Fall is finally really right around the corner — only a tiny baby week away. It’s so close I can taste it. But that taste ins’t a pumpkin spice latte (I’ve never even had a sip of one if you can believe it), it’s an Apple Brandy Old Fashioned. This drink is fall as fuck and it makes me want to put on booties and a scarf (and some other clothes in between, of course, like a plaid shirt and skinny jeans) and get someone to take a picture of me holding a thermos while wearing those ridiculous gloves with the fingertips cut off as I look longingly at a pile of fallen leaves. Or some shit. I don’t know. Isn’t that what white, Midwestern Instagram moms are supposed to do in the fall?
Anyway, back to the drink. It’s an Old Fashioned, but it’s not made with whiskey — a shocking turn of events for me, I know.
The Old Fashioned as we know it today is really just an old-fashioned way to make a cocktail. Back in the day, a “cocktail” was simply a mix of spirits, sugar, water, and bitters. These days, it’s widely accepted that the base spirit is whiskey, but you certainly don’t have to use whiskey. It’s fun to mix it up from time to time, and apple brandy is really great for a fairly traditional Old Fashioned preparation.
But wait! Do you even have apple brandy? Do you even know apple brandy? If you don’t, you should. Yes, I know it sounds like something that would be too sweet and really fucking gross (probably because I spent ages 16 through 22 drinking nothing but that bright green Sour Apple Pucker straight from the bottle) but it’s neither of those things. It’s basically barrel-aged apple wine, and you should be able to find it at most liquor stores.
In addition to the apple brandy, this festive fall tipple calls for Angostura aromatic bitters, along with a few dashes of orange bitters (made by Angostura and a few other brands), and a sugar cube or simple syrup. I really prefer the cube to the simple syrup, even if a sugar cube doused in bitters sort of looks like a disease before you muddle it.
I’ve tried making this drink with straight apple brandy, and then half apple brandy-half bourbon (in fact, it was right about the time I took this picture with the fucking bottle of bourbon in it — oops!) and I think it’s better with one base spirit. So we’re sticking with the apple brandy here, folks. Don’t mind the bourbon. Look away from the bourbon.
Apple Brandy Old Fashioned
1 sugar cube (or ¼ ounce simple syrup)
4 dashes Angostura Bitters
2 dashes orange bitters
2 ounces apple brandy
Orange twist, for garnish
If you’re using the sugar cube, add it to the glass along with the bitters, then muddle them together until the sugar cube is dissolved. Otherwise, add the simple syrup and bitters to the glass and stir. Add a large ice cube or a few small ones, then pour the apple brandy over the ice. Using a bar spoon (or just a regular fucking spoon because who other than me and a bunch of people who wear vests to their bartending jobs keeps a bar spoon around the house?), garnish with the orange twist, and enjoy.
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As I mentioned earlier this summer, I found myself without studio mates and instead of getting new ones, decided to make up the lost income by offering workshops in my big, beautiful space. Now shit’s changed and I’ve crossed over to the dark side of gainful employment and may have to give up this studio, but the event isn’t going anywhere anytime soon (well, it may literally go to another physical location in the new year, but it’s not going away-away). Luckily, Kansas City is full of badass, inspiring women, and for the third Creativity + Cocktails event, I’m thrilled to have my friend Bev Weidner of Bev Cooks (and now The freaking Food Network!) as the featured speaker.
Bev is pretty much the best. The first time I wrote her after I started all this festive shit, I thought she’d put me in her spam folder or call the police. Instead she invited me into her home and let me get her drunk (I mean, I think she got drunk… I did) while the entire Internet watched. AND she taught me how to use Instagram stories (you’re welcome?). So as you can imagine, I’m excited to get Bev, and myself, and you a little drunk at the next Creativity + Cocktails event on Wednesday, October 4.
After a moderated Q&A with Bev, we’ll chat about our own projects, brainstorm, and support each other in our creative and business endeavors. It will be part learning, part networking, part big-idea workshop, part cocktail party, and all sorts of women lifting up and inspiring other women.
Now, please keep in mind that I use the terms “creative” and “professional” very loosely. Don’t be scared off by them! If you make something, or want to make something, or make money at making something, or are trying to make money at making something, or have an idea of how you might like to make money making something someday, that all counts! Whether you’re looking for a little inspiration, have an idea that could use some feedback, or just want to spend an evening mingling and having a few drinks with some fabulous local females (sorry, dudes), this event series is for you! And it’s for me. As I’ve mentioned many times, I’m great at ideas and making pretty shit, but terrible at business things and money. (And after a few drinks I might even tell you about all the arguments my husband and I get into over money and how bad I am at it. And I want ALL THE ADVICE on having a full-time job and a toddler and a husband and two dogs and maintaining a fucking fun side hustle and maybe also not letting my house turn into a disgusting den of filth.)
Anyway, there are only 20 tickets available (and the first two both sold out in about one day) so get yours now and I’ll see you at my studio on October 4!
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Some of my favorite Instagram bitches have been posting pictures of beautiful fresh figs all week, and while I have yet to spot any here in the Midwest, I was inspired to make this fig jam cocktail. I know it sounds fucking weird — a cocktail made with jam — and maybe it is. But what can I say? I like weird shit.
Anyway, it’s really not that weird. While it’s on the verge of being one of those fancy-ass cocktails you get for $14 at a schmancy bar, it’s simple, and truly easy to make. In addition to the fig jam, it gets bourbon, tonic, and a squeeze of lemon. That’s it! It’s so good, and so easy, and it’s the perfect drink for this late-summer, almost-fall, still-too-many-mosquitoes time of year. The best part is it’s not too sweet. The tonic cuts the sugars in the jam, while the fig really cuts the harshness of tonic. (Is harsh how you’d describe tonic? That makes it sound like I hate it, even though I don’t at all.)
Now, you might be thinking, “How the hell do I put jam — something that’s not a liquid — into a cocktail?” Well, you shake the shit out of it, that’s how. I mean, a little jam may get stuck in your strainer at the end, but that’s okay; it just makes for a smoother drink. Of course it will still have fig seeds in it, and if you don’t like the idea of that you could double strain it… or just move onto another fucking drink because maybe you don’t even really like figs at all so why are you even here?
Fig Bourbon Tonic
2 ounces bourbon
1 heaping teaspoon fig jam
Lemon wedge, for garnish
Add the bourbon and fig jam to a cocktail shaker (or wide-mouth mason jar) with a handful of ice. Shake the shit out of it (really) then, using a Hawthorne strainer, strain it into an old-fashioned or stemless wine glass. Add a handful of ice, top it off with the tonic, give it a squeeze of lemon, and enjoy.
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Last week, I decided I needed to mix things up for my regular Friday cocktail, and invited my Instagram followers to challenge and inspire me with random ingredients. And it turns out most of you are weird as fuck (like, you think I’m really gonna make a “ketchup, ice cream, and duck gravy” cocktail?). But the idea that stuck with me the most was actually the first (AND TOTALLY REASONABLE) one, posted by food writer Rachel Tepper Paley. Her suggestion? Chinese five spice, ginger, and black tea — which resulted in this wonderful Chinese five spice cocktail, The Hot Commodity.
Chinese five spice is a ground mixture of Cinnamon (or cassia), clove, fennel, star anise, and Szechuan peppercorns, and right away, I knew I wanted to use it on the rim — which might be considered cheating if it weren’t my own damn challenge. The tea and ginger were easy; I mixed double-strength black tea (eight ounces of English Breakfast tea brewed with two bags instead of one), and some Barrow’s Intense ginger liqueur with a little bourbon, lemon juice, and bitters. I also added a drop of clove essential oil to really enhance the five spice, and make the drink a little more exciting.
Looking at Rachel’s list, you might think I took the easy road. And you know what? It’s my blog and I do what I want. But I also picked the one that was the most intriguing to me, and the one that sounded like something I’d actually order at a bar. So, suck it! Though I think you’d rather suck on this drink instead. It’s sort of a cold, Asian-inspired take on a hot toddy. If you like sightly spicy drinks, I think you’re going to like it.
The Hot Commodity
2 ounces double-strength black tea, cooled
2 ounces Barrow’s Intense ginger liqueur
1 ounce bourbon
1 squeeze fresh lemon juice
1 drop clove oil
1 hearty dash Angostura bitters
FOR THE GARNISH
Chinese five spice (at least 1 teaspoon)
Granulated white sugar (at least 1 teaspoon)
Combine equal parts Chinese five spice and granulated white sugar on a small plate. Using a prepared lemon wedge, moisten the rim of a coupe or cocktail glass, then gently roll the rim in the spice mixture. Set aside (but hold onto that lemon wedge for the next step). Add the tea, ginger liqueur, bourbon, lemon juice (squeezed from that wedge!), clove oil, and bitters to a cocktail shaker or widemouth mason jar with a handful of ice. Shake well then strain into the prepared glass. Garnish with a cinnamon stick — or not — and enjoy!
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Holy shit, you guys. It’s almost September, which means it’s almost fall, which means summer is finally almost fucking over. Have I mentioned how much I hate summertime? Because I hate it so, so much. So. Fucking. Much. To celebrate the end of this shitty, swampy season — and just because it’s a thing I do every month — here’s your printable September 2017 calendar, available now as a free digital download. Can you believe I was able to stop scratching my mosquito bites long enough to put it together?
Anyway, even though I have a new shitty printer, I’m keeping it black and white, just like last month. But if you’re into coloring, you can color it in yourself with colored pencils or fine-point markers or whatever. So it’s like therapy. Therapy that will keep you organized. And it’s fucking free. FREE!
The only catch is that you need to “buy” the digital file from my store. But you don’t have to pay any money or give any credit card info or anything like that. Still, sorry. I promise I won’t sell your email address, or stalk you (unless you’re really cool), and you can even give me a fake phone number and mailing address if you want. Of course, if you do that you’re going to be sorry when I turn into Oprah and start sending everyone free bottles of whiskey and fancy lipstick mirrors. I just need to track downloads, and maybe someday I’ll even send a newsletter. (Do people even still open those?) Also, I think if you create an account it makes it really easy to download it next time.
In exchange for this free item from my shop, the only thing I ask (other than giving me every detail about your damn life) is that you follow me on Instagram. It’s about to get fall AF up in there. Like, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and also the official holiday of Festive AF. So just you wait. Here’s the link one more time in case you missed it, and now you may carry on with downloading your very own printable September 2017 calendar.
And, really, don’t forget to follow me on Instagram. (We’re on the honor system here. Don’t be a dick.)