grapefruit mimosa cocktail

Leftover Bubbly from NYE = Champagne Cocktails

Trader Joe's "champagne"

In victory you deserve champagne. In defeat, you need it.

Lore goes that these are the famous words of Napoleon Bonaparte, and apparently that little guy loved him some champers. The act of ceremonially sabering a champagne bottle is said to have begun in the Napoleonic era, during which soldiers celebrating a victory on the battlefield would use the dull side of their blades to remove the collar and cork of a bottle.

A couple of my (badass) recently married friends asked for a champagne sword on their wedding registry, so the guests at our New Year’s Eve party had the pleasure of seeing this age-old tradition in the flesh. Have you ever seen someone open a bottle of champagne with a champagne sword? The cork comes flying off, along with the lip of the bottle and a shit ton of bubbles. It’s pretty cool and exciting and festive (until someone slices their finger on the top—watch out for that part.)

But let’s get back to the booze. This season got me wondering: does anyone actually spring for real champagne these days? Marc picked us up a couple bottles of Trader Joe’s Blason de Bourgogne Crémant de Bourgogne, which the website describes as a sparkling wine that’s made using “exactly the same methods employed in the making of Champagne.” Full disclosure: I don’t drink a ton of champagne, or sparkling wine for that matter, so my judgment is based purely on taste. The stuff from TJ’s isn’t too sickly sweet and has a nice, subtle fruity flavor. Somehow we still had a bottle leftover after New Year’s Eve, so I thought it might be fun to whip up a couple champagne Crémant de Bourgogne–based cocktails. Enjoy!

grapefruit mimosa cocktail

Fancy Grapefruit Mimosa

  • 1 oz. freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
  • 1 oz. freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1/2 oz. Lillet blanc
  • Grapefruit bitters (optional)
  • Champagne or sparkling wine

grapefruit mimosa

In a shaker filled with ice, mix the grapefruit juice, orange juice, Lillet, and a dash of grapefruit bitters. Stir until chilled, and pour into a flute. Top with champagne or sparkling wine.

French 75 cocktail

French 75

  • 1 1/2 oz. Ransom Old Tom gin*
  • 3/4 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. simple syrup
  • Champagne or sparkling wine

French 75

In an ice-filled shaker, combine the gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup. Shake until chilled and strain into the stemware of your choice. (I really need to buy a coupe!) Top with champagne or sparkling wine.

* You can make this with standard dry gin as well, but a friend of mine mixed these up with Ransom Old Tom gin before and they were delicious.

What’s your favorite champagne cocktail?

Caipirinha Cocktail Recipe

caipirinha cocktail recipe with cachaca

You know those words that you pronounce incorrectly 100 times before you finally get them right? Otolaryngology, the name Saoirse, etc. This particular drink involves two of those words: the name of the cocktail, caipirinha (kai-pur-EEN-yuh), and its main component, cachaça (ka-SHA-suh). At least, that’s how my non-Portuguese-speaking self understands them to be pronounced.

caipirinha cocktail cachaca Brazilian recipe

The caipirinha is Brazil’s national cocktail, and cachaça—a distilled liquor made from sugarcane juice—is the country’s most popular liquor. I was hoping to whip up a pitcher when Brazil played Argentina in the final of the World Cup… (insert the tears of 190 million Brazilians). Sadly, consolation third place cocktails will have to do!

caipirinha cocktail recipe Leblon cachaca

I picked up some Leblon cachaça and used the classic caipirinha recipe found on the back of the bottle:


  • 4 lime wedges
  • 2 tsp. superfine sugar
  • 2 oz. cachaça
  • Ice

In a rocks glass, muddle the lime and sugar. Top with ice (I had cubes in my freezer but will probably used crushed in the future), add the cachaça, and stir. Add a lime wedge for garnish. It doesn’t get much simpler than that!

caipirinha cocktail recipe leblon cachaca brazil world cup drink

This drink was a little stronger than expected, but that might have to do with the fact that I used a past-its-prime lime that didn’t produce a ton of juice (bad form, I know). The Leblon also had a surprising banana-esque aftertaste. This cocktail would probably lend itself really nicely to some fresh-fruit flavors—maybe strawberry or blackberry? Thoughts?

Happy sipping, and may Brazil redeem themselves with a third place victory on Saturday!

Ruby Red Grapefruit Beergarita

grapefruit beergarita recipe

 Vacation brain.

Heard of it? I feel like I’ve been suffering from some serious vacation brain ever since I came back from a glorious week of relaxation in Florida, followed by a fantastical three-day Beyoncé-themed bachelorette party in Nashvegas.

Needless to say, it’s been a little painful getting into the swing of my everyday office life. To ease the burden of entering back into normalcy, I’ve been making what I like to call Summer Break Cocktails. My current obsession: the beergarita.

grapefruit beergarita recipe with Corona

If you like a super-sweet frozen margarita/beergarita, then by all means pick up one of those delicious concentrate cans that you pop into the blender—that’s all I was drinking on vacation. This particular beergarita is a less sweet, on-the-rocks version, which I think makes for a more refreshing summertime drink.

grapefruit and lime beergarita recipe


Grapefruit Beergarita

Makes two servings

  • Juice from one large ruby red grapefruit
  • Juice from one lime
  • 4 oz. blanco tequila
  • 1 oz. orange liqueur (I used Cointreau)
  • 12 oz. bottle of Corona (or similar)
  • 1–2 tablespoons of sugar (to taste)
  • Optional: kosher salt and chopped rosemary for the rim

If you like a salted rim, combine chopped rosemary and kosher salt on a plate.

rosemary salt rim beergarita recipe

Moisten the rim of a mason jar with a lime, dip in the salt mixture, and set aside to dry. Combine the grapefruit juice (I kept the pulp) and lime juice, and stir in the sugar until it’s dissolved. In a cocktail shaker filled with a handful of small ice cubes, combine the juice mixture, tequila, and Cointreau, and shake until chilled. Pour the contents (including the ice) into the mason jar, and top off with cold beer.

grapefruit beergarita recipe

Side note: these pics were taken on an enormous floral Pendelton beach towel—an Easter gift from my mom that I’m a littttle too excited about Anywho, you could always omit the beer and serve this in a martini or margarita glass.

grapefruit margarita recipe

Enjoy! What’s your favorite beer cocktail?

El Grito Tequila Cocktail with Sriracha Ice Cubes

el grito tequila cocktail

After a weeklong Florida vacation full of sun, sand, and tropical cocktails—Piña Coladas, Beergaritas, Mojitos, and Caipirinhas galore!—it finally feels like summer.

I’m nothing if not a sucker for the spirits of the season. In summer’s case, this usually means opening my mind and liver to two liquors I don’t usually drink: rum and tequila. (Chances are you know at least five people who’ve had “a really bad night” with tequila and generally stay away from the stuff. My really bad night involved too many Tequila Sunrises mixed with a smidge too much freshman-in-college idiocy.) Tequila agrees with me well enough now, especially if I mix it with margarita mix and a Corona to make the all-powerful Beergarita. I could go on about Beergaritas for days, but I’ll save that for another time.

The original recipe for the El Grito calls for a smokier reposado tequila, but I enjoyed the blanco tequila from Espólon so much on vacation that I decided to swap the brown tequila for white. I should note that Marc found this recipe in Spirit—the in-flight magazine for Southwest Airlines. I’d always thought that airline reading was limited to learning about dog stairs in SkyMall and perusing those terrifying “In Case of Water Landing” safety cards. Who knew!

el grito tequila cocktail

El Grito

Adapted from Aaron Post’s recipe in Spirit magazine

  • 1 oz. Sriracha and 3 cups water (for Sriracha ice cubes)
  • 2 oz. blanco tequila
  • 1 oz. Cointreau
  • Juice from half a large lime (or about 1 oz.)
  • Kosher salt
  • Sprig of rosemary

Mix the Sriracha and water and pour into ice cubes trays. Freeze overnight. Shake the tequila, Cointreau, and lime juice in a cocktail shaker with a few ice cubes. Moisten the rim of a tall, skinny glass with a lime wedge, then twist in kosher salt to coat. (I used a Collins glass at first, but it was too big.) Pour the drink over three to four Sriracha ice cubes. Garnish with a fresh rosemary sprig.

Sriracha ice cubes

The ice cubes melt as you drink, infusing the cocktail with that spicy, smoky Sriracha flavor as you sip. And it’s definitely a sipper. Enjoy!

Phony ‘Groni with Luxardo Bitter

Luxardo Bitter Negroni recipe

Faux Negroni? Doppelgröni? Call this frankensteined cocktail whatever you like, except a “Negroni.” Apparently, one without Campari just isn’t a Negroni—the bitter aperitif is essential to the drink.

I first learned of Campari at about 16, when I was reading the Gossip Girl YA book series well before Blake Lively ruined it for me on TV. In the books, these Upper East Side high school WASPs drank Campari on the rocks. Naturally, I assumed the drink was some sort of sweet, fruity concoction, probably because all I’d tasted at the time was Watermelon Pucker and Malibu Coconut Rum.

Negroni recipe with Luxardo Bitter

Eventually I learned that Campari is a bitter liqueur, but I was still surprised by its intense taste the first time I had a Negroni. It took me a couple tries to warm up to the flavor of the drink, but now I crave ’em. Unfortunately I don’t have any Campari in my bar yet, so when I saw Luxardo Bitter on sale at Binny’s Beverage Depot, I snagged it up. (Apparently $9.99 is an insanely low price.) I’d heard it was a good introduction to bitter aperitifs, and god knows I can’t pass up a 50% sale on booze.

Here’s the recipe for the slightly controversial drink. Admittedly, it isn’t quite as punchy as a standard Negroni, but it still tasted great and quenched my craving for a bitter pre-dinner cocktail.

Luxardo Bitter Negroni recipe

Phony ‘Groni

  • 1.5 oz. dry gin
  • 1.5 oz. Luxardo Bitter
  • 1.5 oz. sweet vermouth (I used Dolin)
  • Splash of soda (optional)
  • Slice of orange peel for garnish

Fill a lowball glass with ice. Pour the gin, Luxardo Bitter, and sweet vermouth into the glass and gently stir to mix. I added a splash of soda, but that part’s up to you. Add a slice of orange peel for garnish.

Enjoy! Have you used Luxardo Bitter before?

mint-infused cocktail recipes

Make Mint Simple Syrup, and Then Make These 3 Cocktails

It’s confession time.

I’m becoming somewhat of a cocktail fiend, and up until last week, I had never made simple syrup. What was I waiting for?! Not only is it pretty damned easy to make, you can also infuse it with nearly anything your heart desires: berries, herbs, spices, tears—you name it.

After a slight mishap with some blackberry-basil simple syrup (I used too much basil and it smelled like Fruity Pebbles pesto), I decided to go with a simpler infusion: mint. I used raw cane sugar, so the color of this simple syrup isn’t the most appealing, but I swear it’s delicious.

make your own mint simple syrup

I (mostly) followed a recipe from The Hungry Mouse, which goes something like this:

Mint Simple Syrup

  • Chop up roughly 1 cup of mint leaves and transfer them to a heat-resistant container.
  • Bring 1 cup of cold water and 1 cup of sugar to a boil, whisking occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Remove pot from heat when the sugar is completely dissolved.
  • Pour the sugar over the chopped mint, and cover with foil or plastic wrap. The steam helps to infuse the mint flavor and fragrance into the syrup.
  • When it’s cooled, pour the mixture over a strainer (I used cheesecloth), making sure to press or squeeze the mint to extract every ounce of flavor.
  • Store in an airtight container in your fridge, where it’ll last for up to three weeks.

And now for the best part: mixing up your drinks. Try these three mint-infused spring and summer favorites to get your creative cocktail juices flowing.


Mint Julep

  • 1 tablespoon mint simple syrup
  • 2 oz. Kentucky bourbon
  • Crushed ice
  • Mint for garnish

Pour the simple syrup and bourbon in a glass, then top with a hefty amount of crushed ice. Add a sprig of mint for garnish. Oh, and if you have a silver mint julep cup, obviously use that.

This one’s a little time-sensitive, what with Derby Day being this Saturday, but this potent drink is great all summer long thanks to the refreshing mint and generous amount of crushed ice. Lots of recipes call for you to muddle mint leaves with sugar, but this one is actually the official recipe of the Derby. (Minus the Early Times). It’s best consumed when wearing a giant floppy hat and screaming obscenities at the TV for 2.5 minutes straight.

mojito recipe with mint simple syrup


  • 2–3 teaspoons mint simple syrup
  • 1.5 oz. white rum
  • Juice of half a lime
  • Club soda
  • Ice

In a tall glass, combine the simple syrup, rum, and fresh lime juice. Fill the glass with ice (preferably crushed) and top with club soda. You can garnish this however you’d like; I usually use a slice of lime and some extra mint leaves for an added burst of freshness with each sip.

watermelon mint agua fresca with vodka recipe

Watermelon Agua Fresca with Vodka

(Makes about 5 servings)

  • Quarter of a large watermelon, seeded and cubed
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Mint simple syrup, to taste (I used about 3 tablespoons)
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 5 oz. vodka
  • Lime slices and mint leaves

In a blender, puree the watermelon and water. You can leave it as it is for a pulpier drink, or you can strain it through cheesecloth for a thinner, more juice-like consistency. In a glass pitcher/large container, combine the puree with the lime juice and simple syrup, tasting as you go to determine your preferred level of sweetness. Then add the vodka (this part is also to taste). Fill serving glasses with ice, dropping a lime slice and a few mint leaves into each one. Pour the agua fresca over the top and serve.

watermelon agua fresca with vodka recipe

I can’t wait until it’s warm enough to enjoy these refreshing cocktails on the roof after work. Happy sipping!