Adult Beverages


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Ciao, amici! Come stai? It’s been a wild ride these past few months, but I’m happy to report I’m back on track. Cheers! Let’s shake it up with a favorite classic cocktail, the Aviation. It’s old school cool with a new twist, using the majestically purple-hued Empress 1908 gin. So, as the Empress folks say, let’s live colourfully!

THE AVIATION
4 oz. Empress 1908 gin
1 oz. Luxardo Maraschino liqueur
1 oz. Liqueur de Violettes
2 oz. freshly squeezed (of course) lemon juice

Shake with ice, strain, garnish with a maraschino cherry.

Oh, no–here we go now! Stay good, amici! And we will do our best to do the same! See you sooner next time, OK?

P.S. Someone beautiful is feeling much better, too. Ms. April Katt celebrated her 18th birthday on April first! We like to hold hands. XOXOX ♥

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They call ’em cowboy candy and they’re loaded with sweet heat and a bit of crunch–along with that element of surprise: how hot will this one be? Seems the heat level can vary even within different bites of the same pepper. I ate a particularly spicy ring last summer, experienced an all-over “I’m melting” sensation, then fainted and literally hit the wall. For a while, I was afraid to eat more of them, but I soon got over it and ate the rest because a) they’re damn tasty and b) Yankee thrift prevents me from throwing away perfectly great food. 🙂

What to do with them? Whether you eat ’em like candy, perch them atop a spicy margarita or add them as a garnish for tacos, they’re a welcome guest at a variety of sweet or savory parties. And, as a bonus, the by-product is a fiery syrup you can use to make kicked-up margaritas. I even made my own spicy sugar for dipping the glasses–there goes that Yankee thrift action again. Let’s heat things up, amici!

CANDIED JALAPEÑO RINGS: COWBOY CANDY
And a spicy syrup by-product to boot!

6 jalapeños, cut into thick rings
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground chile (I used 1/4 tsp. chipotle and 1/4 tsp. ancho)
additional 1/2 cup sugar for dipping
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Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.
Dissolve water, spices and half cup of sugar in a small saucepan. Stir over medium high heat till it boils. Add jalapeños and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer for 3-4 minutes. Using a toothpick, dip each jalapeno ring into granulated sugar. Coat the rings generously. Place on foil-lined cookie sheet.
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Bake sugared rings at 200 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes. Let them cool and air-dry for several hours. You can even leave them uncovered for a day or two.

But wait! Save that syrup and stick it in the fridge–it contributes to a mean margarita.

You’ll see you have a bit of leftover sugar from dipping the rings–to that, add 1/4 teaspoon of the syrup. To make it pretty, add about 7 drops of food coloring. Stir thoroughly to combine. Now you can dip each margarita glass (dip first in a shallow dish of tequila or run a wedge of lime around the top) in the spicy sugar to make a colorful presentation.

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Be sure to have some tortillas or bread or crackers on hand just in case you need to rescue yourself from the ring of fire. 🙂 Cheers!
spicy-margaritas

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Your hometown may have its merits, but does it have a watermelon man? Mine does. How cool is it to pull over on a side street on a hot summer day and buy a watermelon from a friendly gentleman and former Navy SEAL?

Meet Cowboy, watermelon man

Meet Cowboy, watermelon man

Of course, after meeting Cowboy, my next mission was to go home and blitz up some fine watermelon margaritas. I made a couple of batches before I landed on the perfect formula to share with you. Ready? Here we go.

WATERMELON MARGARITAS
4 heaping cups of watermelon, cubed
3 limes, squeezed (plus 1 extra for garnish, if you like)
1 cup tequila
2.5 oz. Grand Marnier
2.5 oz. Cointreau

Into a pitcher, pour watermelon cubes, lime juice, tequila, Grand Marnier and Cointreau. Here’s where it can’t get any easier: grab a stick (immersion) blender and blend away! If you don’t have one, you can use a traditional blender, it will just give you one more thing to clean up. 🙂

Now that you’ve got that down, it’s time to make these drinks sparkle. Combine sanding sugar (the coarse kind you use to decorate cookies) and some Kosher salt on a small plate. Then dip the rim of each glass into some tequila you’ve poured onto another small plate, then into the sugar/Kosher salt mixture.

Is there a bit of tequila left? You can pour it into the pitcher, or bartender’s treat, just drink it yourself. 😉 Garnish with a lime wheel if you wish. And remember, if you drink, don’t drive, do the watermelon crawl! CLINQUE!

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Staying cool, amici? The forecast calls for a fresh pitcher of Arnold Palmer, that winning combo of brewed black tea and fresh-squeezed lemonade. So refreshing, especially when you need to beat the heat and take it slow. Like today. Like most of this past week and the week to come!

Feel like spiking it? Well, then it’s a John Daly. American flag pants not required. Let’s do this thinG.

(Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

KATTY’S ULTIMATE ARNOLD PALMER

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
1.5 tablespoons dried lavender (optional, but nice)
4 teaspoons of your favorite black tea leaves*
4 cups hot water to brew the tea
2 lemons
2 cups cold water

*Mine comes from Sundial Gardens (Higganum, CT) in Higganum, Connecticut. Don’t live near here? You can order online if you’d like to give it a try, or use what you already like best.

First, make a simple syrup. I infused mine with lavender. Combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup water and lavender (if you’re using it). Bring to a boil, then remove from the burner, let steep for 30-45 minutes.

Meantime, brew 4 cups of black tea. Once that’s all set, strain the simple syrup over the brewed tea into a pitcher. Slice a slice from both ends of each lemon and let them float on top before you squeeze the rest. Then add two cups of cold water and give it all a stir.

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When it’s time to serve, load up a glass–or drinking jar–with ice. Add a sprig of something–mint, lemon verbena, pineapple sage, lemon basil–to make it fresh and pretty.

Coolio has the right idea, “If you can’t stand the heat, get ya @$$ out the kitchen!” That’s how I’m livin’ today, too. Stay cool and enjoy this “Fantastic Voyage.” 🙂

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Ready for a twist on the classic margarita? Half a lime is still invited to the party, it’s just not the primary fruit. Cinco de Drinko’s just around the corner. Color outside the lines with me, it’s fun–and delicious! 🙂

BLOOD ORANGE MARGARITAS

for two

6 oz. (3/4 cup) blood orange juice
1/2 lime, squeezed
4 oz. tequila
1 oz. Cointreau
1 oz. Grand Marnier
2 sugar-rimmed glasses of your choice

Stir, serve over ice and savor every sip!

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With a quick blitz in the blender, you can be cool as a cucumber–or maybe even Joe Cool. Agua fresca is enjoyable on its own or fun to spike for warm weather drinkin’! Ready for how easy and tasty?

CUCUMBER LIME MINT AGUA FRESCA

1 large cucumber (cut off both ends), chopped
juice of one lime
3/4 cup water
2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon agave syrup (use sugar if you don’t have agave syrup)
handful of mint
Put all the ingredients in a blender. Turn it on and blend till it gets nice and frothy. That’s all there is to it!

Pour over ice. Add a splash of seltzer on top if you like, or start with a couple of ounces of vodka (or your weapon of choice). CLINQUE! Stay cool, amici!

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On chilly days like this, there’s nothing like a steaming mug of hot apple pie. Mug? Yes, you read that right. Anything that holds 8 oz. of liquid and can take a trip in the microwave will do the trick nicely. Amici, ’tis the season for Tuaca–vanilla citrus liqueur that adds just the right flavor to hot apple cider.

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Here in the Land of Steady Habits, we have lots of local cider choices. I’m partial to Woodland Farm, way, way up in the hills of South Glastonbury. If you’re lucky, my canine pal Sophie will greet you when you go.

HOT APPLE PIE

6 oz. apple cider
2 oz. Tuaca
whipped cream
cinnamon and/or nutmeg to sprinkle on top (optional)

Ready for how easy this is? Grab a mug you can put in the microwave. Fill with cider and Tuaca. At my house, the “quick minute” setting works perfectly. See if a minute in the micro at your house works the same.

Top with whipped cream, cinnamon and nutmeg. Because what’s not to love about a little “Whipped Cream” to make the day a little brighter? One day, it’s gonna be jazz hands on Main Street with my girlfriends and me, dancin’ it up to this tune. With a vivid imagination, and an adult beverage or two, anything is possible! 😀 Cheers to that! And to all my girlfriends dancing along virtually! CLINQUE and CENT’ANN’!

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