Tag Archives: Cocktail

Christmas Cocktail Competition

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Two years ago, when I announced I would be making my Cranberry Margaritas while home for the holidays, my brother decided to also make a cocktail that same night to compete. He claimed he would make a cucumber gimlet that would beat my margarita! With that, a tradition was started. Last year, we held a rematch and everyone wanted to join in! 5 cocktails were officially entered:Christmas Cocktail CompetitionContestants had to make enough of their drink so that everyone could taste it. With this many cocktails, the judging got a bit difficult! To kickoff the competition, each person introduced their cocktail, shared the name of it, how it was made, and any creative backstory that goes along with it.Christmas Cocktail CompetitionMy Dad’s “Mac Attack” had serious wow factor, named after it’s potential to cause a heart attack! This entry was a cocktail and meal in one! We all knew we were in trouble when we saw him over by the stove frying up bacon cheeseburgers to top off his already famous and highly requested Bloody Mary.IMG_469409614 (1)My Mom created a “Twig and Berries” champagne cocktail inspired by the Wisconsin Northwoods. She looked to the great outdoors for a twig of pine to complement the “crushed elderberries and whisper of crushed ice” floating in the champagne.IMG_469409613 (1)The “Kentucky Maid” was whiskey-based, muddled with lime juice, mint, cucumber, and simple syrup. This cocktail brought us back to summer and we all agreed it would be a perfect drink to sip on the dock.IMG_469409609 (1)No. 25” was the strongest drink by far – whiskey based with a hint of absinth. It was a tribute to William McKinley’s favorite cocktail (our 25th president of the United States). McKinley fought in the civil war, commandeered Hawaii, and most importantly, was a BUCKEYE (like Andrew)!IMG_469409611 (1)My “Mistletoe Mule” is a holiday version of my favorite Moscow Mule cocktail. I used my original recipe, but for flavoring and color, I also added 1 Tablespoon of cranberry juice and 5 dashes bitters. Plus, I stuck fresh cranberries on a stir stick for presentation points!Mistletoe MuleBelieve it or not, the “Mac Attack” did not win! We all agree that our voting system didn’t work out too well because how could a Bloody Mary topped with a bacon cheeseburger, shrimp, cherry tomato, lemon wedge, sausage, cheese, asparagus, pickle, mushroom, brussels spout, and celery not take first place?? Also, “No. 25” did not win, even though it was the most requested drink post competition. The “Kentucky Maid” and “Mistletoe Mule” tied for first and then the “Kentucky Maid” won out in a championship round the next night. For the record, I still contest this – it’s a Christmas cocktail competition, after all!!

Are you thinking that your family or group of friends would have fun with this? Maybe it’s time to host your own cocktail competition! How should the winning cocktail be picked? Here is how we plan to vote this year:

  1. Each person votes using their own scorecard and ranks each drink 1-6 (if 6 drinks are entered). 6 is for the drink you like the most, 5 is for second place, etc.
  2. All points are summed up and the cocktail with the most points wins!

The trash talking for our 3rd annual Christmas cocktail competition already started several months ago and will certainly be a topic of conversation this Thanksgiving! We are all keeping our cocktails secret, so the suspense continues for another month.

To my competitors: May the best cocktail win!

**Update: My friend Kelsey hosted her own Christmas Cocktail Competition party and it was a total hit!Christmas Cocktail CompetitionShe had 20 people over, so the “mixologists” that entered the competition were asked to make one drink for presentation in a normal glass and then samples in little Dixie cups for everyone to try. People voted on the chalkboard for their favorite cocktail. For the top three winners, Kelsey had cocktail related prizes such as a little bartender kit and ice molds. How cute is that?!

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Moscow Mules

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Have you heard of this drink? I LOVE a good Moscow Mule, any day of year! So does my family now – I’ve got them hooked! It is an incredibly refreshing vodka cocktail with a kick of ginger and hint of lime. These are so easy to make at home with the right recipe and ingredients. Why not mix up something a little different for your next cocktail hour? I know we will definitely be making these at Thanksgiving in a few weeks :)Moscow Mule / www.sarasfavoritethings.com

Ginger beer is a less sugary version of ginger ale and it is not interchangeable here. Over the last year, we have tried several different ginger beers and have found that Gosling’s is the best. There are some really bad ginger beers out there and because there are only 3 ingredients in this cocktail, it’s important that the ginger beer is good!Gosling's Ginger Beer

At our wedding, Andrew and I served our two favorite specialty cocktails. One was our all-time favorite: a freshly made margarita. We named it the “Maze-a-rita”, for my new last name – Maze! The other cocktail we served was this Moscow Mule, which we renamed the “Milwaukee Mule” that night.Moscow Mule

Wondering why drink a Moscow mule out of a copper mug? Mainly, because they are fun! But I have read that the copper keeps the drink cooler and enhances the flavors. Copper mugs can be found all over these days. I like these smooth mugs and this hammered finish. Are you looking for a fun hostess, wedding or Christmas gift? Put together a Moscow Mule basket with copper mugs, vodka, ginger beer, and maybe a lime juicer! Turns out I am behind the times here because Oprah had this Moscow Mule kit as one of her favorite things in 2012.Moscow Mule

Moscow Mules

Serves 1

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 shots vodka (2 shots if you like a strong drink!)
  • 1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice (about ½ a shot)
  • ½ cup ginger beer* (1 can makes 3 cocktails)
  • ice

Directions:

In a glass or copper mug, combine the vodka and lime juice first, and then pour in the ginger beer. Add a big handful of ice and stir. Serve right away.

*If using copper mugs, stick them in the freezer an hour before serving so that they are frosted.

*I’ve tried several different ginger beers and some of them have been awful (don’t buy Reed’s)! The Gosling’s brand is my favorite and the most widely available. Depending on what city you are in, you might be able to find a great local or craft ginger beer. Because there are only 3 ingredients in this drink, a bad ginger beer will make a bad cocktail.

Cheers!!

Cranberry Margaritas

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Are you having people over for the holidays? Then you’ve got to make this cocktail for your friends and families! These cranberry margaritas are so fresh and delicious that you will absolutely be asked for a second round. The addition of cranberry juice adds fun flavor, a little bit of sweetness and a little bit of tartness, to the traditional margarita. I did A LOT of recipe testing over Thanksgiving to come up with the winning combination below, so I promise it’s a good one!Cranberry Margaritas / www.sarasfavoritethings.wordpress.comTurns out margaritas aren’t just tasty in the summer heat – they are just as delicious in chilly winter temperatures! The red cranberries, the green limes and the “snowy” frosted glass make these festive and full of holiday cheer!Cranberry Margaritas / www.sarasfavoritethings.wordpress.com

Cranberry Margaritas

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 3 shots tequila
  • 3 shots cranberry juice (use 100% cranberry juice with no added sugar)
  • 2 shots freshly squeezed lime juice (2-3 limes, depending on how juicy they are)
  • 2 shots Triple Sec
  • crushed ice (it’s best to buy a bag from the store)
  • Kosher salt for rim of glass
  • Cranberries and lime slices for garnish

Directions:

Salt the rim of each glass using the pictured instructions below. Make sure to use a squeezed lime to wet the lip of the glass because the salt will stick to lime juice. If you used water, it will just melt the salt. Then, fill each glass with ice.

In a cocktail shaker, combine the tequila, cranberry juice, lime juice, and Triple Sec. Add a big handful of ice and shake it up! Pour the cocktail equally into two glasses through the strainer at the top of the shaker.

Garnish with some fresh cranberries and a slice of lime. Serve right away. Cheers!Cranberry Margaritas / www.sarasfavoritethings.wordpress.comAfter everyone has a cranberry margarita hand, I recommend playing this game to really get the party going! Have fun!

Fresh Margaritas

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With Cinco de Mayo quickly approaching, I want to share with you my favorite home-made cocktail – the margarita! I did not even know I liked margaritas, until I had a home-made version with fresh lime juice and good tequila. Now, I love them! There is not a more refreshing cocktail when you make it this way. Even if you don’t think you are a fan, you should give this a try! We’ve had 80 degrees weather in Manhattan Beach the last few days, so we’ve been making them all weekend…

I think the secret is using fresh, juicy limes and good quality tequila. I like using the 1800 tequila pictured below. Both of these make a big difference, since they are 2 of the main ingredients!

Fresh Margaritas / www.sarasfavoritethings.wordpress.comDo you have a lime/lemon juicer? I use mine all the time, not just for cocktails, but for cooking too. It makes juicing so much quicker and I think you can get a lot more juice out of the lime.

Fresh Margaritas / www.sarasfavoritethings.wordpress.com

 If you like a salted rim, here is how to do it. Run one of the cut limes around the lip of the glass. Fill a bowl with Kosher salt. Dip the rim of the glass in the salt until the edges are covered.

Fresh Margaritas / www.sarasfavoritethings.wordpress.com

 How delicious does this look?? You don’t even have to wait until Cinco de Mayo if you don’t want to…

Fresh Margaritas / www.sarasfavoritethings.wordpress.com

 

Fresh Margaritas

Serves 1

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 shots tequila (or 2 shots if you like a strong drink!!)
  • 1 shot lime juice (about 1 lime)
  • 1 shot Triple Sec
  • crushed ice (it’s best to buy a bag from the store)
  • Kosher salt for rim of glass

Directions:

Salt the rim of your glass using the pictured instructions above.

In a cocktail shaker, combine 1 and a half shots of tequila, 1 shot of lime juice, and 1 shot of Triple Sec. Add one glass full of ice. (You will want to use a different glass without a salted rim to measure the ice. If you try to salt the rim after filling it with ice, the salt with get wet and clump.) Shake it like a Polaroid picture!

Pour into the glass, garnish with a thin slice of lime if you prefer, sip and say “ahhhh”.