Orange Blossom Iced Tea

Saturday, June 11, 2016

With warm weather here to stay, I've been craving a good glass of iced tea–and this orangey sipper is the perfect late afternoon pick-me-up!

Orange Blossom Iced Tea

6 black tea bags
2–4 tablespoons of honey
1 teaspoon orange-flower water
2 oranges, sliced into rounds
mint sprigs

Place tea bags and honey in a heatproof container; add 3 cups boiling water, stir to dissolve honey and let steep for 10–15 minutes. Remove tea bags, add orange-flower water, 1 sliced orange, 4 mint sprigs and 3 to 5 cups of chilled water, depending on the volume of your container and preferred strength. To serve, fill Collins glasses with ice and add strained tea. Garnish with orange slices and mint sprigs. 

Notes: A word on orange-flower water: it's a potent ingredient, so make sure you measure carefully. While this tee-totaling sipper is designed for days that need to be productive, just add gin or vodka to make it a bit more fun–cheers!

Image by Marcus Nilsson.


Wednesday, June 8, 2016

School's been out of session for more than a month, and while I'm still frequenting the library on a regular basis, I can't resist the occasional summer treat—a late afternoon stroll, a vanilla soft-serve with rainbow sprinkles, or a rosé slushy. My favorite recipe, which manages to strike the perfect balance between sweet and tart, is below! 


1 bottle dry rosé
3 oz simple syrup
3 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice

Freeze 1 bottle of rosé in an ice cube tray overnight (I highly recommend a silicone tray). Combine frozen cubes, syrup and lemon juice in a blender and blend until smooth. 
Garnish with lemon twists or strawberry slices.


Image from W&P Design.

Addressing Wedding Invitations

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

As much as I love beautifully calligraphed invitations, I always feel a bit sad to receive mail addressed to someone that's not actually me, but rather Mrs. Husband. This is never, I am certain, done out of malice or thoughtlessness, simply custom and old-school etiquette. But, as APW CEO & Editor-in-Chief Meg Keene writes, etiquette is all about treating people with respect, and it’s not very polite to address people by things that are not their names. When I read her (edited) post below on A Practical Wedding this afternoon, I felt like I'd finally found some great modern guidelines for greeting your guests.

Addressing Wedding Invitations

Mrs., Ms., and Mx.

Figuring out the right way to use honorifics in our wonderfully progressive time can be a real pain. So feel free to skip them altogether, except for the older folks on your list who use them religiously. But if you do use honorifics, please put in the legwork required to use the right ones for the right people.

“Miss” and (the adorable) “Master” are appropriate terms of address for children.

Once a woman is grown, address her as “Ms.” if unmarried (just like you would address a man as “Mr.”).

Married women who don’t share their husbands’ last names have the honorific of “Ms.,” not “Mrs.”

Many married women who do share their husband’s last name also use the honorific “Ms."

“Dr.” is a term that some people use socially, and some don’t. You can use it or not, but if you use it, please use it for everyone who is a doctor.

Widows should be addressed in the same form that they preferred when their partners were living, unless they’ve decided to change their form of address. If that’s “Mrs. His-First His-Last,” that remains the same.

If you’re looking for a gender-neutral term for your gender queer friends, use Mx. Mx. is typically the gender-neutral title for anyone who is non-binary and/or does not wish to reveal their gender. The best way to Internet-stalk the right answer to this new-ish question is to check a person’s pronoun on Facebook. If they use “they”, go with Mx.

Include the Kids

If children are invited, list them on the envelope. (Or on the inner envelope if you have one.)

Handling Different Last Names

Traditionally people with different last names are listed on different lines, and women’s names go first. I’m kind of down with that, because while women make $0.79 on the man’s dollar, I’m scooping up any extra prizes you throw at me. But if that doesn’t work for you, skip it.

The Golden Rule of Envelopes

This one is the golden rule of wedding invitations. Maybe you’re not using honorifics, but you know that your grandmother likes to get her mail addressed to “Mrs. His-First His-Last,” even though her husband died years ago. She’s earned it, so address her invite that way. Once you’re married, you’re going to be dealing with trying to get people to address you in the form you prefer, so earn some points with the universe now.

Forgive Yourself in Advance

This is particularly true if you have a slew of friends who just got married and you can’t remember what names they’re now using. Try your best to figure out their current form of address (editor's note: Facebook and/or a quick text is particularly useful here), apologize when you make a mistake, and then let it go.

  Original post excerpted from A Practical Wedding Planner.

Image by Mandy Busby, stationery, artwork and calligraphy by Signora e Mare,
envelopes by Script Merchant Calligraphy.


Friday, April 1, 2016

Though Friday nights at our house used to mean Indian food, they're more likely to be Italian-themed evenings these days. We've been pairing pizza and pasta with our favorite three-ingredient low-alcohol cocktail, the Americano!


1 1/2 oz Campari
1 1/2 oz sweet vermouth 
club soda
orange wedge

Fill a highball glass with ice, add Campari and sweet vermouth. Top with club soda and garnish with an orange wedge. 

Notes: I adore Carpano Antica in this and any other cocktail that includes sweet vermouth, but Dolin Rouge is a sublime springtime substitution. Pair an Americano with some salty snacks and you'll have one fabulous Friday night–cheers, and happy April! 

Image by James Ransom.

522 North Pinckney Cocktail

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Looking for a last-minute cocktail for your Sunday brunch? Look no further than this sophisticated take on the classic mimosa! 

522 North Pinckney Cocktail

2 cups freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice
1/2 cup elderflower liqueur
1/4 cup Campari
sparkling wine

Combine grapefruit juice, elderflower liqueur and Campari in a pitcher; cover and chill. To serve, divide grapefruit mixture evenly and top with sparkling wine. Serves 8. 

Notes: Champagne flutes or fluted glasses are best for this sparkling sipper, as is an inexpensive Cava or California brut. If you're looking for a little more sweetness, a Prosecco will be perfect. Cheers!

Image by Christina Holmes.

Signature Cocktail Q&A

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

As you probably know (or might have guessed), I love a cocktail. Between the gorgeous glassware, the alchemy made possible by a shaker and the chance to spend time with my nearest and dearest while sipping one, I find the whole thing irresistible. So I was absolutely delighted when Stephanie at Borrowed & Blue asked me to share what I've learned over the years about signature cocktails and stocking your own home bar.

Our Q&A is below!

What's your drink of choice? 
 It depends on the season–and the bar–but I never regret ordering an Americano.

What makes a "good" cocktail?  
Balance, high quality ingredients and freshly squeezed juice.

What are the four most essential items you stock your bar with? 
 Campari, Carpano Antica sweet vermouth, a solid bourbon and Barbancourt rum.

What's the most versatile mixer? 
 Club soda–and if you have a soda machine, you always have it on hand!

The best brand of bitters?  
Every bar needs just three kinds of bitters: Angostura, Peychaud's and orange (I like Fee Brothers). 

What's your favorite spring cocktail?  
A Royal Badminton Cup or a glass of rosé.

A margarita or a Campari-soda.

A De Rigueur or Honeymoon, and I never turn down a taste of that year's Beaujolais-Nouveau.


If you had to sum up San Francisco in a drink, what would it be and why?  
My favorite thing about San Francisco is the city's diversity–I hope it could never be summed up in a single cocktail! That said, if I had to do some research I'd start at Smuggler's Cove or Bar Agricole

What are some good resources for discovering new cocktail recipes?  
I adore Bon Appétit and PUNCH, but my best resource is my distiller husband!

How would a couple decide what kind of signature cocktail is right for their wedding?  
Just like picking wine, I recommend that couples consider the food served at their reception as well as the season and time of day. After making a list of initial ideas, taste-test your top picks–ideally with your cocktail hour menu–before selecting your favorites.

What are your feelings on "his" and "hers" cocktails? 
 We served a Royal Badminton Cup and a Corpse Reviver No. 2, but skipped the "his" and "hers" designations since they were both gin-based and we wanted our guests to feel comfortable sampling both. Spirits have had gendered profiles for a long time, but I know plenty of women who love a whiskey–and men who order piña coladas. If there's a drink he loves but you won't touch, feel free it call it "his"; otherwise, just serve cocktails you're both eager to have on the big day and call them yours.

The Kona Swizzle and the 212.

Any other advice for couples choosing the signature cocktails at their wedding?  
Think practically about your guest to bartender ratio and choose cocktails that can be done well. Labor intensive libations like mojitos and mint juleps or spirituous cocktails that require a lot of stirring might leave most of your guests waiting.

Don't worry about pleasing everyone with your signature cocktail–make it an expression of yourselves and your guests will be delighted to drink to the happy couple. Cheers!

Hotel Nacional Special

Friday, March 11, 2016

With all the beautiful photos of Cuban cityscapes I've been seeing lately and wonderfully warm weather this week, the Hotel Nacional Special, the signature cocktail from Havana's Hotel Nacional de Cuba, seemed like just the thing for a Friday evening.

Hotel Nacional Special

2 oz rum
1/4 oz apricot liqueur
1 oz pineapple juice
1/2 oz freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 oz simple syrup

Combines all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake vigorously for 10-15 seconds; strain into a chilled coupe glass.

Notes: I wanted to let you all in on a little secret–simple syrup doesn't have to come from the store or be the result of any stove-top stirring. For this cocktail, I'd use a rich simple syrup; just microwave equal parts sugar and water until combined! Stick to white rather than aged rum or an agricole for this cocktail; Barbancourt is my personal favorite, but Bacardi will be just fine. And be sure to find a good-quality apricot liqueur, since it can make or break this cocktail. Cheers!

Image by Ann Street Studio.

Piña Colada

Monday, February 29, 2016

It's spring break–which might be more accurately called "Winter Semester Writing Week" in my case–and while I'm planning to spend the better part of the holiday sorting through a pile of books, I am willing to take a break one evening for a stiff drink. Why not make it an homage to white sand beaches and suntan lotion, whatever the weather? 

Piña Colada

2 oz rum
1 1/2 oz cream of coconut
2/3 oz pineapple juice
1/2 oz freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 oz pineapple gum syrup (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker or blender with crushed ice. Shake for 5 to 7 seconds or blend until smooth. Pour into a chilled glass, and top with Angostura bitters. Garnish with freshly slapped mint and a brandied cherry.

Notes: There are few things on Earth more festive than a piña colada, especially when it's served in a hollowed out tropical fruit. It seems just the thing to see us through the rest of a winter week, and encourage daydreams of lounging beside the pool–cheers! 

The Boulevardier

Friday, February 12, 2016

 Valentine's Day promises to be chilly, and I can think of no better way to warm up than with a stiff bourbon-based cocktail. The rose-red Boulevardier is a classic riff on a Negroni that'll have you happily curled up next to your sweetheart come Sunday evening.

The Boulevardier

1 1/2 oz bourbon
1 1/2 oz sweet vermouth
1 1/2 oz Campari 

Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake for 10-15 seconds; strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with a orange peel. 

Notes: The Boulevardier is my bar litmus test, and I had by far the best one yet at Dallas' Filament over the holidays. The bartender swore by the equal proportions I've given above, and used Old Grand-Dad, Cinzano, and Campari for a perfectly romantic cocktail that I still can't stop dreaming of. That said, the only ingredient that's a real must here is the Campari; use your favorite bourbon or whatever vermouth you have on-hand. Cheers, and happy Valentine's Day!

Rooibos Toddy

Friday, January 15, 2016

It's Friday. The weather this week has averaged below 20ºF. And I made it through the first full week of the semester. Never has a hot toddy been more appropriate.

Rooibos Toddy

6 oz freshly brewed rooibos tea
1 oz bourbon
1 oz Cognac
1/2 oz Bénèdictine
2 dashes Angostura bitters

Combine tea, bourbon, Cognac, Bénèdictine and bitters in a mug; stir to combine. Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg, a clove-studded lemon wheel and a cinnamon stick.

Notes: If you don't have rooibos on hand, strong black tea will be better than fine. But stay away from overproofed bourbons for this sipper, and stick to a classic like Wild Turkey. Cheers, and stay warm!

Recipe by Damon Boelte, image by Michael Graydon and Nikole Herriott.

Moët Ruby Red

Friday, January 8, 2016

The Golden Globes are this weekend, and while we may not have a hair and makeup team to doll us up or a gorgeous gown to swan around in, we can enjoy the cocktail stars will be sipping–and do it without Spanx on.

Moët Ruby Red

1 oz vodka
3/4 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/4 oz tarragon-raspberry shrub
2 1/2 oz sparkling wine

Combine vodka, lemon and shrub in a shaker with ice; shake for 10 to 15 seconds. Strain into a chilled stemmed glass. Top with sparkling wine and garnish with a spring of tarragon and a long, spiraled lemon peel.

Notes: Sparkling, pretty, and potent–I can hardly imagine anything better! The Golden Globes and Moët have a long relationship, but don't be afraid to substitute the Champagne for your favorite (less expensive) sparkling wine. To make the shrub, combine 2 cups crushed raspberries, 2 cups apple cider vinegar, 4 cups cane sugar, the peel of one lemon and 4 sprigs of tarragon in a sauce pot. Bring ingredients to a simmer and cook until sugar is completely dissolved. Allow to cool before using. Cheers!

To 2016

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Whatever, wherever, however you're celebrating tonight, I hope you ring in the best year yet.

Image by Michael Kraus for Saveur.

In a Pear Tree

Thursday, December 24, 2015

One December when John and I were first dating, I was fascinated by Belle de Brillet, a Cognac infused with pears–and John wisely took note. The oddly wrapped package on the mantle of our first apartment was none other than a bottle of Belle de Brillet, and now the delicate spirit always reminds me of the holidays. I'm planning to indulge in a tipple of it in a Champagne cocktail this Christmas!

In a Pear Tree

1/2 oz pisco
1/2 oz Calvados
3/4 oz St-Germain
1/2 oz Belle de Brillet
dash of orange bitters

Combine pisco, Calvados, St-Germain, Belle de Brillet and orange bitters in a shaker or mixing glass with ice; stir until chilled. Pour into a flute or coupe, top with Champagne and garnish with an orange peel.

Notes: Belle de Brillet is much easier to find these days, but if collecting all these ingredients at your in-laws proves too difficult, a high-quality pear spirit topped with Champagne and finished with a dash of orange bitters will be just the ticket. 

Wishing you and yours a lovely holiday–cheers!

Christmas in the City

Monday, December 21, 2015

After turning in the last of my assignments for the semester, I headed to Chicago to see my lifelong friend–and take in a little city living after moving to the suburbs. I didn't think I had such a soft spot for public transit or crowded sidewalks, but when I heard the T rumbling overhead, I was filled with delight!

I had made a list of all the cocktail bars, cuisines and culture I had been missing, and over the course of two packed days we managed to do a lot of it. Coffees at La Colombe and window shopping in Wicker Park, dinner at avec and a daiquiri at Broken Shaker, bahn mi at Saigon Sisters before miniatures at the Art Institute, cocktails, small plates, and seeing the city by foot. We didn't get a chance to check out Chicago's tiki scene, but that just gives me another reason to head back–and bring John!

I took an early train back to Michigan on Friday, and curled up with a book while snow swirled around us. When I pulled into the station, John was there waiting for me. We dashed home through the snow for a big bowl of soup and a grilled cheese sandwich, then started to make our final preparations for Saturday, when we'd be celebrating the holidays early with a little gift exchange and a fabulous meal! We cooked breakfast–a pint sized spanakopita–the night before and crawled into bed early wearing our most festive pjs!

The next morning, we slept in, had breakfast in bed, and giggled our way through our favorite Christmas episodes of West Wing and Frasier. We were delighted by the light dusting of snow (a white Christmas!) and decided to walk to our favorite coffee shop after opening presents. Thoroughly tuckered out, we squeezed in a nap before dinner prep which consumed the better part of the day. On the menu: a little gem salad with avocado and satsumas segments finished in a sherry-orange dressing, duck á l'orange with a carrot-star anise purée and green beans sautéed in duck fat, and a chocolate pudding cake all enjoyed with a bottle of pinot noir John had brought back from Switzerland this summer. We took a chilly walk through the neighborhood after supper, then curled up with White Christmas before heading to bed. And best of all, our holiday celebrations have only just begun! We head to TX this week where we'll get to see some of our nearest and dearest before the semester begins in early January.  

Tell me, how are you celebrating this holiday season?

Image by James Nord.

Smoking Bishop

Friday, December 18, 2015

The Smoking Bishop could warm even Ebenezer Scrooge's heart!

Smoking Bishop

1 bottle ruby port
1 bottle red wine
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
4 oranges
20 cloves

Preheat your oven to 350º. Wash, dry, and stud each orange with five cloves; place oranges in a baking dish and roast until lightly browned all over (60-90 minutes). While the oranges are baking, add port, wine, water, sugar and spices to a saucepan and simmer over low heat. Slice baked oranges in half; squeeze juice into wine-port mixture. Serve in a coupe or rocks glass with a clove-studded orange slice.

Notes: Ruby port is a fortified red wine with berry, caramel and cinnamon flavors; an inexpensive bottle from your local grocery or liquor store will be more than special enough for this punch. As for the red wine, I'd look for something from Portugal (where port is made) or Spain–if it grows together, it goes together. Cheers! 

Image by Daniel Krieger for PUNCH.

A Crimson Kiss – Timeless Events and Classic Cocktails by Ana Degenaar : Blogger