A Soho House Classic: the Eastern Standard

 

The classic Soho House Eastern Standard as they serve it.

The classic Soho House Eastern Standard as they serve it.

Everyone has their go-to cocktail. Up until two years ago, my go-to “cocktail” was a great glass of red wine. That all changed when I had my first Eastern Standard at Soho House in Chicago. It is the perfect blend of freshness from the cucumber and mint with a little bite from the gin.

The Eastern Standard is not often found on drink menus in the United States- mainly because it was invented in London by Tom Kerr for Soho House Group. An Eastern Standard can be made with vodka or gin and while you can’t go wrong with either- the gin element allows the cucumber and mint flavor profile to shine through in a more enjoyable way.

This is a classic cocktail meant to be sipped on while sitting outside during the Chicago Spring. If you want to make this into a more party friendly cocktail, simply make your drink in a pitcher, add ice and top with chilled club soda. Below is the classic Eastern Standard recipe as told to Refinery 29, although I included a second recipe below that I have altered to taste.

When I first started to attempt to recreate the Eastern Standard at home, there was always something a little off about my version vs. the Soho House version. I found that if I infused my gin with cucumbers (fill a mason jar with cucumber, fill with gin and pop it in the fridge) it matched the exact taste of the Soho House version. Highly recommend!

Soho House Eastern Standard:

Ingredients:
50ml Bombay Sapphire gin
1 large lime, juiced
20ml sugar syrup
3 thin slices of cucumber
3 mint leaves

Instructions:
Shake all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and double-strain into a cocktail glass.

Garnish with a floating cucumber slice.

Ali’s Eastern Standard:

Ingredients:
3oz Hendrick’s Gin
1 large lime, juiced
20ml sugar syrup
6thin slices of cucumber, muddled
6mint leaves, muddled

Instructions:
Muddle cucumber and mint in a cocktail glass. Add lime, simple syrup and gin. Top with ice and stir. Double-strain into a coupe cocktail glass.

Garnish with a floating cucumber slice.

Easy Valentine’s Day Cocktail

 

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Valentine’s Day is the holiday to pull out all the stops: a new dress, a fun dinner: and beautiful cocktails! I think that a lot of people hear the word “cocktail” and get intimidated by all of the ingredients it takes to make them. While a lot of cocktail books call for hard to find dashes of this or that, it is easy to make a beautiful drink for your special someone with items you have lying around your house!

I made this cocktail this past weekend while recipe testing for a small Galentine’s Day party I am having for some girlfriends this coming weekend. This Pink Drink only has four ingredients and comes together in a pinch. Scroll down for the full recipe!

 

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The Pink Drink:

1.5 oz gin (I prefer Hendrick’s!)

1.5 oz pureed watermelon

.5 oz simple syrup

Top with seltzer water

Combine your gin, watermelon puree and simple syrup (boil half water, half sugar in a pot and simmer until syrupy.) in a shaker (if you don’t have a shaker, use a mason jar!) and top with ice. Shake for about 10 seconds and then strain into glasses. Top with seltzer water.

If you do not like watermelon or do not want to take the time to puree watermelon, strawberry juice is a great substitute that you can buy in a can at the grocery store. To add some “wow” factor to my cocktail, I plopped a fluffy piece of cotton candy on top!

The poodle salt + pepper shakers are from Jonathan Adler and I love my Vera Wang coffee table book!

 

 

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The Hemingway Daiquiri

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Ernest Hemingway was a smart guy for more than his gifted writing abilities…he also loved a great cocktail. More specifically, Hemingway had a love for daiquiris. According to “The Complete Cocktail Manual,” the Hemingway Daiquiri is a traditional daiquiri with a splash of freshly squeezed grapefruit juice.

This past weekend I went to Chicago’s most loved tiki bar, Three Dots and a Dash. Three Dots transports you to an island bar far, far away from the chilly city of Chicago. Their drinks are fruity and pack a big punch with different rums. Admittedly, one of my favorite things is the presentation of the cocktails that are WAY over the top! I was a dork and picked up one of their souvenir mugs, but you can also get them here for much less! I can’t wait to break it out for long days spent on our rooftop deck in the sun!

The Hemingway Daiquiri

 2 oz White Rum

3/4 oz Lime Juice

1/2 oz Grapefruit Juice

Combine all of your ingredients in a cocktail shaker or cocktail mixing glass. Add ice and shake or stir for about 15 seconds. Strain into a preferably cold coupe glass and garnish with a strip of grapefruit skin or thinly sliced lime wedge.

The Hemingway Daiquiri is very spirit heavy so I would recommend splurging on a good quality white rum. Since the amount of juice is so small, you might as well go all the way and freshly squeeze your own grapefruit and lime juice. Personally, I needed to add a little bit of sweetness to my cocktail so I splashed in a half ounce of simple syrup. It helped to make the cocktail palatable for a slow drinker such as myself!

I used these coupe glasses from William Sonoma, but I love these simple, modern ones from my favorite place for quick, chic staples: CB2!

<3 Al

A Crudité Platter Your Friends Will Actually Want To Eat

Crudité plate at Soho House Chicago

Crudité plate at Soho House Chicago

 

I have always been a veggies over meat kind of girl. I love the crisp crunch of a fresh veggie so naturally vegetables and dip is a staple in my diet. When Soho House in Chicago first opened, they served a gorgeous crudités plate with fresh heirloom carrots, radishes, cucumbers and other bits of colorful goodness alongside freshly smashed avocado. Since I do not go to an office, I often work out of Soho House and the crudités plate has remained one of my favorite things on the menu.

I love to entertain and am always looking for quick but satisfying bites to serve guests. Plus, if you prefer to ditch most of the prep work the day of, you can pre-chop your veggies the day before. The platter is all about presentation and it looks like you put in more effort than you actually did. Freshly chopped vegetables and dips is the perfect, simple and always beautiful appetizer to accompany a few cocktails (try this super easy vanilla Moscow mule!)

Crudite

 

 

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Essentially, the dip that I serve with crudites is a simple guacamole. I smash an avocado with a fork until it is a smooth consistency, squeeze in half a lime and add salt and pepper to taste. If you like spicy dips, add in some red pepper flakes.

 

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I love this little marble serving tray to serve colorful veg on. Would love to hear about any other quick, easy entertaining recipes you may have!

<3 AL

 

Girls Night At Celeste With Crown Royal

Crown Royal Vanilla release at Celeste

Crown Royal Vanilla Moscow Mule at Celeste

One of the first drinks that truly helped me to begin appreciating a quality cocktail was the Moscow Mule. While most spirit experts would scoff at this- I do not like the “taste” of alcohol but appreciate a flavorful drink profile. I am a self admitted sissy pants!

Towards the end of December, Lexi and I had the chance to experience the new Crown Royal Vanilla whiskey at a tasting in Chicago as a little “girls night.” You can probably guess that I am not a big whiskey drinker based off of my previous drink recipes ( I typically prefer gin or clear spirit based cocktails.) Shockingly, I enjoyed the Vanilla flavor of the Crown Royal Vanilla and it paired nicely with all of the cocktails I tried. While it is still a bold flavor, the hint of vanilla adds a complex taste to the classic Moscow Mule that I did not necessarily expect.

Crown Royal Vanilla is a great, versatile whiskey for all seasons- it tastes great when mixed with sodas (for a Vanilla take on hard sodas), or when used to create a Vanilla twist on classic cocktails (like a Vanilla Old Fashioned and Vanilla Hot Toddy) or simply sipped on the rocks if you are stronger human than I! Crown Royal Vanilla begins with aromas of rich vanilla bean and delicate hints of oak. The taste opens with a delicious, not-too-sweet vanilla flavor followed by Crown Royal’s signature smooth finish. The aftertaste is best described similar to crème brulee.

Crown Royal Vanilla release at Celeste

Crown Royal Vanilla release at Celeste Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2016 in Chicago, Ill. (Taylor Glascock)

Crown Royal chose the perfect location for the tasting- Celeste. The bartenders at Celeste were phenomenal and made the Mules with real, fresh ginger (I included that recipe below) but if you want to break this down into a simpler concoction, I altered the recipe as well. While you do not shake a Moscow Mule because of the bubbles in the ginger beer, I do recommend stirring the Crown Royal over ice to keep the drink cold. I like this modern cocktail spoon from CB2 and this sleek cocktail mixing glass from Crate & Barrel.

Vanilla Mule (Crown Royal + Celeste)
1.5 oz. Crown Royal Vanilla
2 oz. Ginger
1 oz. Soda

Lime

 

Vanilla Mule
1.5 oz. Crown Royal Vanilla
3 oz. Ginger Beer
1 oz. Lime Juice

 

 

A few months ago, I was researching the “best new restaurants” of 2016 and Celeste consistently popped up on every list. Celeste described itself as a “modern American cocktail bar” and I would have to agree- every drink we had was equally as tasty as the one before it and the little bites at the party were delicious. Hoping to make it back soon for a full meal! The fried chicken is calling my name.

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Try these cute cocktail glasses for your next recipe: Smoke Grey Cocktail Glass | Light Pink Juice Glass | Classic Highball Glass |

All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you to Crown Royal Vanilla for working with us on this recipe!

Tropical Tiki: A Light Rum Cocktail

 

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This past weekend Chicago got our second heavy snow of December. Trying to not let our moods dip because of the snow, we decided to drown our snow ridden sorrows in some Tiki cocktails. I recently visited Lost Lake for the first time and was blown away by the fruity drinks that were as tasty as they were beautiful.

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The ]”Lost Lake” at Lost Lake Tiki in Chicago.

The Tiki cocktail I made on Sunday night was a play on the Saint Tiki” from The Complete Cocktail Manual. It was originally supposed to be a mocktail but I added light white rum to the mix and thought it was pretty tasty. The unusual thing about this particular tiki cocktail to me was that it called for bitters. While I don’t drink them, I frequently make the classic Old Fashioned for friends. Old Fashioneds are made with bourbon or whiskey, so I had assumed that bitters only paired well with dark liquors. I was wrong.

The Saint Tiki, unaltered:

2 oz orange juice

2 oz pineapple juice

3/4 oz lime juice

1/2 oz Cinnamon Simple Syrup (Simply combine one cup water to one cup fine white sugar with cinnamon sticks in a sauce pan. Let cool.)

2 dashes cocktail bitters

Top with ginger beer

Mint sprig to garnish

Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Shake for 8-10 seconds. Pour into coup cocktail glass and top with ginger beer and mint leaf.

 

Saint Tiki With A Twist

2 oz orange juice

2 oz pineapple juice

3/4 oz lime juice

1/2 oz  Simple Syrup (Simply combine one cup water to one cup fine white sugar in a sauce pan. Let cool.)

2 dashes cocktail bitters

2 oz white rum

Top with ginger beer

Mint sprig to garnish

Because I did not have cinnamon sticks at the ready, I simply used regular simple syrup and added 2 oz of rum per cocktail. I topped my cocktail with ginger beer, but I think an orange LaCroix would be tasty and would not give you a strong ginger taste which was a tad overpowering. Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Shake for 8-10 seconds. Pour into coup cocktail glass and top with ginger beer and mint leaf.

 

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<3 Al

The Classic Negroni

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Count Camillo Negroni was a smart guy. He picked up a taste for hard liquor while working as a clown in the US (no joke…) and asked his bartender to alter his favorite drink at the time, the Americano, to be a bit stronger by adding gin instead of seltzer. While this is a classic cocktail, I personally could not drink it regularly. The strong dose of Campari gives this libation a bitter taste that is better sipped on slowly after some ice dilution.

I made this classic Italian cocktail the night before I left to go to Milan with my parents. Most of my cocktail recipes are from The Complete Cocktail Manual, but may be slightly altered to my own taste. This recipe is unaltered from the original, and is incredibly simple to make due to the equal parts of each ingredient.

Classic Negroni:

1 1/2 oz Gin (I prefer Hendrick’s but Koval also makes a great gin if you are looking for something smaller batch and local to Chicago.)

1 1/2 oz sweet vermouth

1 1/2 oz Campari

Orange peel to garnish

Combine all ingredients without the garnish in a rocks glass with ice (I prefer one giant ice cube- you can get this with these ice cube molds.) Stir with a cocktail spoon and add garnish.

 

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I would serve this with a hearty cheese board with different flavor profiles, charcuterie and an assortment of toppings and olives. Who doesn’t love cheese? Try to have three to four different kinds of cheese plus prosciutto and salami- then load up on the less expensive accompaniments like sliced Italian bread, assorted olives and nuts. Personally, I like a hard cheese like Parmesan, a soft cheese like brie or blue cheese and a cow milk based cheese that is mild. A cheese board doesn’t have to be gigantic to be delicious, as demonstrated below!

 

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  <3 Al