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
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
The only gin made on the island of Islay, this artisanal expression by the Bruichladdich Distillery presents 31 botanicals—nine classicly found in gin, and 22 of which are hand-foraged locally (and responsibly) on Islay. Since 2011, this “progressive exploration of the botanical heritage of … Islay” prides itself on a forager’s spirit.
The distillation process is equally as unique as the botanicals. They slow simmer in a pot-still at low pressure for 17 hours to release the most flavor from the ingredients. The “slow burn” results in a unique and complex flavor.
One of my contributors, Aaron, and I were lucky enough to be invited to a celebration of this expression. First, we were walked through a quick bartending demonstration where they showed us how to make the Red Lady (this an all recipes are below) by the brand ambassador.
Then we were invited to join the Botanist Gin team for a four course meal—all made with as-local-as-possible ingredients that complimented the flavors in the accompanying Botanist cocktails. Each cocktail was extremely unique and brought out the complexity of the botanicals.
Fruit of Thyme 1.5 oz The Botanist Gin 4 oz Tonic Water 1 slim Ruby Red Grapefruit wedge
Squeeze grapefruit wedge in glass and leave in glass. Add The Botanist Gin, then ice and top with tonic water. Garnish with a sprig of thyme.
Red Lady 2 oz The Botanist Gin 1 oz Cointreau 1 oz Fresh squeezed lemon juice 6 strips julienned red bell peppers 3 drops orange bitters
In a shaker tin, muddle red bell pepper. Add all remaining ingredients, then shake without ice vigorously. Add ice and shake briskly. Double-strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a julienned red bell pepper.
Smoke Show 2 oz The Botanist Gin 1 oz fresh squeezed lemon juice 1 oz ginger syrup 0.25 oz Mezcal 4 drops orange bitters
Add all ingredients to shaker. Fill shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Strain to a coupe glass and garnish with pickled ginger.
Gin for All Seasons 1.5 oz The Botanist Gin 0.25 oz Suze 0.25 oz fresh squeezed red grapefruit juice 0.75 oz simple syrup 3 oz soda water 1 pinch sea salt
Add The Botanist Gin, Suze, Fresh Squeezed Red Grapefruit Juice and Simply Syrup to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into an iced highball. Top with soda water.
Regroni 1.5 oz The Botanist Gin 1 oz Aperol 1 oz Cocchi Dry Vermouth
Add all ingredients to a mixing glass. Add ice and stir for 20 seconds until chilled. Strain and pour over large ice cube in rocks glass. Garnish with a sweet pepper circle.
Since it’s a bit north, Scotland has shorter days in the winter; and the Winter Solstice, which we saw on December 21, is the shortest day of the year. With so much darkness, I’m sure it makes one want to cozy up next to a fire with a drink that will warm you from the inside. Scandinavians call this feeling “hygge”, which is their concept of coziness.
I’ve been a little of a Scandinavian fanatic this winter because, for some reason, I decided to reimagine my holiday decor. I went from over-the-top “Christmas threw up in here” to minimal with hints of gold and plenty of live garland. (And don’t get me started on live garland. My poor Roomba is exhausted from picking up after it.) What I loved about their holiday decor is that it’s simple and SHOULD feel cold, but it all felt cozy. I wanted to harness that feeling, but it’s hard to do when it’s 70º in the afternoon in December. So, when it finally dipped below 35º this week, I jumped on the chance to cozy up with a traditional Scandinavian warm cocktail to go with my decor.
I was excited to try my first glögg, which is a kind of mulled wine—warmed wine with spices—and curl up on a 33º night … because that’s what we in Texas call “cold”. Instead of the traditional base alcohol, wine, I opted for whisky and used a recipe from Highland Park Whisky that features its newest expression, Magnus.
The drink did its job. It warmed me up and gave me a just the right amount of alcohol to lull me into a bit of a daze. I’ll just say that I ended up taking an unexpected nap, but it was the best hour I’ve seen (or not seen, as it were) in months.
MARTIN’S GLÖGG (recipe by Highland Park Brand Ambassador, Martin Markvardsen)
1 bottle of Highland Park Magnus
1/4 cup simple syrup
2 lemons, juiced
Warm up the whiskey, then add the simple syrup, lemon, and ginger. Right before boiling, turn down to simmer and add the rest of the spices and ingredients. Allow to simmer for at least 30 minutes on low. Strain and serve warm with an apple slice garnish and a cinnamon stick.