Growing up in Florida meant always looking for that next sweet, heat relieving summer treat. The one that I’ll always go back to is the Italian soda!
Italian sodas are homemade soft drinks with a dash of creaminess that make it the perfect combination of crisp and sweet. It’s completely unparalleled in freshness. Except maybe a good old fashioned sweet tea 😉
Cocktails and Mardi Gras naturally go hand-in-hand, but can we take it really over the top with a punny party trick drink? Oh yes. We can.
The French (3) Quarters is a twist on the classic French 75, making use of a vibrant purple, blackberry lavender syrup that turns a party pink when mixed! Pair it on your bar cart with green champagne bottles & gold accents and you’ve got yourself a true Mardi Gras set up.
So there are two ways to make the focal ingredient, the blackberry lavender syrup. Method 2 just has an extra step for a slightly different taste and possibly more convenient if you don’t have culinary lavender but do have lavender tea. Method 1 tastes more like infused sugar and Method 2 is more delicate like really good lavender ice cream. I would recommend trying both. Let me know your favorite!
Blackberry Lavender Syrup Method 1 1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 cup gently crushed blackberries
1-2 tsps culinary lavender
1| Combine water, sugar, blackberries, and lavender in saucepan.
2| Bring to simmer over medium-high heat and stir until sugar dissolves.
3| Strain the syrup through a double mesh strainer.
4| Transfer to an airtight glass container and let completely cool before using.
Blackberry Lavender Syrup Method 2 1-2 cups water
1 cup sugar
1 cup gently crushed blackberries
1 lavender tea satchel
1 | Brew lavender tea according to directions or simmer 1 T of culinary lavender for 10 minutes.
2| Transfer 1 cup of tea to saucepan and add sugar & blackberries. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat until the sugar dissolves.
3| Strain and transfer to a glass container. Let completely cool before using.
The French (3) Quarters 1/2 oz simple syrup
1-1.5 oz gin
spritz of lemon juice
2 oz Champagne or sparkling wine
1| Shake simple syrup, gin, and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker with ice.
2| Strain into a chilled champagne flute and top with Champagne. Watch the purple turn bright pink!
3| Garnish with blackberry & lemon twist.
French (3) Quarters Tips: Make the syrup ahead of time! Infused simple syrups can keep ~1 month in the fridge.
Use a London Dry Gin– by definition they are all natural and don’t have any extra flavoring or sugars that could clash with the syrup.
If you made it all the way to the end, you’ve earned a confession- this drink was supposed to be purple. *shameface* But with more digging I’ve noticed:
a) purple cocktail syrup recipes usually just show the syrup, not mixed into anything!
b) purple cocktails use of Blue Curacao
c) blueberries might make it more purple, but the colors are wildly all over the place and I couldn’t tell if they were natural, Photoshop, or good old-fashioned food dye.
C’est la vie. Now I actually love the surprise of the dark purple turning pink and it tastes great anyways, so it all works out 😉
Remember that Cara Cara syrup recipe from before the laptop incident? Well, this cocktail has been sitting in the archives waiting for editing and it’s finally here! This Citrus Mint Smash just edged out Mojitos in my rankings of ‘most refreshing drinks’.
Citrus and mint are truly the flavors of summer. A splash of gin really makes it a party. By using the flavored Cara Cara syrup, we can cut down the ingredient list and steps for this smash. Easy, refreshing, & beautiful.
Citrus Mint Smash | makes 1
2 oz. Cara Cara syrup
2 oz. dry Gin
Gently ‘spank’ the mint leaves to wake up their flavor, then muddle with the syrup. Add ice, the muddled syrup, & gin to your cocktail shaker. With your best bartending skills, shake it like a Polaroid picture until cold.
Pour the cocktail over ice and top off with club soda and an orange garnish. The fizz creates a really beautiful gradient.
Cocktail Making Tips + Tricks
When muddling, start lightly. If the herbs tear they become bitter.
To chill cocktails without watering them down, add as much ice as possible to the cocktail shaker. This way you’ll increase how much ice surface area the cocktail touches with less shakes.
Since the breakfast bowl, I’ve been obsessed with Cara Cara oranges. They’re extra sweet, tangy and pink! (Well, pinker then normal oranges). But with a 10 orange bag still left, I had to look for other ways to use them. The delicious solution- cocktail syrup.
Quick explanation. Simple syrups are used in drinks instead of granulated sugar because they mix more easily. Most syrups are made with equal parts water and sugar (or sometimes 2:1 sugar to water for “rich syrup” & extended store time), and add the infusion ingredients later. But because orange juice already has high amounts of sugar and is a liquid (duh), using it directly in equal parts cuts straight to the chase.
Cara Cara Cocktail Syrup equal parts fresh Cara Cara juice & sugar
(~3 oranges = 1/2 cup of juice)
Making simple syrups might be the easiest recipe ever. Start by juicing all your oranges and strain to remove pulp (Cara Cara oranges don’t have seeds! Win.).
Combine your juice and sugar in a saucepan, bring to a boil, stir until the sugar dissolves. Let cool in a glass container. That’s it. Finito. Store in the fridge up to a month.
Best juicing practices- Have the oranges at room temperature and roll them against the counter before juicing. This will help the citrus release the juices. Don’t have any juicing tools? Try using the back of a spoon.
There’s a lot of debate on how long simple syrups keep. General rule is one month in the fridge, but some people say theirs have kept for over a year. Just keep an eye on it 😉
I love the tanginess of Cara Cara’s on its own, but if you want a sweeter variation add a splash of vanilla extract.
The original or sweetened version can be further reduced (like how we made thered wine syrup for Valentine’s Day) to make an amazing dessert glaze.
I’m working on 2 cocktail recipes using this syrup, so check back next week to see how to use it!
St. Patrick’s Day is coming up with all the themed cocktails & specialty beers! Green juice is a great way to help the aftermath aching. They’re a medley of veggies & fruit to give you a super dose of nutrients.
Jumping straight into green juice can be a shock to your tastebuds. Lots of smoothie places add high sugar fruits to mask the earthy green taste of veggies. Green juice recipes recommend avoiding this to not spike your blood sugar.
Hangover Savior Green Detox Juice
1 cup water (or coconut water for electrolytes)
1/2 c blueberries
2 cups spinach
1 peeled kiwi
1 1″ piece of peeled ginger
2 T sweetener of choice (recommend agave or maple syrup)
1 bunch of mint
juice from 1 lemon
This recipe is almost a non recipe- you just take all the ingredients and dump them into a blender or juicer. Each piece is geared to replenishing nutrients or soothing the aftermath of a night of drinking:
Cucumber- Flushes out toxins and save a few slices to soothe your red eyes
Blueberries- Packed with antioxidants that helps your body heal
Spinach- Replaces depleted zinc, fiber, vitamins A, C, E and K, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, copper, and manganese
Kiwi- High in fiber & Vitamin C that help manage blood sugar levels
Ginger- Aids your body in absorbing the rest of the detox goodness
Mint- Promotes digestion & soothes stomachs, nausea, & headaches
Lemon- Has vitamin C and adds an extra flavor kick
Some tips on blending versus juicing Using a blender will keep all the fiber from the veggies in the drink. Juicing removes the fiber & pulp, so you will have less resulting volume with the ingredient list portions shown. If you want more juice-juice, double the recipe amount. It comes down to what you want to get out if this recipe.
Note: This should NOT be used as a meal replacement. It’s more of snack that preps your body for the day.