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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A Watermelon-Basil Margarita For the First Day of Summer

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watermelon basil margaritaIt’s officially the first day of summer. And there was a time in my life, not so long ago (before a kid and a full-time job), that I would have had basil and maybe even watermelon popping up in my garden right about now. These days, I instead have a raised bed full of unidentified gargantuan weeds — thanks to the very expensive and fertile soil we had trucked in a couple years ago (“blessed be the fruit”) — and a tiny dent in my bank account every time I spend $4 on a package of not-so-fragrant basil wrapped in wasteful plastic. But I’m not going to let my shameful lifestyle choices stop me from making the most summery drink I can muster (even if a midwestern summer is my personal hell), so I present to you my watermelon-basil margarita.

Honestly, I probably shouldn’t even call it a margarita since it doesn’t have orange liqueur, and I use sugar instead of agave nectar to sweeten it, but thanks to Pinterest we’ve all gotten a little loosey goosey with the term, now haven’t we? Whatever you want to call it, this drink isn’t too far of from a previous take on the watermelon margarita, but it’s a tad sweeter, and a lot more basil-y, thanks to a basil simple syrup. Last year, during my Dirty30 (my own version of Whole30 that allows for straight, carb-free liquors), I made a super fresh watermelon margarita with no added sugars. But I wanted to work more basil into it this year, and I’m not doing anything even remotely healthy in my life right now (see aforementioned shameful lifestyle choices), so I made a basil syrup, which is just a simple syrup infused with basil.

In addition to the basil syrup, you’ll also need fresh watermelon juice, which is easy to make, too. One way is to blend watermelon and strain it through a fine mesh sieve. About 2½ cups of haphazardly chopped watermelon gave me a little more than 1½ cups juice. Another option is to just smush watermelon down into a sieve to get the juice out. It all works.

Basil Simple Syrup

To make the basil simple syrup, combine 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring it to a boil then turn off the heat. Let it cool for about a minute, then add 1 cup of loosely packed basil leaves (some stems are fine, too). Let it steep for 5 to 10 minutes or until your house smells like sweet, sweet summertime. Strain using a fine mesh sieve and discard the basil, then set aside or refrigerate the syrup to cool. This will make about 1 cup and the extra will keep in a sealed jar in the fridge for at least two weeks.

watermelon basil margaritaWatermelon-Basil Margarita

INGREDIENTS

3 ounces watermelon juice
1.5 ounces tequila
1.25 ounces basil syrup
1 ounce fresh-squeezed lime juice
Pinch sea salt
Fresh basil, for garnish

DIRECTIONS

Add the watermelon juice, tequila, basil syrup, lime juice, and sea salt to a cocktail shaker or mason jar with a handful of ice. Shake well and strain into a Collins glass or tumbler filled halfway with ice. Garnish with the fresh basil and another pinch of sea salt if you’re feeling salty (which I am, all the damn time lately).

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Drink Whiskey, Save the Bees!

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sweet tea and whiskeyEarlier this month, Catskill Provisions reached out to me about concocting a drink with their NY Honey Rye Whiskey to celebrate National Pollinator Month — an initiative to save the bees. As usual, I was my very blunt self, and replied with something along the lines of, “Well, I don’t like flavored whiskey, but I do want to save the bees, so sure!”

While I waited for the bottle to arrive, I imagined masking the flavor with a super-spicy ginger beer and elderflower liqueur. The nice people at Catskill Provisions had assured me their product wasn’t like all the shitty flavored booze out there, but to be honest, I wasn’t convinced. Well, I WAS WRONG, OKAY? It’s not like all the shitty flavored booze out there, and I actually do like it. It even inspired me to go another direction with the drink. After a little sip, the taste that was left in my mouth can best be described as rye that had been poured into a cup that had sweet tea in it before (and hadn’t been rinsed out, of course). And since I love a good tea cocktail, I went with it.

sweet tea and whiskeyThe final product is somewhere in the land of Arnold Palmer and sweet tea — with whiskey, of course. And while you could get away with using just about any rye for this, Catskill Provisions donates 2% of proceeds to bee preservation causes. So that’s a thing to consider.

Oh, and just in case you were wondering, nobody paid me to write this, though I did receive a free bottle of whiskey and a jar of honey. But I get bottles in the mail all the time. Some I write about, others I don’t. Sometimes I get a bottle and I write about it three years later. Other times, I get some weird blue vodka and regift it to friends who actually like that shit.

Anyway, for this drink you’ll need to make a super-simple sweet tea syrup with honey and earl grey tea. Because have you ever tried adding honey straight into a cold cocktail? Whole lotta nope.

Sweet Tea Syrup

INGREDIENTS

2 cups water
8 earl grey tea bags
1 cup honey

DIRECTIONS

Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan. Turn off the heat and steep the tea bags for 5 to 10 minutes. Discard the tea bags and stir in the honey. Allow it to cool to room temperature, then store in an airtight jar or bottle in the refrigerator.

sweet tea and whiskey

Queen Bee Sweet Tea Cocktail

INGREDIENTS

2 ounces sweet tea syrup (recipe above)
2 ounces rye whiskey
1 ounce fresh-squeezed lemon juice
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
Lemon wheel for garnish

DIRECTIONS

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker (or wide-mouth mason jar) with a handful of ice. Shake the shit out of it and strain into an old fashioned glass with a large ice cube or fresh handful of ice. Garnish and enjoy.

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