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.
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
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.
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
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!
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
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!)
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)
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."
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).
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?!
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!!
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!!
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)
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).