Tag Archives: booze

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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Everything’s Coming Up Rosé

Everything’s Coming Up Rosé

Credit: Samantha via Wikimedia Commons

Head on over to my pal Penny’s blog, Penny’s Romance Reviews, to check out my guest post on one of my favorite drinks for her weekly “Martini Club”: Rosé!

It’s both educational and entertaining (complete with RuPaul’s Drag Race references), if I do say so myself. ;-)

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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It’s the bomb: Get a sweet buzz from this Chocolate “Bomb” Stout Float

It’s the bomb: Get a sweet buzz from this Chocolate “Bomb” Stout Float

Believe it or not, beer and chocolate make a great pair. Better yet, beer and chocolate ice cream make an amazing pair. The inspiration for this boozy treat came from a drool-worthy photo of a similar recipe in Bon Appetit of a tall glass oozing over with ice cream, stout and chocolate syrup. But never being able to follow a recipe, I decided to put my own spin on it. Thus the Chocolate “Bomb” Stout Float was born.

I’m sure many of you are familiar with the libation often knocked back at (American) Irish pubs, the “Irish Car Bomb” — the drink and its inappropriate name being an American invention, of course. It’s served as a glass of Guinness draft and a separate shot glass filled with Irish whiskey and Bailey’s Irish Cream. The drinker drops the shot glass into the beer and quickly guzzles it down until the drink is gone — and before the Bailey’s curdles.

Then it hit me: Guinness plus chocolate ice cream plus Irish whiskey could potentially equal something awesome. And sure enough, this float is great when first served but gets even better when the ice cream melts and mixes with the roasty stout, the toasty whiskey and the rich chocolate sauce.

If Guinness is too bitter for your tastes, I recommend using Young’s Double Chocolate Stout, Brooklyn Brewery’s Black Chocolate Stout (though watch out for the 10% ABV) or any stout or porter brew with notes of chocolate and/or espresso. As for the ice cream, I prefer using a rich, chocolatey one, like Blue Bell’s Dutch Cocoa, but you could also experiment with coffee ice cream as well as it would mingle well with the flavors in the beer.

As for the liquor, I’d advise a sweeter whiskey, like an Irish style, over a smoky or peaty-flavored one. You could also use bourbon, espresso liqueur (Patron XO is amazing in this) or blackberry brandy for a take on the traditional “Guinness and Black” drink.
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Move over Godiva!: Easy and decadent homemade Chocolate-Rum Truffles

Move over Godiva!: Easy and decadent homemade Chocolate-Rum Truffles

Forget buying overpriced chocolates and goodies for your sweetie or friends this Valentine’s Day. Why not give them a more personal way of saying “You’re Special” by making them a sweet gift yourself? These rich and decadent chocolate truffles are sure to please any chocolate lover.

Believe it or not, chocolate truffles are not difficult to make. I decided to take on the challenge for the sake of this post and prove that it can be easily accomplished (you’re talking to Miss Anti-Pastry, remember?). So what if they don’t look as perfect as those expensive Godiva ones? They taste amazing and they’ve got a whole lot more love in them than anything you could buy in the store.

For this recipe, I decided to flavor mine with dark rum. I suggest using good quality chocolate (for taste) and chocolate chips in a bag will suffice just as well (go for Ghirardelli or other fancy brand, if you do). Indulge, enjoy, and have a happy Valentines Day!
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The white wine spritzer gets a classy, 21st century makeover (recipes)

The white wine spritzer gets a classy, 21st century makeover (recipes)

Credit: Voga Italia

While many consider the wine spritzer to be a throwback drink (made popular in the ’70s and ’80s), it seems that lately the spritzer has been making its way back onto the trendy cocktail scene.

The spritzer of days gone by was typically two parts white wine to one part club soda. (Can you say “boring”?) But today’s mixologists are giving them modern, grown-up twists by mixing them with top-shelf sparkling wine, Champagne, fresh fruits and exotic liqueurs.

So, the next time you have guests over or throw a cocktail party, mix up some of these nouveau spritzers for refreshing alternatives to the typical liquor-mixer cocktails and throwback white wine spritzers.

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Margarita Mama Cheesecake: Booze and cream cheese combine to make one fabulous treat

Margarita Mama Cheesecake: Booze and cream cheese combine to make one fabulous treat


I have a special place in my heart for margaritas, probably due to the fact that I have a fondness for tequila. The palate-pleasing combination of flavors in the drink are what makes this my go-to cocktail on a warm summer day, or at a Mexican restaurant, or during Happy Hour, or when recuperating after a long and stressful day, or … you get the point.

But cheesecake is another story. I prefer cream cheese spread on a bagel, not in a heaping mouthful, and oftentimes I’ve found many cheesecakes to taste like a block of straight-up cream cheese. Needless to say, it’s the one menu item I always pass up.

So where’s the segue from margaritas to cheesecake, you’re asking? Margarita cheesecake, my friends! This cheesecake single-handedly changed my mind about cream cheese-laden desserts.

The cake combines the sweet, sour and slightly salty flavors of a margarita with the tanginess of cheesecake, creating a marriage made in dessert heaven. And the best part? There’s tequila in it! But don’t worry about getting too buzzed from indulging in a slice — most of the alcohol is burned off during baking.
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Score some points on Valentine’s Day with this strawberry “tiramisu” trifle

Score some points on Valentine’s Day with this strawberry “tiramisu” trifle

Trifle 4_smWhen you think about Valentine’s Day, what first comes to mind? For most people, it evokes images of roses, Champagne, and chocolates in heart-shaped boxes. But for some, the first thing that comes to mind is a decadent dessert. (Well, for me at least.)

I know this is hard to believe, but there are many people out there who don’t like chocolate. When brainstorming up a Valentine’s Day dessert recipe, I wanted something simple to prepare but still classy-looking like a dessert you might see at a restaurant, not to mention something that could please almost anyone’s palate (chocolate haters included).

Tiramisu seems to be a favorite confection for many, but making it can be somewhat complicated and time consuming in the preparation — and not all of us are skilled pastry chefs here. I did want to utilize the ladyfingers, mascarpone cream and liquor-infused elements of the dish, though. And then it hit me — trifle! One of the easiest, throw-together desserts man (and woman) has ever created. Trifle is also a great quick-fix for a make-ahead or last-minute treat as the the components are simply layered atop one another, traditionally in a clear glass container to give it a nice presentation.

This Hallmark holiday is a great excuse to indulge your sweet tooth, and with this easy and elegant recipe (below) you’ll be able to impress your special guest(s) with a swanky-looking final course that you spent practically no time preparing — and they’ll be none the wiser. The ingredients are also pretty inexpensive, and because it’s strawberry season here in Florida, you can pick up a pint of them for a few bucks.
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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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