National Watermelon Day 2014

We’re in the final stretch of Summer with August finally here, so getting the last of those Summer cookouts and backyard parties out of the way before you’re covered in 10 inches of snow might be a good idea. One of my favorite flavors to incorporate this time of year is watermelon, and I thought it was a perfect way to segway into National Watermelon Day coming August 3rd. Much like pineapple, it’s a pretty versatile fruit. Slice it and eat it fresh, throw some on the grill, or juice it. One of my favorite things to do though is add some booze to it and have fun. We’ve Spiked watermelons before, we’ve made adult popsicles that were a HUGE hit, and now I wanted to share some tasty cocktails using watermelon we tried this past week. One comes courtesy of Hard Rock Cafe and is available to order nation wide at any of their locations, or if you want to stay in and make something at home we’ve included that recipe AND we’ve got a delicious cocktail from Sauza Tequila we tried and liked. Try them both and let us know what you ended up drinking (if you can remember).

Cheers!

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Watermelon Wave Press Via Hard Rock Cafe

Watermelon Wave Press ( Courtesy of Hard Rock Cafe )

  • 3 Lemon Wedges
  • 2 – 3 Strawberries (depending on size), hulled & quartered
  • 1 oz Watermelon Puree

To make Watermelon Puree – remove the seeds from watermelon and cut into chucks then place into a blender and blend until smooth.  You may need to add sugar if the watermelon is not sweet)

  • 1 oz Cointreau
  • 2 oz Bacardi Dragonberry Rum
  • 7 oz Lemonade (pick your favorite brand)
  • 7 oz Lemon-Lime Soda

Hard Rock uses a French Coffee press to make this drink, but for making at home you can use a 20 oz glass pitcher or other container. Add fruit and puree to the pitcher, and lightly muddle fruit in bottom to release the juices before adding liquid ingredients. Add all remaining ingredients and stir.  Fill serving glasses with ice, and pour. The recipe can be made several hours in advance to allow the fruit to better incorporate into the mix.

Watermelon Basil Margarita 740x1024 National Watermelon Day 2014Watermelon & Basil Margarita

  • 2 parts Sauza® Blue Silver 100% Agave Tequila
  • 1 part DeKuyper® Triple Sec
  • Juice of one whole lime
  • (4) 1” cubes of seedless watermelon
  • Fresh basil leaves (2 to muddle; the rest for garnish)
  • Lime wedge (for garnish)

In a mixing glass drop in the watermelon and basil leaves (tear the leaves) then muddle. Add all remaining ingredients and shake vigorously with ice. Double strain the cocktail over fresh ice in a glass. Garnish with a lime wedge and fresh basil leaves.

Disclaimer: Recipes and photos courtesy of representatives of the brands. 

 

 

12 Things We Loved at Tales of the Cocktail 2014

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Tales of the Cocktail 2014 is in the books, and as usual we had a blast. It’s been 6 days since we returned from New Orleans and our bodies are almost back to normal. Each year for one week the industries best brands, bartenders, and industry professionals get together and put cocktail culture on display. Educational seminars, amazing cocktails, and epic parties are just some of what goes on. Oh and let’s not forget this is a non-profit, so proceeds go to charity. Sounds like a good deal right?

I wish we could recap everything that went down, but the fact is we couldn’t make it to everything, and we literally started drinking at 8 am each morning lasting until the late hours of each night. Remembering under normal conditions is an ask, but under THOSE conditions is a miracle. What we can do though is highlight some of our favorite things we did do and could remember at this years Tales of the Cocktail. In honor of it being the 12th annual year Tales has existed, here are 12 things we loved.

[In No Particular order]

1. Veev Liqueurs new formula AND risky ad campaign: We were already a big fan of the Acai based liqueur, but their new strategy and ad campaign just pushed me further on the bandwagon. Veev re-formulated their recipe giving it a higher proof (70), and essentially moving it up the chain to become a competitor with flavored vodkas. We like that it still offers a great acai flavor, but now with a bigger bite. Oh and their campaign that asks you to “cheat on vodka” is hilarious, and sexy. 

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Cheat on Vodka with Veev Liqueur – Photo Courtesy of Intoxicology.net

2. Tales on Tour: Mexico City: In what seems like a no brainer, Tales started going on tour in 2011 with trips to Vancouver. They returned their for 2012, hit Buenos Aires in 2014, and at this years Toast to Tales they announced that in 2015 they’re headed to Mexico City. Cocktails + Mexico = Winning. Oh and did I mention Lori and I’s anniversary is in April? Two birds, one stone.

Mexicocity 12 Things We Loved at Tales of the Cocktail 2014

3. The Cocktail Ninja: You go to an event as big as Tales and you tend to run into a lot of people. Like a lot-a lot. You network with hundreds of people, you have some epic drunken nights, and if you’re lucky you remember 60% of what happened the next morning. One person both Lori and I had the pleasure of meeting was Trevor Schneider, an awesome guy who is literally the definition of a great bartender. It seemed like we ran into him everywhere, always making a mean drink with a huge smile on his face and full of energy. Was a pleasure, keep it up man! P.S – Sorry for the unflattering photo, but we felt it was appropriate for the situation. 

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MixologistTrevor Schneider – Photo Courtesy of Intoxicology.net

4.The Diageo World Class House Party: When I originally saw this invite, I guess I was being naive. Even though it said world class my mind just kept thinking house party. I thought they would rent out a huge house and we’d just be mixing up some drinks. WRONG. Instead we had this amazing setup inside the New Orleans Contemporary Arts Center with some of the best bartenders in the game putting their spin on classic house party drinks. The live music choice was awesome, and the movie set like atmosphere was cool to be a part of. Each bar was patterned after a room in your “house” and of course the bartenders dressed the part. My favorite had to be the Coquitos being made in the “kitchen”. 

HouseParty 12 Things We Loved at Tales of the Cocktail 2014

Diageo World Class House Party – Photo Courtesy of Jennifer Mitchell Photography

 

5. The Underground Whisky Dialogues Spirited Dinner: We’ve attended Tales for the last 3 years, and we’re almost embarrassed to say this year was our first time going to a Spirited Dinner. Spirited dinners are dinners hosted by a particular brand or company that encompasses spirits in each course of the meal, all while sampling the brand neat and/or in cocktails. We really did pick the perfect one. For 2 hours we drank 3 amazing Canadian whiskies J.P. Wiser’s, Pike Creek and Lot 40], ate a fabulous 3 course meal created by Chef David Anthony Temple and listened to two impressive figures in the Canadian whiskey community: Master Blender, Don Livermore and Canadian Whisky expert and author of Canadian Whisky: The Portable Expert 12 Things We Loved at Tales of the Cocktail 2014 Davin De Kergommeaux. Good food, great whiskey, and an amazing night. We’ll recap the event in the upcoming weeks. 

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6. Bartenders Breakfast: Every year Saturday night is reserved for an epic party where Gin becomes the guest of honor. If you didn’t know by now, Gin is my favorite spirit and it’s in MY opinion far too under-appreciated, so each year I look forward to this event with all smiles. It was hosted by Beefeater 24 & Plymouth Gin at the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas and was by far one of my favorite events in Tales history. The band was great, the setup within the Aquarium was awesome, and the bartenders did an amazing job with the drink selection. Our favorite drink of the night was the “Third Wind” by Tyler Stevens. Plymouth Gin, strawberry cordial, cold brewed coffee concentrate, Amaro, and Chocolate. It kept us on our toes all night. It was the perfect homage to the bartender lifestyle. 

BartendersBreakfast 12 Things We Loved at Tales of the Cocktail 2014

Bartenders Breakfast – Photo Courtesy of Gabi Porter

7. A London Tale of Gin & Sin: Seminars at Tales are a great opportunity to learn something about a particular topic you may not have the time to research on your own. Every year I attend 4-5 seminars and there’s always one that surprises me. This one was it. I’m a gin guy, so I picked it to play it “safe” because I figured I can’t “not” like it, but it was not only good, it was amazing. By the end of the seminar I was convinced I should open up a Gin Palace right here in Orlando. It was a great experience learning not only of the history of the spirit, but really how it influenced modern bar culture as we know it. We’ll be recapping in the upcoming week some of the cool things we learned. 

GinSin 12 Things We Loved at Tales of the Cocktail 2014

A London Tale of Gin & Sin – Photo Courtesy of JenniferMitchellPhotography.com

8. Grey Goose XV Tasting: Tasting new brands is always fun, but I feel extra special when we get the opportunity to try things before they’re released.  We had a sit down and private tasting with Francois Thibault, creator of Grey Goose VX, and Guillaume Jubien, their Brand Ambassador, and it truly was an experience. With so many brands looking for new ways to grow and innovate, I fear some of the “gimmick” ideas they come up with, but Francois and Grey Goose did not miss a step with this. Its a vodka that truly sips like a cognac. We loved it and we’ll be releasing a full Grey Goose VX review shortly.

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Grey Goose VX tasting with Francois Thibault & Guillaume Jubien – Photo Courtesy of Intoxicolog.net

9. A Better Understanding of Bitters: Bitters are an interesting ingredient for the bartender. You’re either infatuated with them or confused by them. I was the latter, and most of my friends (that don’t bartend) are pretty clueless too. I sum them up as the “Salt & Pepper” of cocktails, and leave it at that, but for 2 hours Camper English and Joaquin  pretty much schooled me and a full room of others on over a dozen different types of bitters, and the brands they are typically found in. We got to taste and smell different types of bitter up close. It was an amazing experience. We’ll be recapping the seminar next week. 

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A Better Understanding of Bitters – Photo Courtesy of Intoxicology.net

 

10. Drambuie Mornings: Here’s something you may or may not know about me. I hate bloody Mary’s. Everyone swears by them, but it’s not for me. But when you’re drinking all day and night you need a pick me up in the morning that helps ease you into another day of drinking. So while everyone was piling up at the Absolut Blood Mary Bar, I started each morning with a Drambuie spiked coffee, and god bless it. If you put a little irish whiskey or baileys in your coffees, try something different and dram it up.

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Drambuie Railroad Spike Coffee Cart – Photo Courtesy of Intoxicology.net

 

11. The Return of Harvey Wallbanger: Harvey Wallbanger himself made a grand return on Wednesday at Tales, resurrecting himself from the 60′s and 70′s era and came complete with a police escort, security, and a flash mob. He and his followers forgot to go shopping though, so it was like a scene out of Saturday Night Fever. Pretty hilarious, and a perfect way to kick off Tales. We even decided to order one at the famous carousel bar in the Hotel Monteleone. If you’re looking to make one at home here’s the recipe:

Harveywallbanger 12 Things We Loved at Tales of the Cocktail 2014

Harvey Wallbanger Returns! – Photo courtesy of JenniferMitchellPhotography.com

12. The Fernet Branca Tasting Room: Fernet is one of those love it or hate it liqueurs. I love it, Lori hates it. I always look forward to their tasting rooms for two reasons: One, they usually make some amazing cocktails and two, they give you one of those sought after Fernet Branca Challenge coins. If you haven’t heard the story of the Fernet Branca Challenge coins don’t worry, you will soon. This years room they didn’t disappoint, making you taste each of their cocktails and then answer questions about the spirits in order to gain a passport stamp and access to a coin. Good times. We recently received a bottle of Brancamenta and tried it. You can read that review here.

fernetcoin 12 Things We Loved at Tales of the Cocktail 2014

Fernet Branca Tasting Room & Challenge coin. Photo courtesy of Tales of The Cocktail

So that about sums up our week in New Orleans. We wanted to thank all of the brands and their reps for allowing us to attend so many amazing tastings and parties. A special thanks to Courtney, Joe, Jenna, Gina, and as always, a big thank you to Anne aka Mrs. Cocktail for putting on yet another great Tales, and we look forward to returning back to New Orleans [our home away from home] next July.

Cheers

Adult Popsicles: Watermelon Mint Acai Popsicles

watermelon popsicles Adult Popsicles: Watermelon Mint Acai Popsicles

As July is ending and we creep into August, we’ll be hitting the hottest point of the Summer. If you’re in an area off a lake or ocean it’s not that bad, but it can be almost unbearable here in the center of Florida. I’m always looking for new ways to cool off, and if I can mix in some booze too it’s like hitting the lottery. I saw this recipe for some boozy adult popsicles and I just HAD to make them. I only describe a handful of things as “crack”: 4Rivers Smokehouse BBQ, Harolds Fried Chicken, a frozen irish coffee from Erin Rose Bar , and now these. If you haven’t tried Veev before, consider this your gateway drug into drinking it. It’s an Acai flavored liqueur that previously was 60 proof but was recently reformulated to 70 proof to give it a little more kick and compete with flavored vodkas. We sampled the new and improved Veev at Tales of the Cocktail and it’s a winner. If you’re into the weekend DIY projects, this one takes half the time, and is twice as worth it when you’re done.

Watermelon Mint Acai Popsicles

  • 1/3 cup VEEV
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup fresh mint, torn coarsely
  • 4 cups watermelon, cubed
  • Juice of 2 limes

Blend all ingredients together. Pour into popsicle molds of choice and freeze overnight. If you don’t have popsicle molds use mini dixie cups! Pour liquid into the dixie cups & insert your popsicle stick. Freeze overnight then peel the dixie cups off. 

Alcoholidays: National Tequila Day July 24

paloma5 Alcoholidays: National Tequila Day July 24We’ve started to go a bit overboard with the unofficial holidays here in the U.S., but if it gives me another reason to drink you won’t see me complaining. Tomorrow is National Tequila day, and that means shots and margaritas will be a plenty. For many, tequila reminds them of questionable nights in college where they did a lot of things their ashamed of. For me, it’s one of my favorite spirits to substitute in a classic drink that traditionally use rum or vodka. It gives it a whole new taste.

We’ve written about this alcoholiday a few times in the past, and I usually like to give folks a few of my favorite recipes to try or even suggest a local spot to go for drink specials. If your favorite bar doesn’t know what tomorrow is, google places in your city tomorrow, someone does. If you’re staying in, we’ve got some great recipes to try at home. The folks from Casa Noble Tequila and Sauza Tequila were kind enough to send us over some recipes.

Cheers.

Tamarind Margarita1 Alcoholidays: National Tequila Day July 24Tamarind Margarita Alcoholidays: National Tequila Day July 24

Tamarind Margarita

  • Casa Noble Rep 1.5 oz
  • Cointreau .5 oz
  • Splash Fresh Tamarind Puree
  • Fresh Lime Juice 3 oz
  • Orange pepper rime and Lime Garnish

 

Paloma [Pictured at the top of the article]

  • 2 oz. Casa Noble Reposado

  • Fresh Grapefruit Juice 
  • ½ oz. Fresh Lime Juice 
  • Splash of Fizz 

Pour ingredients over ice.

Honey Ginger Sauza Rita Alcoholidays: National Tequila Day July 24

Honey Ginger Sauza-Rita

  • 1 part Sauza® Blue Silver 100% Agave Tequila
  • 1 part lemonade
  • 1 part ginger beer
  • 1 part water
  • ½ teaspoon honey
  • Lemon slices

Combine lemonade, ginger beer, tequila, water, lemon slices and ½ teaspoon of honey in a glass filled with ice. Stir well to combine.

Spicy Sauzaritas Alcoholidays: National Tequila Day July 24

Spicy Sauza-Rita

  • 1 part Sauza® Blue Silver 100% Agave Tequila
  • 2 parts beer
  • 1 part frozen limeade concentrate
  • 1 part water
  • A dash of hot sauce
  • Sugar (for garnish)
  • Salt (for garnish)
  • Red pepper (for garnish)
  • Chili pepper (for garnish)

In a glass, combine all ingredients. Chill and serve in glasses rimmed with sugar, salt and red pepper. Garnish with a chili. Enjoy!

If you aren’t feeling that expiremental, feel free to just take shots all night. And as always, you can substitute these brands if you can’t find them at your local spot, just avoid the bottom shelf brands and that one that rhymes with Nosey Airhole.

 

Coming Soon: P.Diddy Announces New Ciroc Pineapple

CirocPineapple Coming Soon: P.Diddy Announces New Ciroc Pineapple

Photo Courtesy of Ciroc

Just a few days ago, Sean “P.Diddy” Combs announced the release of Ciroc Pineapple, the newest flavor to the brand. The flavored vodka craze has definitely seen a slow down in 2014 both in releases and sales, but that doesn’t mean that releasing the right flavor with good marketing  and a quality product can’t still be a huge success. Ciroc is a perfect example. Combs has made a fortune with his marketing of Ciroc vodka as their Brand Ambassador, and while other brands are spending time pushing flavors that provide mostly shock value, Ciroc and Diddy are going for flavors that make perfect sense for their audience: the night life crowd, and the vacationer. From Vegas lounges to your local socialite bar and hangouts, Ciroc is everywhere. When you use to think of late night plush ultra lounges, Grey Goose & Belvedere owned the vodka crowd, but this other French Vodka distilled from grapes has quietly become the drink of choice with mass appeal flavors like coconut, red berry, peach, and their last release, Amaretto.  My guess is pineapple will be their most anticipated release since the initial two.

With it already being dubbed “tropical luxury” I can already imagine the tropical drinks being added to bar and restaurant menus around the world both high end and not. Ciroc peach makes a mean Bellini, now imagine a morning mimosa with ciroc pinapple added. Whether you’re on vacation or out with friends, this one is probably going to be a great choice.

We’ve already got over a dozen “When does Ciroc Pineapple come out” emails while we were out of town,  so we did some digging. The actual release date is still a bit  of a mystery, but reps from the brand told me it will be available later this Summer, my guess being early to mid August. For information on where to find Ciroc Pineapple you can keep checking back with us, checking with your local liquor store, or visit them at www.Ciroc.com. We’ll be doing a full review as well as share a few recipes as soon as we get out hands on a bottle.

Cheers