Being from Arlington, the original home of the Kidd Kraddick Morning Show (and Kidd himself), the name Caroline Cradick has been in the air (pun intended) ever since I can remember. Kidd would mention his daughter on the show or a friend would be going to her house that weekend–I was always jealous. I will admit: I fan-girled a bit the first time I met her. I tried to play it cool at the office coffee maker (long story short: the company where I spend my sober days is partially owned by Kidd’s company, so we share office space) and then she said that she followed me on Instagram. I nearly jumped out of my skin. (I was not so smooth.)
When I mentioned to her that I was doing this series, I was honored that she said that she’d work with me on an installment. Enter: #DrinkingwithSusie + Caroline Contessa. Caroline recently launched a really beautiful and (sometimes) deeply inspired and (sometimes) just really fun blog that features some of her favorite recipes, song covers, deep thoughts, etc. I thought it would be the perfect chance to mix her a cocktail and try to make her my new best friend. (I didn’t know that I’d be lucky enough to sample some of her cooking, too!) Head over to CarolineCradick.com for full recipes for her “Haute Pocket” and Crock Pot Spinach Artichoke Dip.
Since Caroline is a consummate hostess, I wanted to make sure whatever cocktail(s) we whipped up would be appropriate for all her friends (a.k.a. many different tastes). Since it’s usually difficult for me to land on just one batched-out cocktail for my guests when I entertain (and I inevitably end up making two or three … ), I decided to simply do a smash bar and give her guests the chance to exercise their own creativity while making their drinks.
A “smash” is a very simple cocktail mainly found in the south, and the origins of the smash go back to 1862! This is a cocktail that has more guidelines than recipes and, because of that, it can be interpreted in many ways … which is the beauty of the beast to me. The basics: seasonal fruit, an herb, and a spirit base. (Basically, a smash is a julep with fruit.)
For our seasonal fruits, we chose blackberries, raspberries, and pineapple, and for our spirits, vodka, bourbon, and gin. Throw in some fun simple syrup options and you have a perfectly stocked smash bar!
While everyone’s preferences for liquor vary widely, it’s usually safe to stick with three , simple (yet bold) spirits-vodka, gin, and bourbon. Everyone can get behind one (or three) and having three options leave the door open to creativity. So, why did I choose the three I did?
Four Roses Bourbon – The crisp yet smooth flavor of Four Roses lends flavor to cocktails while not overpowering the drink. It has slight notes of apple at the end, so it works well with fruity counterparts.
Reyka Vodka – This small batch, handcrafted vodka from Iceland has a deliciously smooth taste thanks to the clean air in the town where the distillery is located. To ensure a clean taste, they use glacier water and then filter the spirit through lava rocks, which apparently help remove impurities naturally. Rock on.
Hendrick’s Gin – Not only do I LOVE the bottle (5 points for something slightly different on the bar), but Hendrick’s is, in my opinion, a blank canvas with just enough character to hold up in cocktails thanks to its infusions of rose and cucumber.
SUSIE’S FAVORITE BERRY MINT SMASH
1/2 a lemon
4-6 berries (of your choice)
1oz Demerera syrup
2oz Four Roses Bourbon
Lightly muddle berries and mint in a shaker with juice from 1/2 a lemon and Demerera syrup. Add bourbon and shake with ice until chilled. Pour through small strainer over crushed ice in a rocks glass. Garnish with mint and berries.
As mentioned, we had girls with varied tastes, so we ended up with for entirely different cocktails! The vodka version shown below uses the same recipe above with a few ingredients changed out. Follow the basic proportions below! If you find that your guests need a bit … less … top their smash with a bit of club soda.
1/2 a lemon
4-6 berries (or any fruit)
1oz simple syrup (or any flavored syrup)
Club soda (optional)
Lightly muddle mint in a shaker with juice from 1/2 a lemon and simple. Add spirit and shake with ice until chilled. Strain over crushed ice in a rocks glass. Top with club soda (optional). Garnish with mint.
4 oz dry Sherry
3 slices orange
1oz simply syrup
Shake all ingredients hard with ice and pour, unstrained, into a Collins glass. Garnish with fresh mint and berries.
What inspired you to start your blog? I always love reading lifestyle/fashion blogs and I was getting a lot of questions about my outfits/recipes on social media so I figured it was time for me to start my own! It has been a wonderful creative outlet for me and now I give bloggers WAY more credit than I used to. It’s a hard job!
I heard that you just started a cleanse … how long until I get to make you cocktails again! Ugh, girl! I’m seeing how long I can go on this cleanse …but my birthday is at the end of April, so I’m sure I’ll be up for a cocktail by then!
I’ve heard you’ve made a name for yourself in the kitchen. (Y’all can just call her Caroline Contessa.) What is your favorite dish to cook, and can we find that recipe on your site? The biggest crowd pleasure is the short rib mac & cheese. I’m constantly getting requests from my friends to make it. (It can be a little time consuming so I try to do it for special occasions now.)
What do you love most about Dallas? I love how it has something for everyone. Arts, fashion, food, business, music! I loved living in Nashville but I found Dallas had way more to offer me be it business opportunities or social opportunities!
I’m loving the Covers with Caroline! What is your favorite song you’ve covered? Thank you! I absolutely loved shooting “Tennessee Whiskey” I felt really connected to the song and it was so fun to sing a song by one of my favorites Chris Stapleton!
I’m a huge word worm and I heard that you have your own language. Tell me all the things. LOL. I definitely do have my own language and I got sick of people asking me what they meant so I started the Cradictionary. “Jam-jams” is one of my favorite words that means something creeped you out. Like “that was the most awkward situation with that guy, totally gave me the jam-jams”.
What does it mean to you to be working with your father’s charity, Kidd’s Kids? It is such an honor. It really pays off when I get to see the kid’s faces once we enter into Disney World. It is so wonderful to see them be a “normal” kid and not have to worry about hospital visits and feeling sick. I get to see them having the time of their lives and that is a beautiful thing.