Sparkling wine is already a festive pour for a party, but here's an idea for making it a little more special: serve homemade fruit liqueur lollipops for guests to stir into their bubbly. It's an elegant, surprising take on the usual champagne cocktail.
I absolutely love a good cocktail party and think we should all be throwing them a lot more often. It's less pressure than hosting a full-on dinner party, you get to invite more people to stand in clusters around your apartment's tiny living room, and you still get to pull out your high heels. Plus, cocktail appetizers are the best. When else do you get to eat half a dozen bacon-wrapped potato bites with well-shaken Manhattan and call it dinner?
The difference between a great cocktail and a stellar one is time and preparation. Cocktails made with infused spirits or syrups add a complexity and depth that you can taste — an extra hint of cinnamon, a prick of heat, a fresh hint of mint. The best thing is that these infusions aren't hard to craft. They just take time and a little extra forethought. Here are a few worth trying out:
Joanne Weir, a San Francisco chef, tequila expert, and the subject of one
of our early kitchen tours, makes a margarita at her Bay Area restaurant Copita
that is known as one of the best in the region. She says — and I agree
whole-heartedly — that the biggest mistake people make with their margaritas
is that they use too many ingredients like Triple Sec, Grand Marnier, or Cointreau.
It’s all about the balance of sweet and tart in a glass with just a few
ingredients: 100% agave tequila (Weir prefers blanco), freshly squeezed lime
juice and agave nectar.
Well, not really. But even if that wasn't the original design intention, it pretty much does just that. Have you ever seen a home bar that was quite so cool? It's a bar! No, it's a sculpture! No, it's a work of art! Gah. It's awesome. We rest our case.
I just returned from my first trip to Lebanon, where I spent a week eating and drinking all over the country. Whether in a restaurant or someone's home, no matter where I stopped for a drink, I was always offered a bowl or two of mixed nuts. This, I learned, was no coincidence.
Have your spring cocktail cravings hit yet? I reach for darker liquors in the winter and gin in the spring, and I find my craving coming on. What I have yet to find myself craving, however, is a peanut-spiked Coca Cola cocktail. But then again, I didn't grow up in the South.
I remember the first time I saw these Simon Pearce pitchers. My heart skipped a beat. Is that ridiculous? Probably. But my mind immediately went to the homemade lemonade my children would love, the cold martinis my friends would sip, and the gorgeous sangria that would be the centerpiece of my next porch party. Some people see glass pitchers; I see parties. These pitchers would change my life.
My idea for this iced tea-slash-mocktail has been brewing ever since one of our readers suggested pu-erh as a possible non-alcoholic alternative to bourbon. (Thanks, missjulia!) Bourbon is my favorite liquor, but my partner is allergic to alcohol, so it seemed a fun challenge to create something we'd both enjoy. And pu-erh turned out to be the perfect ingredient.
Are you a fan of Game of Thrones? Were you thrilled when the new season kicked off on March 31? If you're enjoying your fresh helpings of sword 'n' sorcery fantasy goodness as much as we are (yes we are fantasy geeks around here!) then you have to see this lavish lineup of cocktails designed to be sipped with Game of Thrones. From Tyrion to Ygritte, there's a cocktail here for your favorite character.