Five Cocktails to Get You Through a California “Winter”

Drink.
Spirit. 
Brew. 
Booze. 
Refreshment. 
Libation.
Cocktail. 
Intoxicant. 
Mixer.
Hooch.
Moonshine.
Elixir. 
Cure. 
Savior. 
Courage. 
Alcohol - the respected and highly valued liquid that’s been giving us hangovers since the dawn of mankind. I’m currently drinking the classic Gin & Tonic, but you, you may be leaning more toward a frothy Piña Colada, a crisp glass of Pinot Grigio, or the distinct taste of a lukewarm Natty Ice, half-filled at the bottom of the game winning cup in beer pong. No matter the choice, the curious nectar that has been banned, worshipped, and brewed in back alley bathtubs is good in my eyes. So, cheers to you and yours, and enjoy these five cocktail recipes that I’ve added a little RG spin to - hopefully they get you through this brutal California "winter."

The Cersei Lannister

Inspired by the unusual rainy weather we’ve been experiencing here in Southern California, this cocktail is meant to warm your cold, cold heart. Or, you know, to spice up the usual glass of “insert any red wine varietal here” that you have every night, and to be super cozy by the fire. Makes one serving. 

Ingredients:

  • 3 oz. Red Wine - any will do. You’re pretty much making a mulled wine here, so don’t throw the big bucks at this bottle. I prefer a slightly tarter, fruitier wine for this, like a Beaujolais, as you’ll be adding some sweeter components. 
  • 1 oz. Brandy - again, any will do. I used St. Rémy VSOP. 
  • ½ oz. Orange Juice
  • 2 oz. Apple Cider
  • 2 Cinnamon Sticks (one for recipe, one for garnish)
  • 5 Cloves (whole)
  • 1 Anise (whole star-shaped thing) 

What to do:

  • Throw everything except the Orange Juice and Apple Cider into a small pot, stir, and bring to a simmer. 
  • Cut the heat and add the Orange Juice and Apple Cider. 
  • Strain and pour into a mug or a glass that can handle heat. 
  • Garnish with cinnamon stick

This also works well in large batches. Do the maths to make it big, then follow the same instructions. I believe in you. You can do it. 

 

Snoop Juice

Not gonna lie, this is gin and juice. I added some mint. Next version I’ll work on adding some “hemp” infused simple syrup, but I’ve got to wait for California to make it official official before doing that. Cool lesson though - when in doubt, add mint. Works for a lot of things, not just cocktails. Bad breath? Add mint. Bland Chocolate Chip Ice Cream? Add mint. See what I mean?

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz. Gin - I used Tanqueray, but any gin will do. 
  • 2 oz. Orange Juice
  • 5 Mint Leaves
  • A few more mint leaves for garnish

What do do:

  • Put mint leaves in a drink shaker and muddle them until fragrant. 
  • Add some ice, gin, and orange juice. 
  • Shake it a lot. This is best done to any and all Snoop songs - dealer’s choice. 
  • Pour and serve in martini-ish glass and garnish with mint. 
  • Continue to listen to Snoop
 

The Dude Abides

Another hot one for those cold nights that seem to keep creeping up on us. This is a take on a White Russian, except, well, it’s hot. I think The Dude would abide, but hey, that’s just, like, my opinion, man.

Ingredients:

  • 4 oz. Coffee - if you’re like me, you always have extra coffee in the morning, which is great  for this cocktail. No, I’m not saying I make this in the morning and head to work. But I am saying that I do this on a Saturday and Sunday. Or, anytime during the week once I’m home from work, you animals. 
  • 2 oz. Heavy Cream
  • 2 oz. Vodka
  • 2 oz. Kahlua
  • Optional - whip cream on top. Honestly, this makes it, especially if you have your own nitrous oxide whip creamer that you can add heavy cream and brandy to to make this extra sweet and boozy. 

What to do:

  • Add everything to a pot and bring to light boil. 
  • Remove from heat and serve in a giant mug of coziness.
  • Add that whip cream, duderino. 
 

Parks and Rec

I couldn’t just make a Ron Swanson (any reasonably aged brown liquor in a glass) and consider it a cocktail worthy of this post. So I decided to add some other awesome ingredients and call it a Parks and Rec, first, because I love that show, and second, because you can make bigger batches of this and take it on the go for some good wholesome outdoor day drinking. Baba Booey. 

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz. Bourbon (from Indiana, if possible, because Pawnee, duh)
  • 4 tsps. ginger-pear simple syrup (litrally, the recipe is below)
  • ½ oz. lemon juice
  • 5 small pear slices (like the size of a quarter) for muddling
  • 3 small, peeled ginger slices (same as your quarter like pear slices) for muddling
  • 1 thin pear slice for garnish
  • Lemon twist for garnish

What to do:

  • Add the simple syrup to a drink shaker. 
  • Add the ginger and pear slices that are for muddling and muddle away. 
  • Add ice to shaker
  • Add bourbon and lemon juice and shake vigorously
  • Pour and serve in a bucket glass over ice
  • Garnish with pear and lemon twist, because TREAT YO SELF.
 

Stone Groove

I’m not sure if I have this authority, but I am going to use AU & Co.’s blog name for a cocktail I just made up (patent pending). The light, flirty color of the Stone Groove cocktail, would look at home in the hand of any badass babe wearing the Joanne. This cocktail is made from home-grown products, just like every piece in the AU collection. Go on, get a little taste of AU!

Ingredients: 

  • 2 oz. Vodka
  • 2 oz. Grapefruit juice
  • 3 tsp. Grapefruit-rosemary simple syrup (recipe below)
  • 2 Rosemary stems (1 for muddling, 1 for garnish)
  • 3 Grapefruit twists (for muddling)

What to do:

  • Add simple syrup, rosemary (for muddling), and grapefruit twists (for muddling) into drink shaker and muddle. 
  • Add ice, vodka, and grapefruit juice and shake vigorously. 
  • Pour and strain into bucket glass over ice (definitely strain, the rosemary breaks up and you won’t want those little chunkies in there).
 

Simple Syrups

The “Parks and Rec” and “A Stone Groove” cocktails are a little more labor intensive to make because of the infused simple syrups. Don’t worry it’s called simple syrup because it’s...simple. 

To make simple syrup, you just need equal parts regular, granulated cane sugar and water. For example, one cup of sugar with one cup of water. That’s it. Now, this doesn’t make 2 cups of syrup - the sugar dissolves, so it turns out to be about a cup and a half total. I didn’t need that much for my recipe, so I used 4 oz mason jars, and filled them about ¾ of the way with sugar and water - equal parts. 

What to do for basic Simple Syrup:

  • Combine the sugar and water in a pot at medium-low heat (don’t boil).
  • Stir until sugar is dissolved and water is clear and thicker (like a syrup...see what I did there?)
  • Put in container and let refrigerate until cool.

This is simple syrup in it’s basic form. You can make this and keep it refrigerated in a mason jar or other airtight container for about two weeks.

What to do for infused Simple Syrup:

  • Same as above, but add the ingredients that you want to infuse to the pot, and stir for 2-3 more minutes. Again, don’t boil. 
  • Put in container and let refrigerate until cool. Leave the ingredients in while it cools and remains in the fridge - it will continue to add flavor. 

For Grapefruit-rosemary simple syrup:

  • You guessed it - toss it in. Be sure to use just grapefruit peel, and not the juice. 

For Ginger-pear Simple Syrup:

  • Yes - sliced pear and peeled fresh ginger.

Hope you all enjoy the banter and cocktails, and remember, drink responsibly. 

Vibe on, 

RG