Drinks

From Our Editor-in-Chief: Lists I Live By

 

 

Weekends are so 2009! Cinco de Mayo falls on a Monday (excuse me, lunes) this year, and that plays right into my margarita-mixing, tortilla-chip- dipping hands—because Monday is one of my favorite nights to entertain. For one thing, it makes scheduling a snap. Finding a weekend night when four or five friends are all available? Forget it. It seems the later in the week a get-together is scheduled, the more likely people are to cancel as the snowball of obligations threatens to roll over them. But on Monday nights, everyone seems to be free! Even more importantly, Mondays have a built-in low-key vibe—you’re practically prohibited from making a fuss. Here are my three relax-the-rules rules.

 

 

1. No Elaborate Hors D’Oeuvres

On Mondays, pre-dinner nibbles are anything I can pour directly from a bag, box or jar into a bowl, or unwrap and plunk on a plate: olives, fancy potato chips, cheese and crackers, salted nuts. For a Cinco de Mayo party, the classic is also a crowd-pleaser. Chips and salsa coming right up!

 

2. Serve a Make-Ahead Main Course

The beauty of Monday is it comes right after Sunday, a day I actually do have time to cook. The goal is to make a one-dish meal, like chili or chicken enchiladas, that I can simply heat up the next night when everybody arrives. That way, it’s no big deal if I race home from work at 6:45 and guests are due at 7.

 

3. Put Someone Else on Dessert Duty

I remind whoever it is that we’re on the no-shame-for-store-bought plan. If she gets the urge to bake brownies, fantastic. But if she wants to swing by the store for a few pints of ice cream? Make mine chocolate-chocolate chip, please!

 

My Margarita Musts:

 

1. A salt rim.

I’m easygoing about rocks versus no rocks—ice changes a cocktail’s strength, not its taste. But salt is mandatory to brighten and balance a margarita’s sweet-sour flavors.

 

2. Mid-shelf tequila.

Save the smooth, aged, expensive tequila for sipping on its own. Margaritas are best when they’re a little rough around the edges

 

3. Fresh lime juice.

You’re forgiven if you like your margaritas no-salt, top-shelf or served in a plastic tumbler shaped like a saguaro cactus, but back away from the bottled lime juice. If that’s all you’ve got, switch to beer!

 
 

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Thirsty Thursday: Lemon-Berry Freezes

With Cinco de Mayo right around the corner, you’re definitely going to need a fruity and refreshing blended drink to was down all those chips and guac. Rather than making the classic margarita or piña colada, blend something up that’s a little bit sweet, a little bit sour and is just as festive looking as the sombrero on your head: a Lemon-Berry Freeze.

 

 

In a blender, puree 2 cups ice cubes, 3/4 cup frozen lemonade concentrate, 3/4 cup vodka, 6 hulled strawberries and 2 tablespoons Campari until slushy. Divide among 4 glasses; garnish with lemon slices.

¡Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

 

 

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Is it 5:00 yet?

Come 5:00, we all know what time it is: time for a cocktail. But this past month more than ever, users are extra thirsty and looking for a good drink recipe. According to Yahoo Trend Expert Lauren Whitehouse, cocktail recipe searches have been spiking off the charts since March, and the top 10 favored searches include White Russian, Margarita, Sangria and Moscow Mule. So now that you know what your equals are craving, get to it! Here are some recipes to get you started:

 

Classic Margarita

 

Sparkling Pomegranate Sangria

 

Moscow Mule

 
 

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Cheers to National Beer Day!

We know it’s only Monday, but here’s a reason crack open a cold one: It’s National Beer Day! If you’re looking for the perfect beer to take the edge off, consider one of these two appetizing ales from Founders Brewing Co.

 

 

Curmudgeon Old Ale is blended with molasses and then oak-aged for a strong, rich and malty flavor. The result is a smooth and drinkable beer, perfect for a rich dinner on a chilly spring night. But get it while you can! This beer is only offered from April to June.

 

Is light beer more your thing? Try Founders’ best-selling All Day IPA, which was developed due to the need for a full-flavored IPA with a lower ABV (only 4.7%!). What you’re left with is a complex, aromatic beer with a very clean finish. The IPA is offered year round, and is also available in 15-can packaging (the first major craft brewery to do so), which they are rightfully calling a “Brewer’s Dozen.”

 
 

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Drink Up! It’s Mango Season

It’s officially mango season, and we couldn’t be happier! Not only are mangoes super healthy (they’re jam-packed with nutrients like beta-carotene and vitamin C, just to name a few!) and ever-so versatile (chile-rubbed mangoes? mango slaw?), they also make the perfect natural sweetener to a number of boozy (or virgin!) beverages. Check out some of our top picks below, and get blending!

 

Frozen Mango Daiquiri

 

Mellow Yellow Margaritas

 

Keep these Mango-Ginger Mocktails virgin, or replace the ginger ale with ginger beer!

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Behind the Scenes: Making Mezcal Cocktails

In our May issue, we explore tequila’s rival sibling, mezcal, a smoky, slow-roasted, double-distilled liquor also made from the agave plant. We tasted tons of mezcal cocktails from the country’s best bartenders and adapted two favorites–plus created one of our own! Go behind the scenes and explore our mezcal cocktail-making process. Then, get our fabulous cocktail recipe that was the result of one tasty testing session. ¡Salud!

Test Kitchen Associate, Charles Grayauskie and Test Kitchen Director, Janet McCracken doing some delicious research.

 

Lots of different ingredients go into making the perfect cocktail! The green Vida bottle (left) is actually many bartenders’ go-to mezcal: easy to find across the country and very easy to drink.

 

 Pouring up Old Major’s La Rosa Bonita

 

From our test kitchen, The Smokin’ Dog–our own riff on the Greyhound!

 

6 oz. fresh grapefruit juice (pink or yellow)

1 oz. mezcal

Splash of club soda

1 grapefruit twist

Fill a rocks glass with ice, then add grapefruit juice and mezcal. Stir to blend; top with a splash of club soda. Garnish with the grapefruit twist. Makes 1.

 

Spring into Happy Hour with a Green Machine Champagne Cocktail

Happy first official day of spring! Whether you’re surrounded by sunlight or still shivering in your sweaters, use today as an opportunity to drink something seasonal: our Green Machine. Made with earthy green tea, tart lime juice and a sprig of mint, this green cocktail is perfect for brunch or a night in. You may even gain a little bit of hope for warmer weather!

 

 

 

Green Machine

Ice

2 ounces chilled prepared green tea

1 1/2 ounces fresh lime juice

1/2 ounce agave nectar or honey

Champagne

Fresh mint

 

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add green tea, lime juice and agave nectar or honey; shake well. Strain into 2 flutes, then top with champagne. Garnish with fresh mint.

Tip: Look for matcha green tea to create the greenest hued cocktail.

 

 

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St. Patrick’s Day Done Right!

If you’re channeling your inner Irish this weekend, don’t stop with the “Kiss me, I’m Irish” tee and pint of Guinness. A true St. Patrick’s Day isn’t complete without a hearty menu full of flavor (and booze) that’ll make you feel like you’re in the homeland. We’re taking classic Irish flavors and St. Pat’s traditions and transforming ‘em into delicious dishes that you’ll definitely want to eat more than once a year. The best part? They’re super simple, so you’ll have plenty to time to join in all of the festive fun. Happy St. Patty’s Day!

Corned Beef Melts with Sweet and Sour Onions and Wilted Cabbage

 

Guinness Float

 

Corned Beef and Cabbage Soup

 

Bailey’s Coffee Cake

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Thirsty Thursday: What’s the Deal with Sweet Tea?

In our brand new April issue, we explore the Southern side of brunch, including a fabulous recipe for Sweet Tea Punch. But what makes Southern sweet tea different from regular iced tea? Only the way you order it. Traditionally in the north, if you were to order iced tea, it would come unsweetened. However, most southerners are drinking their tea sweet, and must specifically ask for unsweet tea if that’s how they prefer it. No matter your tea choice, there are plenty of twists and takes that will brighten your day, any time of year.

 

 

Try this recipe for Sweet Tea Punch at your next brunch or get-together, plus get our best sweet tea tips:

 

Sweet Tea Punch

9 black tea bags

3/4 cup honey

1/3 cup (packed) golden brown sugar

1 large bunch fresh mint

2 pints blood orange or regular orange sorbet

1 – 2 cups American whiskey, such as bourbon or rye

Soda water

3 limes, sliced into rounds

 

In a large bowl, combine the tea bags, honey and sugar with 6 cups boiling water and stir until the honey and sugar dissolve. Let steep for 4 minutes. Discard the tea bags and add half the mint. Let cool completely at room temperature. Strain; discard the mint. Chill until cold, about 3 hours.

Add one scoop sorbet to each of 8 pint glasses. Top with 2 to 4 tbsp. whiskey and a few torn mint leaves. Divide the tea among the glasses, then top with a splash of soda water. Garnish each glass with a lime slice. Serve with a straw or a long spoon. Makes 8.

 

Tip: Classic Southern sweet tea is made with white sugar, but the combination of honey and brown sugar gives this version a richer flavor. Spike the punch with as mush whiskey as you’d like.

 

Tip: The tastiest way to make iced tea is to brew it with hot water–a steamy soak extracts more flavor. But it can also make your drink murky if the tea cools too quickly. For the best results–minimal clouds and maximum flavor–let the prepared tea come completely to room temperature before sticking it in the fridge.

 

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Fast Idea Friday: Citrus Gin Spritzer

Despite the recent country-wide cold fronts, spring is just around the corner (March 20th, people!). That means you’re going to need a fully loaded recipe repertoire that will put you in the mood for sunnier, happier times. Here’s a fast idea that’s sure to put a spring in your step: A Citrus Gin Spritzer. Fresh, fruity, bubbly and strong– it is Friday, after all.

 

 

Bottoms up, get the full recipe for Citrus Gin Spritzer here!

 

 

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