Birthday Cake Martini

In honor of a dear friend’s birthday, I would like to share this decadent recipe for a lovely birthday cake martini.  What better way is there to feel like a kid again than to drink a cocktail with sprinkles on the rim, especially when those sprinkles fall into the drink and make whimsical, colorful swirls?

Birthday Cake Martini

3 ounces fluffed marshmallow vodka

1 ounce cream of coconut (be sure to stir well before using!)

2 ounces Amaretto

3 ounces Godiva White Chocolate Liqueur

Honey

Sprinkles (nonpareils work well)

In a shaker, combine vodka, coconut, Amaretto and White Chocolate Liqueur. Add ice and shake. Use honey to rim the glass with sprinkles.  Cheers to birthday celebrations!

 

 

 

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Brewery Tours

When I first started this blog, I made a few goals for myself.  One of the goals I set was to travel to a new winery, brewery or distillery every month. I enlisted the help of my brother, asking him if he would be willing to spend his much coveted weekends with me on the pursuit of good, local beer. (And by local, I mean anything in Iowa or a connecting state!) Thankfully, he is willing to make the sacrifice and we have planned an outing this weekend to two breweries and a distillery in Wisconsin.

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My brother and I had plans to go to New Glarus Brewery on the last weekend in April, so when a group of guests that I was working with at the winery last weekend started talking about New Glarus, I asked if they had any advice.  They were a wealth of knowledge about other places to visit and quickly our trip to one brewery turned into a day including two breweries, a distillery and a tavern/cheese shop.  I could not be more excited!  (And I’m thinking I should win some sort of ‘Sister of the Year’ award for this deal.)

Maybe it is the teacher in me, so used to planning field trips and preparing for the unexpected, but I always feel the need to research where we are going ahead of time to have an idea of what to expect.  That night after work I went home and looked up Minhas Brewery, Minhas Distillery and Baumgartener’s Cheese Shop and Tavern.  I will give a full report on the beers and spirits after visiting, but I wanted to share a few of the things I am excited about before the visit to see if they live up to my expectations.

New Glarus Brewery

Spotted Cow at the New Glarus Brewery is by far their most popular brew in the area, but I look forward to trying the other types of beer they produce.  There are six beers available year round, seasonal beers to compliment the time of year and they always have a few surprises up their sleeves to keep things interesting.  I am most curious about their Thumbprint Series, in which they let their brewmaster loose to create whatever his adventurous heart desires.

Minhas Brewery

The tour at Minhas Brewery looks fantastic! After touring the facilities, you can hang out in their Lazy Mutt Lounge and enjoy bottomless beer samples of their brews.  Considering the crowd that may be joining my brother and I, Minhas may want to rethink this policy before the weekend.  They also send you off with a “Thank You” pack full of bottles of their beer, root beer and a souvenir glass. For the mere $10 you spend on the tour, I think that is quite the deal!

Minhas Distillery

Located conveniently across the street from the brewery, the Minhas Distillery also provides a tour of their facilities.  Their spirits selection includes gin, three types of rum, rye whisky, tequila, vodka and irish cream.  What I am most looking forward to, though, is their horchata rum.  I did not find any information about it online, but the couple I spoke with at the winery said it was fabulous and leaps and bounds above RumChata, which has become popular in this area.

Baumgartner’s Cheese Store and Tavern

You can not visit Wisconsin without stopping for cheese!  Thankfully I got the inside scoop about a fabulous little cheese store and tavern a block away from the distillery called Baumgartner’s.  Apparently they have the second best chili (only after your mother’s) and a cheese sandwich that is a must try item.  They feature locally brewed beers on tap to compliment their food.  What can be better than a quaint, local tavern after a day of tasting locally brewed beers and spirits?  I can’t think of anything, either.

Needless to say, I am counting down the days to the weekend!

Red Wine Sangria

In an effort to will summer to appear quicker, I am organizing all of my summer recipes.  Last year I brought this to our family’s Father’s Day celebration, which included my parents, brother, both sets of grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and significant others.  All in all, there were well over fifty people that showed up at my parents house for a lovely afternoon playing games, eating and drinking.  This cocktail was a hit! I can’t wait to make it again this summer. (And I have plenty of peach schnapps left since this recipe is the only thing I use it in!)

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Red Wine Sangria

1 bottle of red, fruity wine (I find that the inexpensive varieties work well for sangria)

2 cups of vodka (more/less to taste or for potency)

1 cup of peach schnapps

2 cups of orange juice

2 oranges, sliced

2 limes, sliced

2 lemons, sliced

3 cups of grapes

Any other fruit you would like to include (peaches & apples work well)

Combine all of the ingredients in a large pitcher, mashing some of the fruit to release juices. Feel free to adjust the amounts of ingredients to suit your tastes. The key is to have a cocktail you enjoy! If you love raspberries, throw them in.  If you don’t want a drink that is as strong, cut out the vodka. Experiment to find your perfect combination/recipe.

Let sit for 8 to 36 hours.  The longer it sits, the fruitier the sangria will be and the more alcoholic the fruit pieces will become. Serve over ice.

My Go-To Drinks

I have a very unsophisticated palate, but I have been enjoying beer, spirits and wine for awhile and I know what I enjoy. I am curious to see if my tastes will change as I become more knowledgable about alcohol and try a plethora of new products.

One of my favorite times of the year is the holiday season.  I love a good drink and the holidays seem to bring about more than a few opportunities to have a social cocktail.  For me, the holiday season starts with my birthday, which is typically celebrated about a week before Thanksgiving, and lasts well into the new year.  You may notice a few seasonal drinks on my list of favorites below because of my affinity for the holidays.

Bailey’s Irish Cream

Such a lovely holiday treat!  I even bought an ice mold tray that will make ice shot glasses, perfect for the Bailey’s.

Schlafly’s Pumpkin Ale

I am quite particular about pumpkin ale.  This St. Louis brewery is phenomenal and their seasonal pumpkin ale is the best I have ever tasted.  I never seem to get enough of it before it is off the shelves.

Ketel One Vodka

I was not always particular about what kind of vodka I drank.  In college, the five dollar bottle was economical and got the job done for tailgating purposes.  Now that I have a more discerning palette and suffer from hangovers more easily, I prefer to spend a bit more money for the smooth taste and ability to function the next day.  I recommend putting this bottle in the freezer for an even smoother effect.

Avion Tequila

As with the vodka, I am willing to pay for the smoother tequila.  I did not even realize that Avion was an actual brand;  I simply thought it was concocted for the show Entourage.  When I saw the perfect smaller sized bottle for my margarita needs, I snapped a bottle up to check it out.  I was impressed.  Well played, Turtle.  Well played.

** Need a perfect margarita recipe?  Check this one out:  Margarita Recipe

Captain Morgan

Does it mean I am an alcoholic if the Friday night bartender at the nearest watering hole to my work place knows exactly what to pour me when I walk in after a long work week?  I didn’t think so.

Captain Morgan and Diet Dr. Pepper is my go-to after work drink on a Friday night.  I have converted more people than you would think to mixing this spiced rum with Diet Dr. Pepper.

X Rated Fusion 

When I want a girly drink, I turn to this pretty pink liquor.  Mixed with a cheap bottle of champagne, this mango, blood orange and passion fruit infused vodka makes an excellent girls night in cocktail.

Cavit Pinot Grigio

A lovely pinot grigio to have with a plate of cheese or chicken dish.  It is very drinkable and reasonably priced, which is important for a simple wine with your meal.

Robert Mondavi Pinot Noir

For me, this is the perfect inexpensive light bodied dry red to enjoy with a nice Italian meal.  Cheers to comfort food and table wine!