Thursday, December 12, 2013

What I'll be Sippin' this Christmas

JACK FROST MARTINI
1 cup pineapple juice
½ cup light rum or vodka, if desired

½ cup blue curacao

½ cup cream of coconut (not coconut milk)
10-12 ice cubes

Rim the glass with shredded coconut. Mix all other ingredients together and strain into martini glass. 

Oh cocktails, I've missed you ...

Recently, my husband and I went on our first date night since before baby. When I seized the opportunity last week to book dinner reservations and a hotel room in downtown Philadelphia, I was crazy excited. My mom and dad would be watching the baby since we were staying there for the holiday, and since my husband was leaving the country for work this was the perfect opportunity to go out -- just us. When date night finally arrived, we left so early that we had about 2 hours until our reservation at Talula's Garden, so we did what any parents would do with some alone time on their hands: drink.

I was super-pumped when I noticed that Zahav, the restaurant I originally wanted to go to but could not get a ressie, was just across the street from our hotel. We thought it would be perfect to sit at the bar and order a glass of wine and their to-die-for hummus. Unfortunately, when we arrived the less-than-pleasant hostess informed us that there was an HOUR wait to sit at the bar. Mind you it was 5:30 p.m. Bummer.

Thankfully, our next stop -- Amada -- welcomed us with that brotherly love I knew still existed in my hometown. I've eaten here before but Charlie hasn't, so we ordered some tapas: artisanal Spanish olives and the out-of-this-world Costillas de Ternera (a flatbread beef short ribs, horseradish, Parmesan, and bacon). And of course, there was my cocktail, the sexy Tie Me Up Tie Me Down made with lemon, vodka and rosemary. So icy and refreshing. It was just want I needed to take the mommy edge off.

Amada
Next up was a stop at Cooperage Wine & Whiskey Bar (nothing notable worth mentioning here), and then it was off to dinner, finally! I had been to the space in which Talula's Garden now sits for past events, and was kid-in-a-candy-store excited to experience all the culinary delights that I read about in Food & Wine magazine recently. From the extremely strong Lover martini (made with Grey Goose and finished with blue cheese-stuffed olive) to the insanely delicious entrees (Muscovy Duck Breast for myself and Petite Butcher Filet 'au Jus' for Charlie), Talula's definitely lived up to the hype. But the most amazing thing we experienced was the Gusto! cheese plate, which features Talula's own handmade ricotta and dolcelatte gorgonzola. AAHHHH-MAZING.

The Bar at Talula's Garden
After dinner we tried for a nightcap at The Farmer's Cabinet, but hit a wall. So it was back to the hotel and sleeping blissfully by 11 p.m. ... That is until some jerk thought it would be hilarious to pull the fire alarm at 2:45 a.m. resulting in us being awakened and having to evacuate the premises. Awesome. What's that phrase? Once you have kids, you'll sleep when you're dead. So true.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

To be continued ...

There's a reason I haven't sipped cocktails since June of last year ... I got knocked up.

Seriously though, our little bundle of joy is finally here and my husband and I couldn't be more in love with our sweet baby boy. Needless to say, things are a bit hectic around our house as we try to get our bearings and gain some sense of the new normal.

That said, I'll be taking a break from Martini Talk for a bit to focus on our new addition. I'm sure I'll need a cocktail soon though, so stay tuned.

In the meantime, Happy Sipping!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Polynesian Sips

In Hawaii, you'd be hard-pressed to find a cocktail that doesn't taste like the bartender poured a volcano's worth of sugar in it. That said, there were not too many sips that I enjoyed on our honeymoon, but a few classics stood out. 

Mai Tai at Ko, Fairmount Kea Lani, Maui
The signature cocktail of Hawaii is the Mai Tai. I was a little hesitant ordering one at first because I was afraid it would be too sweet, but the one they serve up at Ko in Maui was the perfect blend of sweet 'n sour.
From the Ko Menu: Meaning "out of this world" in Tahitian, the definitive WWII-era refresher was disputably, invented by "Trader" Vic Bergeron in 1944.  Bacardi Gold and Bacardi 8 carefully shaken with equal parts of orgeat syrup, Orange Curacao and freshly squeezed lime juice

Legend of Haleakala at the Lobby Lounge, Four Seasons Maui at Wailea
 By far my favorite cocktail of our trip, the Legend of Haleakala martini is a blend of ginger, lime, lilikoi, and coconut vodka. You can pretty much pour coconut-flavored anything in my glass and I'm sold.

Charlie's Pomegranate Margarita at the Lobby Lounge -- a little too sweet
Lilikoi Margarita at the Marriott Waikola Beach, Big Island
I typically don't like frozen drinks, but I made an exception for this one. After being in Hawaii, lilikoi (a.k.a passion fruit) is my new favorite flavor.

Sugary, syrupy Mai Tais at a luau ... what can you expect when you get "two free drinks"?
Ahhh ... classic Bloody Marys at the Beach Bar at the Westin Moana Surfrider, Waikiki Beach. The perfect way to end our trip.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Toot toot hey, beet beet

Friday night I had the tastiest cocktail I've had in a long time at Antibes Bistro. The Red Rivington, shown above, is a blend of Grand Marnier, Lillet, beet juice and cardamom. To finish off this sip, the bartender garnishes it with a skewered beet  -- so good, and not too sweet. 

Friday, August 26, 2011

Batten Down the Hatches


Our beach vacation got cut a little short today, as we were asked to evacuate Ocean City, NJ, way too early this morning due to Hurricane Irene. I'm still not over it. If you're heading out to the store with everyone else tonight, be sure to add the following ingredients to your emergency checklist so you can mix up this weekend's signature sip.

Hurricane
Courtesy of Dale DeGroff, Craft of the Cocktail

1 oz. dark rum
1 oz. light rum
1/2 oz. Galliano
2 oz. passion fruit nectar/syrup
2 oz. orange juice
2 oz. pineapple juice
1 oz. simple syrup
Dash of Angostura bitters
Fresh tropical fruit, for garnish

Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a hurricane glass filled with ice. Garnish with tropical fruit.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Congrats to Employees Only!



I have only been to Employees Only once -- and it was way before I was into the cocktail craze or even started this blog. Unfortunately, I didn't have the good sense back then to order a proper sip and the only thing that really made an impression was the fortune teller by the entrance.

But now I have a reason to go back, because this West Village speakeasy was just named Best Cocktail Bar in the World at Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans last month! Click here to see what the guys behind the bar had to say about this well-deserved honor.

And if you can't make it to Employees Only any time soon, consider stirring up the recipe below, a modern take on a classic punch.

The Remedy
By Steve Schneider, Employees Only

1/2 part absinthe (2 cups) (Schneider's prefers Pernod 68 Absinthe - decent price, high proof, very well balanced)
1 part raw sugar syrup (4 cups)*
1 part fresh lime (4 cups)
2 parts filtered water (8 cups)
1 part Champagne (1 bottle)(Schneider's rec: Perrier Jouet Grand Brut for its level of dryness)
1 pound strawberries, sliced
2 long English cucumbers, sliced
3 limes, cut into wheels
grate nutmeg to taste

Take all the ingredients, except the Champagne and nutmeg and place them in a container overnight. The punch and the fruit will soak together nicely overnight. Once ready to serve, add the decorative ice mold** and add punch. Top off with the Champagne and grate nutmeg to taste***

*Sugar syrup: 2 cups of water to every 1 pound of sugar. Heat all ingredients in a saucepan and stir until sugar is dissolved, let cool and bottle.

**Decorative Ice Mold: Purchase any sized bundt pan and fill it up by strategically placing strawberries and cucumbers with ice cubes in the pan before topping it off with water and freezing overnight. This provides a nice large block of ice to keep your punch cold, and as it melts, it will add more fruit to your punch -- it also adds a cool decor element to the table.

***Don't add the Champagne until the end so it doesn't go flat. A note about the fruit that's been sitting in the punch overnight: Schneider likes to discard the original fruit because it can get mushy after sitting overnight and replace it with new, diced fruit small enough so it can comfortably fit in the glass and won't hinder the drinking experience.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Bloody Dave's

Charlie and I have sipped our fair share of Bloody Mary's this summer. It all started at Dayna & Dave's house a few months ago, when Dave whipped up a batch as pre-dinner cocktails. So good, we've adopted his recipe as our own, and on the weekends you'll find us sippin' "Bloody Dave's" for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Dave Gray's Signature Recipe: 1 shot of vodka; clamato juice; 1 lemon and lime slice each; couple dashes each of black pepper, worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce; horseradish to taste (found in the deli section of the grocery story, btw); Spanish olives and black olives.

Here are a few of my other favorite places to try this classic brunch thirst-quencher:

Standard Tap, Philadelphia
Stubbs, Austin (make your own Bloody Mary bar)
Blue Pig Tavern, Cape May
Mother's, New Hope (shown above)

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Dirty Monkeys & Flaming Coffees in Cabo

The No. 1 highlight of our vacation to Cabo San Lucas this past spring? We got engaged (awww....). The No. 2 highlight of the trip? The drinks, of course (at least for the purposes of this blog)!

I'm obsessed with pina coladas, but to curb my waistline I treat them similar to the way I treat Philly cheese steaks (two per year for the sammies; only when I'm in a tropical destination for the sips). So, as the bartender at the Riu Palace pool bar was mixing up my second colada of the day, she stopped and realized she made a slight mistake. "You want to try a Dirty Monkey?" she asked. Why not? I was on vacay, after all. Her mistake turned into my new favorite by-the-pool sip.

Dirty Monkey
1 oz. coconut rum
1 oz. creme de bananas
1 oz. creme de cacao
1 oz. Kahlua
2 scoops vanilla ice cream or milk

Blend six ice cubes with ice-cream in a blender until smooth. Add liqueurs and continue blending, again until smooth. Add more ice-cream if needed (for milkshake consistency). Pour into a highball glass, and serve.

Another highlight? Flaming coffees at Los Deseos on the marina. Gimmick? Yes. Delicious? Absolutely!

Lemony-licious

I love all things lemon. Lemon-blueberry pancakes, my mom's lemon biscotti, lemon bars and, of course, lemon-y cocktails. So for my best friend's bridal shower this past May, I mixed up a batch of Sparkling Lemon Vodka cocktails as the celebration's signature sip. They were so good that this pretty container didn't last very long as a decor element!

Lemon Vodka Sparkling Cocktails*
1 cup vodka, chilled
1/2 cup frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
2 2/3 cups Champagne, or other sparkling wine, chilled

Combine vodka and lemonade in a pitcher; chill until ready to serve. Just before serving, add Champagne and stir gently. Yields 8 half-cup servings (I think I tripled this recipe for the party).

*This recipe was adapted from Cooking Light's gin version.

Another lemon cocktail recipe I'm obsessed with? Lemon Verbena Gimlets