- Super cool carafe and tumbler set made from recycled wine glasses. These are on my new favorite online shopping discovery, Huckberry.com - $29.98
- A book full of festive holiday cocktails to whip out at your annual tacky Christmas sweater party - $20
- The aptly names Tequila Mockingbird contains cocktails paying homage to famous novels. My personal favorites are the "Gin Eyre", "Gone with the Wine", and the Last of the Mojitos" - $15
Christmas is a time of celebration and good cheer. Do you know what helps with the good cheer part? Drinks of the alcoholic variety. All joking aside, these gifts will be sure to please your friend who likes to kick back with a casual PBR, or shmooze while sipping on Veuve Clicquot.
Bourbon Blackberry Smash
Happy Monday...said no one ever. If you're having a rough start to this rainy dreary week, than what better way to spice up your ho-hum day than a delicious cocktail? This bourbon blackberry smash (inspired by Table + teaspoon) is perfect for those of you longing for sandy beaches.
Here's what you'll need:
ONE: Muddle the blackberries, mint, and lime in the bottom of your cocktail shaker.
TWO: Add the bourbon and a handful of ice. Shake until well mixed.
THREE: Strain the bourbon/blackberry/mint/lime mixture into a rocks glass filled with ice.
FOUR: Top with the ginger beer and a splash of soda water.
FIVE: Garnish with several blackberries and a mint leaf.
SIX: Sip. Breathe. Enjoy. Recharge for Tuesday!
Crafting cocktails seems to be the hip hobby these days. When I moved home after college several years ago, my dad had just picked up a book about classic cocktails (Negroni, Old Fashioned, Manhattan, etc.) and I was treated to a tasting almost every night after work. No complaints here! Since then, a lot of my friends have picked up the hobby as well. Cocktails are a fun way to celebrate a special occasion or unwind with friends at the end of a work day. Here are some fun and useful gifts for the cocktail connoisseur in your life!
New Old Fashioned
I know I said I'd post this yesterday, but my evening ran away from me in the form of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and girl talk. Here is a quick and easy new take on a classic Old Fashioned that is perfect for the holiday season. Here's what you'll need:
ONE: Place the sugar cube in a rocks glass and wet with 2 dashes each of the Angostura and Blood Orange bitters, as well as a splash of club soda.
TWO: Crush the sugar with a muddler, or a spoon if you're not grown-up enough to own a muddler (like me).
THREE: Add several small or one large ice cube and pour the bourbon on top.
FOUR: Garnish with a sprig of rosemary and thin piece of orange peel.
If you want to be super fancy, squeeze the orange peel colored-side down over your glass. Gently squeeze the peel as you light a match under it. The essential oils will light quickly, releasing a citrusy, caramelly flavor. Rub the edges of your glass with the peel, then use it as a garnish.
Bask in the "oohs" and "aahs" from your friends after they admire your cocktail prowess.
9 White(ish) Wines Under $20
Last weekend, Ann Ham and I hosted a white wine tasting for a handful of gal pals at our house. Unfortunately, not all of my pictures turned out great, but I read a super inspiring post on A Beautiful Mess recently about how creative-types should not be too cautious and wait for perfection. Sometimes you just have to put yourself out there. Despite some grainy photos, a good time was had by all. I'll share some more snaps of the party and the decor later this week. For now, please check out 9 of my favorite white(ish) wines under $20.00. (You'll notice that I didn't plan ahead enough to take pictures of the wine bottles before my guests and I finished them off...nobody is perfect.)
I have them listed in a suggested tasting order. The general rules I followed were:
La Granja 360, Cava Brut
Similar to the Vinho Verde, this Cava is a great alternative to Champagne. Serve well-chilled as an aperitif, or with sweet and fruit desserts.
Espiral Vinho Verde, Portugal
This effervescent white wine from Portugal is one of my favorite new discoveries. Though not quite as bubbly as Champagne, the hint of sparkliness gives this wine a "special occasion" type feel without the hefty price. This medium dry wine from the Vinho Verde region of Northern Portugal makes a festive aperitif, or can be paired with fish dishes and salads.
Rene Sparr Alsace Riesling, 2011
Floral, with scents of lime and apple, this is a very dry Riesling (unlike it's German cousins) which is why I like it so much. Too sweet white wines give me a major headache. This bottle is light enough to pair well with seafood, but also bold enough to hold up to the pork dishes so often found in the Alsace region of France.
Kudos Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley, Oregon, 2013
This Alsatian-style Pinot Gris from Oregon (one of my favorite places in the states to buy wine from), is full of pear, banana, and spice notes. It's crisp, light-bodied quality makes it a great summer wine.
Vintjs Sauvignon Blanc, Sonoma County, 2012
This Trader Joe's brand wine was very popular at my wine tasting. This particular Sauvignon Blanc has strong aromas and flavors of grapefruit, lemon, and apple.
Sancerre, Loire Valley, France, 2013
Sancerre is by far my favorite white wine and, ironically, the most expensive wine on the list. Refreshingly zesty, with notes of minerals and citrus, enjoy this wine with soft cheese...or whenever you want.
Fetzer Gewurztraminer, California, 2012
This is the only sweet wine I added to the list, and I will admit that I was a bit skeptical. However, it ended up being delicious! The honeyed apricot and peach flavors are great for taming spicy food or sipping after dinner. Take a sniff and you'll pick up aromas of rose petals and honeysuckle!
Macon-VIllage Chardonnay, Louis Jadot, 2012
Hailing from the Maconnais region of Burgundy, France, this Chardonnay is kept far away from the oak barrels that Californian chards are so often found in. Bright and crisp with notes of apples, this would be a perfect aperitif or paired with shellfish, crab cakes, or goat cheese.
Albero Rosé, Valencia, Spain, 2013
I know, I know. This isn't technically a "white wine", but I couldn't resist throwing a Rose into the mix. Usually I stick with Provencal rosés, but I decided to branch out to a Spanish rosé to bring a new variety to the table. This wine is fruity and acidic with intense strawberry notes. It would be a great balance to any type of spicy food, especially paella or seafood.
Happy tasting! What are your favorite white wines?
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