Friday Cocktail: Spicy Jalapeño Margarita

Since I’ve been home my mom and I have tried a various spicy margaritas while we’ve been out (our favorite is at Pizza by Elizabeths), and finally decided to make our own. Not only can we make them a spicy as we want, but we can have as many as we want as we don’t have to drive home!

This recipe is super easy, and has just a few key variations from one of my earlier posts about how to make a really good classic margarita. Adding a jalapeño- infused tequila in place of a traditional reposado, give the drink the perfect amount of spice that keeps you interested as you sip. It’s a fun drink to enjoy around the end of the summer as the weather begins to cool and lingering on the porch until dark is the activity of choice.

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Using jalapeño- infused makes this drink super simple, but I’d love to try this with a home-infused tequila. Alternately, you could muddle a few slices of fresh jalapeño in with the lime and agave/simple-syrup. The nice thing about this is that it allows for even greater control of how much heat is in the drink. Generally when I make margaritas I always, always use agave as the sweetener in the drink. I think it creates a nice continuity with the tequila and melds all of the flavors really well. For this drink, however, I think simple syrup can often work better, as the flavor is more neutral and allows the jalapeño and lime to come through more strongly.

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Ingredients:

• 2 oz jalapeño-infused tequila (I like Tanteo)

• 1/4- 1/2 oz agave or simple syrup (less is more here)

• 1/2 fresh lime, or 1/2 oz fresh-squeezed lime juice

Directions:

  1. Cut the 1/2 lime into 3-4 wedges and place into the base of a cocktail shaker
  2. Cover with agave/simple syrup and muddle for a few seconds to soften the rind to release all of the essential oils
  3. Add tequila and ice
  4. Cover and shake well
  5. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with another lime wedge, or jalapeño ring

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I feel like I should really put some sort of warning with these as they are very easy to drink, but you only live once, right?

Cheers!

Controlled Chaos

I’ve been home for about a week and a half, which has flown by, but the even crazier part is that in just two weeks Cameron and I will be flying to London! We have things pretty well sorted– our visas are approved and en-route, our flights are booked, we have a letting agent to find a flat when we arrive, and have narrowed down a few options of where to stay in the meantime.

Because I have to pack all of my things for the next year into just two suitcases (and a carry-on, thank god!) it was time for a luggage upgrade– I found a great Samsonite luggage set, which I absolutely love, and have  already managed to pack all of my winter clothes (pretty successfully) into the larger one. Now all I need to do is to pack the smaller suitcase with my fall clothes and shoes. The toughest part has been deciding and sorting what to pack into my suitcase to bring to London, and what to put into boxes that will live in my mom’s basement until Cameron and I are back in the states after our grad programs are over. I don’t know how I’ve accumulated to many sweaters, but there’s no way I can take all of them with me!

You may remember from my last post that one of my best friends I was coming to visit last week. She just left on Monday, and as sad as I was to see her go, we had such a great time while she was here! Last Saturday we drove up to New Hope, Pennsylvania with my mom and godmother to go look at a preview of items for an auction, which was a lot of fun and as I got to learn a little bit more about my mom’s store and how she finds such amazing pieces. On Sunday Grace and I walked around Brandywine Park, which gave us lots of time to catch up before we had dinner with some of my extended family that night.

Now it’s back to packing and finishing all sorts of things to prep before we leave. Cameron is still visiting his dad for a few more days, which gives me a little bit more time to spend with just my mom.

In addition to all the moving tasks, I’ve created a new, dedicated Instagram account for this site, which I’m really excited about! Check it out if you get a chance, and feel free to follow!

Friday Cocktail: The Dalmatian

For this week’s cocktail I didn’t have access to quite as large of a selection of ingredients as usual, which I took as a bit of a challenge. What’s the quote again– necessity is the mother of invention? ‘Necessity’ is perhaps too strong of a word, but I think the theory remains true.

I wanted to make something easy, but with a twist, and this cocktail definitely fits the bill. It’s a variation of the classic greyhound (an easy mix of vodka and grapefruit juice), which I’ve always found to be a great summer drink.

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The peppercorn syrup is easy to make, and has a nice kick without being too overwhelming. I changed the original recipe, and used pink peppercorns rather than black– they are a bit more floral and not quite so overtly spicy. To make the syrup add 1/2c sugar, 1/2c water, and 1/8 c (or more) crushed pink peppercorns to a small saucepan, and heat on medium-low until the sugar is completely dissolved, then remove from heat and let cool. I would let this sit for quite a while, and possibly overnight. I tried it after simmering, then and letting it sit for about 20 minutes, and the flavor hadn’t really transferred. After letting everything meld overnight the pepper flavor was much more present.

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Ingredients:

• 1.5 oz Absolute Peppar Vodka (or other pepper vodka). You could also use regular vodka if you prefer, or you could even infuse your own.

• 1/2 oz pink peppercorn simple syrup

• 3oz pink grapefruit juice

It may seem like the pepper flavor will overwhelm the grapefruit, but it actually balances really well. Without the little kick from the pink peppercorns and the pepper vodka the drink can easily be too sweet.

Directions:

  1. Add ingredients to the base of a shaker with ice
  2. Shake vigorously for about 30 seconds
  3. Strain into a cocktail glass and serve

I garnished mine with a pinch of crushed pink peppercorns, but you are welcome to leave them out if you prefer.

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While there is a little bit of planning and prep required to make this drink, it’s mostly inactive time, which makes it totally manageable.

Enjoy your weekend!

We did it!

We did it! This past weekend Cameron and I successfully, well somewhat successfully, moved out of Nashville. We had only a few hiccups as we loaded up the car (we greatly overestimated how much would fit), and even though we left about six hours later than we’d planned, I am very happy to have a few days to relax.

On our way up to Wilmington we stopped in Salisbury, North Carolina to visit a few more friends. While we were there we got to attend the Salisbury Land Trust’s fundraiser/party, Riverdance, which was hosted in a very beautiful train station, before we had to leave on Sunday morning.

Luckily this drive was far less eventful than the last one. We managed to find a much more scenic route which made the whole thing much more enjoyable, even in slightly longer. I’d never been to Virginia before, but from what I got to see from the car it’s absolutely beautiful. Had we not been so excited to finish driving we may have stopped at one of the many vineyards we saw along the way.

Since we’ve been at my family’s house we’ve been unpacking, and getting ready for England. We’ve sent off our visa applications and passports, so there’s not much left to do on that end, which feels great, but is also a bit daunting. I still need to find a larger suitcase to fit all of my winter clothes, and perhaps pare down along the way. It’s been consistently amazing, and at times even shocking, how much Cameron and I have accumulated over the past year and half. We’ve been sorting things into a few piles–keep, store, and give away– but it often feels like the piles are never ending. Hopefully in the next week we can get everything sorted so we can relax a bit before the next round of packing and moving.

On top of everything else, my oldest and one of my very best friends is coming to visit at the end of this week, which is beyond exciting! We’ve known each other since we were thirteen, and since college we’ve rarely gotten to see each other. In fact the last time was last November, which I feel is far too long of a time to go without seeing one of your best friends!

I’m definitely excited for these next few weeks (my last in the U.S. for a while!), even if they will be quite busy!

Friday Cocktail: The Duplex

Friday also happens to be moving day for me and Cameron. It’s unbelievable how quickly not only the summer has gone by, but especially the last few weeks. In less than a month we will be in London, which is both terribly exciting, and a bit overwhelming when I stop to think about the fact that I will have to pack all of my things yet again. I’m especially happy that I will get to spend some time with my family before we go. Next week Cameron will be off visiting his dad, which gives me and my mom lots of time together. I’ll also get to see one of my oldest, and best friends who I’ve not seen in over a year, which will be loads of fun, and a great way to spend some of my last few weeks in the US!

Meanwhile our apartment is a bit of a mess. There are piles of boxes, books, and clothes to take to goodwill, all of our furniture is gone except for our air mattress, which makes writing this post rather interesting, and no matter how much I do there always seems to be more. At least it well be over in just a few more days.

Amid all of the hustle and bustle of moving, it was bit difficult to carve out the necessary time to write this week’s Friday Cocktail blog post. Fortunately it it was a great way to thin out our (perhaps overstocked) bar cart a bit, which means that we have fewer things to move!

This is a great cocktail if you can’t quite decide what you’re in the mood for. It’s quite easy to drink (which can be a good or bad thing), and is ridiculously easy to make. The drink is made with two types of vermouth, which you very likely have on hand already. Although I definitely recommend using perhaps a better vermouth than you may be using for manhattans or martinis, as you will taste a lot more of it in the cocktail.

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If you’re not a huge fan of vermouth, I still recommend you give this one a try. The combination of the sweet and dry makes a lovely, well balanced drink that is definitely greater than the sum of its parts.

Ingredients:

•  1.5 oz sweet vermouth

• 1.5 oz dry vermouth

• few dashes bitters (I like Peychaud’s here, but Angostura would also be good)

Directions:

  1. combine all of the ingredients in a tall mixing glass with ice
  2. stir well, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass

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You could garnish this with a lemon peel if you’re so inclined, but why add more steps where they aren’t needed? Theres something refreshing in the simplicity, I think. Not only is it a nice departure from my pages and pages of lists, its wonderful to have something so easy to make this time of year when it always seems like theres so much to do (even if you aren’t moving out of the country).

Cheers and have a good weekend! I will be spending mine on yet another car trip!

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Packing Up and Heading Out

This week has been crazy!

Cameron and I have been getting ready to move out of Nashville at the end of this week week, which means selling/getting rid of furniture, lots of packing, and planning our cross-country drive. As if that wasn’t already quite a bit, we have also been applying for visas, planning which courses we’re going to take this year, and looking at flats.

We’ve been really lucky in the past few weeks as we’ve gotten to see just about all of our friends as we’re heading out. This past weekend was our last in Nashville, so after dinner with friends we headed to the Patterson House for a drink, and then to the Sutler before heading home. It was a later night than we’d planned, but it was a lot of fun and the perfect way to spend our last Saturday night. On our big drive this upcoming weekend we have plans to stop and see a few more friends in North Carolina, which will be great as we’ve not seen them in quite a while, and it happens to be almost exactly halfway between Nashville and where my family lives which should make the long much more bearable.

With so many things to do, my tendency to make lists has really ramped up. I have lists of what to pack, lists of things to do before leaving, of courses I’m thinking of taking, and even of what snacks I want to bring on the road trip. Some of my lists even have sub-lists! All of this may sound like its less, rather than more organized, but there’s something about breaking up a large task into smaller, more manageable bits that I find instantly calming. In fact, I have a small notebook that I keep with me just about all the time, even when I’m not in the process of moving– a Moleskine that becomes more and more ragged as time passes, and is filled not only with lists, but roughly written recipes, gift ideas for friends and family, and general things I hope to remember.

The next month is sure to be a busy one, but it will definitely be worth it when Cameron and I are in London (in less than a month!).

Have any moving tips? Let me know in the comments!

Friday Cocktail: The Londoner

A few weeks ago I posted about a favorite cocktail from Buccan in Palm beach, and this week’s cocktail is another perfect summer drink from their fantastic cocktail menu.

This past week Cameron and I have been slowly but surely getting ready for our move to London this September, have booked our flights (September 9th!), and have done a great deal of packing/getting rid of furniture. Writing and testing this post was a very welcome way to relax for a bit, and catch up with Cameron before this next weekend when will will be doing even more packing/moving.

While not quite as simple as most of my Friday Cocktails, it’s definitely worth the few extra steps. It’s still very straightforward, and is summery and refreshing, which went perfectly with an unexpected cool spell in Nashville.

Ingredients (for two drinks):

• 5-6 cucumber slices (plus a few thinly sliced rounds to garnish)

• 5-7 large basil leaves (plus more for garnish)

• 1 oz honey water (I dissolved 2 tbs local, raw honey in 8oz of warm water. This should keep for 1-2 weeks)

• 1 oz lemon juice

• 3oz gin (I like Gordon’s because it’s pretty neutral and won’t overpower your cocktail)

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Directions:

  1. Thoroughly muddle cucumber, basil, and gin in a cocktail shaker. If you think it’s good, give it an extra 30 seconds or so just to be safe.
  2. Add lemon juice, gin, and ice; shake thoroughly
  3. Strain into two glasses and garnish with cucumber slices and basil leaf.

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The basil is what gives this cocktail such a pretty green tint, but definitely experiment with the amounts of cucumber, basil, and even lemon to tailor the drink to your taste. The honey water can be quite astons flavor depending on the honey you use, so be sure to balance it with the lemon if you decide to change any of your amounts.

Cheers!

Road Trip Part One

This past weekend Cameron and I drove my car from Nashville to Delaware as part of our big move to London for grad school this September. We loaded up as much as possible- including just about all of my clothes, loads of books, and even a bit of furniture.

We had originally planned to have a lake trip with some of our friends this weekend, but  plans changed for everyone, and we realized we should probably use this weekend to do some moving instead. Since then the lake trip is back on, so we decided to drive bit out of the way to see our friends and say goodbye. I’m so glad we did! It was a great time, and wonderful to get to catch up before we leave, even if it was a few hours out of the way. The only problem was actually leaving the lake.

As we were pulling out of the driveway I heard an odd flapping noise, but was sure it must be something moving around in my very full trunk. Unfortunately, this was not the case. We arrived at the nearest gas station to find a rapidly deflating tire, and barely made it to the tire shop before it was completely gone. Two and a half hours later we finally made it out, and headed to Richmond.

We chose Richmond because it was more than halfway, which would give us a shorter drive on the final leg of the trip. Around 11:30pm we finally arrived– tired, and quite hungry, but otherwise in good spirits. This, however, did not last. The hotel we stayed in had such poor soundproofing that our neighbors, speaking at a normal volume, sounded like they were in the same room, which was even worse when they cam home at 2:30am and decided to continue their party. The only silver lining was that I got to see a really good friend of mine the morning we left- she happened to see a snapchat I sent, and was visiting some friends for the weekend.

The final leg of the trip, which was meant to be short, was of course extended by innumerable bouts of full-stop traffic, but we eventually made it and had a wonderful dinner with my family and godmother.

It’s nice to be home for a few days, and I’m certainly not looking forward to two weeks from now when we repeat the drive (with slightly different stops), but am definitely excited that it means we’re one step closer to moving to London!