De Rigueur

Friday, December 19, 2014

 Though I am a well-organized holiday shopper (my first gifts usually start arriving in July...), there always seems to be one person whose gift confounds me. Either I can't decide which present is best, or I can't find what I'm looking for, but inevitably, there's a single outstanding gift to hunt down the week before Christmas. This year, my last present required a trip to the mall. So I needed one of these whiskey cocktails to soothe my weary soul after hitting Bloomingdale's, Nordstrom's, Macy's and Sephora–where thankfully, I was victorious.

De Rigueur

1 1/2 oz whiskey
1 oz freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
1/2 oz honey syrup

Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously for 10-15 seconds, then strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with a grapefruit peel.

John and I have been wild about the De Rigueur, also called the Brown Derby cocktail, since this fall, and we show no sign of stopping as winter officially arrives. We usually shake up this sipper with W.L. Weller 107, a wheated bourbon that's just a bit spicy, but your favorite bourbon or rye will shine beautifully in this drink. Cheers, and happy shopping!

Image by Cold Glass.

Bergamot Blazer

Thursday, December 11, 2014

It has been rainy and chilly in San Francisco lately–just the kind of weather that calls for a warm, boozy beverage. This Bergamot Blazer is particularly well-suited to wet weather, since the boldest of us may choose to light it on fire!

Bergamot Blazer

2 oz high-proof bourbon
2 oz earl grey tea, double strength
3/4 oz St Germain liqueur
hot water
lemon peel

 Fill a teacup with hot water. Once warmed, combine bourbon, tea, and St Germain in the teacup, and garnish with a lemon peel.

If you want to try your hand at boozy pyrotechnics, you'll want to place the bourbon in one warmed, silver mug, and the hot tea in another, both with handles. Carefully light the bourbon aflame using a long match, then pour the lit bourbon into the mug of tea. Pass back and forth, extinguishing by placing one mug on top of the other. Then top with elderflower syrup or liqueur, and garnish with a lemon peel.

Admittedly, it's been a long time since I've seen John light bourbon on fire, but he sure does get a kick out of doing it. I'd use a high-proof bourbon whether or not you're setting it ablaze, like Bookers (the proof should be between 108 and 112), and be sure to steep your tea for a perfectly cozy evening in. Cheers!

Image by Daniel Krieger for PUNCH.

À tout à l'heure

Monday, December 1, 2014

Oh, what a wonderful weekend–I hope you all had an absolutely fabulous few days away!

I kicked off the holiday by heading out of the office a bit early–and headed straight home to bake up a pile of pies. There was one apple, featuring Arkansas Blacks, a bourbon-pecan and two pumpkin (because they're my favorite fall breakfast). With our oven already warm and most of the evening taken up with pies, John and I decided to roast some root vegetables for an autumn salad; dressed in a mustard vinaigrette and topped with a warm poached egg, it was the perfect simple supper. We headed to bed early, eager to get a jump start on the long weekend.

We woke up early on Thursday, but without a turkey to roast or potatoes to peel, we had the day free to do as we pleased–which mostly meant practicing, reading and writing. We took a long stroll down to the beach, since Thanksgiving always seems to be sunny and warm in San Francisco, and after preparing John's traveling cocktail kit, we headed to the site of our fabulous feast. With our families far away, I feel so blessed to have been adopted by our dear friends and his parents–this was our second Thanksgiving celebration with them, and it was such an honor to have been included. After drinks of John's creation (I'll share a few in the coming weeks!), we sat down to a truly incredible meal. We watched the last quarter of the Giants-Seahawks game (our hosts hail from Portland, after all) and then played a giggle-inducing game of Balderdash before heading home. The red wine and the roast turkey had John and I both feel pretty snoozy, and we fell asleep before the opening West Wing credits ever played.

It's been a long time since John and I had a whole weekend to ourselves, and without any all-consuming deadlines, so to tell the truth, we spent a lot of time curled up together. There were leftovers for breakfast on Friday morning and Indian food for dinner, and a lot of President Bartlett and practice in between. John worked on Saturday, so I spent most of the time at the computer putting on a coat of polish, and we made another roasted root vegetable salad that evening before John and I made some tremendous progress on his tremolo technique. My guy was up at 6 on Sunday for a long run, but he was home and showered in plenty of time to grab empanadas and Americanos from Hollow. Saturday night's rain kept coming on Sunday, so we curled up in our cable knits and sipped spiced cider while we ticked things off our to-do lists. And late Sunday afternoon, we cooked homemade gnocchi for one of my favorite rainy-day suppers, and I thought of my grandfather, who loved them, too. After a pretty demanding few weeks, it felt wonderful to kick back a bit, even if there was still plenty accomplished between couch-cuddling sessions.

Tell me, how was your holiday weekend? Did you host your first Thanksgiving, catch up with old friends, finish up your holiday shopping, or just begin it? I want to hear all about it! 

As for the title of this post, I am taking a brief blogging hiatus to focus on a big project this month–I can't wait to share more details soon! Don't worry–I haven't lost my love of weddings, or sharing them with you. I'll still be posting from time to time, but I'll be back in a big way come the New Year. In the meantime, wishing you all a happy, healthy, joyous holiday!

With love, 

Image by Jose Villa, styling by Easton Events.

Pumpkin Old Fashioned

Thursday, November 27, 2014

There are plenty of things to think about when preparing a Thanksgiving feast, but you'll no longer have to wonder what do to with the extra bit of pumpkin purée. Today, you'll throw it in this cocktail and toast to your favorite bourbon! 

Pumpkin Old Fashioned

1 tbsp pumpkin puree
1 1/2 oz bourbon
1 oz maple syrup
1/2 oz orange liquor
orange bitters
orange peel

Combine pumpkin, bourbon, syrup, orange liquor and 1 dash orange bitters in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously for 10-15 seconds and double stain into a Old Fashioned glass filled with ice. Garnish with an orange twist.

Notes: Spicy bourbon with a high rye content will pair beautifully with the sweetness of maple syrup and pumpkin purée. We find ourselves reaching for the Wild Turkey a lot around this time of year (it goes in our bourbon-pecan pie, too), but whatever you find yourself running out of often is perfect for this libation.

On this day of Thanksgiving, I wanted to say how very grateful I am for you, dear reader. I hope this is a space where you find inspiration and joy; you certainly bring that into my life. Cheers, and happy Thanksgiving!

Image by Anna Stockwell for Saveur.

Poppy & Hugh

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

This is one of my favorite celebrations of the last year–the perfect marriage of modern and romantic, and of Poppy & Hugh.

The bride wore a lace sheath flecked with delicate crystals by Temperley London; a pair of white Jimmy Choo pumps, a lush bouquet of white garden roses and a crown of white and mauve blooms by florist Tori Allen completed her elegant boho bridal look. Bridesmaids wore bold orange dresses by Willow and matching nude pumps from Nine West; their round bouquets were filled with white, mauve and bright orange roses with sprigs of rosemary and mint. Saville row tailor Spencer Hart crafted Hugh's suit, and the newlyweds attire was a nod to the years they spent living in London.

After exchanging wedding vows overlooking Port Philip Estate, the couple posed for photos in the vineyard. Dinner was served in the Estate's modern dining room, with white rose and fall foliage arrangements serving as a romantic foil to the concrete walls and structural furniture. Dinner and toasts followed, and after one last spin on the dance floor, Poppy and Hugh headed off on their honeymoon and into their life as husband and wife.

Luckily, the pair had Kate Robinson on hand to capture each gorgeous, heartfelt moment; can you imagine a photographer capturing the event more perfectly? Tell me, what's your favorite image or detail from this fall fête?


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Aren't these strappy sandals a chic way to celebrate your love of orange? I think they'd be fabulous for a swanky Thanksgiving–especially if someone else is standing at the stove!

Image by Joel Bedford, sandals by Aldo.


Monday, November 24, 2014

We broke with tradition on Friday night, and rather than stuff ourselves with Indian food, we headed to Hayes Valley for a fabulous evening of opera. After all, when one of your dearest friends is performing in San Francisco Opera's production of Cenerentola, you go! We snagged a sidewalk seat at Absinthe before the show and both ordered the burger along with a glass of crémant. We strolled over to the opera house with one of our usual Friday night dates, then watched Efrain with pride. After the fabulous production, John and I headed out with another couple to Boxing Room. We were having such fun we could hardly believe we got home just after 1!

We were up early the next day despite our late evening the night before. After a simple oatmeal breakfast with molasses and cinnamon, I took John into work and bee-lined back home to get to it myself. I spent the day at my desk, revising, editing and reading. At the moment I thought I might go cross-eyed, John called to say he was done, so I hopped in the car to grab him and we made a few stops along the way for groceries and more library materials. We ordered a small Indian feast in the car (old habits), and when our curries arrived, we both squealed with glee. We curled up after dinner with an episode of The West Wing, but I was anxious to squeeze in a bit more reading. John conked out at 8:30 while I was just cracking open the book's spine, and I headed to bed not too long after.

So imagine our surprise then that we didn't rub the sleep out of our eyes until 8:30 the next morning! We've been working pretty hard lately, and I guess it finally caught up. We jumped out of bed to start cooking breakfast, and by 10am we were enjoying poached eggs served over sweet potato hash with rosemary and thyme, chicken-apple breakfast sausage, and freshly squeezed grapefruit juice–not a bad start to the day! I brewed John a second pot of coffee and we got started on our to-do lists: blogging, reading and editing for me, practice and arranging for John. He headed out that afternoon to grab new strings and pick up a few last ingredients for our Thanksgiving contributions (I make the pies, John's responsible for cocktails), while I stayed buried in my work. Eventually I tore myself away for the wonderful torture that is Ballet Beautiful while John made supper–a simple pasta pomodoro that was perfect with a glass of Beaujolais-Village. We curled up with one last episode of The West Wing before heading to bed early–turns out we needed the rest!

Tell me, what were you up to this weekend? Watching the last installment of The Hunger Games, prepping your famous pecan pie for Thursday, or cheering your team on to victory, perhaps?

Image by Nhiya Kaye Photography, fall bouquet by Sax Romney.

Blackberry Smash

Friday, November 21, 2014

Our local markets have been full of blackberries recently, and John just loves them so I picked up a pack or two. I, on the other hand, have never figured out quite how to eat and enjoy them, so I smashed them up with some bourbon–much more my speed!

Blackberry Smash

1/2 lemon, sliced
4 blackberries
sprig of mint
2 oz bourbon
1 oz simple syrup

Combine lemon slices, blackberries and mint in a cocktail shaker; gently muddle. Add bourbon, syrup and ice; shake for 10-15 seconds. Strain into a rocks glass filled with ice, and garnish with a freshly slapped sprig of mint.

Notes: Bourbon pairs beautifully with berry flavors, and we like something with a bit of heat and spice to make sure the whiskey flavor shines through. Wild Turkey is a favorite in our house, but any equally assertive spirit would be just right–cheers!

Image and recipe from Creative Culinary


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Amanda & Sam

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

This stunning celebration is proof that fall weddings by the sea are as lovely as those fêtes on an apple farm! Amanda and Sam's intimate celebration at the Belle Haven Club in Greenwich, Connecticut exuded classic style and a bit of whimsy, and florist Ariella Chezar brought autumn to life beneath a Sperry tent on the club's lawn. Captured by Karen Hill Photography, this wedding is an essay in elegance.

Tell me, what's your favorite image or detail from this fall fête?

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