Sometimes we spend so much time trying to make something new, different, and special that we forget about the tried and true basics. I’m always looking for the next cocktail with some sort of artisanal element like a special herb or exotic fruit when I’m ordering at a bar, but I’m the first person to appreciate something simple and effortless when it comes to making drinks at home. A vodka gimlet is about the easiest, most basic cocktail you can make and adding mint makes it taste that much fresher. This one is worth keeping limes and mint in the fridge on a rolling basis for spring and summer.
2 oz vodka
1/2 oz simple syrup
Put about 10 mint leaves at the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Add the juice of 2 limes and simple syrup. Muddle but don’t be too hardcore about it. You want the mint flavor to blend with the other ingredients but you don’t want it to break into a million pieces (not fun for sipping). Add about 5 ice cubes (crushed is better for this drink, if you have it), and the vodka. Shake. There are two ways to serve it – in a lowball with all the ingredients, or strained into a martini glass. Depends on how glamorous you’re feeling.
Fresh Dish. I heard about it from my friend Audrey who raved about this new way to have dinner already figured out as you head into the week without having to brave the Trader Joe’s mobs over the weekend, and I was instantly intrigued. We’re talking about gourmet meals which come in portions for two or four, planned out a week in advance with four menu items to choose from each week, at $8-12 per person. You pick what you want by Friday, then on Tuesday you get a special delivery with fresh ingredients already prepped and the recipe to make it – in a refrigerated box, mind you. It cuts out all the parts I don’t like about making dinner – the decision making about what to cook (for us that’s always the worst part for some reason), the shopping, and the chopping/measuring, but leaves in the part that still makes you feel like you’re accomplishing something (the actual cooking part). Not to mention the recipes are delish and *usually* healthy. Usually is the key word, as you can see from this particular meal, but hey – we all deserve a treat every now and then, right? So far we’ve made dinners like Mediterranean lamb meatballs with hummus and spinach salad, chicken di parma, panang curry, and shrimp fajitas.
We all know I’ve blogged about my fair share of drinks, but this is only the second time ever that I’m blogging about food. I hope you don’t mind. I just simply had to tell you about a revolutionary new part of our weekly cooking routine:
Like any new and innovative idea, it’s not completely perfect. The packaging is intense. It comes in a big box with heavy cold packs which I’m sure are somewhat necessary, but a bit wasteful and cumbersome. I did talk to the nice folks at Fresh Dish about this and they informed me that they are working on a great reusing program, so I applaud them for that. Maybe the next goal could be to go all organic with the ingredients? In any case, it’s a great way to make dinner even just once a week – especially if you have multiple people to cook for.
here if you want to try it out – we loved it. It was so easy and fast, and we had leftovers for the next day. You can sign up for Fresh Dish here and get $10 off your first order, AND Fresh Dish is offering a special promo for The Life Styled readers where if you buy one 4-person kit, you’ll get a second one for free! Just use the code STYLEDFRESH. Next week’s menu is up now til Friday so have a little look around. If you’re anything like me, you’ll find yourself waiting for Monday to come so you can see the new menu and start getting excited for your week’s meals. It’s a planner’s dream. If they’re not delivering to your area yet, don’t fret. Rumor has it they are expanding to more cities and in the meantime you can at least find the yummy recipes on their blog. Enjoy your dinners!
This time we made a delectable turkey mac and cheese with apple and fennel slaw. Comfort food at its best! Get the recipe
always glamorous and totally worthy of a Gatsby party (especially when served in a coupe glass). I made this version with rosemary for out of town guests once and it was a huge hit. It’s crisp, flavorful, not too sweet, and hard hitting if you’re not careful.
I was recently made privy to the fact that when you substitute champagne for soda water in a Gin Fizz, it becomes a Diamond Fizz. This pleases me very much. After all, not only are champagne cocktails typically super easy to make, but they are
To make the rosemary simple syrup, boil 1 cup of water with one cup of sugar and add some rosemary sprigs. Refrigerate for as long as you can before giving up. In a coupe champagne glass (or whatever), put a lemon slice and a rosemary sprig. In a cocktail shaker, combine 1/2 oz of fresh squeezed lemon juice (about half of a lemon), 1/2 oz of rosemary simple syrup, 1 oz of gin, and ice (and guys, this is easily modifiable – do more simple syrup if you like it sweet, more lemon if you like it tart, less gin if you are trying to keep your cool, more if you are looking to embarrass yourself). Shake it up real good and strain into the glass. Fill the rest of the glass with champagne. This cocktail can easily be made in bulk for a party. Do a cup of gin, 1/2 cup of simple syrup, 1/2 cup of lemon juice, and a bottle of champagne. If you like it sweeter, do a whole cup of the rosemary simple syrup.
Here’s a tip: If you’re just making single servings, I recommend the canned Sofia champagnes. That way you don’t have to worry about any extra bubbly going flat in a big bottle.
Recipe adapted from A Cup of Jo
My kick loving palate is always on the hunt for a spicy drink. When I go to happy hour, the first sign of heat has my order figured out. Serrano – make it a double. Jalapeño – set the menu down and start gabbing with the girls about The Bachelor until the bartender takes our order. And don’t get me started on grapefruit. I love all citrus based cocktails but grapefruits are pink and yummy. Need I say more? Combine that magical fruit with cayenne pepper (always stocked in the spice cupboard), tequila, and a spice rub rim and I’m done.
Cayenne Simple Syrup -
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or more if you’re adventurous – I did a heaping 1/2 tsp because I’m spice obsessed)
The Drink -
4 oz grapefruit juice (fresh squeezed if you can – takes about 2 grapefruits)
2 oz tequila
1 oz cayenne simple syrup
salt or spice rub – any kind of premixed spicy powder normally used on meat – yep (if that weirds you out, make your own using salt mixed with a little bit of cayenne, but I do prefer the spice rub).
First step is to prep the simple syrup. Combine the sugar, water and cayenne in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Heat until the sugar is disolved and the cayenne is blended. Cool in the fridge – ideally it’ll be able to chill there for an hour or two before making the drinks, but if you don’t have that kind of time, stick it in the freezer for a few minutes and the ice in the shaker will do the rest.
To mix the margaritas, run the lime wedge around the rim of the glass then dip it in the salt or spice rub. In a shaker, combine ice, tequila, simple syrup, and grapefruit juice. Shake, serve, enjoy the kick in the buns.
Recipe adapted from Eat, Live, Run
Photos by Ian Sheppard
No matter how hard we try to have leisurely mornings, breakfast usually ends up being a rushed endeavor at our house. That’s why it’s extra important that we have some healthy go to’s, so we don’t end up defaulting to something not so healthy or worse – skipping it altogether. We’re typically smoothie people but these days breakfast has taken on a whole new meaning. We are OBSESSED with our latest recipe, a perfect winter concoction that has enough antioxidants to make you live forever, no matter how much stuffing you ate the night before. We call it the Chia Bowl.
1 cup honey Greek yogurt or your favorite plain-ish yogurt (I use the whole fat kind because it makes breakfast stay with me a lot longer before I get hungry again. Worth it!)
Sprinkle of dried goji berries
2 tablespoons pomegranate seeds
2 teaspoons chia seeds
2 tablespoons of your favorite granola – we are using Trader Joe’s pumpkin flax granola because it’s festive
Yogurt first, then chias, poms, goji’s, and granola. Enjoy!
Read about the health benefits of: goji berries, chia seeds, and pomegranate seeds.
Photos by Ian Sheppard
In case you haven’t noticed, one of my favorite ways to celebrate a season is with a cocktail. Fall is my favorite season for lots of reasons, one of which is the delicious flavors and fragrances that circulate during these months. Apples, spices, pine, smokiness… So naturally I was excited to come across the recipe for the Bourbon Bomber on The Boys Club (adorable blog – check it out) and give it a try for myself. This is a drink you can easily modify to your own taste. Those guys used homemade apple cider which I bet would bring this drink to another level not to mention make your entire house smell like a fall wonderland, but I was impatient and went with the pre-made stuff which worked just fine. It would probably make an amazing hot drink too. Either way, it’s perfect to sip on while doing some early holiday decorating or cozying up in a cabin somewhere.
3/4 cup apple cider
1/4 cup bourbon
1 1/2 tsp agave nectar
1/2 tsp all spice
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp nutmeg, grated
drop of bitters
pinch of grated ginger
rosemary sprig, for garnish
In a cocktail shaker, add a few ice cubes, bourbon, apple cider, agave nectar, all spice, lemon zest, nutmeg and a pinch of grated ginger. Shake. Shake some more. Strain the drink into a glass filled with ice. Top with a drop of bitters and a rosemary sprig for garnish. Sip and feel fall-y.
Photos by Ian Sheppard
The Greyhound has always been my go-to drink order when I find myself at an establishment that has the most basic kind of bar setup. Its two simple ingredients (vodka and grapefruit) go together in a way that’s not too sweet or fruity tasting and about as complex as you can get in certain circumstances. Sometimes I’ll even do a vodka soda with a splash of grapefruit for just a tiny bit of flavor and the pretty light pink color (duh). But making this drink at my own bar allows me to be a bit more creative. I like to add a few extra steps and ingredients that really bring this cocktail to another level, turning it into something I like to call the Salty Basil Dog.
4 oz grapefruit juice (fresh squeezed if you can but a good pre-bottled one like Simply Grapefruit is a close second)
1 oz vodka
1 teaspoon simple syrup
On a small plate, mix some sugar with a pinch of salt. The proportions are purely personal preference. I like just a bit of salt but mostly sugar. Moisten the rim of a lowball glass with grapefruit and dip the rim in the sugar/salt mixture. In a shaker, put about four ice cubes, the grapefruit juice, vodka, simple syrup, a few basil leaves, and a pinch of salt. Shake, pour, and garnish with one more basil leaf.
Done and done. This is close to beating the Moscow Mule as my favorite drink to make at home.
Photos by Ian Sheppard
Cocktail modeling by Emmy Lou Sheppard
It’s a solid fact that any cocktail with a spicy kick is my favorite cocktail. The only issue with this is a good spicy drink usually seems to involve some kind of difficult concoction that’s best when made by artisan hands at a meticulously stocked bar where the ingredients are mixed just so. That’s why the Moscow Mule is my best friend – it’s got the heat I like but there’s no complicated muddling, measuring, or shaking. Just a quick little recipe made up of basic components that can often be found in my fridge whether I was planning to make one or not.
- 1 oz vodka
- 1 tsp. simple syrup
- 1 lime
- 1/2 cup ginger beer. Note: This is the spicy component, so choose wisely if you’re like me. I always use the Maine Root Ginger Brew which I get at Whole Foods. It’s the spiciest I’ve found.
- Fresh mint
This drink is supposed to be served in a pretty copper mug, but I haven’t added those to my bar cart yet so I just use a Tom Collins glass. First, pour the vodka over ice in your glass. Add the simple syrup. Squeeze in the juice from the lime (leave a slice for garnish). Throw in a few mint leaves. Top with ginger beer and stir. Garnish with a mint sprig and lime slice. Enjoy!
Photos by Ian Sheppard
Glitter Under Glass Manicure by Fiore Beauty
I’ve always been intrigued by absinthe. Maybe the hallucinogenic controversy sparked my curiosity, or perhaps I was just enticed by Kylie Minogue’s beckoning voice in Moulin Rouge. More recently, this interesting video from the Obsessives series about the St. George absinthe gave me a new found respect for the spirit. When I was in London last year, our hotel had the most delicious cocktails made with absinthe and now on the rare occasions that I sip it, I think back to late nights in that quaint, dim lobby bar. Even with its black licorice-y taste, when absinthe is mixed with the right sidekicks, yummy flavors ensue making the perfect digestif with a side of scandal. I modified this cocktail from one I found in Absinthe Cocktails, a great recipe book for your bar cart if you like the green fairy as much as I do.
Whiskey to coat the glass
1 oz absinthe + a few extra drops for good measure
3/4 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice (that’s about one large lemon)
3/4 oz simple syrup (this ingredient is very important, don’t try to replace it with agave nectar or anything)
1 egg white
3 dashes bitters
In a stemmed glass, coat the inside with just enough whiskey to cover the surface and pour out the excess. In a shaker, combine the remaining ingredients and shake without ice first so the egg white will blend.
Add ice and shake until it’s nice and chilled. Strain into the glass and twist a lemon peel over the drink as garnish. Dash the bitters on top and stir it in a bit.
Sip leisurely and discuss your darkest thoughts with an artsy friend.
One of the hats I wear in our house is that of bartender. I have been blessed with a husband who likes to cook, and luckily, I am perfectly happy with a shaker in my hand (as you may have guessed from this post). A perfectly chosen cocktail can play such a key role in setting the scene. It’s fun to sip on the most appropriate libation to match whatever fabulous frock you’re wearing at whatever exciting soiree you’re attending/hosting. So, I’ll be sharing some of my concoctions here. First up, a refreshing summer crowd pleaser, the Watermelon Basil Margarita which I adapted from Martha Stewart’s recipe. It’s meant to be made in big batches and perfect for 4th of July festivities.
- 7 1/2 pounds seedless watermelon, rind removed, fruit cut into 1-inch cubes
- 4 teaspoons superfine sugar
- 6 ounces (3/4 cup) silver tequila
- 24 basil leaves, plus sprigs for garnish
- 3 ounces (1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) triple sec
- 6 cups small ice cubes
1. Place 24 watermelon cubes on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Cover, and freeze at least 1 hour (up to 2 days).
2. Puree remaining watermelon and the sugar in a blender until smooth. Pass through a sieve lined with cheesecloth into a bowl. You should have 3 cups. Note: I skipped the cheesecloth which left just a bit of watermelon texture to the cocktail. Use the cheesecloth if you want it smoother.
Place tequila and basil in a glass pitcher, and crush with a wooden spoon. Stir in watermelon juice and triple sec.
Place watermelon cubes in glasses. Using a cocktail shaker, mix 3/4 cup margarita with 1 cup ice. Strain into a glass. Repeat. Serve garnished with basil.
Grab some friends. Sit on some grass. Watch some fireworks. Sip.