Summer Cocktail Roundup

infused-vodka

Hey there!

Things have been a little crazy over here. Last month, I attended the third and final Vida Vegan Con Bloggers Conference in Austin, TX and have been playing catchup the past few weeks (I documented the VVC happenings mostly on Instagram). It was an amazing time and I learned so much to apply to my food blog, and day-to-day life as an entrepreneur. Speaking of, the main thing keeping me busy these days is keeping my photography business, Kelly Peloza Photo, up and running. I also have some fun things in the works on that front, so stay tuned!

Instead of radio silence, I thought I’d dig up some summer cocktail recipes from the official Seitan Beat Your Meat Cocktail Recipe Archives (the fancy way of saying I clicked on the “Drinks” category in the drop-down recipe menu) in preparation for the first day of summer (and also Father’s Day), which is this Sunday, June 21st! It’s been pretty dreary, muggy, and rainy in Chicago for the past week, so I certainly don’t mind looking at photos of brightly-colored drinks today either.

It just so happens that these are all vodka recipes and most of them are inspired by TV shows (that’s just how it goes with me), but a couple of them are gin or include gin variations. And as always, mixing up your own variation or turning these recipes into mocktails is encouraged.

Ginger Lime Hibiscus Cocktail

girly-drinkThis vodka-based pink drink is made with Hibiscus Rose Infused Vodka, ginger ale, lime simple syrup, lime juice, and a touch of Grand Marnier. I originally made it to accompany  (have you been following the ridiculousness of the new season? I can’t look away).

Find the recipe here.

Cucumber Mojito

cucumber-mojitoThis Cucumber Mojito recipe is also made with an infused vodka. It’s full of fresh mint leaves and cucumber slices, lime, cucumber-infused vodka, and topped off with club soda. It’s an excellent, not-too-sweet, summer afternoon drink.

Get your Cucumber Mojito on here.

Tom Collins

tom-collins-recipe
The rest of the cocktails on this list are also inspired by a TV show. These are pulled from my 2013 Mad Men Vegan MoFo project. This drink is your standard Tom Collins with a Sally Draper twist.

Read all about it, and get the recipe here.

Rocket Fuel

peggy-mountain-dew

“You need three ingredients for a cocktail. Vodka and Mountain Dew is an emergency.” According to Peggy Olson’s quote, Rocket Fuel is not actually a cocktail, but I included it on this list anyway.

This not-cocktail is really just vodka and Mountain Dew, but if you want some proper instructions, check it out here.

Vodka Gimlet

mad-men-gimlet-recipe

The final cocktail here is Betty Draper’s Vodka Gimlet. It’s full of lime, vodka, and metaphorical disappointment (the actual drink is delicious).

Betty is firmly in the vodka camp, but gin is also a possibility with this gimlet recipe.

 

Party Like a Mad Man

The season premiere (well, technically the premiere of the second half) of the final season of Mad Men is tomorrow night. Perfect timing for a Mad Men-themed post.

kelly-peloza-don-drapers-office

The New York City “skyline”

Judy Gelman of The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook invited me, along with several other food and lifestyle bloggers, to participate in a Virtual Mad Men Finale Party to celebrate the final season. The guidelines were very open-ended: feature food or drink from Mad Men anytime during the week before April 5th. Two years ago, I worked on a month-long Mad Men-themed project for Vegan MoFo, so I was excited to bring back Mad Men to Seitan Beats Your Meat. A month is not nearly enough time to explore the intricate themes of the show through food and photography, and one post is certainly not enough, so I’d presented myself with a challenge.

TheUnofficialMadMenCookbook_FinaleParty_600x196_V2_000

While brainstorming ideas for my post and thinking about the most recent seasons of Mad Men, two words came to mind: “drowning” and “illusion.” They perfectly describe Don Draper’s journey throughout the series, the changes each character experiences during the decade, and the business of advertising in relation to the show. I approached my photos with those ideas in mind and decided that my mission for my photos was to visually represent “drowning” and “illusion.” A simple prompt, but difficult to describe in just a few images, while referencing the show, and the time period Mad Men most recently left us in, the end of the 1960s.

I thought about the Hershey pitch at the end of season 6, when Don has finally reached a breaking point that seems very different than all of his other breakdowns throughout the series. Don is out of control, his marriage is falling apart, and he’s jeopardizing his relationship with Sally. Actually, their stories parallel in a strange way: as Don carefully builds a life on a foundation of lies and drinks away any genuine moment, Sally is quickly losing every illusion she believed in as she grows up and understands the world she lives in. At its core, Mad Men is an study of human nature, relationships, and creating a semblance of meaning.

kelly-peloza-mad-men

Don’s drink of choice and one of his many vices, an Old Fashioned, seemed the most appropriate cocktail to feature. I posted this Old Fashioned recipe during Vegan MoFo 2013, but the classics don’t change.

Old Fashioned

Adapted from the AMC Cocktail Guide

Ingredients

2 dashes aromatic bitters
1 orange slice
1 maraschino cherry
½ tsp sugar
1 teaspoon water
1½ oz of rye
Crushed ice

Garnish:
1 cherry
1 orange slice

Instructions

  1. Combine the bitters, orange slice, cherry, sugar, and water in a lowball glass. Muddle to release the juices and oils of the fruit.
  2. Add the rye and ice. Stir.
  3. Garnish with an orange slice and cherry.

mad-men-old-fashioned

And with that, #PartyLikeAMadMan. Will you be watching tomorrow night?

Disclaimer: Smart Pop Books provided me with a copy of The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook for research and inspiration (thank you!), but I was not compensated for this post. This was a personal project, and art direction, images, and words are my own.

Peppermint White Russian

The weather outside is frightful and the best cure is staying inside with blankets, Netflix, and a warm drink. The season is almost magical until the windchill is -15°F or you have to trudge through ice and snow (thankfully Chicago is snow-free so far!) to get to the grocery store. I’m not a fan of winter or cold weather, but I will not complain about a drink topped with whipped cream and mini marshmallows.
vegan-white-russian

This Peppermint White Russian takes the cake with a black cocoa and vanilla sugar rim, and mountains of whipped cream and marshmallows. Serve it hot or cold, or make a White Russian-hot cocoa hybrid!

This drink contains quite a few components and ingredients you probably don’t happen to have in your kitchen. That’s okay, because the recipe is more of a guideline. The black cocoa and vanilla sugar rim is delicious as is, but you could omit it or make substitutions where you see fit (agave nectar and a splash of vanilla extract could replace the vanilla bean paste!). I’d hate to make you go out in the cold. Or make hot cocoa instead of a White Russian if you don’t drink alcohol. ‘Tis the season!

Peppermint White Russian

Makes 1 serving

For the rim:
Vanilla bean paste
Peppermint schnapps or peppermint extract
Black Cocoa and Vanilla Sugar (recipe below)

1 1/2 ounces vodka
3/4 ounce peppermint schnapps*
1 ounce Kahlua
Non-dairy creamer, milk, or a mix of both**

Vegan whipped cream (I used So Delicious Coco Whip!)
Vegan mini marshmallows (I used Chicago Vegan Foods’ Dandies!)

*Can be replaced with more vodka and a splash of peppermint extract. Or just vodka if you’re not feeling the peppermint flavor.
**The milk can be heated if you want a warm drink. Better yet, replace the milk with HOT COCOA.

Instructions

  1. Thin out a pea-sized amount of vanilla bean paste with peppermint schnapps or peppermint extract. Coat the rim of the glass or mug with the mixture.
  2. Dip the coated rim in the bowl of black cocoa and vanilla sugar.
  3. Make the drink. Pour all three liquors in the glass.
  4. Fill the rest of the glass with the non-dairy creamer or milk. Use less milk for a stronger drink.

Black Cocoa and Vanilla Sugar

1/2 cup sugar
1/4-1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1/2 teaspoon black cocoa powder

  1. Mix together the sugar and vanilla bean paste in a small bowl until the sugar is completely coated and the vanilla bean paste dispersed.
  2. Add the black cocoa powder to coat the sugar completely. Adjust the amounts of vanilla bean paste and cocoa if the mixture is too sticky or dry. Set aside.

“Hawaii. The jumping off point.”

blue-hawaiian

Welcome to the final Mad Men Cocktail Friday and the penultimate episode of Mad Men MoFo! We’re taking a trip to Hawaii for today’s cocktails: Blue Hawaiian and Piña Colada.

Mad Men season six opens with Don and Megan’s Hawaiian vacation. Shortly after, Hawaii becomes the inspiration for an ad campaign. While Don’s personal life affects his work in a variety of ways, this time it’s not completely negative or insane. The hotel company rejects the ad, claiming the ad suggests character in the narrative “jumped off” to commit suicide. Creative says that’s what makes it a brilliant ad.

hawaii-the-jumping-off-point

It’s no wonder Hawaii is subtly significant in the Mad Men world and fills even Don with slightly less angst. It’s a self-contained paradisaical escape from their sloppy, sordid lives. Madison Avenue’s utopian antithesis. But it wouldn’t be Mad Men if the booze wasn’t flowing, even in Hawaii.

Blue Hawaiian

Ingredients

1 oz blue Curaçao
1 oz light rum
1 oz cream of coconut
2 oz pineapple juice
1 cup of ice

1 cherry
1 slice of pineapple

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients, except cherry and pineapple, in a blender. Blend until smooth.
  2. Garnish with cherry and pineapple. Add a cocktail umbrella if desired.

Piña Colada

Ingredients

1 1/2 oz light rum
2 oz cream of coconut
2 oz pineapple juice
1 cup crushed ice

1 cherry
1 slice of pineapple

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients, except cherry and pineapple, in a blender. Blend until smooth.
  2. Garnish with cherry and pineapple. Add a cocktail umbrella if desired.
Photo credit: AMC

Photo credit: AMC

Have a lovely weekend, and thank you for following Mad Men MoFo this month! I will be back on Monday with a final post, behind the scenes of Mad Men MoFo.

Tom Collins: “Okay, you don’t smash the cherry on that.”

“Just plop it in at the end. Try to keep it in the top of the glass. Gin.”

tom-collins-recipe

It’s Mad Men Cocktail Friday and I’m borrowing Sally Draper’s Tom Collins expertise for the day. From Tom Collins to Bloody Mary, the eldest Draper child knows her stuff when it comes to cocktails. On a seemingly eternal quest to prove her adulthood, Sally began mixing drinks garnished with sass in the early days of Mad Men.

sally-draper-quotes

In lieu of your own Sally, you’ll probably have to mix your own Tom Collins. Cheers!

Tom Collins

Ingredients

2 ounces gin
2 ounces lemon juice
1 ounce simple syrup
Club soda

Lemon slices
Cherry

Instructions

  1. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add the gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup. Shake.
  2. Strain into a Collins glass filled with ice and lemon slices. Top off with club soda.
  3. Garnish with a cherry.

lemon-tom-collins

Meditations in an Emergency

*Warning: season two spoilers!

mad-men-gimlet-recipe

Welcome back to Mad Men Cocktail Friday, Thursday edition. After a week largely focused on Betty Draper, I thought an extra cocktail recipe, the Vodka Gimlet, was in order. We see Betty with her signature drink in season one, but the most notable Gimlet she orders is the one accompanied with her affair in the season two finale, ‘Meditations in an Emergency.’

It’s the thick of the Cuban Missile Crisis, Betty just received news that she’s pregnant, and she and Don are separated. She stops in a Manhattan bar and a man buys her a drink. Though she initially brushes him off to nurse her Gimlet, they are later seen together in a room behind the bar. They get dressed and go their separate ways.

While Betty’s Gimlet was likely vodka, gin is also acceptable.

Betty Draper’s Vodka Gimlet

Ingredients

1 1/2 ounces vodka
1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
Lime slice for garnish

Instructions

  1. Combine vodka and lime juice in a mixing glass filled with ice.
  2. Strain into a martini glass.
  3. Garnish with lime.
Photo credit: AMC

Photo credit: AMC

“Vodka and Mountain Dew is an emergency.”

peggy-mountain-dew

Welcome to the second installment of Mad Men Cocktail Fridays! In season 4 of Mad Men, SCDP takes on Mountain Dew as a client. Given the task of creating cocktail recipes, the copywriters can’t figure it out because they are focused on ignoring Peggy’s authority. While Peggy is busy “pioneering the science of wet blanketry” because she insists a cocktail needs at least three ingredients, they drink vodka and Mountain Dew. A group of incompetent copywriters could be classified as a minor emergency, so Peggy probably deserves a glass of “Rocket Fuel.” Firing Joey was probably a better reward.

Rocket Fuel

Joey says, “It tastes good because it still basically tastes like Mountain Dew.” Peggy says it’s great for young people and hillbillies.

Ingredients

Vodka
Mountain Dew

Instructions

  1. Get a glass.
  2. Pour in Vodka and Mountain Dew.
  3. Stir with a pen or pencil.
  4. Consume.
peggy-mountain-dew

Photo credit: AMC

This marks the end of Vegan MoFo week two. Stay away from the Rocket Fuel this weekend and come back Monday for the third week of Mad Men MoFo!

“I’ll have an Old Fashioned.”

mad-men-old-fashioned

It’s Mad Men Cocktail Friday! Every Friday for the duration of Vegan MoFo, I’ll be featuring classic cocktails that are significant in the Mad Men world. It seems appropriate to start out with Don’s signature cocktail, the Old Fashioned. The series opens with Don mulling over the new Lucky Strike pitch, Old Fashioned in hand, and he continues to order the cocktail throughout the series. Don’s liquor of choice is rye whiskey, but feel free to use bourbon or another variation.

Old Fashioned

Adapted from the AMC Cocktail Guide

Ingredients

2 dashes aromatic bitters
1 orange slice
1 maraschino cherry
½ tsp sugar
1 teaspoon water
1½ oz of rye
Crushed ice

Garnish:
1 cherry
1 orange slice

Instructions

  1. Combine the bitters, orange slice, cherry, sugar, and water in a lowball glass. Muddle to release the juices and oils of the fruit.
  2. Add the rye and ice. Stir.
  3. Garnish with an orange slice and cherry.

Enjoy the weekend, MoFo-ers! Mad Men MoFo will be back on Monday.

Photo credit: AMC

Photo credit: AMC

Vegan Bacon Vodka

Vegan bacon vodka

When I made infused vodka the other week, there was a little tidbit I left out of that post. A small omission, really. See, in addition to cucumber and hibiscus vodka, I decided to use the remaining liquor for a slightly off-putting experiment: bacon vodka. Since bacon has been in the trendy public eye for far too long, every bacon-flavored product that can exist does exist, so you don’t even need to Google bacon vodka to know that people are putting it in their bodies. Ironically, commercial bacon vodka does not actually contain bacon, just chemicals and food coloring. So of course, bacon enthusiasts were quick to remedy that by making a liquor chock full of salty meat strips. If you weren’t already glad to be vegan, one of the complaints associated with bacon vodka will do that for ya: the grease yielded a layer of bacon fat in the final product. Nothing like chunky bacon liquor! In my vegan version, the bacon was extremely low in fat, so not much could go wrong, right? In the spirit of entertainment, I tasted it (a whole shot, so you guys better enjoy this!) for the first time on camera:

If you still want to make your own vegan bacon vodka, here is the recipe. Usually, infused vodka doesn’t need to be refrigerated, but it seemed really gross to let veggie bacon hang out at room temperature for days on end.

Bacon Vodka

Ingredients

4-5 strips prepared vegan bacon
1 cup vodka

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Arrange bacon on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  3. Bake bacon for 4-5 minutes, until it starts to crisp up, but remains pliable.
  4. Combine vodka and bacon in a bottle and store in the refrigerator for a week before consuming.

This will be my last post before Vegan MoFo, which starts next week (!!). I’m thrilled to participate and will be posting more information soon!

Infused Vodka Recipes

infused-vodka

Step away from the flavored liquor on store shelves! Can you chop fresh fruit and vegetables? Can you open packages of herbs and spices? Can you buy alcohol? (Sorry, kids.) Then you can make your own pomegranate, jalapeño, chocolate, plum, or other crazy-flavored liquor! And mix flavors that the store-bought stuff* hasn’t seen! Your concoctions are bound to be fresher, and probably cheaper.

I almost feel silly posting a “recipe” for infused vodka because you can infuse practically anything in any amount in the liquor of your choice. And in mere days, sometimes hours! Saving the dark liquors** for the winter months, I chose vodka and bright, summer flavors for this batch. With dried flowers, and cucumbers fresh out of the garden, I whipped up two variations in small batches.

*It can probably be done with vanilla beans, cacao nibs, and some other mystery ingredients, but maybe you should stick to store-bought cake and whipped cream vodkas, if that’s your thing.

**Sorry, Ron Swanson.

cucumbers

Cucumber Vodka

I tasted store-bought cucumber vodka last summer, and let me tell you, this homemade version is 10x fresher and more delicious!

  1. Use 1 large cucumber for 750 ml vodka, or one standard-sized bottle. I made about half that amount here.
  2. Peel the cucumber and scoop out its seeds. The peel will add a bitter flavor.
  3. Chop up your cucumber and add it to the vodka. Let sit for 2 days to 2 weeks in a cool, dry place.
  4. Remove the cucumber pieces, discard, and use the flavored vodka however you wish!

homemade-cucumber-vodka

I’ve been drinking the cucumber vodka with ginger ale and club soda, but it is also great in a flavorful mixed drink, like this cucumber mojito.

Cucumber Mojito

Makes 1 serving

Ingredients

10 fresh mint leaves
3 wedges lime
4 cucumber slices
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup ice cubes
1/2 oz cucumber vodka
4 oz club soda

Instructions

  1. Muddle the mint leaves, limes, and cucumber slices with the sugar to release the juices and oils.
  2. Top with ice cubes.
  3. Add the vodka and club soda, and stir.
  4. Garnish with cucumber and lime slices.

cucumber-mojito

Hibiscus Rose Vodka

Hibiscus, or Jamaica flowers, is one of the main flavors of Agua de Jamaica, a ruby red tea made with dried hibiscus flowers and fresh lime. Infusing vodka with hibiscus is a quick process, and the resulting liquor tastes amazing with lime. Absolut makes a similar flavor called Absolut Hibiskus & Pomegranate. If you’d like to replicate that, feel free to add some crushed pomegranate seeds and juice!

  1. Use 1 tablespoon dried hibiscus flowers per 1 cup vodka. I replaced some of that with dried rose buds for a floral flavor that goes nicely with the tart, delicate flavor of hibiscus.
  2. Add to vodka and let sit for 3-4 hours. The vodka will become bright pink within minutes. If the flowers steep for longer than a few hours, the vodka will become bitter. Remove the flowers and discard.
  3. Use the flavored vodka however you wish!

hibiscus-vodka

I made this drink to accompany the latest episode of “Pretty Little Liars.” Because I watch shows made for teenagers, whatever. If you’re not familiar with the show, it’s a murder mystery that follows a group of four high school girls with a stalker called “A” who threatens to reveal their OMG huge secrets. So instead of going to an adult, they get hit by cars, date their English teachers, tell lots of lies, and open 800 plot lines that never get resolved in 5 seasons. There’s creepy dolls, high drama, and lots of gasping. It’s deliciously terrible/wonderful. Just like this hot pink drink, which is more showy than substantial, and filled with secret alcohol you’ll never taste.

Ginger Lime Hibiscus Cocktail

Makes 1 serving

Ingredients

8 oz ginger ale
1 1/2 oz hibiscus vodka
Juice of 1/2 lime
1 1/2 oz lime simple syrup
1/2 oz Grand Marnier

Instructions

  1. You can shake or stir this drink. Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice, or a cup of ice.
  2. Pour into a glass (chilled or frozen is best) and garnish with lime or orange slices, and cocktail umbrellas. The more over the top, the better.

girly-drink

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