Tag Archives: cocktail recipes

Weekend Cocktail: Vodka Watermelon Cooler

I will be forever indebted to Layla Pujol of Laylita for her vodka mint limeade recipe, which has been the drink of choice at more than one gathering this summer. It’s great to throw a minimum amount of ingredients in a blender to make a big pitcher of drinks for a crowd. Moreover, it’s a lot cheaper than buying enough Whispering Angel to serve 20 people for an afternoon – at least if those people are my friends.

This drink has proved so popular, though, that I found myself running out of ingredients on more than one occasion and had to make substitutions. When I was trying to get rid of a lot of leftover watermelon I threw in some watermelon chunks. The result that time was a winner, so here’s the recipe, as perfected by me and Jeff Nesmith of the new vegan lifestyle blog Java Street Project. (Much tasting was involved.)

Vodka Watermelon Cooler

1/4 of an average-size (about 10-lb.) watermelon
2 limes, plus more for garnish
1/2 c. mint leaves, plus more for garnish
2 handfuls ice
1/2 c. sugar
2 c. vodka
2 1/2 c. seltzer

Cut the rind of the watermelon and cut the flesh into large chunks. You should have about 1 1/2 lb. watermelon without the rind. Quarter the limes. Add limes, mint, ice, sugar and watermelon to a large high-speed blender (the Ninja one is awesome) or Vitamix. You may have to pulse the mixture a couple of times to get all the watermelon to fit in.

Blend on high speed for a full 3 minutes. Strain the watermelon mixture through a fine-mesh sieve, stirring with a spoon to push the liquid through. Discard the solids.

Pour the watermelon juice into a large pitcher and stir in vodka and seltzer. (Leave out the vodka for a virgin cocktail.) Chill for 15 minutes to let the mint settle. Serve over ice, garnished with lime wheels and mint leaves.

Makes 8-10 cocktails.

Variations: swap out the watermelon, mint and lime for:
– 4 limes, 1/2 c. mint and 2 c. water
– 4 lemons, 1/2 c. basil and 2 c. water

You can also add gin instead of vodka, or add a combination of vodka and limoncello. Try it with all sorts of different fruit and herbs – your guests will not complain.

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Cocktail Recipe: Tequila ‘n’ Tears

Tequila n Tears Cocktail, Gastro Chic

wise man once said that we are only allowed to mope about the election until Thanksgiving. So make the most of the last few hours of moping – or steel yourself for right wing encounters – with this cocktail, which I originally developed as an election night “mazel tov cocktail” but have since renamed “tequila ‘n’ tears.” It involves a hefty amount of Mexican-made tequila, tropical fruit juices, lime for sourness, plenty of bitters, a salty rim and an edge of fiery spice.  (more…)

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Byron at the Surf Lodge, Montauk

Summer’s hot new restaurant openings used to be in Southampton, East Hampton or Sag Harbor, but this summer all the buzz has moved out east to Montauk. This formerly sleepy fishing and surfing town has seen openings like Ruschmeyer’s, the Sloppy Tuna and Zum Schneider, and in the Surf Lodge, the trendy hotel now under new ownership, is new restaurant Byron by Aussie chef Chris Rendell. (more…)

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Recipe: Strawberry White Wine Punch

One of my favorite offerings at the Swedish midsummer festival is the delicious, refreshing and affecting strawberry wine punch served at Gigino. But because of our lamentably retro liquor laws, it can only be enjoyed on the restaurant patio, not in the park, even though the two are part of the same property.

This year I took matters into my own hands and made my own strawberry white wine punch, based on this recipe from Epicurious, to serve at a picnic in the park. I tweaked it by adding sparkling white wine and an interesting liqueur I had lying around the house, Marie-Framboise raspberry cognac. You can buy it online or substitute kirsch, another Scandinavian staple. Adding flavored cognac or brandy nudges the drink closer to sangria, but it still tastes predominantly of berries. There is no need to use expensive wine or champagne, since you’re just adding sugar to it. Put it in an unmarked container, serve in opaque cups, and if anyone asks, it’s lemonade with strawberries in it.  (more…)

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Cocktail Recipe: The Big Apple

Put away the mojito ingredients: Fall calls for a new type of cocktail. We went looking for a cocktail recipe that incorporates bourbon and apples, two favorite autumn flavors, but ended up getting creative, since none of the recipes we found involved calvados, the classic apple brandy from Normandy.

“The Big Apple” seems like an apt name for this cocktail, an apple-y spin on the Manhattan. Also like a Manhattan, it’s strong. It may be a good way to gird yourself for Thanksgiving dinner, no matter where you celebrate it.  (more…)

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Jala-Pina Cocktail

If there were a tequila version of rum punch, it would be the fabulous Jala-Piña cocktail at the Redhead. This restaurant may be known for chef Meg Grace’s knock-out fried chicken, but the bartenders are no slouches either. Here the pineapple juice is infused with jalapenos and mixed with silver tequila instead of rum. It seemed simple enough to make this cocktail at home, but when we first tried it, something was missing. Jalapenos, tequila, pineapple – what else?

Jala-Pina Cocktail

If you are ever lacking a certain je ne sais quoi in a cocktail, chances are it’s bitters, the secret weapon of bartenders everywhere. The hint of Angostura bitters, which adds the scent of cloves and a touch of umami to a drink, is the additional connection between this tequila cocktail and rum punch. Though the Redhead infuses pineapple juice with jalapenos, if you’re making this drink on a smaller scale, it’s more practical to infuse the tequila: You can use it again for a cucumber jalapeno margarita. (more…)

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Cucumber Jalapeno Margarita

One of the tastiest trends this summer has been the proliferation of spicy cocktails. Proving that spice isn’t just for Bloody Marys, a number of Mexican and Latin-American bars and restaurants have upped the pepper content in drinks. Tequila is often the conduit, infused with anything from smoky dried ancho chiles to regular old jalapenos.


Cafe El Portal in Soho is a favorite hot-day hideaway that serves up a bracingly refreshing cucumber jalapeno margarita. The pepperiness makes it especially cooling on a 90-degree-plus day: this time, if you break out in a sweat, it will be for a good reason. We recreated the recipe at home. Keep more ingredients on hand – refill requests are almost guaranteed. (more…)

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The Copycat Chef: Last-Minute Sangria

sangria-sqSome warm summer nights call out for sangria, but with the weather as fickle as it’s been, you rarely know it 12 hours in advance. Fortunately there are shortcuts to traditional sangria that will make it taste as if it’s been steeping all afternoon, even if you put it together at the 11th hour. This recipe was developed by D. on a recent evening, when all the pieces—and a secret ingredient—fell into place in record time.


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The Copycat Chef: Asian Bloody Mary

Asian Bloody MaryThis Asian spin on a Bloody Mary was inspired by Sake Bar Hagi, though it isn’t served there. As at Monkeytown in Williamsburg, an Asian Bloody Mary is the cuisine of a country that doesn’t actually exist.

On a recent night at Hagi with Joey Deckle, he asked for some shichimi pepper. This blend of chili pepper, orange peel, sesame seed and seaweed tasted like it had been made to go in a good spicy Bloody Mary. Marie Fromage suggested it should be dusted on the rim of the glass.

“I always thought they should put fish sauce in a Bloody Mary,” said Joey Deckle, which didn’t seem too far off, given the popularity of clamato juice in Bloody Marys.

So here’s a new recipe for the Asian Bloody Mary, the dangerous brain child of three food people drinking sake.


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Rum With Punch? The Painkiller

Pusser's Painkiller

This past weekend, a few of us whipped up an excellent drink from the BVI. The Painkiller originates from the Soggy Dollar Bar in Jost Van Dyke, just north of St. John. The only difficult thing about this drink is finding one of the ingredients, Coco Lopez (creme de coconut – not the same as coconut milk), but we eventually hunted it down at Gristede’s. Make a batch of these for a party, and your guests will be feeling no pain.


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Preakness Drink: The Mint Tea Julep

mint-tea-julep-1Some people taste one of the many new iced teas filling up the cooler at Whole Foods and think, that’s good. Others try the same tea and think, that’s good, but it would be even better with alcohol.

I have an addiction to Teas’ Tea. It’s not pretty: I will spend 10 or 20 minutes looking for Teas’ Tea if it’s not sold at the store where I’m buying lunch. Finally, a company figured out that there is a demand for excellent iced tea without sugar or artificial sweeteners. And one benefit to the crazy number of new beverages hitting the market now is that there are many possibilities for new cocktails.

Teas’ Tea Mint Green tea is particularly intriguing. They layering of mint and green tea flavors is subtle, a little smoky but crisp and refreshing. As soon as I tasted it, it elicited the memory of an already familiar flavor: mint juleps.

Both tea and mint juleps are Southern standards, but adding that Zen edge of green tea seemed like it would take the mint julep to a whole new level. This Saturday, toast to Mine That Bird with an easy julep (no muddling required) that puts another twist on an already interesting racing season.


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Cinco de Mayo Recipe: Michelada ZAMAS

zamas-tulumPoor Mexico! Just when they were getting the drug cartels under control, along comes the swine flu. On this Cinco de Mayo, toast to their improved health – and the future health of tourism there – with a Michelada.

Translating literally as “my frozen beer,” the Michelada is hard to find outside of Mexico but extremely easy to make. On a recent trip to Tulum, I tried one at Zamas, a pretty beachside resort with a great open-air restaurant. The taste reminded me not just of a Bloody Mary but more specifically JG Mellon’s Bloody Bull, made with beef bouillon. (more…)

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This recipe for Scandanavian mulled wine, glogg (pronounced GLOOG), is adapted from the Market Cafe, where proprietress Fanny Farkas used to serve a number of holiday specialties from her native Sweden.

Alas, the Market Cafe is not serving glogg this season, since Fanny seems to be traveling, but it’s simple to make yourself. (I like making it just so I can say the word “glogg” over and over again.) The only difficult part is finding the cardamom pods, which can be had at Dual Specialty Store on First Avenue between 5th and 6th Streets or at Adriana’s Caravan in Grand Central Market.

Don’t bother using expensive wine, since you’re just going to corrupt it with sugar and vodka. If you can’t get your hands on any cardamom pods, don’t let that deter you: chances are no one will notice after a couple of glasses of glogg anyway.


20 cardamom pods
10 cloves
2 sticks cinnamon
1 orange peel
1 magnum-size bottle Shiraz or Rioja
2 cups vodka
1 pound sugar
1 1/2 cups whole raw almonds
1 1/2 cups raisins
10 dried figs

Make a bouquet garni of the cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, and orange peel. Combine all ingredients in a heavy saucepan and bring to a temperature just below a boil.

Makes about 10 mugs of glogg.

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