Thirsty Thursday: Fabulous Fall Cocktails with Feedback

The holiday season is right around the corner and let's be honest, we all need a little kickstart to get in the mood to attend those family gatherings.  And that also means you'll more than likely be hosting a party, or attending a party, so you'll need to be up to speed on some lovely libations that are holiday appropriate.  Enter today's blog...

I scoured the web to find some pretty sassy sounding cocktails from some of the trendiest sites around, and we took the liberty to taste-test each of them and share our feedback with you.  I mean, if SOMEBODY has to do it, I guess we will!!

We made and tested 7 cocktails.  All of the liquor was found at the trusty ol' exit 101, Arka Valley Liquor in Blackwell.  The non-alcoholic ingredients were picked up at the local grocery store.  You can make a lot of these cocktails by having just a few of the same ingredients on-hand (rum, whiskey, apple cider, ginger beer & wine), and if your a gal that likes to indulge in a beverage every now and then, I highly recommending making sure you grab yourself some caramel vodka (this one is my fave) - it just warms up any drink nicely (hot chocolate, apple cider, coffee) - it's the yoga-pants of my beverage closet every fall & winter because it goes with everything and makes you feel cozy!!

The panel of judges for this Thirsty-Thursday were the lucky souls that were scheduled to work today (he he - I'm quite possibly the worst influence ever).

Let me introduce you to our highly trained panel of judges (Left to Right):
Ginger (fab florals isn't her only mad skill), Lea (she doesn't drink at all, so she's the DD), Lesleigh (that's me and let's just call me a novice, for giggles), Milissia (she's our resident bar tender, so yeah, she's qualified), then there's Trish (if you know Trish  you know this is just a regular day).

The Stone Wall

This updated version of a Stone Wall mixes rum, ginger beer and apple cider for refreshing cocktail.  I found this recipe several times, but the one we made came from Food & Wine.

 photos courtesy of my iPhone 6 Plus (no it's not too big, it's perfection)  hashtag no filter ;)

photos courtesy of my iPhone 6 Plus (no it's not too big, it's perfection) 
hashtag no filter ;)

Ingredients: 

One 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced.
1 1/2 teaspoons simple syrup - we made our own using 1:1 water/sugar ratio
1 1/2 ounces aged rum - we used The Kraken Black Aged Rum
1 1/2 ounces apple cider
Ice
1 1/2 ounces chilled ginger beer
1 lime wedge
1 slice of apple

In a cocktail shaker, muddle the ginger with the simple syrup.  Add the rum and cider; fill the shaker with ice and shake well.  Strain into an ice-filled rocks glass and top with the ginger beer.  Garnish with the lime wedge and apple slice.  

Here's Our Thoughts on Beverage #1:  We say it's just OK.

Ginger - "Yum, tastes like baked apples you get at a restaurant"
Milissia - "Reminds me of something my grandmother would serve" (not sure if that's a good thing or not but that's what she said, so form your own opinion)
Lea - "It smells like apples" (lol, Lea doesn't drink so we made her give her olfactory opinion of each drink.
Lesleigh - "It's good, but tastes a little watered down, add a bit more ginger beer and it'd be on point."
Trish - "Tastes like apple pie, but it would be better served warm, but I'll have another please."

Apple, Pumpkin Beer Cocktail

When I heard the name of this cocktail, I knew we had to try it.  Apples, Pumpkins and Beer?  Nothing good could come of that combination right?  Well, my team agreed - nothing good!  But, maybe if you love lemony sour and pumpkin flavor, you'll love this one.  This recipe was found on here.

Ingredients:
8 ounces bourbon - we used Bulleit Bourbon (a decent quality bourbon)
9 ounces apple cider
2 1/2 ounces lemon juice
12 ounces pumpkin ale - we used Schlafly Pumpkin Ale
Ice
cinnamon sticks and/or cranberries for garnish (apparently our grocery hasn't broken out the cinnamon sticks yet, so we garnished sans cinnamon)

In a cocktail shaker, shake together the bourbon, apple cider and lemon juice.  
Pour into 4 glasses filled with ice.  Pour the beer evenly into each glass on top of the bourbon mixture.  Garnish with cinnamon sticks and/or cranberries.

Here's our thoughts:  WE say STEER CLEAR from the Apple Pumpkin Beer!!!

Ginger - The look on Ginger's face said plenty.  Suffice to say, she wasn't a fan.
Milissia - "I can't do it.  I don't like pumpkins, it's gross." (hands hers to Trish)
Lea - "It smells like something got soured - yuk" (passes her off to Trish)
Lesleigh - "A very BOLD lemony taste.  Sour with hints of pumpkin.  Not my fave for sure." (hands my remaining sample to Trish)
Trish - "Tasted like watered down liquor.  I'd drink it." (as she slams everyone's sample and asks for another round)

Cranberry and Cinnamon Whiskey Sour

If you love the tried and true whiskey sour, you'll love this holiday twist on it.  The only thing we weren't too crazy about was the prep-time to make it.  It was a little timely and we're a little impatient.  But, in the end it was worth the wait.   This was found here and yes, it's pretty delish!

Ingredients:
2 cups fresh cranberries
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
3/4 cups whiskey - we used Crown Royal
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup lime juice
Ice cubes

In a medium sized pan, add cranberries, water, sugar and cinnamon sticks.  Heat over a medium heat and bring to a boil.  Reduce to simmer, and cook stirring occasionally until the cranberries have burst open and can easily be stirred into the syrup resulting in a smooth consistency.  (this will take about 10 minutes)
Once done, remove syrup from heat.  Fit a large bowl with a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth and strain the simple syrup leaving all of the large chunks and cranberry skin behind.  Let cool for at least 10 minutes before using (we were impatient so we didn't let it cool, and that was fine).

When ready to make your cocktail, add 3/4 cup simple syrup, whiskey, lemon juice, orange juice, lime juice and a large scoop of ice into a cocktail shaker.  Shake vigorously for 30 seconds.  Divide into 4 glasses and serve.

Here's what we thought:  YES YES YES - we want more of this one!!

Ginger - "Oh this is really good.  Tastes like cranberry lemonade." (sorry Trish Gingy drank it all)
Milissia - "I give this 2 thumbs up" (again, Trish misses out on her sample too)
Lea - "I smell cranberries" (hands hers to Trish, because again, she doesn't drink)
Lesleigh - "Oooh, this is delightful and refreshing" (ok, I find a regular sized cup and fill it up - it's yummy)
Trish - "This is delicious!  Is there more in the shaker thingy?"  (as she drinks Lea's sample and empties the remaining into a mason jar and asks the bar tender to make another round)

Pumpkin Spice White Russian

Oh the white russian!  It's a great go-to drink for a party, a bar visit or a pretty dessert drink.  This one also has a holiday twist that makes it taste just like pumpkin pie!  It's quite delish.  This one would be perfect for a Christmas dinner party.  They can easily be made to look very time consuming by just adding some whipped topping and syrup garnish.  (And here's that fashionable caramel vodka I told you about making an appearance!)  

Ingredients:
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 ounce heavy cream
2 ounces vodka (we used Pinnacle salted caramel vodka for a warmer taste)
1 ounce coffee liqueur (we used Kahlua)
Whipped cream
Chocolate syrup (optional, but we say its a must)

Shake together pumpkin pie spice and heavy cream to combine.  Fill a rocks glass with ice and pour in the vodka, coffee liqueur and heavy cream mixture.  Top with whipped cream and drizzle with chocolate syrup.  Drink immediately.

And the jury said...  YUMMY - we'll have another slice!!

Ginger - "Tastes like pumpkin pie in a glass.  I LOVE this.  It's my fave for sure!"
Milissia - "Ugh it has pumpkin in it.  I don't do pumpkin" (hands her sample to Trish)
Lea - "This smells like pumpkin pie" (hands her sample to Trish)
Lesleigh - "This tastes like college to me" (aren't white russians what you order when you have no clue what you're supposed to order at a bar and your 20, I mean 21? - ok well at least that's what I did, so it tastes like college, don't judge.)
Trish - "I'll get to this one in a second, let me finish my whiskey sours."

Cinnamon Toast

EVERYONE has had this drink before.  I was kind of surprised to see it listed several times on fancy blogs.  It's the easiest drink by far to make, because it consists of 2 ingredients.  It's a great flask drink for those firepit nights or football games (NFL games ya'll, NFL games).

Ingredients:
1 1/4 ounce Spice Rum - we used Sailor Jerry, because, well, the label is cute.
6 ounces hot apple cider
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Add hot apple cider and rum to a glass rimmed with sugar and cinnamon.  Ok, seriously the easiest drink instructions ever - right?!  
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Our thoughts on this cocktail were:  Duh, it's just spiced cider!

Ginger - "This is not my fave.  Tastes like hot spiced cider."
Milissia - "This is a warm version of hot ass" (I just write what they say y'all)
Lea - (we gave up on Lea and her smell comments by this drink - they all smelled like alcohol to her)
Lesleigh - "Tastes like warm hard cider, needs a bit more sweetener and it would be way better. "
Trish - "This is a version warm of the cider apple.  It's great, refill me"

Caramel Apple Martini

This is the perfect fall drink IMO.  It's a martini so naturally it's going to make you feel a little bit fancy, and the caramel rim gives it a fun fall vibe.  We used a thinly sliced apple to garnish it and let me just tell you, these will be a party favorite!  It's basically a caramel apple fancified and all grown up!!

Ingredients:
2 ounces apple cider
2 ounces caramel vodka - we used Smirnoff Kissed Caramel
1 ounce butterscotch schnapps
Sliced apples, caramel and/or cinnamon sugar for garnish

Rim your glass with caramel or cinnamon sugar.  
Combine the apple cider, caramel vodka and butterscotch schnapps in a cocktail shaker filled with ice.  Shake vigorously.  Pour mixture into martini glass and garnish with apple slice.

Our take on the Martini: Hands Down - It's a keeper!

Ginger - "Love this!  Tastes like a caramel apple sticky bun" (Sorry Trish - ginger liked it)
Milissia - "Ok this is my favorite for sure.  Tastes juste like a caramel apple." (Milissia has another)
Lea - "It smells like butterscotch"  - (Hands hers to Trish)
Lesleigh - "Tastes like the fair" (it's basically a caramel apple in a glass)
Trish - "Thith ith like a butterscotch party in my glath, where's that whiskey sour?" (runs into a wall, falls down, get's up, finishes Lea's sample)

Apple Cider Sangria

Our lips taste like Sangria after drinking this and we're OK with it!  This white wine based sangria is an easy way to make a yummy beverage by the pitcher and keep in your fridge.  It's also a great idea to display in a cute glass self-serve drink container.  It will make a great centerpiece to any beverage station and the ingredients are super simple.  
Ok, great, now we have that song stuck in our heads - thanks a lot Blake Shelton!!

Ingredients:
1 granny smith apple sliced
1 red delicious apple sliced
1 golden delicious apple sliced
1 lemon sliced
1 orange sliced
2 cups apple cider
2 bottles ginger beer
1 bottle white wine (pinot grigio is our suggestion)
TIP:  We added the cranberry/sugar mixture from the whiskey sour recipe to this and gave it a really good, sweeter flavor!  

Fill large pitcher with sliced apples, lemons, and oranges.  Add apple cider, ginger beer, and white wine.  Stir mixture then pour into serving glasses.

Here's the skinny on the sangria:  Our lips taste like sangria - yum!

Ginger - "Not a fan of sangria normally, but I like it with the addition of cranberries"
Milissia - "Oh I like it! "
Lea - "I smell wine - yuk, here Trish have mine"  
Lesleigh - "Refreshing and crisp."
Trish - "Wine, did somebody thay wine shhhhhhhhhh be quiet.  Do you hear turkeys?  Where's the music coming from.  Everybody do the stanky leg, stank stank" (passes out on the floor)

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We're Donesky with the Drinks.  For now anyway :)

Let's just say that after 7 drinks we were done!  We peeled Trish off the floor and threw her in a cab (don't worry, she'll sleep it off). 

We hope you enjoyed reading this blog as much as we did drinking it!
Adios, until tomorrow, when I talk a little bit about my favorite weddings we've ever done (and SPOILER ALERT,  you'll be seeing pics from weddings not released yet).

-xoxo-

Lesleigh

Sassfab Signature Cocktails: DIY Cocktail Stirrers

Today begins a new little series on this blog that I'm extra excited about. It's called Sassfab Signature Cocktails, and it's gonna be a good one. (If you didn't know, #sassfab is the official hashtag of The Barn, and everything we do is #sassfab.) Every month or so, I'm going to share recipes for signature cocktails that you can use at your own wedding or your next cocktail party. They'll be sorted by season or by color. My first signature cocktail post will be all about fall drinks (sangria, pumpkin pie martinis, spiked apple cider, oh my!). 

Dang, I sure wish my job was fun or something.........
;) ;) ;) 

Anyway, before I share any cocktail recipes with you, I want to show you some super easy DIY ways to add a little more pretty to your drinks. Here are a few ways to add some sassfab to your cocktails.

What I Used: 
Tissue paper, paper straws, bamboo skewers, scrap ribbon, a glue pen (and a hot glue gun), gold glitter ribbon, lace ribbon, paper bunting, wooden arrows, burlap scrap (which ended up being a failure, so you'll notice that I didn't actually use it), book paper strips, scissors

I purchased some of the materials I used at a craft store, and some of the materials were scrap pieces that I already had on hand (like the blue ribbon and the book page strips). There are SO many possible items to make these with. Look in the scrapbook section at your local craft store for patterned washi tape, little wood pieces (like the cute arrows I bought), tiny paper bunting, and other miniature embellishments that are just so cute. Also, if you're like me and have a box full of craft scraps, dig through that, too. You're sure to find something useful and cute!

Ribbon (or washi tape) flag. I wanted gold glitter washi tape so I could write on it, but I couldn't find any, so I settled for ribbon. I simply cut my ribbon twice as long as I wanted it, folded it in half and glued it around my straws using my hot glue gun. When the glue was dry, I cut out a triangle to give it a flag shape. This one might be my favorite! Imagine how cute it would be with personalized washi tape... You could write your name, your wedding date, or a cute phrase!

Wood arrows. This was probably the easiest! I found these in the scrapbooking section of my local craft store, with about 100 other cute wooden embellishments. These arrows are going to be making an appearance at a styled shoot at The Barn in the very near future. ;) Anyway, for these, I put a small dot of glue on the back of the arrow. I glued one onto a straw, and one onto a bamboo skewer. By the way, I left my bamboo skewers long, but you could cut a few inches off (or just buy shorter ones) if you want them shorter or if you'll be using a shorter glass. 

Tissue paper fringe. For these, I cut two sizes of tissue paper (a longer rectangle piece for the gold and two smaller pieces for the mint and light pink). I cut thin strips, from one edge to about a centimeter away from the other edge (be sure you don't cut all the way across!). I put a thin line of hot glue, stuck my bamboo skewers on, then rolled the tissue paper around the skewer a little to make sure they were secure. These are my other favorites! I especially love the mint and pink ones in the same glass. So cute!

Paper bunting. I also found this tiny paper bunting in the scrapbooking section. I actually cut these pieces off a long ribbon of this cute stuff, and I'm excited to find a way to use the rest of it! It's so adorable, and I love that you can leave it white or color it to match your wedding colors. It's cardboard, so it'd be easy to customize! For this one, I cut a few pieces of the bunting off (but I left them on the string that connects them), and put a thin line of glue on the outside edge of the two outer pieces. Then I just stuck the bamboo skewers on. So simple, right?!

Ribbon fringeI found this small piece of blue ribbon in my crafting scraps. The edges were frayed, but it made the perfect shabby chic cocktail stirrer! I made these just like the tissue paper fringe stirrers. I cut each strip a little uneven to make it more rustic and shabby. I love this one!

Lace and vintage book paper strips. For the one on the left, I folded my book paper strips in half and glued them around my skewer using hot glue. I thought it was sorta boring, so I tied on a little piece of lace ribbon. For the straw, I just glued on a piece of lace. These would be perfect for a vintage inspired wedding!

See how easy those are?! I just love how they turned out. I can't wait to make some more for my next dinner party. They're really quick, simple and easy, but they add such flair to a plain ol' drink! Which one is your favorite?

Have a safe Halloween, and a super fun weekend! I'll see ya right here on Monday.

xoxo,
Kelsi
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DIY Floral Monogram for Under $20

Happy Friday, Barn Blog readers! Today I've got a special treat for you. As I mentioned in my introduction post last week, I absolutely love do-it-yourself projects and all things crafty. I also happen to love weddings (duh!), so every other week, I'm going to show you how to make a simple craft for your own wedding -- or your engagement pictures, or just your home, if you're not yet engaged or already married. 

Today I'm going to show you how to make the cutest floral monogram for under $20. And it's not a tiny one. You can actually make a HUGE floral monogram for dirt cheap! 

I always loooove those floral monograms I see on Pinterest, but the ones for sale online will cost you an arm AND a stinkin' leg. And well, obviously one with real flowers would be super expensive, too. So, I decided to make my own, and it turned out to be cheaper and easier than I expected! 

Here's what you'll need to make your own floral monogram:
A large piece of cardboard (like those flip boards you did your 6th grade science fair presentation on... $2.50 at the dollar store)
Lots and lots of flowers ($1 per bunch at the dollar store... I spent $16 total)
Ribbon
Scissors or box cutter
Hot glue gun and glue stick
Tape measure or ruler
Pencil

1. Choose a color palette and pick out your flowers. I chose several shades of pink, cream, white and a few pops of yellow. You will need A LOT of flowers. I had to go back to the store half-way through this project, because I only bought half of what I needed! 

2. Decide how big you want your letter (or number, symbol, etc.) to be. Mine is about two and a half feet tall and a foot and a half wide. Using your tape measure or ruler, trace out your letter. You can add as much or as little flair as you want. I wanted mine to be pretty simple and modern, but a cursive letter would be so cute!

3. Very carefully, cut out your letter using scissors or a box cutter. But seriously, be careful! You'll notice that my letter didn't have perfectly straight edges, but this is totally okay. When all of your flowers are glued on, you won't notice one bit!

4. Pull all of the flowers off of their stems. It's easy!

5. See that little green stem left on the back of the flowers? Cut that off. But don't cut it too short, or else the entire back of the flower will come off. If that does happen though, don't worry! Just use your hot glue gun to glue it back together. Easy as pie. 

6. Decide where you want each flower to go, and lay them out on your letter. This is the part where your cat will jump up on the table, pretend like he's frolicking through a field of flowers, and mess the whole thing up. You'll have to start over, but you won't be mad, because he sure is cute. (Shout out to you, Willie Nelson! Say hey to Nelson, y'all!) 

7. Glue your flowers one-by-one onto your letter. Apparently I was so excited about this project that I forgot to take a picture of this step. Be sure to save some of your smaller flowers for last, because if you realize later that you have a few empty spaces, you'll want those small ones to fill them in.

8. When all of your flowers are glued on, cut your ribbon in half and glue each piece to the back of your letter. Tie a cute bow at the top, and hang that baby up!

Don't y'all think one of these would be beautiful above The Barn's doors? Or maybe the bride and groom's first initial on each door? And it'd the perfect keepsake from your wedding. You could hang it above your bed or on your front door after the wedding was over!

If there's a wedding detail you want me to do a DIY tutorial on, let me know! It'd be right up my alley. :)

Y'all have a lovely weekend, and I'll see you here on Monday with some wedding inspiration!

xoxo,
Kelsi