Hey, moms. I’m not a big fan of resolutions, but I’m going to throw one out there for the rest of you. Let’s cool it with the whole “Mommy needs wine” thing this year, okay?
Now, don’t worry; I’m not the Fun Police and I sure as shit don’t want to take away your booze or “mommyjuice” or “mommywine” or whatever you call it. I love wine as much as the next guy — perhaps even more. My Instagram handle is @theboozybungalow, you’re reading my cocktail blog by the same name, and as I write this my son is tucked safely into his robot sheets dreaming about Dinotrux while I’m on my second glass (er, jelly jar) of my favorite $9-a-bottle vinho verde.
All of that is to assure you that I am firmly in the PRO camp when it comes to moms drinking wine (here, let me pour you a glass; you’re gonna love this stuff). But here’s the thing: I really wish you’d stop citing motherhood as the reason you do it.
Unless you’re churning out a bunch of kids because your religion tells you to, or you’re someone’s handmaid (and I bet neither of those groups is bragging about their chardonnay consumption on social media) for most of us, having kids is a choice, and a privilege — not something that should require numbing by way of a cheap bottle of fermented grape juice.
I mean, of course, yes — motherhood is stressful as fuck. That most of us do it willingly doesn’t negate the fact that it’s challenging, exhausting, and at times, downright terrifying. But if you’re constantly using alcohol to cope with those things, that’s kind of a problem. And even if you want to ignore that problem, it’s still really uncool to publicly and repeatedly blame your habit on your kids.
You don’t need motherhood as an excuse to imbibe, and it shouldn’t be your reason, either. Have a glass because you’re celebrating, or just because you’re a grownup and it’s Tuesday you fucking want to.
Own that shit.
By joking that “mommy needs wine,” because “#momlife amirite?!,” you’re basically showing your kids (and, really, everyone else) that you need alcohol just to deal — more specifically, to deal with your life of privilege that’s populated by the people you’re supposed to love more than anyone else in the world. And while I’m definitely not up for Mom of the Year — and I definitely am guilty of using alcohol to “unwind” on occasion — I don’t think “introducing alcohol as a coping mechanism” is anyone’s idea of #momgoals.
If things are really so bad you feel you need wine, talk to your doctor, because you probably do need something, and it’s probably not wine. But if you’re enjoying a glass or three in a social setting or even to unwind, just own up to the fact that you’re an adult woman drinking a goddamn glass of wine. Even if your kids totally stressed you out earlier in the day, do you really want to associate your kids with your drinking? (No. No, you do not.)
Not only are you modeling unhealthy drinking habits with your “mommyjuice” memes and cheesy coasters, you could very well be emotionally screwing up your children (more than the average parent otherwise does, I mean), even if your kids are still really young.
Seriously though: Have you ever tried to have a conversation with a toddler? Because they take everything super literally. Recently, my husband was talking about “throwing dogs on the grill,” and my three-year-old son panicked and wailed, “No, Dada! Don’t cook our dogs!”
So if “Mommy needs wine” is a running joke in your house, try to imagine for a minute what your kids are going to say about you to their therapist in 20 years. And if you think you and your friends, or family, or whoever you make these jokes with will magically stop making them once your kid starts to comprehend it even a little… well, good luck with that.
If you like wine (and don’t have a drinking problem) go, enjoy your wine! Enjoy your children, too. Maybe don’t make a habit of doing both at the same time? And at the very least, don’t blame your kids every time you raise your glass.
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There comes a time in every woman’s life when she must admit that her favorite childhood Christmas cocktail (yeah, yeah — I said it) is just too damn sweet. For me, that moment came when Natalie Migliarini of Beautiful Booze told me she was interested in making my Nuts & Berries recipe for her own blog.
Naturally, I was thrilled. But then I panicked. Yes, it’s a dessert cocktail — one that I only ever bust out a few times around the holidays. But it’s SO sweet. Is that what I want Natalie’s fans to think of my drinks? No. The answer is no. No fucking way. Want to know the real me? Dump a bunch of bitters in a glass of rye and I’m one happy camper. But Natalie’s whole thing is beautiful drinks (like, it’s her full-time job!), and it really is a pretty drink. This was the picture I posted of it last year that caught her attention:
Instead of tossing out the whole idea, or trying to come up with something new (because who the hell has time for that??), I decided to just improve upon the original recipe. My family has always made the Nuts & Berries cocktail with Baileys Irish Cream, Frangelico hazelnut liqueur, and Chambord raspberry liqueur. Last year, I tried it with the Buffalo Trace cream liqueur, which is delicious, but even sweeter than Baileys if you can believe it. This year, I decided to add a bitter component, and I’m so glad I did.
After trying a few different options in various shades of red and brown, the clear winner (which was my first idea) was amaro. Of course, I got the idea because I had a new bottle of J. Rieger Co’s Caffè Amaro looking all pretty (and of course, already half empty) on my bar.
Now, I must admit, this is not your typical amaro because it’s made with coffee (it’s basically a bitter coffee liqueur) and I knew the flavors would work wonderfully with the whiskey cream, hazelnut, and raspberry notes in the other ingredients. Don’t worry if you haven’t hopped on the Caffé Amaro train yet, though; Montenegro and other amaros have the same balancing effect on the drink, though I do like to add a little dash of Angostura bitters if I go that route. I even tested a few versions with different amaros and probably gave myself diabetes just to be sure you could make this at home. You’re welcome. That said, if you can get your hands on a bottle of the J. Rieger Co. Caffè Amaro, DO IT. You won’t be sorry. (I also really like it with whiskey on the rocks for a nice after-dinner drink.)
So you’re probably wondering: Is this drink still super sweet? Yes! It’s a dessert drink. It’s supposed to be! Like I said last year, it’s sweet, but not in a nasty way, and creamy, but also not in a nasty way. Oh, and it’s five [and a half!] ounces of straight-up liqueurs.
NUTS & BERRIES 2.0
2 ounces Baileys Irish Cream
2 ounces Frangelico hazelnut liqueur
1 ounce Chambord raspberry liqueur
½ ounce J. Rieger Co. Caffé Amaro*
*Or other amaro + optional dash of Angostura bitters
Add the ingredients to a cocktail shaker or mason jar with a handful of ice. Shake well, and strain into a chilled glass, on or off the rocks, depending on your preference (I prefer a coupe — it fancy!).
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Did you know I’m a super famous J. Crew model? I’m kidding! OF COURSE (seriously, though, did I have you fooled for half a second at least?) But, for real, I am hosting a Boozy Bungalow Happy Hour at The Plaza J. Crew this Saturday, December 1, from 4 to 6 pm. And if you’re in Kansas City, you should totally come. Not just because they’re going to be serving my Vanilla Old Fashioned:
But also because these high-waisted Curvy Toothpick Jeans are PERFECTION. And you’re going to want to try them on since I can almost guarantee you’re going to need a smaller size than you think you do. I’m not going to say they’re vanity sized, but the size I’m wearing starts with a “2” instead of a “3.”
Oh, and I’ll be there sporting this super-soft cashmere sweater (and fun earrings you’re supposed to see in my picture but you don’t because I’m actually a terrible model).
Plus, we’ll be giving away one of these adorable Old Fashioned t-shirts! So you better show up if you want a chance to win!
Obviously, she is a much better model than I am. I need to work on my sexy open-mouth pose.
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I know I say this every year (okay, this is only the second year of this blog, or even the first if you don’t count the previous incarnation) but how is it almost Thanksgiving already?! I’m not complaining, except Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday (save for the genocide and oppression and all), and in my fantasy life, I get to spend the entire month of November making spiced syrups and hand turkeys while wearing $300 off-white chunky sweaters and taking pictures of my tan ankle booties among a pile of brightly-colored leaves (for Instagram, duh).
Alas, my life is not that cozy or hygge or aspirational or whatever. Most days, I’m working too much and lint-rolling dog hair off my cleanest gray sweatshirt while simultaneously smothering my face in Vaseline so my skin doesn’t dry up and fall off. And I’m pretty sure my yard is an actual mud pit. But you know what? I haven’t completely given up on life, not even my fantasy one, and I somehow managed to make not one, but TWO spiced syrups this week. The first was a chai cider syrup for my wreath event at Boulevard, and the second was a spiced pomegranate syrup.
To be honest, a spiced pomegranate syrup wouldn’t be the first thing I’d think to make for a cocktail, since whiskey, citrus, and ginger are my default ingredients. But when Mean Mule Distilling Co. reached out asking if I wanted to partner on a Thanksgiving cocktail, I knew I wanted to do something different. Mean Mule is a Silver American Agave Spirit made in my hometown of Kansas City, MO, and while it’s similar in taste to a really great tequila, it’s not tequila because it’s not produced in Mexico. But hey, it’s not trying to be tequila. Just like I’m not trying to be an Instagram girl in a chunky white sweater (seriously, I’d spill something on it within 20 minutes of leaving the house).
Anyway, this stuff is good. Really good (you can even drink it neat without making that horrible guttural hissing sound one makes when booze stings). Mean Mule imports 100% blue agave from a farm in Mexico that sustainably grows and processes their own plants, then it’s distilled in a handmade still here in Kansas City. I’m probably bordering on cocktail nerd shit here, but all you really need to know is that this stuff is quality. And just based on the email exchanges I’ve had with the dudes that make it, I’m gonna say it’s made with love. (How’s that for some Instagram girl #goodvibesonly? You’re welcome. Happy Thanksgiving. Hashtag blessed.)
So back to the drink: I very rarely see drinks with an agave spirit base that don’t feature citrus, but I wanted to go a different direction for Thanksgiving. And because I genuinely like the taste of it on its own (even just a lil’ nip at room temperature — of which I’ve had more than a few, FOR RESEARCH) I love that the cinnamon, anise, and clove in the spiced pomegranate syrup really enhance the warm flavor of the Mean Mule — as opposed to masking it.
The syrup itself is really easy to make — and will make your house smell AH-mazing for hours — but it does take a while, so plan to include it in your Thanksgiving prep. Even though I de-seeded a pomegranate for this photo (TOTAL LIES! I made Kyle do it) you don’t actually have to. But pomegranates are really good, and they’re in season right now, so you should. You know, while you’re waiting three hours for your spiced pomegranate syrup/edible air freshener to simmer.
Spiced Pomegranate Syrup
Don’t use some old-ass cinnamon sticks you found in the back of your pantry. Hell, you shouldn’t use any old-ass spices, ever, but especially for this syrup. If you don’t get a strong kick of cinnamon when you take a whiff, get some new ones.Yield: 3.5-ish cups
48 ounces pomegranate juice
8 cinnamon sticks
4 star anise
1 tablespoon whole cloves
¾ cup agave syrup
Add the pomegranate juice to a medium pot over high heat. When it reaches a boil, reduce the heat to low and add the cinnamon sticks, star anise, and cloves. Let it simmer until it reduces by half (about 90 minutes). Add the agave syrup, stir well, and let it simmer for another 30 minutes. Turn off the heat an let it cool for about an hour before straining. Store it in a jar or airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks.
1.5 ounces Mean Mule Silver American Agave Spirit
1 ounce spiced pomegranate syrup (above)
½ ounce orange liqueur
Add the ingredients to a mixing glass with a handful of ice. Stir and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with star anise and/or a fresh sprig of rosemary if you’re fancy (or nasty, because that’s more fun than fancy).
TIP: To wake up both the color and scent of the rosemary, run it under warm water for 10-15 seconds.
For a variation on this drink, give the ingredients a stir and top it off with some ice and club soda. Or just put a little bit of the syrup into a generous pour of Mean Mule on the rocks. It’s all good.
This post is in partnership with Mean Mule — which I’d totally drink even if they weren’t paying me to, because it’s really that tasty.
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Genocide and centuries of oppression aside, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. There’s no religion, no gifts I have to pretend to like, and we get to eat ALL THE FOOD. But food is way less fun without drinks to go along with it, hence my signature Thanksgiving cocktail, The Old Sage.
Of course, thanks to a certain caffeinated beverage, made wildly popular by a certain Seattle-based coffee chain, pumpkin spice is widely considered the flavor of Thanksgiving. But for those of us who appreciate the holiday for its more savory and substantial offerings, we know that sage is the true taste — and scent — of the season. And it’s the inspiration for this perfectly balanced Thanksgiving cocktail.
The Old Sage has a hint and scent of sage, thanks to a super-easy sage simple syrup that gets mixed with Old Overholt Rye Whiskey, lemon juice, and Peychaud’s Bitters.
It’s good. Like, get-Grandma-wasted-on-Thanksgiving good. I’m even going to go out on a limb and say it’s the best Thanksgiving cocktail in the world. In fact, it may be the only Thanksgiving cocktail in the world, but that’s probably not true at all.
Anyway, you can make the syrup at any point now. It will keep in the fridge and you’re going to have enough to do next week.
THE OLD SAGE
2 ounces Old Overholt Rye Whiskey
2 ounces lemon juice
1 ½ ounces sage simple syrup
3 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
Lemon slice for garnish
Sage leaf or sprig for garnish
To make the sage simple syrup, combine 1 cup white granulated sugar, 1 cup water, and ½ cup of loosely-packed fresh sage leaves in a saucepan over high heat. Mix well, and as soon as the mixture reaches a boil, remove from the heat and let it cool to room temperature. Strain out the sage leaves and store the syrup in a bottle or jar in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
To assemble the cocktail, add the Old Overholt, lemon juice, sage simple syrup, and bitters to a cocktail shaker or wide-mouth mason jar with ice. Shake the shit out of it, then strain into a double rocks glass filled with a handful of ice cubes or one large cube. Garnish with the lemon and sage, and enjoy!