Thirsty Thursday: Irish Buck (with Homemade Ginger Ale!)

Irish Buck Cocktail

So many of St. Patrick’s Day’s drink options involve Guinness, which can be a bit disappointing if you have to avoid gluten. I know whiskey isn’t everyone’s favorite, but this drink is so light, slightly sweet, a bit fruity and really reminiscent of a Moscow Mule  that you might not even notice the whiskey. The other reason I like this cocktail so much is it is so, so simple. Simple is better sometimes, especially on a festive day.

I went a little wild and decided to use homemade ginger ale… It was received with mixed reviews. I found it too sweet and too gingery, but I watered it down a bit more and it started to grow on me. I have ventured into the world of homemade sparkling beverages after getting a Sodastream for Christmas. I love it. It is amazing And there are endless possibilities.

Irish Buck

  • 2 ounces Irish whiskey
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 3 ounces ginger ale (recipe for homemade follows)
  • Lime wedge, for garnish
  1. Fill a lowball glass with ice. Add whiskey, lime juice, and ginger ale. Stir and garnish with a lime wedge.

Homemade Ginger Ale

Ginger Syrup

  • 1 cup peeled, finely chopped ginger
  • 2 cups water
Simple Syrup
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water


  • Club soda (I used water from my Sodastream)
  • Lime juice
  • Lime wedges
  1. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a saucepan. Add ginger. Reduce heat to medium low and let ginger sit in the simmering water for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for 20 minutes. Strain liquid through a fine mesh strainer. Discard ginger pieces.
  2. In a separate saucepan, make the Simple Syrup by dissolving 1 cup granulated sugar into 1 cup of boiling water. Set aside.
  3. Make individual (tall) glasses of ginger ale by mixing 1/2 cup of ginger water with 1/3 cup of Simple Syrup and 1/2 cup of club soda. Add a few drops of fresh lime juice and a lime wedge to each glass.

Thirsty Thursday: Hot Toddy

Hot toddy.


Excuse the rough iPhone shot, but we’ve been slightly under the weather in these parts. Luckily this is the cure to all that ails you!

I first learned about the wondrous medicinal properties of the hot toddy a few years ago when I was living in Budapest. I was a bit sick and whining to my dear to my dear mother over Skype about it. She, like any good and loving Irish mother, recommended whiskey. I believe the logic behind the combination is something like vitamin C for health, honey to soothe, alcohol to numb. Actual benefits or not, it works for me. This is the perfect cocktail for cold and flu season. Even if you aren’t feeling sick, it is still a warming and delicious drink.

Hot Toddy

  • 1.5 ounces (Irish) whiskey
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • juice of 1/2 orange
  • 1 pinch ground nutmeg
  • 4 or 5 whole cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick (I leave this out. I hate cinnamon.)
  • hot water

Pour the honey, boiling water, and whiskey into a mug. Spice it with the cloves and cinnamon, and put in the slice of lemon. Let the mixture stand for 5 minutes so the flavors can mingle, then sprinkle with a pinch of nutmeg before serving.

Thirsty Thursday: Champagne Margaritas

Champagne Margarita

This is one of those drinks/recipes (do drinks have recipes?) that I stumble across and got really excited about because it combines two of my favorite things (margaritas and something sparkling (champagne, water, prosecco, I’m not picky)), but then I get really disappointed in myself, because I didn’t think of it first… We have already established my lack of creativity earlier this week, so let’s just move on and talk about the booze.

Wait, before we talk about the booze, I have a public service announcement:  Please don’t use real champagne in these. I know the name says ‘champagne’, but if you use real champagne in these you are really just wasting a lot of money and delicious champagne. You shouldn’t do that. If I wanted to be totally accurate these should be called ‘sparkling wine margaritas’, but that didn’t have the same ring to it. You should use prosecco or cava or real any sparkling wine. There is no need to be fancy here.

All that being said, these are delicious. Absolutely delicious. Extremely drinkable. Maybe a bit too drinkable.

Champagne Margaritas
From Rick Bayless.

  • The finely grated zest (colored part only) from 1 lime
  • 1 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 cup Cointreau
  • 1 cup 100% agave silver tequila
  • Superfine sugar, if needed for adding sweetness
  • A half lime for moistening the glass rims
  • Coarse (kosher) salt
  • 1 bottle chilled brut Champagne or other sparkling wine
  1. In a pitcher, combine the lime zest, lime juice, Cointreau, tequila and sugar if you are using it. Cover and refrigerate until cold, at least 1 hour).
  2. Just before serving, strain the mixture to remove the zest, and pour enough salt into a saucer to cover the bottom. Rub a lime half over the rim of each champagne glass and upend into the salt to crust it lightly. Pour about 3 ounces (about 1/3 cup) of the tequila mixture into each glass, fill the rest of the way with Champagne or sparkling wine and hand to one of your lucky guests.

Thirsty Thursday: Cranberry-Whiskey Sour Slush

Cranberry-Whiskey Sour Slush

Thirsty Thursday. It’s back!

I was really excited to make this cocktail. I have a four pound bag of cranberries to get through, bourbon is still fairly trendy and it’s a slushie! Up until this week, like yesterday pretty much, summer was still going on here. It was gross. I hope it’s over forever.

An autumnal slushie seemed like the perfect thing. I made my simple syrup, blended everything up, left it in the freezer over night shaking it every few hours and finally it was time for a well deserved study break. The moment of truth! I was still so excited. I brought in my little frozen Tupperware, opened it up and then nearly passed out from the alcohol fumes. Wow. I was so sad. It might have looked exactly like something out of the ICEE machine at 7-11, but a kids beverage it was not. I originally thought that this was going to be a kind of lame drink. I ended up with over 4 cups of cranberry ‘juice’ and just over 1 cup of bourbon. The ratio didn’t seem to overwhelming. Some crazy  shenanigans must have occurred in the freezer.

Luckily, I’m not one to be intimidated by an overly strong drink. Being the quick thinking, resourceful type, I remembered that I had some lemonade from farmers’ market in the fridge. Perfect solution! Once I recovered from the initial alcoholiness of the slushie, it just tasted super sweet. I will take bourbon straight up over a sweet drink any day. The lemonade from farmers’ market is probably the most tart lemonade I have ever tasted. It’s absolutely amazing. And it makes the perfect mixer when you need to counteract an overly sweet beverage. It definitely fixed this situation.

I probably would not make this exact combination again, unless I had someone around that really liked bourbon. I will however keep this alcoholic slushie idea in mind for the next time it gets warm (which knowing my luck will be tomorrow). It definitely has potential. I could see just about any fruit working with this. I’m imaging peach and bourbon lemonade next summer and I think there might be some blood orange/vodka/champagne mixes happening in the next month or so… I’m looking forward to that.

Cranberry-Whiskey Sour Slush

Cranberry-Whiskey Sour Slush
From Cooking Light

  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • Dash of salt
  • 4 cups fresh cranberries (about 1 pound)
  • 1 1/3 cups 80-proof bourbon (I used Jim Beam)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  1. Combine 1 1/2 cups water, sugar, and salt in a small pot and stir over medium-high heat. Stir until sugar dissolves. Combine sugar syrup and cranberries in a blender; process until smooth. Strain mixture through a sieve lined with a double layer of cheesecloth over a bowl; press mixture to extract liquid. Discard solids.
  2. Combine cranberry mixture, bourbon, and lemon juice in a freezer-safe bowl, stirring well. Freeze mixture overnight or until partially frozen. Scrape mixture with a fork until slushy; serve immediately.

Thirsty Thursday: Lady Luck


Yes, I know it’s Friday not Thursday. Today I’m off to Las Vegas for my best friend’s birthday/bachelorette party extravaganza. Personally, I kind of hate Vegas. Gambling, strippers and hot weather do nothing for me. Nevertheless, this cocktail seemed quite appropriate for the occasion.

If you don’t like gin, you probably won’t like this cocktail. It is very gin-y, but Hendrick’s Gin is a special kind of gin. It’s phenomenal. I had to go buy the Hendricks and blue curacao to make this and just assumed I had orange juice on hand. I never drink orange juice, but it seems to be one of those things you always have around. Not this time. So I used a pineapple coconut juice instead, which gave the drink a nice little tropical touch.


Lady Luck

  • 2 measures Hendricks gin
  • 1 measure blue curaçao
  • orange juice
  1. Pour the Hendricks gin and Blue Curaçao into a hurricane glass over cubed ice. Top with orange juice. Stir together. Serve.

Thirsty Thursday: Strawberry Sake Cocktail

Strawberry Sake Cocktail

When I was in Tokyo a couple months ago I got to drink a lot of sake. A lot of really good sake to be more precise. It was wonderful. Fast froward, I was in the grocery store here the other week and saw a display of sake bottles. I went over to investigate and once I saw the price, I knew I had to buy a bottle. $2.79 for a bottle of sake. I figured, I survived drinking Transylvanian moonshine and Burmese rum, how bad can something approved for sale in the state of California actually be? Worst case scenario, I end up with organ failure and possibly blind, best case, it might be decent enough to use in a cocktail, and somewhere in the middle, I decided at the least I now have a bottle of lighter fluid/paint stripper/weed killer all for the low, low price of $2.79. It seemed like a bit of a risk, but I’m crazy stupid enough to take it. Luckily it worked out in my favor. I really enjoy sake because, generally speaking, it’s very light and refreshing. Those qualities make it perfect for a summertime cocktail.

 Strawberry Sake Cocktail (adapted from Serious Eats)

  • 2 strawberries, sliced plus another for garnish
  • 3/4 ounces fresh juice from 1 to 2 limes
  • 1 ounce simple syrup (see note above)
  • 1 sprig of mint, plus another for garnish
  • 2 ounces sake
  • 1 1/2 ounces seltzer water
  1. In a mixing glass, muddle strawberry, lime juice, and simple syrup in the bottom of a tall glass until the strawberry is completely dissolved. Add mint leaves and gently tap 5 times with muddler. (Do not over-muddle mint or it will taste bitter and muddy.)
  2. Fill glass with ice and add sake. Stir until the fully incorporated. Pour unstrained into serving glass, top with seltzer and garnish with a sprig of mint and a strawberry.

Thirsty Thursday: Limoncello Spritzer

Limoncello Spritzer

I made this delightful cocktail for Mother’s Day last weekend. It was quite a hit (meaning my mom and I both liked it). This is really the perfect summer brunch cocktail. Raspberries and lemons are a great combination of sweet and tart and they work really well together here. The drink is not overly sweet, has delicious fruit flavors and is very refreshing. I’m definitely planning on making this many, many more times over the next few months.

Limoncello Spritzer (from Cooking Channel)

  • 1 pint raspberries
  • 1 cup limoncello, well chilled
  • 2 bottles prosecco, well chilled
  1. Add the raspberries to a food processor and purée until smooth. Strain the raspberries through a fine mesh sieve into a pitcher. Stir in the limoncello and prosecco. Garnish with more berries. Serve in ice filled glasses if desired.

Thirsty Thursday: Champagne Punch

Champagne Punch

This a delightful little concoction I came up with over the weekend. It was light, fruity and perfect for an 80/27 degree Easter day. I really liked the fruit combination I used ( strawberries, raspberries, and mandarins), but you can use absolutely any fresh fruit you have on hand. My only suggestion would be to let it sit a little bit before serving. The first glass I had was only so-so, but the second glass was a million times better. It definitely improved as the flavors had some time to mix together.

Champagne Punch

  • 2 750 ml. bottles of champagne/sparkling wine/cava
  • 1/2 cup amaretto
  • 1/2 cup orange liqueur/triple sec/cointreau
  • fresh fruit (I used sliced strawberries, raspberries, and mandarins)

Pour the amaretto and orange liqueur into a large pitcher, add fruit and top with champagne. Let sit about 15 minutes before serving.

Thirsty Thursday: Hurricane


Tis the season for all things New Orleans and cajun, so here we go. The first time I had a Hurricane (the drink variety), was during an actual hurricane (the storm variety). It was actually my first encounter with both variations, and hopefully my last and only encounter with the later. Apparently, it was a mild one, well according to the locals (I found that to be an arguable description). I happened to be in Nassau waiting to leave on my first semester of study abroad adventures and a hurricane decided to swing on through. This particular study abroad program involved a ship, hence the hanging out in cruise port in the middle of hurricane season. Once the hatches were battened down, Señor Frog’s in Nassau found it the appropriate time for drink specials . Bad weather be damned, one dollar for a drink is quite frankly too good a deal to pass up.

I have to admit that I was rather surprised by how difficult it was to find passion fruit juice around here. I eventually settled on a delicious passion fruit/mango blend from Trader Joe’s. Not 100 percent authentic, but tasty. To be honest, I’m not that big of a rum fan. Hurricanes have a lot of rum, but the rum is masked up by a sweet blend of juices and a tart bit of lime. Lime improves just about everything if you ask me.


  • 2 ounces light rum
  • 2 ounces dark rum
  • 2 ounces passion fruit juice
  • 1 ounce orange juice
  • juice of one lime
  • 1 Tbsp simple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp grenadine
  • orange slice and cherry for garnish

Thirsty Thursday: Keoke Coffee

keoke coffee

This is a pretty indulgent drink. It’s not overly heavy, just rich. The coffee and the liquors definitely make a for a full-bodied combination. It’s a drink that you need to take your time with. I think it would make a nice substitute for dessert after a big meal or a fancier nightcap. I could definitely imagine serving this after a dinner party so everyone can hangout and chat a bit longer.

I served mine iced, only because I don’t like hot drinks (weird I know). I threw in 2 heaping teaspoons of decaf instant coffee into a cocktail shaker and added in the alcohol and shook, shook, shook. I then poured it into a mason jar, added a big handful of ice and topped with a bit of whipped cream.

Keoke Coffee
(This is for a 32 ounce mason jar sized coffee, I would cut it in half to fit a normal glass)

  • 2 ounces brandy
  • 2 ounces Kahlúa
  • 2 ounces crème de cacao
  • 16 ounces coffee
  • whipped cream
Combine the first four ingredients and mix together. Top with whipped cream.