Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The easiest (and most delicious) pitcher drinks you will ever make.

I secretly long to be Martha Stewart. I dream of having perfect, mosquito-free garden parties where everyone drinks perfect summery drinks from mason jars and everything is recorded for posterity in dreamy, short depth of field-y photos.

This was right before the tree caught fire.

But I am not Martha Stewart, I am a normal person. I do not have hundreds of hours or thousands of dollars or a team of photographers. To make my parties awesome, I must rely on my own wit and daring, plus a few tricks I've picked up over the years. One of which is: pitcher drinks. You can mix them up the night before, pop them in the fridge, and when it's party time, impress your guests with your cocktail making skillz without having to spend the entire time in the kitchen. These are my absolute favorite - I make them for almost every party I have, and they are always a huge hit. Plus they're almost stupidly easy to make. And did I mention delicious?

Strawberry Basil Margaritas
(Okay, so of course this was inspired by the drink they serve at the Volcano, but the pitcher recipe is my own.)
12 strawberries, hulled and sliced
8 basil leaves (harvested from the back porch!)
one can frozen limeade concentrate
tequila! (I prefer the gold for this recipe.)

First, mix up the limeade. The package will say to add 4 1/3 cans of water; I usually add 3 cans of water and 1 1/3 cans of tequila. (If your friends are squeamish about drinking, or you like your margaritas less strong - well, add a bit less.) Lightly muddle the basil, or smoosh it gently with the back of a spoon - this will help the basil essence to diffuse into the drink. Add the strawberries and basil to the pitcher and stick the whole thing (covered) into the fridge overnight, or for at least four hours.

When you retrieve the pitcher everything will have turned a nice pale pink. Serve over ice, and wait for the compliments to pour in.

Friday, July 2, 2010

The ShamWow

Part of the fun of making up your own drinks is coming up with clever names for them, right? To my great shame, I am embarassingly bad at this. Hence the name for the champagne concotion I created for Bekah's bachelorette party - champagne + chambord = wow!


Terrible, I know. But don't be fooled - this one is delicious. A bit more work than the Kir Royale, but totally worth it.

you will need:
champagne (look for the kind marked "Brut" - it's a bit sweeter than the Extra Dry varieties)
1 oz blackberrry-raspberry puree
.5 oz chambord*

*Full name: Chambord Liqueuer Royale de France. I don't really speak french, but I enjoy saying the name of this liqueur as if I do. (Try it.) Chambord is raspberry-flavored, relatively easy to find, and relatively expensive. In a pinch you could substitute a generic raspberry liquer (creme de framboise), but I really reccomend the Chambord. Think of it as an investment in your cocktailing future. And the bottle will look so pretty on your countertop.

Fill a champange flute nearly full with champagne. Leave some space, about a couple inches, at the top for the other ingredients. Add a teeny tiny bit of the puree at first - the champagne will start to fizz like mad. (It's the sugar in the puree. Sugar makes champagne go totally crazy.)

After the fireworks have died down, add the rest of the puree and then the Chambord. Stir with a cocktail whisk (the cutest damn thing you will ever buy for your bar), a swizzle stick, or a straw, and you're ready to go.

The verdict: We have a winner. Bright, lovely burst of raspberry, followed by rich blackberry and just enough champagne to make you happy. How good is this cocktail? After drinking a few at Rebekah's bachelorette party, I thought about it the next day at work. I craved it. I phantom-tasted its rasbperry-sweet goodness. I briefly toyed with the idea of going home at lunch and making myself a drink.

Seriously. It's that good.

Sarah's that good. She took the photos for this installment, too. Go check out her flickr page.