Lush Life

To be a lush chef, does not mean to drink in excess - this can result in scary fires and bad dishes. A lush chef is one who enjoys gourmet cooking/baking, often with fresh ingredients and the smart use of one's home bar. If there happens to be half a bottle of beer, a glass of wine, or a sip of brandy left over...well, one cannot be wasteful. I give you permission to imbibe.

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The Lush Chef
Twitter: @thelushchef Provenance: Santa Monica Dish: Coq au Vin Spirit: Whiskey Wine: Malbec Beer: Hefeweizen Farmer's Market: Santa Monica on Main Street
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Dec 31, 2013

Forbidden Pear Cocktail

You can do champagne, and then you can really class it up and do champagne cocktails for New Year's Eve.  Whether you're hosting a party and pouring cocktails all night or want to do something special for that midnight toast, this Forbidden Pear cocktail is sure to impress your guests.  It's a slight twist on's Forbidden Apple recipe, which is also a slight twist on a traditional champagne cocktail (sugar, bitters, champs).  Isn't almost any cocktail a twist on something classic? used Calvados, which is an apple brandy, Grand Marnier and some Angostura bitters.  Instead of Calvados, I used J Pear Liqueur, which I included in a Spiced Pear Margarita for last New Year's Eve.  I absolutely love this stuff.  It's made by J Vineyards & Winery in Healdsburg, California using Bartlett pears and has hints of cinnamon, vanilla and honey — perfect for winter.  If you can't find this particular liqueur, feel free to use any kind of pear brandy, as well as your favorite aromatic bitters.  I had recently finished making a batch of aromatic bitters for my little Bitter Revenge line to give out during the holidays.  I left out the orange twist, as I wanted to taste more of the pear notes.  I can't wait to make this drink for friends and really kick off the New Year, or just find an excuse to celebrate anytime this winter.  It's a rich, slightly sweet libation that makes any special occasion feel a little more luxe.

Forbidden Pear 
  • 3-5 dashes of Angostura or aromatic bitters (I used my Bitter Revenge "Et Tu, Brute" house bitters)
  • 1/2 oz Grand Marnier
  • 1 oz pear brandy (I used J Pear Liqueur)
  • 4 oz champagne (I used Moet Chandon's Imperial)
  • Optional - orange twist for garnish
- Add the bitters, Grand Marnier and pear brandy into a champagne flute.
- Top with champagne.
- Optional to add the orange twist.

Dec 20, 2013

Bourbon Dark Chocolate Crack Cookies

Libations used: 2 Tbs of bourbon...
Libations left over: Make a pot of Wassail Punch to really get in the holiday spirit...
Right before Christmas, I normally go into a baking frenzy and make all sorts of pretty and yummy cookies to share with my friends and co-workers.  This year, I just didn't have the time (or the energy) to spend a full weekend baking, but I had an itch to at least do a little.  These Bourbon Dark Chocolate Crack Cookies from White On Rice Couple are so fast and easy, with fairly minimal ingredients.  They have a little bit of a boozy kick, are super soft and insanely addictive.  I ended up bringing these along on a little wine tasting trip to Santa Ynez, and we couldn't stop eating these.  They're perfect paired with red wine or a holiday-spiced Wassail Punch, and Santa would approve if you left these out on the fireplace!

Bourbon Dark Chocolate Crack Cookies - makes 2 dozen
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 8 oz dark chocolate, broken into squares
  • 3 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbs bourbon (I used Bulleit)
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar (plus extra for coating)
  • Confectioners sugar (for coating)

- In a small bowl, thoroughly combine the flour, baking powder and salt.
- In a medium bowl, placed over a small pot of simmering water, add the chocolate, butter and bourbon.
- Gently melt the chocolate and butter, stirring frequently until smooth.
- Remove the bowl from the heat.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the eggs and sugar.
- Fit the mixer with the whisk attachment and mix on high for about 5 minutes, or until the mixture forms a "ribbon" when the whisk is lifted from it.
- Gently fold in the chocolate mixture and stir by hand.
- Gently stir in the flour mixture.
- Cover and let the dough firm up in the fridge for 1 to 2 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 325 and line your baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Place the granulated sugar and confectioners sugar in two, small separate bowls.
- Roll the dough in to 1 1/2 inch balls.
- Roll the balls in the granulated sugar and then the confectioners sugar.
- Place them on the baking sheets about 1 inch apart from each other.
- Bake for 8 minutes, then rotate the cookie sheets.
- Bake for another 6-8 minutes - the cookies should still be soft in the center and a little firm on the outside.
- When they've cooled down a little, transfer to a cooling rack.

Dec 12, 2013

Mexican Fernet Hot Chocolate

In my effort to get over a cold earlier this week, I was experimenting with various hot cocktails - a lush's true medicine.  I was craving hot chocolate after dinner and I simply love it spiced Mexican style with some cinnamon, cayenne and vanilla...and tequila.  I usually make this version of Mexican Hot Chocolate, but I was feeling lazy and had some of Trader Joe's Spiced Hot Cocoa Mix on hand.  In addition to tequila, I added in some Fernet (it lends that holiday minty taste) and a few dashes of The Bitter Truth's Jerry Thomas' Own Decanter Bitters.  Feel free to use any cocoa mix, or the recipe from my regular Mexican Hot Chocolate, and any kind of aromatic bitters (i.e. Angostura) is fine.  Scoop in a little bit of vanilla bean ice cream, and you've got yourself a restorative boozy treat!

Mexican Fernet Hot Chocolate
  • 6 oz milk
  • 2 spoonfuls of Trader Joe's Spicy Hot Cocoa Mix
  • 1 oz tequila (I used Patrón Silver)
  • 1 oz Fernet-Branca
  • 3-4 dashes of The Bitter Truth's Jerry Thomas' Own Decanter Bitters or any aromatic kind is fine
  • 1 scoop of vanilla bean ice cream
- Heat up the milk and stir in that cocoa mix.
- Add the tequila, Fernet and bitters and stir.
- Plop in a little scoop of vanilla bean ice cream.

Dec 10, 2013

Spice-Braised Chicken Legs with Red Wine & Tomato

Libations used: 1 cup of red wine...
Libations left over: Pretty much the whole bottle, so pour yourself a glass while that chicken is braising or serve with dinner...
Baby, it's starting to get cold outside! When it's Sunday night and it gets dark early, there's nothing I like doing more than tossing some chicken or beef in the Dutch Oven and braising away.  It usually involves pouring a little wine in the pot and drinking the rest, whilst perched in front of the telly.  This recipe for Spice-Braised Chicken Legs with Red Wine and Tomato from Alex Guarnaschelli at is a lovely and very easy dish to make in those days leading up to the big Christmas dinner.  The cinnamon, ginger and cumin actually gives it that holiday-inspired spice, and it's a great dish to feed a crowd if you double the recipe.  Feel free to use any parts of the chicken.  I actually couldn't get any whole legs at the store, so just purchased a dozen thighs, as it was cheaper than purchasing both thighs and drumsticks separately.  Alex recommends serving the chicken with white or brown rice, but I opted for quinoa.  You might as well slip in some healthier whole grains if you're splurging on seasonal treats!

Spice-Braised Chicken Legs with Red Wine & Tomato - serves 6
  • 3 Tbs canola or olive oil
  • 6 whole chicken legs, split into drumsticks and thighs with skin and fat removed
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds (feel free to use ground cumin if you don't have)
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 2 Tbs fresh grated ginger 
  • One 3-inch cinnamon stick, broken in half
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup dry red wine (I used Bogle's Petite Syrah)
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • One 28 oz can whole tomatoes, chopped and juices reserved
- Season the chicken with the salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- In a large and deep skillet or Dutch Oven over medium-high heat, add the 2 Tbs of the oil.
- When the oil is shimmering, add half of the chicken to the skillet and brown each side (about 3 minutes per side).
- Transfer the browned chicken to a plate and add the rest of the chicken to the skillet.
- Pour any fat and juices from the plate into the skillet.
- Add the remaining tablespoon of the oil and add the cumin seeds or powder and stir for about 10 seconds.
- Add the onions and cook for about 5 minutes, or until softened.
- Add the garlic, ginger, cinnamon stick, crushed red pepper and bay leaves and cook for about 3 minutes, or until the garlic is golden.
- Add the wine and simmer over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes.
- Add the chicken stock and tomatoes with their juices and simmer for about 10 minutes.
- Add the chicken and any juices from the plate to the sauce and simmer over low heat for about 50 minutes, rotating the chicken a few times, until it's thoroughly cooked through.
- Remove the cinnamon stick and bay leaves and season with any additional salt and pepper.
- Serve over a whole grain, such as quinoa, couscous, wheat berries or farro.

Dec 5, 2013

Bran's Dram

As soon as my Thanksgiving vacation began, I got hit with a coughing and sneezy cold.  I kept pushing away the medicine that my parents offered me, and got through the short break on a steady regimen of hot toddies before bed.  When I got home, I was catching up on issues of Bon Appetit and ran across this recipe for Bran's Dram in their December issue.  The hot berry tea and white rum makes me think of a ray of tropical sun shining down on a snowman...if that's ever possible.  I pulled out some Raspberry & Quince tea and some Bacardi and set my tea pot on the stove.  This is a fun twist on a traditional hot toddy, with the "curative" powers of tea, booze, honey and lemon.  The best part is?  You don't need to be sick to enjoy this wintry libation.
Bran's Dram
  • About 6 oz, or just under a cup of hot water
  • 1 bag of berry herbal tea (I used The Republic of Tea's Raspberry & Quince)
  • 1 1/2 oz white rum (I used Bacardi)
  • 1 Tbs honey
  • 1/4 oz fresh lemon juice
  • Lemon twist, for garnish
- Steep the tea in some hot water and remove the tea bag when done.
- Add the white rum, honey and lemon juice and stir.
- Garnish with a lemon twist.

Nov 28, 2013

Spiced Persimmon Maple Old Fashioned

One of the fruits that embodies the fall and winter for me are persimmons.  I love their odd crunchy texture and the spiced flavor notes.  When I saw this Spiced Persimmon Maple Old Fashioned from Aida Mollenkamp, I couldn't wait to try it out!  Usually, when I drink Old Fashioneds, I go pretty simple and light on the fruit.  But when it's highlighting a fun and seasonal fruit, I'll make an exception.  Instead of a Fuyu Persimmon, I used Hachiya because it's a little softer and easier to muddle.  I also used a lot less maple syrup - 1 Tablespoon instead of 2 or 3.  For the orange bitters, I slipped in my homemade Bitter Revenge Bloody Sweet Blood Orange & Rosemary bitters to amp up that holiday spice.  With the maple syrup and cinnamon, it's the epitome of season, and a great post-Thanksgiving cocktail to extend the celebration!

Spiced Persimmon Maple Old Fashioned
  • 1/4 ripe Hachiya persimmon, diced into small pieces
  • Orange wedge with rind, about 1/8 of an orange
  • 1 Tbs maple syrup
  • 2 oz rye whiskey (I used Bulleit)
  • 4 dashes orange bitters 
  • Cinnamon stick
- Add the persimmon, orange and maple syrup into an Old Fashioned glass and muddle, lightly bruising the orange.
- Add a few ice cubes, whiskey and orange bitters.
- Freshly grate in some cinnamon.
- Stir with the cinnamon stick until the drink is chilled.

Nov 26, 2013

Pumpkin Beer Cheese Soup

Libations used: 1 bottle of pumpkin ale...
Libations left over: None, unless ya bought a six-pack...
I had one lonely bottle of KBC Pumpkin Ale kicking around in the fridge and it was just begging me to cook or bake something with it.  I was craving soup and this Pumpkin Beer Cheese Soup from Spoon Fork Bacon with some garlicky sourdough croutons looked like the ultimate comfort dinner on a chilly fall night.  It's a fairly quick soup to make, so great for those lazy Sunday nights or week day.  I'm sure you could use any light beer you wanted, but the pumpkin flavor is so much fun and lends it a little seasonal spice.

Pumpkin Beer Cheese Soup - serves 4
Ingredients for the soup:
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 large leek, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 rib of celery, thinly sliced
  • 2 1/2 Tbs minced thyme
  • One 12 oz bottle of pumpkin ale (I used KBC)
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2/3 cup pumpkin purée
  • 4 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 Tbs lemon juice
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Ingredients for the croutons:
  • 1 1/2-2 cups diced sourdough bread
  • 3 1/2 Tbs melted unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
To make the soup:
- Pour the olive oil into a medium pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
- Add the onion and leek and sauté for 3-4 minutes, or until they become translucent.
- Add the garlic, carrots and celery and season with salt and pepper.
- Sauté for 4-5 minutes.
- Stir in the thyme.
- Add the beer and chicken broth and let the mixture simmer for 8-10 minutes, or until the veggies are fork tender.
- Remove from heat and set aside.
- In another medium pot, melt the butter.
- Whisk in the flour to create a roux and continue whisking for 2-3 minutes.
- Whisk in the milk, until no lumps remain and the mixture thickens.
- Stir in the pumpkin purée until smooth.
- In a large bowl, toss the cheddar cheese with the lemon juice.
- Add the cheese to the roux and stir until smooth.
- Stir in the mustard, paprika and nutmeg.
- Pour the cheese and broth mixture into a blender and purée until smooth.
- Pour the soup back into one of the pots or Dutch oven and let it simmer for 3-4 minutes, or until it thickens slightly.

To make the croutons:
- While the soup is cooking, place all crouton ingredients into a medium bowl and toss together until evenly coated.
- Pour croutons into a large skilled over medium heat.
- Toast them for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently so they're evenly browned.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool and crisp up.
- Top each bowl of soup with croutons.

Nov 14, 2013

Cider Smash

While my family is dealing with light snowfalls and ice in Michigan, I'm still experiencing the occasional hot days in LA.  Which is why this Cider Smash from Miami's relatively new, and now acclaimed cocktail bar, The Broken Shaker, is so perfect.  Located in a hip hostel, the aromatic flavors in this cocktail are reminiscent of a hot toddy and must make travelers feel like they're at home while they're soaking up the rays on those sandy beaches.  That touch of Fernet is curing and the apple cider and rosemary gives it that holiday accent.

Cider Smash 
  • 1 1/2 oz dark rum - they recommend Atlantico, but I only had Meyers
  • 1/4 oz Fernet Branca
  • 1 oz apple cider (I used Trader Joe's spiced version)
  • 3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz agave or rich simple syrup
  • 3 rosemary sprigs, saving 1 for garnish
  • Lemon wheel, for garnish
- In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add the rum, Fernet, apple cider, lemon juice, agave and 2 rosemary sprigs.
- Shake and strain into a chilled Old Fashioned glass with ice.
- Garnish with a sprig of rosemary and a lemon wheel.

Nov 12, 2013

Bourbon Baked Apples

Libations used: 1/3 cup bourbon...
Libations left over: None, but make this Spicy Cider Mill Cocktail while you're waiting for those apples to bake...
Still working your way through that crate of apples you picked earlier at the orchard?  I absolutely love this recipe from How Sweet Eats for Bourbon Baked Apples, as it combines a simple baked apple with a brown sugar and oat crumble mixture.  It's like a more apple-y version of apple crisp!  The bourbon and apple cider placed in the baking dish help steam the apple, and when the crumble mixture kind of oozes down, it creates this yummy caramel-like mixture to drizzle on top.  Use Honeycrisp, Braeburn, Fuji or Gravenstein apples, as they'll remain tart and on the crisp side without falling apart and getting all mealy.  You can either use a baking dish or a schnitzer, which is a funky, little Swiss cast iron baking dish, just for apples.  It's an easy dessert to whip up for dinner parties or the holidays.  The prep time is pretty minimal, and you can toss these in the oven to bake while you're eating dinner.  They'll be perfectly hot and ready for your guests.  Be sure to douse them in plenty of vanilla ice cream too!

Bourbon Baked Apples - serves 6
  • 6 large apples - either Honeycrisp, Braeburn, Fuji or Gravenstein
  • 2/3 cup oats
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  • 2/3 cup loosely packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup softened, unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1/3 cup bourbon (I used Bulleit)
  • Vanilla ice cream
- Preheat oven to 400.
- Core the apples, but leave a little apple at the bottom.
- In a medium bowl, combine the oats, brown sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon and chopped walnuts (optional).
- Add the softened butter and vanilla, mixing thoroughly with a fork and with your hands.
- Stuff the mixture inside the apples.
- Place the apples in a large baking dish.
- Pour the apple cider and bourbon into the baking dish.
- Bake for about 30-45 minutes, and use a baster or spoon to pour the cider mixture over the apples about every 10 minutes.
- When they're done, top with vanilla ice cream cream and serve!

Nov 7, 2013


Sometimes Monday nights call for a stiff drink, and earlier this week was one of those Mondays.  I recalled a cocktail recipe that STREET's Morgan Fox told me about a couple of months ago because we bonded over rye whiskey and that herbaceous, boozy delight that is Green Chartreuse.  Perhaps in another life, I visited the Diamondback Lounge in the Lord Baltimore Hotel during the 1950s, because I'm pretty sure this drink was invented in my honor.  The drink first appeared in print in Ted Saucier's Bottoms Up from 1951.  Not only does it have two of my aforementioned fave ingredients, but there's Applejack all up in there too!  This very bracing and simple drink has multiple variations that play on the ratios of the spirits.  Some do 2 ounces of rye with 1/2 ounce each of Green Chartreuse (or Yellow) and Applejack, while others make it with 1 1/2 ounces of rye and 3/4 ounces of the remaining spirits.  Morgan told me to just do equal parts of each (like a Negroni!) - easy to remember and nicely balanced.  I have a feeling this is going to be my new fall and winter cocktail go-to.

  • 1 oz rye whiskey (I used Redemption Rye)
  • 1 oz Green Chartreuse
  • 1 oz Laird's Applejack
- In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add all the ingredients and shake.
- Strain into a chilled coupe.

Nov 5, 2013

Celery Root & Mushroom Lasagna

Libations used: 1/2 cup Marsala wine...
Libations left over: Pretty much the whole bottle, so save it for another recipe...
This past Sunday was one of those days when I wanted a good, long cooking project.  I've often turned to cooking or baking to relieve stress and take my mind off of things, and I needed a recipe that was going to occupy me for most of the day.  Plus, I was having a couple of my girl friends over that evening, and I wanted to treat them to something decadent, that would also make enough food so they could take home leftovers at the end of the night.  This Celery Root and Mushroom Lasagna from Food & Wine is a great fall/winter recipe for family and holiday gatherings, and a delicious way to treat the ones you love to a really special, gourmet meal.

The ragù not only has diced celery root and plenty of mushrooms (both dried and fresh), but leeks, prosciutto, fresh herbs, Marsala wine and cream, and it's layered with Parmigiano-Reggiano and Mozzarella cheesy goodness.  I made a few modifications from the original recipe, which I indicated in the ingredients list, and I also cooked fewer noodles because I had to toss out so many unused ones.  This dish can be made ahead the night before and just popped in the oven the next day.  And because it's so rich I served this with a baby kale and mustard green salad with thinly sliced fennel, dried cranberries, toasted pine nuts and a light, lemon-mustard vinaigrette.  I can't wait to make this same meal again, and impress my family during the holidays!
Celery Root & Mushroom Lasagna - serves 10
  • 1 cup dried mushrooms (I used Portobello, but Porcini or a mixed variety is great too)
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 4 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 lb white mushrooms, thinly sliced (about 4 cups)
  • Salt and freshly ground white pepper
  • 1/4 lb prosciutto slices, cut into 1 inch pieces (the original recipe recommends the thickly sliced Prosciutto di Parma kind, diced into 1/4 inch pieces, but that's not always easy to find)
  • 2 medium shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • 2 rosemary sprigs
  • 2 sage sprigs
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 1 lb celery root, peeled and finely diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 3 medium leeks (white and green parts only), thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup dry Marsala
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 3/4 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 lb lasagna noodles 
  • 1 lb shredded mozzarella cheese (the original recipe called for 1 1/2 lbs fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced, but I'd already spent enough money on all the other ingredients!)
  • 1 cup basil leaves
- In a small bowl, soak the dried mushrooms in the boiling water until they're soft (about 15 minutes).
- Drain and coarsely chop the mushrooms (hint - save and freeze the mushroom broth - it's great for soups and sauces).
- In a large saucepan or Dutch Oven, over medium-high heat, melt 2 Tbs of the butter and 2 Tbs of the olive oil.
- Add the fresh and formerly dried mushrooms and season with salt and white pepper, stirring occasionally until browned (about 10 minutes).
- Transfer the mushrooms to a bowl.
- Add the remaining 2 Tbs of butter and olive oil to the same pan and turn the heat down to moderately low.
- Add the prosciutto and shallots, stirring occasionally, until the prosciutto is crisped up and the shallots are softened (about 6 minutes).
- Tie the bay leaf, rosemary, sage and thyme into a bundle using kitchen string.
- Add the herb bundle and celery root to the same pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until the celery root is crisp-tender (about 6 minutes).
- Add the leeks and cook until the celery root is tender (about 5 minutes).
- Turn up the heat to medium, and return the mushrooms to the pot and cook for about 2 minutes.
- Add the Marsala wine and cook until it's evaporated (about 5 minutes).
- Add 2 cups of the chicken stock and simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes.
- Add 1/2 cup of the cream and let it simmer for 3 minutes longer, or until the mixture has reduced to about 5 cups.
- Season the ragù with salt and white pepper.
- In a separate large saucepan, add the remaining 2 cups of cream and 2 cups of chicken stock and bring to a boil.
- Simmer over medium heat until it's reduced to 3 cups (about 10 minutes).
- Remove from heat and whisk in 1 1/2 cups of the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
- Whisk in the eggs.
- Transfer the sauce to a blender and purée until smooth.
- Season the sauce with salt and white pepper and set 1/2 cup of it aside.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and fill a large bowl with ice water.
- After the lasagna is cooked to just barely al dente, drain and transfer the noodles to the ice water to cool.
- Drain the noodles and pat them dry.
- Preheat the oven to 350.
- Butter a 9x13 inch baking dish.
- Line the bottom with a single layer of noodles, overlapping them slightly.  Try to reserve your prettiest noodles for the top.
- Spread 1/5 of the vegetable ragù on top.
- Spread 1/5 of the cream sauce.
- Sprinkle a layer of mozzarella and then some basil leaves.
- Repeat to make 4 more layers, ending with a layer of noodles.
- Top with the reserved 1/2 cup of cream sauce and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.  You can even toss some leftover shredded mozzarella cheese on top if you have any!
- Bake the lasagna for about 1 hour.  It should be bubbling and golden.
- Let the lasagna rest for about 15-20 minutes before serving.

Oct 31, 2013

Spicy Chicken Cacciatore

Libations used: 1/2 cup red wine...
Libations left over: pretty much the whole bottle, so serve with dinner or pour yourself a glass while the chicken is braising...
We're still having our occasional warm 70 plus degree days in LA, but the colder periods (for us, at least) are becoming standard now.  These cool, crisp days means I love dusting off that Dutch Oven and putting it to serious good use.  I was looking for a simple and fairly quick braised chicken dish for this past Sunday night, and Food & Wine's Spicy Chicken Cacciatore by esteemed Boston chef Barbara Lynch fit the bill.  It's got a slight kick with a few pickled hot peppers, a nice dose of vino rosso and is served over a pile of farro.  If you can't handle the spice, then leave the hot peppers out, as you'll get enough flavor with all the red peppers, tomatoes and onions in there.  I plan on adding this easy dish to my regular rotation now!

Spicy Chicken Cacciatore - serves 6-8
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 6-8 boneless chicken thighs
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 2 pickled hot peppers, thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup red wine (I used The Show's Malbec)
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 lb ripe plum tomatoes, coarsley chopped
  • 2 Tbs chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 cups farro.
- Season the chicken with salt and pepper.
- In a Dutch Oven or deep skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.
- Cook the chicken for about 8 minutes, browning each side, starting with the skin side down.
- Transfer to a plate and set aside.
- Add the onions, bell peppers, hot peppers and garlic and cook over low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened.
- Add the wine and simmer, stirring occasionally, until it's well evaporated (about 5 minutes).
- Add the chicken stock and tomatoes and season with more salt and pepper.
- Return the chicken to the Dutch Oven or skillet and nestle them amongst the veggies.
- Cover partially and cook over medium heat for about 30 minutes, until the chicken is tender and the sauce is reduced by about half.
- While your chicken is cooking, prepare the farro according to your package instructions.  About 2 cups should be enough once cooked for 6-8 people.
- Add the cooked farro to each plate and place a thigh in each.
- Spoon some of the sauce and veggies over it, and garnish with the parsley.

Oct 30, 2013

How You Like Them Apples?

I haven't been blogging much lately, as work has been keeping this Lush rather busy, but I still find time to shake up a cocktail on a Monday or Tuesday night.  A great libation always helps me write a little better too!  Doesn't it help all great writers?

Anyway, when fall rolls around, that means I'm putting Applejack, a bonded apple brandy, in nearly all my drinks.  And I'm drinking apple cider morning, noon and night, so why not add that in a cocktail?  This little creation includes three iterations of apple with Applejack, spiced apple cider (Trader Joe's version is a fave) and an apple slice garnish.  The Grand Marnier balances out all that apple with some orange flavor and adds an extra boozy kick.  I lined the glass with some Vermont maple sugar that my parents gave me to create a festive look and add a little more sweetness.  Sooooo perfect on cocktails.  Thanks mom and dad!  If you can't get your hands on maple sugar, then a cinnamon sugar combo would work equally well.  Batch this up and serve as a punch during Halloween, or serve individually for a lovely pre-Thanksgiving dinner cocktail.  You might even make Matt Damon jealous...
How You Like Them Apples?
  • 1/4 oz lemon juice
  • 3 oz spiced apple cider (I used Trader Joe's)
  • 1 1/2 oz Applejack
  • 1 oz Grand Marnier
  • Maple or cinnamon sugar for garnish
  • Apple slice for garnish
- Chill a martini glass and run an apple slice around the rim, so you can garnish it with the maple sugar.
- In a shaker, combine the lemon juice, apple cider, Applejack and Grand Marnier with ice.
- Shake and strain into your prepared glass.
- Garnish with an apple slice.

Oct 17, 2013

Fall Cocktail Round-Up

It's now starting to feel like autumn in Los Angeles.  Even though our leaves really don't change out here, us Angelenos get in the spirit by artfully scattering fake leaves and acorns on our tables, and setting out pumpkins on the front porch.  You know it's really fall when this McSweeney's article gets passed around about decorative gourds — makes me laugh every year.  So to get you all in the spirit, here's a rundown of some of my favorite, seasonal cocktails.  So toss some gourds around your neck and get that shaker out!
Figs are in abundance at the market right now, and this fresh fig cocktail with bourbon, maple syrup, balsamic vinegar (yes, try it!) and orange juice, really "falls up" your Old Fashioned.  If you don't have access to fresh figs, then buy some fig jam, add a little cinnamon, rye whiskey and lime juice, and you have yourself this lovely Whiskey Fig Jam libation.
Of course, everyone is obsessed with anything pumpkin flavored right now, so I've got you covered. Warm up those crisp, autumn evenings with a Hot Pumpkin Buttered Rum that has both regular butter and pumpkin butter, along with some pumpkin pie spice and brown sugar.  It's the perfect dessert when topped with whipped cream!  Before you use that whole can of pumpkin purée for a pie, save an ounce for The Midnight Pumpkin Cocktail, which includes tequila, Cointreau and lime juice on a cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar-rimmed glass.
If you're really into shrubs (drinking vinegars) like I am, then The Spicy Cider Mill Cocktail with bourbon, apple shrub and ginger beer, is incredibly refreshing and perfect after a day of picking apples or raking leaves.  Make a batch of ginger syrup, because you'll want to add it to just about any fall and winter cocktail this season, including this Bourbon, Ginger & Pear Cocktail.  For Thanksgiving, you can't go wrong with a really, boozy punch.  You'll be busy slaving over the stove, so make a couple batches of this Pear & Bourbon Punch with pear juice, lemon juice, bourbon, honey and a French sparkling hard cider.

And if you're looking for even more ideas, here's last year's Fall Cocktail Round-Up.

Oct 15, 2013

Silky Leek and Red Wine Soup

Libations used: 1/2 cup plus 1 Tbs red wine...
Libations left over: About 3/4 of the bottle...
Angelenos have started busting out their warmer scarves and boots, so that means only one thing — soup season!  This Silky Leek & Red Wine Soup from Food & Wine uses pretty minimal ingredients and is a quick weeknight dinner recipe.  I stopped by the Sunday Santa Monica Farmers Market and bought some beautiful, fresh leeks and a loaf of crusty sourdough bread.  It recommends using a dry red wine such as a Bordeaux, but I ended up grabbing an inexpensive bottle of Barbera from La Famiglia Pirovano.  This is one of those really thick, bread-enriched soups, so need to serve with a side of bread.  Opt for a light salad instead.  Nevertheless, it's creamy and satisfying, and you can't beat the cheap ingredients (save for the saffron).
Silky Leek and Red Wine Soup - serves 4
  • Four 1-inch thick slices of country bread (I used sourdough) with the crusts removed
  • 3 1/2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing on top of the bread
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Pinch of saffron
  • 3 medium leeks, thinly sliced crosswise (about 3 cups)
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 Tbs dry red wine (I used a Barbera)
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

- Preheat the oven to 350.
- Place the bread slices on a baking sheet and brush them with olive oil.
- Bake until they're crisp, for about 10 minutes.
- Rub the toasted bread with the garlic clove.
- Tear the bread into 1-inch pieces
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the 3 Tbs of olive oil.
- Add the saffron and all but 1/2 cup of the sliced leeks.
- Cook until the leeks are tender, for about 4 minutes.
- Add 1/2 cup of the red wine and reduce to about 2 Tbs.
- Add the chicken stock and lower heat to a simmer, for about 3 minutes.
- Stir in the toasted bread pieces and simmer for another 3 minutes.
- Purée the mixture in a blender or food processor in batches.
- Return the soup to the saucepan.
- Stir in the cream and the remaining 1 Tbs of red wine, and season with salt and pepper, keeping warm over low heat.
- In a medium skillet over medium heat, add the remaining 1/2 Tbs of olive oil and the reserved leeks, cooking over moderate heat until softened, for about 3 minutes.
- Using a heatproof spatula, form the leeks into four 2-inch rounds.
- Sprinkle 1 Tbs of the cheese over each round.
- Cook for another 3 minutes, or until the cheese is melted.
- Transfer the rounds to a plate and let them cool until crisp.
- Transfer the soup into bowls and top each serving with a leek crisp.

Oct 8, 2013

Smoky Shrimp & Grits

Libations used: 1/4 cup white wine...
Libations left over: Pretty much the whole bottle, so buy a nice bottle and serve with dinner...
Usually when I make shrimp and grits, my go-to recipe is this one from Marcus Samuelsson for Red Grits & Shrimp.  But I had a little bit of white wine left in the fridge instead of red, and Food & Wine's recipe for Smoky Shrimp & Grits calls for only a 1/4 of a cup.  I upped the amount of grits and cheese to a full cup each.  If you want them even cheesier, add about 1 1/4 cup total of cheddar.  I opted for white grits for a prettier color contrast with the garlic-paprika sauce.  This is great to whip up on a weeknight, even if you don't have quick-cooking grits.  It will still be quick and easy!  I spent my time peeling the shrimp while my slower-cooking grits were on the stove.  

Smoky Shrimp & Grits - serves 4
  • 1 cup grits
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 1/2 cups baby spinach, chiffonade
  • 1/4 cup snipped chives
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 lb shelled and deveined medium shrimp
  • 1/2 tsp paprika (if you want a bit more heat, use hot paprika)
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine (I used Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc)
- In a medium saucepan, bring 4 cups of water to a boil.
- Add 1 cup of grits and a nice, big pinch of salt.
- Cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 7 minutes if they're quick-cooking or 20-25 if they're regular grits.  It should be a thick and porridge-like consistency.
- Season with more salt and pepper, and stir in the cheddar cheese.
- Stir in the baby spinach and chives, until the spinach is lightly wilted.
- Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.
- In a large skillet over high heat, add the olive oil.
- Add the garlic and cook until fragrant for about 30 seconds.
- Add the shrimp and paprika, and season with salt and pepper, cooking until shrimp are opaque, for about 2 minutes.
- Add the white wine and cook until the sauce is slightly reduced.
- Spoon the grits on a plate or bowl, and top with the shrimp and the sauce.

Oct 3, 2013

Whiskey Fig Jam Cocktail

Anytime I do a cheese plate with my girl friends, we have to have a jar of fig jam out.  It's just a necessary luxury.  I had never thought about using it in cocktails until I stumbled across this recipe for a Whiskey Fig Jam Cocktail on the Dessert for Two blog.  Depending on the kind of jam you have, feel free to add a dash of cinnamon and "fall" it up.  I can't wait to have another get-together with my girlfriends and serve these drinks with a massive cheese plate.

Whiskey Fig Jam Cocktail
  • 1 Tbs fig jam
  • Pinch of cinnamon (optional)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 Tbs of fresh lime juice
  • 1 1/2 oz rye whiskey (I used Bulleit)
  • Lemon balm or thyme sprig for garnish

- In a shaker filled with ice, add the fig jam, cinnamon, sugar, lime juice and rye whiskey.
- Shake and strain into a chilled coupe glass.
- Garnish with the lemon balm or thyme.

Sep 24, 2013

Cucumber Salad

Libations used: 1 Tbs white wine...
Libations left over: Pretty much the whole bottle, so drink up...
Summer is officially over, but I'm going to post one more summer-inspired recipe to get you through those last, occasional hot days.  This Cucumber Salad recipe from Cooking Light takes mere minutes and is the perfect, cooling side dish to accompany whatever meats or fish you have on the grill.  It uses only a tablespoon of dry white wine to make the vinaigrette, so buy a relatively nice bottle of something you'd actually like to drink.  I grabbed a $15 bottle of Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc, since those floral flavors would pair nicely with the cucumber.  Be sure to slice those cucumbers thin so they can soak up all the yummy dressing.

Cucumber Salad - serves 4
  • 2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbs dry white wine (I used a Sauvignon Blanc)
  • 1 Tbs fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper (1-inch cubes)
  • 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper (1-inch cubes)
  • 1 medium-large hothouse or English cucumber, sliced thin
  • 1 Tbs chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 Tbs chopped chives
- In a medium bowl, add the olive oil, white wine, lemon juice, salt, black pepper and sugar.
- Whisk to combine.
- Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl and stir gently to coat.

Sep 19, 2013

Summer Sage

It's officially the end of summer this Saturday, so time to cap it off with the last of the stone fruit and usher in some fall flavor notes.  This Summer Sage Cocktail from The Kitchn uses red plums and sage to combine the two seasons.  It's a beautiful summery-pink color, but that sage leaf is a reminder that pretty soon you'll be turning on that stove to get you through those crisp autumn days.

The Summer Sage
  • 6 small wedges of a plum
  • 5 sage leaves, reserving 1 for garnish
  • 1/4 oz simple syrup
  • 1/8 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 2 oz rye whiskey (I used Redemption Rye)
- In a mixing glass or shaker, add the plum wedges, sage leaves and simple syrup.
- Muddle until it forms a plummy mush.
- Add the lemon juice, rye whiskey and ice.
- Shake and double strain (yes, do that - be a pro) into a chilled coupe.
- Garnish with a sage leaf.

Sep 17, 2013

Bloody Mary Salad

Libations used: 2 Tbs vodka & vermouth-spiked onions...
Libations left over: None, but use the rest of the salad ingredients and that bottle of vodka to make a Bloody Mary Bar... 
It's still hot out, and I still don't feel like turning on the oven. This past Sunday, when I was rushing through the Farmers' Market before hitting up a work event, I scooped up a couple pints of cherry tomatoes.  I'm milking as much as I can out of heirloom tomatoes while the getting is still good!  I ran across this Bloody Mary Salad from a few weeks ago and was saving it for a hot, end of summer week night.  I added a little bit more celery and bacon than the recipe called for, as I wanted a little more crunch.  This is an incredibly quick salad to put together and perfect for a boozy brunch for a crowd.  Buy extra garlic-stuffed olives and pearl onions, fry up some extra bacon and set the rest of your salad ingredients out for an epic Bloody Mary Bar!
Bloody Mary Salad - serves 6
Salad Ingredients:
  • 3 stalks celery, sliced with leaves reserved
  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 10 vermouth-spiked pearl onions, halved from top to bottom
  • 1/2 cup Hormel mini pepperoni, sliced and quartered
  • 1 cup garlic-stuffed olives, sliced into thirds
  • 1/2 cup blue cheese, crumbled
  • 3 slices bacon, fried crisp and crumbled
Dressing Ingredients:
  • 2 Tbs vodka (I used Absolut)
  • 1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 Tbs Horseradish sauce
  • 1/4 cup V8 Spicy juice
  • Zest and juice from 1 lemon
- In a large bowl, gently combine all of the salad ingredients (except the celery leaves).
- In a small bowl, whisk all of the dressing ingredients and gently toss into the salad.
- Garnish with celery leaves.

Sep 12, 2013


I'm a huge fan of HBO's "Boardwalk Empire," because...well, why wouldn't I be?  I just love the representation of that time period, and of course, the cocktail culture.  Even though it was Prohibition, and nary a libation could be found in plain sight, it forced those first bartenders to be rather creative.  If you weren't shaking things up at a speakeasy or making gin in your bathtub, you were probably overseas fashioning cocktails for the elite in Paris, London and Tokyo.  I was inspired by this past Sunday's premiere to make a libation representing that time.  The Scofflaw was one of those classic cocktails created in 1924 during Prohibition at the legendary Harry's Bar in Paris — a haven for American expats.  The drink can be made with bourbon or American rye whiskey.  I chose Templeton's Rye Whiskey, because of it's tie to the era, and used my favorite dry vermouth, Dolin's.

The term "scofflaw" was also coined during that year.  There was a nationwide contest hosted by The Boston Herald to come up with a word that represented mocking or ridiculing the Volstead Act, the incredibly clunky law set in place to enforce Prohibition.  There were two separate entrants that came up with the word "scofflaw," and they split a $200 prize.  Now, the term is used to mean anyone who displays disdain for laws that are basically difficult to enforce — kind of like what we're experiencing with the illegality of marijuana right now.
  • 2 oz bourbon or rye whiskey (I used Templeton's Rye)
  • 1 oz dry vermouth (I used Dolin's)
  • 1/2 oz grenadine (I used Rose's - the classic)
  • 1/4 oz lemon juice
  • 2 dashes orange bitters (I used Fee Brothers West Indian Orange)
- In a shaker filled with ice, add all of the ingredients and shake.
- Strain into a chilled coupe glass.

Sep 10, 2013

Yellowtail, Mango & Avocado Ceviche

Libations used: 1/4 cup tequila...
Libations left over: How about making a Blood Orange & Thyme Paloma to go with this ceviche...
The heat wave has continued in LA, and it just really discourages me from cooking anything, but I've been the fortunate beneficiary of a lot of fresh fish from a friend.  He's been catching boatloads this past summer off the coast of Alaska, Mexico and California and sharing his catches with his friends.  A few weeks ago, I used some of his fresh fish for this Miso-Glazed Halibut, so this week, it was time to make use of all the Yellowtail I had on hand. This ceviche from AllRecipes, was a perfect end-of-summer recipe with plenty of mango and tequila, and since I'm a sucker for avocado, I added some of that in there too!  You can't go wrong with a quick ceviche for parties, and you certainly won't be slaving away at the stove.  Serve this with tortilla chips, or devour it on it's own.  Either way, you'll be satisfied and hogging the whole bowl.

Yellowtail, Mango & Avocado Ceviche - serves 6
  • 1 1/2 lbs of skinless, boneless yellowtail (or halibut), cut into 1/2-inch cubes.
  • 1/3 cup fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup tequila (I used Patrón Silver)
  • 3 jalapeños, seeded and minced (use 1 or 2 if you can't handle the heat, but the citrus really mellows it out)
  • 2 mangos, peeled, seeded and diced into 1/2-inch cubes, reserving half for the inital ceviche preparation
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped sweet onion
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 2 avocados, chopped in 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp salt, to taste
- In a non-reactive bowl (i.e. glass, plastic, ceramic), combine the yellowtail, lime and lemon juices, tequila, jalapeño, and 1/2 of the chopped mango.
- Cover and refrigerate for 1 1/2 hours.
- Add the green pepper, sweet and red onions and mix well.
- Cover and refrigerate for another 30 minutes.
- Gently fold in the rest of the mango, avocado, cilantro and parsley.
- Season with salt, to taste, before serving.

Sep 6, 2013

Bicicletta Cocktail

These hot summer nights make me crave Negronis and Aperol Spritzs.  For some reason, when it's too hot to move, I want Campari or Aperol, those bitter and refreshing Italian liqueurs in the amaro family.  I was making this Chicken, Black Olives & Lemon Spaghetti earlier this week, and I had about a whole bottle of Chardonnay left over. The Bicicletta Cocktail is like a twist on an Aperol Spritz and is a very popular Italian cocktail served as an aperitivo.  Hat tip to Bon Appetit for the recipe.  I'd recommend making this with a Pinot Grigio instead to stick with the Italian theme — I may be a lush, but I'm only going to open so many bottles of wine, kids.

This drink is so easy to stir up and is sure to cool you down.  So sit back, relax with a giant plate of pasta, Netflix Vittorio De Sica's neo-realistic classic Ladri di Biciclette (The Bicycle Thief) and pretend you're in Italy...

Bicicletta Cocktail
  • Ice Cubes
  • 2 oz Campari
  • 1 1/2 oz dry white wine (I recommend a Pinot Grigio)
  • 1/2 oz club soda
  • Lemon slice, for garnish
- Fill a wine glass with ice.
- Add the Campari, white wine and soda and stir, stir, stir.
- Garnish with a lemon slice.

Sep 4, 2013

Chicken, Black Olives & Lemon Spaghetti

Libations used: 1/3 cup dry white wine...
Libations left over: Pretty much the whole bottle, so serve with dinner...
It's been so hot these past couple of weeks, so I really haven't felt like turning on the stove.  I was just craving pasta though, so I decided to suck it up and bust out the pots and pans for a little bit.  It's good to sweat it out every once in a while, right?  This Chicken, Black Olives & Lemon Spaghetti from Food52 was quick and relatively light.  Instead of turning on the oven and roasting a chicken, I cheated a little and bought one of those whole roasted chickens at the grocery store — it's a great way to speed up the prep for this dinner in no time, and make it a quick, weeknight meal.  I actually ended up using all of the chicken, a whole jar of black, pitted olives and tripled the amount of lemon zest and parsley.  I also upped the amount of liquid used for the broth, as I felt like 16 ounces of pasta called for a little more than the original recipe called for.  For the wine, I used Toasted Head Chardonnay, one of my go-to cheap whites.  Turning on the heat was worth it, as I downed this pasta in no time.

Chicken, Black Olives & Lemon Spaghetti - Serves 4-6
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine (I used Toasted Head Chardonnay)
  • 3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 to 3 Tbs defatted pan juices from roasting chicken (there was just enough in the container from the grocery store!)
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 lb spaghetti
  • 1 jar pitted whole black olives
  • 1 small whole roasted chicken, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 3 tsps lemon zest
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 3 Tbs parsley, minced
  • Parmesan cheese
- While your pasta pot full of salted water is heating up on the stove, place a sauté pan over medium heat.
- Add a couple glugs of olive oil and then add the garlic.
- Let the garlic gently cook until it just begins to turn golden (do not let it get browned).
- Add the red pepper flakes and stir.
- Add the white wine and let the alcohol burn off for a few seconds.
- Add the lemon juice, stock and pan juices.
- Bring the mixture to a boil, and season with salt and pepper, tasting to adjust the seasonings.
- Lower the heat to a simmer and let the mixture reduce by a third.
- Remove the pan from the heat if the sauce finishes before the pasta.  You can reheat before adding to the pasta.
- After the pasta is cooked, reserve about a cup of the pasta water before draining.
- Add the pasta back to the pot, and add the chicken, olives and lemon zest.
- Toss, and add some more salt and pepper, to taste.
- If the pasta is too dry, add some pasta water so there's a bit of broth.
- Add the parsley and toss some more.
- Garnish with plenty of Parmesan cheese.

Aug 29, 2013


One of my favorite things about living in Santa Monica are all the free outdoor activities that take place.  In the summer, they host the Twilight Concert Series on the pier, and always gather an eclectic and amazing group of musicians.  While there's some lovely dancing and rocking out on the pier, my friends and I prefer the massive picnic/illicit wine drinking situation on the beach.  This week is going to be very New Orleans-inspired with Trombone Shorty and the Dustbowl Revival, and that got me craving a there might be some cocktail shaking in the sand...

It's one of America's oldest cocktails and is a New Orleans variation on an Old Fashioned.  The name came from the brand of cognac that was originally used in this classic libation - Sazerac de Forge et Fils - and was sold at the Merchants Exchange in the 1850s.  A gent named Aaron Bird took the space over and changed its name to the Sazerac House and served a cocktail using that namesake cognac, absinthe and some bitters from a local druggist down the street - a Mr. Antoine Amedie Peychaud.  In the 1870s, the cognac got switched out for rye whiskey because of an epidemic that devastated France's grape crop.  When absinthe was banned in the US in 1912, it was replaced with other anise-flavored liqueurs, such as New Orleans' very own Herbsaint.  The history and prevalence of this drink is so tied to the city, that a bill was actually passed in the Louisiana State Senate in 2008 to make it the official drink of New Orleans.  It's such a simple drink to make, and everyone should really have this American classic in their bartending arsenal.  Now time to whip up a batch of these for the beach!

  • 1 tsp absinthe (I used Pernod) or Herbsaint liqueuer
  • 2 oz rye whiskey (I used Templeton) or cognac
  • 1/2 oz simple syrup
  • 2-3 dashes Peychaud's bitters
  • Lemon peel
- "Rinse" a chilled coupe or Old-Fashioned glass with the absinthe by rolling it around the inside of the glass and evenly coating.
- Shake out the excess liqueur.
- In a mixing glass filled with ice, add the whiskey, simple syrup and bitters.
- Shake and strain into the prepared cocktail glass.
- Take a peel of lemon and squeeze over the drink to release the essential oils and drop in the glass.

Aug 22, 2013

Tegroni Time!

You all know how I love my Negronis, and I'm always looking for fun variations.  Thanks to, they introduced me to the Tegroni, which swaps out the gin and adds in the tequila.  It's a fun, summer twist on a traditional drink.  For the sweet vermouth, I've been a big fan of Punt e Mes lately.  It's one of the more bitter vermouths out there, which is perhaps why I like it so much!  The taste is described by many as halfway between a sweeter Antica Formula and the bitter Campari.  Serve this cocktail up with a grapefruit twist and a giant bowl of least that's what I'll be doing for the rest of the summer and in to early fall.

  • 1 oz silver tequila (I used Patrón)
  • 1 oz Campari
  • 1 oz Punt e Mes or your favorite sweet vermouth
  • Grapefruit peel or twist, for garnish
- In a mixing glass filled with the ice, add the tequila, Campari and sweet vermouth and stir.
- Strain into a chilled coupe glass and garnish with a grapefruit peel.