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Cocktails

Get Hit With A Minty Snowball!

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One sip of this eye-catching cocktail and you won’t mind sipping a little faster! Served in a ball of ice on a stainless martini glass, it’s a chillingly delicious white chocolate liqueur with a crisp touch of mint vodka. Almond milk gives it a smooth, creamy finish.

Sometimes, what you put your drink IN is as important as what you put IN your drink. In the case of these snowball cocktails, you really can’t get much more wow factor than this!

A note: make your first attempt at these ice balls a few days ahead of your party so you’re sure you’ve got it down. They’ll stay in the freezer until you need them. Try a practice drink a couple days before so you’re confident!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

Ice Balls: (make these in advance) Small balloons (ones that, when filled with water, would be roughly five inches around. Directions below.)

(Common sense caution: please note that people with an allergy to latex should not consume drinks that have come into contact with some types of balloons. Always make sure to ask your guests if they have any allergies to latex if you serve this coctkail.)

Stainless Steel Martini glasses for serving (and freezing the ice balls)

A Funnel for pouring the pre-mixed drink into the ice ball.

Straws

White Chocolate Liqueur (I used Godiva)

Peppermint Vodka (I used Smirnoff. If you can’t find peppermint vodka you can use peppermint Schnapps)

Vanilla Flavored Almond Milk

Rosemary, as a garnish

A colorful straw. (I like a red and white striped one to remind folks that it’s minty holiday peppermint stick goodness!

WHAT YOU DO: A DAY OR MORE IN ADVANCE: A few days before you plan to serve, clear some space in your freezer. You’ll want enough room to freeze your water balloon right on top of a martini glass in the freezer.

FILL your balloons with water until they are four inches around. (They will expand as they freeze.)

PLACE each balloon on its own martini glass and set in the freezer. (You can always do one or two at a time if you can’t do them all at once.)

WAIT at least three hours… Then carefully check the condition of the ice forming in the balloons every hour or so. Depending on your freezer, its temperature, and the amount of water in the balloons, the timing can really vary. The tops of the balloons generally don’t freeze as fast, so as the bottoms and sides start to solidify you’ll actually be able to press against the top and feel the inside to see how thick the ice is. You want the ice ball sides to be at least 1/2 inch thick, so they don’t crack and melt immediately after you pour in your drink. It took my balloons SIX HOURS to reach this point. At this stage, your balloons will feel solid on the outside, but have visible liquid on the inside.

WHEN THE BALLOONS REACH the point where the ice is about 1/2 inch thick, carefully cut the top of the balloon so you can empty out remaining water, leaving a hollow ice ball. (If the top of your balloon ice is slightly frozen over, (as some of mine were) use a metal drink stirrer or tip of a utensil to lightly tap a hole into it. (Heating the tip of the stirrer if necessary.) The balloons are now formed to the shape of the martini glass on the bottom, so you can pull them off the glass if you need the space.

PUT THE BALLOON ICE BALLS back in the freezer. They will have gotten slightly wet and the insides can refreeze, now hollow, and be ready for when your guests arrive. (I have even left the balloons still on them, tips cut off but the rest remaining – just to protect them until the very last minute.)

ON THE DAY OF YOUR PARTY… MAKE YOUR DRINK!

KEEP THE ICE BALLS IN THE FREEZER WHILE YOU MAKE THE DRINK. KEEP THE ICE AS FROZEN AS POSSIBLE UNTIL SERVING.

If you haven’t already, remove the balloon, place the ice ball back onto your martini glass. (OPTIONAL: To emphasize a snowball effect, you can put a ‘bed’ of shredded coconut onto the glass too.) Keep the ice ball in the freezer until the last minute.

In a shaker or glass, combine:

2 ounces White Chocolate Liqueur

1 ounce peppermint vodka

6 ounces vanilla flavored almond milk

Stir the above ingredients, then gently funnel your drink into the ice ball. (THE COOLER THIS DRINK IS BEFORE YOU PUT IT INTO THE ICE BALL THE BETTER – IT PREVENTS CRACKING!) Garnish with a sprig of rosemary and serve with a straw. (You may need to cut the straw shorter so it stays put!)

 

Note: you’d be surprised to see how long an ice ball will last – your guest may get another round out of one ball – but keep in mind that they don’t last forever and shouldn’t be left unattended if you’re worried about melting liquids. That said, everyone who gets one is pretty well aware of how ice works! They’ll be sure to drink it right up!

 

 

For more cocktails, pop culture and more, follow @BrianBalthazar on twitter!

Cocktails

Six Easy Drink Garnishes Your Guests Will Love

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Garnishes are the ‘jewelry’ of a drink – they help make a statement, but a little can go a long way. 

Here are some easy-to-do accents for any beverage you’re serving.

ROSEMARY SKEWERED PEACH

When I look for rosemary at the grocery store, I always seek out the longest spears possible. (Even better, plant it in your yard! It smells amazing and grows to be sturdy and plentify.) In the case of this peach bellini mocktail, I used a chopstick to poke a small hole in a peach or nectarine slice, and pull the rosemary through! It always draws a gasp from anyone who grabs a glass.

APPLES, SLICED, SKEWERED AND SWIRLED

This is so easy. With the help of a skewer, just a simple twist of stacked apples turns into something simple, delicious and eye catching.

EDIBLE FLOWERS, TWO WAYS

Edible flowers can be bought online or at some grocery stores (I often see them in the herb section at whole foods.) Don’t by them from the flower section, as they often have insecticides on them.

Once you find them, drizzling a few on top (don’t overdo it – they’re more attractive than they are flavorfulor poking through a piece of dried fruit can take your drink to the next level! (Or, buy edible food glue (bake shops and amazon) and attach them to the rim or the fruit directly. In one case here, the drink is further enhanced with a crushed candy powder rim. The second drink, below is from Domingo in San Antonio, and it’s a delicious combo of tamarind soda, tequila, and more.


CUKES AND CUBES

When I really wanted to take spa water to the next level, I decided to cut a cucumber into squares, hence the name ‘cuke cubes’. But the simple stunner here is when you take an english cucumber (they’re long and wrapped in plastic at the store because their thing is skin and delicate – and use a vegetable peeler to create a long strip. Layer into a scroll and skewer it… carefully unfold it a bit and you’ve got an eye catching garnish!

HERB IT UP

There’s something beautiful about a sprig of a dry herb resting on a cocktail glass. In this case, thai basil, but a sprig of lavender or thyme also look distinctive resting on top of a foamy drink, plus a slice of lime, takes the drink to the next level. In this case, a partially salted rim rounds out the flavor profile. This cocktail is from the Weho Bistro and I won’t soon forget it.

I hope a few of these inspire you to try something new with your mocktails and cocktails!

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Cocktails

The Smoky Paloma Is My Go-To Drink of Summer, Fall, and Beyond.

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To me, this tops a margarita.

Whenever I step up to a bar, I immediately ask if they have mezcal. If the answer is yes, that’s where the fun begins.

Mezcal is made from agave. Where tequila is only made from BLUE agave, mezcal benefits from a broader range of agave, (plus its traditional preparation in small batches) it’s the smoky flavor that really makes this a standout.

According to Wikipedia: “The process begins by harvesting the plants, which can weigh 40 kg each, extracting the piña, or heart, by cutting off the plant’s leaves and roots.[12] The piñas are then cooked for about three days, often in pit ovens, which are earthen mounds over pits of hot rocks. This underground roasting gives mezcal its intense and distinctive smoky flavor.”

But let’s not get lost in science – let’s get drinking!

While better bars are now designing mezcal cocktails on their menus, essentially, I will ask them to replace tequila in any cocktail and replace it with mezcal. To me, the smokiness is THAT GOOD.

When I stepped into WeHo Bistro in West Hollywood, bartender Chase (@WolfStroganoff on insta) hooked me up with the best Mezcal Paloma I’ve had in recent memory. I drink enough that recent memory can be a very short amount of time, 😉 but it really was spectacular.

Here’s how he made it with the tweaks of mezcal instead of tequila and salt at my request:

2 ounces mezcal

1 ounce grapefruit juice

1 ounce lime juice

1/2 ounce simple syrup

At my request, salt.

Cuz WeHo Bistro is classy like that, an edible flower gets smacked right on top of it .

Cmon that thing is gorgeous.

The drink is one that’s easy to make at home, summery, fresh and crisp, and the smokiness makes it equally great in fall and winter.

Try it out!

Also try the WeHo bistro because that Greek Salad I had was crazy good.

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Cocktails

FALL FOR THIS: A Maple Bourbon Ginger Splash

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If you enter the fall season kicking and screaming, this drink may help. I get it, summer is a blast, but autumn is great too. This cocktail combines some of my favorite flavors: bourbon, maple, and ginger.

Before you get all weird about using Maple Syrup in your drink, remember that tons of drinks use simple syrup – essentially, liquid sugar – so this is no different, but doubly delicious.

Here’s how to make it yourself: (makes one cocktail, get ready to double it because you’ll want to share one with a friend!)

Enjoy! Hope you like it!

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