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"A gourmet who thinks of calories is like a tart who looks at her watch." - James Beard


Monday, September 14, 2020

Happy Hour at Home - Grasshopper

Chocolate mint has always been one of my favourite flavour combinations.  Recently I picked up some Creme de Menthe and Creme de Cacao to expand my cocktail options at home.  

A Grasshopper
 is an old-fashioned cocktail that I would probably never order in a bar.  When I was a kid and we'd go to a Chinese restaurant, they often had placemats with pictures of different cocktails.  The Grasshopper would be there, along with other amusingly-named drinks like the Pink Squirrel and Harvey Wallbanger.

But the Grasshopper is actually very tasty!  It makes a nice after-dinner drink, sweet and creamy like dessert.  Here's how you make one:


1 oz Creme de Menthe
1 oz Creme de Cacao
1 oz cream or milk


Add the ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice.  Shake 30 seconds until chilled.  Strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a sprig of mint.

Minty, green and creamy!  Enjoy!

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Happy Hour at Home - Paloma

This is one of my all-time favourite cocktails, and it's so simple! Just tequila, grapefruit and soda, or tequila and grapefruit soda, or tequila, grapefruit, lime, sugar and soda.  I've actually had Palomas made many different ways.  

Today I squeezed grapefruit for fresh-squeezed juice, added fresh lime juice and sugar, tequila, ice and soda, with a half-salt rim and a pretty slice of grapefruit to garnish. 

When we were in Mexico last year I had a Paloma that was just tequila and Jarritos grapefruit soda with a Tajín (chili lime spice) rim and a massive grapefruit slice to garnish. 

If you can find grapefruit soda, this method is much easier, but I do love the flavour of fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice.

Here's the recipe!

Paloma Cocktail (makes one drink)

salt or chili-lime seasoning
grapefruit wedge
1/4 cup fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup tequila 
1/4 cup club soda

Sprinkle salt or seasoning on a flat plate.  Run the grapefruit wedge around the rim of a 12oz glass and coat the rim of the glass halfway or completely in salt or seasoning. 

Add grapefruit and lime juice and sugar to the glass and stir until sugar dissolves.  Add the tequila and fill the glass with ice.  Top with club soda. 


Saturday, July 18, 2020

Happy Hour at Home - Clover Club Cocktail

This cocktail has a lot to recommend it.  It has an interesting history, uses fresh berries and an egg white, and it's absolutely gorgeous to look at and very delicious. 

The cocktail dates back to 1880s Philadelphia and it was a pink drink men loved.  It's not too sweet and the egg white gives it a foamy contrasting head that looks beautiful.

First, you'll need to make a raspberry syrup, but it's easy!  This is a no-cook syrup that keeps that fresh raspberry flavour.

Raspberry Syrup 

1/2 cup raspberries (fresh or frozen)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water

Muddle the raspberries with the sugar. Let sit 30 minutes until syrupy. Add the water and stir until sugar is completely dissolved. Strain through a fine mesh sieve. Store leftover syrup in the fridge up to a week. 

Clover Club Cocktail (makes one drink)

1 1/2 oz gin
1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
1/2 oz dry vermouth
1/2 oz raspberry syrup
1 small egg white 

Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake for 20 seconds.  Strain into a glass. 


Saturday, July 11, 2020

Happy Hour at Home - Watermelon Mojito

I love making cocktails but I don't make frozen cocktails very often. Partially because they always seem overly sweet, and partially because it's just a hassle to haul out the blender and crush ice. 

But this cocktail is an exception!  It is so good, so summery and refreshing, I will definitely make it again and again.  

The trick here is frozen watermelon instead of ice.  This way the watermelon is the star, and it's not diluted by anything but liquor.  I love the way the watermelon's colour just says SUMMER!

The recipe comes from Smitten Kitchen, a great resource for well-tested food and drink recipes.  

Here's how to make this fabulous summer treat:

Frozen Watermelon Mojito Recipe (makes 2 drinks)

1 lb frozen watermelon 
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lime juice (about 3 limes)
1 tablespoon sugar
4 oz rum
10 mint leaves, plus sprigs for garnish

To freeze the watermelon, remove the rind from one small or 1/2 a large watermelon. Remove seeds if necessary and cut into 1-inch cubes. Freeze in a single layer on a tray lined with plastic wrap or parchment for at least one hour.  Save any leftover frozen watermelon in a zip-top bag in the freezer.

To make the cocktail, mix the lime juice and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Blend the frozen watermelon, lime juice and rum in a blender until smooth.  Add the mint leaves and blend briefly until chopped. 

Serve in a roomy glass with a straw, garnished with a mint sprig. Cheers!

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Happy Hour at Home - Montparnasse Cocktail

This cocktail is a real find!  I'm obsessed with Calvados and love to find new ways to use it.  I learned about this cocktail from David Lebovitz's blog and Instagram, where he has been posting French cocktails.

I have a dream to go to Normandy where Calvados is made (and to Brittany where the similar Lambig apple brandy is made).  Until then I'll enjoy this cocktail.

Here's how I made it.

Montparnasse Cocktail Recipe

1.5 oz Calvados
0.75 oz elderflower liqueur
0.5 oz lemon juice
0.5 oz sparkling hard cider
Garnish:  apple slice 

Combine the Calvados, elderflower liqueur and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker with ice
Shake until well chilled
Pour into a cocktail glass and top with cider
Garnish with an apple slice

Happy Hour at Home - Pimm's Cup

Sometimes I can be resistant to buying a bottle of alcohol just for one cocktail recipe. It seems wasteful and expensive. So I resisted buying Pimm's for a while, but I'm so glad I took the plunge. 

Pimm's No.1 Cup is an unusual gin-based liqueur with herbs. It is traditionally served at British events like Wimbledon. Some Pimm's Cup recipes you see might call for lemonade, but that's British lemonade, which is more like Sprite or 7-Up.  I made my Pimm's Cup with ginger ale, which is an acceptable substitute. 

Muddling cucumber and lemon in the drink makes it even more refreshing. I've seen some recipes call for muddled strawberries as well, which seems a little overboard, but I might try it next time!  I love to garnish the drink with long strips of Persian cucumber, thinly sliced lengthwise to curl around the inside of the glass. 

You can hardly ask for a more refreshing summer cocktail than a Pimm's Cup.  Pimm's is pretty easy to find at the LCBO, and not too pricey, so I'd recommend picking some up!

Pimm's Cup Recipe

1/2-inch chunk of cucumber
1 lemon wedge
2 oz Pimm's No.1
4 oz lemon-lime soda or ginger ale
Garnish: lemon wheel, cucumber

Gently muddle the cucumber and lemon in a tall glass with a wooden spoon or cocktail muddler.
Pour in the Pimm's and soda and stir to combine.  
Garnish with cucumber and lemon.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Happy Hour at Home - Sidecar

I haven't been doing much cooking lately, so I haven't had food posts to share, but I have been making cocktails a lot more frequently so I thought I could share those.

The Sidecar is one of my very favourites.  For the longest time I didn't have cognac at home, but I splurged on a bottle to make these, as well as another favourite - Champagne cocktails. 

A Sidecar is simply cognac, orange liqueur and lemon juice.  I use Triple Sec as my orange liqueur, but you can use Cointreau or Dry Curacao if you prefer. 

Some folks add simple syrup and some like a sugared or half-sugared rim on their Sidecar, but I don't think it's necessary.  

As for Cognac, it can be pricey but it is nice to have in a well-stocked bar. Cognac is a type of brandy made from distilled white wine. It is labled VS, VSOP or XO based on hoe long it is aged (2, 4 or 10 years).  VS Cognac (the least expensive) is fine for mixed drinks, in my opinion. You can also use Armagnac which can be less expensive. 

You'll find recipes with different ratios of cognac to orange liqueur and lemon juice.  This is the mix I prefer.

Sidecar Recipe

2 oz Cognac
1 oz Triple Sec or Cointreau
3/4 oz lemon juice

Add cognac, triple sec and lemon juice to a cocktail shaker filled with ice.
Shake well until chilled.
Strain into coupe glasses and garnish with a twist of lemon.