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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These Are a Few of My Favorite Things: A Negroni with Vinho Verde

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negroni recipe with wineIf you’re into booze, there’s a good chance your social feeds have been filled with images of Negronis for the past few days. That’s because it’s Negroni Week! And if you’re anything like me a few years ago, you’re all, “Cool, Negroni Week. But, wait. What the hell is Negroni Week?” Founded by Imbibe Magazine and Campari (one of the ingredients in the drink) in 2013, Negroni Week is a celebration of a classic, three-ingredient cocktail, as well as an effort to raise money for charitable causes around the world. For seven days, participating bars mix up variations on the Negroni, the a portion of the proceeds goes to charity.

The Negroni in its simplest form is quite easy: one part gin, one part sweet vermouth, and one part Campari. And that simplicity is why people love making riffs on it. Obviously, The Boozy Bungalow is not a bar, and I’m not selling drinks (I’d probably go to jail for that), but I mixed up my own variation this year (just like I did last year) and I doubt anyone who’s been following me for a while is even the slightest bit surprised that I put vinho verde in my Negroni.

vinho verdeNow, you may be thinking: Wine in a Negroni?! That’s gonna get me drunk! And you’d be right. This is not a session cocktail. It is, however, strong and summery and easy to make, so if you like Negronis and vinho verde, you should give it a try. I’ve given you a recipe below, but the even simpler breakdown is one part Negroni to one part vinho verde. Get it!

Negroni Verde

INGREDIENTS

1 ounce gin
1 ounce Campari
1 ounce sweet vermouth
3 ounces vinho verde
Orange slice, for garnish

DIRECTIONS

Add all ingredients to a large wine glass or collins glass, and stir well. Add large ice cube or handful of ice, garnish with an orange slice, and enjoy!

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A Pineapple-Free Tiki Drink

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easy tiki drink recipeI’ve been in the mood to make tiki drinks lately. The cups are fun, the garnishes are fun, and I really need to up my rum consumption (I’ve been getting way too comfortable with whiskey and the truth is I’m a total rum dummy). But when I think of tiki drinks, I think pineapple juice. And that’s a problem because when I eat pineapple or have a drink with pineapple juice, the skin inside of my mouth literally burns off! It’s super weird and uncomfortable (though not entirely uncommon) and my theory is that my more extreme reaction probably has something to do with me being super pale and not able to to tolerate anything even remotely tropical; I also have a weird mango allergy, and while I realize it’s the source of all life on earth, the sun can go suck a dick. Anyway, I wasn’t going to let some stupid fruit hold me back from tiki time on a random Thursday afternoon at home alone, so I made a super easy tiki drink with no pineapple.

This pineapple-free drink still has all the tiki vibes, thanks to three kinds of fresh-squeezed citrus juice, fancy-ass rum, and some bitters you might already have on your home bar: Campari and Angostura Aromatic. And while my pineapple intolerance kept me from buying and wasting a whole fruit, it certainly did not stop me from plucking a single frond off of a grocery store pineapple and sliding it into my purse — hence the name the Furious Frond Burglar (the “furious” part is due to the fact that tiki mugs always look really fucking pissed, even though mine is just a pretty little piece of pottery).

easy tiki drink recipe

The Furious Frond Burglar

INGREDIENTS

2 ounces rum (I used Diplomático)
2 ounces fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice
2 ounces fresh-squeezed orange juice
1 ounce fresh-squeezed lime juice
¾ ounce simple syrup
½ ounce Campari
1 generous dash Angostura Aromatic bitters

DIRECTIONS

Add all the ingredients to a cocktail shaker or wide-mouth mason jar with a handful of ice. Shake the shit out of it and strain into a tiki mug filled ⅓ of the way with crushed ice. Garnish with an orange wheel and pineapple frond (if you dare). Enjoy!

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