This is Not a Cucumber Mezcal Margarita

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cucumber mezcal margarita Confession: This drink was inspired entirely by cute things. I saw these ridiculous-but-also-kind-of-adorable cactus-stemmed margarita glasses on one of my many thrifting adventures this week, and decided I needed to make margaritas. But then I got home and thought: Wow, I’m glad those glasses didn’t break because the woman who rang me up did a really shitty job wrapping them. Then I thought: Haven’t I made enough margaritas lately? Plus, I remembered I had this cute lil’ bottle of cucumber soda in my fridge — which, yes, I bought mostly because it was cute but also because it sounded fucking refreshing on a hot day, okay? (So refreshing it’s been in the fridge for, like, two months.) And since I decidedly wasn’t making a margarita, I mixed that shit with mezcal, and lime juice, and a little Grand Marnier. So, yeah, some people might call it a Cucumber Mezcal Margarita, and honestly I don’t have a better name for it, so we’ll go with that.

mr q cucumber sodaAnyway, in addition to being refreshing and not at all too sweet, this drink is super easy — as long as you can find the Mr. Q Cucumber soda (no juicing cukes here!). My grocery store sells it by the bottle, and you can get an entire case on Evil Amazon. The best part? I learned totally on accident while mixing the second drink that one bottle is exactly enough for two cocktails!

This is Not a Cucumber Mezcal Margarita (or Maybe It Is)

INGREDIENTS

2 ounces mezcal (I used Del Maguey Vida )
1 ounce fresh-squeezed lime juice
.5 ounce (1 tablespoon) Grand Marnier
3.5 ounces Mr. Q Cucumber soda

For the garnish:

Lime wedge
Sea salt
Cucumber slice

DIRECTIONS


Moisten the rim of a ridiculous thrifted cactus-stemmed margarita glass with a lime wedge, then gently roll the rim of the glass on a plate of sea salt and set aside.

Add the mezcal, lime juice, and Grand Marnier to a cocktail shaker with a handful of ice. Shake and strain into the salted glass. Add the cucumber soda (exactly half the bottle!), garnish with a slice of English cucumber grown in Mexico, and enjoy!

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Summer Session Coffee Cocktail

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montenegro coffee cocktail recipeI’m the first to admit that, most of the time, my drinks are gonna get you drunk. I mean, isn’t that — at least partially — the point of drinking alcohol? If we didn’t want to feel anything, we’d only chug water, and coffee, and white male tears. But we do want to feel things, it’s just that sometimes we don’t want to feel them as much, or as quickly, or as intensely. Or maybe we’re getting old and we have a toddler and we don’t have the energy to deal with a goddamn hangover the next day, okay!?

Enter session cocktails.

If you’re not familiar with a session cocktail, it’s basically a low-alcohol beverage that you can drink, and drink, and drink (and maybe even drink again) without getting turnt. Generally, the standard for a session cocktail is something made with a spirit that has an ABV (alcohol by volume) of 20% or less. This coffee and Montenegro drink is close; the ABV of Montenegro (an Italian amaro) is 25%. But I’m going to say the cold brew counteracts some of the booze, and that this drink should definitely still fall into the “session” category. In fact, I’m just gonna drop it there, call it “Summer Session,” and walk away, quickly and awkwardly.

montenegro coffee cocktail recipeIn addition to the coffee and Montenegro, this three-ingredient cocktail recipe also calls for cream soda — and that’s it (well, except for an orange slice). Because you know how much I love mixing coffee and soda in the summertime. It’s a simple drink with a simple recipe that tastes like a million fucking dollars, or at least like a $14 cocktail you’d get out at a fancy bar. It’s good for a little pick-me-up in the evening, or as a little hair of the dog when you have a hangover. It’s also super easy to make, and you can even replace “ounces” with “parts” if you want to make a big batch for a party (or a big hangover).

The Summer Session

INGREDIENTS

4 ounces cold brew coffee
2 ounces Montenegro
3 ounces cream soda
Orange

DIRECTIONS

Add the coffee and Montenegro to an Old Fashioned glass and stir. Add a handful of ice, then top with the cream soda. Give it a generous squeeze of orange, and another quick stir. Garnish and enjoy.

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Fuck Russia, Drink a Horsefeather

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horsefeather cocktail recipeThis is the Horsefeather cocktail. And it’s the reason I write about drinks. I was introduced to it nearly a decade ago when I was working on my very first cocktail story for a now-defunct in-flight magazine (but long before I was actually considered a drinks writer). Five years later, with very little booze knowledge and no photography skills to speak of, I somehow managed to land a weekly column after sharing the recipe. I mean, sure, I incorrectly identified the Horsefeather as a “classic cocktail” at the time. But I guess technically it’s a classic here in Kansas City — about as classic as the Macarena or Nokia’s candy bar phone. The best any of us local drinks people can figure out is that it originated sometime in the 90s in the nearby college town of Lawrence, KS and according to Robert Simonson, it never really caught on anywhere else. (LOLZ to the time I drunkenly shamed a surly Brooklyn bartender for not knowing this “classic cocktail.” Oops.)

It’s kind of a shame the Horsefeather hasn’t gotten more love nationally, because it’s a damn fine drink. In fact, it’s like a Moscow Mule, but better. Instead of vodka, it’s made with whiskey (I usually opt for rye, but bourbon works, too), spicy ginger beer, a dash or four of bitters, and a squeeze of lime. Think of it like the Moscow Mule’s tastier American cousin — drinking it is an act of patriotism and a middle finger to Drumpf.

Depending on your bartender, the Horsefeather can be served in an old-fashioned glass, collins glass, or a copper mug. Since the ratios aren’t super strict, anything goes, really!

The Horsefeather Cocktail

INGREDIENTS

2 to 3 ounces whiskey
Cold ginger beer
Angostura bitters
Lime wedge

DIRECTIONS

Fill an old-fashioned or collins glass, or a copper mug at least halfway with ice, then add the whiskey and top it off with ginger beer. Add a couple dashes of bitters and a squeeze of lime, then give it a quick stir. Garnish with the lime wedge and enjoy!

NOTE: When buying ginger beer, be sure to get a good one, like Gosling’s, Fentiman’s, Reed’s or Cock’n Bull, and definitely don’t try to substitute ginger ale — unless you want your drink to taste like some, sad watered-down version of patriotism.

P.S. Regarding my headline: I have no ill will toward the good people of Russia. But that Putin — he’s a real dick, huh?

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Lean Into Being an Old Lady With This Vinho Verde Wine Spritzer

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Vinho Verde and Gin Wine SpritzerHey, remember last summer, when I gave you this white wine spritzer recipe and you made it — and then drank, like, three in a row — and then you were surprised you got super drunk? I mean, what did you expect from a wine spritzer that tastes amazing and also calls for an ounce-and-a-half of gin?

If you’re new to this drink, you should know that it differs pretty significantly from what you expect old rich white ladies to drink at lunch. This is not your mama’s white wine spritzer; it will get you drunk. (Or maybe, despite my foul mouth and giant tattoos, I’m just leaning into being an old white lady, minus the rich part, and those ladies were onto something all along.) If you were one of the people sending me drunk DMs about it last July, you should know that I’ve simplified the recipe just a smidge. Really, I just took out the mint muddling step at the beginning. Mostly because it’s so damn hot here, even my mint is all shriveled and dry. Plus, nobody really likes getting soggy mint in their mouth whilst sipping on a fabulous fucking cocktail.

Vinho Verde Wine Spritzer RecipeIf you’re not familiar with vinho verde, let me tell you a little about my favorite summer (and spring, and fall, and sometimes even in the winter) wine. Vinho verde is Portuguese for “green wine,” and unlike most of the wines we’re used to, it isn’t made with any specific type of grape — just young (or “green”) grapes. While it comes in a variety of colors, my preferred vinho verde, Casal Garcia, is a white and it’s only $8 or $9 a bottle at my local grocery store (and even cheaper online). It’s bright, and a little tart, and not at all oaky or buttery. (Does that make me sound like I sound like I know wine or something? Because I don’t really know what I’m talking about and only drink the $8 shit that tastes good in my mouth.)  There’s a rosé version too, and it’s good, but this one is my ride or die vinho verde. Like, I will take it in a plastic cup on a ride (no, not when I’m driving) and will probably drink it until I die. It’s so, so, so, so, so perfect for a refreshing summer spritzer.

Boozy Vinho Verde Spritzer

INGREDIENTS

4 ounces vinho verde
1.5 ounces gin
¾ ounce simple syrup
½ ounce (or 1 tablespoon — it’s the same damn measurement!) fresh-squeezed lime juice
Club soda
Lime wheel for garnish
Fresh mint for garnish

DIRECTIONS

Add the vinho verde, gin, simple syrup, and lime juice to a large stemmed or stemless red wine glass (really, it needs to be big because of all the shit we’re putting in it). Stir well and then add a handful of ice. Top it off with the club soda, give it another quick stir, garnish with the lime wheel and fresh mint, and enjoy. Perhaps even over lunch. With your old-ass friends.

NOTE: I played with the amount of simple syrup and because I don’t really like sweet drinks, landed on ¾ ounce as the best option. If you like a slightly sweeter drink, make it a full ounce.

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Orange You Glad I Made This Cold Coffee Cocktail? Yes, Yes You Are.

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Cold Brew and Orange Soda CocktailDid you know that cold brew with orange soda is a really great base for a cocktail? Well, neither did I until I decided to try it yesterday. Honestly, I’m kind of shocked I even had the idea since I don’t drink any soda other than club soda (La Croix counts as club soda, right?) and I haven’t had an orange soda (or “pop,” as I called it before I moved to the East Coast) in at least 20 years. But it’s good. Really good. With a decent dose of rye whiskey, a little vanilla extract, and two kinds of bitters, it’s kind of like a lighter, slightly effervescent take on an Old Fashioned — with pleasant coffee notes, of course.

Now, before you get all grossed out, I’m not saying you should go add some shit like Fanta or Orange Crush to this drink. No, you need an old-fashioned soda for this odd little twist on the Old Fashioned cocktail. And since I like things that come in pretty packages, the product description straight up says, “less sweet than a typical orange soda,” and I’ve tried and liked other flavors from this brand, I went with the Boylan Cane Sugar orange soda. It adds just enough sweetness to balance the bitters and whiskey, with a bright splash of orange flavor. (Of course, if you want to try some big, super-sweet brand, maybe just play around with adding a little less? And perhaps some extra bitters? Then let me know how it tastes.)

Cold Brew and Orange Soda CocktailFor the coffee, I used Chameleon cold brew (which so many people recommended to me after I put out a call over IG stories for something widely available — thanks!). The rest, I already had on hand.

Kyle (a.k.a. Mr. Boozy Bungalow) called this “a serious drink” and suggested we serve it at our next fancy dinner party. I think you’d be just as happy drinking it in your pajamas on a Sunday afternoon. Either way, I think you should try it, even if you don’t really like orange soda or coffee.

The Cold Fashioned

INGREDIENTS

2 ounces rye whiskey
2 ounces cold brew coffee
½ teaspoon good vanilla extract
2 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
2 ounces not-too-sweet orange soda

DIRECTIONS

Add the rye, cold brew, vanilla, and both bitters to an Old Fashioned glass. Stir well, add a large ice cube or a handful of ice, then top it off with the orange soda. Give it another quick stir, garnish with an orange peel, and enjoy!

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