir with a long spoon to combine. Fill glass with ice, add club soda to rim of glass. Garnish with basil leaves and more lime wedges.

 

*to make basil simple syrup: to a pint mason jar, add 1 cup sugar, and pour over with just less than 1 cup boiling water. Stir until sugar is completely dissolved. Add 4-5 large basil leaves, and stir again. Add enough ice cubes to almost fill jar. Let sit at room temperature until cool to touch (about 3-4 hours). Remove basil leaves, seal with lid. Will keep in the refrigerator up to 1 week.

 

The story behind the drink…

Don’t y’all love how much credit “The Grillmaster” gets for charring up a bunch of food? Seriously, and this is with completely gender neutral observation: whoever pulls the stuff off the flames usually gets the credit for the meal, even if another partner in the equation spent most of the day butchering, marinating, making side dishes, and harvesting all that damn zucchini out of the garden. To be fair, in our house my man, The Macallan, and I generally share grill duties 50/50. But when it’s regular old cooking in the kitchen it’s a total 1950s marriage, mostly because I’d like our family to see the occasional vegetable on the plate. Though I love him dearly, the man’s specialties are pasta sauce from a jar, Steakums, and fish sticks with tater tots.

 

My therapist and feminist friends here will have a field day on the analysis of this breakdown, but for the most part it works for The Macallan and I, and it has for years. I really do enjoy cooking (the clean up? Not so much). And I love to grill. But so does he, so when the opportunity to pass the tongs comes along, as it does almost every hot weekend night at our casa, I let him at it. Then I make both of us huge honkin’ Mojitos, and I go cozy up in a comfy chair with a good book and let him take the credit. After all, nothing goes with passive-aggressive martyrdom quite like juicing the hell out of limes and plenty of rum.

 

Sugar House Distilling and Beehive Bitters Company did not pay me to use their products for this story. I just think their shit’s really awesome. I was thrilled as punch the guys at SHD hired me to work on the label copy for their rum and other spirits, hence the lovely signatures from their swashbuckling crew on the bottles. If you’re in Salt Lake City, stop by their distillery, take a tour, and buy a bottle or two. They’re good people. 

 

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.

Firecracker Moonshine Jell-O Shots

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

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

This week’s H.O.A.G.Y (Help Out a Gal/Guy, Yeah?) is a general request from friends who’ve been asking for my recipe for patriotic moonshine jell-O shots. I make mine with PopRocks and cherries. This recipe originally posted in 2013, but IMHO jell-O shots are a classic appropriate for any old time of the year!

That’s right, people: 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) in 2013 and blogged about it back then. 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

(makes about 35)

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