Easy cocktail for a crowd: Hibiscus Gin Sparkler

Easy cocktail for a crowd: Hibiscus Gin Sparkler

Summer brings patio parties galore!  And while been and wine are staples, sometimes its fun to provide a cocktail perfect for sunshine and warm weather.

It isn’t fun to play bartender all party long though.

Enter the pitcher cocktail.  Whip up a batch of something, set it out with a stack of glasses and you’re done!

The other thing about Summer time cocktails is that they can’t be too strong.  “What!?” I hear you asking?  Yes, normally I am a proponent of the 3oz pour.  Not in the Summer!  It’s too hot and people are too dehydrated – not a recipe for fun.

But, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t serve something tasty, refreshing and colorful!

The Hibiscus Gin Sparkler:

Easy pitcher cocktail for a crowd: Hibiscus Gin Sparkler

Note: I tried this with both Gin and Vodka.  Both were good but I felt the Gin flavor (I used Hendrick’s since that is what we stock in my home) melted into the Hibiscus flavor a bit better.

Makes 8-10 large glasses:

  • Brew one tea bag of Tazo Iced Passion tea, but only use 48 oz of water.  Chill completely.
  • Add 16-20 oz of gin to the brewed tea (about two ounces for each cocktail you plan to serve).
  • Pour into glasses with ice and top with club soda.
  • Garnish with blackberries or lime or fruit of choice.

Disclosure: the opinions in the post are my own.  I have no material connection to any of the brands or products included in this post and have received no compensation for their inclusion.

The FINAL Mad Men Cocktail Hour: A Perfect Manhattan

The FINAL Mad Men Cocktail Hour: A Perfect Manhattan

I am having so many more emotions than are appropriate about the fact that Mad Men is ending.

I am so sad.  And will have to watch from the beginning ASAP, something I have done two times already.

It gets better every time.

For our final Mad Men Cocktail Hour together I am featuring one that I can’t believe I have missed posting over the years.

And to be upfront, I threw this post together and am missing the garnishes.  I am just too sad about Don Draper going away to pull my act together.

For today: The Perfect Manhattan.

A “Perfect” Manhattan doesn’t mean that I have flawlessly crafted it.  I mean, I am missing the garnishes for goodness sake.  But the cocktail I crafted is still “Perfect”.

A Perfect Manhattan is equal parts sweet and dry vermouth.  A normal Manhattan is sweet vermouth only.  And those are quite good too.  But I like mine “Perfect”.  And if I order one in a bar and the bartender says “I always make a perfect drink” that is a sign to hightail it right out of there.  Or to order a beer.

The Perfect Manhattan... the right drink to sip while saying goodbye to Don Draper...

Combine in a shaker:

  • ice
  • 2.5 ounces Rye or Bourbon
  • 0.5 ounces Sweet Vermouth
  • 0.5 ounces Dry Vermouth
  • several dashes Angostura Bitters

Stir ingredients and strain into a martini glass.  Garnish with a maraschino cherry or lemon twist.

The 30 Clean: Day 13

The 30 Clean: Day 13

I am down a belt notch!

And sleeping so well.

Honestly – this challenge is awesome!

I kind of didn’t want to eat breakfast today but knew that I should.  That was a nasty weekend habit I had, not eating breakfast on the weekends and then indulging for lunch.  Not good.  Having breakfast and then eating normally is so much better.

I ate out twice yesterday and was able to stay “compliant.”  It is so nice to find restaurants that have several nice options for me.  If you are in the Denver area, check out La Sandia, a Richard Sandoval restaurant.

So, what did I eat?

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Mad Med Cocktail Hour: The Hendrick’s Martini

Mad Med Cocktail Hour: The Hendrick’s Martini

I sure have missed the Mad Men Cocktail Hours around here…

While doing The 30 Clean challenge is awesome, it is putting a cramp in how creative my cocktails can be.

So, for today, I am posting a recent go-to around our house.  I have always loved a good martini, my husband less so.  He was usually ordering an extra dirty martini with Bombay Gin if he would order one when we went out.  He certainly never drank them at home.  And he would make a terrible grimace-face all the way through his first martini.

It turns out that he just needed to learn exactly how he likes a martini made.

The first step was for him to discover Hendrick’s Gin.  I have posted about it before, it is so delicate and no too juniper-y and very delicious.

The next step was to get him to back away from the olive juice.  Hendrick’s doesn’t deserve to be covered up with olive juice.  Save your dirty martinis for when Bombay is the only option.

Finally, my husband had to discover that he really likes the flavor of vermouth.  When he used to order martinis he would request little or no vermouth.  Those are called Dry Martinis.

In this house, I usually make a Wet Martini.  This means that there is more than the standard ratio of Gin:Vermouth.  I usually go with a ratio much more common to the 1920s and 1930s, 2:1 Gin to Vermouth.  I know! I am sure 70% of you just said “YUCK!” but that’s how I like ’em, so that’s how I drink ’em.

Another common ingredient in martinis back in the “olden days” was orange bitters.  Again, I am sure many of you are thinking “Ew, no way, you are nuts.”  But try it!  I love orange bitters (I used a ton of them in my Old Fashioned Cocktails), but I wanted something slightly more delicate for my Hendrick’s martini.

So, my husband who had always poo-poo’d Martinis asked for a sip of one I made for myself awhile back.  And it turns out, he likes them like I like them!  He had been ordering his martinis totally incorrectly.  Gone is the olive juice!  Lots more vermouth!  No more olive garnish, a twist instead.

So – if you proclaim to hate martinis (and let’s be clear, I mean made with gin.  A vodka martini has no place in this house), try this recipe!  Maybe you’ll like it too!

(For the record, I like a dirty martini too.  And dry ones.  Actually, all gin martinis are good to me.  This is just my favorite martini recipe).

And one more note – Hendrick’s Martinis are usually garnished with a cucumber slice and made with much less vermouth.  Check out the Hendrick’s website for their recipe, history of the gin, and more fun cocktail ideas.

How to make a Hendrick's Martini

Combine in shaker:


3 oz. Hendrick’s Gin

1-1.5 oz. Dry Vermouth

5-10 dashes of Orange Flower Water

Stir (don’t shake! ever!) and strain into a martini glass

Garnish with a lemon twist


The 30 Clean: Day 12

The 30 Clean: Day 12

Started today feeling goooood!

I woke up, without an alarm clock, an HOUR before I need to be awake!  And it wasn’t that drowsy, some-noise-woke-me, need-to-go-back-to-sleep feeling.  I was up!

That hasn’t happened more than three times (excluding Christmas morning) in my adult life.  Probably my whole life.

So what did I eat today?

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The 30 Clean: Day 11

The 30 Clean: Day 11

I started off today in a funk!  I felt like I was making all these changes and getting not much in return.

I was being a total idiot, but some days you just wake up on the wrong side of the bed.

The thing that snapped me out of being such a pill was moving around.  I vented to one of my fellow-challengers (I am telling you, the social aspect of The 30 Clean is the BEST part!) and she suggested I just download the 7-minute workout app and do that.  Even just doing it once is better than nothing!

And I did it!  And it was a kind of tough and I definitely felt better afterwards!

The other thing I am noticing is that I am eating slightly less and able to go longer between meals.  Which is great!  11 days ago I was needing lunch about noon, now it is pushed to 1-2pm.  Which means I can eat a smaller dinner because I am not ravenous.  Also, makes me much less likely to crave a glass of wine because I am still satiated from lunch.

On to the food:

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The 30 Clean: Day Nine

The 30 Clean: Day Nine

I am so happy to be back to my routine!  It is fantastic having visitors, but being able to refocus on clean eating is so calming.

We haven’t gone grocery shopping since last week (our visitors left yesterday), so today has been an exercise in scrounging through the refrigerator.  And there have been some pleasant surprises!

But first, I want to talk about the benefits I have noticed since starting this challenge:

1.) I am sleeping so well at night!  And I am the worst sleeper ever.

2.) My energy level is much more consistent throughout the day.

3.) My eyes are so much less puffy!  This has been my favorite benefit so far!

Food choices are becoming a bit more automatic too.

Ok – on to my meals!

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The 30 Clean: Day Four

Today is my fourth day.  It was a doozy.

I have been tired and super crabby and HUNGRY all day long.  It hasn’t mattered what I have eaten, I am still hungry.

I know this happens every time I start a new regime.  And it sucks every time too.

Making this worse is the fact that we have visitors over the weekend, so we went grocery shopping tonight for provisions.  And because I can’t force everyone to eat like I am, we bought all sorts of delicious things that are off-limits to me.  I am talking brie, s’mores fixings, bagels.  Any my husband is, right now, sitting next to me eating ice cream.

Today is not my favorite day.

So, lets keep this brief… on to the food!

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