A Festive Easter Sip – The Pink Peep Twist with Noble Wolf Vodka

My friend, Pam, recently introduced me to the most delicious libation – Noble Wolf Vodka. Pam and I have been safely meeting on our patio for sips and snacks the last few months. The last time we met she arrived with a bottle of Noble Wolf’s Pink Lemonade Vodka and a Sonic Route 44 Cherry Limeade. We made “Momma’s Pink Panties” a recipe from the proprietor of the vodka, Bryce Cottrell!

Here’s the founder’s story:

I gave up the NFL for Vodka. Yes, you read that right.

As a defensive end at Texas I had a love for football that ran deep. BUT, my love for family and friends ran even deeper. You see, when I was a kid I looked up to my grandfather more than almost anyone. A wise man, I remember he always would order a glass of vodka before he would impart his wisdom into my life. In the same fashion, vodka seemed to be the drink of choice for my extended family – many of my football friends. So, one day on the plane back from a game I had an idea:

As an athlete I wanted a vodka that tasted great, but I was tired of the empty calories and heavy feeling I had afterwards. I had heard that people were making vodka from unique sources. So, I wondered what would happen if we made vodka from fruit? Little did I know that I would soon discover the power Grapefruit had in producing vodka. It actually made a vodka that was low-calorie, low in sugars, paleo, and gluten-free. The bigger surprise? It didn’t taste fruity – instead, it had a really smooth/classic finish. Once I discovered this, I knew I had a decision to make. I could pursue my career in the NFL or dedicate my life towards making this vodka into a real company.

I took some time and as I reflected, I realized that many of the best moments of my life (and the lives of so many others) happened around vodka. Whether it was my grandfather teaching me something new, celebrating with my teammates, or going on a date with someone special, all of those memories actually had vodka involved in some way. I knew I wanted to impact people, creating moments around friends and family – leaving a legacy like my grandfather had. It was that day that I decided to launch Noble Wolf and since, the results have been incredible.

Okay, here’s my easy recipe taking Simply Pink Lemonade and Noble Wolf’s Pink Lemonade Vodka.  I rubbed a cut lime along the rim of a champagne flute and dipped the edge of the glass in sugar crystals (like the kind you decorate cookies). In a cocktail shaker, I mixed the lemonade, an ounce of vodka and ice (you can add more if you want a stronger drink).  Shake the cocktail for 30 seconds to get it good and cold, then strain your drink into your glass. If you like bubbles, add a little bit of Topo Chico. And, for a mocktail version just use the lemonade with a dash of Topo.

I stuck a PEEP on the end of some cute PEEP straws I found at Jabo’s Ace Hardware.  How festive is that!  Happy Easter.

St. Patrick’s Day Cocktail — Green Apple Ginger Martini

Here’s a lively twist on a classically chic cocktail perfect for a St. Patrick’s Day celebration. Getting it to you now so you have time to perfect it.

When crafting cocktails, try incorporating seasonal ingredients. While apples are typically thought of as a part of the fall harvest, tart green apples offer a crispness for the sunny spring days, while ginger provides a warming flavor profile for the cooler nights. Shake this cocktail up for a cozy night in or as a dessert pairing at your next dinner party.

Craft cocktails are a bit more of an experience to mix up, as it makes them all the more worthwhile. However, if you’re not feeling as adventurous, you can easily substitute a premade simple syrup alongside a high-quality store-bought apple juice.

Ingredients

  • One green apple
  • 4 ounces vodka
  • 2 Tbs. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 cup of water
  • ¾ cup of sugar
  • ¼ cup chopped ginger

Directions

  1. To create your apple-ginger simple syrup bring the water, sugar, ginger, and peel of the green apple to a boil in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat until the sugar has dissolved.
  2. Quickly transfer the simple syrup pan to an ice bath, stirring occasionally. Once cooled, strain the simple syrup to remove the apple peel and ginger.
  3. Place the peeled green apple into a juicer, and strain if necessary.
  4. Fill your cocktail shaker with ice and pour in the vodka, 2 ounces of the apple-ginger simple syrup, and ⅓ cup of the apple juice. Shake well, and pour into two martini glasses.
  5. Garnish with a fresh apple slice or apple peel garland. Enjoy!

Follow my Pinterest board Just a Sip for more ideas and fresh inspiration.

Hot Golden Fall Punch

I found this recipe years ago, 30 to be exact, from the Junior League of Austin cookbook. I love to serve it in the fall when I host parties, especially as a pre-Thanksgiving sip before we sit down for our meal.

A fun and unexpected, way to serve your punch is setting up this hot punch in a percolator on your front porch with a tray of fall mugs and cinnamon stick stirs.  When guests arrive they will smell the spices from their cars and instantly enter your home with mugs full of happiness. They will never forget your hospitality, for sure!

Hot Golden Fall Punch

4 cups of unsweetened pineapple juice

1 12 oz can of apricot nectar

4 cups of apple cider

1 cup of orange juice

2 cinnamon sticks

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp whole cloves

Pour juices into electric percolator*.  Place the remaining ingredients in the basket and perk.  Serve steaming hot. Serves 18-20.

*Without a percolator, pour juices in a large pot.  Simmer 10 minutes and remove spices before serving.

How to Create A Fall Coffee Station

My favorite time of the year is finally here – fall!  I love coffee year round, but there is no better time to elevate just about the most perfect drink.  And, it doesn’t cost a lot to pull together a fall coffee station. Let’s get started.

First, you need a tray. I picked up a silver one with tortoiseshell handles from HomeGoods several years go.  Here’s a similar one in my Amazon Store where you can find everything I mention in this post.

Next, since I love the color of copper – it reminds me of all the copper pieces Mother used to entertain – I pulled a few mugs from the bar and placed them on the tray to hold spoons and packets of Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte Mix. It is totally on-trend right now to mix your metals. The spoons are some fun ones I found from the Pioneer Woman reminiscent of vintage bakelite enamel.  You have to buy the whole set but you will use all the pieces, I promise.

I store my coffee pods, both Costco brand Pacific Bold, and flavored coffees, teas, cocoa, and cider in anchor hocking lidded jars. One of my jars is a vintage Tom’s red-lidded jar. I tied each jar with a label and twine.

Here comes the fun part – red hots, sugar cubes and spice blend for your add-ins. We love to drink spiced apple cider and nothing is more fun than to stir in a few red hots! I filled some Kilner preserve jars (my bestie gave me for my birthday) with red hots. And, I think sugar cubes make any cup of coffee delicious. How adorable are these tea pot shaped sugar cubes?!

I found the cutest ceramic, plaid travel mugs with lids in the dollar section at Target. I picked up a set of six. Won’t they be adorable on the table at Thanksgiving filled with mulled wine?

I also make sure to have a set of disposable mugs, especially when I’d host Book Club gatherings. You can put out a sharpie for people to personalize their mug with their name. I think this set is cute!

You can also fill little jars with mini chocolate chips and peppermint sticks for your cocoa. And, we always have a can of Reddi-whip in the refrigerator because you can’t have cocoa without whipped cream!

I hope this post inspires you to put together a welcoming tray to usher in the season. Remember, you can find all the supplies listed here in my Amazon Store.*

*I am a member of the Amazon affiliate partnership program. If I link to a product on Amazon, I am paid a small commission, at no cost to you, when you make a purchase. This helps to support my blog expenses so I can continue to bring you fun, fresh content. I appreciate your support.

 

Summery Poolside Sip – An Aperol Spritz

My friend Jacqui is our resident cocktail queen. She showed up at our virtual book club gathering last week with a blue drink and it looked fetching! So, I am sharing her delicious recipe for an Aperol Spritz that she enjoyed during an Italian getaway last summer.

Aperol is an Italian apéritif, and it’s typically served before a meal to stimulate the appetite.  Invented in 1919, it wasn’t until after World War II that Aperol really gained attention on a global scale.  The Italian way of life, enjoying an ‘apéritif’ before dinner, took the world by storm. The slang word for apéritif is apero, hence the name Aperol. The flavors noted in descriptions of Aperol are bitter orange, gentian, rhubarb, and cinchona among other ingredients.  I thought it tasted like summer in a glass.

Photo credit: Sourced Craft Cocktail

I’ll share the recipe for the Blue Jacqui soon!  In the meantime, this cocktail is the perfect sip and nod to summer.  Cheers!

National Iced Tea Month: Refreshing flavors for Summer!

According to the National Calendar Day – it’s National Iced Tea Month.  Yay for me!  I drink unsweetened iced tea everyday — all day long.  I’ve been an iced tea drinker since way back, and even though I am a Southern girl, sweet tea is not my thing.  Add a spring of mint and a lemon slice and my heart sings!

My sister-in-law was asking me recently for some ideas on refreshing non-alcoholic drinks for the summer.  Although, I have 415 recipes on my Pinterest “Just a Sip” page, it is much easier to find a flavored tea and no need to buy a bunch of ingredients to add to the expense.  An added bonus — black tea has many health benefits.

About a month ago, I signed up to receive a series of Tea: 101 emails from the Republic of Tea on how to brew the perfect cup of tea.  I perused their catalog and ordered three tins of tea to try.

Organic Strawberry Basil Tea.  This is my new favorite.  You can definitely taste the strawberry, but not in a sweet way.  It’s subtle. There’s an essence of basil, but just enough. This would be perfect with for a ladies luncheon with tea sandwiches.  It’s fresh.

 

Watermelon Mint Tea.  It was a little overwhelming at first, very watermelon-ey. But once I drank the first glass, it was different in a good way.  I liked the taste of the mint. I can see a pitcher of this poolside. Add a wedge of watermelon on the edge of the glass and it will be impressive.

 

Ginger Peach Tea.  It’s always my fall back tea.  My favorite place to get this is at McKinley’s with a chicken salad sandwich.  It will always be in my pantry, but I am glad I tried the other two teas.

 

 

How Mrs. Twist Makes Iced Tea

Fill a kettle with cold water and let it come to a boil.  Meanwhile, put two bags of flavored tea, and three bags of Lipton tea into a large heat-resistant bowl measuring cup (like a Pampered Chef Batter Bowl with a spout). Before I put the tea bags into the bowl I fluff them up so they aren’t flat.  I think this allows the water to flow through the tea leaves. Pour boiling water into the bowl and I let it sit on the counter until it is cool to the touch.  I like really strong tea so I leave the bags in until I dilute with water.  I pour it in a gallon sized plastic jug and fill with filtered water.  I always have a gallon of tea in the door of the fridge at all times.  The other thing I always have on-hand during the warm months, is a jam jar full of fresh mint from my garden.  Mint thrives in our Texas heat and humidity.

Be sure to visit The Republic of Tea site.  There are tons of other flavored teas to try — like Blackberry Sage — and lots of great information like 25 Fun Facts about Republic of Tea.  Did you know it was founded by the same people that founded Banana Republic?  And, they were the first company to receive USDA certified organic certification.

What’s your favorite summer sip?  Please share!

Thanksgiving and Wine Pairing

A few years ago I purchased some bottles of bubbly from Stacy Ricks at WineShop at Home and have been pleasantly surprised with the high quality of my selections.  I like that I can shop from home for wine without being overwhelmed with the selection at the big box liquor stores.  Stacy knows first-hand how her selections taste.  You can even take a “Find your Vinotype”quiz on their website  by answering just a few questions to narrow down the types of wine your palette prefers (I am a hypersensitive vinotype which means my wine preferences run toward more delicate, dry wines with lower alcohol levels.  Reds have to be especially rich and SMOOTH for my highly sensitive sensory perception).

I reached out to Stacy to get her input on wines for Thanksgiving and holiday entertaining.  Here are her suggestions…

Thanksgiving Dinner
Red:  Dusk Lambrusco pairs well with savory turkey and gravy, and mashed potatoes.
White: Somersville Cellars White Meritage creamy side dishes, casseroles and veggies.
And for desserts like pumpkin and pecan pie try Cadeau Rose Sparkling wine.
Tip:  For an in depth list of pairings with other holiday foods, her website has a winemakers journal with really great entertaining tips.  Click here for more pairings.
Bubbly Beginnings
One of my favorite entertaining tricks is a welcome cocktail.  It makes it easy for me because I don’t have to make a custom drink for each person affording me the chance to finish up last minute details in the kitchen.
Guests can visit and sip until the full bar is open.  Bubbly is the perfect drink for this because it says “let’s get the party started” and makes guests feel special.  Set up glasses and a wine bucket filled with ice by the front entrance and guests can help themselves or you can pre-pour each glass and have it waiting on a festive tray with fun cocktail napkins.
Cheese Boards
All of WineShop wines come with a nicely formatted, heavy stock card with information about the wines, including things like vintage, alcohol content, ageing potential and most importantly, cheeses and foods to pair with that particular wine.  Additionally, there is a recipe on the flip-side of the card for a suggested food pairing. Stacy recommends three different cheeses, something sweet, and something salty.  The sweet could be fig preserves or chocolates or other dessert type treat. The salty could be anything from popcorn or kettle chips, to salami or nuts. Crackers with a bit of sea salt are always a great addition!
Here’s a yummy recipe for Sweet & Spicy Nuts that pairs perfectly with Joy Cellars Riesling.  This would be a great gift for Christmas — fill a Mason jar with these nuts and add the wine!
Family Brunch
You know how I love brunch — I get that from Mother (see Mrs. Twist’s Guide to Thanksgiving:  Breakfast Ideas here).  Stacy recommends Adagio 2013 Merlot and The Fact Blush. Look at this recipe for Grilled Peach Spiced Melba that pairs perfectly with it!
Hostess Gifts
Personalized wine!  Design your own unique wine label by adding an image and personal message to one of their six different label templates. Select your favorite image from their extensive image library, or upload your own photo or logo for a truly personal touch. It’s a winning gift idea that makes for great impact and a lasting impression.
Hopefully, this helps you to start thinking about getting into the Thanksgiving “spirit!”  Be sure to reach out to Stacy at [email protected] or through her website for questions or to place an order.  Thanksgiving orders must be placed by November 15.
Note:  I was not compensated for this post.  I’m just a fan of good wine.

Sips…with a Twist

On the coat tails of Holley’s post yesterday, I thought it would be fun to round up some pink drinks.

From A Beautiful Mess, look at these Pink Lemonade Jello Shots!

They give you a recipe for “lemonade” using vodka, pink lemonade, unflavored gelatin, and Deep Eddies Lemon Vodka. Yum. But, you might be able to concoct a non-alcoholic version with plain lemonade and gelatin.

In fact, if you need a kid-friendly pink lemonade recipe, here is one from The Cooking Bride.  This is the kind you make using a simple syrup on the stove and mix in fresh squeezed lemon juice, then add a smidge of cranberry juice to make it pink. Central Market always has the freshest selection of lemons. Meyer lemons are my absolute favorite for making lemonade.

Look at this confection…Very Pink Raspberry Cosmopolitan from Creative Culinary. That luscious pink color is divine!

Calling for raspberries and their juice and raspberry liqueur, vodka and simple syrup, garnished with a rim of pink sugar crystals…it makes me want to sit on a recliner and be fanned by a cabana boy holding a palm frond.

And last, from Tell me Tuesday, a Rosemary, Grapefruit and Gin cocktail. You make a simple syrup using rosemary, then add in dry Gin and fresh squeezed grapefruit juice.   Here’s a tip:  If you are going to prepare drinks that call for “fresh squeezed” purchase the juice from a place like Central Market that really makes it fresh and not from concentrate.  Don’t use canned juice.  I mean, you can, but the result of a super-fresh cocktail that tastes clean won’t be the same with juice from concentrate. Trust Mrs. Twist on this.

If you don’t know how to make a simple syrup, you need to learn.  It’s not hard.  Here’s a how-to video link here.  It will keep in the fridge for up to a month.  Just put it into a mason jar and it will be ready for whenever you want to whip up one of these delicious cocktails.

Check out my other Just a Sip cocktail ideas on my Pinterest board (there’s over 300 recipes).  Cheers to Pink!

Percolator Punch Recipes

coffee-urn
Westbend Electric Coffee Urn

Nothing says “Party!” like yummy sips from a percolator. It’s the quintessential drink for any awesome gathering.  Mother always had a coffee urn in her entertaining arsenal ready for all the parties she hosted.

I’m on a personal journey to keep punch recipes alive and well.  It’s not just for baby showers and wedding receptions.  In honor of National Punch Day, I am sharing two of my very favorite hot punch recipes; one for fall and one perfect for Christmastime.

First, every hostess needs an electric coffee urn.  I have one of these in my party pantry.  They are perfect for making coffee, hot cocoa or iced tea for a crowd.  I throw the ingredients into the basket and in 20 minutes your hot punch is ready for your guests.  Places like Target and Walmart sell them for about $40-$50.

Hot Golden Fall Punch (from my 1987 copy of the Junior League of Austin “Necessities and Temptations”)

4 cups of unsweetened pineapple juice

1 12-oz can apricot nectar

4 cups of apple cider

1 cup of orange juice

2 cinnamon sticks

1/4 tsp of salt

1 tsp whole cloves

Pour juices into electric percolator.  Place remaining ingredients in basket and perk.  Serve steaming hot.  (without a percolator, pour juices in a large pot.  Simmer for 10 minutes.  Remove spices).

Christmas Percolator Punch (I don’t have a source.  This is a handwritten recipe in my own personal recipe binder)

2 32-oz bottles of cranberry juice

1 46 oz can unsweetened pineapple juice

2 cups water

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

2 TBL whole allspice

2 TBL whole cloves

6 3″ sticks of cinnamon

Pour first 3 ingredients into a large percolator.  Place brown sugar and remaining ingredients in percolator basket.  Perk through complete cycle of electric percolator.  Yield:  1 Gallon.

I have a table on my front porch with an outlet nearby.  I love to set up my percolator on the porch with fun mugs and a sign for guests to start with punch when they arrive at the door.  They can smell the spices as they walk up to the porch and it’s so welcoming!  It’s different, unexpected and a special touch your guests will not forget.  Cheers!

National Tequila Day — Fun Sips

Today is National Tequila Day.  Other than your usual Margarita, I took a spin at the Pinterest wheel and found three fun sips to celebrate the day with a good bowl of salsa and salty chips.  Sip one, Lime Drop Shot, is from ManTitlement.  A fun cooking and entertaining blog from a guy’s point of view.

lime-drop-shots-top
Lime Drop Shot

Second Sip, a Tequila Sunrise.  It reminds me of the 60s when cocktail hour was everyday before dinner.  And, who doesn’t love an umbrella in the their drink garnished with maraschino cherries!  This recipe is from Averie Cooks.

tequilasunrise-4
Tequila Sunrise

I found some fun things on the web about the origin of the Tequila Sunrise…one story said a fellow named Gene from the Arizona Biltmore worked for the hotel over 30 years and one of his many talents was bartending.  He loved creating the perfect drink for each guest.  One guest asked Gene to make a cocktail with tequila so he’d have a refreshing pool-side beverage.  Gene’s concoction was a little different than the one I shared.  His recipe had the addition of Creme de Cassis and lime juice.

Here’s another Tequila Sunrise recipe circa 1956 from the Los Angeles Times, May 18, 1956:

Fill glass with cracked ice.  Add one jigger Cuervo Tequila, one teaspoonful grenadine, 1/3 teaspoonful cream de cassis and the juice 1/2 lime & sparkling water.

Third sip, is the Paloma from BuzzFeed.  I love, love, love grapefruit juice. It’s a simple drink with a few shots of tequila topped off with icy, cold grapefruit soda.

the paloma
The Paloma

Have a super Saturday with your sips and chips!