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Cocktail Hour

Cocktail Hour

Peach-Basil Vodka Martini

peach basil vodka martini The Heart's Delight

Now that we’ve hit the end of March, I’ve started to subconsciously will spring to start.  Even if the forecast doesn’t comply, I’m doing my very best to convince myself, “Yes Stella, it’s spring.  It’s Ok to put away your snow boots. No, really. PUT THEM AWAY!!”  When that doesn’t work, I turn to food.

Various foods and drinks have a magical way of tricking your senses and transporting you to another place or time.  In this case, the combination of sweet basil and ripe juicy peaches have me sitting on my (NEW!) patio bathed in sunshine with a smile on my face.  The smile could be vitamin D related. More likely it’s alcohol related… who really knows?!  What I do know is that this cocktail is delicious and you should give it a try.

PEACH-BASIL VODKA MARTINI

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz vodka
  • 1 oz peach schnapps
  • 2 oz peach nectar (or fresh puree if peaches are in season)
  • 3 leaves torn basil
  • .5 oz lemon juice
  • prosecco (optional)

Directions:

1) Muddle the basil leaves with the peach nectar in the bottom of a cocktail shaker.

2) Add the vodka, peach schnapps, fresh lemon juice and ice.

3) Shake vigorously until cold and pour into chilled martini glass.

(***I added a float of dry prosecco to the finished martini for a hint of effervescence, but it’s fantastic as is.)

4) Garnish with fresh basil leaves and serve!

 

peach basil vodka martini The Heart's Delight

 

What foods/drinks remind YOU of spring?

XOXO,

Stella

Cocktail Hour

The Bee’s Knees

Bees Knees cocktail gin Meyer lemon

So, true story… a few months back when my girls and I hit up Austin for a long weekend, we ventured into a pretty awesome bar (Peché – a MUST if you’re going to be in Downtown Austin!) for a pre-dinner cocktail.  Needless to say, we felt pretty silly when we ordered vodka cocktails not realizing that we were in a Prohibition-style bar.  Yup, we were THOSE girls.  As annoyed as the bartender probably was, he was a total southern gentleman and took the time to explain to us that vodka was not introduced into the United States by the Soviet Bloc, until the mid-50’s (coincidentally, the PEAK of the Cold War).  Additionally, vodka is technically a flavorless spirit which really doesn’t add much (aside from alcohol content) when mixing a proper cocktail.  Who knew?  The bartender then proceeded to ask us what sort of drinks and flavor profiles we liked and concocted one of the most delicious cocktails I’ve had in a long time.  I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I am a big fan of gin.  Which brings me back to this post- we’re talking gin.  Light, herbaceous and floral scented, gin is the perfect pairing to honey and lemon.  In fact, it’s the bee’s knees!

I took the traditional ‘Bee’s Knees‘ Prohibition-era recipe and kicked it up a notch, subbing Meyer lemon juice for the original lemon called for in the recipe. If you’ve never tried Meyer lemon, definitely DO! It’s a sweeter, more fragrant version of a traditional lemon – the byproduct of a love affair between a lemon and a mandarin orange.

Bees Knees 1 Meyer lemon gin honey

The Meyer Lemon Bee’s Knees

Ingredients:

  • 2 ounces gin (I used Bombay Sapphire)
  • 3/4 ounce *honey simple syrup
  • 1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice

Preparation:

  1. Pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice.
  2. Shake vigorously and pour into chilled martini glass.
  3. Garnish with a lemon peel & serve!

*Honey simple syrup =  Take equal parts honey and water in a small sauce pan & bring to a boil.  Once the mixture hits boiling temp, remove from heat and cool prior to use. Refrigerate for up to a week.

Amazing, I tell you!  It also sounds much harder and fancier than it truly is- always a bonus.  So, tell me, what’s YOUR favorite spirit and why?  I would love to hear about all of the delicious things you’ve been drinking.

XOXO,
Stella
Cocktail Hour

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

happy new year animated photo: Happy New Year babynewyear.gif

Today’s post is a quick one, as I’m sure many of you have some serious post-champagne recovering to do.  I just wanted to wish everybody a happy, healthy and exciting year ahead.  Thank you for following along with me in 2013.  These past six months have been so incredible… I can only imagine what’s in store for 2014!  I can’t wait to find out!

XOXO,

Stella

Cocktail Hour

Cocktail Hour: The Browns

Cocktail Hour: The Browns

Perhaps it’s my Russian heritage, but most of my beloved cocktails tend to have a vodka component to them.  Only in the last few years have I tried to expand my cocktail palate to include what I call, “The Browns:” whiskey, scotch & bourbon.  Perhaps it’s an acquired taste, but these spirits have definitely grown on me and now have a permanent place in my bar.

Now, with the weather turning colder I find myself looking for a cocktail with spicy flavor notes and warm undertones (sorry, Grey Goose).  Fortunately for me, I don’t have to look further than an American cocktail classic: The Old Fashioned.  If you’ve never tried a well crafted Old Fashioned, you’re missing out.  The recipe below is my best attempt to replicate the cocktail from one of my favorite bars in New York, The Brandy Library.  A-MA-ZING. Trust me.

The Old Fashioned

  • 4 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • 1 orange slice (plus one for garnish)
  • 1 maraschino cherry
  • 1 tsp sugar (or 2 sugar cubes)
  • 2 oz Bourbon

Directions:

  1. Muddle bitters with the orange slice and sugar in an old fashioned glass.
  2. Remove muddled orange and add ice cube(s) and bourbon.  Stir with a spoon until chilled.
  3. Garnish with a fresh orange slice, maraschino cherry and serve!

Now, if you REALLY want to get crazy… try garnishing with a flamed orange peel.  If done correctly, this little party trick enhances the natural citrus oils of the peel and adds a subtle caramel note to your finished cocktail.  Yum.

For a full demo on flaming (we don’t want you burning your kitchen down!), I recommend you watch this:

Cheers!  Salut!  Cin-Cin!  Kanpai!  L’Chaim!  Nazdarovya!

XOXO,

Stella

P.S. – On a side note, you may need a brown Old Fashioned cocktail STAT if you’re a Cleveland Browns fan.  Seriously, could that football team be any more heartbreaking!?  As only a recent Cleveland, OH transplant, I’m learning this the hard way.

P.P.S. – Get it?  Brown cocktail… The Browns!  I just couldn’t help myself.

Cocktail Hour, Recipe Book

Apple Pie Ice-Cream Floats

ApplePieIceCreamFloat

As the temperatures chill and frost starts creeping up your windows in the morning, there is nothing more comforting than the hearty meals and desserts celebrating the foods of the season.  Stews, casseroles, chilies, roasts… all ridiculously delicious and ridiculously filling!  After one of our Sunday dinners, you practically have to roll me out of the dining room.  Worst of all, sometimes I am so full, I can barely enjoy dessert.  Don’t worry, I take one for the team.  No dessert gets left behind in our house.

Don’t start unbuttoning your pants just yet- I have the perfect after-dinner solution for the full and weary.  Forget over the top rich apple pie, try this mini apple pie ice-cream float instead!  It’s all of the dessert flavors you love and crave, but in shot-glass form with a quarter (or less) of the calories of traditional apple pie!  Best of all, it can be served as is, or with a float of Calvados (apple brandy) to really gild the metaphorical lily.

Apple Pie Ice-Cream Float

Ingredients:

  • Vanilla ice cream
  • Sparkling apple cider
  • Whipped cream
  • Cinnamon
  • Cinnamon stick (for garnish)
  • Calvados brandy (optional)

Directions:

1.  Place a small scoop of vanilla ice cream into the bottom of your shot glass (or regular glass).

2.  Cover ice cream with sparkling apple cider.

3.  If using Calvados (or any liqueur- vanilla vodka would also be delicious), now is the time to gently float a small amount over the top of the cider.

4.  Top with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

5.  Serve with a straw and cinnamon stick for garnish.

Enjoy!

How adorable would these mini-floats be served at the conclusion of Thanksgiving dinner?  Just sayin’!

XOXO,

Stella

Cocktail Hour, Style

Austin, TX

I Heart Texas

So, it’s Monday again.  Hope you all are well rested and ready to get after it this week!

I spent the latter part of my weekend gearing up for an upcoming girls’ getaway to Austin, Texas.  It’s currently T-4 days until we kick off our grand Texas tour-de-force and I couldn’t be more excited!  Besties, booze, shopping, spa, great food, great music and NO KIDS!   What more can a girl ask for?!   While I’ve traveled a good amount in my lifetime, I have to say, I’ve never had the opportunity to hit up Texas for more than a brief layover.  I’m thrilled to finally check that box on my “to-do list” and to be able to do it in a great city like Austin!

WHAT I’M PACKING:

I’m thinking layered and breezy for the high 70’s temp days and a little more “rock n’ roll” for the night.

Austin City Limits

Old Navy Denim Jacket (Medium indigo)

DAY:

A.L.C. Shirt Dress / Theodora & Callum Scarf / Stella & Dot Pendant Necklace / Rag & Bone Harrow brown boots / 3.1 Phillip Lim Mini Pashli purse / STELLA McCARTNEY aviator sunglasses

NIGHT:

 Mango Rolling Stone Top /  Zara Black Skort / Christian Louboutin Animal Print D’Orsay Pumps / BaubleBar Crystal Spike Earrings / BaubleBar Crystal Cuff Bracelet  / BaubleBar Mini Baguette Cuff /  Jil Sander Leather Clutch 

WHAT I’LL BE EATING:

MEXICAN!!! I can’t wait to get some real-deal modern Tex-Mex cuisine.  We’ll be hitting up La Condesa

(via mucca.com)

WHAT I’LL BE DRINKING:

El Perrito de Sal (a Mexican take on the traditional Salty Dog!)

La Condesa's Perrito de Sal

(via seriouseats.com)

LA CONDESA’S PERRITO DE SAL

INGREDIENTS

For the grapefruit salt:

  • 2 tablespoons finely grated zest from 1 grapefruit
  • 1/3 cup kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 lime wedge

For the Cocktail:

  • 2 ounces sotol blanco such as Hacienda de Chihuahua
  • 1/2 ounce Green Chartreuse
  • 2 ounces freshly squeezed juice from 1 grapefruit
  • 1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice from about 2 limes
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup (see note above)
  • 1 grapefruit slice for garnish

1)  Combine the grapefruit zest with the salt and sugar. Place the grapefruit salt on a plate. Use a lime wedge to wet the rim of the rocks glass. Press the rim onto the grapefruit salt. Fill with ice.

2)  Combine sotol, Green Chartreuse, grapefruit juice, lime juice, and simple syrup into an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Shake for 15 seconds then strain cocktail into glass.
3) Garnish with grapefruit slice and serve!

WHAT I’M LISTENING TO:

Country music obviously!  As a NY girl, this whole country music thing is an acquired taste, but it’s definitely growing on me.  Luke Bryan is one of my favorites, and he’s not too bad on the eyes either!

For you Austin, TX connoisseurs, please send along any recommendations you have for the city.  I would love to hear where you guys are eating, drinking and shopping!  Yee-haw.

XOXO,

Stella

Cocktail Hour

Blackberry-Whiskey Smash

BlackberryWhiskey Smash

Good Morning!

Can you see the circles under my eyes through your screen?  Even a heavy spackling of the best concealer can’t help with these babies! I swear, these past few weeks have totally drained me of all energy.  I had the best intentions this weekend of taking it easy and getting caught up on life, but here we are on Monday, state unchanged.   That being said, some major things did get accomplished- a big closet reorg and overhaul was completed, phase #1 of our new patio construction was done (Hopefully, phase #2 will be done by the end of the week! Woo-hoo!), my husband and I had a child free shopping and lunch outing, and my first fall batch of chili was cooked, and subsequently eaten.  Best of all, I think I concocted a most delicious adult beverage aptly named, The Blackberry-Whiskey Smash.

Recently, I’ve noticed that blackberries are at their peak- sweet, plump and super juicy (and generally on sale in the local supermarket).  I’ve been eating them daily with greek yogurt, granola and honey- a totally perfect breakfast, by the way.  The honey just seems to draw out all of the natural sweetness in the fruit.  So if honey works, why shouldn’t Jack Daniels Honey Whiskey?  But of course!  So at 4pm on Friday, I declared it the official start of happy hour.  Two cocktails later, I’ll admit, I was feeling much “happier!’

Blackberry-Whiskey Smash

  • 2 oz Jack Daniels Honey Whiskey
  • 1/2 oz Chambord liqueur
  • 6 ripe blackberries
  • 1/2 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
  • splash of ginger beer

Muddle the blackberries with the lime juice in the bottom on a cocktail shaker.  If your berries are on the tart side, feel free to add a sprinkle of sugar or Splenda to the shaker.

Once berries are pulverized, pour in whiskey and Chambord.  Add ice and shake vigorously for a minute or so.

Pour beverage into chilled martini glass and float the spicy ginger beer across the top.

Garnish the cocktail with a lime twist and sprig of fresh mint.

Serve and enjoy!

XOXO,

Stella

Cocktail Hour, Entertaining, Home Decor, Recipe Book, Style

Friday Link Love

Friday Header

1) Mindy Kaling may be my new bestie… she just doesn’t know it yet.  Join me in stalking her very eclectic, very colorful and very Mindy home. (elledecor.com)

2) I’m always on the hunt for unique, meaningful and striking artwork to decorate my home.  Bailey McCarthy of PeppermintBliss.com and Biscuit Home, did the work for me (and YOU) by providing a roundup of some of the country’s most talented, up and coming artists. (peppermintbliss.com)

3) For all you fellow Libra’s celebrating a birthday with me, this drink is for you! (saveur.com)

4) In the market for an engagement ring?  Looking to upgrade your current bling?  Trying to offload the hardware remnants of a failed relationship?  Well, have I found the website for you!  Read all about how a savvy entrepreneur turned diamond lemons into sparkly lemonade. (dailymail.com)

5) While I LOVE over-the-knee leather boots, and I LOVE Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, I DO NOT love looking like a lady-of-the-night when wearing aforementioned boots.  Here is a tutorial on how to pull off the tall-boot look like the classy girl that you are. (whowhatwear.com)

6) I know I’m getting old when I have to look up what “Molly” is… Read THIS to get the low-down on the new street drug that everyone seems to be talking/singing/rapping about. (refinery29.com)

7) Yes, my fig obsession continues.  These crostini are the perfect fall appetizer, and easy as can be. (theglitterguide.com)

Have a great weekend!

XOXO,

Stella