This cocktail is long overdue. I created this drink in honor of my friend Chris, who has been a big supporter of my efforts with Viva la Cocktail. She lives just north of San Francisco, so I wanted to create something that would be fitting of her California lifestyle. I turned to organic vodka and fresh herbs and started to work around that. I also wanted to create a cocktail that was fitting of her personality—something sophisticated but not too formal. With some trial and error, The Kitchenette was born.
The name comes from her passion for good food and drink, which was embodied in her website called Kitchenette. It was an online magazine dedicated to “celebrating experiences of the palate.”
While this cocktail does not include everything but the kitchen sink, I did want to add some subtle complexity to the drink. I turned to Bols Genever, which is a unique gin from the pre-prohibition era that has been brought back by Bols.
2 oz Square One organic vodka
1/2 oz Bols Genever
1/2 oz simple syrup
1/2 fresh lime
4 fresh basil leaves
Cut 1/2 lime into 3 wedges. Muddle limes with 3 basil leaves in shaker. Fill shaker with ice. Add the vodka, Genever and simple syrup. Cap the shaker and shake vigorously for 15-20 seconds. Double strain into a 6 oz chilled martini glass. Garnish with a fresh basil leaf.
A note about muddling
Muddling is an important technique in cocktail making. The idea is to use a muddling stick to extract juice or essential oils from fruit and herbs. When muddling, lightly push on the fruit and herbs with a flat-bottomed muddling stick until the juice is extracted. You don't want to kill it or you'll get a lot of bitter taste.
There is no better way to end your tiki party or just an evening of tropical food and drinks than with a dessert cocktail. Personally, I’m happy with a glass of aged demerara rum, but some people prefer something more dessert-like. And nothing says dessert more than chocolate.
The Hawaiian Island Dream is a Viva La Cocktail creation that captures the flavors of Hawaii in a dessert drink—coconut and macadamia nut. Add a little white chocolate liqueur and vanilla vodka, and you have a heavenly concoction that will have you dreaming of Hawaiian nights.
Hawaiian Island Dream
1 + 1/2 oz Cruzan Coconut Rum
1 + 1/2 oz Stoli Vanil vodka
1/2 oz Godiva White Chocolate Liqueur
1/2 oz Kahana Royale Macadamia Nut Liqueur
Fill a shaker full of ice. Add the rum, vodka, white chocolate liqueur and macadamia nut liqueur. Cap the shaker and shake vigorously for 15-20 seconds. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with toasted coconut.
If you can’t find macadamia nut liqueur, you can substitute Frangelico Hazelnut Liqueur.
We went to some friends’ house for Easter dinner and they sprung for roasted lamb, so I decided to return the favor with cocktails. Our hostess said she had some homemade limoncello on hand and I wanted to work around that and the lamb.
After pondering what would be a good prelude to lamb, I remembered this tarragon vodka from Sub Rosa Spirits made right here in Portland. After perusing Sub Rosa’s website, I found the perfect drink: the Lemon Blossom. It has limoncello in it and I thought the herbal qualities of the vodka would be perfect. I found the original recipe by Sub Rosa to be a little too tart, so I decided to back off the fresh lemon juice by half and ended up with what I think is a nicely balanced cocktail. Our hosts didn’t complain either.
1 + 1/2 oz Sub Rosa Tarragon vodka
1 oz St. Germain Elderflower liqueur
1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
1/2 oz Limoncello
Fill a shaker with ice. Add the vodka, elderflower liqueur, juice and Limoncello. Cap the shaker and shake vigorously for 15-20 seconds. Strain into a 10 oz chilled martini glass. Garnish with a lemon peel.
I made this drink first at home with commercially available limoncello. It was good, but it was even better later with the homemade limoncello. If you want to go the extra mile, I suggest you make or get your hands on some of the homemade stuff. There’s a great blog post on cocktailnerd’s site with tasting notes about various limoncellos.
Also, if you want to find out where to buy Sub Rosa Tarragon vodka, visit their website for more information.
Even though I really enjoy wine, I often like to pair cocktails with food. This drink, the Spicy Tango, complements Latin food because it’s a nice balance of spicy and sweet, with just enough heat. But it also works well on its own—my wife and I recently enjoyed these during our happy hour with Cheeze-Its! This is proof that there are no rules to drinking cocktails.
Fill a shaker 1/3 full of ice. Muddle the cilantro leaves. Fill rest of shaker with ice. Add the vodkas, orange liqueur, lime juice, simple syrup and mango puree. Cap the shaker and shake vigorously for 15-20 seconds. Double strain (to remove large cilantro pieces) into a 10 oz chilled martini glass with a sugared rim. Garnish with a fresh sprig of cilantro.
Every Friday at our office, we have a happy hour party that we call “Snacky,” and this past week’s theme was “heaven and hell” which inspired the creation of this drink. I hastily threw a version of this together to capture both heaven and hell in a single cocktail. While it was drinkable, I refined it later at home by adding the cilantro and adjusting the proportions.
Years ago I came across a recipe for basil-infused Bianco Vermouth, which makes a wonderful summertime drink by adding club soda. It seemed to me that this would also make a nice alternative to regular dry vermouth in a martini. So here it is: the Basil Martini!
3 oz Pearl Vodka
1/4 oz basil-infused Bianco Vermouth
Fill a mixing glass halfway with ice. Add the vodka and vermouth. Gently stir for 20-30 seconds and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a basil leaf and a lemon twist.
I think using basil-infused vermouth is an interesting alternative to infusing the vodka. It’s more of a throwback to a classic martini with a twist. Try it and let me know what you think.
I was inspired to make this drink one day because I ran across a bottle of Yazi Ginger Vodka (made in Portland by Hood River Distillers) in the back of my liquor cabinet that I forgot I had bought a couple of years prior. I like the taste of ginger, but found this vodka to be pretty intense on its own (which is why it sat so long). So I started experimenting with other ingredients in my home bar to come up with a way to both complement the ginger flavor and to smooth out its spiciness. The result is a really drinkable cocktail that showcases the Yazi.
Yazi Ginger Peartini
1 oz Yazi Ginger Vodka
1+1/2 oz Absolut Pears vodka
1/2 oz Harlequin Orange Liqueur
1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
1/2 oz fresh lime juice
1 oz simple syrup
1 tablespoon fresh pear puree
Fill a shaker with ice. Add the vodkas, orange liqueur, juices, simple syrup and pear puree. Cap the shaker and shake vigorously for 15-20 seconds. Strain (or double strain if you prefer a smoother cocktail) into a 10 oz chilled martini glass and garnish with a pear slice and a light dusting of fresh nutmeg.
You can substitute triple sec for the Harlequin, but I prefer Harlequin because of the richness of the cognac.
There are a lot of choices about which cocktail to post first, but I decided to choose one I made recently: the Blood Orange Cocktail. This is a great winter cocktail since blood oranges are in season. And yes, you must use FRESH blood oranges—not the bottled juice. Please read the About Viva la Cocktail page so you understand my thoughts on this. It’s a little more work, but you’ll enjoy your drinks more.
This cocktail is a little tart based on the recipe below, but I think the balance is just right. You can always add a little more simple syrup if you like your drinks a little sweeter.
Fill a shaker with ice. Add the vodka, Cointreau, juices and simple syrup. Cap the shaker and shake vigorously for 15-20 seconds. Strain into a 10 oz chilled martini glass and garnish with a quarter slice of blood orange.
If you are making this drink for a group, it is a good idea to juice your oranges ahead of time and store it in the fridge. I use a Cuisinart electric juicer which saves a lot of hand work.