I’ve never been a big red wine drinker, instead preferring to sip on a crisp rosé or fruity riesling. But on a recent Saturday afternoon I was in want of a drink, and an open bottle of Petit Syrah sat on my kitchen counter. I mixed it with a little bit of Sprite, some lime juice and some bitters and had myself a nice little red wine spritzer. At this point I was surprised (and a little embarrassed) by how much I liked this concoction, so I went on a quick Google search to investigate the world of summery red wine drinks.
I don’t really care for Guinness and I think Jameson is gross, so every year on St. Patrick’s Day I struggle to find something festive and delicious to drink. Enter the pousse-café. Basically a fancy name for a layered cocktail, the pousse-café began as an elegant digestif, one that could be savored layer by layer after a long, filling meal.
As long as you know the specific gravity of your liquids (heaviest goes on the bottom), you can stack them to your heart’s content, which is exactly what I did with this St. Patrick’s Day pousse-café. Vanilla vodka yields to Irish cream and a layer of vibrant créme de menthe provides the final flavor, leaving a lingering freshness on your palate.
• green crème de menthe
• Baileys Irish Cream
• vanilla vodka, I used Stoli Vanil
1. Gather your ingredients. I used 1.5 oz of each liquor, but you can adjust depending on the size of your glass or how thick you’d like the striations to be. You’ll need to use relatively small, narrow glasses to achieve this affect without using a ton of booze.
2. Pour the crème de menthe into the bottom of your glass.
3. Take a bar spoon (or a regular spoon if you don’t have one), flip it upside down and place it up against the inside of the glass. Very slowly, pour the Baileys onto the back of the spoon, so it runs softly down the side of the glass and onto the crème de menthe without disturbing the surface tension.
4. Rinse the spoon then repeat with the vodka.
In my experience, the White Russian is a drink everyone loves but few remember to order. As it happens, it was the first mixed drink I ever truly enjoyed—perhaps it was the velvety swirl of cream that softened the boozy punch of vodka just enough for my unseasoned palate—so I like to revisit it every year when the weather starts to cool. This year I opted to modify the classic recipe with a sprinkle of activated charcoal. This tasteless powder (all the rage right now due to its purifying properties) instantly turns the mixture of Kahlua and vodka from dark brown to the blackest of black. All that’s left to do is swirl in some heavy cream for a spooky, ghostlike finish.
And for extra Halloween flair, top this tipple off with a edible skull drink stirrer made from white chocolate. It’s a super-easy DIY that’ll satisfy your sweet tooth—because if you’re old enough to drink this drink, you’re too old to go trick-or-treating. We all have our crosses to bear.
• 1 part Kahlua
• 2 parts vodka
• 1 part heavy cream
• 1 activated charcoal pill
1. Fill glass with ice. Add Kahlua, vodka and charcoal (just pop open the pill and tip the powder in) and stir.
2. Top with heavy cream. Pro tip: to get the swirled, layered look, slowly pour the cream down the back of a spoon.
To make the skull-topped drink stirrers:
1. Melt white chocolate in the microwave and pour into a skull mold. I used this one. Refrigerate until solid.
2. Using a paring knife, chisel out a little channel in the base of each side of the skull (this sounds weirdly medical, no?). Make sure your drink stirrer fits nicely into the channels.
3. Melt a little more white chocolate and spread some on the skull halves. Place the drink stirrer between halves and press together until the two sides meet. Use your finger to smooth out any chocolate that may have oozed out. Refrigerate before serving.
There are few things I enjoy more than knowing that a big bowl of ceviche is waiting for me in the fridge when I get peckish. Rick Bayless, bless him, makes some of the best ceviche I’ve ever had, so when I get a hankering for some lime-cured seafood, I slice and dice my way to his classic Frontera Grill recipe. But each time I polish off a serving of ceviche, I peer down at the marinating juices still left in my bowl and wish that I had a way to repurpose all that limey, briny goodness.
In Peru, a shot of leche de tigre—that is, the juice leftover from marinating ceviche—is often served along with the ceviche or before your meal as a sort of amuse bouche. The notion of drinking the juice gave me the idea to pair it with beer and a few other savory flavors to create a fresh take on the michelada. Fair warning: there’s a definite salinity to this cocktail, so fresh fish lovers probably won’t be lining up to get a taste. But if you love a good ceviche tostada on a warm fall afternoon, do yourself a favor and tip off that leche de tigre, add a splash of seasoning and top with some Negro Modelo—or good ol’ Shiner Bock if you’re in Texas.
Frontera Grill Ceviche
• 1 lb sashimi-grade skinless white fish (halibut, snapper and bass all work well)
• 1 1/2 cups fresh lime juice, preferably from key limes
• 1 small white onion
• 2 or 3 serranos, depending on your preference
• 1/4 manzanillo olives
• 1 large ripe tomato
• 1/4 cup loosely packed cilanro
• 2 Tbsp olive oil
• 1 tsp sugar
1. Cut fish into 1/2″ cubes. Try to be careful about this, as larger chunks will take much longer to “cook” in the lime juice. Chop onion and tomato in 1/4″ pieces and roughly chop and de-stem cilantro. Finely chop serranos and olives—a food processor works well for this, so you don’t have to get your fingers all spicy.
2. Combine fish, lime juice and onion in a large bowl. The fish should float freely in the juice; if not, add more. Cover and refrigerate for three to four hours, until the fish appears completely opaque.
3. Add serranos, olives, tomato, cilantro and olive oil to the fish. Stir well, then season with salt to taste (about a teaspoon) and sugar. Refrigerate until ready to serve—preferably within a few hours.
4. To harvest the leche de tigre, simply strain some of the marinade liquid into a resealable container and refrigerate.
Leche de Tigre Michelada
• 2 oz. leche de tigre
• dash of worchestershire sauce
• dash of soy sauce
• dash (or three!) of hot sauce
• dark beer like Negro Modelo or Shiner Bock
• lime and serrano for garnish
1. Fill glass with crushed ice, top with leche de tigre.
2. Add one dash of worchestershire sauce, one dash of soy sauce and hot sauce to taste. Stir.
3. Top with beer and garnish with a lime wheel and slice of serrano pepper.
*Add an ounce or two of tequila or mezcal if you want to go hard. The strong flavor of the leche de trigre can easily stand up to a bit more booze.
I love beer and I love cocktails. And ever since I had an A+ beer cocktail at The Alembic in San Francisco, I’ve been searching for a way to make this boozy combination my own. I figured that the looming Big Game this Sunday was the perfect excuse to try out a few new recipes. I knew I wanted to combine tequila and some Anchor Steam—to honor the home of Superbowl 50—and I decided to add a bit of fruitiness in the form of blood orange juice, because they’re beautifully in season right now and they add gorgeous color to any drink. A few dashes of celery bitters at the end adds a really nice herby note to the drink, ensuring it’s not too sweet despite the necessary addition of a little simple syrup.
Once the blood orange juice, tequila and softly bitter beer mingle, you’re left with a drink that’s boozier than a beer, more sessionable than a cocktail and tastes like a lightweight, fizzy approximation of the negroni. Basically, it’s a great choice if you want to celebrate a big first down or mourn an interception without reaching for the boring beer that’s become de rigueur at viewing parties the country over. And lest you forget you’re watching a very important sports game, these DIY football drink stirrers are there to keep things festive. I whipped them up in under an hour from some Sculpey clay and thin copper bars I found at the art supply store. Cheers!
Tequila, Blood Orange & Beer Cocktail
• 1 1/2 oz. tequila
• 1 oz. blood orange juice, strained
• 1/2 oz. super simple syrup (2 parts sugar to 1 part water)
• Anchor Steam beer
• celery bitters
• celery leaves, for garnish
1. Combine tequila, blood orange juice and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker, add ice and shake.
2. Pour over ice in a Super Bowl party-friendly glass of your choice. Top with an ounce or two of Anchor Steam to taste.
3. Finish with a few dashes of celery bitters and garnish with a sprig of celery leaves and some charming football drink stirrers.