Category Archives: Beverages and Cocktails

Homemade Limoncello

Foodbuzz 24 x 24 | An Ode to Orvieto

This recipe was a part of a special menu for Foodbuzz’s June 2011 food blogger party, 24×24. Showcasing posts from 24 Foodbuzz Featured Publisher bloggers, the monthly Foodbuzz 24 highlights unique meals occurring around the globe during a 24-hour period. Read more about my meal along with all of the other recipes at An Ode to Orvieto.

I know some folks might be surprised by this claim, but the majority of limoncello offerings here in the states are straight rocket fuel.  Sure, the lovely bright taste of lemon is first and foremost on the palette, but most immediately smack you in the face shortly thereafter with bitterness and pure, unmellowed alcohol.  My very first trip to Italy included a tour of Sorrento, the dreamy southern town known for their luscious lemons coaxed into deliciously smooth limoncello.  And yet, the gorgeous lemon liqueur doesn’t really seem to be available here other than a whole lot of fully-loaded (to the point of noxious) imposter cousins. Continue reading Homemade Limoncello

Sparkling Rosé Sangria

Sparkling Rosé Sangria © Photo by Angela GunderI’m a fan of boozy fruit in the summertime.  I have fond memories of sitting in the back yard with my fam, drinking homemade sangria from plastic tiki cups full of the freshest fruit available.  Sometimes the fruit even came from the bounty my dad would bring back from the farmers at the market, gifts for keeping them entertained with a little blues every Saturday.  Sangria reminds me of the “Party in my Tummy” song from Yo Gabba Gabba (yes, I took it there)…can mangos come to the party in the sangria?  Can apples come to the party in the sangria?  Yes and yes!  Most every fresh fruit can have a place in the sangria pitcher.

I love this version in that it’s a slight departure from the usual red wine concoction.  Sangria is incredibly EEO with wine color – red, white, champagne and even port can become lovely versions of this Spanish sipper.  For a tropical touch, I combine rose sparkling wine (Spanish cava Cristalino, to keep things authentic) with mango, raspberries, pears and citrus.  Brandy becomes a soaking tub for the fruit before it’s blended up with the cava and sprite into bubbly awesomeness.  Dandy as candy.  Or should I quote Gene Wilder as Willie Wonka with “candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker.”  Or maybe no more childhood references in a post about booze.

Recipe for

Sparkling Rosé Sangria

1/2 c. of brandy (preferably not cheap crap)
1 pear, cored and diced
1 mango, pitted and diced
1 orange, diced peel and all
1 lime, diced peel and all
1 pint of raspberries, fresh or frozen
1 bottle of sprite
1 bottle of rosé cava (or other sparkling rosé)

Mix diced pear, mango, orange, lime and raspberries with the brandy in a small bowl.  Refrigerate for a half an hour.

Fill a gallon pitcher with a few cups of ice.  Scoop out the fruit and add to the pitcher.  Pour in the cava and top with sprite.  Serve immediately.

Hibiscus Chile Margarita

Crazy, Sexy, Cool

This one goes out to my best friend Kate, my partner in crime for the majority of my favorite shenanigans of all time.  That’s right, of all time.  Kate and I have been friends since well before I was legally allowed to and/or had the money to pay for the margarita below.  And yet, when I think about the sheer giggle fits we’ve shared in this rag tag life, I’m amazed at how few were dependent upon tequila or discretionary funds. Continue reading Hibiscus Chile Margarita

Sparkling Pear Martini

Champagne hasn’t been my friend for a long time.  I go from bubbly to drunk to very hungover and unhappy in a matter of sips, and it’s a major thumbs down in that I adore a fizzy tipple once in a while.  Although I like to occasionally dance with danger and partake a troublesome glass or two, I vastly prefer anything that’ll give me the same sensation without all the pain.  Given that vodka and I are copacetic, I adore this incredibly simple martini that garners its bubbles from non-alcoholic pear cider.  But not to worry, my off-the-wagon friends.  This sparkler combines the ripe flavor of luscious pear vodka and floral St. Germain into a sweet, but strong (good and strong!) martini of the most delightful nature.  I sip away with no regrets or apprehension, knowing that I’ll be staving off a vicious hangover.  Well, assuming that I don’t drink five of these in a row without a second thought.  Let’s pretend that’s never happened before, ok? Continue reading Sparkling Pear Martini

Caramel Apple Punch

I’m not sure how my sister Lexi and I came up with this punch recipe, but it’s just ridiculously good.  Despite the strong alcohol trifecta in play with this one, it tastes just like a smooth, delicious caramel apple.  Plus, the Goldschlager, usually the troublemaker at the party, plays nice here with the perfect flavor of cinnamon.  A little Martinelli’s on top for sparkle and a good quality fresh apple cider for body and you are in business.

We serve this cold, but you can absolutely have it warm as well – just make sure to add the alcohol after you’ve warmed the cider.  This recipe also doubles and triples well into a punch for a bunch, so don’t be afraid to break it out at your next Halloween or Christmas party.
Caramel Apple Punch

Caramel Apple Punch

1 1/2 oz. Butterscotch Schnapps
1 oz. Goldschlager
1 oz. Sour Apple Pucker
Apple Cider
Sparkling Cider

Fill a highball glass with ice and add the Apple Pucker, Goldschlager and Schnapps in that order.  Fill the glass just about up to the top with apple cider and then top with a splash of the sparkling cider.  Garnish with a slender apple wedge.

To make as a punch, combine 1 part Goldschlager, 1 part Sour Apple Pucker and 2 parts Butterscotch Schnapps.  Add 4 parts fresh apple cider and 1 part sparkling cider on top right before serving.  Serve in a punch bowl with thin slices of apple rings and the ice on the side.

Sleepy Arnold Palmers (Lemonade and Valerian Iced Tea)

Maybe it’s because I live in the city that never sleeps (where the night owls feel an exceptional need to shout at each other from under my window), but I’m becoming a big fan of dreamless sleep.  My favorite, in lieu of a nightcap of Tylenol PM, is a soothing cup of Celestial Seasonings Sleepy Time Tea.  I usually don’t touch CS tea – it’s like the Dinty Moore Beef Stew of the tea aisle.  Sleepy Time, though, is a whole ‘nother story.  Enriched with chamomile and valerian extract, it manages to tuck me in at night and mute the sounds of the city outside.  It’s rather glorious – especially coming from a girl of the suburbs who remembers fireflies and crickets as harbingers of night, not sirens and car alarms.

Sleepy Arnold Palmers (Lemonade and Valerian Iced Tea) © Spice or Die

This is my summertime ode to the dreamless sleep – a deliciously crisp and cool cocktail that blends fresh lemonade and iced Sleepy Time.  A glass or two, and you’ll feel like you’re swinging away in a hammock without a care in the world.  And yes, it works, so please drink this after the chores are done.  Like most of my drinks, this one is sweetened with a simple syrup – it makes the drink blend together so perfectly, it’s really worth the extra effort.  This particular syrup gets its glory from a mint infusion – yet another layer of flavor before naptime.

Recipe for

Sleepy Arnold Palmers (Lemonade and Valerian Iced Tea)

1 c. of mint simple syrup (recipe below)
4 bags of Celestial Seasoning Sleepytime Tea
2 c. of water
6 lemons
more water

Heat the two cups of water to a boil and then pour into a pitcher.  Add the tea bags, cover, and let steep for a half an hour.  Remove bags and let tea sit until at room temperature.  Squeeze in the juice of six lemons and add water to make 2 quarts.  Sweeten with a cup of simple syrup (adding more or less to taste).  Stir well and chill.  Serve with lemon wheels and enjoy the restful time that ensues.

Mint Simple Syrup
1 c. of water
1 c. of sugar
1 bunch of mint

Bring all ingredients to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes.  Turn off and strain into a tupperware.  Pop in the fridge to chill before using.

Ginger Hibiscus Martini

Practice makes perfect, kids.  And lemme tell you, the difference between my first attempt at creating a recipe for a Ginger Hibiscus Martini is absolutely the best example of this.  Because, and I am not employing any hyperbole whatsover, it was out and out nasty. Too bitter, too spicy and too strong – it just didn’t work.

Mama didn’t raise no quitter, and back to the drawing board I went.  This time around, rather than steeping hibiscus in hot water, I infused a simple syrup with the rosy petals and rounds of ginger, creating a gorgeous, ruby-colored sweetener for the martini.  Tessa said tasting it made her feel like a hummingbird – I took this as a compliment 😉

Ginger Hibiscus Martini © Spice or Die

This martini is exotic, lovely and can be made stronger or weaker depending on your mood.  If you’re back on the wagon, you can mix this syrup with orange juice and sprite for a refreshing cocktail minus the potent potables.  And you SNL fans, feel free to insert your favorite Alec Trebek insult in your best Sean Connery voice.  “I’ll take the rapists for 500, Alex.”

Ginger Hibiscus Martini

1 part ginger hibiscus simple syrup (see recipe below)
1 part cranberry juice
2 parts vodka

Fill a martini shaker with ice.  Combine 1/3 c. of syrup, 1/3 c. of cranberry, and 2/3 c. of vodka.  Squeeze in half a lime.  Shake and strain into martini glasses.  Garnish with lime rounds.

Ginger Hibiscus Simple Syrup
1 c. of water
1 c. of sugar
3 in. of fresh ginger, sliced in 1/4 in. rounds
1/4 c. of hibiscus flowers

Bring all ingredients to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes.  Turn off and strain into a tupperware.  Pop in the fridge to chill before using.

Basil Lemonade

Can I Give Your Lemons a Squeeze

I think my first memory of perfect lemonade was from when I was a kid (I had to have been 7 or 8) at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, and in an effort to stave off the DC summer heat, tried a hand-shaken lemonade for the first time.  There’s something about freshly squeezed lemon juice that can’t ever be duplicated with concentrate – after that first taste, I was sold.  Lemon, sugar, water – that was it.

My francophile mom eventually turned me on to the art of the citron pressé – the French imbibe the same drink in cafés as a DIY drink.  You get a glass of ice with the juice of a lemon, a small pitcher of water, and a dish of sugar.  Depending upon how tart or sweet you’d like your drink, you add the sugar and water to your liking.  As my sister would say, “sassy and classy!”  Ok, maybe just sassy in this case. Continue reading Basil Lemonade

Rosemary Hibiscus Iced Tea

Steep Me in Majesty

I first had a taste of Rosemary Hibiscus Tea at the Fairmont Princess in Acapulco – I had a regrettable manicure at the spa, and an unforgettable cup of their “secret brew” before leaving the space.  A combo of rosemary leaves and hibiscus petals, this sweet red treat was tart and garnet-colored like cranberry juice, only a little milder and much more floral. You can learn all about the flowers and their medicinal properties on Wikipedia.

Apparently, in Jamaica (where the flowers are called sorrel, and oddly, are called “Jamaica” in Latin America) the drink is spiked with a bit of rum as well.  This recipe is the non-party version, but impress your bourgeois crew and serve this cooled beverage in a martini glass with a shot of Bacardi and a splash of Grand Marnier.  It’ll make you spit your cosmo out the window and drink these from now on instead. Continue reading Rosemary Hibiscus Iced Tea

Ginger Limeade

All Tarted Up

Back when I was living in DC, there was a local radio station that would play what they called, “The Wrong Song” – a seemingly inappropriate tune based on the goings on.  My favorite was when they’d crank up the Sly and the Family Stone’s “Hot Fun in the Summertime” when there’d be inches of snow on the ground.  This recipe, my dears (and yeah, I’m talking to you Virginians buried in 30+ inches of unplowed powder) is the culinary equivalent of the wrong song.  It’s cold and slushy here in Gotham, and all I can do is pray for summer and sip on a refreshing glass of ginger limeade.  I feel a few degrees warmer already… Continue reading Ginger Limeade