Thirsty Thursday: Watermelon Margaritas with Sweet & Spicy Rims

Watermelon Margaritas

Even though I used a mini watermelon for this salad, I had a TON left over. Coming up with a way to use up the extra wasn’t too difficult… when in doubt, margarita!. The very best part of these margs was the sweet, salty and spicy mix that I used to rim the glasses. The combination of sugar, kosher salt, and cayenne pepper was amazing. Every little taste was like a party for your taste buds. The rim paired amazingly with the watermelon in the drink. Just when the spice of the cayenne kicked in, the watermelon was there to cool everything down. This is a perfectly refreshing summertime drink.

Watermelon Margaritas with Sweet & Spicy Rims 

For the Rims:

  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (I recommend ‘raw’/chunky sugar)
For the Margaritas:
  • 4 cups seedless/seeded watermelon
  • 5 limes, 4 juiced for blender, 1 juiced for garnish
  • 1 cup silver tequila
  • 1/2 cup Triple Sec
  • Ice
  1. In a shallow dish, combine the cayenne pepper, kosher salt, and sugar. In a second small plate, add the juice of one lime. Dip the rims of 4 margarita glasses in the lime juice, then coat them in the sweet and spicy mixture.
  2. In a large blender, blend the watermelon, tequila, triple sec and ice. Blend until desired consistency is reached.
  3. Divide the margarita between the 4 glasses and garnish each with a lime wedge.

Champagne Lemonade

Champagne Lemonade

You need to make this cocktail for your 4th of July parties! This is definitely one of the best drinks I have made in a while. It tastes like summer in a glass, well that is if summer tasted like champagne and lemonade in a mason jar. It’s perfect for a hot summer evening. The lemonade makes the drink tangy and refreshing and the champagne adds a bit of delightful sparkle. Best of all, it is so, so easy to make! You could definitely use store-bought lemonade, but I’m a fan of the homemade agave nectar sweetened variety. I like to keep it on the tangy side, but using agave makes it easy to adjust the sweetness very easily. Using agave also means you don’t have to wait for water to boil and simple syrup to cool, which means you will enjoying this delicious beverage all the faster!

Champagne Lemonade

  • 1 bottle VERY chilled brut sparkling wine (cheap stuff is fine)
  • 3 cups VERY chilled fresh squeezed lemonade (my favorite recipe is below)
  • berries/fruit of choice (fresh or frozen will help keep it chilled)


  1. In a large pitcher (big enough to fit 6 cups) combine the sparkling wine, lemonade and 2 large handfuls of fresh berries. Lightly stir to mix. Serve immediately.


Agave Sweetened Lemonade

  • 10 large lemons, juiced(should yield about 3 cups of juice)
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar
  • 3 cups water


  1. Combine lemon juice, agave nectar, and water in a large pitcher. Mix will to combine. Place in fridge and allow to chill.

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: Blackberry Sparkler

Blackberry Sparkler

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone celebrating today and Happy Thursday if you’re not. Thanksgiving is one of my all-time favorite holidays. Regardless of how hectic and crazy the day might be, there is something kind of nice about sharing, eating and drinking with your friends and family. Whether or not the family fights have started yet, it’s never too early to think of cocktail time. I really think delicious libations are key through getting through the day. It doesn’t matter if your family is out of a Norman Rockwell painting or you all put the ‘fun’ back in dysfunctional, a good cocktail can help everyone survive the day.

I threw this drink together with just a few things that I had on hand. The limoncello was a last-minute, impulsive addition. It was sitting there in the fridge and looked lonely. I figured it would be rude not to use it. It was a perfect addition. A little hint of citrus from the limoncello and orange liqueur was the perfect complement to the blackberry. Letting the berries macerate and get all friendly with the liqueurs is essential. If you have a lot of people over or think it might be a long night, double or triple the measurements as needed!

Blackberry Sparkler

  • 8 blackberries, quartered
  • 1/4 cup triple sec
  • 1/4 cup limoncello
  • Angostura bitters as needed
  • 1 bottle (750ml) Champagne, Prosecco or other dry sparkling white wine, chilled
  1. In a small nonreactive bowl, combine the blackberries, triple sec, and limoncello and let stand for about 15 minutes to let the fruit macerate.
  2. Take 4 Champagne flutes and add 1 or 2 dashes of bitters to each one. Spoon 4 pieces of marinated blackberry into each flute. Top with Champagne and serve immediately. Serves 4.

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: Fresh Cherry Margaritas

Cherry Margaritas

It’s Fiesta time here in Santa Barbara (you might have noticed a subtle theme this week). This year I am planning on avoiding it like the plague. One day down, and 100% successful so far! I go through phases with Fiesta. It’s kind of a love-hate thing. Despite my avoidance of Fiesta, my love of all things Mexican will never diminish. Cherry margaritas might be the perfect combination of summer and Fiesta. It’s, tragically, the end of cherry season here, so I’m trying to use them in any form I can. Fresh cherry margs take it to a new level. Muddling the cherries creates an amazing juice (if only I could make it in mass quantities). If you live in an area where cherries are still available, I would highly recommend making these as soon as you can!

Fresh Cherry Margaritas

  • 12 fresh sweet cherries, pitted
  • 2½ tablespoons tequila
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1½ tablespoons (or more) simple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon maraschino cherry liqueur (or maraschino juice)
  • 1 fresh cherry with stem, for garnish
  1. Put the cherries in a cocktail shaker. Mash them with a muddler or the end of a wooden spoon until well crushed, about 1 minute. Add the tequila, lime juice, simple syrup, and 8 large ice cubes. Cover the shaker and shake vigorously for 30 seconds. Immediately strain into an ice-filled glass. Garnish with the fresh cherry.

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.