Recently my parents hosted an impromptu barbecue. When I asked if I could make the specialty cocktail, my dad said, "nah, that's too much work." Then I politely reminded him that a specialty cocktail doesn't always involve muddling and exotic spirits. It can be as simple as a chilled sangria. Since sangria is my classic fall-back cocktail, he caved and let me experiment with a new mango-peach variation. Although the recipe doesn't require the sangria to be made in advance, I threw it together a few hours before the party to allow time for the flavors to blend. Choose peaches and mangoes that aren't too ripe, you want them to hold their shape when sliced. Beware: this sangria is wildly crowd-pleasing. I doubled the recipe, but ended up making four more batches throughout the night! To check it out, read more
After being inspired by San Francisco Cocktail Week, I've decided that this Summer, I'm going to experiment with different spirits and mixers. First up is the Brazilian sugarcane rum known as cachaça. The caipirinha is the classic cocktail that features cachaça. Normally it consists of muddled lime and sugar, but this recipe takes a sangria-like approach to the drink and combines the potent rum with red wine, fresh citrus juice, and smashed blackberries.
The final concoction is punchy, flavorful, and wildly fruity. Be careful though: while this caipirinha is perfect for sipping on a warm afternoon, it's a deceptively potent cocktail. Enjoy one too many and you may end up passed out on the couch. The straightforward recipe is ideal for a party because it's easy to double (or triple as I did) the batch. It requires at least one hour of chill time, so mix it well before your event begins. Check out the recipe and read more
Last weekend I hosted my first outdoor dinner of the season. While I had grand plans to serve a crazy new cocktail, in the end, I went with a crowd-pleasing standby, sangria.
Sangria is one of my favorite drinks to pour at a party because it's wildly refreshing, can be made in advance, and serves a large group. From white to red to sparkling to rosé, there's hundreds of recipes, so I rarely make the same variation twice. This time, we sipped a white-wine sangria spiked with elderflower liquor. It was wonderful! It's slightly sweet and floral, incredibly fruity, and highly drinkable. My guests went through three pitchers in a matter of minutes.
If you're planning a warm-weather get-together, put this easy concoction on the menu. To give the fruit time to flavor the alcohol, assemble several hours in advance. For the recipe, read more
Months ago, I ripped this recipe for rose sangria out of Food and Wine magazine. The recipe has haunted me — I've tried to make it several times, but on each occasion, I've run into problems. The first shot I didn't realize the syrup needed a night to macerate. The second try I thought I had Port in my wine rack, but didn't. The third attempt I could no longer find fresh cranberries at the local market. However, I've decided I WILL make it for my half birthday picnic. There is plenty of time between now and then for me to make sure I have all of the necessary ingredients. A batch can be whipped up in advance and kept chilled in a cooler on the ride out to the Hog Island Oyster Company farm.
Besides the sangria, I'll pack beer, water, and champagne. To look at the recipe, read more
For a large dinner party select a specialty cocktail that can be made in advance and in a large batch. This recipe for a white wine sangria gets an Asian twist with the addition of canned lychees and sake. It will pair perfectly with spring rolls and Chinese noodles.
To make it a truly festive celebration stock up on Asian beer (Tsingtao is a nice option) and good sipping sake (I like Sake One's selection). To check out the recipe for the shinsei sangria, read more
Elixir, the bar where LibertySugar and I are hosting our town-hall style election-night bash, is offering guests a selection of drinking specials for the party. With fabulous names like "Bye Bye Miss American Rye," the menu will feature only American brands like Bluecoat gin, Square One vodka, and Sam Adams brew. I plan on ordering the "Red, White, and Night" a potent, sangria-like concoction made with vodka, red wine, and lemonade. To serve up this slinger at your own election-night soirée, get the recipe and read more
When I saw this recipe for white wine sangria in the July issue of Gourmet magazine, I knew I had to make it. I wasn't disappointed when I did; this sangria is phenomenal.
It's fresh, fruity, and refreshing without being overly sweet. The mint adds an herby aroma to the wine, and the absence of fruit chunks makes for smooth, easy drinking. The recipe calls for Pinot Grigio, but I used a dry Riesling from Trader Joe's.
To learn how to make this divinely sip-able sangria, read more
Sunny weekends in San Francisco are hard to come by. When I awoke last Saturday to clear-blue skies, I headed over to Bar Bambino, an Italian nook in the city with a new back patio.
There, I enjoyed the perfect warm-weather drink: a spin on sangria that was refreshing and fruity without being overly cloying or too heavy on the alcohol. With one in hand, I imagined I was an effortlessly chic Italian woman. I snagged the recipe for the next real Summer day.
The cocktail calls for white wine (I'd recommend a Sauvignon Blanc, or any other dry white with mineral notes) as well as orange bitters, which can be found at large liquor stores. For the recipe, read more
Since guests may arrive at different times and you could be busy giving a tour of the house, set up a small bar at your housewarming party. Let visitors pour their own drinks. Fill a bowl with ice and arrange glasses, garnishes, and napkins nearby. Place cold beers and several bottles of white wine in a large bucket. Make a pitcher of fruity sangria and place it on the table. Serving a sangria is smart because it's made in advance and keeps up with the Spanish theme of the snacks and sweets. To look at the recipe for this peach -strawberry sangria, read more
Although I love a decadent chocolate cake, there is no place for rich desserts at a pool party. Guests will be in swimsuits, so serve something that's refreshing, cold, and not too sweet.
These sangria popsicles are a delicious grownup treat. Made with white wine, rum, pineapple chunks, and fresh orange juice, they're the perfect pool party crowd pleaser.
For the recipe, read more