Winter's Here!

Game of Thrones Ice and Fire Inspired Cocktails

What better way to enjoy the Season Premiere of Game of Thrones than having a Game of Thrones inspired cocktail party? I know that I'll be sitting on the edge of my seat with cocktail in hand watching to see who Arya Stark's next victim will be, who will be the next to sit on the Iron Throne and what does it mean for all of Westeros that Winter is here? 

L: White Walker, R: The Night's Watch                 Stunning photography by Nathan Hubble of Follow That Fork

For this post, I once again partnered up with Nathan Hubble of Follow That Fork.

Nathan took his inspiration from the men on The Wall, The Night's Watch and from the original title of the book by George R.R Martin, "Song of Ice and Fire." 

I took my inspiration from the White walkers and their icy blue eyes. I had a fun time creating this cocktail (a little too much fun with all the taste testing :) and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! 

Each cocktail is pretty easy to make (minus the fiery flare and cinnamon sparks) and each tastes delicious! 

As we all wait to see how "The Song of Ice and Fire" plays out, here are our Game of Thrones inspired cocktails...

White Walker

2 oz gin (I used Ford's) non- gin drinkers can substitute w/ vodka 

**1 oz lychee syrup

3/4 oz coconut milk

1/2 oz lime juice

1/4 oz Liber & Co Passion Fruit syrup

*Make ahead: Blue Ice cubes made with B'lure

To make the White Walker,  start by placing the cocktail glass in freezer for a nice frosty cold glass. In a cocktail shaker filled with plain ice add the ingredients and shake well. Strain into the chilled cocktail glass, garnish with B'lure Blue ice cubes.

**Make Ahead:  The night before make the blue ice cubes. I used Tovolo's perfect ice cube tray. Each tray makes 15 - 1  1/4 inch cubes.  In a glass measuring cup I added a cup of warm water and approximately 1 tablespoon B'lure Natural flower extract. Freeze overnight. The B'lure is a bright blue all natural flower extract, when citrus is added it changes from blue to purple and then to pink. As your cubes melt, the cocktail will change colors. 

**Lychee Syrup: Here's my disclaimer... I used a shortcut! I went for quick results and just used the syrup from the can of lychee fruit. For me it worked great and wasn't as sweet as a homemade lychee simple syrup.  
FYI: Lychee fruits are tropical fruits that when peeled resemble a water chestnut but have the texture of a peeled grape. The taste is a cross between a delicate rose and a pear. They've also been described as tasting like a flower and a melon or grape. 

 

 

The Night's Watch

2 oz espresso

2 oz black vodka (Blavod -can be ordered at select retailers online) 

1 oz kahlua 

6 drops of Crude Coffee & Cocoa Bitters

This cocktail comes with a warning... Playing with fire and booze is dangerous. Proceed at your own risk!  Of course, this is a pretty tasty cocktail that doesn't actually require you to play with fire but it does look pretty cool in the photo!  

In an ice filled cocktail shaker, add espresso, vodka, kahlua and the coffee & cocoa bitters. Shake and strain into cocktail glass.

If you can't find Blavod (which is the only black colored vodka on the market) You can add black food coloring or leave it out altogether. A few Luxardo cherries on a cocktail pick are a perfect garnish. Their sweetness and red black color are a nice compliment to the cocktail. 

Nathan achieved the fire and sparks by reserving 1 oz of vodka from the cocktail. After it was poured into the cocktail glass he layered the remaining ounce on top of the cocktail and carefully lit it. The sparks were created by throwing a bit of cinnamon towards the flame and the rest is camera magic!

 As a mom, a safety advocate and the wife of a firefighter... I strongly suggest enjoying the photo, skip the fire and add the full 2 oz vodka to your cocktail shaker... after all why burn off a whole ounce of vodka when you could be enjoying it in your cocktail? :) 

 

A huge THANK YOU to Nathan Hubble for his endless creativity and wonderful talent! If you don't already know this... Nathan is a food stylist, photographer and recipe developer. His blog is Followthatfork.com and he can be found on instagram @nhubble

 

Thank you also to the young lady who came into Happy Hour Collection a week or so ago looking for Game of Throne Cocktail ideas... I hope your party was a wonderful success! This post was inspired by you! Cheers! 

It's all about the Negroni

It's Negroni week and a good a time as any to share a little history and a couple of recipes. 

Here's how the story goes... it's 1919 in Florence, Italy and a Count walks into a bar (Bar Casoni to be exact) and asks the bartender to stiffen up his favorite drink, the Americano. Veteran bartender Fosco Scarselli, aware of the Count's reputation for kicking back quite a few cocktails, comes up with a brilliant plan to stiffen up the drink and make his customer happy. Fosco decides to swap the soda water for gin and add an orange peel for garnish. He presents this cocktail made on the fly to the eagerly awaiting Count Camillo Negroni, and voila! The Negroni was born! Now that you know how the Negroni came to be, here's some other interesting, possibly true info about the adventurous Count... when he wasn't inspiring the invention of new cocktails, rumor has it that Count Negroni was running around the Wild, Wild West gambling and trying his hand at being a cowboy. Another story has him teaching fencing at a school in New York. Whatever the Counts adventures truly were, I'm awfully glad he decided to throw back a cocktail or two at Bar Casoni all those years ago and kudos to Fosco Scarselli for his masterful bartender skills. After all, it may have been the Count that inspired the cocktail but it was Fosco that created it.

Lesson: tip your bartenders well and they'll take good care of you.  You might even get a cocktail named after you! 

 

If you've never tried a Negroni, or if you're a Negroni fan,  Negroni week is the perfect time to visit participating bars or restaurants and drink like a Count.  During Negroni Week, participating bars and restaurants donate a portion of each Negroni sale to a charity of their choice. 

Negroni Week was started in 2013 by Imbibe magazine and Campari as a way to celebrate the Negroni and raise money for charities.  Each year more and more bars and restaurants around the world sign up to participate and last year (2016) $400,000 was raised for charitable causes.  

Negroni Week 2017 runs from June 5-11th

Scroll down for participating bars & Restaurants

 

For those of you who have yet to try a Negroni, here's a few things to know before jumping in...

The Negroni is a flavor filled drink.  The gin brings it's juniper notes and sweet vermouth has it's herbal, sweet and light bitter notes and then there's Campari. Campari is an orange Italian liqueur with a distinct bitter-sweet orange flavor. For some it's a way of life, a beautiful apertif, for others it takes a little getting used to, especially if you're not used to it's bitter sweetness. Below are a few classic cocktails using Campari, don't be afraid to switch it up. Adding a splash or orange or grapefruit juice is a nice compliment, or bitters to accent the orange flavors. Cheers!  

Here are a few Negroni and Negroni-ish recipes if you feel like mixing up one or two at home.

 

Classic Negroni

1 oz gin

1 oz sweet vermouth (recommended: Carpano Antica Formula)

1 oz Campari 

Orange peel

Ice 

Add first three ingredients to a mixing glass filled with ice, stir until  chilled. Serve over ice in a rocks glass or if you prefer serve straight up in a coupe glass. Express orange peel over cocktail and rub the peel around rim. Garnish and enjoy the noble Negroni. 

*try this: add a few dashes of orange or grapefruit bitters

Americano

1 1/2 oz Campari

1 1/2 oz Sweet Vermouth 

ice

club soda

lemon or orange twist

In an ice filled glass, stir together Campari and sweet vermouth.  Express lemon peel over the cocktail and rub the peel around rim. Garnish and enjoy!

 

Negroni Sbagliato

Ingredients: Equals parts Campari, Sweet Vermouth and sparkling wine. Orange swathe for garnish. 

Add Campari and sweet vermouth to an ice filled shaker. Shake vigorously. Strain into an ice filled cocktail glass.  Top with sparkling wine. 

Give the orange swathe a gentle squeeze to express the orange oils over the drink, swipe it around the glass and drop it in for garnish. Cheers! 

 

Boulevardier 

one of my favorites! Almost a Negroni but with bourbon instead of gin

1 1/2 oz Bourbon

1 oz sweet vermouth

1 oz Campari

orange peel for garnish 

Add ingredients to an ice filled mixing glass and stir until chilled. Strain into a coupe glass, rocks glass if you prefer and add

orange peel garnish. Enjoy! 

*Prefer gin over bourbon or maybe you like bourbon but aren't quite sure about gin? Try this! Instead of bourbon or gin use Watershed Distillery's Bourbon Barrel Aged Gin. Definitely more of a gin but with a warm mellow oakiness that gives you the best of both worlds.

 

Cleveland Bars & Restaurants participating in Negroni Week:

Be sure to check out these fine establishments and try out their creative takes on the classic Negroni cocktail!

Not from Cleveland? no worries, to find out more about Negroni Week or to find participating Bar & Restaurants in your area visit Negroniweek.com

 

 

 

**The gorgeous photography is by Suzuran Photography

Off to the Races - It's Derby Day!

Kentucky Derby 

What do you think off when you hear someone mention the Kentucky Derby? I'm going to guess that elaborate hats, red roses and mint juleps are a couple of the first things that come to mind, quickly followed by horses. You might also think of throwing your own Kentucky Derby party.  Below we'll share recipes perfect for making your Derby party a hit but first, history...

The Kentucky Derby is steeped in tradition. Here are a few fun facts:


The Kentucky Derby has run continuously since 1875, even through the Great Depression. 

The land was acquired by Colonel Merriwether Lewis Clark, grandson of William Clark, of Lewis & Clark fame. 

1932: The first thoroughbred winner was draped in garland of roses

The Kentucky Derby was always a fashion forward event. Men and women were expected to dress up in their finest. However it wasn't until the 1960's that the wearing of elaborate hats took off. 

1938: The Mint Julep became the official drink of the Kentucky Derby. The reason for the silver cup? Rumor has it that jockey's were awarded sterling silver julep cups as a reward for first prize (and they look a bit like a trophy cup). 
 

Flowers by Love, Anji, Pope's Mint Simple Syrup, Julep cup and barware by Happy Hour Collection, Cake by Followthatfork.com, Photos by Nathan Hubble

Flowers by Love, Anji, Pope's Mint Simple Syrup, Julep cup and barware by Happy Hour Collection, Cake by Followthatfork.com, Photos by Nathan Hubble

Now that you know a little bit about the history of the Kentucky Derby, it's party time! Here we'll get the party started by sharing two great recipes. First, I'll share the recipe for the Mint Julep and here you can find an absolutely delicious Chocolate Bourbon cake recipe by Nathan Hubble, www.followthatfork.com. 
 

Mint Julep

1 oz Pope's Mint Syrup 

2 oz Bourbon 

Crushed ice

Mint for garnish 

Julep cup

First things first... crushed ice. There are a few ways to approach this ingredient... first the crushed ice setting on your fridge, a blender or my favorite a Lewis bag and ice mallet. Why the Lewis bag & Mallet? The canvas Lewis bag actually wicks away extra moisture from the ice making a drier ice and therefore not watering down your drink from the get go. It also seems to produce a finer crushed ice than many of the blenders out there (no large chunks of ice mixed in with the fine ones). Not to mention it's oddly satisfying to smack ice with a hefty wooden mallet. 

Now it's time to make your mint julep! Add 1 oz Pope's mint syrup, 2 oz bourbon into your julep cup,  at this point I'd give it a quick stir to incorporate the syrup and the bourbon. Add crush ice to the rim and stir again frosting the outside of the julep cup. Top with more ice creating a little dome. Give your mint a slap or two against your palm to release the oils (this adds to the drink by bringing the lovely aroma of mint right to your nose). Add the mint to your julep cup, don your fancy hat or smart bow tie (or cravat if you prefer) and cheer on your favorite horse!

*We did say Derby party, right? Here are few quick tips to make life simpler, after all who wants to spend the whole time crushing ice and mixing mint juleps? The night before or morning of, crush lots of ice and store in in a ziploc bag in the freezer. The day of: wash and cut your mint sprigs for garnish,  place them stems down in a cup of water to keep them fresh. In a large pitcher, pre-measure and mix the bourbon with the mint syrup, store in fridge until ready to use. When it's party time fill your julep cups with ice, pour bourbon & mint mixture over top, garnish with mint, serve and cheer on your favorite horse! 
**not a bourbon lover? sub your favorite vodka, no one ever needs to know ;)

 

 

 

 

 

Sources: "Kentucky Derby History," www.kentuckyderby.com/history/kentucky-derby-history. Churchill Downs Inc. Web 06 May 2017

Strawberry Rhubarb Shortcake Boozy Shake

It's time again for a monthly collaborative post.  If you've been following any of our recent blog posts, you have heard me mention Nathan Hubble of followthatfork.com, a talented food stylist. photographer and food blogger. This month the idea was to create a monster-piece (pardon the terrible pun) for Valentine's Day. Admittedly I missed posting before Valentine's Day, but creating and  sharing a boozy monster milkshake with your love works any day of the year.

Before this post, I had no idea that Monster milkshakes were a thing. I mean I knew about the loaded Bloody Mary's that have been all over my instagram feed, like the 'Graffiti Dirty Bird' created by Graffiti Social Kitchen, but I had no idea that the trend to add as many garnishes as you possibly can to your drink had spread to milkshakes. Nathan, very excited about this project, suggested that we each come up with our own version of a boozy monster milkshake. The rules: we both had to use Molly's 'Summer Crop' mixer, a locally made cocktail mixer full of fresh strawberries, rhubarb and a hint of basil), booze of our choice and as much stuff as we could possibly fit into our drinking vessel.

Nathan and I each approached this assignment with different inspirations and we each took a photo of our shake. You HAVE to check out Nathan's version of the Monster Shake which he named, 'Brandy & Brown Butter Strawberry Shake'. Not only is his recipe delicious and fancy, his Monster shake photo is gorgeous!  *Words highlighted in gold are links to a different page or website* 

Taking my inspiration from Strawberry Shortcake which reminds me of summer and the cute little red-headed doll from the 80's, I chose to use local ingredients such as Mitchell's Fresh Strawberry Ice Cream, Molly's Summer Crop Cocktail mixer which is full of fresh strawberries, rhubarb and hints of basil To make the shake boozy, I used Flor De Cana Silver Rum. My garnish choices were crumbled shortbread cookies, crushed pretzels (love the salty & sweet together). chocolate dipped pretzels, chocolate dipped strawberries and whipped cream. I topped it all with a homemade strawberry rhubarb sauce using Molly's Summer crop and fresh chopped strawberries. The addition of Molly's Summer Crop adds a lovely tartness that compliments the rum and sweetness of the ice cream. 

Strawberry Shortcake Boozy Shake

1 pint (or 2 cups) Strawberry Ice cream

1 ½ oz Molly’s Crafted 'Summer Crop' Cocktail Mixer

2 oz Silver rum

Garnishes* (a slice of cheesecake, cookies, m&m’s… let your imagination run wild)

Strawberry rhubarb sauce **Recipe below

Start by gathering all of your supplies, get all of your garnishes ready for easily assembly.

Dip your strawberries and pretzels and refrigerate.

In a blender, add rum and summer crop mixer, then add your ice cream blend together and Voila! Boozy shake! But wait you’re not done yet! Pour shake into a cute mason jar and add your assortment of garnishes. Top it all off with some whipped cream and the strawberry rhubarb sauce. 

If you find that your shake is too thin, add a bit more ice cream, too thick? add a bit more booze ;)

*Garnishes I used: crumbled shortbread cookies, crushed salty pretzels, chocolate dipped pretzels, chocolate dipped strawberries, whipped cream and homemade strawberry rhubarb sauce. 

**Strawberry Rhubarb Sauce: 1/4 cup Molly’s Summer Crop + ¼ cup finely chopped strawberries: heat up over medium low heat, stirring occasionally. It’s ready once it starts to thicken up a bit. Refrigerate until cool.

Don't let that leftover Molly's Summer Crop go to waste! Mix up one of her signature drinks:

Mason Jar Margarita

 5 oz Molly's Summer Crop

2 1/2 oz lime juice

1 1/2 oz agave syrup (or simple syrup) 

water

Add ice and ingredients to mason jar, top with a little water close lid and shake!

Serve over ice. 

 

We'd love to see your Monster Boozy Shake creation! Tag us on social media

Happy Hour Collection @happyhourcle 

Nathan from Follow that Fork @nhubble