Browsing articles in "Cocktails + Drinks"
Apr 4, 2012

Wine for $4? La Finca all the way!

I threw a small dinner party last Friday night for some friends from college. It was a mini reunion filled with laughs and good times. I traditionally like serving a special cocktail, but time got the best of me. So, I decided to serve red wine and beer. We got a 24-bottle case of Yuengling for only $17 at Costco. Cheap, huh?! And for wine, I also went cheap, but still delicious. The average price for a bottle of wine is probably around $12. Well, $12 is too much for my pocket especially when you have to buy several. I recommend going to your nearest Trader Joe’s and picking up a few bottles of La Finca.

There are three types of La Finca red at Trader Joe’s — Cabernet Souvignon, Malbec and Tempranillo. I’ve sampled each one and I usually go for the Cab and Malbec. Mind you, it’s still a $4 bottle. So don’t expect this to be the best wine you’ve ever drank. It’s good because it’s cheap and sometimes, that’s good enough for me. The flavors are not bad at all, not as full-bodied as I like, but hey, it’s still pretty tasty.

This has been my wine of choice for dinner parties lately. Never disappoints. Whether you go with La Finca or another drinkable wine at Trader Joe’s, I say $4 for a bottle of wine is the way to go. People don’t even notice after their third glass…ha. It’s true! Anyways, lets hear from you. What’s your favorite super cheap wine and where can I get it?


Jan 17, 2012

Recipe for: Ginger + Lemon Cocktail

FROM THE KITCHEN OF: Isabel Canfield
TOTAL TIME: 15-20 minutes to prep
1/2 cup simple syrup, enough for 10 or so cocktails

I love me some vodka soda when I go out to happy hour. I probably drink more than I should, but to me, vodka soda goes down like water. I thought this would be the perfect drink to add some distinct flavors since the rail itself is rather flavorless.

I was practically bored out of my mind Saturday afternoon so I decided to have some fun at home concocting a new cocktail. I scanned my fridge and found two very flavorful items — ginger and lemons. I pulled out the Smirnoff vodka and sugar from my pantry. And the rest was history. I made a simple syrup and infused it with slices of ginger and lemon zest grated with my Microplane. I allowed it to simmer for 15 minutes on low and added it to my vodka soda. This cocktail transformed my every day ordinary vodka soda to something a little more special and flavorful. It was spicy, tart and sweet. I had three that afternoon :)

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
3 slices fresh peeled ginger
zest of 1/2 a lemon
club soda

1. Start simple syrup. Simple syrup is literally 1 part sugar to 1 part water. Heat a small saucepan over low temperature. Add the sugar and water, and stir gently.

2. Add ginger and lemon zest. As the sugar dissolves, add the zest and ginger slices to the simple syrup. Allow it to heat over low temperature for 15 minutes. Stir continuously to prevent burning. The juices of the lemon and ginger infuse the syrup over time. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Discard the ginger slices.

3. Make the cocktail. In a cocktail glass, add a handful of ice. Pour 1 tablespoon of the ginger and lemon simple syrup over the ice. Pour one shot of vodka, or more if you wish, and top with club soda. Stir and squeeze a wedge of lime.

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Dec 7, 2011

Recipe for: Frozen Strawberries

FROM THE KITCHEN OF: Isabel Canfield
TOTAL TIME: 5 min to prep, 24 hrs to freeze
as much as you cut!

Prosecco is fabulous Italian wine that I love to drink on a hot summer day or even for a special occasion, such as a baby shower. We served Processo instead of champagne during my sister’s baby shower for the main reason that it normally doesn’t give me a headache the next day. Unfortunately for me, I drank too much during the shower and got a headache. Apparently, I never learn. Haha. With the Prosecco though, we served orange juice so guests can make mimosas. I also provided these frozen strawberries as a way to keep the drink chill while you mingle with friends. It doesn’t water-down the cocktail and becomes a nice little treat to eat at the very end.

1 large container of fresh strawberries

1. Rinse and cut strawberries. Rinse the strawberries under cold water and pat them dry. Slice the small strawberries in half and quarter the larger strawberries. Arrange the cut strawberries in a single layer on paper towel.

2. Place in a freezer bag. Carefully place the strawberries with the paper towel in a zip lock freezer bag. Seal the bag tightly removing most of the air. Lay the sealed bag flat in the freezer overnight.

3. Add to drinks. Just before your party begins, take the bag out of the freezer and place the strawberries in a nice serving bowl or container. Guests can add the frozen strawberries to their champagne or Processco keeping their drink chill. Surprisingly, the strawberries keeps fairly frozen for a while just sitting out.

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Sep 21, 2011

Recipe for: Raspberry Champagne Mojito

FROM THE KITCHEN OF: Isabel Canfield
TOTAL TIME: 2-3 minutes to make 2 drinks
2 drinks at a time

Anyone that knows Jared and I, know that we both love to drink. Maybe more so me than him :) For being a petite person, I can definitely drink my fair share. Jared usually sticks with his beers, which I normally do too, but every now and again I do like a girly drink. This drink in particular, I think, is very girly. A good friend of ours, Rachel, sent me this link for a Raspberry Champagne Mojito. What’s not to love about this recipe? So, she came over and brought the rum, while I had all the other ingredients. The only thing we didn’t included was the raspberry liquor, which the original recipe called for. We just didn’t think it was worth the money so we omitted it. Either way, this drink was super strong and very refreshing. The raspberries and lemon were a classic pairing. The rum and champagne in this drink was a deadly combination. After drinking a few of these pretty pink drinks, the liquor definitely snuck up on me, so be aware!

1/2 lemon, cut into four pieces
3 teaspoons sugar
6-8 mint leaves
6 raspberries
3 ounces white rum

1. Combine lemon, sugar and mint. In a cocktail shaker, add the lemon, sugar and mint. Muddle the ingredients until the sugar is dissolved and the lemon has released its juices.

I recently purchased my muddler at Sur La Table for $14.99. If you don’t have one, I did use the back end of my ice cream scooper. Worked like a charm until the metal finish started peeling off…yikes.

2. Add raspberries. Add the raspberries to the mix and crush them gently.

3. Add vodka and ice. Afterwards, add the vodka and a handful or two of ice. Cover the cocktail shaker with the lid and shake it like a polaroid picture until everything is nicely combined and cold.

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Sep 6, 2011

Recipe for: Thai Iced Tea

FROM THE KITCHEN OF: Isabel Canfield
TOTAL TIME: 20 minutes
about 8 servings for small glasses, 4 servings for large glasses

Every time my sisters and I go out for Thai food, we each order a Thai iced tea. However, at $3 a glass and no free refills, it does add up. So, we found the best way to have Thai iced tea anytime we want without costing us a fortune. It’s really quite simple. Go to your nearest Asian market, if you live in Richmond go to Tan-A-supermarket, and pick up one of these packages for Authentic Thai Iced Tea. It comes with about 2 cups of flavored black tea and a reusable tea filter. This package only sets you back about $5 for pitchers and pitchers of Thai tea. For this recipe, we used 2% milk. Traditional, I think condensed milk or evaporated milk are commonly used. However, I think this is just as good!

4 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 thai tea

1. Boil water + measure tea. Bring to a boil 4 cups of water and then add the tea to the filter that comes with the packaging.

2. Steep tea. Once the water is hot, place the tea filter in the water. Let the tea brew for about 5 minutes once the water turns orange.

3. Add the sweetener. Remove the tea filter and use a spoon to push against the tea to get all the flavors out. Add the sweetener and stir until sugar is dissolved. Place the tea in a pitcher and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

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