Friday Cocktail: The Scofflaw

This week’s Friday Cocktail comes from a fantastic cocktail book I was given over the holiday by my mother, the Craft Cocktail Party, and immediately fell in love with. Cameron was equally excited to try out some of the recipes, and since this week was an unusually busy one for me, took over primary testing and tasting for this week’s Friday Cocktail– I should probably also mention that the photos this week are not by me, but are instead by Cameron.

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I conveniently arrived home just in time for the final tasting, and have been excited to share it ever since. Inspired by the Prohibition in the US, the name is a slang term for those who did not observe the short-lived National Prohibition Act, it has all of the qualities I love about Prohibition-era cocktails. It’s strong, with a nice kick, and a healthy dose of bitterness, and enough sweetness to keep you coming back–just the thing to sip year-round. It is also blissfully easy to prepare and, if you have a fairly well-stocked home bar, should be easy to whip up in short notice.

We tried another batch of these and I was just as happy as I was with the first sip I tried, and hope you are too.

Ingredients: 

  • 1.5 oz rye whiskey
  • .75 oz dry vermouth
  • .75 oz lemon juice
  • .5 oz grenadine (if you can’t find any, you can make your own, or sub your favourite pomegranate juice)
  • 2 dashes orange bitters (we use Fee Brothers)

Directions:

  1. combine ingredients in a shaker with ice
  2. shake vigorously and strain into a cocktail glass
  3. garnish with a lemon twist and enjoy the fact that doing so is totally legal, unlike in the days of Prohibition

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Cheers!

 

 

Friday Cocktail: Detox Retox

We are coming to the end of January, which is typically the time when a lot of people begin to fall off the wagon on their New Year’s Resolutions. While I don’t make New year’s resolutions, I do like to start the new year by being a bit more health conscious– especially after too many sweets around the holidays. While cocktails don’t usually factor into a detox, this is a delicious way to spice up a cold pressed juice, and may even become your new favourite brunch drink (sorry, mimosa).

I love pressed green juices because they allow me to pack in even more vitamins and minerals into my dat than I possibly could by eating lots of veggies (which I do anyway). With pressed juices its best to avoid too many fruits since they can spike your blood sugar, and instead stick to earthy greens, citrus, and spicy ginger. My favourite juices, though, are the ones with beetroot–the gorgeous red colour and herbal sweetness is so good! It only helps that beetroot can help increase the level of oxygen in your bloodstream which is great if you’re training for race, or just hope to be a bit healthier.

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This week’s cocktail is inspired and made possible by a lovely pressed juice featuring beetroot, pear, pomegranate, blood orange and ginger. Chock-full of antioxidants and other healthy things I began to wonder what would happen if I added something a little less healthy, like another favourite beverage of mine–prosecco. The result is surprisingly good, although no longer quite as good for you. But having a bit of fun is a different kind of good for you I would argue.

If you can’t find this exact blend of juice, don’t worry, any blend that includes beetroot, ginger, and something citrusy should substitute well, although I wouldn’t go for anything with greens if you’re going to add prosecco. Of course you could also make it yourself if you have a juicer and are so inclined, but picking up a bottle makes the assembly wonderfully effortless.

Ingredients:

• 3tbs juice

• Prosecco or champagne

• lemon peel (to garnish)

Directions:

  1. Add juice to a glass with ice, top with prosecco (the fizz at the top will be a gorgeous shade of pink!)
  2. garnish with a lemon peel and toast to your health!

Cheers!

Currently Reading: My Life on the Road

A few weeks ago I saw something online about Emma Watson beginning a book club through Good Reads, and immediately wanted to be a part of it. I’d also been wanting to read Gloria Steinem’s My Life on the Road, the first scheduled read, for a while so was really excited to begin. I love that she frames her book within the long tradition of the travel narrative so rarely taken up by women. Perhaps especially because in many ways I am on my own adventure, and so want to experience all the world has to offer.

I was shocked to read that the dictionary defines as adventurer “as a person who has, enjoys, or seeks adventures” and and adventuress as “a woman who uses unscrupulous means in order to gain wealth or social position.” It’s a highly visible reminder of the subtle language that leads to inequality. Whether you already identify as a feminist, or find yourself on the fence for whatever reason, this book should be on your must-read list.

I’ve had the book for about a week, and find it difficult to put down. Not only is it densely packed with stories from Steinem’s life which are absolutely wonderful, but also full of amassing stories from her time as an organiser– including the organising of the National Women’s Conference in Houston in 1977. Her descriptions of the conference are amazing and inspiring. In her reflection she says that “before Houston, I had known that women in small groups could be courageous an loyal to each other and respect each others differences. After Houston, I’d learned that women could do this in Large numbers, across chasms of difference, and for serious purpose.”

Hopeful, energising statements like these make me excited for the future of feminism, and for equality overall. Reading her book, it’s encouraging to see how far we’ve come in some areas, but also staggering how much further we have to go. The fact that “studies show that women’s intellectual self-esteem tends to go down as years of education go up,” and that a world that sees such high levels of violence toward women around the globe has lead to “a world with fewer females than males, a first in recorded history” is staggering. As a someone in the process of getting her MA, with a plan to one day go for her PhD, the decreasing self-esteem is something I’ve already encountered, and is so common among women especially that it even has it’s own name– impostor syndrome. A world with less confident women, and especially with fewer women, means that everyone loses out.

The descriptions of her vast involvement with political campaigns of all sizes, and for both sides of the aisle seems particularly relevant today, as not only is it an election year, but with so many candidates in the race it often seems a bit overwhelming. The advice she once gave to women when on the campaign trail, resonated to much with me that I think everyone should take it to heart– “forget about party labels. Just vote on the issues and for candidates who support equality.” What a lovely message this is, and a powerful way to look past party distinctions and put the focus back on people.

I’ll stop going on about how much I love this book now, how much I find it empowering, and how much I hope it can galvanise people, both male and female, to move toward a world with greater equality. What I will keep with me long after I’ve forgotten the statistics and policy initiatives described, is the hope for a better future you can feel on every page,  the reminder that if you want people to listen to you, you have to listen to them, and most importantly, “people are people.”

Friday Cocktail: Mulled Wine

After a pretty mild winter the temperature has suddenly dipped. Fortunately we’ve finally gotten our heat fixed (its been on the fritz for at least the last month!), so its far more bearable than it would be otherwise. Still though, I don’t handle the cold particularly well, and staying indoors with a mug of mulled wine and a good book is just the thing to help me through it.

What I love about making mulled wine is how simple it is to throw together, and how easy you can adjust it to your taste. Of course you can find sachets that you can toss in at the grocery store, but adding your won spices is just as easy, and usually leaves you with enough to make more than one batch.  Deciding what wine to use is really up to you, but I like something on the dry side with a bit of personality that will go well with the spices. You don’t get too fancy with the wine you chose, but make sure its something you would be happy drinking on its own. Perhaps my favourite thing about making mulled wine, though, is that it makes the whole flat smell absolutely amazing as its simmering on the stovetop!

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This time of year we have an nearly constant supply of clementines or satsumas in our fruit bowl, so I generally like to use the peel from one of those rather than an orange, but you could use either with delicious results. I like a strongly spiced mulled wine, which requires a healthy dose of cinnamon sticks and cloves, and sometimes a bit of fresh ginger. Finally, just before serving, I like to add a little extra kick with a few shots of whiskey or bourbon added after the spices have finished steeping and I’ve taken it off of the heat.

Ingredients:

• 1 bottle red wine

• peel from one clementine, satsuma, or orange

• 3-4 cinnamon sticks

• 1.5 tbs  whole cloves

• 2 tbs sugar

• 2-3 shots of bourbon or whiskey (optional)

Directions:

  1. In a medium-sized saucepan over very low heat add about 1/4 of the wine, the clementine or orange peel, cinnamon sticks and cloves. Simmer for 10 minutes
  2. Once heated, add the sugar and stir to dissolve. Let simmer for about 10 more minutes. This is a good point to taste it and make sure everything tastes good.
  3. Add the rest of the wine, cover, and simmer for about five minutes to allow it to heat through.
  4. Remove from heat, add the bourbon, then cover and let sit for 3-5 minutes to let all of the flavours meld together.
  5. Serve in a mug with a cinnamon or orange wheel as garnish, and enjoy!

 

 

A New Way to Keep Up with Attempting Effortless

This is pretty exciting for me, as I’ve started using the website/app Bloglovin’ recently to keep up with all of my favourite blogs, and am really enjoying it, so though I would make it easy (or even effortless) and add this blog to the site as well.

What I really like about Bloglovin’ is how easy it is to read all of my favourites in one place- they even send an email with updates of new posts (if you want) and have buttons to save or share posts that you like as well. This may not seem like a very big deal, but it has allowed me to stop adding to the absurd amount of bookmarks I have in my web browser– always a plus!

If you don’t use, or don’t want to use Bloglovin’ you can continue to read new posts here same way you always have, but I do encourage you to at least check out the site — you may find another blog you love and want to keep up with, or at least find yourself a bit more organised, which for me is always a plus.

If you are already signed up, you can click on this link, and then click ‘follow’ to stay up to date. Otherwise, you can easily make an account and then find your favourite blogs.

 

note: this is not a sponsored post, I just really like things that make my life more organised

Friday Cocktail: Damn the Weather

As I was flipping through my various books and resources and thinking that I was bit stuck for this week’s Friday Cocktail, I audibly laughed when I came across this one. Not that the weather in London has been particularly bad, in fact there’s been quite a bit of sunshine recently, which has been wonderful. But while it may not be rainy, it has been cold, not freezing, but definitely colder than it has been. As someone who is already cold most of the time, I don’t handle dips in the temperature particularly well.

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In some ways this cocktail is the perfect antidote to the cold, the orange, and little bit of sweetness is almost like a sunny summer day in a cocktail glass…almost. The colour is also a wonderful pick-me-up for a bad case of the JanFebs. Not familiar with the term? It’s that feeling you have in January and February when there isn’t much to look forward to now that Christmas is over, the weather is cold, and usually rainy, and spring seems like it’s never going to get here.

Ingredients:

• 1oz gin

• 1 tbs fresh orange juice

• 1 tbs cointreau or triple sec

• 1 tbs sweet vermouth

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Directions: 

  1. Combine ingredients into a shaker with ice
  2. Shake, strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with an orange slice

 

This won’t change the weather, but sipping one while looking outside and imagining somewhere warmer should definitely help improve your mood, especially if, like me, you sip one while googling different weekend getaways to somewhere warmer!

If you’re starting 2016 alcohol-free, but are looking for a similar effect, I suggest a bit of freshly squeezed orange juice topped with club soda and garnished with a wedge of lime. It will taste tropical without the adverse effects of booking a holiday while under the influence.

I hope the first week of the year has treated you well- cheers!

My Post-Holiday Reset

The holidays are full of friends and family, yes, but also of lots of yummy food and drinks. Spending time with friends and family has a restorative effect, but over-indulging in sweets, rich holiday foods, and maybe a tad too many cocktails certainly does not. This time of year is full of New Year’s resolutions, cleanses, and all sorts of other ways to ‘jump start’ 2016, but I don’t think it needs to be that complex. Some simple self reflection, time to recharge and simple self-care go a long way– resolutions optional!

Maybe I’m a bit sentimental as it’s the end of the year, but I love to reflect on all of the experiences I’ve had, and the time spent with loved ones. Time goes by so quickly and it’s often easy for me to forget how much I’ve actually done, so it’s a nice way to help me realise my accomplishments and learn from any mistakes. I try to write in my  journal at least once a week, both to help me process things, and because I know I will love to look back through years from now and remember what I was doing and how I was feeling- especially during this exciting time of going to grad school and living in London. When it comes to looking back at the past year, though, I’m not quite as concrete– I love to look back through the year in photos. I often find a picture can transport me far more effectively than a memory, and to be honest I take far more pictures that I write journal entires. It was so much fun to look back through this past year and remember all of the things I’ve seen and done- from visiting the university where I did my undergrad, to seeing friends for weddings, writing my first blog post, and moving to London! It’s really amazing how much can happen in 365 days.

When it comes to getting back to my normal routine after the holidays, I’ve found the key is to ease back in. For the past month and half I’ve been doing a 90-day yoga challenge, which I continued over the holidays, and somehow managed to squeeze in a few runs, but a stomach bug and a very late New Year’s Eve definitely got me off track a bit. Rather that adopting a set plan, which may work for some people, I prefer to make my own. Lots of veggies, fruits, and whole grains are one way I try to regain some balance– while they are pretty much always present, during the holidays I definitely indulge in more sugars and simple carbs (bread, i love you) than usual, which leaves me feeling a bit sluggish and less focussed than usual. And while I still enjoy a cocktail, I do give myself a few days where I replace a cocktail or glass of wine with some chamomile or ginger tea.

I know this is not a definitive ‘system’, but it is exactly because of this that I love it! I’ve found it’s a lot more sustainable as well, after all, eating lots of veggies usually leads to a desire to continue eating lots of veggies, and having a few days a week without a glass of wine is never a bad thing. It’s also nice not to be tied down to a set system, as its all too easy for me to become obsessed and feel guilty if I fall short one day.  If, however, you absolutely love a week-long plan to help you fall into a healthier pattern, than go for it! I think the best way to start feeling like your best self is to listen to yourself and what you need, which is true any time of year.

Happy New Year! I hope it’s filled with lots of fun and happiness!

Friday Cocktail: The Seelbach Cocktail

I hope you had a very happy New Year! I cannot believe that it’s 2016- the past year has absolutely flown by! Looking back, it’s been full of so many wonderful things, and of course, some bittersweet, which is exactly why I chose this cocktail as the first of this year.

The different elements of this cocktail- sweet, bubbly, a little bit of bitter, and a nice kick- are strangely representative of this past year. Sweet- seeing all of my friends, moving to London, spending the holiday with my family- and a bit bitter- being far away from family and friends. The kick of bourbon is like all of life’s wonderful surprises. So, whether you’re looking back at the past year with happy memories in mind, or looking forward to the next year and hoping for a full and happy year, this is a wonderful drink to use up any extra champagne you may have (or which you may have hidden away).

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I found this cocktail in a wonderful new book that I got from my mother for Christmas, The Essential New York Times Book of Cocktails. It’s large, especially compared to most cocktail books, and even more so considering it’s light on pictures (there aren’t any), and full of text. It’s also full of amazing recipes that I can;t wait to try. This one is wonderfully simple, so much so that it doesn’t even require a shaker!

Ingredients: 

• 1 oz bourbon

• 1/2oz cointreau

• 7 dashes Angostura bitters

• 7 dashes Fee Brother’s bitters (or your favourite  orange bitters)

• Champagne (or prosecco) to top

Directions:

  1. Combine bourbon, cointreau, and bitters in cocktail glass or champagne flute, stir to combine.
  2. Top with champagne, and garnish with an orange peel.

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I know it sounds a bit strange, bit it’s definitely delicious. If you have it, a dry champagne or prosecco works quite well since the cointreau can be a bit sweet, bit of course you should pick what you enjoy most. Champagne can so often feel a bit fussy, which is a shame because it’s delicious and makes even a regular night of the week feel like a special occasion.

Cheers to you, and a very happy new year ahead!