Tag Archives: alcohol

Frosted Flakes: Citrus Champagne Granita

Frosted Flakes: Citrus Champagne Granita

Granita 1_logo

Need a refreshing treat for the warmer days to come? Go with a granita. Granita is a semi-frozen, Sicilian specialty that is served both as dessert and as a palate cleanser between meal courses. Essentially, is is made up of sugar, water, flavorings and, in this case, booze, and is very similar to Italian Ice.

Granita one of my go-to desserts because it’s incredibly easy to make and requires no special equipment to prepare. A baking dish, a fork and a freezer — that’s it. Seriously, this recipe is hard to screw up. Granita does require a few hours to prepare, but your freezer does most of the work. I’ll usually prepare this the night before I serve it so that it’s icy, but not too hardened from being in the freezer for more than a day.

As for flavoring it, you can use just about any liquid as the base: fruit and citrus juices, alcohol (in moderation), coconut milk, zest, herbs, etc. If you can dream it up, then you can probably mix and freeze it. The mix must be sweetened with a liquid sweetener, so a simple syrup (sugar dissolved in an equal amount of water; see recipe below) is most often seen used to make this, as well as honey and agave nectar.

For this iteration, I flavored my granita with grapefruit, lemon and bubbly. Even though I call this a “Champagne” granita, you can certainly use cheap sparkling wine. Keep in mind that if you use a sweeter sparkling wine (like Asti), you’ll probably want to add less simple syrup. Also, be sure that your juice ratio is greater than the amount of wine and sugar combined. Alcohol and sugar inhibits some of the freezing process, so a mixture with too much of either will result in a watery, slushier granita. If you opt for hard liquor, don’t use more than a few ounces.

So when the mercury starts to rise, whip up this cold Italian treat to impress your guests (or to keep all to yourself).
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Cinco de Derby: Drinking decisions for a double holiday

Cinco de Derby: Drinking decisions for a double holiday

Whether you're donning a feathered fascinator or a colorful sombrero this Saturday, here are some Cinco and Derby drinks perfect for celebrating this double holiday. (Photo: Polkaroo via Flickr)

This Saturday, May 5th, will see two popular “holidays” celebrated nationwide: Cinco de Mayo and Derby Day. And what do Americans enjoy doing most for both occasions? Drinking, of course!

But with both holidays falling on the same day this year, what will drinks will you be enjoying? Whether you’re donning a feathered fascinator or a colorful sombrero, here are some refreshing cocktails to enjoy this Saturday — a couple of classics and a new hybrid tipple by yours truly.
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Dreaming of Rio: Cachaça is Brazil’s answer to rum

Dreaming of Rio: Cachaça is Brazil’s answer to rum

Cachaça! Brazil's national booze produced from sugarcane (photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Though most of the U.S is stuck in the doldrums of a chilly, gray winter, I’m in sunny Brazil. While the temperatures are averaging somewhere in the 50s at home, it’s a balmy 80 degrees and I’m on a beach in Rio with a cold drink in my hand. In my mind, at least.

Instead of waiting for the warmer months, I’m imagining they’re already here with an exotic cocktail straight from the other side of the Equator — thanks to my new friend cachaça. Made from sugarcane, cachaça (“ka-SHA-sa”) is Brazil’s answer to rum. While rum is typically made from the distilled byproducts of sugarcane (like molasses), cachaça is produced straight from fresh sugarcane before being fermented and distilled. It comes in two varieties, unaged (white) and aged (gold), but is more familiarly seen as the former.

Unaged cachaça has the slight flavor and aroma of fresh sugarcane, and it reminds me of a cross between silver tequila and light rum — light and aromatic like tequila but with a smooth end note like rum.

Cachaça makes a great substitute for white rum, vodka or even tequila in a cocktail, but I find that it is best showcased in Brazil’s fabulous and refreshing national cocktail: the Caipirinha (“kye-pur-een-yah”). Very similar to the Cuban Mojito, it’s a simple mixture of lime juice, sugar and cachaça. It can be made with rum if you haven’t any cachaça, though the flavor will be a bit different. I like to add a splash of tonic to my Caipirinha to add a bit of effervescence.

While cachaça used to be harder to find in the States, a few producers — Leblon, Velho Barreiro, Ypioca — are making their way onto the scene. Best of all, cachaca is fairly inexpensive — between 15 and 25 bucks at spirits retailers.

My recommendation: Grab yourself this exotic spirit to inject a bit of sunny Brazil into your day (or night).
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Yoo-hoo isn’t just for kids anymore: The Hooville Martini

Yoo-hoo isn’t just for kids anymore: The Hooville Martini

yoohoo_martini

While thumbing through an in flight magazine on the red-eye to San Antonio a few years ago, I stumbled across this fabulous cocktail recipe — the Hooville Martini. Whoever thought of using Yoo-Hoo as a mixer is a genius.

The Hooville was created for the bar menu at the trendy Ketchup restaurant in L.A., which features classic comfort food dishes with a gourmet twist. Their drink list also features other memorable kid beverages, like Sunny D and Kool-Aid, updated into playful and creative cocktails. “The Hooville takes on the creamy and chocolatey Yoo-Hoo, but with added almond flavor, since what goes better with chocolate than almond? It’s a nutty, rich tasting cocktail that makes a really good after-dinner drink,” says Ketchup’s bar manager, Darius Karsas.

I also think this would make a great breakfast or brunch drink, like an adult chocolate milk with a little ‘hair of the dog’.

Recipe after the break:

For a fun flavor variations, why not use Kahlua or your favorite flavored liqueur in place of the amaretto? Or try it caffeinated by using espresso-flavored vodka, thus giving it a mocha-like taste.
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Skittles-infused vodka: Taste the rainbow and get buzzed

Skittles-infused vodka: Taste the rainbow and get buzzed

skittles_vodka

Skittles are pretty tasty by themselves (excluding those chocolate abominations), and vodka is just wonderful, but maybe not on it’s own. So what if you combined the two? Skittles-infused vodka: two great tastes that taste great together. You get the sweet, synthetic flavors and a great buzz all in the same swallow. I stumbled across this entertaining article about how to infuse vodka with Skittles candy.

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