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 , Photos by  Nathan Hubble

Flowers by Love, Anji, Pope's Mint Simple Syrup, Julep cup and barware by Happy Hour Collection, Cake by, 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, 

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," 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, 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) 


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





Pop! Fizz! Clink!

The New Year is a few days away and no doubt the sound of champagne corks will soon be popping all around us.  After all, what better way to ring in the New Year than with New Year's Rocking Eve playing in the background, friends gathered together laughing,  noisemakers in hand and the thrilling *POP!* of Champagne corks, while counting down the last few seconds of 2016? 

It's funny how Champagne on it's own feels indulgent, like something we should only be opening for celebrations such as engagements, weddings, promotions, graduations, New Year's and the like.

But what about toasting the weekend?  Time with friends and family, or just because boozy brunch sounds delightful?  The good news is that nowadays, there are many affordable Proseccos, Cavas and Sparkling wines that can be enjoyed year round in many different ways and for many different reasons.

"Too Much of anything is bad, but too much Champagne is just right."

 - F. Scott Fitzgerald

Now that drinking more champagne is on your New Year's resolution list here are a few ways to enjoy a bottle of bubbly (or two), while saying goodbye to 2016 and hello to all the wonderful possibilities of 2017 (like drinking more champagne ;)

If you're looking for an elegant cocktail to add to your holiday table and impress your guests. The French 75 is perfect! Today we'll share a twist on the French 75 that adds a holiday flair with a hint of crisp pear and fragrant rosemary. 

Pear Rosemary French 75

*makes 2*

2 oz gin

1.5 oz Root 23 Pear Rosemary Simple Syrup

1 oz fresh lemon juice

6 oz Champagne or sparkling wine

Pear for garnish 

Add first three ingredients in an ice filled cocktail shaker. Shake until chilled. Strain into champagne flute or coupe. Top of with champagne, garnish with pear star, raise your glass and enjoy! 

Variation: Not a gin fan? No problem, swap gin for vodka and voila! You've got yourself a tasty and fancy Champagne mixed drink tailored for you or your guests taste. 

For a beautiful compliment to your Fancy schmancy Pear Rosemary Champagne cocktail, check out these stunning and delicious Mulled Wine Poached Pears made by Food Stylist and blogger,  Nathan Hubble of Using red wine, pears and Dram Apothecary Magic Mulled spices (available at Happy Hour Collection for a limited time).

'Royale Sparkler' Champagne Cocktail as seen on New Day Cleveland

'Royale Sparkler' Champagne Cocktail as seen on New Day Cleveland

For quick, easy and elegant entertaining this Holiday season consider mixing up a

'Royale Sparkler'

- A spin on the Kir Royale made with Cassis Berry Shrub - 

4 1/2 oz Prosecco (or sparkling wine)

1/2 oz Hudson Standard Cassis Berry Shrub

2-3 dashes Dram Apothecary Wild Mountain Sage Bitters

Fresh Rosemary Sprig for garnish

In a Chilled Champagne flute, add Prosecco first, then add Cassis Berry Shrub. 

Add your bitters, and rosemary sprig. Give a light stir with the rosemary and impress your guests with this lovely Crafted Champagne Cocktail! Here's a toast to a wonderful holiday season and and even better New Year! Cheers! 

**If you don't have Prosecco on hand, you can easily follow the recipe above and substitute the Prosecco for 1 1/2 oz vodka and 2 oz sparkling water. 

Here's the alternate recipe,  Fill Shaker with ice, add Cassis Berry Shrub and vodka. Shake until chilled (approx 15-20 seconds), strain into a rocks glass filled with ice (we prefer an ice ball for slower dilution), add seltzer/sparkling water and bitters. Serve & enjoy!

Cranberry Orange Mule

The holidays are rapidly approaching and that means gathering together with family and friends to celebrate the season and exchange gifts. Below you'll find an easy to make and easy to drink cocktail using some of our favorite holiday flavors. The Pickett's Medium Ginger Beer syrup adds a ginger kick balanced with citrus and sweet notes. The syrup stores in your fridge until you next use it and when mixed it makes up to 96 fl oz.  Bittermens Elemakule Tiki bitters are full of the warm flavors of cinnamon and allspice. These pair with the spice of the ginger beer syrup mingle with the cranberry and orange for a refreshing and balanced cocktail

photography by Nathan Hubble (  )

photography by Nathan Hubble ( )

Cranberry Orange Mule

2 oz Vodka -we used locally made Red E Vodka

1 oz Picketts Ginger Beer Syrup (available in medium or hot n spicy)

1 1/2 oz Fresh Orange Juice

1 oz 100% Cranberry juice

2 droppers full (approx 15-20 drops) of Bittermens Elemakule Tiki Bitters

seltzer water 


orange wheel for garnish

In Ice filled cocktail shaker, add vodka, Pickett's ginger beer syrup, OJ, cranberry juice and Tiki bitters. Shake. Pour into Solid copper mug, top with seltzer water (approx 3 oz), garnish with orange wheel. Enjoy!

For 4 guests: 8 oz vodka, 4 oz ginger beer syrup, 6 oz OJ, 4 oz cranberry juice, 8 droppers full of Tiki bitters


-swap out the vodka for bourbon (my favorite way to drink a mule!) 

-not a cranberry fan? eliminate the OJ and cranberry and substitute apple cider.


Why add bitters? Bitters are potent flavor enhancers, Adding bitters is a lot like adding herbs and spices when you're cooking. A recipe may be good on it's own but becomes great with the addition of flavors that compliment the ingredients. 

A few dashes of drops add wonderful flavors and balance the cocktail. The sweetness from the oj, cranberry juice and ginger beer syrup is brought down a bit by the addition of bitters making it an even easier cocktail to sip on and enjoy.

 Bittermens Elemakule Tiki bitters are a great addition to this particular cocktail because of how nicely the cinnamon and allspice compliment the ginger and orange. 


As always, feel free to stop in the shop and ask to sample bitters. We're always happy to help you discover new ways to use cocktail ingredients and suggest new cocktails to try making at home.