The easiest holiday cocktail – Pomegranate Sparkler

The easiest holiday cocktail – Pomegranate Sparkler

‘Tis the season for celebrations!  What is more perfectly suited to celebrating than Champagne (or Prosecco or Cava…)?

But – if you come to my house, because I am not a Real Housewife of Orange County, you are probably not going to be served Veuve Clicquot…  One of my go-to bottles to buy in bulk is La Marca Prosecco – I think it is really tasty for the price point.  But because I like to serve budget-friendly sparkling wine, I usually dress it up a bit!  Plus, this is the time of year to get a bit fancy…

The other key element I need in my party cocktail is ease of assembly.  A holiday party is not the time for spanking mint or igniting orange peel.  If I can’t point my guests in the direction of the bar and know they will be able to assemble their own cocktail without burning down my house – it isn’t the holiday party cocktail for me!

This cute little cocktail has everything needed: easy to make, just fancy enough, a great pop of color and (of course), super tasty!  Plus, guests can really customize to their liking!

Easy Holiday Cocktail - Pomegranate Sparkler

Ingredients:

  • Sparkling wine (I used Prosecco)
  • Pomegranate
  • St. Germain

Remove the seeds from the pomegranate, put half of them in a pretty bowl with a small spoon to use as cocktail garnish.  Put the remaining seeds in a blender and blend into a pulp.  Strain the pulp (to separate the seeds from the juice) into a pretty, small pitcher.

To assemble the drink, pour the sparkling wine into a flute (about half to two-thirds full), add St. Germain and pomegranate juice to taste.  Spoon several pomegranate seeds into the flute (this is super fun, they sort of bob and dance).  And enjoy!

2014 Gift Guide: For the Bibliophile

Gift guide for the Bibliophile

Bibliophile: “A person who collects or has a great love of books.”  This is me.

As a child, my parents discovered that if they really wanted to punish me, they could ground me from reading.  Not joking.  Luckily they are both amazing and smart and felt that prohibiting reading was unethical, so they only did that once (I was notoriously difficult to punish since books were my only real obsession).

But I have so many books that it can be hard to buy me a book as a gift.    So if you are looking for something for a bibliophile you know, peruse these literary gift option!

Keep reading and click each photo below for descriptions, pricing and purchasing options.

Continue reading

Gift Guide 2014: Gifts for the Gadget Obsessed

Gadgets – you either love ‘em… or you’re forced into using them anyway.

So why not give a gift that makes them even more fun to use?

Gift Guide - Gadgets

1.) Stream to your TV with minimal set-up time – Google Chromecast HDMI Streaming Media Player – $31.99

2.) A cute ring that subtly vibrates when you received a text or have 15 minutes until your next meeting?  Definitely less obnoxious that checking your phone every 37 seconds – Ringly  – From $195

3.) Play games, watch movies or project a slideshow on the wall directly from your phone – Pocket Projector Mobile, 100 Lumens - $299.99

4.) A cute, gold iPhone 5 case that charges your phone on the go?  Yes please!  – Mophie Juice Pack Air iPhone 5/5s Case – $99.95

5.) If you MUST talk on the phone while driving, then a hands-free device is the way to go – Kinvio BTC455 Bluetooth Hands-free Car Kit – $49.99

Butter London “All Hail the Queen” – a splurge, but worth it!

I am not skilled in the art of a self-manicure.  I am always rushing, unwilling to do the prep work needed for a salon-quality job and not ambidextrous enough to make my right hand look as neat as my left.

And I am rough on my hands.  Between typing, cleaning, cooking, and daily life, I am pretty lucky to be chip-free 24 hours after polishing my nails.  And cuticles… forget about it!  Mine are a train wreck!

But none of this stops me from trying!

My go-to brand of polish is Essie (love this red, this pink and this grey) because I like the quality and the price.  I definitely love my Dior Nail Glow still, it is the perfect better-than-clear, easier-than-color polish.  I have tried a few Deborah Lippmann but haven’t felt they justify the high cost (although I am not giving up on the brand!).  Recently I have been finding my favorite Essie polishes to chip and loose their shine quickly.  I am pretty confident I am the problem (refusing to use a top coat, not prepping my nail, etc.) but it is still less-than-inspiring.

I recently pinned a Butter London polish (Dubs) that had me thinking about that brand.  I see it every time I wander around Nordstrom, but have never felt the urge to buy a bottle.  During a trip to Ulta I saw the cute Butter London display.  I couldn’t find Dubs unfortunately, but did see multiple other options that called my name.  Maybe it was the chipped Essie Barefoot and Topless (STILL my favorite nude as of late) on my nails, but a $15 bottle of nail polish seemed worth trying suddenly.  I snagged a bottle of All Hail the Queen (only 30% of the decision was based on loving their branding SO much) and decided I would give it a shot.

Let me tell you – the price is worth it!  Not only did the color go on more smoothly than any other polish I have tried, but it didn’t stick to my cuticles AND dried quickly!  It is maintaining it’s shine and hasn’t chipped!  Plus, the color is super fun!

All Hail the Queen | StylishlyLived.com

My next Butter London purchase is going to be a soft pink.  I am picky about those.  I want them opaque, but not too bubble-gum.  Shiny but no glitter.  I think Pink Ribbon might be the ticket!

And fabulous news: through October 27th, Butter London is offering 30% off your purchase (promo code: BEZZIE14) if made through their website!  Dubs, Pink Ribbon and maybe LadyBird are going in my basket!

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.

Mad Men Cocktail Hour – Black Walnut Old Fashioned

Today we are revisiting the very first Mad Men Cocktail Hour post ever which was an Old Fashioned.  Old Fashioned cocktails remain my very favorite drink but sometimes you want to put a little twist on the classic.

I love trying new  mixers and bitters and fun things to add to drinks.  They are a quick why to turn an old standard into a new favorite.

Fee Brothers make my favorite bitter, they have so many options!  And my new favorite is Black Walnut Bitters.  It has a hint of maple and vanilla, is nutty and warm – perfect for bourbon and a fantastic alternative for a classic Old Fashioned!

Black Walnut Old Fashioned | StylishlyLived.com

 

Just a slight variation off my usual Old Fashioned recipe.  Rather than Orange Bitter, I use the Black Walnut Bitters (check out the link for specific instructions):

2 oz Bourbon

several dashes Angostura Bitters

8-10 dashes Black Walnut Bitters (I don’t shy away from really adding flavor)

Sugar cube

Ice

Directions:

Place the sugar cube in an Old Fashioned glass and wet with the bitters,.  Muddle the sugar and bitters together, add ice to the glass (I prefer one very large cube) and bourbon.  Stir to combine.  I prefer mine with a splash of soda water, but that is optional.

Enjoy!

Mad Men Cocktail Hour: Tart Cherry Gin and Tonic

There is something a little buttoned-up about the Gin and Tonic – I always picture a very tightly-wound British Bank Employee coming home from work, walking over to his wet bar and loosening his tie while pouring a stiff G&T.  He takes that first sip, breathes “ahhhhh” and then chats with his wife about Polo or biscuits or the Tube or bopping up to the Country for a bit of a holiday or something else terribly classy and not Reality-TV related (a favorite conversation topic in this household because we are not very classy).

While I love Gin (as witnessed here and here and here), Gin and Tonics haven’t really been a favorite drink around here.  They are a bit sweet for me and we never stocked tonic water because we drink it so rarely a big bottle would go flat.  But there is no denying that occasionally nothing hits the spot like a G&T, especially on a warm Spring day.

Enter mini bottles of tonic water!  So cute on a bar cart and totally practical if you only make Gin and Tonics very rarely.  I bought the Schweppes brand at the grocery store, but these Q Tonic bottles are pretty (although not mini) and supposedly this brand is less sweet – I will have to try it next time!

Traditionally, Gin and Tonics are made with lime but I wanted to switch it up (especially with the price of limes right now – nutso).  While wandering through a local liquor store recently I spied a bottle of Michigan Tart Cherry Liqueur made by Leopold Brothers, a small batch distillery located in Denver, CO.  The bottle and label were too pretty to pass up so I snagged a bottle.  And right on the bottle is a recommendation to add the liqueur to a Gin and Tonic!  Perfect!

A small bit of the liqueur adds some complexity to the cocktail, but it doesn’t taste of artificial cherry.  It adds a more tart burst of flavor.  I love the liqueur so I will definitely be trying a few of their other offerings (Hello Coffee Liqueur and Blackberry Liqueur) as well as giving their Gin a try (I have seen it stocked in many bars, must be good!).

If you’re in the mood for something light and tasty, give this Tart Cherry Gin and Tonic a try:

Tart Cherry Gin and Tonic from StylishlyLived.com

 

Ingredients:

Ice

Gin

Tonic Water

Leopold Bros Michigan Tart Cherry Liqueur

Instructions:

Fill a glass nearly to the top with ice.

Pour two ounces of gin and half an ounce of Leopold Bros Michigan Tart Cherry Liqueur into the glass.

Fill the glass the rest of the way with tonic water.

Stir.

Enjoy.

Mad Men Cocktail Hour: Harvey Wallbanger

I have missed having Don Draper in my living room every week – I am so glad he will be back for a visit tonight!

And glad to have any excuse to bring back a happy hour.

Last season ended in 1969 (if my memory is serving correctly), so it seems likely that this final season will take place in the 70s.  Could be wrong – maybe Matthew Weiner will leapfrog to the 80s…  But I don’t think so.  The 70s weren’t a great time for the craft of cocktails.  Lots of sweet, sticky drinks were popular.  But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try them!

One of the most popular cocktails of the 1970s was the Harvey Wallbanger.  You may have heard the story about a surfer in California who inspired the drink or you may believe that it’s creation came from the mind of a Galliano Liqueur marketing exec – either way, seen appropriate for sipping while watching Mad Men!

This cocktail tastes like a more complicated Screwdriver – and that is pretty much what it is!  Galliano Liqueur is very herbal – with tastes of anise and vanilla.  I ended up having to buy a huge bottle of it and I do like it’s complexity – so look for more recipes featuring this liqueur coming soon!

One little change I made to was add lemon juice into the mix.  Even with a low-calorie orange juice I used this drink would have been a bit too cloying for me and the bit of bright sourness helped quite a bit.

So put on your leisure suits and strap on your disco shoes – it is time for a Harvey Wallbanger:

For Mad Men Happy Hour: Harvey Wallbanger cocktail with StylishlyLived.com

 

Harvey Wallbanger recipe:

Fill a tall glass with ice

Add four-and-a-half ounces Orange Juice, one-half ounce Lemon Juice and two ounces Vodka.  Stir.

Add one ounce Galliano Liqueur, floating on the top of the drink by pouring the Galliano into the glass over the back of a spoon.

Garnish with orange slice and Maraschino cherry (cherry optional).

Enjoy!

(author’s note: I enjoyed the cocktail more when the Galliano combined more into the rest of the drink, so stir again after adding the Galliano if you prefer – no judgement here!)

A cocktail for the Holidays – Cranberry Negroni

The Holidays are a time for celebrating in all forms and one of my favorite forms of celebration is clicking cocktails together with friends and loved ones.

So many holiday drinks are super sweet or creamy or heavy, so I thought I would share something a little different.  Enter the Cranberry Negroni.  Negronis are an acquired taste, as is Campari, the spirit used to make them.  Bitter, with a distinct aftertaste, the flavor of Campari doesn’t match the pretty pink color.  But stick with it!  I really didn’t like the first Negroni I had and now really enjoy the taste of Campari and the bitter refreshment it offers.

This Negroni isn’t far off from the traditional, but for a little holiday twist, I added cranberry.  While wandering around Bevmo I found some cocktail cranberries but I can’t seem to find them anywhere online.  So if you can find those, great!  If not, I think that these candied cranberries would be even better.  Or use some Cranberry Bitters.

Since I was garnishing with cranberries, I skipped the traditional orange twist.  But I did want some orange flavor so I added a couple of dashes of orange bitters.  Bitters are the best and I definitely recommend stocking a few of your favorites!

Cranberry Negroni | Stylishly Lived

Recipe for a Cranberry Negroni -

Combine in shaker with ice:

1 oz. Gin

1 oz. Campari

1 oz. Vermouth

Splash cranberry juice and/or dashes cranberry bitters

2-3 dashes orange bitters

Shake and strain into a cocktail glass.  Garnish with cranberries.

Gift Guide 2013: Perfect gifts for the Chef in your life

Gifts for Chefs - gift guide 2013

I love the gift round ups I see every year for the holidays.  I love shopping and giving and getting and just the whole idea of presents!  For being almost 30-years-old, I am probably way too “present focused” but I can’t help it – I love them!

So this year I thought I would get in the spirit with a series of my very own gift guides.  Keep an eye out for one or two a week (maybe a few extra this weekend to ramp up my general online-shopping excitement).  These are all things that I would love to give and/or receive!

I want to start it off with gifts for chefs.  People usually fall in three categories from what I can tell: “hate to cook”, “love to cook” or “intrigued but terrified to cook”.  I live in the “love to cook” group and would definitely enjoy getting any of these things to further that little hobby.  Missing, you’ll notice, is a cookbook.  That is because I am so hugely passionate about my favorite cookbook that I think it deserves it’s very own post.  So look for that next week!

If you are searching for a gift for the Chef in your life, keep reading to see twelve of my favorite recommendations!

Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: