Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Cocktailing

I just saw this Open Culture link on Facebook, via the Forgotten Maryland Cocktails page, and I loved it. It includes so many things I enjoy: Fitzgerald, words, drinks!



The only thing slightly confusing to me is the author's semi-assertion that using "cocktail" as a verb is uncommon or confusing. I totally use it as a verb...and am just happy to know that FSF is in my corner.

(Not that that's a big surprise.)

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

I Went to See Taylor Swift in Philadelphia...

And it was awesome. We were celebrating 40th birthdays - mostly Alicia's and Stacy's, which are this summer (Stacy's was last week and Alicia's is in less than two weeks) - and, kind of generally, celebrating all the things Swifty loves - girl squads, cute outfits, red lipstick, selfies, etc. (So, so many selfies.)

From start to finish, the weekend was just a treat. 

And now, I wish we could go back and do the whole weekend all over again.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Straight Up Summer

As of today, summer has officially started Chez Pollard. School is out and we are shifting into vacation mode. (And by that I mean, Dixon starts his first camp on Monday.)

Of course, summer unofficially started a few weeks ago, with the earliest Memorial Day weekend imaginable. We went to Fenwick, where we had dinner with the Kennedys at Ropewalk and got to visit Jeff and Christine at their new house in Delaware. Plus, we started the weekend with a very nice, refined dinner at The Narrows and closed out with a fun lunch at Stoked in Cambridge (their wings...get them).

Since then, I have spent as much time as possible at the pool, drinking rose, and making the most of the huge amount of basil, mint and other herbs growing in our backyard. (All thanks to Cooper...I remain a non-gardener.)

This is what's been happening:


Top row, left to right: Dixon and his Sunsations/Maryland crab gun in Fenwick; braving the ocean; rose + pesto, which makes the best easy summer dinner

Middle: Dixon and Gray at Ropewalk Fenwick, where we had a fun, crazy dinner with the Kennedys and Missy and the girls; Mimi and Charlotte in the Ropewalk playground's picture board 

Bottom: Me with Mimi and Charlotte before Ropewalk (the matching stripes weren't even on purpose!); Dixon with a ginormous shrimp (shrimp cocktail is his new thing); Cooper getting his grill on with Maddy and her friend at the pool

Summer. It's just the best.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Trendy: Low-Octane Cocktails & High-Octane Beef

Summer is here...which means it's drink-all-day season. Oh, is that just how I think of it?

(Actually, I joke. Unlike many people my age, I really do prefer to do my boozing at night.)

No matter which hours you prefer to drink, summer does lend itself to marathon drinking sessions. So it's not actually that big of a surprise that lately, I've seen a lot of recipes for cocktails with lower alcohol content...stuff you can drink for hours without being totally obliterated.

This is a trend I can fully get behind. I like drinking for hours and hours. I also like remembering things and being functional on Sundays. (In related news, I also like water, and drinking it before I go to bed.) (In more related news, I am not always completely successful at avoiding unpleasant Sundays.)

You know what else is trendy, and pairs pretty well with a lot of low-alcohol cocktails? Brisket. It is just everybody's fave BBQ these days. Maybe it's because it's a little more challenging to get right (it does dry out easily). Maybe it's because Texas is having a moment. I don't know why...but I do know that it is all the rage.

Not-too-boozy booze and beef with some smoke. Not too bad as summer trends. Not too bad at all.


Friday, June 05, 2015

Ahoy!

Maybe it's because I grew up going to restaurants with anchors and rope on their walls. Or maybe it's because I have a box of maritime flags, that Cooper found at an auction, just sitting, unused in my office. Or maybe it's just because I love the water and boats.

Whatever the reason, I can't resist maritimey decor, especially in the summertime. Like this stuff:









None of these ideas - even the Martha Stewart ones! - would be that difficult to make happen in the real world. Especially if I busted out some of those flags that I already own. And I think they'd all pair very, very nicely with Dark and Stormies. Or maybe a Drunken Sailor or three.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Drink Up, Baltimore

Chef Bryan Voltaggio's Wit + Wisdom contribution
Earlier this year, the weather was miserable. Remember February? Then March? Winter seemed like it was, truly, never going to end.

Then it did. Just like it always does.

And in those first, gorgeous weeks of Spring, my mind always drifts in the same direction. Straight to the bar.

There's just something fabulous about a break in the weather that makes me want to whip up a batch of fabulous drinks. Or have someone else whip some up for me.

This year, we kicked off outdoor drinking season at the Wit + Wisdom patio opening party, which featured drinks created and mixed by handful of great local chefs. The party raised a bunch of money for Share Our Strength and was a great time all around.

On my work front, I spent a few weeks chatting with bartenders about their favorite local watering holes and what they like to drink there. Writing that article was, obviously, a good time.

This year, even my intellectual side is all about the booze. When I got my copy of Forgotten Maryland Cocktails in the mail, I nearly squealed. Maryland + history + drinks - it is so full of things I love to read and think about. The section on Southsides, alone, is worth the price of the book. Really, it's fantastic - well-researched and super interesting and engaging. I love it.

This past weekend, after a long, nearly beer-less winter, I got back on the summer brew train. While the Labbatt Shandy cans that Alicia brought us from Keuka were slightly disappointing (they just didn't have much flavor - unlike Labbatt's Blue Light Lime, which is magical), we discovered that Leinenkugel's newish Grapefruit Shandy is FANTASTIC. Seriously. I wish I was drinking one right now.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Red, White and Blue Lemonade for the Summer


Every year, as we gear up for our annual friends' trip to Duck, each member of the group picks a summer song. It's a huge production, with lots of emailing and back and forth, and at the end, Alicia makes a mix that we listen to over and over for the rest of the summer.

This year, Cooper's song is "American Kids" by Kenny Chesney. It is bouncy and summery...plus it includes a line about a shotgun lever-action rifle. Cooper likes shotguns guns. (Side note: Cooper likes guns enough that he emailed me to clarify that the gun mentioned is not, in fact, a shotgun.)

A few weeks ago, just as Cooper was choosing his song, I got an email from the PR company that reps Blue Chair Bay - Kenny Chesney's rum brand (and the official sponsor of No Shoes Nation). Did I want them to send me some rum, so I could make up a cocktail, and write about it, in the days before KC's concert at Merriweather? Why yes, yes I did.

The concert - Kenny Chesney + Jake Owen - is on Wednesday, May 27th. And the drink? Inspired by "American Kids," it's called Red, White and Blue Lemonade...and it is pretty, pretty, pretty good. Here's how to make it:


Red, White and Blue Lemonade
Yields 1 drink

3 ounces Blue Chair Bay white rum (the white)
2 tablespoons blueberry syrup (see below) (the blue)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons mint simple syrup (use this recipe)
Sparkling water
Strawberries for garnish (the red)

To make the blueberry syrup:
Combine 1 pint of blueberries, 1 tablespoon of sugar and 1/3 cup of water in a saucepan over medium-high heat.

Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring and mashing the berries as they pop. Cook, continuing to stir, until the mixture is reduced about halfway (about 6-8 minutes).

Let the mixture cool a bit then place in a blender and puree. Refrigerate before using.

To make the drink:
Fill a pint glass with ice. Add the rum, blueberry syrup, lemon juice and mint syrup. Fill the rest of the glass with fizzy water, then pour from one glass to another, to mix.

Garnish with a strawberry and you are ready to drink!

Note: if you want a boozier drink, you could add a little more rum. Or, instead of finishing it off with sparkling water, use prosecco.

The recipe above makes one drink - but you could absolutely make pitchers of the rum-mint-blueberry-lemon juice concoction, then just add the fizzy water to the individual drinks just before serving. Though it does involve two syrups, both of them are very easy to make, I promise.

I mixed up a batch of these on Wednesday and fed them to the Bargers and Kyle. They made everyone happy:


Maggie, obviously, has the kiddie version of the cocktail - Dixon helped with those. We replaced the rum and the sparkling water with a healthy pour of Sprite.

So there it is - the American Kids/Kenny Chesney/Red, White and Blue Lemonade cocktail. If that doesn't make you want to make out on some living room couches, I don't know what will.

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