Bar Review: Teleféric Barcelona Restaurant, Walnut Creek, California

Teleféric Barcelona
Teleféric has three bars/restaurants in Spain. The one we visited in Walnut Creek, California is their first venture in the United States, having opened in January 2017. Their menu is filled with dishes from Barcelona, created by chefs from Spain. The pricing is a bit high, but worth it for a special luxury meal such as an anniversary or birthday dinner. What first drew our attention to this restaurant is a peek at their signature sangrias. They graciously gave us a recipe to share with you.

Everything done at Teleféric Barcelona is done with flair, from the friendly and talkative staff to elaborate garnishes on food and drink abound. First we were offered appetizers from a cart. In Spain they are called pinchos, meaning ‘little bites.’ The best of these was a chorizo bite. It was sweet and paired with a nice crema-like cheese and a pepper which we expected to be hot but was pleasant instead.

Pisco cart

To go with our pinchos, drinks were in order. First up was a cocktail called a Cortez, Teleféric’s version of a Manhattan. It was surprising to find mezcal in it because we typically think of that with more Mexican dishes. The signature smokiness was there but not overwhelming. Other ingredients included Carpano Antica, maraschino liqueur, and flaming sweet orange. Very nice.

We also had a cocktail served alongside dessert called In Spanish Fashion. Its ingredients include Bulleit Rye whiskey, brandy, sweet vermouth, Benedictine, bitters, lemon, and hand cut ice. This was a pleasant combination of ingredients and a great end to a wonderful evening.

But sangria is really the main event here: Our host explained how every region of Spain has their own signature style of sangria. We decided to try Teleféric’s three sangrias with our meal. They were kind enough to bring us small tastes so we could try them all.

First was the white sangria called Sangria Ibiza. Its light bubbly and mild dry taste came from Verdejo Wine and Pisco from Peru. The slight sweetness is from the addition of elderflower liqueur, Licor 43, peaches, and pineapples.

Next up: A pink sangria called Barceloneta. Among its ingredients are prickly pear juice, lemonade, and a jumble of fresh fruits such as orange, blueberry, and raspberry. It came garnished with a small sprig of rosemary. Its taste was reminiscent of a Grenache wine.

The third, and our favorite, sangria was the Sangria Teleféric. Right off the mint from the garnish tickles the nose. This sangria was also garnished with a cinnamon stick, blueberries, and raspberries. The cinnamon gave the drink a nice spiciness to it.

We wanted to make it ourselves — here’s the recipe:Signature Sangrias

Sangria Teleféric
Spanish red wine
orange juice
apple juice
4 oranges (chunks)
4 ripe pears (chunks)
4 big cinnamon sticks
Brandy de Jerez “Solera”
Nolet’s gin

There aren’t measurements because you can make these in large or small batches and mix everything to taste. Mix all these ingredients , except the red wine. Then cover and refrigerate for 24 hours. The purpose is to obtain a balanced and unique flavor so neither the gin nor brandy will be overpowering. Throughout these 24 hours the pears and oranges release their flavors enhancing the fruity, but not too sweet flavors. Once the mix is ready, combine it with red wine. Let it rest for another 24 hours so the wine can absorb the sweetness and flavor of the fruits. Garnish with a cinnamon stick, berries, and fresh mint sprig.

telefericbarcelona.com

Memorial Day Cocktails, 2017

Spiked Cherry Lemonade Slushies
If you’re like us, this long Memorial Day holiday weekend is much anticipated. We want to kick off this holiday of remembrance and thankfulness with a set of cocktails to serve your veterans and those who honor them. What are cocktails without food to serve alongside? We’re sharing a chicken and chorizo dish you can cook indoors or out. Now, on with the drinks!

Playa Fortuna
created by Ryan Wainwright
1 1/2 parts Bacardi Superior
3/4 part lime juice
3/4 part coconut cordial (equal parts of coconut water and sugar)
1/4 part Falernum
4 drops tartaric acid (1 part cream of tartar and 5 parts water)
edible flower for garnish

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously. Strain into a Nick & Nora glass. Garnish with an edible flower and serve.

Rose Basil MartiniRose Basil Seed Martini
The original Strawberry Basil Martini recipe came from foodandwine.com. However, we discovered a rose basil seed drink at a convenience store which also sells Indian food items and decided to give it a shot. The drink is sweetened so the simple syrup is intentionally omitted.
3 strawberries plus one slice to use as a garnish
3 fresh basil leaves
1 oz. gin (We used Brockman’s)
1 oz. vodka
2 oz. Rose Basil Seed beverage (you can add more if you want a stronger rose taste)
½ oz. fresh lemon juice

Put the strawberries and basil leaves in a cocktail shaker and muddle them. Add ice, gin, vodka, and lemon juice; then shake well. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Top with the Rose Basil beverage, garnish with the strawberry slice, and serve.

Spiked Cherry Lemonade Slushies
2 oz. Blue Ice Vodka
1 tsp. Crystal Light Lemonade mix
1/2 tsp cherry syrup
3/4 cups water
1 cup ice
maraschino cherries

Add all ingredients , except the cherries, into a blender and blend until the drink has a smooth and slushy texture. Pour into 2 glasses. Garnish with maraschino cherries.

Auchentoshan Berry White
1 1/2 parts Auchentoshan American Oak Single Malt Scotch Whisky
1/4 part fresh lemon juice
2 1/2 parts Shrub & Co. Strawberry w/ Meyer Lemon Shrub
3 1.2 parts Belgian witbier (wheat beer)
4 dashes rhubarb bitters

Build the drink in tall glass with ice. Then fill the remaining space with Belgian wheat beer. Garnish with a lemon peel before serving.

Laphroaig Back Yard CollinsLaphroaig® Back Yard Collins
recipe by Ivy Mix, NYC
1 1/2 parts Laphroaig Select
3/4 part Cherry Heering Liqueur
3/4 part lemon juice
1/2 part orange juice
1/2 part vanilla syrup (1 cup water, 1 cup sugar, 1 vanilla bean split open; boil together and cool before using)
1 dash Angostura Bitters
light lager beer
lemon wheel (for garnish)

Combine all ingredients except the lager in a cocktail shaker; shake and strain into a Collins glass with fresh ice. Next, top with the beer and garnish with a lemon wheel.

Banana Beach
created by mixologist, Jane Danger
3 oz. Baileys Almande
2 oz. coconut puree
1/2 oz. agave syrup
1 1/2 ripe bananas
banana slices and grated nutmeg for garnish

Combine Baileys Almande, coconut puree, agave syrup, bananas, and ice into a blender. Blend until smooth. Pour the contents into a tall glass. Garnish with banana slices and freshly grated nutmeg.

Svedka's Imperial BlueSvedka’s Imperial Blue
1 1/2 parts Svedka Blue Raspberry Vodka
1 1/2 parts black tea
3/4 part fresh lime juice
3/4 part simple syrup
1 part sparkling wine
3 raspberries

In a cocktail shaker, muddle the raspberries. Then combine with the remaining ingredients, except for the sparkling wine. Shake and strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice. Top with sparkling wine and stir. Garnish with raspberries and loose black tea.

Modelo Summer Crusher
cocktail by Betsy Maher and Austin Hartman, New York
12 oz. Modelo Especial
1 1/2 oz. strawberry chipotle syrup (recipe below)
1 oz. blanco tequila
3/4 oz. fresh lime juice
Modelo Summer Crushersalt
ground chipotle
1 strawberry for garnish

Rim a mason jar with salt and ground chipotle pepper mixture about half an inch down the jar. Fill the jar to the top with crushed ice. Combine tequila, strawberry chipotle syrup, and fresh lime juice into a shaker with ice. Shake 18-20 times. Strain over the crushed ice and top with Modelo Especial. Garnish with a strawberry.

To make Strawberry Chipotle Syrup
12-15 medium to large strawberries
3 cups of water
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. ground chipotle

Boil the water and add ground chipotle. Blend strawberries in a blender. Lower the water temperature and add the strawberry mixture. Let simmer for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Turn off heat, add sugar and stir until completely dissolved. Let cool before using.

Cool Mule
1.5 parts Three Olives Cucumber Lime Vodka
.75 parts lime juice
.75 parts simple syrup
3 cucumber slices
10 mint sprigs
ginger beer

In a mule mug, muddle cucumber and mint. Add the remaining ingredients to a shaker and shake well. Pour into the mug and top with ginger beer. Use a cucumber slice or lime wheel to garnish. Serve!

Sweet and Smoky
We took a typical mezcal cocktail and changed it up.
3 oz. mezcal
1/2 oz. agave nectar
3 dashes Orleans bitters
2 maraschino cherries plus 1 Tbsp. syrup from the jar.
ginger ale

Place the two cherries inside a rocks glass. Then combine all remaining ingredients except the ginger ale in a shaker glass with ice. Shake well to thoroughly mix in the agave nectar. Strain into the glass and top with ginger ale. Note: if this is too sweet for your tastes, add a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime juice.

Many of us fire up the grill for the first time of the year on Memorial Day weekend. Use an iron skillet with a lid or an iron Dutch Oven to roast this chicken dish on the grill. If your grill has three burners, light the outer two and place the skillet on the unlit center portion. Then you can sit back and enjoy your cocktails while it cooks.

Basque Roast ChickenBasque Roast Chicken
original recipe courtesy of Canadian Living.com; of course we put our own spin on it.
3 sweet red peppers, halved and cored
1 sweet onion, thickly sliced
1 28 oz. can of stewed tomatoes, drained (use whole tomatoes if you like your meal chunky)
5 oz. cured chorizo sausages, cut in chunks (We had problems finding chorizo in sausage form so used what was available. It worked but the chorizo blended in with the tomato sauce more than it should have; the taste certainly didn’t suffer.)
10 cloves garlic
¼ cup mezcal
8 small chicken breast pieces (half-breasts, thighs or drumsticks)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
3/4 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. sweet paprika
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

On the grill, roast the red peppers, cut side down, until blackened. Let cool enough to handle. Peel off blackened skins and slice into strips. Then put the peppers, onion, tomatoes, chorizo, garlic, and mezcal into the skillet.

Toss chicken with oil to coat. Combine thyme, salt, sweet and smoked paprika, and cayenne pepper; rub all over chicken. Place on top of the vegetable mixture in the pan.

Cover with the lid and roast for about 45 minutes. If you prefer to cook this in an oven, then bake for the same amount of time at 450°F. Serve with flour tortillas.

Calling All Geeks: Cocktails for National Star Wars Day 2017

May 4th is here, and Star Wars fans are breaking out the lightsabers… and their booze bottles.

To celebrate “May the fourth,” we asked fans and a popular fan podcast for cocktail suggestions and then put our own spin on them. Many of the photos don’t do the drinks justice because some elements like smoke and edible pearl dust don’t show up well in the pictures — but trust us that they make a fantastic presentation in person, particularly under the right party light conditions. The Star Wars ice molds (which can also be used for chocolate) and light saber skewers can be found on Amazon. The edible stars and pearl dust are available where cake-making supplies are sold.

May the fourth be with you… and the hangovers not.

Pink NebulaPink Nebula
Courtesy of One Shot Podcast
1/2 oz. gin
1 oz. lemon
½ oz. grenadine
1/2 oz. strawberry syrup
1 dash peach bitters
1 small scoop silver or pink edible pearl powder
¼ tsp. edible star shaped glitter

Mix gin, lemon, grenadine, and strawberry syrup in a shaker and shake. Add the pearl powder to the glass and then pour the shaker contents into a martini glass. Dash with bitters and serve with lemon peel garnish.

Note: you can turn this into a “Black Nebula” with Mr. Black liqueur or black vodka; however, both of those are difficult to get in the U.S.

Greedo’s Last DrinkGreedos Last Drink
To be served over a discussion about whether Greedo or Han shot first. Original recipe by Sugarspunrun.com
1 oz. Midori
1 oz. whiskey
2 oz. tonic water
½ oz. simple syrup
½ oz. lime juice

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a rocks glass and serve.

Princess Leia
courtesy of Daily Dot
1 ½ oz. pear vodka (raspberry vodka is also nice)
3 oz. cranberry juice
1 oz. pineapple juice
edible gold glitter or pearl dust

Mix all liquid ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a champagne flute. Sprinkle glitter/dust over the top of the drink and serve.

Jedi Mind Control
original recipe from completecocktails.com
¾ oz. Pama pomegranate liqueur
1 oz. vodka
1 ½ oz. Hpnotiq liqueur
½ oz. Falernum tropical syrup (any syrup made for tiki cocktails works fine)
2 oz. cranberry juice

Mix together and served in a chilled cocktail glass.

Kylo RenKylo Ren
original recipe by allmommywants.com
1 1/2 oz. cherry vodka
1 oz. silver tequila
1 oz. Fireball whiskey
1 Tbsp. Grenadine
1 Tbsp. ginger syrup

In a bar shaker add 3-4 pieces of ice, vodka, tequila, fireball, ginger syrup, and grenadine. Shake well to combine; then add to a 9 oz. glass and serve.

Darth Vader
Fan inspired and also called a Black Jesus
2 oz. Johnny Walker Black Label whisky
1 oz. Jagermeister

Pour Jagermeister into the glass; then float the Johnny Walker Black Label on top and serve.

Yoda
1 ½ oz. vodka
1 ½ oz. Midori
3 oz. hard apple cider

Add vodka and Midori in a rocks glass with ice and stir. Top with the hard apple cider and serve.

Rey-tini
courtesy of Partida Tequila
2 oz. añejo tequila
3/4 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 oz. agave nectar
1 oz. Champagne

Build all ingredients except the champagne into a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a martini glass. Top with one ounce of champagne and garnish with a long lime twist.

Dagoba Swamp SodaDagoba Swamp Soda
courtesy of GeekGirlBrunch
2 oz. rum
1/2 oz. peppermint schnapps
1/2 oz citrus vodka
1/2 lime
12 fresh mint leaves
3 oz. club soda (lemon-lime soda also works wonderfully as a substitute)
2 tsp. sugar

Muddle half the mint leaves in a shaker. Add all the remaining ingredients except the soda in a shaker with ice. Pour into a glass or canning jar glass; top with soda. Garnish with mint leaves and serve.

We included this next cocktail last because it requires some advanced skill, or
at least some patience with learning the presentation process.

Death Star
cocktail inspired by GeekyHostess
1 oz. Jagermeister
1 oz. triple sec
1 oz. vodka
1 oz. whiskey
2 oz. sweet and sour mix (or mix simple syrup and lemon juice to make your own)

Place all ingredients into a glass with a Death Star ice sphere in it. Stir to mix theingredients and enjoy.

Smoking Death StarTo make the smoking Death Star ice sphere:
1 Death Star ice ball mold
1 stainless steel cooking funnel (make sure the hole isn’t too large or you will have problems with the cherry plug falling in)
Maraschino cherries (we used a small lime wheel because our hole in the ice ball was too large for a cherry)
drink skewer
stainless steel seasoning injector (with a solid needle, not the one with holes on the sides)
cooking foil
wood chips (cedar and oak work great but use what you have access too; you want to be sure the chips are not from wood treated with chemicals)
lighter
ice pick or soldering iron

Create a hollow Death Star ice sphere by filling the ice mold and putting it in the freezer. How long can vary depending upon the type of mold you have and your freezer temperature. We used a silicon mold and put it in for two hours, then flipped it over for another two.

Next, use a pick or a clean soldering iron to create a hole, large enough for the funnel spout to fit in, on the top and return the sphere to the freezer. Insert the skewer through the cherry and set aside. Lay out the foil on a heat resistant surface and pile the wood chips in the center. Use the lighter to burn the wood chips and place the funnel over top to capture the smoke. Pull the ice ball out of the freezer and place over the funnel, inserting the spout into the hole in the ice ball. You may need to tilt one side of the funnel to encourage the smoke to enter the sphere. Once filled with smoke, quickly plug up the hole in the ice sphere with the skewered cherry to trap the smoke inside. Then return the ball to the freezer while you mix up the Death Star cocktail.

When ready, carefully place the Death Star ice ball filled with smoke into a cocktail glass. Pour the cocktail over the ball. Then give the cocktail to your guest, along with a knife or small hammer so they can “destroy’ the Death Star, releasing the smoke. We used the information in a video on how to fill a hollow ice ball with smoke, and then used a Death Star Silicon Mold. The video from Cocktail Chemistry is here.

Recipes for National Gin and Tonic Day 2017

Spicy Tomato Gin and Tonic
When we were buying extra gin and tonic water to make the recipes below, the checkout clerk noticed our items and started singing. He said he belongs to a group that perform songs from the burlesque era and said many of them are about gin and tonic. So, in a way we celebrate a bit of musical history along with the cocktail on April 9th: National Gin and Tonic Day.

These six cocktail recipes are variations on the basic Gin and Tonic theme. We couldn’t resist adding two dessert recipes as well. All of them are perfect for a warm evening out on the porch, watching the sunset. We know you’ll love them as much as we do.

Pomegranate Gin & TonicPomegranate Gin and Tonic
courtesy of Distillery 209
2 oz. No. 209 gin
4 oz. Q Tonic
20 pomegranate seeds
2 sage leaves
2 whole cloves

Add ice cubes to a stemless wine glass. Add all ingredients and serve.

Spicy Tomato Gin and Tonic
courtesy of Sumptuous Living
2 oz. gin
2 oz. Q Tonic Water
½ cup yellow cherry tomatoes (halved)
¼ cup hothouse cucumber (wrapped in plastic at the market, sliced)
1 sprig fresh dill
1 thin slice jalapeño pepper
1 dash Tabasco sauce
1 dash Worcestershire sauce
3 dashes celery bitters
1 oz. fresh lime juice
steak seasoning
2 whole cherry tomatoes (for garnish)
2 cucumber slices (for garnish)

Wet the rim of a highball glass with cut lime; then dip it in steak seasoning. Place tomatoes, cucumber, dill, and lime juice in bottom of glass; muddle for one minute. Add Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, bitters, gin, jalapeño, and tonic water. Fill with ice and stir gently — be careful not to disturb rim. Garnish with cherry tomatoes and cucumber slices before serving.

Strawberry Gin and TonicStrawberry Gin and Tonic
by Alice Seuffert
2 oz. gin
3 oz. tonic water
2 Tbsp. strawberry syrup
2 sprigs of rosemary
¼ of a lime
1 strawberry

In a glass filled with ice add gin, tonic water, and strawberry syrup. Garnish with rosemary sprigs, a piece of quartered lime (squeeze in juice), and strawberry.

For Strawberry Syrup:
4 cups strawberries (32 ounces/2 lbs, stems removed, halved)
2 cups water
½ cup sugar (we used honey instead)
1 tsp. vanilla

Combine ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook 10-15 minutes until strawberries are completely cooked–soft and light pink in color. Remove from heat and let cool. Place a fine mesh strainer over a bowl (ensure fit so mixture and liquid does not leak out the sides) and place strawberry mixture in the strainer. Allow juice to drain into bowl and lightly press mixture into strainer until syrup has completely drained. Chill strawberry syrup until ready to use. Store in fridge for 1-2 weeks.

The 25 Pounder25 Pounder
created by Mikha Diaz of Two Sisters Bar and Books, San Francisco
1 1/2 oz. Burnett’s Gin infused with Earl Grey Tea (To infuse, place 3 tea bags into 750 ml. gin and allow to steep for at least 48 hours.)
3/4 oz. bergamot orange juice
3/4 oz. honey simple syrup (2 parts honey to 1 part boiling water–stir until combined)
sparkling wine or tonic water

Combine gin, juice, and honey simple syrup into a pint glass. Fill with ice and shake. Strain into a 6 oz. flute and top with tonic water. No garnish is needed.

Blood Orange Elderflower Gin Cocktail
courtesy of The Little Epicurean
1 oz. gin
3/4 oz. St. Germain elderflower liqueur
1/2 oz. lime juice
2 1/2 oz. ginger ale or tonic water (we used dry sparkling blood orange soda)
1 oz. blood orange juice (we couldn’t find just blood orange so used raspberry blood orange juice)

In a serving glass, combine gin, St. Germain, lime juice, and ginger ale. Top the glass with ice. Slowly pour in blood orange juice. Garnish with blood orange slices and fresh lemon thyme sprigs, if desired. Serve immediately.

Blackberry and Lemon Gin and TonicBlackberry Lemon Gin and Tonic
courtesy of RealHouseMoms.com
6 blackberries
8 mint leaves
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 Tbsp. simple syrup
6 oz. gin
tonic water
additional mint leaves and lemon wheels for garnish

Using two lowball glasses, place three blackberries in each glass. Add four mint leaves per glass, 1 Tbsp. lemon juice, and 1 Tbsp. of simple syrup per glass and muddle together. Fill each glass with ice, followed by 3 oz. gin. Top each drink with tonic water; then garnish with a lemon wheel and mint leaves.

Gin and Tonic Cake
by Jessica Merchant
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 Tbsp. freshly zested lime rind
1/4 cup gin
1/4 cup milk
juice of 1 lime

Gin and Tonic CakePreheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix flour, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl and set aside. In the bowl of your electric mixer, beat butter on medium speed until creamy. Add in sugar and beat on medium-high speed until fluffy–about 5 minutes, scraping down the bowl if needed. Add in each egg one at a time, beating until fully incorporated before adding the next. Next add in vanilla and lime zest and mix. With the mixer on low speed, add in half of the dry ingredients. Then add in gin, milk, and lime juice, mixing until combined and scraping the bowl if necessary. Add remaining flour and beat until just combined.

Pour into a greased 9×13 baking dish, and bake for 35-40 minutes, until top is golden and center is not jiggly. Remove the cake from the oven and immediately poke holes across the top with a toothpick or fork. Pour gin glaze over; then let cake cool completely. While cake is cooling, mix up icing and once the cake has cooled, add the frosting. Note: you can sub tonic water in for the gin/milk portion of the recipe if desired.

For Gin Glaze
1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
5 Tbsp. gin
juice of 1 lime

Mix ingredients together until a glaze forms, then pour over cake immediately while it is still warm. Note: start with 1-2 tablespoons of gin, if more non-gin liquid is needed, use tonic water.

For Gin Icing
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2-3 Tbsp. gin
1 drop of vanilla extract

Mix ingredients together until a very thick but spreadable icing forms. Once cake has completely cooled, spread a thin layer of icing all over the cake. Note: start with 1-2 tablespoons of gin, if more non-gin liquid is needed, use tonic water.

Cucumber Gin and Tonic SorbetCucumber Lime Gin and Tonic Sorbet
by Kristen Olson
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
zest and juice from 2 medium limes
1 small cucumber, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 cups tonic water
3 oz. gin

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Heat over medium low, stirring frequently until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and cool completely. In a blender, mix together the simple syrup, zest, and juice from two limes, cucumber, 2 cups of the tonic water, and the gin. Blend until smooth. Strain the mixture into a baking pan or baking dish. Freeze for 2 to 3 hours or until slightly frozen. Break up and stir with a fork. Freeze another 2 to 3 hours or until almost solid. Spoon icy mixture into the blender and blend until lighter and smooth. Return the mixture to the baking pan and freeze until scoopable. Cover and store in the freezer for up to two months. When ready to serve, scoop the sorbet into glasses with an ice cream scoop; top with a lime slice and additional tonic water and gin if desired.

Recipes: Valentine’s Day 2017 Desserts and Cocktail Pairings

Raspberry Vodka Blast Cupcakes

What a lovely tradition we have of giving sweets to the one we are sweet on! We want to make that easy for you with a trio of sweet recipes and paired cocktails to offer your loved one on Valentine’s Day. Single? Simply make them and treat yourself!

Van Gogh Raspberry Vodka Blast Cupcakes
Created by Dawn Belisle, Delights by Dawn
1 box white cake mix (like Duncan Hines)
1 box instant French vanilla pudding
1/2 cup fresh raspberries
1 tsp sugar
2 cups Van Gogh Raspberry Vodka
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs

For the White Chocolate Raspberry Frosting:
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks) at room temperature
4 oz. white chocolate melted and slightly cooled, but still pouring consistency
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup International Delight White Chocolate Raspberry Coffee Creamer
1/4 tsp salt

Coat 1/2 cup of raspberries with sugar and 1 tablespoon of Van Gogh Raspberry Vodka, set aside for about 10 minutes. Combine white cake mix, French vanilla pudding, eggs, vegetable oil, and 1 cup of Van Gogh Raspberry Vodka and the raspberry-sugar-vodka mixture from above. Mix on medium speed for about 1 minute. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full and bake for 18 minutes at 350 degrees or until toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

While the cupcakes are cooling, make the frosting.

Once cupcakes have cooled and before adding the frosting, put the remaining Van Gogh Raspberry Vodka in a small, shallow bowl and dip the top of the cupcake in the vodka until the top is covered, but not overly saturated. Allow the raspberry vodka to soak in for about five minutes before frosting.

For the frosting, melt the white chocolate and let it slightly cool, it should be pouring consistency. Using a hand mixer, or if using a mixer use the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed for 1 minute.  Scrape the sides down. Put the mixer on low speed and slowly add the confectioners’ sugar. Next, quickly pour in the melted white chocolate and then beat again for 2 minutes on medium speed until creamy. Add coffee creamer and salt. Beat for an additional 1 minute until combined. Frost the cupcakes and decorate as desired.

We decorated ours with a raspberry in the center of each cupcake. If you use frozen raspberries or strawberries, be sure to drain them and pat them dry before using them to garnish the cupcake so they don’t bleed juice. That may be fine for a Halloween theme but not here.

Lapping TongueThe perfect cocktail to serve with these cupcakes is the Lapping Tongue.

Lapping Tongue
1 1/2 parts Jose Cuervo Especial Silver tequila
1/2 part lemon juice
1/4 part rich simple syrup (2:1, sugar:water)
1/2 part Creme de Cassis
1/2 part Campari
orange slice

Add all ingredients except garnish to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange peel after expressing the natural oils over the drink and rubbing the peel around the rim of the glass.

Chocolate Stout Bundt Cake
By Carla Hall of The ChewChocolate Stout Bundt Cake
2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (softened, divided)
2 cups sugar
1 cup stout beer (warmed)
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Dutch process unsweetened cocoa powder (plus more for dusting pan)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 cup sour cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 6-cup Bundt pan with 2 tablespoons of butter and dust with cocoa powder. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium speed, add the butter and sugar and cream until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the stout beer and beat until the butter is melted. Add the eggs one at a time along with the vanilla extract and beat until the mixture is smooth. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. In a large bowl, add the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, black pepper and salt and whisk to combine. Turn the speed down to medium-low and add the flour mixture until just combined. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and add the sour cream to incorporate. Pour the batter into the bundt pan and place in the oven to bake for about 40-45 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for 15 minutes before flipping the cake onto a baking rack and turning it right side up. Cut into slices and serve with the sour cream whipped topping.

Sour Cream Whipped Topping:
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream (chilled)
1/4 cup sour cream

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add the heavy whipping cream and whip until medium peaks form. Add sour cream and gently fold to incorporate. Tip: Store cake wrapped in plastic wrap after serving. Cake will be good for 4-5 days.

We did not have a bunt cake pan so made this in a normal 9 x 12 inch baking pan and cut it into squares. This cake is heavy so a normal frosting would be too much. You, like us, may never have used sour cream in a whipped topping before but this one came out wonderful. It is not overly sweet, which tastes wonderful along with the peppery chocolate of the cake.

A Rose Story cocktail pairs nicely with the cake for pleasant dessert.

A Rose Story
Created by Hendrick’s Gin Ambassador Erik Andersson
2 parts Hendrick’s Gin
1 part rose petal jam
1/2 part lemon juice
1/2 part sugar syrup
1 part cranberry juice
1 part egg white

Double shake and pour into a champagne glass. Garnish with rose petals, a spray of orange bitters, and rose waters before serving.

Are you staying in to watch movies from the couch? This Valentine Popcorn Mix is just the thing.

Valentine Popcorn MixValentine Popcorn Mix
Courtesy of ReadySetEat
4 cups crispy corn cereal squares (If you use a mix of plain and chocolate, then just coat the plain ones as noted below and leave the chocolate as they are from the box.)
1 cup premier white morsels
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
8 drops red food coloring
1 bag (76.3 g) microwave popcorn
2 cups tiny pretzel twists, broken into pieces
1/2 cup peanut butter
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Line shallow baking pan with parchment paper. Place cereal in large bowl and set aside. Place morsels and oil in small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high 30 seconds; stir. Microwave on high 30 seconds more or until softened; stir until completely melted. You can also melt the morsels in a pan on the stove by putting them in a small pan, then set it into a larger pan which is half filled with water. Heat on medium until morsels are melted.

Add food coloring to the melted morsels and stir until blended. Spoon mixture over cereal; then stir until well coated. Spread cereal mixture on pan, separating pieces. Refrigerate 5 minutes or until firm. Meanwhile, prepare popcorn according to package directions. Remove all unpopped kernels. Combine popped corn and pretzel pieces in an extra-large bowl. Place peanut butter in small microwave-safe bowl; microwave on high 30 seconds or until melted. Drizzle peanut butter over popcorn mixture; then toss to coat. Place confectioner’s sugar in large resealable food storage bag. Add popcorn mixture and shake to coat. Place popcorn mixture and coated cereal in large serving bowl. Add cranberries; toss gently to combine. Store leftovers in tightly sealed container.Montelobos’ Amigos Con Derechos

The perfect cocktail companion for the popcorn is the Montelobos’ Amigos Con Derechos (Spanish for ‘friends with benefits’).

Montelobos’ Amigos Con Derechos
1 ½ parts Montelobos mezcal
¾ part Cynar
¼ part St. Germain
2 dashes grapefruit bitters

Stir in a mixing glass with ice. Strain and serve up in a Nick & Nora glass. Garnish with grapefruit zest.

Review and Recipes: Sunup Green Coffee

Sunup Green Coffee

What’s green coffee? It’s coffee made using green, unroasted coffee beans in the brewing process. Sunup, which makes this beverage, says green coffee is good for your stomach, rich in antioxidants, gluten free, and organic. Sunup (generally consumed cold) comes lightly sweetened with sugar, though it still boasts to be only 80 calories. The natural caffeine present is about the same as drinking a normal iced coffee.

If you expect it to taste like a regular cup of coffee, you’ll be surprised. The coffee comes through only as a slight aftertaste; up front, it is more reminiscent of a tea. Chilled, it makes a great beverage to take on an afternoon in the park or to drink with lunch.

B+ / $23 per six pack of 9.5 oz. bottles / sunupgreencoffee.com

We couldn’t resist making a few cocktails with it. Give these a try!

Sunup Long Island Iced Coffee
1 Tbsp. dark rum
1 Tbsp. vodka
1 Tbsp. gin
1 Tbsp. gold tequila
1 Tbsp. Tia Maria
2 Tbsp. ginger beer
1 Tbsp. simple syrup
1-2 Tbsp. lime juice
cold Sunup green coffee
lime wedges to serve

Fill a shaker with ice and all the spirits plus the lime juice. Shake briefly. Strain over a tall glass with ice. Add the ginger beer and top off with the Sunup.Sunup RumChata Cocktail

Sunup Rumchata
3 oz. room temperature Sunup green coffee
1 oz. RumChata
1 oz. white rum

Combine RumChata and Sunup in a shaker with ice. Shake and pour into a tall glass with ice. If you prefer, substitute Frangelico and 1 Tbsp. simple syrup instead of the RumChata.