The end of October signals the beginning of the busiest time of the year! From Halloween through New Year’s, there’s one occasion after another to eat, drink, and be merry. As they say, it’s the “most wonderful time of the year”, but it can also be pretty stressful and exhausting. Sometimes at the end of the day, I just want to curl up with a warm, cozy, alcohol-free nightcap. I want something calming and soothing to help lull me to sleep, and for me that’s moon milk!
The Vodka Soda is pretty much the un-cocktail. It’s typically meant to be as tasteless and chuggable (is that a word?) as possible. Admittedly, most of the time when I thought of a Vodka Soda, I thought of a drink meant to induce drunkenness with as few calories as possible. And that’s about it. I definitely dismissed it altogether for a while there. But it was actually my aversion to it made me want to do some tweaking and throw a few back in the name of R&D. After trying a bunch of easy variations, I’m ready to stand behind the Vodka Soda as a really fun and delicious cocktail template.
Summer time around here typically means one cocktail above all else – the beloved gin and tonic. But this year, my husband (finally) really fell in love with gin, and when he ran out (read: drank all) of my fancy tonic water while I was away visiting family, he tried substituting seltzer water instead. He didn’t know it then, but what he was drinking is also known as a Gin Rickey. This simple combination of gin, half a lime’s juice, and carbonated water is as easy-going and fresh as it gets. Pretty soon, my husband told me he actually enjoyed his gin more this way, and after a bit of coaxing, I’m finally swapping out my G&T for a Rickey now and then too!
Blueberry season is in full swing and I’m making the most of several pounds of freshly picked berries with a pairing that’s just as good during these hot, late August days as when the first leaves begin to fall. With cooler weather just around the corner, I went with bourbon for this simple, equal parts cocktail. Toasty crostinis topped with goat cheese, blueberries, and thyme make the perfect accompaniment, with balanced sweet, savory, and tart flavors. The best part of this simple combo is that you only need to put the work into making one blueberry compote that can then be used both for the cocktail and hors d’oeuvres!
If there’s one drink that’s the embodiment of summertime in America, it’s good ol’ fashioned, homemade lemonade! The simple, timeless combination of lemons, sugar, and water creates the most refreshing beverage during these dog days of summer. Pretty much every recipe out there will tell you to juice some lemons, add sugar and water, stir well – and voila! Good stuff. The really smart recipes will instruct you to make a quick simple syrup first, which is a big improvement. But I have an upgrade that will make for the best damn lemonade you’ve ever tasted – and you still only need those three ingredients: lemons, sugar, and water!
August is here, and in southern New Hampshire, the ripe, crimson cones of sumac trees are dotting the edges of roadways and fields everywhere you look. The Staghorn sumac, or Rhus typhina, is very easy to identify thanks to those spiky red cones coated in fuzzy fibers, reminiscent of velvety deer antlers. Sometimes confused with Poison sumac (Toxicodendron vernix), the staghorn, smooth, and winged sumacs that grow throughout the US are actually all edible – and quite delicious! Fortunately, there is no confusing the edible from the non-edible sumacs, as Poison sumac produces white berries, and edible varieties produce red ones.