Jen

Sarah joined me for lady’s night last Thursday armed with two fresh grapefruits and a desire for a cocktail.

You see, we had found this recipe for a cardamom rose cocktail that we had wanted to try. Lacking cardamom, we were left to our own devices.

I had a bunch of fresh basil I had picked up from the farmer’s market last weekend. Remembering how wonderful the Basil Gimlet had been and my quest to find basil a role in every new cocktail I created, I had a splash of inspiration.

I began by muddling half a teaspoon of sugar, two fresh basil leaves and a splash of fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice in a high ball glass. Muddle muddle muddle. The grapefruit juice began to take on a greenish color; I knew we were on our way.

We added three ice cubes to each glass, an ounce and a half of Tanquery gin, and topped the two cocktails off with the remaining juice of the two grapefruits. Gave it a stir, and pow!

A cocktail creation I was proud to share. Slightly spicy, not too sweet and all around delicious. Light and refreshing, this is the perfect summer cocktail!

The Recipe (makes one cocktail)

  • a half teaspoon of sugar
  • two fresh basil leaves
  • the juice of one fresh grapefruit
  • 1 1/2 ounce Tanquerey Gin

Muddle up a dash of the fresh grapefruit juice, the two basil leaves and the sugar in the bottom of a high ball glass until the grapefruit juice takes on the green of the basil. Add a few ice cubes, the gin, and top with the remaining grapefruit juice. Stir and enjoy!

If you like your cocktails sweeter, add a dash of simple syrup to the completed drink and give it another stir.

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Friend of the blog Travis sent us some Smirnoff ICE Black to try out.

According to the maker of this beverage,

With an ABV of 8%, Smirnoff ICE Black offers a bold flavor in three mouthwatering varieties: Lemon Lime, Fruit Punch, and Watermelon.

 Before I go on, I want to be clear.  If you like Smirnoff Ice, you will like this product.  Don’t continue reading.

The three flavors of Smirnoff ICE Black. Pictured here with John Aniston--Jennifer Aniston's father and the infamous Victor Kiriakis from Days of Our Lives.

We brought the Lemon Lime, Fruit Punch and Watermelon over to a bbq at our great friends Kat and Nick’s house. Julia and Zach were also present. Everyone was stoked to try this new product.

At first glance, Zach noted that he liked the packaging, but also that he’s “a sucker for black shit.” We all agreed that the cans were cool — a marvel of modern packaging with finger-pleasing texture everywhere but the “BLACK”.

A bitter argument followed as we all tried to figure out what to drink it out of. Julia suggested cognac glasses. Nick had some little wine glasses on hand, so that’s what we grabbed.

Note the extreme colors! The can boasts that these are 'certified colors.' Whatever that means!

“Dig in!” I demanded.

Spirits were high.

Opinions rang out…indeed, I could hardly write fast enough.

“It might be good over ice…”

“Tastes like a jolly rancher…”

“This is 8% alcohol??! Old E is only 6!”

“The Sparks for the New Era…”

We all settled on the truth that the drink tastes like a “jolly rancher with hand sanitizer mixed in.” Given that we have a fondness in our hearts for watermelon-flavored Jolly Ranchers, the watermelon-flavored Smirnoff ICE Black was our favorite.

Zach likened the "nose" to "kerosene."

We kept tasting. We tried it out of the can. It was better, but still terrible.

The bottom line:

There’s an audience for this booze…it’s just not people who like drinking. It’s people who like to get drunk.

No, with Smirnoff ICE Black, Smirnoff is masking the taste of the alcohol with artificial flavors and corn syrup, giving you a sugary free-pass to Hangoverville.

Will noted that when mixing cocktails, his goal is to make an appealing mixture that showcases all the ingredients without overpowering any of them, without the burn of alcohol. He noted that this drink simply overpowered the vodka taste with the candy flavors. “Like shandy, but with eight times the booze.”

In a society where kids are known to drink straight ethanol, sugary drinks are a method of delivering alcohol to people whose taste buds aren’t mature enough to enjoy it. Get drunk fast and with a sugar high.

We started daydreaming of serving this in a fine restaurant, along side the dessert wine. Picture your waiter, dressed to the nines…”Dessert wine, sir? Or would you prefer a dessert malt beverage? We have watermelon tonight.”

The conversation didn’t stop. I began recalling my days working as an intern for Clorox Technical Center. I was on the fourth floor experimenting with different options for dry bleach, while a floor below they were perfecting the perfect new salad dressing. Imagine the hours food chemists had spent coming up with this travesty!

At one point Nick proclaimed that he “kinda liked it.” “Finish it!” the party chimed in. “I’ll throw up!” he protested.

Don't stab the can Nick! The consequences aren't worth it.

Smirnoff ICE Black comes in 16 ounce cans. All of us combined, we only managed to consume about two ounces of each. The conversation — and cirticisms — did not stop until I poured the remaining concoction down the drain.

Did I mention that the green one looks like nuclear waste?

Nuclear waste...or poisonous mushrooms!

Smirnoff Ice sells. I’m sure this one will as well. For anyone who enjoys fruity, high-fructose-syrup-saturated, get-drunk-as-quickly-as-possible beverages, this one is for you.

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Not only do you give an unforgettable hour with the Lushes in Love, but we provide you with a beautiful gift certificate boxed with a martini glass to put under the tree.

$90  – Buy Now via Paypal

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The Lushes in Love on Oakland Nights LIVE!

by Jen on November 8, 2011

Our great friend and neighbor Jeremy hosted the first ever Oakland Nights LIVE!

Hosted by Jeremy and Julia, the show was part talk show and part variety show. We were honored to be featured as guests among such local stars as Christi Ginger, Chris Garcia and Yesway.

Here we are preparing to go on.

Before we knew it, we were live. Check out the awesome set!!

Jeremy offered us a glass of scotch. What a host!

We made Jeremy and Julia our best Sidecar

And chatted a bit about the history of maraschino cherries and the such.

It was a blast. Thanks for having us, Jeremy and Julia!

For those of us now wishing we had a Sidecar in front of us, learn how to make a Sidecar.

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The Lushes Approach to Pumpkin Carving

by Jen on October 31, 2011

Our great friend Rosalie hosted a pumpkin carving party last night complete with our favorite holiday drink, Hard Cider.

Can you guess which pumpkin was ours??

(Hint: it’s not the honeydew though Tammy’s boobies really stole the show!)

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The Rum-Sparkling-Orange-Disaster

by Jen on September 30, 2011

Maybe I shouldn’t call this drink a disaster. I’m not much of a rum fan, so it was unlikely that I’d like it from the get go. But I’ve been hanging out with some new friends who prefer rum, so I decided to give it a go.

We acquired some Meyer’s Dark Rum awhile ago to provide to those friends of ours who prefer rum. I have very fond memories of Meyer’s Dark Rum, as it was the bottle that was dark enough for me to steal out of without Mom and Dad’s noticing back when I was in high school. I’m pretty sure I filled it back up with water. Luckily for me, Mom and Dad weren’t rum fans either, so it went unnoticed (or so I believe…).

My friend Brian suggested that Meyer’s Dark Rum and orange juice is a classic cocktail. We didn’t have orange juice, but we did have some of Trader Joe’s Sparkling Clementine beverage. I love that beverage. It’s great with champagne for a twist on the mimosa.

So we gave it a try. I poured an ounce of Meyer’s Dark Rum over ice and added Sparkling Clementine beverage to fill the glass (probably a 3 to 1 ratio). My compatriots Aimee and Brian — the rum fans — raved, but I choked it down out of polite necessity.

Rum fans, have at it. The rest of us will keep our Meyer’s in the pantry for teenage girls to smuggle.

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The Hemingway

by Jen on June 16, 2011

Will and I are happily on vacation in Berlin with our friends Spencer and Ann Marie.

This evening we explored a cocktail bar with a very extensive cocktail menu. We were surprised that some of the drinks included Angustura bitters — one of our favorite ingredients that we have yet to find at any German supermarkets or stores.

I ordered the Hemingway, a drink the menu claimed to be composed of gin, grenadine and lemon juice. It was so very red, I was surprised it was named after such a manly author. However, Will claims that Hemingway’s favorite drink was the daiquiri in which case he would have really liked the sweetness of this drink.

Germans don’t seem to appreciate gin the way we do, but do love their beer. We were happy to find traditional cocktails at this trendy bar, and have appreciated the different tastes of German beers.

Cheers!

Guten tag!

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Vodka-Infused Gummy Bears

by Jen on June 13, 2011

Following in the line of jello shots, our friend Sharone pointed me to this tutorial on how to create vodka-infused gummy bears.

It’s pretty straight forward: soak gummy bears in vodka for five days stirring occasionally, add a bit of concentrated juice and water to cut the vodka taste, let sit and enjoy.

But what is it? A cocktail or a candy?

Do you think it’d be worth trying these with our favorite spirit gin? Then perhaps we might not need the fruit juice to cut the taste. Gin, after all, is what happens if you distill a plain spirit, like vodka, with yummy herbs. Mmmmm….

Oh what will they think of next in their quest to make alcohol palatable to those who don’t like it?

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A Basil Gimlet Adventure

by Jen on May 27, 2011

Awhile back I had the most delicious cocktail I have ever had.  It was at Fonda, a tapas restaurant in Albany. Composed of muddled basil, simple syrup, lime juice and gin, it was sweet, so very spicy and all around delicious.  My mouth waters just thinking about it.

When my mother joined us for dinner last Friday, I got it in my head that I was going to try making Basil Gimlets for us.  A Google search yielded a collection of recipes.  Many required that I create a basil-infused simple syrup a day or so ahead of time.  As it was just hours before dinner that I decided on this venture, those recipes were out of the question.

For my first try, I muddled five leaves of basil in the juice of one lime and a teaspoon of white sugar in a Collins glass.  This is where I made my first mistake.  I put whole basil leaves in the glass and expected the muddler to make mincemeat out of them.  It wasn’t happening, and I realized this was the first muddled drink I had made.  I asked Will why it wasn’t working, and he said he was surprised I hadn’t chopped the basil first.  Some things are so obvious to some people!

I grabbed my kitchen scissors and used them to coarsely chop the basil in the glasses.   I added 1 1/2 ounces of gin (Beefeater’s…it’s what we had on hand), some ice and stirred.

It looked yummy enough and we couldn’t wait to try it.  But once we had, we were almost sorry.  It wasn’t nearly sweet enough.  I added a dash of simple syrup to each and it was better.  But it still didn’t have the incredibly sweet spicy taste of the one Fonda had made.

We drank it anyway, and it was, actually, pretty good.  But as we drank it, it dawned on me…this was one dangerous drink.  The large bits of basil were always getting stuck on our teeth!

Not a good drink for date night.

Determined to get the drink right, I tried again.  This time I chopped the basil in our mini Cuisinart until it couldn’t be chopped any longer.

No basil was getting stuck in our teeth this time!

I muddled 1 heaping teaspoon of chopped basil with the juice of one lime, and 1 1/2 teaspoon white sugar in a cocktail shaker.  I added 1 1/2 ounces of gin and stirred over ice.

This time, though, I poured the cocktail through a strainer into a stemless martini glass.

This one was better, and delicious, but still nowhere near as good as the Basil Gimlet in my memory.

Basil Gimlet Try #2, you were delicious, but my quest is far from over!

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The Polish Kiss

by Jen on May 20, 2011

One of my oldest friends Jessica came over and introduced me to this cocktail that stars Żubrówka, or Bison Grass Vodka.  Żubrówka, a traditional Polish spirit, is made from rye and flavored with – you guessed it – the grass that the bison munch on.

The traditional drink is made with apple juice, but on Jessica’s suggestion, we used sparkling apple cider for a less sweet variation.  Thank goodness we did!  Even without the apple juice, this is a drink to satisfy your sweet tooth.

I enjoyed how light and refreshing it was.  Tasted separately, the Żubrówka has a unique flavor that is almost nutty.   The word Żubrówka comes from the Polish word for grass and bison.  You can always find the Żubrówka among the other vodkas because the bottle contains a long strand of bison grass.

Jessica, the Żubrówka expert, assured me that this is not the best Żubrówka. I thought it was pretty good though!

The Polish Kiss

Stir 1 1/2 ounces Żubrówka with 1 1/2 ounces of apple juice or sparkling apple cider.  Jessica served it cold and up, but it would be good on ice on a hot day.

Jessica refused to take a photo with me, but I assure you, she was there.

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