Bloody Mary Basics

live seasoned crab bloody mary-1It’s summer vacation! At least for the Schu family, it is. We’re all gathered here on Saxis Island, Virginia for a few good beach weeks. Besides a good book on the screen porch, we start our morning with a big bloody mary. A couple years back we featured a rosemary vodka & herb bloody mary, but if that sounds like too much work (though it’s not!) we have a few bloody mary basics to elevate your morning booze game.

The best bloody marys are flavorful, cold, and topped with an amazing garnish. Over the years, I’ve mostly stopped making bloody mary mix from scratch. Instead, I spend my time jazzing up the pre-made mix, my favorite is Zing Zang, and prepping garnishes to really elevate the flavors. Start by stashing your bloody mary mix in the fridge overnight. When morning comes, brew a pot of coffee and then get to work.

Mix up the following spices then rim each glass by running a lemon or lime along the edge before dipping it into the spice mixture.

  • 1 tablespoon of celery salt
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons Old Bay
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

Add 6-8oz of bloody mary mix and a shot (or two) of vodka to each glass. Then add a dash or a shake of the following, leaving out whatever doesn’t suit you. Give each glass a good stir and add a few ice cubes.

  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Clam juice
  • Pickle juice
  • Hot sauce (I use whatever is on hand, but Tapito is a great choice)
  • Horseradish
  • Ground pepper
  • Cayenne
  • Old Bay
  • Celery salt

Now it’s garnish time and really, here’s your opportunity to play it low-key, pile it on, or experiment with something over the top. Here are a few garnish suggestions, but don’t feel pressured to do it all, coming up with your own unique combo is the way to go.

  • Celery stick
  • Pickle
  • Bacon
  • Pickled okra, green beans or some other veggie
  • Olives
  • Mozzarella balls
  • Fried soft shell crab

Whaddaya say? Bloody marys with brunch this weekend? Stir one up for us too, we’ll be hanging out on the porch!

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Apple Sidecar

Apples are our ingredient of the season. So far we’ve done some baking and some drinking.

I don’t know about where you live, but here in Boulder we’ve had a string of chilly fall-like days with views of fresh snow on the mountains. What’s better on a chilly Thursday than a cocktail that warms you up from the inside out?! If you haven’t had a sidecar yet, get ready to sit back, enjoy it in front of the fire, and plan on doing nothing for the rest of the night.

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Sidecars are traditionally made with cognac, triple sec, and lemon juice. Today we’re substituting an apple-infused brandy for the cognac. Funny thing  – cognac and brandy are the same thing, but to be called a Cognac it must come from a specific region in France. In the past I’ve used Jacques Cardin’s Apple Flavored Cognac. Today we’re making it with Santa Fe Spirits Apple Brandy because we wanted to try something new, and it’s produced closer to home with apples grown in New Mexico!
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Ingredients

  • 2 parts cognac or brandy
  • 1 part triple sec
  • 1 part fresh lemon juice
  • ice
  • optional – simple syrup

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The How-to

  • Fill a cocktail shaker with ice
  • Add all of the ingredients and shake
  • Pour into the glass of your choosing, traditionally a cocktail glass would be used. I prefer a rocks glass… but then I thought that this would be perfect for drinking around a campfire, so why not use an enamel camping mug?!
  • Garnish with a bit of apple & enjoy!

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Extra Tips

  • As I mentioned, this can be a strong drink. You can do a number of things to weaken the drink. Start by using some simple syrup – either adding 1 part to the mix above, substituting it for the triple sec, or using equal parts of your choosing. You can also serve the drink over ice to add even more water as you drink.
  • I enjoyed sampling the sidecar with the Santa Fe brandy, but remember the Jacques Cardin cognac to be slightly smoother (although it’ll still knock your socks off).

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Sarah’s Appletini

Apples are our ingredient of the season. Check out Kate’s german apple cake right here.

I’m a fairly new martini drinker, but I can see these appletinis showing up on a regular basis around here.  They are full of fresh juice (& alcohol!) and they taste like Autumn!! Really, these apple martinis are fall flavored.  This recipe makes enough for two martinis so grab a pal or drink both. If your plan is the latter then have a great afternoon at home 😉

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Ginger Cuke Cocktail

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Happy Tuesday! I know it’s a bit early in the week for a cocktail recipe, but I promise this Ginger Cuke Cocktail is mild, well in alcohol, not in flavor.  You can drink a few of these and still have the energy to cook dinner or work on whatever project you have going on at the moment.  I’m in the middle of a macrame wall hanging that I started months (!!) ago and kind of just walked away from.  These Ginger Cuke Cocktails are the encouragement I need to plow ahead!  The spicy ginger beer (a nonalcoholic ginger ale, but oh so different from standard american ginger ale) is absolutely essential to this drink.  If you make it with regular ginger ale you will be sorely disappointed and I’ll feel really bad about it so PLEASE use ginger beer. You’ll want to make me one in gratitude after you finish your first, second, third drink.  You can find the best and cheapest ginger beer in Jamaica, but if you’re in the states like me then head to your grocery store and look in the international aisle or where mixers are sold like tonic and seltzer water.  Ginger beer is really yummy on its own too if you like a soda once in awhile.  It’s not spicy, not sugary, which is why I’m a big fan.  Enough about ginger beer (the essential ingredient!) on to the story of why I created this cocktail.

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A couple weeks ago, I had a birthday – whoop whoop! I talked about my celebration here, but in short, I had a couple delicious mule variations at Venable.  I couldn’t stop thinking about those spicy sage, yet fresh and limey drinks so I decided to mix one up! It took some tweaking, but I came up with the refreshing afternoon, afterdinner, afterdessert drink that I was craving.

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Ingredients:

  • .5-1.5 oz vodka (depending on preference)
  • 1 oz fresh cucumber juice
  • 2.5 oz spicy ginger beer
  • 2 tsp fresh lime juice
  • 4 sage leaves

Recipe:

  • Wash, peel and juice one cucumber.  If you don’t have a juicer, simply blend the cucumber and strain out the juice through a mesh colander.
  • Add the vodka, cucumber juice, freshly squeezed lime juice, 2 sage leaves and a few ice cubes to a shaker.
  • Shake forcefully for about ten seconds to break up some of the cubes, crush the sage leaves and mix the juices together.
  • Fill you glass half full with ice cubes and pour the mixture in.  Top it off with ginger beer and garnish with a few sage leaves.
  • Enjoy and refill as necessary 😉

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I hope these photos have you running out the door for ginger beer! Let me know how much you love this ginger cuke coctail @liveseasoned . XO

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Watermelon Mojito!

Mint is our ingredient of the season. We’re cutting mint every day for our afternoon agua fresca and evening drinks, adding some to salads, and even taking it into the shower!

 

Remember when I promised a use for Tuesday’s leftover watermelon mint salad? Hands up if you guessed mojitos! Today’s drink couldn’t be easier to make (or drink), especially if you have your watermelon cut up into nice little cubes.

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Ingredients for One

  • ~ 10 mint leaves
  • 1 Tbsp white sugar
  • 1/4 lime
  • 1/2 cup cubed watermelon mint salad
  • 1 1/2 ounces rum
  • ice
  • seltzer water

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Instructions

  • Place the sugar and mint leaves in the bottom of your glass and muddle them, bruising the mint leaves.
  • Squeeze the lime wedge into your glass and include the rind.
  • Add the cubed watermelon. Muddle the ingredients again, making sure to fully smash the watermelon (you could also puree the watermelon in a blender).
  • Fill your glass about 2/3 full with ice. Add the rum and water.
  • Give your glass a good stir and enjoy!

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Extras

  • I reduced the sugar in this mojito because our watermelon was so sweet. Feel free to up it to 1.5 or 2 tablespoons.
  • If you want to get fancy, garnish with a watermelon wedge. ooh la la
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Simple (syrup) Twist on the Classic Mint Mojito

Hey Seasoned sippers!  With mint as our ingredient of the season, you’re likely to see a lot of mojito recipes on the blog this summer.  Today I’m going to put a simple twist on the classic mint mojito recipe.  A mint simple syrup twist to be exact.

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Mint Simple Syrup Ingredients:

  • 1 cup roughly chopped mint (give or take)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar

Mint Simple Syrup Instructions:

  • Place the roughly chopped mint leaves in a heat-safe bowl or jar.
  • Combine the water and sugar in a small sauce pot over medium-high heat.
  • Stir to dissolve the sugar and bring to a boil.
  • Once the mixture is boiling and all the sugar has dissolved, remove from heat.
  • Pour the sugar mixture over the mint leaves and cover the bowl with a plate or lid of some kind to allow the mixture to steep.
  • Uncover the simple syrup after a thirty minutes and strain out the mint leaves with a mesh strainer or cheese cloth.

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Mojito Ingredients:

  •  10 mint leaves
  • 1/2 lime
  • 2 tbsp mint simple syrup
  • 1-1.5 oz white rum
  • 1 cup ice (crushed if possible)
  • 1/2 cup club soda

 Mojito Instructions:

  • Roughly chop eight mint leaves and add them to the cocktail shaker along with half of the ice.
  • Cut the lime in half.  Cut one slice and then cut the remaining half into 4 wedges.  Squeeze the juice from the wedges into the cocktail shaker.  Drop the juiced wedges in as well.
  • Add two tablespoons of mint simple syrup to the shaker (add more if desired) along with 1-1.5 ounces of white rum.
  • Put the lid on tight and shake, shake, shake.
  • Empty the contents of the shaker into your tumbler, add more ice if desired and top it off with club soda. Garnish with a slice of lime and a few mint leaves.
  • Sit back, relax and sip.

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As you can see, I like to drink my cocktails while browsing through a book or two.  First I pulled out this classic Old Mr Boston Bartender Guide to compare mojito recipes, but alas there was no mojito recipe to be found.  I quickly became bored of browsing cocktail recipes (shame on me, I know) so I decided to flip through Two Eagles.  It’s a large photo book that looks at the natural history of the United States and Mexico borderlands.  It is over 200 pages filled with fantastic photos and interesting text so you may want to mix up another mojito!

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Rhubarb Mojito!

In the spring rosemary was our ingredient of this season, this summer it’s mint. Today we’re kicking things off with a drink that is perfect for the spring to summer transition.

Let’s just get this out of the way. I love (lovity love love) mojitos, but I’m a purest and only ever order or make the traditional mojito. I envisioned kicking off our summer of mint with a basic mojito, but then I saw some fresh rhubarb at the farmer’s market. Knowing that rhubarb season ends soon,  what could we do but start the season with a deliciously pink Rhubarb Mojito?

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Rosemary *Sage* Fizz

Rosemary is our ingredient of the season (season of the season?). This is our second rosemary drink. We’ve already discussed infusing vodka with the herb, and today we’re using it to infuse simple syrup for a gin-based drink.

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You may recognize the photo above from Alex’s striped birthday recap. As I mentioned before, we were catering to the adults this year. Being the proud Pennsylvanians that we are, family gatherings always involve a case of Yuengling, but we often like to include a fun* alternative or two. With the little guy underfoot, I’m trying to be more smart in my planning. An alternate drink is awesome, but one that doesn’t have to be made glass-by-glass is even better. So, when I saw this recipe on A Cup of Jo, I couldn’t wait to try my first group-sized cocktail!

The original recipe called for gin, but I used my favorite substitute ~ Art in the Age’s Sage, which they describe as being a “garden gin” made from plants collected, grown, and chronicled from the Lewis and Clark expedition.

Ingredients & Such

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice & lemon slices
  • 1 cup Art in the Age Sage
  • 1 bottle of Prosecco
  • Make the simple syrup. Mix together the sugar, water, and a few sprigs of rosemary. Bring to a boil until the sugar dissolves, then remove from the heat and let cool.
  • Mix the cool simple syrup together with the remaining ingredients.
  • Serve with a garnish of rosemary and/or lemon slices!

I loved this drink! It was delicious, and the combination of lemon and rosemary gave it a fresh and somewhat light flavor that I think would make this perfect for any sort of spring or summer event, particularly one outside on the green, green grass.  That said, I loved it so much that I’ll probably find an excuse to make it year round. Come back in December and I’ll be telling you that with its rosemary garnish, it’s the perfect drink for your Christmas party (especially if you add some frozen cranberries to the punch bowl!). 

The drink was strong, but as Joanna recommends, you can add a second bottle of Prosecco to lighten it a touch.  I kept it to one bottle, because our gathering was small, and as it was we still had some left over, and I would say that that is the only downside of the big-batch cocktail. On the other hand, I put the extra in the fridge, and happily sipped on it for the rest of the week. The Prosecco’s bubbles faded, but it still tasted delicious. 

*While the party was in full swing, I referred to this drink as being fun. Our sister, Kristin, then told me that she’s noticed (and it drives her crazy), that as women age they start to use fun as an adjective more often than they should (Isn’t that shirt fun? Look at this fun rabbit hole we’re going down. Should I go on?). Does this drive you crazy too? Or did you see this post and think, “my word, what a fun drink!”? Apparently we aren’t the only ones caught up in this debatable use of the word!

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Refreshing Lemon Vodka Waters

I’m not one for getting drunk, but I definitely enjoy my fair share of cocktails.  Right now I’m loving this simple and refreshing lemon vodka water.  If you like lemon water, you’ll like this.  It’s unbelievable how the lemon masks the taste of vodka so well.  It’s easy enough to whip up a whole pitcher, so go ahead and try it next time your friends are over.  If you’re really in the entertaining spirit, slice up a lemon, put it in a muffin tin, top with water and freeze for cute ice cubes like shown below.

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Rosemary Vodka & Herb Bloody Marys

As you would expect, we love to eat seasonally, varying our ingredients and menus to take advantage of whatever is fresh at the moment. We thought it would be fun to place extra emphasis on one flavor or ingredient each season, highlighting the variety of ways you can use it in your food and home. To kick things off, this season’s ingredient is rosemary!

Today we wanted to share an amazingly simple way to turn your average bloody mary into something extraordinary: rosemary vodka!

Making the vodka is so easy, and when paired with our bloody mary recipe below, you’ll be the star of your next brunch (honestly, the bloody mary will be the star, you’ll be drunk).  We’ve dressed up the bloody mary with some fresh herbs and cheese stuffed olives, nothing too crazy, but just fun enough to make these bloody marys memorable.

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First the vodka  ~ I’m going to provide basic instructions, but fom my experience, the process is flexible and can be adjusted based upon how strongly flavored you want your vodka to be.

 

Vodka Ingredients

  • 4 cups vodka
  • 4-5 sprigs fresh rosemary (more or less to adjust flavor)

Place the rosemary and vodka in a clean jar to steep. After a few days, give your vodka a taste. You should be able to taste a hint (or more) of the rosemary flavor. I wanted an intense flavor (and I may have forgotten about this project for a moment), so I let my rosemary steep for over a week. After that amount of time, the rosemary flavor was perfectly present in my bloody mary, but not overwhelming.

Whenever you are happy with the rosemary flavor of your vodka, remove the rosemary sprigs. Be prepared for your vodka to turn a greenish-brown color as the rosemary’s tannins are released ~ while slightly unnerving, the color change really makes it seem like you’ve made a potion!

Now, you could take your vodka and make a basic bloody mary, but why not dress it up a bit? The recipe below simplifies things by using bloody mary mix, but then we splurge on the goat cheese-stuffed olives and the fragrance from the additional fresh herbs.

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Bloody Mary Ingredients

(makes 1)
  • 2 oz vodka
  • 4-5 oz bloody mary mix
  • 1 tsp horseradish
  • 2 dashes worchestershire sauce
  • lime wedge
  • celery stalk
  • goat cheese
  • green olives (I purchased olives without the pimentos)
  • fresh herbs, particularly dill and cilantro

Stuff your olives with the goat cheese. I used a knife to push the goat cheese into the open end of the olive. It wasn’t pretty, but it was relatively easy.

In a glass filled with ice, add the vodka, bloody mary mix, worchestershire, and horseradish. Stir it well. Arrange the celery stalk and herb sprigs in the glass. Add the lime wedge and skewered olives to the glass’s edge.

Enjoy!

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Have you tried your hand at infused vodkas? Have any favorite flavors?

What about your bloody mary, what are your favorite garnishes?

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