This week I got to do one of those things that make being a freelance writer less of a broke-ass drag: a press trip! It’s when a brand (or tourism board, or whatever) takes you on a little excursion, covers all of your expenses, and shows you a good time in hopes you’ll write about their product. If I were a “real journalist” there would probably be some ethical issues with this. Shit, maybe there still are. But I was itching to get away for a minute, plus I never say yes to anything that doesn’t genuinely interest me. And we all know I’m genuinely interested in booze. So when Prairie Organic Spirits invited me to Minnesota for a few days to get to know the brand, as well as one of the farmers that provides corn for their vodka and gin, I jumped at the chance.
If you watch my IG stories, you know I drank lots of delicious concoctions while up north, and even got to drive a combine (perhaps under the influence, but it only went up to 4.5 MPH so I think it was all cool). I took a sleepy selfie in a rainy corn field, and I also found a new gin that I really love, and even a flavored vodka I not only didn’t hate, but actually liked (Prairie makes a cucumber vodka, in addition to a plain one).
I still have a real article to write, for a real publication (and not just this little potty-mouth baby blog), but for now, I’m gonna drop a drink recipe here. Because that’s what I do.
Aside from the beautiful bottle and USDA organic certification, the Prairie gin also tastes really good. It’s not super juniper-y, so people who aren’t that into gin may still be into this one. Even without those strong juniper notes, it still has a great, smooth flavor, and I wanted that to come through in this simple, easy cocktail that reminds me a little of the limeades I used to drink when I was a kid, but with (you know) gin. It’s kind of like a gin rickey, but with a little more sweetness and a lot less soda. Or maybe it’s more like a gimlet, but with soda. Hell, I could totally be ripping off a cocktail that already exists and not even know it. Whatever it is, it’s delicious and refreshing and should probably just be your go-to cocktail for the remainder of the summer.
2 ounces gin
1 ounce fresh-squeezed lime juice
½ ounce simple syrup
Lime wheel for garnish
Add the gin, lime juice, and simple syrup to a cocktail shaker or wide-mouth mason jar with a handful of ice. Shake and strain into a double-rocks or Old-fashioned glass. Add a handful of ice, top off with club soda, and garnish with a lime wheel. Enjoy!
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Remember when you were just a pre-teen hanging out at the mall without a smartphone (but maybe with a pager covered in glitter nail polish), and on your way to Spencer’s you’d smell the freshly-brewed coffee wafting out of Gloria Jean’s? And it smelled so fucking good, right?! If you were anything like me, those mall days gave you a very specific idea of what coffee tasted like. And when you finally took a swig of coffee that didn’t come out of the “latte” machine at a gas station, you were likely as disappointed as I was. Well, this cold coffee cocktail is for your inner mall rat, because it tastes exactly like what coffee smells like it tastes like when you’re 12.
The basic idea for this drink came to me six or seven summers ago. By then I was definitely a fan of black coffee, and I was doing communications for a local roaster. On a disgustingly hot day — like the under-boob sweat was out of control, you guys, even in the air conditioning — I was craving a cold, bubbly coffee drink (because my caffeine addiction was serious given my job, and I’ve always loved bubbles).
Such a drink didn’t exist yet, at least to my knowledge, and that was still a few years before the Internet would lose its collective shit over espresso tonics. I decided to play around with mixers, and figured cream soda might work well because the flavors would mimic the cream and sugar people often put in coffee. I was right, and the result was a refreshing, sweet caffeinated treat.
Fast forward a few years, and I decided to put booze in it. Actually, that’s a silly story that has to do with me writing one piece about my favorite cocktail, then out of financial desperation, pitching a weekly pop-culture inspired cocktail column to a men’s lifestyle site. The editor accepted, and the next day Miley Cyrus danced the twerk heard round the world, so the first official piece in my first-ever cocktail column was an even creamier and sweeter and more confusing version of this cold coffee cocktail called “The Twerk.” If you ask nicely, maybe I’ll leave the link in the comments later today. But, shit, the picture was so, so, so, so, so, so bad. So bad.
Anyway, this cold coffee cocktail is good, if a little sweet. That’s why I add about six hearty dashes of Angostura bitters at the end. Of course, you should feel free to play with the proportions of all of it. And obviously, you can leave out the vodka if you’d like.
THE GLORIA JEAN CREAM DREAM
2 ounces vodka
3 ounces cold brew (or chilled) coffee
4-6 dashes Angostura Bitters
Add the vodka and coffee to a double rocks glass, Old-Fashioned glass, or small tumbler, then had a handful of ice. Top it off with the cream soda, then add the bitters. Stir and enjoy.
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Wednesday night, I held the inaugural Creativity + Cocktails at my studio in Kansas City. I won’t gush too much about it, but it was amazing and everyone was so supportive and inspiring, and Robin Krause of Unbakery and Juicery not only brought amazing ginger bites — she’s a badass boss lady who taught me so much about running a business in one night. You see, I don’t know much about the operations or financial aspects of running a company; I’m more the scatterbrained creative type who has fabulous ideas, never opens my mail, and hates talking about money. But I can put together a mean cocktail, and for this event I made my Pretty Pink Party Punch — a willy nilly concoction I never make the same way twice.
The basics are always the same, of course: Combine a shitton of bourbon with about as much ruby-red grapefruit juice and a fuckload of ginger beer, then top it off with (comparatively) a little bit of Angostura bitters.
Anyway, in preparation for the event, I bought two handles of cheap bourbon, three big things of ruby-red grapefruit juice, and three four-packs of ginger beer. I chilled everything overnight, and on Wednesday, I started putting together the cocktail by emptying both handles of bourbon into my drink dispenser. Every. Last. Drop. Then I added ruby-red grapefruit juice until the dispenser looked a little full (a bottle and a half in), and topped it off with ginger beer (eight cans) until everything almost reached the top. I finished with Angostura bitters to taste (a lot of aggressive shakes) and it was perfect. In fact, the only complaint I got was that it was too strong. SHUT UP. THAT’S NOT A THING.
I posted it on Instagram and then people started asking me for ratios. SHUT UP. THAT’S NOT A THING, EITHER. Okay, I know it is, and because I love you, I played with it again last night to deliver this recipe-that’s-not-really-a-recipe to you. After doing some really fucking confusing math — on paper! — (ounces and liters times this and divided by this and plus this and fuck that) I figured out that the only real difference between the ratios I give below and what I made on Wednesday night is that the OG version actually had more bourbon than anything else. Oops. Sorry. Maybe it was a little strong.
And in certain light, it’s possible this Pretty Pink Party Punch is a little more peach-y than pink-y, but “pretty pink” sounds better than “pretty peach.” Just deal with it. It’s pretty either way. And after a few drinks, will you really even give a shit?
Pretty Pink Party Punch
1 part bourbon
1 part ruby-red grapefruit juice
1 part ginger beer
Add the bourbon, ruby-red grapefruit juice, and ginger beer to a punch bowl and stir. Add the Angostura bitters to taste, then stir again. Serve over ice.
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As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I recently I found myself without studio mates and instead of getting new ones, decided to make up the lost income by offering workshops in my big, beautiful space. But not specific skill-based workshops like macrame or sensual massage. More the kind of thing I’d want to attend: Networking and idea workshopping for creative and professional women. With cocktails, of course.
Luckily, Kansas City is full of badass, inspiring women, and for the second Creativity + Cocktails event, I’m thrilled to have Suba Nadarajah, the Director of Design at VML, as the featured speaker.
The moment I met Suba, I fell in love with her. She’d just come from a horse show and I’d just walked into a coffee shop on a 100-degree day and was pretty sure I smelled like a horse. We hit it off immediately, but I get the sense that happens with everyone who meets Suba. She’s warm and funny and really just damn cool. I could have talked to her for hours and in the short time we did speak, I learned that she’s an artist, a world traveler, an animal lover, photographer, and a mid-century modern enthusiast. She also makes a point of seeking out amazing food and leads group meditations. Oh, and in addition to directing design at one of the world’s top digital agencies, she designed her own damn house! NBD. The kitchen was featured in Dwell a few years ago so you can sneak a peek here.
I’m so excited to learn even more about Suba and what inspires her at the next Creativity + Cocktails event on Wednesday, September 13.
After a moderated Q&A with Suba, we’ll chat about our own projects, brainstorm, and support each other in our creative and business endeavors. It will be part learning, part networking, part big-idea workshop, part cocktail party, and all sorts of women lifting up and inspiring other women.
Now, please keep in mind that I use the terms “creative” and “professional” very loosely. Don’t be scared off by them! If you make something, or want to make something, or make money at making something, or are trying to make money at making something, or have an idea of how you might like to make money making something someday, that all counts! Whether you’re looking for a little inspiration, have an idea that could use some feedback, or just want to spend an evening mingling and having a few drinks with some fabulous local females (sorry, dudes), this event series is for you! And it’s for me. As I’ve mentioned more than once, I’m great at ideas and making pretty shit, but terrible at business things and money. (And after a few drinks I might even tell you about all the arguments my husband and I get into over money and how bad I am at it. Apologies in advance.)
Also, I know I previously teased this as going down the first Wednesday of every month, but in September that week is a holiday and I was so excited to get Suba on the schedule that we’re bumping it to the second Wednesday of the month this time. Deal with it.
Anyway, there are only 20 tickets available (and the first one sold out in one day) so get yours now and I’ll see you at my studio on September 13th!
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Here’s a thing that’s true about me: Every time I drink a cocktail with Fernet-Branca in it, I feel like like a real fucking adult. I mean, I know all cocktails are technically supposed to be for grown-ups, but who the fuck do you think is drinking Long Island Iced Teas and Red Bulls with Vodka? And Sour Apple Pucker straight from the bottle (me, in high school). NOT mature adults with discerning palates, I’ll tell you that much.
But you know who drinks a cocktail with Fernet-Branca? Someone who enjoys the taste of booze and bitters a little too much, that’s who. Someone with a refined-as-fuck palate who appreciates a strong, herbal amaro, but who isn’t a fucking masochist and also mixes it with a sweet-and-spicy ginger liqueur, whiskey, and club soda. Or just someone who kind of likes bitter shit and appreciates balanced flavors. Maybe someone who likes to pretend she’s all sophisticated but drinks $8 bottles of wine and wants to be buried with a baker’s dozen of Taco Bell’s Crunchwrap Supreme. Anyway, despite my ever-so-eclectic tastes, I’ve always enjoyed Fernet-Branca in whiskey cocktails, and I’ve always enjoyed ginger in whiskey cocktails. So, for this one, I decided to combine all three. Because of its powerful herbal, bitter flavor, a little Fernet-Branca goes a long way, so there’s not too much in there. The result is a drink that’s not too sweet, not too gingery, not too strong — not too anything, really. It’s a perfect cocktail for a fucking adult to sip on a hot summer night.
The Bubbly Biddy
1 ounce whiskey
1 ounce Barrow’s Intense ginger liqueur
1 teaspoon Fernet Branca
Lemon wedge for garnish
Add the whiskey, Barrow’s, and Fernet to a collins glass. Stir and add a handful of ice. Top off with club soda, give it a gentle stir, then garnish with a lemon wedge. Enjoy.
Full disclosure, Barrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur sent me a bottle to play with after I gave them a shoutout in a post, but I’ve purchased it with my own damn money before so there.
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