Day 6 of A Week of Holiday Cocktails – The Cosmopolitan

The Cosmopolitan

Miranda, Samantha, Charlottle and Carrie knew what they were talking.

Now at first glance, you may be saying to yourself – A Cosmopolitan? Isn’t that so 10+ years ago? And quite honestly, you may be right but these little beauties are so delish that I don’t mind if I’m a bit outdated. Just call me retro.

The Cosmopolitan

Cosmopolitans are a great cocktail for holiday entertaining. Not only are they tasty but they are one of those cocktails you can make in advance before your guests arrive. Once your guests are ready to have a drink, you can pour some of the pre-mixed Cosmos into a shaker filled with ice, shake for a bit and then strain into martini glasses. Or you can pre-portion them out into little glass bottles and then chill them in ice buckets. Your guests can then just grab their own little Cosmopolitan bottle and sip away. Definitely less fuss for you if you’re hosting.

The key to my version of the Cosmo is fresh grapefruit juice. It makes such a world of difference adding a slight bitter and floral edge to the drink—perfect to counterbalance the sweetness of the cranberry juice and Cointreau. Tart, slightly sweet and just such a pretty color.

Cheers!

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The Cosmopolitan
Serves 2

Ingredients:

ice
5 ounces premium vodka
1 ounce Cointreau
3 ounces cranberry juice
2 ounces fresh grapefruit juice
½ ounce fresh lime juice
orange peels for garnish

Fill a large cocktail shaker with ice. Add the vodka, Cointreau, cranberry juice, grapefruit juice and lime juice. Vigorously shake for 20 seconds and strain the cocktails between two martini glasses. Garnish with orange peels.

Day 5 of A Week of Holiday Cocktails – Hōkū

Hoku

It’s day 5 of our Week of Holiday Cocktails and I have to admit, out of all of the drinks, I couldn’t wait to share with you all this one…..the Hōkū

At it’s core, it embodies each level that I look for in the flavor profile of an ideal cocktail. It’s highly aromatic, packs a great level of citrus acidity and well—it’s quite strong. Furthermore, the Hōkū is a nod to South East Asia and the Pacific Islands.

Hoku

The Hōkū begins with a Kaffir Lime Infused Gin. Kaffir limes are prevalent in Southeast Asian cuisine and have not only a distinct flavor but appearance. On average they are the size of a small golf ball but have a bumpy exterior. They have a wonderful citrus tone that is reminiscent of lemongrass.

To make Kaffir Lime Infused Gin, place 15-20 kaffir lime leaves that have been slightly torn in a mason jar (or other resealable container). Add the zest of 1-2 kaffir limes and top off the jar with your choice of gin. Cap the jar and refrigerate for about 2-3 weeks, shaking the jar every few days. You’ll be surprised how well the kaffir limes pair with gin and it really adds such an unexpected kick.

Hoku

The other wonderful component to this drink is starfruit. Not only are they quite pretty but they’ve got a unique, subtle flavor. To me, starfruits taste a bit like a grapes with a hint of citrus. I muddle starfruit with the kaffir lime infused gin, kaffir limes and a bit of sugar. The juices are then topped off with tonic water. As for the name, Hōkū is the Hawaiian word for star.

The Hōkūs pictured here were quite near and dear to my heart as I was able to use the starfruit from our mom’s old tree that now resides at our aunties home. Our mom was so proud of this tree as the fruit it grew were small but had the perfect starfruit flavor. She would often make a homey Vietnamese soup with them – Canh Khế or a bright Vietnamese salad – Gỏi Khế. Somehow I don’t think Mom would have been surprised to find that I’ve used her starfruit in a cocktail :)

And with that friends – Ōkole maluna! (Bottoms up!)

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Hōkū
Serves 2

Ingredients:

1 cup roughly chopped fresh starfruit
1 small kaffir lime, cut into quarters
1 teaspoon raw sugar
4 ounces kaffir lime infused gin*
ice
tonic water, about 6-8 ounces
2-3 dashes bitters
starfruit slices and kaffir lime leaves for garnish (optional)

In a cocktail shaker, muddle the starfruit, lime, and raw sugar. Add the gin and fill the shaker halfway with ice. Vigorously shake for 15-20 seconds and strain the liquids between two glasses filled with ice. Top off each glass with the tonic water and add a dash of bitters to each. Garnish with starfruit slices and kaffir lime leaves.

Day 4 of A Week of Holiday Cocktails – Love Actually

Love Actually

I have two favorite Holiday movies that I start watching on repeat once Thanksgiving comes around. And no lie, these movies are on loop until well after the New Year.

The first is just a downright classic – White Christmas. I mean, how could you not LOVE it? Song, dance….totally old Hollywood. And of course I can recite the movie verbatim.

Love Actually

My second fav may seem a bit unexpected but I just adore it…yup, it’s Love Actually. I can’t even explain why I’m so obsessed with this movie but it’s just such a darn feel good. And seriously, it seems like everyone is in it!

Since I’m such a sap, it’s quite fitting that for my Week of Holiday Cocktails I create a little number called Love Actually. It’s made with all kinds of lovey goodness –champagne, chambord, raspberries and rose water. I mean if that doesn’t scream L-O-V-E, I don’t know what does.

Did I mention there’s bubbly in it?

My. Absolute. Fav.

Salut Friends!

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Love Actually
Serves 2

Ingredients:

granulated sugar
1 ounce chambord
2 drops rose water
chilled champagne or sparkling wine
fresh raspberries

Pour the sugar into a small plate. Wet the rim of two champagne flutes with water and roll the edges of each glass into the sugar. Set aside and let dry for 5 minutes.

Pour ½ of the chambord into the bottom of each flute and then add one drop of rose water into each glass. Fill the flutes with the champagne/sparkling wine and drop each glass with 2 raspberries.

Cheers!

Day 3 of A Week of Holiday Cocktails – Mint Chocolate Martinis

Mint Chocolate Martinis

Is it a dessert?

Is it a cocktail?

Who the heck cares because it’s ridiculously amazing!

Mint Chocolate Martinis

These decadent martinis are the TRUTH as they combine the rich flavors of chocolate and mint — one of my favorite flavor combos. And with 5 different spirits in it, you know the Holiday spirit will be flowing should you serve these at your upcoming festivities.

Since these martinis are on the sweeter side, you can also opt to serve them as a dessert to avoid any baking or fussy pastries–not a bad idea if you’re trying to avoid unnecessary stress during holiday entertaining.

Mint Chocolate Martinis

We’ve got a bunch of little munchkins in my family so I’m often mixing up cocktails for the adults and mocktails for the kiddos. To make a non-alcoholic spin on these Mint Chocolate Martinis, fill a shaker with chocolate syrup, milk, a splash of heavy cream, dash of vanilla extract and a drop of mint extract. Shake it all up and strain into glasses–but don’t forget the candy cane rims!

Cheers to all!

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Mint Chocolate Martinis

Serves 2

Ingredients:

2 candy canes
ice
3 ounces vanilla vodka
2 ounces Bailey’s® Mint Chocolate Irish cream
2 ounces
Kahlúa
1 ounce creme de cacao
splash of peppermint schnapps
1 tablespoon chocolate syrup

In a food processor, grind the candy canes until it becomes the texture of sand. Pour the candy on to a small plate. Wet the rim of each glass with water and roll the edge into the candy canes.

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and pour in the vodka, Bailey’s®, Kahlúa, creme de cacao and peppermint schnapps. Shake vigorously for 15-20 seconds. Swirl the inside of 2 glasses with the chocolate syrup and strain the contents of the cocktail shaker between the two. Enjoy!

Day 2 of A Week of Holiday Cocktails – The Pomegranate Lush

The Pomegranate Lush

My seester’s in-laws have an old tree that grows the sweetest pomegranates I’ve ever tasted. The seeds are sugary sweet with just a hint of tartness. And the color is an intense deep shade of burgundy. I love to throw these gems into salads, parfaits, desserts and most recently, to flavor vodka. Infused vodkas are super easy to make and add a great flavor and kick to cocktails.

To make pomegranate infused vodka, fill a mason jar (or other clean, resealable container) about 2/3 way up with pomegranate seeds. Top off the jar with vodka and use a wooden spoon to crush up the seeds a bit to help release some of the juices. Cap the jar and refrigerate for about 2 weeks, shaking the jar every few days.

Voila! Pomegranate infused vodka at your disposal.

The Pomegranate Lush

This boozy goodnes is perfect for holiday cocktails because of it’s gorgeous hue and it packs a devilish punch. The vodka goes down quite smooth since it’s so tasty which can be a dangerous combo.

For this little number I wanted to combine the flavored vodka with a little bubbly…it is the holidays after all. Which is why I’m calling this The Pomegranate Lush –booze on booze on booze :)

Cheers!

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The Pomegranate Lush
Serves 1

Ingredients:

1½ ounces pomegranate infused vodka
dash of simple syrup
juice from 1 lime wedge
chilled sparkling wine

Pour the vodka, simple syrup and lime juice into a glass or champagne flute. Slowly fill the glass with the sparkling wine and enjoy!

A Week of Holiday Cocktails – The Spiced Apple Pie

The Spiced Apple Pie

I barely survived Thanksgiving weekend.

After a marathon meal and 18+ hours of Black Friday shopping (no, I’m not exaggerating), my sibs and I dived into a delish fall/harvest themed Family Dinner.

November 2013 Family Dinner

Since we were all consumed with preparing Thanksgiving dishes (times two for my sibs since they also had Thanksgiving with their in-laws), we wanted a menu that was pretty low maintenance.

For starters, we had a charcuterie and cheese platter to munch on. Then we moved on to roasted bone marrow – utterly decadent over toasted baguette slices and then topped with an herbaceous gremolata. For the entree, a slow-braised, saffron beef ragu. It’s a lovely spin on my seester’s delectable ossobuco that is slow cooked over a few hours. After the initial searing, you let the beef do it’s own magic with little babysitting. Perfect for recuperating shoppers. We served the rich ragu over a quick, yet utterly creamy parmesan polenta from Ina Garten.

The Spiced Apple Pie

To add some veggies to the dinner, I made a salad from dark hearty greens and topped them with homegrown pomegranates (from my seester’s in-laws) and thin starfruit slices from our mother’s old tree that now resides at our auntie’s house. I also threw in some Asian pear slices, goat cheese and a drizzle of a light Dijon based vinaigrette.

And for dessert (because there’s always room for dessert!), big sis made spiced-white wine poached Bosc pears that we enjoyed with vanilla ice cream. Quite a wonderful way to end the meal.

The Spiced Apple Pie

With a fall/harvest themed dinner, I created a cocktail that celebrated the flavors of the season. For this- and to kick off our Week of Holiday Cocktails, I’m delighted to share with you all the Spiced Apple Pie. It’s made from cider, warm spices and spiced rum. Truly apple pie in liquid form—with boozey goodness, of course :)

Another Family Dinner done and in the books and I can’t wait for December’s Family Dinner where all 5 Nguyen Siblings (and their fams) will be present! Totally a Win-Nguyen!

And here’s to the start of our Week of Holiday Cocktails!

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The Spiced Apple Pie
Serves 2

Ingredients:

ice
8 ounces unfiltered, apple cider
2½ ounces dark spiced rum
½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice
pinch freshly grated nutmeg
pinch ground allspice
pinch ground clove
dash vanilla extract
cinnamon sticks
apple slices

Fill a large cocktail shaker with ice and add all the ingredients except the cinnamon sticks & apple slices. Shake vigorously for 15-20 seconds and strain the contents between 2 glasses that have been filled with ice. Garnish with cinnamon sticks and apple slices. Cheers!

Watermelon Soju-tinis

Watermelon Soju-tinis

Did you check out our last Sunday Family Dinner?

If you did, you may have said to yourself…. “Huh…something’s missing. Where are the cocktails????”

And rightfully so! Because what’s a Sunday Fam-Din without a specialty cocktail? Not one of ours for sure!

Watermelon Soju-tinis

Since Korean fare was the theme for August, I knew I wanted to use soju for our signature cocktail. Soju is a distilled alcohol and is traditionally made from rice. To me, I liken it to the flavors of sake–but I’m no expert. So for all of you soju aficionados–don’t bust my chops!

photo1

At a family party last year, my younger cousin NhuMy picked up some fresh watermelon agua fresca and turned it into delish watermelon martinis. My seester T and I loved it so much that I wanted to take the same flavors to make Watermelon Soju-tinis.

Watermelon Soju-tinis

Using fresh watermelon that eldest seester, N, had in her fridge (my niece, Nina, is a watermelon-monster), I made a refreshing and light agua fresca. Thrown into a shaker with some lime juice, soju, zest and ice—and we had fantabulous cocktail.

Looking for a mocktail? No worries! The agua fresca chilled with ice is just as delish!

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Watermelon Soju-tinis
Serves 2

Ingredients:

6 cups fresh watermelon, cut into large chunks
1 cup chilled water
juice of 1 lime
1-2 tablespoons sugar (optional), depending on sweetness of the watermelon
ice
3 1/2 ounces soju
lime zest
watermelon wedges for garnish

In a blender, add the watermelon chunks, water, lime juice and sugar (optional). Blend until smooth. Pour liquid through a sieve to strain.

Fill a large shaker with ice. Add the soju, 5 ounces watermelon agua fresca, and 1-2 pinches lime zest. Shake vigorously for 15-20 seconds and strain the contents between 2 glasses. Garnish with watermelon wedges. Cheers!