Bourbon Slush

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In August, a bunch of us partiers got together at a friend’s house. I kid about the partying, cause we’re not exactly dance floor type folk at our age. It was more about wandering around our friend’s beautiful garden talking flowers while the guys played horseshoes.

Being August, it was hot. To help cool us off, our hostess prepared a specialty drink, which she always does, often with some new flavored vodka, or something muddled… it’s always really inspired.

This time, I was hesitant. The drink was a bourbon slush. I can hardly stand the smell of bourbon (or any brown liquor for that matter) let alone the taste.

But, I did want to taste it, out of courtesy at least. And, it was good! To serve, Sheila was scooping the bourbon slush out of a plastic container and placing the granita-looking mixture in copper mugs.

So while we walked around and discussed gardening, cause we’re that hip, we slurped away on our slushes. They were such delicious and refreshing. Like a grown-up version of an Icee!

Sheila offered ginger ale and club soda if you wanted to top off the bourbon slush, but I enjoyed the slush as is because it was so hot outside.

According to Sheila, a bourbon slush is not something new. In fact, could it be called vintage? Perhaps like an Old Fashioned? Supposedly, it was a popular drink way back when, often served at holiday parties.

At Christmas time, I decided to make bourbon slushes. When I though about something bubbly to add, based on the fact that there are citrus flavors in a bourbon slush, you can bet I reached for Fresca as my mixer!

So here’s the recipe that our dear friend Sheila uses.

Bourbon Slush
printable recipe below

1 – 12 ounce can frozen orange juice
2 – 12 ounce cans frozen lemonade
7 cups water
3/4 cup white sugar
2 cups strong tea, decaffeinated
2 cups bourbon, nothing fancy
Fresca, optional

Set frozen juices out for a while until they soften a bit. Then mix all of the ingredients together except the Fresca.

Put in freezer in Tupperware-type container with a lid. Place in the freezer overnight.

To serve, use an ice cream scoop or spoon and place in cold-proof cups!

If desired, top with Fresca. This was actually a great combination!

Well, believe it or not, these are just as good at Christmas time!

I served the slush with panetonne, but it would work just as well with a cheese and charcuterie platter, or a bratwurst.

These aren’t strong drinks, so bourbon lovers could add another splash.


Thanks, Sheila!
 

 

One More Margarita

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I happen to like the taste of tequila, which is odd because I dislike strong cocktails. But margaritas, made with tequila, for anyone who may not know, can be really tasty. The ones I like are also refreshing.

On this blog I’ve posted on my friends’ real margarita, and also my own watermelon margarita. None of that disgusting sweet and sour mix in these recipes, just real ingredients.

Recently I visited an old friend out of town, and on our first night she made margaritas to celebrate. And I was blown away by them.

Gabriella went to visit Stéphane with me in France a few years back. Here we are trying not to giggle about something.

Gabriella has given me permission to share her recipe, which includes expected ingredients, plus a few unexpected ones.

So, one more margarita recipe!

Gabriella’s Margarita
makes one drink

Lime and salt if desired
2 ounces tequila
3 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice
2 ounces Grand Marnier or Cointreau
1 tablespoon agave nectar
2-3 ounces club soda
Twist of freshly ground pepper

Lime and salt a tall glass, and fill with ice cubes.

Mix the tequila, lime juice, and Grand Marnier together in a pourable pitcher. In this photo I hadn’t added the lime juice yet.

Add the agave nectar and stir well.

Pour the margarita over the ice cubes, not filling the glass by more than 2/3 full.

Add club soda and stir to combine.

Then top the margarita with a twist of black pepper.

And that’s it!

It’s more refreshing than a 3-ingredient margarita, what I call a real margarita, because it’s smoother and doesn’t have that bite. But I love both.


The other evening I made myself a real margarita, mostly because it’s the easiest to remember – 1 part tequila, 1 part Cointreau, and 1 part fresh lime juice.

And out of curiosity and for the sake of culinary research, I added Fresca to my margarita. People, I swear Fresca is magical. It lightened and fizzed up the margarita, but also blended all of the flavors.

So however you make your favorite margaritas, try topping them off with chilled club soda or Fresca, and see what you think!

Midori Fizz

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If you’re not familiar with Midori, it is a melon-flavored, grass-green liqueur. What I didn’t know, is that Midori is the Japanese word for green, and it was manufactured only in Japan until 1987, according to Wikipedia.


It’s a sweet liqueur, so it needs to be diluted with fizzy liquids, which can include club soda, Prosecco, tonic water or, my favorite – Fresca!

If you’re a martini lover, midori can be mixed with lemon juice and vodka, shaken with ice and strained.

Sweet and sour mix can also be used as a mixer, but something like lime juice is required to cut the sweetness. And lastly, Midori can be turned into an adult slushy for a seriously refreshing summer drink. So many options.

All I’m doing today is mixing Midori with Fresca. It’s a bubbly grapefruit soda that I use a lot, even in sangria. So it didn’t take much brainpower to or the skills of a mixologist to create this combination, but just in case you haven’t discovered Midori, I wanted to post on it.

And that’s it! I do about a 50-50 mixture of Midori and Fresca, but that can be adjusted of course.

Of course ice cubes can also be added to the Midori Fizz.

If you love the taste of sweet melon, you will love Midori!

I posted on a Pimm’s float before, and now I’m thinking about a Midori float!!! Yes!!!

Pimm’s Float

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This recipe is brought to you by Food Network chef Sunny Anderson. I wish I could claim it as my own, because it’s fabulous! Every summer I swear I’m going to make it, stack it with other recipe cards, and promptly forget about it. But not this summer.

If you love Pimm’s, and you love ice cream, then you’ll love this treat!
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I didn’t follow Sunny’s recipe to the T – hers included strawberries, and being passed strawberry season, I instead decided on blackberries and raspberries. So here’s what I did.

Sunny’s Pimm and Proper Ice Cream Float
Serves 4 or 2, depending on the serving size

1 pound raspberries and blackberries
1/4 cup white sugar
1/3 cup water

First place the berries in a small pot. Add the sugar and water. Bring to a boil and stir gently, until the sugar dissolves. Put the lid on, and lower the heat.

After about 5-6 minutes, remove the lid, and cook about 1 minute more. Place the pot in the refrigerator and let the berries and syrup cool completely.
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To complete the ice cream floats, you will need:
Pimm’s
Vanilla ice Cream
Fresca

To prepare the floats, but about 2 heaping tablespoons of the berries and syrup in the bottoms of ice cream glasses. Add an equal volume of Pimm’s to both. Scoop out the ice cream and place it in the glasses.


Right before serving, add the Fresca.

I also served a skewer of blackberries, just for fun.
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Sunny not only made a strawberry syrup in her original recipe, she also used strawberry ice cream. I chose vanilla because I wanted to taste the other flavors.

After tasting these, I’d still opt for vanilla. But I’m sure you could come up with many different ideas for these floats!
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They’re really refreshing, and would make a fun dessert after a summer dinner party as well!


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A Summer Refresher

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I’ve mentioned before on this blog that I am a terrible bartender. Even when I follow cocktail recipes, they turn out horrible. My husband says it’s only because I pick out terrible recipes, but I’m not completely sure that’s the problem. But I have given up on trying to make drinks containing herbaceous liqueurs, like Saint Germain, Pernod, Chartreuse, and Galliano. I guess I’m not hip enough to enjoy those flavors!

During the summer months, I make a lot of sangria, and I’m actually pretty good at sangria. Or, at least I think I am. When my older daughter is at my house, she always needs to “fix” it. And she always makes it better. Must be something about that summer she lived in Spain…


Because I don’t love strong alcohol flavor, I don’t ever use brandy in sangria, which is traditional. I like to use sweet wines instead.

I’ve mentioned Quady Vineyards in a post before, because they make fabulous moscatos. I am aware that sweet wines are not terribly popular. In fact, they’re probably drunk by white Zinfandel fans. But their moscatos are superb!

I used an orange moscato, called Electra, in my Strawberry Tiramisu recently, and for the sangria I made today, shown above, I used Quady’s Red Electra. (The sangria turned out fabulous!)

On the Quady Winery website, they write that Red Electra was “first released in 1993, is garnet red, tastes of succulent cherry, berry, and peach, and has a slight sparkle. Try it with all kinds of desserts and cheeses including chocolate bon-bons, truffles, spiced holiday cookies, vanilla, and fruit. Red Electra is made by combining Orange and Black Muscat grapes, and fermenting them very slowly at a low temperature so they keep their delicious flavors. That’s why Red Electra tastes like a bowl full of cherries.

Just to make sure it would work well in the sangria, my husband and I taste-tested the Red Electra. It was like nectar of the gods.
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Then I had an idea. I poured some Red Electra in a bigger glass and added some Fresca, which I had on hand because I always use it in sangria. Typically I don’t create cocktails, and it’s not surprising that my alcoholic “invention” consists of only two ingredients. But it got me thinking. Besides Fresca, what would Red Electra be like paired with Champagne, or Prosecco? I had some experimentation ahead of me!!!

So here’s my offering for a refreshing summer drink. I suggest three varieties depending if you like sweeter, less sweet, or unsweet. You could even add sparkling or soda water for two more varieties. I’m just so creative!!!

Red Electra Sparkler

3 ounces Quady Red Electra, chilled
4 ounces Prosecco, chilled, or
4 ounces Champagne, chilled, or
4 ounces Fresca, chilled

On the day this cocktail was “created” daughter happened to be visiting, and we did the taste test together. We began with 3 ounces of Red Electra, and added equal amounts of Prosecco, Fresca, and Champagne.


The drinks were on the sweet side with this ratio.

So that’s when we came up with the ratio of 3 ounces of Red Electra to 4 ounces of mixer. Plus, we added ice. Even though all of the above ingredients were fully chilled, the drinks needed ice for them to stay cold and refreshing.
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We both picked our favorite combination, and it was the Prosecco version. The Fresca version was good, but it was “sweet” and still tasted like Fresca. The Champagne variety was good, but the Champagne seemed to disappear in the drink.

The Prosecco and Red Electra was a perfect match!


It was also the most refreshing – even without ice!

We made this cocktail on the first day of summer, and it topped out at 99 degrees that day!
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I’m stocking up on Red Electra. It is quite versatile!

Pimm’s

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I remember the first time I had Pimm’s, in 1978. I wasn’t much of a drinker way back then, but I remember it being so unique. I had no idea it even had a British origin – I just enjoyed the flavor!

Fast forward 25 years to when my older daughter visited a girlfriend in London, and they shared a pitcher of Pimm’s at a pub! I was so excited, because I’d forgotten all about it, and certainly had no knowledge of its national esteem.

The origin of Pimm’s is very interesting, dating back to the 1800’s when Mr. Pimm invented the gin-based drink. There was originally Pimm’s No. 1, as it is now, but there were also five subsequent Pimm’s; most all of these have been phased out.

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The liqueur contains a secret mixture of herbs, fruit extracts and liqueurs. It experienced a recent revival in popularity from a British tv show whose character would announce, “It’s Pimm’s O’clock!”

I didn’t even know this when I snapped this photo at the Hampton Court food fair outside of London. I was with number 2 daughter and it was freezing out. But by golly there was Pimm’s being sold and I needed to have an official one! It was indeed delicious, although not perfect for a chilly day.

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However, Pimm’s is perfect for spring and summer when it’s acting like spring and summer. Because it’s so refreshing, I often make pitchers of it or put it in a large dispenser. It goes with just about any kind of cuisine.

I took this photo of my Pimm’s at the food fair:

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Here is the “official” recipe for Pimm’s, also referred to as Pimm’s cup.

Pimm’s Cup

Mix 1 part PIMM’S No.1
with 3 parts chilled lemonade.
Add some mint, cucumber, orange
and strawberry

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In a large pitcher, pour in the seltzer, lemonade and Pimm’s. Stir to combine. Pour mixture into prepared glasses and enjoy!

This recipe comes from the website Anyone for Pimm’s.

If you noticed, there’s no mention of how much seltzer to use, unless British lemonade is bubbly, but I don’t think it is.

So here’s my recipe:

Pimm’s Cup, for one

In one tall glass, place 1 part Pimm’s, 1 part lemonade and 2 parts fresca. Add a generous amount of ice, and stir well. Add some pieces of cut up orange, apple, and strawberry.

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At the food fair, I could definitely taste mint and cucumber in my Pimm’s. It was completely enjoyable, but I don’t like my Pimm’s to taste too much like water you get at the spa, so I leave out the cucumber. However, I do use a long piece of cucumber that helps with stirring. But you try it however you like.

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When I make Pimm’s in a pitcher, I add a whole array of sliced fruits because it’s so pretty! And you can muddle a bunch of mint leaves if you like, before finishing with the recipe. I love the mintiness, but I don’t like having to deal with chopped mint in my teeth. A personal preference, again.

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note: Pimm’s is a strong drink, but it should not be cloyingly sweet. The secret, from years of personal experimentation, is the Fresca. The drink should be bubbly, not taste like a liqueur on ice. If you prefer using seltzer water, or can’t get your hands on Fresca, be as generous with that. It lightens the drink without adding sweetness, which it doesn’t need. Enjoy!

Cherry Sangria

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Before my older daughter lived in Spain for a summer, I’d never been crazy about sangria. I liked wine just fine without any tampering. But when she came back and made sangria for me the “real” way – I gained great respect for it.

I happen to be the worst bartender around. You’d think I’d be pretty good at it with my affinity for anything alcoholic, but I’m not. And my daughter is married now and doesn’t live with me, so I can’t rely on her to make sangria for me any more. So I’m just going to have to put my big girl bartender pants on.

Sangria is typically wine, brandy, a little sugar, and some fruits. There’s a little bit of muddling of the fruits and sugar, but that’s essentially it. Sometimes there’s some lemonade, or something sparkling added.

But the thing is, you can do so much with sangria. You can use white wine instead of the more common red. And you can get creative with the fruits. I’ve made summery white sangria with peaches and grapes, and a very girly rosé sangria with raspberries and mint for a bridal shower.

And, you can use different liqueurs instead of brandy. I really like using Grand Marnier for the orange flavor, but I’ve also used crème de cassis for currant flavor. I very often use Quady Essencia, which is an orange dessert wine. It doesn’t pack a punch like brandy, and it’s more flavorful to me. You also don’t need any added sugar is you use a sweet wine. Less alcohol isn’t a bad thing, either. Sangria can go down really fast and easy. Especially on ice, when it’s really hot outside… not that I would know anything about that…

So today I wanted to make a new kind of sangria with cherries. I needed to use griottines that I never used over the holidays. If you’re not familiar with them, check them out here. Griottines are the result of Oblachinska Morello cherries that are picked where they grow in the Balkans, then essentially “brandied” with kirsch for a period of 6 months. They are alcoholic cherries in a strong but sweet syrup.

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Griottines can be purchased at igourmet.com here.

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So today I’m making sangria, but using cherries for my fruit, and the cherry-kirsch syrup instead of brandy.

Cherry Sangria

1 bottle (750 ml) light and fruity red wine
1/3 cup syrup strained from the jar of griottines
Juice of 1 orange
Griottines
1 can of Fresca
Orange Slices

It’s best if you start your sangria a few hours ahead. Place the bottle of wine, the syrup and the cherries in a pitcher and chill everything in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

I used Castle Rock pinot noir from the central coast of California. It’s not fruity, but is a real smooth pinot noir, and sells for $8.99 a bottle.

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Right before serving, pour one 12 ounce can of chilled Fresca into the pitcher. Decorate the glasses with sliced oranges, add a few cherries, ice, and pour in the sangria. Enjoy.

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note: If you prefer a lighter sangria, or perhaps a Cherry Sangria Sprizter, add one more 12 ounce can of Fresca. It’s very light and refreshing, more more like a spritzer than true sangria.

Also, this cherry sangria would be good with a white wine as well, like a nice Riesling. That way, you could see the cherries more.

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verdict: Loved it. Will make again.

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