Each year since 1801, fans of Scottish poet Robert Burns have remembered the lyricist on his birthday, January 25, with Burns Suppers. They gather to recite poetry and drink scotch over a meal as a celebration of art, the dram, and the man himself.
Many don’t realize that they start and end each year with Robert Burns. He is the author of the poem “Auld Lang Syne”, a poem that’s been put to music, and the song is traditionally sung on New Year’s Eve.
I enjoy scotch on its own, especially Bruichladdich’s Classic Laddie, which has been a staple at my home during quarantine. But sometimes it’s nice to try your hand at a scotch cocktail, and I discovered this cocktail that I’m preparing to celebrate with my own mini Burns Night celebration tomorrow, appropriately named the Robert Burns Cocktail.
Combine all ingredients except orange peel in a vessel with ice and stir until well chilled. Pour into a coupe and express the orange peel over the cocktail.
I took some time to prep for my mini Burns Night celebration this evening, which included writing my own toast … which was tougher than I thought it would be. So after about twelve versions of a worked, Burns-wanna-be poem, I decided good ol’ Bobby Burns did it better and to leave it to the master.
I love this excerpt from his poem “A Bottle and a Friend”, and it’ll be the toast for my Burns night this week. I’ll be toasting all the amazing friends I’ve gotten to see the last two years through the pandemic, and those who I haven’t.
“Here’s a bottle and an honest friend!
What wad ye wish for mair, man?
Wha kens, before his life may end,
What his share may be o’ care, man?”
So plan to find a bottle and a friend or two to share a dram and toast to the Laddies and Lassies tonight. I’ll be reading through some Burns poems with a dram (or two) of Bruichladdich’s The Classic Laddie with a couple friends.
Cheers to Bobby Burns, and cheers to a great scotch cocktail to celebrate!
We were all sad when Kentucky’s most well known horse race was rescheduled to September. And now we’re even more bummed that it was announced that it’ll be run with no spectators. (Though it’s understandable, given the circumstances … it still sucks!)
Luckily, my friends over at Maker’s Mark whisky want to give you some fall-inspired juleps to sip so you can still celebrate the fastest two minutes in Sports in true southern style (with a julep in-hand) … and they brought me in to help you do it!
They sent me (and some of my other blogger buddies), a box with some horse race goodies and the following items: cinnamon, star anise, and a handful of syrups (mint, cran, vanilla , hazelnut, and noisette.) We were asked to pick at least two of those items to use in our juleps, and I went with THREE—vanilla syrup, cinnamon, and star anise.
Juleps are such simple cocktails (bourbon, sugar, water, and mint), so I wanted to keep it simple. So, I added some chai to the vanilla syrup (recipe to make your own below). I named it “Chai Chai Again” because I thought that was a name that could actually be given to a horse running the race. (I will honestly say that I partially bet on horses with great names.)
I will be making this cocktail often … it’s quite easy once you make the vanilla chai syrup (also easy to make)! Upon first sip, I was delighted and really wished it was starting to get chilly out. The chai lent some spice and the Maker’s Mark 46 complimented it perfectly thanks to the extra nine weeks they let it rest in a limestone cave with French oak staves added.
CHAI CHAI AGAIN
2 oz Maker’s Mark 46 Bourbon whisky
1/2 oz chai vanilla syrup (recipe below)
Cinnamon stick garnish & sprinkle
Combine whisky and syrup in a julep cup, stir, then top with pellet ice. garnish with mint leaves and sprinkle with a touch of ground cinnamon. Garnish with a cinnamon stick, fresh (slapped) mint, and a star anise.
CHAI VANILLA SYRUP
4 chai tea bags (straight chai … make sure it’s not chai spice!)
1/3 C maple syrup
1 T vanilla bean paste (extract acceptable if paste isn’t available)
1 C water
In a pot, boil water, then remove from heat and add tea bags. Allow to steep for 12 minutes, then remove bags and stir in maple syrup and vanilla. Put back on heat and bring to a boil again for 3 minutes. Allow to cool and store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Some of my lovely neighbors, Victoria and Stuart, had planned to attend this year and were ready to be dressed to the nines with matching outfits, hats, etc. … and even had some custom masks made so they’d look fancy AF in the stands. I was sad that they were going to miss it, so I invited them out to show off their duds and drink some of my vanilla chai juleps with me during this shoot! Don’t they look great?!
Big thanks to @makersmark for letting me play along on this sponsored campaign! #ad
We’re all celebrating things and each other a little differently right now, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t gather, dress up, celebrate each other, or enjoy a drink together! Since I’m sheltered in place with my mom, we wanted to have a little party, so we invited some of our friends to join us for a boozy tea party … over Zoom!
We sent out a PaperlessPost invitation and, amazingly, everyone was able to attend! (In my opinion, it’s best to keep Zoom “parties” a little smaller—8 or less—so people aren’t speaking over one another and everyone can be engaged and participate. We ended up with 11, which was lovely, but a little tougher to keep everyone chatting.)
Just because we couldn’t be in the same room didn’t mean I couldn’t still make it a real party, so we planned to deliver goodies to each attendee before. The local guests got hand delivered favors, drinks, and snacks, and we sent recipes and scheduled deliveries ahead of time for the out of towners. (Drizly is great for alcohol deliveries!)
My mom and I gathered whatever gift bags and crinkle paper we had on-hand and laid our materials out to stuff the bags. Mini bottles of booze, mixers, garnish for the drinks, boozy gummies from Sugarfina, tea, a bottle of Campo Viejo Brut Reserva Cava, a little bag of Pokey O’s cookies, a box of sweet items, and a box of “tea sandwiches”.
What’s a tipsy tea party without the tipsy?! Each attendee was given the chance to pick a spirit—TX Whiskey, Absolut Elyx, and Beefeater Gin—to enjoy a cocktail during our tea. I had a local bartender* create cocktails for us and batch them out and I purchased mini and 375mL bottles of my chosen spirits so each guest only had to add the spirit to the drink for a perfectly mixed cocktail.
Since our bars and restaurants are operating much differently than usual, many hospitality professionals are out of work. While I COULD have taken a few hours to have come up with these on my own, I decided that giving some work to a bartender was a better choice. Luckily, Chris (aka Betty Cocktail) lives around the corner from me, so I had her take over for me! (She is brilliant — if you need a cocktail class or cocktail pairings for a dinner, give her a buzz!!!) bettycocktail.com
STRAWBERRY BASIL FIZZ (Recipe courtesy of TX Whiskey)
1 oz TX Whiskey
.5 oz St. Germain
.5 oz lime juice
2 oz sparkling wine
3-5 basil leaves
Muddle strawberries and basil, then add TX, St. Germain, and lime juice. Shake with ice until well combined. Strain over fresh ice, top with sparkling wine and garnish with strawberries.
OOLONG AGO (Recipe courtesy of Betty Cocktail)
1.5 oz Beefeater
.5 oz lemon juice
1.5 oz Oolong syrup
For syrup: boil 3 cups of water with 12 oz doctored agave and dehydrated citrus peels, Add 2 Citrus Oolong teabags and steep for 2 hours.
DON’T BE DANDELYIN’ (Recipe courtesy of Betty Cocktail)
1.5 oz Absolut Elyx
.5 oz lemon juice
1.5 oz Dandelion Root syrup (boil 3 cups water with 12 oz dark agave, add 2 teabags and steep for 2 hours)
For syrup: boil 3 cups of water with 12 oz of dark agave, the add 2 Dandelion Root teabags and steep for 2 hours.
My mom and I couldn’t agree on what we wanted the table to look like, so she went for a more classic tea look, and I took mine up a notch bringing some antique items and a contrasting table cloth together with plenty of flowers and gold accents. (Because that’s 100% my aesthetic.) And I topped it all off with a teapot from Vulgar Teacups. My mom hated it; I loved it.
To get everyone in the mood, I made a playlist of some of my favorite jaunty tea-party-with-an-edge songs. I have to admit that I started with a few songs from the “A Simple Favor” soundtrack, because it’s fire. Check it out below, and share it from Spotify!
What’s tea without some fancy bites? We packaged up some of our favorites like homemade cucumber sandwiches, cheese wafers, and chicken salad sandwiches. (I chose not to make the chicken salad myself and got it from Bowen House!)
CRIPSY RICE COOKIES
2 C sharp cheddar cheese
.5 C softened butter
1 C flour
.5 t cayenne pepper
1 t Worcestershire sauce
.5 t salt
.75 C Rice Krispies
Preheat the oven to 350°. Mix cheese, butter, flour, cayenne, Worcestershire and salt until mixture lightly sticks together. Gently fold cereal into dough. Shape into 1-inch balls and put on a baking sheet with about an inch of space for expansion. Then use a fork to flatten each and leave lines on top. Bake 15 minutes at 350º, or until they’re slightly crispy. Allow to cool on a rack.
1 cucumber, peeled and sliced very thin
8 oz softened cream cheese
1/4 C light mayonnaise
1/4 t garlic powder
1/4 t onion salt
1 dash Worcestershire sauce
sliced white bread, crusts removed
1 pinch lemon pepper
Slice cucumbers and allow to drain between paper towels for at least 10 minutes. (Best done in a colander.) Remove crust from bread. Mix all remaining items together and spread on one side of every piece of bread. Add cucumbers on half the pieces, spread out evenly. Sprinkle a bit of dill on each side with cucumbers. Build into sandwiches and cut into your desired shape.
Dallas didn’t get too cold (yet) this year, but on the days it has, I found myself craving something warm and boozy. Once I had gotten past my hot toddies and it was too late in the day for an Irish Coffee, I turned to hot chocolate cocktails!
I put together a few different spirited options for y’all … from the traditionally spiked vodka, then went to tequila and scotch options. Because it’s always fun to try something different, right?
PEPPERMINT WHITE CHOCOLATE (VODKA)
½ C Absolut Elyx vodka
½ C white chocolate chips
1½ C milk*
¼ C sweetened condensed milk
1 t vanilla extract or vanilla paste
whipped cream (if desired)
Add chocolate and milks to a medium saucepan and summer, stirring constantly, until chips are melted. Once melted, remove from heat and add vodka. Top with whipped cream and peppermint pieces, if desired.
SPICY HOT CHOCOLATE (TEQUILA)
3 oz Patrón Tequila (more if desired)
3 C milk*
3 T cocoa powder
3 T tbsp granulated sugar
Pinch of sea salt
¼ t cinnamon
¼ t cayenne pepper
Combine all ingredients (except for tequila) to a saucepan and whisk until combined. Heat on low until it’s slightly boiling, then remove from the stove. Add tequila, then pour into mugs and top as desired. (I added cinnamon marshmallows and a pinch of cayenne pepper on top.)
HIGHLAND HOT CHOCOLATE (SCOTCH)
3 oz Highland Park Magnus Scotch whisky (more if desired)
3 C milk*
3 T cocoa powder
3 T tbsp granulated sugar
1 t Sugar in the Raw (or any coarse brown sugar)
Pinch of sea salt
Combine all ingredients (except for whisky) to a saucepan and whisk until combined. Heat on low until it’s slightly boiling, then remove from the stove. Add whisky, then pour into mugs and top as desired.
… you can also whip up my famous HAUTE CHOCOLATE and add whatever spirit sounds good to you.
¼ C cocoa powder
½ C hot water
20 oz semi-sweet chocolate
10 C whole milk
2½ C heavy cream
12 oz can evaporated milk
¼ t salt
Either in a crock pot or a large pot, whisk cocoa powder with hot water until mixed. Add in chocolate, milk, heavy cream, evaporated milk, and pinch of salt. If using a crock pot, cook for at least 2 hours on high OR low for 4 hours and stir occasionally. Keep on warm to serve. If using a pot on the stove, heat for about 15 minutes on medium and stir often. Then, keep on simmer and continue to stir occasionally. Makes about 20 servings.
*the higher the fat content of the milk you use, the richer your drink will be
Cocktails and vinyl records-two of my favorite things. So, when Susie sent this book along (because she knew I’d enjoy reviewing it while my record player spun out a tune), I immediately started thinking of what I’d listen to while reading.
Brother and sister duo, André and Tenaya Darlington, collaborated to create an amazing book that pairs records from the 1950s through the 2000s with a perfect set of cocktails. Each highlighted album has a Side A and Side B set to a complimentary cocktail pairing. There are seventy featured albums including Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club, Thriller, Pet Sounds, and Hotel California … classics we can all appreciate. My friend told me that to enhance their listening experience, they used a new phono preamp, go directly to Graham Slee HiFi if you’re interested in learning more about phono preamps.
Of course, the book is all about the cocktails, but it is so much more. The pictures are amazing and the authors also included tips on throwing your own boozy listening party. That’s why I have to say that I love everything about their book. It was just written so well, and the accompanying pictures made everything stand out that bit more. I’m aware that most authors decide to look into line editing as part of their editing process, just to get a second opinion and to make sure that everything reads as it should. And I wouldn’t be surprised if the duo decided to do the same as, after all, many other successful authors probably do this themselves. Another aspect of the book that I like is the fact that it is broken up into four genres-rock, dance, chill, and seduce. (Ohh la la.) No matter what mood you are in, you can easily find a cocktail and record to compliment.
I picked two cocktails out of the book for a sampling; the Harvey Wallbanger paired with the Saturday Night Fever album. The Harvey Wallbanger dates back to the 1970s and is basically a jazzed-up screwdriver. The jazziness comes from the addition of Galliano, a sweet, herbal liqueur.
The Suffering Bastard is a classic tiki cocktail that the authors urge you to serve in a simple glass. This has become the drink of choice in my house lately. The combination of gin and bourbon is fantastic. This went nicely with the Johnny Cash Folsom Prison album, though I’d have thought they’d go for a bit more tropical since it’s tiki.
What goes better with sunshine than a delicious rosé cocktail and a spectacular view of horses galloping in a field? I’m a little hard pressed to come up with anything else. Spending time with horses is such a wonderful thing to do, be that just sitting with them or even riding them. I have friends in Virginia who say that riding is one of the best things to do in Chincoteague. I don’t know what it is about horses, they have such a calming effect on me, I’m totally transfixed when I’m around them. That’s why I visited Black Star Sport Horses in Rockwall, Texas with a bottle of rosé in-hand!
Black Star Sport Horses is a full service training, show, and sales facility featuring an International Federation of Equestrians trainer. They offer riding lessons for all ages and skill levels, so no worries if you don’t know the tail end from the nose, they’ll help you figure it out!
The rosé I brought along is the Inspiration Rosé from Château de Berne, a 1,235 acre vineyard in Provence, France originally built by the Romans. On the CDB property is an 18th century 5-star château-style hotel, a Michelin Star restaurant, and an award-winning spa and visitor center. Oh, and they make some really fantastic wine. I’ll take a one-way ticket, please!
Château de Berne Inspiration Rosé is one of three bottles from the Provencal range of classics, only recently brought to the US. This dry rosé, with fresh strawberry, cherry, cranberry, and pomegranate notes has been awarded the 2018 Bronze by Texsom International Wine Awards and the 2018 Silver by the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of American Competition. At 12.5% alcohol, it pairs well with light cheeses and a side of fruit.
The day we made it out to Black Star, it was pretty warm, so we decided to batch out a rosé cooler to cool us off a bit more. Picnics can also get messy, so it’s best to batch any cocktails out before heading out.
SUMMER PEACH ROSÉ COOLER 3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups water
2 cups frozen peaches
4 cups rosé (I chose Chateau de Berne’s Inspiration Rosé)
1 liter club soda
Rosemary for garnish
Tailgating is one of America’s most enjoyable pastimes. I personally went to a college where tailgating (at the time) was more of a thing than the football games themselves. That said, we saw some over-the-top tailgates, but nothing compares to the fun I had a few weekends ago with Twisted Tea. An inflatable cornhole game the size of a queen mattress (still bummed I didn’t get to jump on it … maybe next time), a tricked-out RV with a rooftop perfect for watching the NASCAR cars whiz by, and a fridge stocked to the brim with Twisted Tea—now, that’s a good way to tailgate.
So, one may ask, what are the tailgate essentials? I’m here to tell you a few things I learned from the tailgate pros with Twisted Tea.
… in this case Twisted Tea!
A wise man once told me that, to host a great party, all you need is cold drinks and music and “people won’t notice the rest of is missing”. While I can only partly agree with that, he has a point. Having plenty of drinks on-hand (and Ubers at the ready) can make any tailgate feel like a true party.
(The Twisted Tea tailgate I attended at Texas Motor Speedway had coolers (plural) full of different flavors of Twisted Tea—traditional, half and half, and raspberry—a little something for everybody. And everyone was happy. Who wouldn’t be content enjoying the refreshing taste of the best selling hard iced tea in The States?)
#PROTIP from Twisted Tea: is to always make sure you keep your Twisted Tea cold for your guests!
Cornhole, ladderball, wizard staff … we seem to be able to make a game of anything these days. Make sure to give your fellow tailgaters a couple options to keep them busy until game (or race) time.
… Everything’s better (and more twisted) in Texas
A tailgate needs grub. Not frilly food—grub. While it’s nice to bring chicken salad on endive leaves … a hot dog will always taste better while pregaming. It’s science. Think ribs, burgers, tacos, brisket … you get it.
A few weekends ago, we were lucky enough to have a tailgate pro at the grill for us at the Twisted RV. Casey Webb, the new host of “Man vs. Food”, treated us to some delicious brisket tacos. He has been working with Twisted Tea to put together some twisted recipes that are perfect for tailgates. While we had brisket tacos, the Twisted Tea website has recipes that you can recreate at your own tailgate this summer – check them out here.
So, now that you heard a few things from my experience with Twisted Tea, what’s your next tailgate going to look like? Show Twisted Tea how you do it by submitting a picture by uploading to Twitter or Facebook for the chance to win your very own #TwistedTailgate. Like, a serious tailgate with the Twisted Tea tricked-out RV. Take a picture and submit it, y’all … just make sure to invite me to your badass tailgate when you win.
Promotion details: twistedtea.com/race-day/twisted-tailgate
This year, Cinco de Mayo and Derby Day land on the same day. (God, help us all.) Since I love big hats and margaritas, I wanted to give each its own parties. So, we Cinco-ed early so I could show you all the shortcuts to get your Cinco party done early to give the evening to the Derby!
Since I get a little crazy sometimes making two or six batched drinks for parties, I decided to let my guests play bartender a little. I batched out a traditional margarita recipe and made fresh purees—blueberry, strawberry, and mango—then put out mason jars so everyone had their own “shaker”. Then, all you need is festive, paper straws and lime wheels for garnish, and tada … the easiest margarita bar ever. (I also put out freshness basil and a muddler for an extra flavor.
1.5 oz Pura Vida Tequila Silver
1 oz Pura Vida Naranja orange liqueur
0.75 oz lime juice
0.25 oz simple syrup
Since Cinco de Mayo celebration seems to be all about tequila, I also gave my guests three expression of Pura Vida Tequila to taste. This tequila is a new favorite of mine. Made in Jalisco (as it must be to be be called tequila), the brand has Texas roots and is incredibly smooth.
The biggest thing to remember is: less prep means less dishes. Since I tend to be a messy cook, I opted to cater our little meal. La Ventana, a Dallas-based taco shop that makes authentic Mexico City tacos and goodies and now has five locations across DFW. I’ve always loved their breakfast tacos, so I started my party at 11am so I could be sure there were breakfast tacos on the table!
Since their breakfast tacos aren’t the only thing they do well, we stocked up on their traditional options like steak, pastor, lengua (beef tongue), and barbacoa. There was a little something for everyone, and since their tacos are made on corn tortillas, even my gluten-free guests could dig in.
The tacos were, of course, amazing, but their signature dessert, churros con cajeta, took the cake. (Pun only kind of weirdly intended.) These things are addictive, and I’m OK with it.
And what’s a party without favors? Last year, I made my own adult pinata, but this year … I found someone to do it for me. This fun website, Nipyata, has themed pinatas for every holiday FILLED WITH BOOZE AND CANDY, and it even comes with a papier-mâché bat, blindfold, and rope. Starting at $69.99, it’s a fun addition to a fiesta, bachelorette party, etc. (Even cooler, you can add custom fortunes and even a hand-written note—think gender reveal, people!)
We had a blast whaling away on it. Give some “adults” a few margaritas and the chance to take out some pent-up aggression on an inanimate object with no repercussions and the goal of unlocking more boozy goodness … it’s on.