Category Archives: Book Review

Cocktails with Benefits

Everyone loves a good coffee table book, but how many of those books are actually useful? We found one that’ll look just as good displayed on your table as it is essential for your bar cart. 

Cocktails with Benefits, 40 Naughty but Nourishing Drinks by Nicole Herft is cocktail recipe book with four main categories: Fruitylicious, Drink Your Greens, Totally Tropical, and Smokey, Spicy, Sour, Sexy.

Herft uses only natural ingredients in her recipes, giving you a healthier way to consume your “naughty” cocktails. She leaves out the refined sugar and makes use of natural sugars like fruits and vegetables. That said, the drinks lead to less hangovers thanks to the natural ingredients.

I went ahead and tested out a recipe from the Fruitylicious category, the Iced Mixed Berry Sangria.

Iced Mixed Berry Sangria
2 cups fresh mixed berries (1 cup extra for the pitcher)
3 tablespoons agave nectar
Ice cubes
1 (750ml) bottle Rosé Rioja
Equipment needed: Small saucepan, Sieve, Cocktail stirrer, Serving pitcher, and 4 glasses

Place the mixed berries, 3/4 cup water, and agave nectar into a small saucepan and bring to boil. Reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and pass the mixture through a sieve. Press the berries with the back of a spoon to make sure you get all their juices. Leave the mixture to cool.

Half-fill your pitcher with ice cubes. Slice the extra strawberries and halve the blackberries and add these, and the other mixed berries to the pitcher with the berry syrup and then the Rosé Rioja. Stir well and serve.

Cocktails with Benefit:, 40 Naughty but Nourishing Drinks
Author: Nicole Herft
Price: $14.95 online or in store

Cocktails with Benefits by Nicole Herft © 2017 Kyle Books, and the photographs © Nassima Rothacker

Candy Cocktails Recipe Book

Are you having a Halloween party? A Christmas party? Any other kind of party, in life, at any point in the future? Do you like booze? Do you like candy?  If you  have answered yes to any of these questions,  listen up: you’re going to want to hear this*. Candy Cocktails, people. That’s right … cocktails that taste like candy. Cocktails that are MADE USING CANDY. Enter: “Candy Cocktails: Fun and Flirty Drinks with a Sugar-Kissed Twist“.

(*If you did not answer, “Yes,” to any of the above questions, do not read on. Go here, instead.)

I received “Candy Cocktails” just in time for Halloween, but this cocktail recipe book by the Good sisters (curators of Fashionably Bombed) is chock full of fun and inventive cocktails for every holiday (Candy Cane Martini, anyone?). Holiday-themed libations represent only a small segment of this gorgeous little recipe book, however; in its pages, you will also find cocktail recipes highlight just about any kind of candy you can think of. Forget everything you think you know about dessert drinks … until you have sampled a Liquid Candy Bar, a Candy Fishbowl (yes, it has Swedish Fish “swimming” in it.  Shut. Up.), or a Pop Shot (yup, that would be a shooter integrating Pop Rocks), you know nothing.  Just imagine preparing a custom cocktail for your boyfriend/girlfriend/brother/sister/bestie/grandma/mailman based on his or her favorite candy. How much do I love this idea? (A lot.)

Candy Corn InfusionCandy Cocktails is going to have you “mixing outside the box,” if you will. I can attest to this because I found myself preparing candy corn infused vodka early this week. One of the really awesome things about this book is the fact that it gives you directions on how to create variety of sweet liquor infusions using at little as 1/2 cup of booze. Gone are the days of having to spend $17 a pop on multiple, giant bottles of random flavored vodkas that you know are probably only going to use once or twice to make that one cocktail you just had to have, on a whim (I mean, I don’t know many people whose “go-to” drink features marshmallow vodka, do you?). This section of the book is really quite practical and useful (as candy infused alcohol goes).

I prepared two Halloween inspired “Candy Cocktails” in the Plano branch of the Susie Drinks Dallas test kitchen.

Candy Corn CocktailFirst, the Candy Corn Cocktail,- hence the candy corn infused vodka. This drink was so pretty and festive, and just BEGGING you to serve it at your Halloween bash. It was not sickeningly sweet, and really, it was incredibly reminiscent of a lemon drop, with a subtle hint of something different. (You guessed it, genius … CANDY CORN!!!)

Peanut Butter Cup CocktailNext, the Peanut Butter Cup Cocktail, which was every bit as rich and decadent as it sounds. Interestingly (and only mildly disappointingly), this cocktail does not contain actual peanut butter cups (aside from the garnish). As the sisters point out in their book, sometimes the point is for the drink to taste LIKE the candy, as opposed to actually containing the candy. This blended concoction was comprised of vodka, crunchy peanut butter,  crème de cacao, and whole milk  (omg). This was 100% dessert, and they really nailed the peanut butter cup flavor. Nom.

If you are looking for a collection of really fun, unique cocktail recipes, getchoself a copy of Candy Cocktails: Fun and Flirty Drinks with a Sugar-Kissed Twist, today!

Available at Barnes and Noble (check out their nifty in-store pickup feature!), or on Amazon, for just $13.68.

Market-Fresh Mixology

I was SUPER stoked when I got a copy of Market-Fresh Mixology in my mailbox.  (Aren’t surprises the best?!)  Award-winning mixologists Bridget Albert and Mary Barranco rounded up some of the best seasonal cocktail recipes in a paperback (perfectly-sized to keep on the bar) with gorgeous photography by James Beard Award-winner Tim Turner.

The recipes call for fresh, local ingredients, which is all the rage right now, no?  Best yet, they’re arranged by season.  Want to know what drinks you can whip up with in-season fruits, veggies (yup), herbs, and more?  These ladies have you covered with easy to understand recipes with a quick guide for which glass to use and the tools you’ll need.

For Spring, they have everything from the Carrot Chic to the Spiced Beet Cocktail.  They sound odd, but really, they’re delicious.  I tried out a few with some friends this weekend, and they were the simplest recipes to follow and didn’t call for anything too extremely outrageous.  (Like, seriously, who keeps some of the crazy s**t they put in some recipes around the house?  Three kinds of bitters for one drink?  Get real … I’m a person, not a bar.)

My favorite that we tried was the Cucumber Caipiroska, made with simple syrup, cucumber, lime, and pear vodka.  I’m really looking to toting this one down to the pool this summer (in a plastic container, of course).

Another awesome part of the book is the Home Bar Essentials section, which went through the various glasses, bartending tools, and even had syrup and sour recipes.  Best of all?  There are toasts for each season.  One of the spring toasts is “May we be happy and our enemies know it.”  Cheers to that!

Order yourself Market-Fresh Mixology for just around $12 and try some of the recipes out for yourself!

AgatePublishing.com
Amazon.com

The New Old Bar

Step 1: Order The New Old Bar.
Step 2: Wait to receive the book with great anticipation.
Step 3: After you get the book, stock your bar according to the book’s instruction.
Step 4: Make every drink, app, syrup, and infusion they have a recipe for STAT.

Product Review: POPTAILS

We live in Dallas … and let’s face it, it’s hot.  With the rule and not the exception being 100+° days, we’re all in need of some relief, and this handy dandy handbook delivers just that in the form of alcoholic popsicle recipes.

POPTAILS by Erin Nichols is a guide to 60 boozy treats-on-a-stick that will help make this warm effing hot summer a bit more bearable.  Erin created recipes for everything from a margarita or root beer float to the “Triple Berry Threat” and “The Highbrow Pear”.

After trying some of the recipes myself, the “Moscow Mule” (surprised?) and “Mom’s Apple Pie” are definite recommendations.  So you don’t make some of the mistakes I did, I’ve come up with some tips:

  • Follow directions!  Don’t try to be a hero —- Erin has slaved over these recipes to hone the perfect proportions
  • Let them freeze completely.  Cutting corners and trying to consume these delicious nuggets of icy alcohol is not recommended because the alcoholic elements may take longer to freeze than the rest, making it a sloppy mess if you get too anxious.
  • Distribute napkins with your poptails
  • Use popsicle forms that allow you to use real popsicle sticks instead of plastic ones (the wood grabs the pop better making it easier to remove)
  • Make sure you prepare the alcohol as directed
  • Be patient when removing the poptails from the forms

My lovely (not) pictures are to illustrate how lovely they turned out. (I didn’t even make any of the pretty ones with fruit inside.)  Popsicle forms are easy to find (Wal-Mart has some or you can go with a disposable tube option like Zipzicles), but you can also rig some of your own.  Note: they were not only pretty (IRL), but also stinkin’ delicious.

The book is available on Amazon, so get to ordering and get some in the freezer STAT!