I’ve followed Maggie Hoffman’s writing (and editing!) about drinks for years. Somewhat recently, we connected on Instagram, and after months of seeing her upcoming book, The One Bottle Cocktail, teased online, the publisher sent me an early copy (probably thanks to my incessant commenting about wanting to get my hands on one).
This book is such a fucking brilliant idea: Fresh, flavorful cocktails made with just one kind of booze. I already think it’s super weird when there’s more than one type of rum or whiskey in a drink, but beyond that, I think that sometimes us “drinks people” make cocktails more for other drinks people (and, of course, for ourselves) than we do for those of you who might not have a fully-stocked home bar. Mine is ridiculous with its 20-something brands of whiskey, every flavor of liqueur you can imagine, probably 17 types of bitters, and weird shit I’m not even confident I can pronounce. I try to make my drinks accessible to the average person, but I like to get creative with all those bottles I’ve collected, so sometimes I go a little overboard. As my sister said about one of my creations, “It reminds me of something I drank back when I could afford fancy drinks.” I was totally flattered until she pointed out to me that most people aren’t going to go out and buy a $45 bottle of liqueur for one recipe — even if it does taste like you bottled the feeling of putting on booties and a cute cardigan for the first time all season.
Anyway, in addition to being brilliant, The One Bottle Cocktail is so gorgeous it almost makes me want to do another cookbook project. (Oh. Did you not know I wrote a cookbook before cookbooks were this cool and beautiful, and before I could take pretty pictures? And now it’s a super-bargain book on Amazon, LOLOLZ. I was also the ghostwriter for a self-help book about how to get a ring on it real quick, LOLOLOLOLOLZ). Except writing a book is a lot of fucking work and I don’t even have time to do my dishes or my roots, so that’s not going to happen any time soon. Instead, I’ll just gaze lovingly at this one some more.
This is really a perfect book (or gift) for someone with a more minimalist (read: normal) home bar, but that’s not to say the recipes are super simple or quick fixes or anything like that. In fact, most require a little work (usually in the form of a homemade flavored syrup) or a surprising ingredient (greek yogurt, mango chutney, even Honey Nut Cheerios). And that’s kind of the point — and the subtitle: “More than 80 recipes with fresh ingredients and a single spirit.” With those unique touches, you get the flavor and feel of a fancy bar cocktail without spending $90 on bottles that are just going to collect dust on a shelf for the next 10 years. The reason it works so well is that the recipes actually are fancy bar cocktails from bartenders all over the country.
For the drink I made yesterday, Police and Thieves from Frank Cisneros, the homemade ingredient was a cinnamon syrup (which made my house smell like fucking Christmas) and three kinds of fresh-squeezed juice: lime, grapefruit, and pineapple. I never would have paired all three of those citrus fruits with cinnamon, and then definitely not with gin, but it just worked so damn well.
Here’s what Maggie has to say about it:
“Frank Cisneros says this is probably the most popular cocktail he’s ever made; it was on the menu at Gin Palace in New York’s East Village for years. Upon first taste, you’ll see why it was such a crowd-pleaser. It’s a sunny, warming drink, thanks to pineapple’s heady tropical flavor and a spicy cinnamon simple syrup, all perked up with grapefruit, lime, and piney gin.”
For the pineapple juice, Maggie suggests muddling fresh pineapple through a fine-mesh strainer. I did that but I used canned pineapple instead (my knife skills are less than stellar and I avoid cutting into big, hard things as much as possible because I want to keep all of my fingers). Other than that, I stuck to the recipe exactly, though my cinnamon sticks were a little squatty, so I used six instead of five. Oh, and I used stemless coupe glasses because I like to be difficult. It also didn’t call for a garnish, but I adorn my shit, okay?
I’m going to assume you want this book, and since I want you to buy it, too, here’s the Amazon link. But I’d rather you buy it from an independent bookstore, like this one, where I used to work! (And no, neither of those are affiliate links, I’m bad at business, you know that.) It’s available on March 6, but you can pre-order now. In the meantime, here’s a little something to wet your whistle.
Police and Thieves
2 ounces gin
½ ounce cinnamon syrup
½ ounce fresh pineapple juice
½ ounce fresh lime juice
¼ ounce fresh grapefruit juice
Combine gin, cinnamon syrup, pineapple juice, lime juice, and grapefruit juice in a cocktail shaker [or a wide-mouth mason jar!] and fill with ice. Shake until well chilled, about 12 seconds. Double-strain into a chilled coupe glass.
To make the cinnamon syrup, combine 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar in a small saucepan and warm over medium heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Break up five [or six!] cinnamon sticks and add to the syrup, then increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let sit, covered, for 1 to 2 hours. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer set over a resealable container. Refrigerate for up to 1 week.
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My husband and I don’t really do Valentine’s Day. I mean, he’ll make dinner and we’ll drink wine, but that happens a few nights a week already, anyway. He got me flowers once, but they gave me a horrible headache and I had to throw them out after two days and I felt really bad about it.
As it’s intended, Valentine’s Day just feels kind of gross. I mean, if you feel the need to go all out on a holiday that exists just so you’ll buy overpriced prix-fixe dinners and clichéd roses, you may very well be a shitty partner the rest of the year. Still, even my jaded ass has to admit Valentine’s Day can be fun! You can make cards! (I’ve been making sticker Valentines with my two-year-old for weeks.) And eat candy! And if it gives you an excuse to get crafty, or tell your besties how much you fucking love them, then it can’t be all that bad, right? Right! So if you’re planning to get together with your best gal pals, you’re gonna need to make this Galentine’s Pink Drink — that doesn’t actually taste like a shitty pink drink because it’s made with whiskey, grapefruit, and bitters.
Of course, if you’re planing a bangin’ night in with your bae on February 14, let’s pretend for a minute that supposed culinary aphrodisiacs like ginger actually do something and that the two applications of ginger in here — both ginger beer and ginger liqueur (I used Barrow’s Intense) — will get you in the mood.
Galentine’s Pink Drink
2 ounces whiskey
1 ounce ruby red grapefruit juice
½ ounce ginger liqueur
6 dashes Angostura Bitters
Add the whiskey, grapefruit juice, ginger liqueur, and bitters to a double rocks, Collins or stemless wine glass. Stir and add a handful of ice. Top it off with cold ginger beer, stir, 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 love.
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Welp, January is almost over and I still have shit on my to-do list from November, so I can’t say this year is off the most productive start. But a new month always makes me feel like I get a little reboot, even if it also has me freaking the fuck out because summer will be here before you know it and then Halloween and then Thanksgiving and then Christmas and where the hell has this year gone?! Or is that just me? Maybe you just have a bunch of romantic dates and spa treatments you need to keep track of this month. Well la-de-da. No, really; I’m happy for you. In fact, I’m trying to help with whatever you need to schedule. That’s why I’m so selflessly and lovingly gifting you a free printable February 2018 calendar.
This month’s calendar design features funky little hearts and I’m trying to get better about putting more holidays on there, being that I’m festive as fuck and all. I’ve got Valentine’s Day (DUH), Mardi Gras, and President’s Day. But where does one draw the line with holidays? I decided against the religious stuff (though I know Lent is no small thing to many people), but did note the date that Missouri celebrates Rosa Parks Day since I live in Missouri. So there’s that.
As always, the calendar is free and as you may or may not know by now, the only catch is that you need to “buy” the file from my store before you can download and print it. You don’t have to pay any money or give any credit card info or anything like that. Nope, you just have to bee boo bop some information into some little boxes. But I promise I won’t sell your email address, or stalk you (maybe just creep your IG a little) and I think if you create an account it makes it really easy to download it next time — as well as go back and re-download your previous purchases. Some people plug fake information into those boxes, and while it is slightly annoying, as long as you, say, follow me on Instagram in return, I don’t really give a fuck. But if you pretend to be email@example.com, when I finally get my shit together enough to get a newsletter, that’s too bad for you because I’m probably gonna be handing out gifts like Oprah by then.
Of course, if you really feel you must pay for something, now is the absolute most perfect time to get an “I fucking love you” greeting card, since I just restocked them for Valentine’s Day.
And, really, don’t forget to follow me on Instagram. Honor system. Don’t be a dick.
I’m one of those assholes who responds to an email seven months later with, “SO sorry for the late reply!” And this post is my blog version of that email. Sometime last fall, Tom’s Town, a new-ish Kansas City distillery with an old soul, gave me a bottle of their McElroy’s Corruption Gin to play around with. While I may still “play,” I was excited to finally bust it out this week for my all-time favorite martini. It’s something I used to make with regularity, but everything in the fall and winter was so fucking festive, I haven’t had much of an opportunity to make a damn good drink just for the sake of making a damn good drink. But when I want a damn good drink that’s not whiskey, I always turn to a Gibson martini on the rocks.
Traditionally, a Gibson is made with gin and dry vermouth, and is stirred, not shaken. In fact, the only thing that really differentiates a Gibson from the original is that it’s garnished with a cocktail onion instead of a lemon twist. It’s also usually served in a coupe or cocktail glass. I do love coupes, but stemmed martini glasses are the Devil’s spawn and I really like drinks that go “clink!” So, I take this Gibson martini on the rocks — rather, one big rock. And because I give zero fucks about rules, it also gets a few aggressive dashes of orange bitters. To really throw you off, it calls for equal parts gin and vermouth, and I usually end up eating about nine to 13 onions per drink consumed.
While I call this “my” all-time favorite martini recipe, it’s not really my recipe. My friend Beau Williams of Julep Cocktail Club introduced me to this method for making a gin martini, and I haven’t looked back since. In fact, I probably (no, I know) I annoy bartenders when I’m like, “I’ll have a Gibson, but on the rocks, half gin, half vermouth, lots of orange bitters, and all the cocktail onions.”
If you didn’t already know, vermouth-soaked cocktail onions are God’s greatest gift to drinks and I am to cocktail onions what Ron Swanson is to protein. Just give me all the cocktail onions you have. Wait. I’m worried what you just heard was give me a lot of cocktail onions. What I said was, ‘Give me all the cocktail onions you have.’ Half the time, bars don’t even have them and then I’m forced to yell a stream of obscenities while overturning tables (joking; that’s when I order a whiskey soda).
Hell, I know I’ve even annoyed bartenders at Beau’s bar with my order. But whatever, I’m a woman who knows what I want.
50/50 Gibson Martini
½ ounces gin
½ ounces dry vermouth
3 to 4 dashes orange bitters
3 to 75 cocktail onions
Add the gin, vermouth, and bitters to an old-fashioned glass. Stir well, add one large ice cube (or a small handful of ice), stir a little more, then garnish with as many fucking vermouth-soaked cocktail onions as you can fit on a pick. Enjoy.
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I have a confession to make. It’s not even anything bad or shameful. In fact, it’s not embarrassing in the least (not for me, anyway). It’s just shitty. Except I hate saying it out loud (er, on blog?) because that means it’s true and the truth is sad. Guys, I’m lactose intolerant. I realized it at some point in my early 20s — and who knows? Maybe that’s when my body decided it had no place for dairy. Anyway, it’s a real fucking bummer because I love soft cheeses and creamy French sauces and the ice cream flavors nobody else ever wants, like vanilla and pistachio and black charcoal when I’m feeling kinda weird. Of course, sometimes I just eat (or drink) whatever the fuck I want and deal with the consequences later (but not too much later). Other times, I remember that I can use alternative milks, which sometimes work out just as well, if not better than, the original. Case in point: This Bourbon Coconut Milk Punch.
Bourbon Milk Punch is a whole thing in New Orleans, and like most classic, beloved cocktails, everyone seems to have their own way to make it. The variations I’ve seen involve different ratios of milk to bourbon, a little rum here or there, and sugar versus simple syrup. My way — swapping canned coconut milk for cow’s milk and also adding a little cinnamon — is probably blasphemous, but you know what? Sometimes blasphemy is better than shitting your brains out.
This drink is perfectly creamy, but it won’t upset your stomach. It’s also not too sweet, and I’m not even afraid to make it ahead and keep it in the fridge for a minute. Just be sure to use straight coconut milk, the kind from the can. And before you start mixing the drink, the milk in the can needs to be fully mixed. That’s because unless it’s been stored in a warm place, it separates with the fat rising to the top. So be sure to shake or stir it really well (but probably both) to ensure it’s smooth and creamy before you start putting together your Bourbon Coconut Milk Punch.
Bourbon Coconut Milk Punch
2 ounces bourbon
3 ounces full-fat coconut milk (from the can, yo!)
1 tablespoon simple syrup
1 teaspoon good vanilla extract
Hefty pinch ground cinnamon
Dainty pinch freshly-grated nutmeg
Add all of the ingredients to a cocktail shaker or wide-mouth mason jar with a handful of ice. Shake the shit out of it, then strain into whatever pretty little cocktail glass your dear heart desires.
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