Cocktails with the Cult: Easy Mojito

I have a couple of girlfriends who semi-regularly come over to our house to hang out and eat Chinese food and drink mojitos. I know, those two things have nothing to do with each other, but who cares? Mojitos are awesome and the Chinese place makes really good honey walnut prawns. (And now I’m hungry for honey walnut prawns.) Mojitos are also awesome for spring, amiright?

Now, I’ve shared some hard-to-make cocktails from time to time, but it should also be clear by now that I’m completely lazy and I’m going to take shortcuts if they don’t ruin a drink. And muddling mint and lime is tiring. So, I’m giving a shout out to Stirrings, a company that makes some really fantastic mixers, including a mojito mixer that’s incredible. It’s also not made with a zillion unpronounceable ingredients. (No, they aren’t paying me to write this–nobody pays me to write anything. I just like their product.)

So, here’s the recipe for a mojito:

3 oz. Stirrings Simple Mojito Cocktail Mixer
1.5 oz. rum
3 oz. club soda

To mix, shake the mixer and the rum together with ice in a shaker, add the club soda, and pour the whole thing into a glass. YUM. Also, you can make a virgin mojito with one part mixer and one part club soda, and serve it over ice. Cheers!

Cocktails with the Cult: The Final Word

When The Hubs and I first started dating, we’d been together for maybe a month or so when I first got to meet The Hubs’ best friend. We’ll call him Mr. E. The three of us went to a pool hall because Mr. E and The Hubs like to play pool, and I like to play pool badly and watch other people play it well. I liked Mr. E immediately, he seemed like a good guy who had The Hubs’ back. This was confirmed to me when The Hubs stepped away to use the restroom and Mr. E turned to me and said, “If you hurt him, I will kill you.” And I was like, “OK.” And he was like, “No, seriously. If you hurt him, I will hunt you down and I will kill you.” And he clearly meant it. And I was like, “OK, fair enough.” It didn’t terrify me like you might think it would have, because I was pretty sure already that I was going to marry The Hubs. Actually, it made me feel glad to know that The Hubs had someone like Mr. E who was going to be there for him no matter what, come girlfriends or high water.

Now, it turns out that Mr. E is not only an awesome friend, he’s also a pretty damn good chef and bartender too. Mr. E does not make food or drinks with shitty half-assed ingredients. Mr. E makes mimosas with orange juice he has freshly squeezed. Mr. E makes elk steaks from the elk he shot himself. So when I made a request for a cocktail for this month’s Cocktails with the Cult post, oh man, did Mr. E come through. This one looks like a hum-dinger. You’re gonna need a special trip to the liquor store, but it’s gonna be worth it.

Without further ado, I bring you The Final Word, a la Mr. E.

3/4 oz. Bulleit Rye
3/4 oz. Green Chartreuse
3/4 oz. Luxardo maraschino
3/4 oz. fresh lemon juice

Shake with ice, serve straight up.

I can’t wait to hear how you guys like this one! Cheers!

Cocktails with the Cult: The Thin Mint

Last year, I threw a big cocktail party at our house as a fundraiser for the March of Dimes. I raise money for the March of Dimes every year because their volunteers helped us get through the NICU experience (it was a March of Dimes parent volunteer who introduced me to the concept of the pump and dump when I really wanted a cocktail during those dark days) and because the research they’ve funded over the years probably helped save The Boy’s life. What’s that, you say? You want to make a donation to our family team in this year’s March for Babies? Well, isn’t that sweet of you! CLICK HERE!

Wait a minute. Is this a cocktail recipe or a fundraising pitch? Hahaha, it’s both!

Now, where was I…oh yes, cocktail fundraiser. Being a lifetime member of Girl Scouts, I know how much people love Girl Scout cookies and how they jones for them after the sale is over. I figured people would pony up a nice fatty donation to have the chance to come to a cocktail party at our place that featured Girl Scout cookies AND booze after the sale was over, when it was too late to buy cookies. So, I bought a zillion Girl Scout cookies, and began surfing the Internet for Girl Scout cookie cocktails, and created a Facebook event, et voila! We had several hundred bucks for the March of Dimes and a lot of happy friends. It was AWESOME.

The cocktail that was the biggest hit of the evening was the Thin Mint (although the Samoa cocktail was also well-loved, but since we just had a delicious coconut cocktail last time here on the blog, you’ll just have to learn about that recipe next year!). You’re gonna love this. It’s strong and sweet and looks amazing. But you’re gonna need some supplies. This is a fancy drink for a special event, not a toss-it-together-when-feeling-lazy cocktail. OK, here goes.

First off, the glass. You want to get some chocolate syrup–good stuff if you can afford it. I went with Dilettante’s chocolate syrup–they’re a local company that makes amazing chocolates, and if you’re ever in the Seattle airport, you should get a mocha from their stand instead of the Starbucks at the food court. Shorter line, better mocha. Alright, so, pour the chocolate syrup in a puddle on a plate and dip the rim in it.

Then you need some crushed up Thin Mint cookies. Smash them in a plastic bag with a mallet, run them through a food processor, whatever. Then put them on a plate too and dip the chocolatey rim in the cookies.

Now the drink. I actually made pitchers of this, so I could just pour some in a glass to serve, but here’s the recipe for one drink:

2 oz. chocolate mint liqueur (I used Crave brand)
1 oz. vanilla vodka
2-3 splashes chocolate bitters

If you’re making an individual drink, you can shaker this one, but since I used pitchers, I just stirred it.

This one is deceptively strong. You’re gonna need a designated driver, you guys, I’m not kidding–especially because it’s so amazingly good, you may be tempted to have more than one! Cheers!

Cocktails with the Cult: Cheers to Almond Joy

YOU GUYS. I’m so excited because today’s post is by a celebrity guest blogger! In fact, she was the runner-up in Blogger Idol 2013! That’s right, it’s Jennifer Hicks from Real Life Parenting! Jennnifer was one of the first bloggers to reach out to me when I first started my blog, because she’s one of those awesome women who’s not just about doing her thing, she’s also about forming a community to lift up other bloggers. AND, her husband makes a mean cocktail, so I asked if she’d be willing to share one of his awesome recipes, and she graciously accepted! Without further ado, here’s Jen!

Cheers to Almond Joy sometimes you feel like a nut.

Exciting news calls for a celebration and a celebration calls for a toast and a toast calls for a drink.

There are so many reasons to celebrate. In my house we like to shine a light on the good things in life–you know, important stuff like a job promotion, good grades, positive results from a medical test, booking a vacation, starting a vacation, starting dinner, finishing the laundry (just kidding, that’s a myth), catching up on the DVR, cleaning the bathroom, getting the mail, taking out the recycling, feeding the cat, seeing that someone else changed the toilet paper (still kidding, a girl can dream), getting the kids out the door for the bus, remembering to pick up said kids from after school practice All excuses to have a drink important things to celebrate.

Hubbinator is an engineer by day, but a bartender extraordinaire by night. His margaritas are world-class. I almost can’t drink one when we’re out anymore because they don’t come close to his masterful concoction. His recipe for Long Island Iced Tea will knock your socks off. It’s become our traditional celebration drink with his family for every holiday. His simple but addictive Stoli Doli will have you knocking on our patio door all summer asking if he’s got any ready. (It’s a pineapple-marinated-in-vodka-delicious-drink so the prep time is a two-week wait.) He will fool you with his Bellini Martinis–they’re smooth and delicious so they go down easily–too easily if you’re not counting and you could find yourself sleeping in our extra bed! They’re one of my favorite summer drinks. Almost as good as his mojitos. Mmmmmm. Mojitos.

He can create and whip up nearly anything you want based on what you like. Did you have a fruity something-or-other when you were out one night and you want it again? Describe it to him. He’ll make it. You don’t have any idea what went into that drink? No worries. He’ll figure it out. Do you have only a few supplies on hand but want a satisfying drink? Hubbinator will put together something you’ll like. He’s really good.

Meet the Holy Grail!!So, in December we had a reason to celebrate–a real one, not just the I Remembered To Breathe All Day kind of cause for celebration. (We may or may not have used that as an actual reason to mix up a martini in the past. Don’t judge.) When I found out I made it into the Finale for Blogger Idol, Hubbinator declared it a legitimate Cause for Cocktails and asked what I wanted. I said I was in the mood for a Mudslide-ish drink but not quite as sweet because I was pretty sure I wanted the holy grail to myself more than one.

Off he went to conjure up that night’s beverage. After listening to bottles clinking, all kinds of pouring, several taste testings followed by various sounds of approval or not, more pouring, more shaking and a final pour into glasses, Hubbinator presented the Almond Joy. He had even taken the time to notch out some almonds to put on the rim of the martini glass–thus the Almond part of the Joy. We held up our glasses and said “Cheers!” His streak of excellent bartending continued! It was chocolatey with a hint of coconut and something nutty, not too sweet, but just right. The second time he made these (because they had been on my mind since the first time!), he made a little rimmer out of cocoa and sugar–It was good, but I preferred the original with just the almonds on the rim.


Almond JoyIf you’re in the mood for something perfectly decadent, you should try Hubbinator’s Almond Joy.

• 1 part Chocolate liqueur (he used Godiva)

• 2 parts Coconut Rum (he used Malibu)
• 1 part Rum Cream Liqueur (ours was something we brought back from Jamaica a few years ago)

Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice and Shake Whatcha Mama Gave Ya! Swirl some chocolate syrup in a martini glass and add some crushed ice. Shake again, pour, toast, and enjoy.

*To make a single drink, 1 part = 1 shot (about 1.5 ounces)

Here’s hoping you have something to celebrate in the near future!! Remember: breathing can be tricky, so if all else fails, you can celebrate that mostly involuntary body function with a yummy Almond Joy!

Jennifer is a mom of two teens, wife of one grown-up, and food bowl filler of the family cat. She has spent some years as a stay-at-home-mom and others as a high school teacher. She writes about the good, the bad, the ugly and sometimes the very funny at her blog, 
Real Life Parenting. She was the Blogger Idol 2013 runner-up, has been featured on BonBon Break and Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop, and is a contributing author in the book The HerStories Project: Women Share the Joy, Pain, and Power of Female Friendship.

Cocktails with the Cult: Lena’s Mason Jar Margaritas

I am so lucky to have two awesome BFFs. One of them went to college with me and she lives back east, so I don’t get to see her that often, but we talk on the phone pretty regularly and when we do get together, it’s like we were never apart. I call her my College BFF. The other is a friend I met when I moved back home to Seattle after college, and I call her my Local BFF. Her name is Lena and she blogs over at Beginner’s Runner. Both of these women are FANTASTIC, I mean, funny, and smart, and generous almost to a fault. They’re the kind of friends you can count on no matter what, to laugh with you and to pick you up when you’ve fallen.

On top of all that awesomeness, my Local BFF makes a MEAN margarita. I mean, this thing is so damn delicious. DELICIOUS. And halfway through it, you’re like, “Holy crap, am I buzzed already?” Last year, I threw her a baby shower, and her thank-you gift to me was 3 of these bad boys in mason jars. Now, here’s the reason why she puts them in mason jars: because she is a GENIUS. Because when you’re throwing a party, you don’t have time to stand around with a pitcher pouring drinks for everyone. Better to just have your drinks in mason jars, and all your guests have to do is take the lid off and drink up. GENIUS.

When she gave me the margaritas after her baby shower, she said to me, “By the way, these freeze beautifully.” And they do–OMG, when they thaw, they’re like a delicious slushy glass of awesomeness. And, when you’re hosting a party, you can make a batch of these ahead of time and keep them in your freezer. SHE IS A GENIUS.

So I asked her if she’d be willing to share the recipe with you all, and lucky for you, she said yes! Without further ado, I bring you Lena’s Mason Jar Margaritas.


Mason Jar Margaritas
Makes just over 6 – 16oz jars
Adapted from Knock You On Your Ass Margaritas

1 container Frozen Lemonade, melted
6 oz. Roses Lime Juice
8 oz Triple Sec
4 cups of Tequila
40 oz of water
– Then if you want to add kick or flavor to your margaritas, 4 oz Cointreau, Grand Marnier or a flavoring of your choice. I usually leave it straight or put in a little more Triple Sec.

Clean out and dry 7 – 16 oz mason jars with lids. Mix all the ingredients and fill the jars as much or as little as you want. I usually go to the neck of the jar, but you can leave it a little less full to put ice in there when you serve.
Put the lids on the jars and put in the fridge. Best if left overnight and served next day.
To serve, open lid, throw a few ice cubes in, put lid back on tightly, shake, then remove lid and serve. Easy peasy and less glassware cleanup!

And there you have it, a margarita for the ages. In a mason jar. That freezes beautifully. GENIUS. Cheers, y’all!

Cocktails with the Cult: Dave

My senior year of college, my roommate and I threw a lot of the parties for our group of friends. Some of those parties were seriously awesome, like the one that featured red Jell-O shots that one of my friends ended up eating with a spoon because they got melty, inspiring another friend, who wrote for the student paper, to name his regular column “Hot Dish with Red Jell-O.” Or the Christmas party, where the building manager called us down during it and we were sure we were being evicted for noise complaints, but it turned out she just wanted to give us leftovers from the official building party that afternoon to share with our guests. Man, that apartment kicked ass.

I had a friend from band named Dave who was a regular at our parties. On Dave’s birthday, we decided to invent a drink and name it after Dave, as a present. And to make it truly awesome, we made sure when people talked about the drink, they called it simply Dave. Not “a Dave” or “some Dave” or “the Dave,” but just “Dave.” So when you talked about the drink, you had to say things like “I want Dave” or “Dave tastes good” or “Pour me a big glass of Dave.” It’s the gift that keeps on giving, and now I share it with you.

Now to be honest, it’s been 15 years since I graduated from college, and damned if I remember exactly what was in Dave. I do know it sure as hell wasn’t measured or precise, I mean, we’re talking college students inventing a drink here. So really, feel free to adjust this one to taste. But the key ingredients are chocolate ice cream and creme de banana. (“Dave has some delicious banana.”) Put them in a blender, add some milk, and whatever other booze you have lying around that would go well with it, like Kahlua or Bailey’s or vodka. And blender it up until it’s smooth.

Pour it in a red plastic cup, take a sip, and say, “Mmmmmmm Dave.” And somewhere, my friend Dave will be smiling.

Cocktails with the Cult: Lavender Lemonade

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all! Do the holidays stress you out as much as me? Well then, you, my friend, are in luck because it’s time for another cocktail recipe! This one takes a little lead time, because you are going to learn about infusing vodka. Don’t worry, it’s way easier than it sounds, but it is totally gonna impress your friends. You’re gonna be all “Hey, I infused this vodka with lavender” and your friends are gonna be like “Wow, you must be an expert bartender!” And then if you’re like me, you’ll tell them how easy it is and they won’t be impressed with you anymore. I think maybe I’m doing it wrong…but anyway, infusing vodka is ridiculously simple.

I have gigantic lavender plants in my yard that grow a TON of lavender flowers. I am horrible at growing things, but for some reason, these plants just really love my yard, so they grow like crazy. When the flowers start to turn a little grey, I cut them off and hang them upside down over a big bowl to let them dry out, and then when they’re very dry I strip all the flowers off the stems. And voila, I have lovely dried lavender that smells amazing. Now, if you don’t have unkillable lavender in your yard, no worries, they sell dried lavender at fancy grocery stores, or possibly your local farmer’s market might have some too. Or, ask a friend with a lavender plant.

OK, so, infusing vodka. This sounds like a fancy thing, but what it means is, you soak something in vodka for a while, and then filter it through a paper coffee filter. That’s it. You thought I was kidding, but seriously, it is that simple. For lavender vodka, what I do is, I get a pint mason jar, I put in a tablespoon of dried lavender, and then I fill the jar to the top with vodka. Doesn’t have to be fancy vodka, mid-level vodka will do. And, I let it sit overnight at most, no longer than that or it’ll be crazy strong. Which would make a lovely lavender extract for baking, but not so much for mixing in cocktails. You could even let it sit less time than overnight, like probably a few hours would do. Then you pour it through a coffee filter, et voila! You have lavender vodka. It’s ridiculously easy.

Now, the drink itself. Get yourself some lemonade, whatever brand you like, or if you’re not lazy like me, you can make your own. Take a pint glass, add some ice, pour in a shot of lavender vodka, and then pour in your lemonade and stir.

And there you have it, a lavender lemonade! I hope you enjoy it!

Cocktails with the Cult: Raspberry Martini

It’s time once again for a Cocktail with the Caldwells! This time, The Hubs is sharing his recipe for a seriously killer raspberry martini. He invented his recipe because I fell in love with the raspberry martinis at an Italian restaurant we used to go to before we had kids. The bartender in those days was AMAZING and so was the chef. The place has gone downhill and we just don’t eat out at grown-up places that often anymore, let alone at ones that are just so-so, but luckily The Hubs has successfully reproduced that raspberry martini at home.

Before we begin, a warning. That dirty martini I taught you to make last time? You could tell from the ingredient list, which was mostly vodka, that it was gonna be a strong drink, and when you tasted it, you probably said, “Holy fuck, that is a strong drink!” Or maybe you don’t swear as much as I do, I don’t know, but I am gonna guess you said the part about it being strong. This raspberry martini is just as strong, but it won’t taste like it. It’s gonna go down smooth. So, watch yourself. Drink it at home, or have a designated driver, because you’re a goddamn adult.

So, let’s talk ingredients. You’re gonna need some raspberries. We have raspberry bushes in our yard, so summer is an awesome time for this drink, but hothouse raspberries will do in winter. If you use frozen, they need to be thawed, and you CAN do frozen, we don’t need to be raspberry snobs up in here. You’re also going to need some Chambord, which is a raspberry liqueur that comes in a globe-shaped bottle with a gold crown for a lid. Your friends will be impressed because it looks all fancy, and it also makes a really good slightly boozy fudge. You also need a bottle of sweetened lime juice (NOT regular lime juice–look for it near the grenadine), and of course, vodka. In fact, get yourself a bottle of raspberry vodka if you can. If you can’t, the vodka you bought for the dirty martinis will do.

Now, this cocktail takes a little bit of work, and you DO need a shaker. I know I was all “shakers are bad” when I wrote about my dirty martini, but here you’re gonna be smashing up some raspberries. Right tool for the right drink, OK? Put 4 or 5 raspberries in the bottom. Put in 3-4 ice cubes. Pour in like half a shot, or even just a quarter of a shot, of Chambord. Put in two splashes of sweetened lime juice. Now comes the vodka. You need multiple shots of it, like 2 or 3 shots. Cover, shake until the outside of the shaker is frosty.

Now to pour it: put a raspberry in the bottom of a martini glass (or whatever glass you have, a coffee mug works fine too). Pour the drink in the glass through the strainer–you may have to tap the shaker on your counter a couple times because the raspberry seeds can get stuck in the strainer’s holes.

And voila! You have a killer raspberry martini. Cheers!

Cocktails with the Cult: Beth’s Dirty Martini

I’ve decided to start a new recurring series on booze. So, here’s how drinking works for me now that I am in my late 30’s: if I drink during the work week and then have to get up in time to get the kids ready and then commute to work? Yeah, that’s not happening. Also, if I drink more than 2 drinks on a weekend? I am going to be hung over, in fact, 2 is pushing it most times. There is no amount of water-drinking that will prevent that hangover. A couple times a year, I let loose and get completely sloshed, and the next day is always a disaster, which is why I rarely do it.

What this means is, because I don’t drink much or often, I am a lot more choosy about my booze. Since my only drinking is one cocktail on a Saturday, I don’t want to waste that drink on crap like I did when I was a college student. So, my days of Popov vodka and OJ are gone, and replaced with higher quality cocktails.

Of course, I am too tired to be going out for cocktails. I haven’t had more than a couple of nights of decent sleep in a row since before The Girl was born, and today is her second birthday. Once in a while, The Hubs and I will get a babysitter and go out, but honestly, my cocktails are mostly made at home. It costs less money that way too. So, we have a pretty good selection of quality booze in our pantry, and I am always on the lookout for new cocktail recipes. Recipes that I will share with you in this new recurring series.

Oh hi Judgy McJudgerson, are you worried about my kids becoming alcoholics because they have seen me drink? Or that they’ll raid my liquor cabinet? I’m not. I firmly believe the dumbest thing you can do is shelter your kids from the world. I think teaching them about safe non-binging ways to drink, like a single cocktail, and explaining to them about how booze affects people, especially kids, especially teenagers who are driving cars, is the right way to raise my kids. You disagree? Great, then you do it differently. I will be over here with my cocktail.

Alright, onto today’s recipe: my version of a dirty martini. You may have figured out by now that I am a vodka drinker, not a gin drinker. If you are a gin snob, I will understand if you never read my blog again after this post. You can go hang out with the Glenn Beck fans who stopped reading after I shared that article from Al Jazeera.

My dirty martini is a simple drink, with not a lot of ingredients, so you want those ingredients to be of good quality. I have my own favorite brands of vodka–Crater Lake is my new favorite, but may not be available in your part of the world. I used to drink Stoli because it’s not bad and it’s readily available, before the whole Russia-hates-gay-people thing happened. Just buy a vodka that tastes smooth to you, not like rubbing alcohol. What I mean is, don’t buy cheap vodka. Buy a middle-level or top shelf vodka. And for the love of god, store your vodka in the freezer. Room temperature vodka is just wrong.

Next, you need some dry vermouth. I use Boissiere. There may be better brands out there, I don’t know that much about vermouth. I cannot express how disappointed you will be if you try to make this drink with sweet vermouth.

And then there are the olives. You want green olives, and you want them to come in a jar with some brine, and you want them to look yummy, not all shriveled and sad. If you want to be really fancy, get some stuffed with blue cheese (OMG SO DELICIOUS) or hit the olive bar at Whole Foods. I personally get a fancy looking jar from my regular grocery store.

So here’s how I put this drink together, and my apologies to the bartenders of the world who will certainly tell me I am doing it wrong. You can go read some other blog with the gin snobs and the Glenn Beck lovers–or better yet, perhaps you could come over and mix me one? Because, that would be awesome too. What I do is, I take my martini glass (don’t have one? Pretty sure this would work out OK in a kid’s plastic cup from Ikea–I can hear bartender brains exploding even more) and I put in a splash of the dry vermouth. Just a splash, not a shot. Then I put in a splash of the brine from the olive jar–this is what makes it “dirty.” If you like it very dirty (snicker, I said dirty), put more brine in there. Then I pour in some vodka to fill the glass–not up to the rim, because there’s gonna be some olives in there.

Next, I take a martini pick (or a toothpick if you don’t have martini picks) and I put 3 or 4 olives or 5 on it. And I use that martini pick to stir the martini. I do not shake my martini with ice because that just waters down your martini. Also, because almost all of this drink is vodka that has been in the freezer, you don’t need ice. It’s already cold. This would be part of the genius of vodka over gin.

And that’s it! You now have a little taste of heaven to help you unwind on Friday night. Cheers!