The Pearl Cocktail

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Cheers to Easter weekend! Despite the increasing maturity of my peeps, now 17 and 14, I couldn’t resist shopping for their Easter baskets this week. Who doesn’t want to wake-up on Easter morning to jelly beans, Reese’s peanut butter eggs, chocolate bunnies and special gifts. I know I’m not alone in recalling how my son was once horrified by the idea of a giant white fluffy bunny hopping through our home in the night. We have moved beyond the egg dying, egghunts and pictures with the Easter bunny which means that Easter Sunday is now a bit more relaxed.

And while I am nostalgic about those early kid days, the upside is that the pace is much less frenetic and we are able to enjoy holiday meals and time spent together and, of course, the holiday cocktail hour (for the adults). I found this recipe in a local culinary magazine and thought it was the perfect Easter creation with shades of lavender and the sugared candy rim. It seems like a perfectly perfect cocktail to sip on this Easter weekend.

Simple ingredients on display

Simple ingredients on display

The ingredients are simple and look inviting displayed on a silver tray. Be sure to have a crushed bucket of ice on hand, a crisp white linen towel for any spills and a silver cocktail shaker.

Ingredients
1 1/2oz Grey Goose La Poire Vodka
2 lemon wedges
1/4 oz Creme de Violette
1 oz Piper-Heidsieck Champagne
Fresh mint

Instructions
-In a cocktail shaker combine vodka, Creme de Violette and juice from squeezed lemon wedges
-Shake vigorously with ice
-Strain into a coupe glass rimmed with turbinado sugar and top with Champagne
-Float a mint leaf on top for an extra pop of color

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This pretty cocktail was originally created in my hometown at the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel, as a Signature Anniversary drink.

cake and cocktails, american hustle style

Lead CakeWith the People’s Choice Awards just past, the Golden Globe Awards scheduled for this Sunday, and that special man “Oscar” not far behind,  Tinseltown’s Awards Season is in high gear. And with that I say, “TIME TO ENTERTAIN.” What better excuse to host a group of friends for food and drinks. One of my personal favorites nominated for “Best Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical” this year is American Hustle. You can’t beat the setting, the cast or the era – 1970’s New Jersey with Bradley Cooper in perm rods, Amy Adams as the sexy mistress and cunning business partner to the bloated, side-hair parted Christian Bale, Jennifer Lawrence as the crazy wife and Jeremy Renner, the do-gooder politician with Mob ties.

What better way to celebrate the Golden Globe Awards than with cake and cocktails. And what better representation of the 1970s than the Harvey Wallbanger. Invented in the 1950’s but wildly popular in the 1970’s, the scrumptious base of ingredients includes orange juice, Galliano, and vodka that can be easily baked into a moist and yummy cake or shaken into a crisp cocktail. My mom was over and helped me “sample” the cocktail. We laughed as she remembered the Harvey Wallbanger era and how every hostess gift she received was a bottle of Galliano because she once mentioned that she liked it at a party. The cake was devoured by my family (it goes great with fresh berries for breakfast) and the cocktail…well, that was taken care of too!

You don’t need to always feel compelled to serve a full meal. Host a fun Golden Globe Awards party or Oscars party and do a Cake and Cocktail theme, with each person bringing an item in the theme of one of the “Best Nominated Movies of the Year.” My take on American Hustle and the 1970’s is apparent…disco and gold baby!

Cake Collage Final

Harvey Wallbanger Cake
Ingredients

One package yellow cake mix (16.5 ounces)
1 (3.5 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix
4 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
5 fluid ounces Galliano liqueur
2 fluid ounces vodka
1/2 cup orange juice
1 cup confectioners’ sugar

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour one 10 inch tube/bundt pan. Combine cake mix and pudding mix in a large bowl. Blend in eggs, vegetable oil, 4 ounces Galliano, 1 ounce vodka, and 4 ounces orange juice. Mix batter until smooth and thick and pour into prepared pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Let cake cool in pan for 10 minutes then remove and place on cooling rack. Spoon glaze over cake while it is still warm.

To Make Glaze: Combine the remaining 1 ounce Galliano, 1 ounce vodka, and 1 ounce orange juice with the confectioner’s sugar and blend until smooth. Spoon glaze over warm cake.

Harvey Wallbanger Cocktail

Harvey Wallbanger Cocktail
Ingredients
3/4 oz vodka
1 1/2 oz orange juice
1/4 oz Galliano
orange slice for garnish or
maraschino cherry for garnish

Directions
Pour the vodka and orange juice into a Collins glass with ice cubes. Add the Galliano. Garnish with an orange slice or maraschino cherry.

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a classic cocktail from a page in history

Lead Willard CocktailMy girlfriend and I recently had the good fortune to accompany our husband’s on business to Washington, D.C. While they were working during the day, she and I explored the city. Located just two blocks from The White House is The Willard Hotel. It has a storied history dating back to 1820. Charles Dickens was a guest in 1842. President Franklin Pierce lived there at one time and “Mr. Lincoln’s  [temporary] White House” was used to conduct business while renovations were being completed on The White House. Ulysses S. Grant stayed at The Willard four times while in command of The Union forces in the 1870s. President Calvin Coolidge called The Willard home at one time and Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Inauguration was hosted there. Mark Twain and Walt Whitman graced the hallowed halls of The Willard Hotel. I could go on and on about this living treasure of American history that has been illuminated by luminaries for almost 200 years.

The first day in town, we strolled down Pennsylvania Avenue hoping to sink into plush high back chairs and indulge in High Tea at Peacock Alley. Unfortunately it was a Monday and High Tea is a Friday to Sunday kind of thing. So we opted for the bar instead. We were a bit early and ran into the bartender, Jim. He was an engaging man who let us bend his ear about our day’s plans. He provided suggestions for sightseeing, one of which was the original Post Office Pavilion. The building is worth the visit as the Clock Tower boasts a stunning 360 degree view of the city. Apparently, Donald Trump has acquired the building with plans to make it a grand hotel and city center for political events.

Round Robin Collage

After a few hours touring the sights, I dragged my girlfriend back to the Round Robin Bar. Very early afternoon is fine for cocktails, right???? There were two other patrons in the bar which validated that we do NOT have a problem. We talked to Jim a bit more and learned that he has been working at the Round Robin Bar for 27 years. Jim Hewes has been written up many times over the years and has a drink to represent each of our 44 presidents (he put his own twist on the Blue Hawaiian to represent our current president). Imagine the people, the political deals and the history that have graced the Mahagony Walls of that bar. Kentucky Senator Henry Clay was visiting Washington, D.C., in the Eighteenth Century when he originated the Southern Mint Julep at the Round Robin Bar. Chocked full of fresh mint, powdered sugar and Maker’s Mark Bourbon, it is not for a weak palette. I tried Jim’s recommendation, The Willard Cocktail. I figured it was a true classic made by the man who created it. He gave me the recipe which you will find below.

Ingredients
1 part Gin
1 part Apricot Brandy
A dash of fresh lime juice
A dash of Rose’s fresh lime juice
A dash of Triple Sec

Directions
Add all ingredients to a shaker filled with ice. Shake and pour into a martini glass. Garnish with a cherry, lemon peel and a lime wedge.

The Willard collage

If you visit Washington, D.C., you must visit The Willard Hotel, The Round Robin Bar and the affable Jim Hewes. The magic is in the history and all who carry its torch – past, present and future.