Tag Archives: cocktails

Today’s Vegan MOFO prompt is about secret ingredients. And since we are doing cakes and cocktails, I think it is worth talking about the secret ingredients of booze. See alcoholic drinks don’t have the same standards as regular food. They don’t need to list their ingredients, and many places hide their recipes keeping them very secret for hundreds of years.

So making a cocktail vegan is more tricky than what you might think. I made a list of common hidden ingredients for cocktails, liquors, beers, and wines. Some are more common than others, and it worth noting that there is a lot of animals stuck into a vodka bottle. Always check with the site Barnivore to see if they are vegan, or if they aren’t listed, contact the companies one on one.

Honey

If you are a ren-fair fan you probably know about mead. It is a really old drink that is made from adding water to honey, and letting it ferment. I use to make it, and boy is it friggin easy. So far there isn’t any “vegan mead” but that is something I’ve always wanted to try out. One day right?

But honey gets hidden in a lot of drinks. Sometimes in cocktails as an ingredients (you can easily swap out simple syrup or something similar) or they are used in brewing beers. They are often found added to liquors, or more tricky- used as the main ingredient for fermentation for things like vodka or herbal liquors.

Milk

It seems kind of gross. I mean, if you are vegan for a long time that is. Milk is used in two ways- beer and liquors. In beer you have two main styles that use it- cream ales and milk stouts. Milk stouts are defined by their use of lactose sugars, but cream ale refers to the color of ale. But many companies like to add lactose to the brew, just like Forgotten Boardwalk‘s cream ale. Just quickly look at Barnivore to see if you are cleared to drink the cream ale.

Then you have cocktails and liquors. Clearly you can just sub cream or milk in a cocktail to a vegan cream or a vegan milk. But here is the tricky part about liquors. “Creme de…” doesn’t mean that liquor will have dairy! Back in the day, “creme de” was a way to describe a sweet liquor. The name came about because the liquor was so smooth from the sugar that is was creamy. Examples would be creme de violette and creme de menthe. That being said, cream is often used in liquors. The most well known one is Bailey’s, which they have released a vegan version to use. The easiest rule of thumb is if the drink is cloudy/opaque then it probably has cream/milk.

Bugs

Many vegans may already know about the cochineal bug, and how humans like to use them for red dyes. They are often found in liquors, especially amari.

There has been actual bugs tossed in booze. We all know about the worm at the bottom of a tequila bottle. Let me tell you, even if you aren’t vegan, don’t buy any bottles with worms on the bottom. It just add a little wormy flavor to it. There are some drinks with bees in them. There is a super rare liquor in Japan that has giant hornets in it, supposedly with medical benefits. And there is a practice of putting bees in mead while fermenting to add some tannins, but this is an old practice that isn’t really done anymore.

Eggs

Yes, another weirdo ingredient for booze. It makes sense, really. Alcohol keeps things preserved. Most animal products are easily perishable. Cocktails that use eggs like eggnog (and the many similar variations around the world) were made in the winter so it could sit and sit and sit and not spoil. Back in the olden days, you could easily find eggs in beer but no real specific styles came from it. People also use to drink beer with a raw egg cracked into it. There is also a liquor called Advocaat, which is made from eggs, it also shows up in The Shining!

But you see eggs mostly in cocktails. Yes, we mentioned winter egg drinks like eggnogs, but you mostly see them in as egg whites to create some bubbles. Many people are starting to use aquafaba to get those lovely foam going, heck I’ve even tried it out with my pink lady cocktail. It is easy to take out of a cocktail, but it won’t have the same texture.

Oysters

I have a confession. I really miss oysters in my booze. No I am not talking about those crazy bloody mary’s adorned by a whole salad bar. I am talking about Oyster Stouts. Yes, there is a beer made with oysters and I haven’t had a stout with the same salty-umami-ness. These are luckily- pretty easy to spot. They are usually advertised as such.

Again, cocktails love oysters. Or rather the juicy-brine. Be warey of cocktails that use clamato juice (mixed in beers, and bloody mary like drinks). Sometimes the simple brine is used, which just the other day my Mother was talking about a drink where it is just oyster brine and a liquor.

Beef Broth & Worcestershire Sauce

I hope I am not grossing you out. Truthfully I love savory cocktails, sadly there aren’t many VEGAN savory cocktails. Luckily beef broth isn’t super popular in cocktails. You probably won’t pass many bars that have it, just the super hipster ones.

Worcestershire sauce is MUCH more common. It is found in the classic Bloody Mary. What the heck is in Worcestershire Sauce that isn’t vegan? Anchovies. Bummer. But you can easily find vegan version of worcestershire sauce, and hell, a bloody mary will taste better when you make it at home than in a restaurant (they are almost always using a mix)

MEAT!

I’ve heard horror stories of vegans carefully asking about the bloody mary containing Worcestershire sauce, and end up with a worcestershire free bloody mary topped with strips of bacon. Ouch. But I am not talking about that. I am talking about MEAT IN YOUR BOOZE!

Okay don’t panic. You are 99.9% in the clear. I just know of two cases in modern booze making. Back in colonial America everything was tossed into beer, including meat. Mystic Brewery is testing old American recipes, which means they’ve tried some of those meaty recipes. If you ever visit, a quick mention of your veganism will help steer you clear of these brews. Then there is one mezcal brewery that uses a dead chicken while the mezcal ages. I mean, like a raw chicken sitting in the same room. So technically it is vegan since the chicken isn’t IN the mezcal. Needless to say both of these aren’t easy to find so you are pretty much good.

So what is the culprit in this drink? Well it is honey. I like using hard ginger ale because the liquor in the drink is amaretto, which is a fairly low ABV. But the most popular brands of hard ginger ale use honey.

The good news? Henry’s Hard Sodas are all vegan! The bad news? They are owned by Miller Coors. Womp womp. What can one do? If you don’t drink much, feel free to just use regular old ginger ale! 

As for amarettos, most are vegan. Use barnivore to double check, but I used Di Amore Amaretto. It gets decent ratings, and it is cheap as fuck. I think I paid $12-15 for a bottle, and the mainstream Disaranno is a much higher $25. Ratings are about the same. But it is vegan so if you have mucho cash- GO FOR IT!

Know of any other weirdo ingredients in your booze?

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Today’s prompt is “go to gadget,” and that would be my cocktail shaker! Okay it isn’t. But I sure love my shaker. It is so shiny and pretty, and despite reviews, I don’t have problems with leaking. It is a pretty big shaker, making it great for mixing drinks that go into high ball glasses, or mixing up several drinks at once.

But this drink I am sharing today I call the Cherry Cherry. I name it as such because it has cherries in it, and I like the song by the artist Chara. The cherry really is the star of this cocktail.

I had some sweet pickled cherries that my husband got me for Christmas. I LOVE them. They are much more acidic than traditional maraschino cherries, and much smaller. These cherries were bought from my local CSA, so it isn’t like I can just send you a link to buy them. But you can make your own pickled cherries, and it looks like Punk Domestics have many links to pickled cherry recipes. Need to buy some? That’s okay. You can use maraschino if you are in a jam. But these Woodford Reserve cherries look dreamy to me.

So what booze to buy? Most amarettos are vegan. I went with di Amore Amaretto. It is cheap and vegan. I used Kammer Obstler’s pear-apple eau de vie. I actually do not know if it is 100% vegan. If you are wondering eau de vie is a type of clear fruit wine, usually made from fruit other than grapes.

There aren’t many eau de vie listed on Barnivore, and it isn’t that common of a drink in the USA, you can use apple brandy or pear brandy (or a mix of both) if you are in a jam. I would recommend the peach brandy from KOVAL because it is vegan and the bottle is super pretty.

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Vedge

1221 Locust Street, Philadelphia 19107
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It’s finally happened- I’ve eaten at the legendary Vedge restaurant! The spot is known as a major restaurant to check out for any foodie when in Philadelphia – omni, vegetarian, or vegan. It has taken me so long to write this post- 2 months! There is just so much to talk about. The history of the restaurant, building, chefs, and naturally the food. When we went we pretty much ordered everything from the menu (No- really). The meals are sold as small plates, and are suggested you get three plates per person. Each section has 5 dishes to choose from, and we had 4 people altogether. It was easier to choose what we weren’t going to order, but before I get ahead of myself let’s talk about the history.

Vedge opened up in 2011 with Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby. The co-owner Rich Landau has reached a minor celebrity chef status, being featured in many interviews, owning several restaurants, and even being featured on Chopped (and won!) Landau and Jacoby have shaped Philadelphia’s vegan food scene, expanding it from it’s punk and religious background. They opened up V Street, a tapas bar, and Wiz Kid, a fast food cheesesteak shop. Nicole Marquis was an employee at Vedge, and has expanded the vegan high end dining experience by opening up Bar Bonbon, Charlie was a Sinner, and HipCityVeg. Just type in “best of philadelphia” and Vedge will appear in many different articles. There isn’t much debate- Vedge is one of the best restaurants in the entire city.

If you aren’t much for “fancy” food, then grab a drink or dessert at the bar to appreciate the architecture. The building was designed by the legendary Frank Furness. He designed over 600 buildings during the Victorian era. Most of his buildings are in the Philadelphia area, and many were destroyed. But this row home has managed to survive, and it really gives a fun layout for a restaurant. When you first walk up the steps it doesn’t feel like you are going into the right building. Surely you are walking into someone’s apartment? Once you open the doors you make it to the bar area and are quickly greeted by the hostess. There is a dining room in the front of the building and one in the back, we were seated in the front, giving lots of light at the beginning of the meal for photographs. Whoo!

Thinking about visiting? Here are some things to keep in mind. One is that everything I’ve written below is subject to change, in fact, their menu changes daily. Not joking. Part of this is because they try and truly stick with seasonal produce. The waiter said there are staples to the menu, or there are some things that simply get modified. For example the radishes seem to be available year round, but the choice of radishes change according to the season. So this menu is the 2017 spring/summer menu.

Also make a reservation — now! Yes I mean now! Open a new tab, google their number, and call! They book months ahead of time for weekend dinners. My sister tried to make reservations for my birthday, and they were booked. Last year my parents in law tried to take us out to dinner but they were booked. But if you are going to be able to dine during the week- you will probably have a much better chance of snagging a table. Even still, if you don’t mind sometimes they will let you eat at the bar without reservations, which isn’t bad. I wouldn’t mind grabbing a cocktail and dessert at the bar late at night- or right when they open XD!! 

On paper the prices don’t seem too expensive. But the menu is set up to order one plate from three categories. They aren’t particularly shareable- I mean try cutting those tiny radishes into four pieces! So this is what makes the price of your meal to shoot up. The review is divided up in the categories on the menu, cocktails, the vedge bar, the dirt list, the grill, and desserts.

So I will leave you to read my reviews on the dishes after saying this- Hey Vedge! Want to have me back and pay for my meal? I can totally do another review of your fall/winter menu. Hit me up. I can also try Wiz Kid or V Street! *winkie face emoji* Alright I’m done selling out- read and drool.

COCKTAILS

BLACK HOLE SUN
scotch, burnt miso, maria al monte, charcoal 14
Dummy’s Guide: scotch, burnt miso, amaro– a bittersweet herbal liqueur, hip stuff to make things black
Jon, his Dad, and myself all got this cocktail. It is a strong drink served in an old fashion. The combination is very odd, scotch plus an herbally liqueur? And what would burnt miso and charcoal even taste like? They all come together nicely, and the miso and charcoal take off some of that astringent alcohol taste. This was so good that my Father in Law got a second.

THE ELDER SAGE
gin, elderflower, lemon, smacked sage
This is a very tasty cocktail but nothing unique. Gin and elderflower are made for each other. But I can say that the flavors work very well. If you can’t stand neat hard liquor, this is probably the cocktail for you. Simple, light, and not too sweet.

LIFE OF PABLO
tequila, aperol, rhubarb, poblano
Dummy’s Guide: tequila, amaro– a bittersweet herbal liqueur, rhubarb, poblano peppers
I don’t think I’ve ever talked about my love of poblano peppers on the blog. They are my favorite pepper, and I get so excited when they start showing up at my CSA. So it was obviously in the cards for me to get this drink. They layer the drink, making a rhubarb layer and a poblano layer. The more you drink, the more they mix together. Truthfully it seems like a weird mix, but they worked so well with each other. I would never think to mix an amaro with a tequila, but they picked out what seemed like the least bitter of all the ones available.

RABBIT FIGHTER (Not Pictured)
rum, strega, pomelo, cardamom bitters
Dummy’s Guide: rum, green herbal liqueur, a citrus fruit, cardamom bitters
Hmm… I blame this cocktail- my third of the night- for my less than stellar memory. Okay- it is probably because we tried almost EVERYTHING off the menu but hey- I can still blame this right? I remember liking this cocktail a lot, but the specifics are a blur. #blogfail

THE VEDGE BAR

FANCY RADISHES
smoked tamari, yuzu avocado, pickled tofu, shishito
Let me first start by talking about how we all had to skillfully cut each and everyone of those radishes into four pieces. We divided ALL of the dishes- but this one was a particular challenge. This dish is a staple, according to our server, but the radishes change as they come into season. Some of the names I reconized from our CSA, but I was a dummy and didn’t take notes. I can hands down say that my favorites were the radish paired with the tofu and the radish paired with the shishito pepper. The tofu and pepper gave a wonderful contrast of texture to the radishes.


PORTOBELLO CARPACCIO
deviled turnip, caper puree, nigella grissini
Personal opinion here- not sure if I get the whole “deviled” veggies thing. But that is only a minor part of the dish. The grissini, or let’s be real- a breadstick, was super yummy and made daily. The portobello was amazing. They are thinly sliced and cooked or marinated to perfection.


SALT BAKED BEETS
crushed cucumber, dill, capers, cured olive, rye
This is one of Vedge’s signature dishes. They bake beets at low temperatures for 2+ hours over a bed of salt. The salt takes moisture away from the beets, concentrating the flavors. It also gives the beets a unique texture. I’m normally not a huge fan of rye or dill, but they worked wonderfully with the beets.


RUTABAGA FONDUE
today’s soft pretzel, yesterday’s pickle, charred onion
Hands down- one of best dishes of the night, or even best in this category. The pretzel was fluffy and soft on the inside but just enough crust on the outside. It is pure magic how they get the rutabaga to be so fondue like. It is fluffy and creamy. I can honestly say that the pretzel worked perfectly with the fondue. Yeah, the pickles and onion were good too- but the pretzel and rutabaga?!

THE DIRT LIST

NEBRODINI MUSHROOMS (Not Pictured)
as “fazzoletti”, “pomodoro”
If you know Italian food you probably have an idea of what this dish looks like. If you are like me and am totally hopeless, you were completely surprised. Fazzoletti is a flat square noodle, which kind-of look like someone picked apart a ravioli. THe mushrooms were served in a similar fashion- flat and square. Pomodoro is a quick light pasta dish with olive oil and fresh tomatoes. Although everything I ate at Vedge was amazing, this dish was less memorable.


POLE BEANS & ZUCCHINI
briam stew, hummus, smoked sourdough
The title is a little misleading, the pole beans and zucchini are not the highlight of the dish. I think the sub-description better explains what you are ordering. There is a big serving of hummus, topped with briam (a greek stew with pole beans and zucchini), and smoked sourdough chunks are placed on top. Even though we were expecting a larger portion of beans and zucchini, the dish was amazing. The hummus was perfectly smooth and not too thick or thin.


PEA LEAVES
flash seared, smoked onion dashi, pickled spring onions
Greens are always a little disappointing. I always want more than what they serve! These pea leaves were super amazing, tender, flavorful and not too bitter. The dashi and pickled spring onions added only a little bit of flavor, letting the pea leaves really carry the dish.


GRILLED GOLD POTATOES
black garlic tahini, za’atar, calabrian chile relish
I think these potatoes were the favorite in this category. I am not a HUGE potato person so that is saying something. It has everything you need- crispy on the outside, soft on the inside. The flavor combinations were perfect. The tahini had a wonderful garlic-y salty flavor, and the chili relish gave it this dish a bright burst.

THE GRILL

ASPARAGUS “COLCANNON” (Not Pictured)
peas & green garbanzos, garbanzo crepe, smoked kohlrabi
It has been a long time since I’ve eaten asparagus. I don’t get any in my CSA and they tend to be pricey. The asparagus was nice and thin, making each bite tender. The garbanzo crepe wrapped around the asparagus, and sat on sauce (I think made from smoked kohlrabi?) with some peas and green garbanzo beans.


SSAMJANG GLAZED TOFU
edamame puree, burnt miso, cucumber, sea beans, toasted nori
I am a sucker for tofu, and this was a delicious small slab of tofu. It was well pressed, grilled, and marinated. I especially liked the accompanying flavors. The tofu itself wasn’t overly flavored, but the edamame, miso, cucumber, and sea greens added to it perfectly.


EGGPLANT BRACIOLE
smoked eggplant, italian salsa verde, cured olive
My Mother in Law was excited to try this. She had made this recipe several times at home using the Vedge cookbook. She first pointed out how much tidier their eggplant dish looked compared to hers. But after doing some googling, I think she did a REALLY good job with her version. Naturally I can’t help but compare this dish to the one she made. I love the rice filling at Vedge, it is fluffy, light, and packed with flavor. But I think I prefer my Mother in Law’s eggplant. Hers is just a little bit thicker, which I prefer. Regardless, this is a great dish, and I am pretty sure sticks on the menu most of the year. Heck it was even on the menu when Gina from The Full Helping went 5 years ago.

SEARED MAITAKE MUSHROOM (Not Pictured)
celery root fritter, smoked leek remoulade
This was another crowd favorite. We almost ordered a second plate of it. Maitake mushrooms (or hen of the woods) are amazing and hearty. The mushrooms are very “meaty,” perfectly cooked to be tender but not too dried out. The celery root fritter adds a nice contrasting texture.

DESSERT

So this is where I really dropped the ball. I forgot to take a photo of the dessert menu, thinking it would be fairly stable each night. Nope. I know they have rotating ice cream flavors each night, which my Father in Law picked since the featured flavor of the night was pistachio. It also appears that they have different variations of cheesecake that are always available. My husband went with the cheesecake, but I can’t remember what flavor he chose. Regardless, it was one of the best cheesecakes I’ve tasted in awhile.

CHOCOLATE UBER CHUNK (Not Pictured)
malt custard, pretzels & peanut butter, stout ice cream
Although the menu changes all the time, this seems to be the staple of the house. My Mother in Law jumped on this dish the second she saw it. I don’t blame her. I had a bite and it was amazing. Perfect for a chocolate lover.

GOLDEN PEACH ROBATAYAKI (Not Pictured)
yuzu-chile cornbread, miso ice cream, honeydew duck sauce
So after three cocktails and sharing two flights of Amari- my memory is a little hazy. Well, at least when it comes to reading. I couldn’t find the name of the dessert I had, until randomly this dessert appeared on the menu again. Oddly, I remember that night being surprised there was a peach in my meal…which seems unlikely since peach is in the title. Who knows, but I am 99% sure this what I had. Peach. Check. Miso Ice Cream. Check. Honeydew sauce. Check. So much to say about what the heck this even is. Well first robatayaki is a slow barbecue method from Japan. So this is what it looked like- the honeydew “duck sauce” is poured onto the plate creating a pool. The yuzu-chile cornbread sits on the honeydew puree, then the robatayaki-ed peach and ice cream sits on top of the cornbread. It is overall sort of like a fancy-pants sundae. All of this sounds very unlikely to be a good match, but it was actually perfection. So many textures and flavors. I love how salty the miso ice cream is, then is balanced by the sweetness of the honeydew sauce. The peach is also sweet, but adds a hint of tartness. The cornbread added only a little crumble to the dish overall.

Photo from my Mother in Law showing some of the Amari we sampled

AMARI FLIGHT
This deserves mostly an explanation, and less of a review of each individual drink. Maybe one day I will go back and give a more solid review, but this is something you will most likely want to do if you visit.

So what is Amari? It’s Italian for bitter, and you might of noticed me listing some amari in the cocktails above. They are herbal liqueurs that have roots back when hard alcohol was a way to administer medicine. Today they are usually served as an after-dinner digestive, which is why they appear on the dessert menu. If you are wondering what it tastes like- well that’s where things get complicated. Each one has their own blend of herbs and strength in alcohol. They can have anything between 16 to 40 percent alcohol. Wikipedia has a great little breakdown of different types, including ones made with artichokes, grapes, rhubarb, truffles, and bark.

Again, I would love to do a sampling with a notebook and all to really do some justice about these different drinks. But for now, I will leave you with a list of drinks offered, with some notes and links to learn more about them. 

*NOTE: Prices are just listed to give an idea of how expensive the bottle might be. All stores will price differently.
**VEGAN WARNING: If you decide to buy Amari/Amaro from a liquor store check this list or barnivore before buying! Traditionally the red color comes from bugs.

Amaro Don Ferne 25% ABV $50
Amaro d’Erbe ‘Nina’ 30% ABV $35
Amaro Meletti 32% ABV $20
Averna 29% ABV 40 proof $25-30 a bottle
Cynar Carciofo style (made with artichokes) 16.5% ABV (there is a special 70 proof) $35
Elisir Novasalus 16% ABV $25
Fernet Branca 39% ABV $35
Maria Al Monte Fernet style 40% ABV $30
Ramazzotti Amaro 33% ABV $20
Sibona Amaro 28% ABV $32

Congrats! You made it to the end!
Which dish are you most curious to try?
Have you ever been to Vedge in the past?


Photo credit to Bar Bonbon website

Bar Bombón

133 S 18th St, Philadelphia, PA 19103
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May is a busy month for me – having a birthday in May pretty much means you are used to your birthday thunder being stolen. I remember once being invited to two different weddings on my birthday one year (one being my uncle, the other being my grade school teacher.), as well as there being school graduations, Mother’s Day, and copious other birthdays. This year we celebrated Mother’s Day, my birthday, and my 4th wedding anniversary all in the same week. So when Jon told me one Saturday that he was taking me out for a surprise I really didn’t know what to expect. Turns out we were going out for a big birthday dinner with my sister and friends (apparently I am turning 30 this year and that’s a big deal)!

Jon got his parents to watch Wolfie as we got dressed up and got into the car. At this point I didn’t know yet that what was going on. I tried not to speculate since Jon has a poor history of keeping surprises (I’d already found a wrapped gift in the closet). I noticed we were getting off at the exit for the train so I start pulling out my PATCO card… and then we drive right past the station….

“We need to stop by your sister’s house. We split a gift for your birthday and she forgot to bring it into work so we’ll need to pick it up!”

That sounded plausible, so I thought no big deal. She also lives next to a different station so it made sense. As we start pulling to my sister’s house I see a car, one I’ve never seen. So I asked who’s car was that- or rather “Who the fuck did that shitty park job?!” Jon said that it MUST have been a friend of my niece’s – and at this point if I wasn’t sleep deprived I would of gotten suspicious. When we got inside I was surprised by Alexa and both my sisters! That shitty park job was Alexa!!! In her defense there wasn’t much she could of done, it’s just the shape of my sister’s driveway.

So we all got on the train and met up with my friend Justine in the city to eat at Bar Bombon. It is a Puerto Rican/latin tapas restaurant owned by Nicole Marquis. She worked at Vedge, and opened up Charlie Was A Sinner and HipCityVeg. There was a lot of hype when the restaurant opened and much has already changed. The restaurant moved from having a mix of burritos, arepas, and tacos to having more seasonal plates.

If you are thinking about coming to this place YOU MUST make a reservation. My goodness the place was packed! When you come in it is a little awkward as you immediately walk into the bar area. There is barely enough room to walk past the bar to the seating. There is also a few tables outside but it is next to alley, which isn’t terribly charming. But the inside is awesome and very warm.

asksalexaAlexa’s note: At first glance I noticed that I really liked the decor of this place. I don’t go out into Philly that often unless I’m with Jen, so I just love taking in the scenery of new restaurants and such. It was very crowded, but it was also a Saturday night around peak “let’s go out” hour – I guess I was just surprised because it was also pouring rain (I’ve been out of the city for too long and apparently forget that rain stops almost no one from going out and being away from their apartments). 

Overall I really enjoyed the food and drinks, they had an extensive list of cocktails that I did not partake in…unlike Jen I’m wary of liquor as opposed to beer because if I don’t like it, it’s not a pretty sight. This is a place that I would love to come back to and try more off of the menu.

BUFFALO CAULIFLOWER
Avocado, green goddess, black bean puree, mirepoix
Alexa: One of the things I miss most as a vegetarian is good barbecue and food slathered in buffalo sauce. I love buffalo cauliflower for this very reason! Let me tell you – this taco DELIVERS. The cauliflower is slightly crisp and not soggy and the buffalo sauce isn’t overpowering. While I would say that everything we ate that night certainly tasted fresh I especially felt that way about everything in this dish. 

CUBANO CLUB
Blackend chick’n, smoked tempeh, avocado, dill pickles, lettuce, tomato, grain mustard aioli
Jen: This was my favorite of the dinner and it was FILLING. This is one of those confusing tapas how big/small are the plates moments as this sandwich I think was a lot more food than the tacos. The club comes with a side of fries, which makes it pretty much a stand alone meal. The club was amazing! Definetly the chick’n and tempeh make it stand out as a unique sandwich from the original cubano sandwich. The smoked tempeh was tasty, and the pickles and aioli give just enough tang. If I were to go back with hubby, I might get this again with a vegetable plate and probably would have enough to eat (with cocktails too duh)

GUACAMOLE FRESCO & PICANTE
I know it is possible to mess up guacamole, but it happens to rarely. I liked the guac here. They let the avocados speak for themselves. You can pick it “fresco” or “picante.” The picante wasn’t insanely hot, but if you want a more traditional route, get fresco. They give a good amount of guac to chips. I was able to use some of the guac with my yuca fries. The chips were pretty nice too, and clearly fried on location.

MUSHROOM EMPANADAS
Leeks, currants, pickled plantains
I had really high expectations for these empanadas and was a little disappointed. Not to say they tasted bad, I just envisioned something different. The flavor was soft, and the plantains were served on the side. The empanadas were fried to perfection though.

REPOLLITOS FRITOS
Brussels sprouts, peanut, mango, lemon
Jen: My rushed meals at home mean I don’t eat enough veggies. So this night I was craving vegetables so Jon and I split the brussel sprouts. They were roasted to perfection with crispy leaves. There was a tasty peanut dipping sauce which was amazing. The annoying thing is that I tasted zero mango. I am guessing it was mainly in there as a sweetening agent?

Alexa: I love Brussels sprouts. Jen isn’t exaggerating when she said these were cooked to perfection, I probably could have had that whole plate as a meal for myself! To be fair, I didn’t know there was supposed to be any mango involved in the dish so I wasn’t as let down, but the oil used to cook the sprouts did have a sweetness to it. So maybe she’s not off on the “sweetening agent” idea!

SEITAN “AL PASTEUR”
Guacamole, onion, cilantro, pineapple
Alexa: I enjoyed this taco as well, but it wasn’t my favorite of the two that I tried. I enjoy spicier foods, so the buffalo cauliflower was a huge hit. The seitan was cooked well and had a lot of flavor that was brought out more by the onion and pineapple. I would definitely recommend this if you’re looking for a “meatier” dish. 

SPANISH FRIES
Roasted peppers and onions, cheese sauce
Jen: My sister seemed to be very concerned about what was in the cheese sauce. The wait staff was very hesitant to give any clue about what it was made of, but if I were to take a guess it was maybe a veggie based sauce? Whatever was in it ended up tasting great. The fries were thin and extra crispy. My only complaint is that it could of had more toppings.

Alexa: My only complaint was that these weren’t bottomless because…
a) potatoes are a gift on this green Earth
b) potatoes cut into thin pieces covered in sauce and veggies are also a gift.

YUCA FRITA
Maduro sauce
I strongly recommend getting these yuca fries. They are light and fluffy but crispy on the outside. If you like handcut french fries, you will love these. They come with a sauce that made me think of the “special sauce” that my parents would get in Southern Utah. It was just ketchup and mayo, but this sauce tasted like it had a paprika kick.

BETTER & BETTER
aged rum, mezcal blanco, falernum
DUMMY GUIDE: rum, tequila (or something like it), spiced syrup
Hubby got this drink first. I am guessing the mezcal blanco means it is similar to tequila. Mezcal is pretty much an open ended category for drinks made from any type of agave plant. So this ended up being a strong “manly” drink served in a low-ball/old fashioned glass. The drink was very robust and nicely spiced. I question the purpose of the mezcal? I couldn’t particularly pick up on any of it.

LA CLASICA
tequila blanco, orange liqueur, lime
This is a classic magarita- like a REAL one. No neon colors, no slushie ice, and all fresh ingredients. It was really refreshing and tasty. Personally I like less ice, but is perfect for people who don’t like strong drinks.

LA PREFERIDA
tequila blanco, beet, habanero, lime
This is a twist to a margarita. Alexa got this drink and it comes out looking pretty pink-red because of the beet juice in it. It had just enough habanero to give a wee little kick.

NO LOVE LOST
london dry gin, lavender, cucumber, thyme, lime
This was my sister’s favorite drink, so much so she got it twice! I can see why. I found it super refreshing and you could taste all the different components. They worked all so well with each other. I strongly suggest this to anyone, but particularly to people who don’t like strong drinks.

SMOKING DARTS
mezcal blanco, white rum, creme de violette, rose water
DUMMY GUIDE: a tequila like liquor, un-aged rum, sweet violet flavor liquor, rose water.
This was my drink of choice! I’ve been wanting to try creme de violette for some time but not many liquor stores sell the stuff. FYI it is creme because the sugar gives a creamy texture. It was really nice. It had nice floral notes but wasn’t over powering. You don’t taste much of the rum and mezcal but I think they helped prevent the drink from tasting too much like perfume.


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Hey guys. This week I am all thrown off. Last weekend I went to Ocean City with my husband since we got invited to a friends beach house. We went on Monday and came back Tuesday, for a little mini vacation. Then we went into Brooklyn to visit my sister on Friday night and came home late Saturday night. I have a bunch of cool posts to do about Brooklyn, a little tour guide of things to do in Williamsburg/Bushwick if you will. I went to Ocean City during the off season… so I really don’t have many good vegan tips of places to go there. I don’t know guys, the Jersey Shore isn’t my thing. Maybe I will make a travel guide about the beaches near Fair Haven where I grew up (and where Alexa is now).

It is really windy here. Some of the smaller trees have been uprooted, and the power went out while shopping! It was very weird going shopping at Target and Wegman’s with only the emergency lights on. There were also weird little things that weren’t working. Espresso machines were down, the conveyer belts at the registers weren’t working. And I feel like everyone was in a panic because of the power being out, at least I felt a little bit like there was something severely bad going on. Oddly my power is doing just fine so I can make this post of the top reads for your Sunday.

Jazz singer Nina Simone is shown in London on Dec. 5, 1968, photo. Simone's deep, raspy, forceful voice made her a unique figure in jazz and later helped define the civil rights movement. (AP Photo)

Jazz singer Nina Simone is shown in London on Dec. 5, 1968, photo. Simone’s deep, raspy, forceful voice made her a unique figure in jazz and later helped define the civil rights movement. (AP Photo)

Nina Simone’s Face

I might be a little late in the game with posting this article, but it is still something good to read. Ta-Nehisi Coates writes a great article about why we should care about the casting choice for Nina Simone. Many people who read about social justice is probably aware of the issue already, but Coates write beautifully and I think explains the situation that is understandable to anyone new the topic.

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Fitness Trackers Reveal the Damaging Pitfalls of the Modern Approach to Self Improvemnt

As someone who loves to track their health stats, I found this article interesting. I use MapMyRun, Ovia, and have downloaded a pedometer app in the past. Then I like to combine them all together in my Apple Health app because I love graphs. But the article points out that you can’t keep topping yourself, and that might drive some people nuts. I don’t want to say FitBit and other fitness trackers are pointless, but we need to be careful about how to we sell them.

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Excessively Candid FoodNetwork.com Recipe Reviews

Am I outing myself as a New Yorker fan? You betcha I am. I found these hilarious, and plausibly real.

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Controversial Post: Who Can Clap for That Wrap?

Emileigh from Flashback Summer has really been crushing it lately. Some of you may not know, but I love vintage clothing. I’ve largely stopped blogging about fashion mostly since I haven’t been spending much on new clothes. But I’ve showcased some vintage articles of clothing on the blog (both dresses, vintage hat, and dress). As many may know, vintage clothing has a lot of styles that might be called out today for cultural appropriation- the squaw dress, the tiki bar craze, blackamoor jewelry, and now Emileigh breaks down whether or not is culturally appropriate to wear a wrap. I like how she quotes various people with different ethnicities and background and does some historical research, and urges that if you aren’t doing the research yourself, don’t wear it.

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Arsenic & Old Lace

I rarely make cocktails from Gastronomista, mostly because I am cheap and have a poorly stocked liquor collection. But the photos of the Arsenic & Old Lace is amazing. Naturally I don’t have any of those liquors- and finding creme de violette might be hard but I will keep it in the back of my mind when looking around.


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Hey guys! It has been weird. I think most everyone has been experiencing some warmer weather… and now snow. Well, it isn’t that big of deal, it snowed a little in the evening, but nothing really stuck except for a few flakes on some cars that were sitting in a shadow. Nothing huge, but I was getting use to not having to bundle up on runs. I don’t mind the cold as much as I hate the time it takes to get all the layers on. But yesterday I drove out to my Grandmother’s for “easter dinner” with the family. I am not a religious person, but still use certain holidays to make my way out to visit family members. I mean I love my Grandma but I hate Long Island, I even wrote a post about it 2 years ago. I made spinach florentine casserole, roasted chickpeas, cauliflower, and olives, and peanut butter blondies for the meal, and everything seemed to be good.

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Anyone using the Dysh app? It is a fun new app where you take a photo of what you are eating, rate it, and post it. I think it can be a fun way to see what vegan food people are ordering at restaurants, though it isn’t an exclusively vegan app. I started to post old dishes I’ve eaten overtime, and Alexa signed up as well. If you want to follow us check us out at ONERAWBITE and MEOWLEXA. I’m vegan, Alexa is pescitarian, so we can help you cut to the chance of what to eat at restaurants (mostly in NJ ^__~).

So what is really rad right now? Well, lots of cool YouTube video, but also PERFUME IS COMING TO NEW YORK CITY! I am excited! I’ve talked about my love of Nakata Yasutaka before (back when we did fashion posts.) Alexa and I went to see Kyayu Pamyu Pamyu in concert and she is a little crazy. But now we can see Perfume… who is a little more mature. You might of seen Perfume before, they are in the iPhone commercial and the beginning of the OK GO’s I Won’t Let You Down (which I recommend watching because it is a great video.) Along with the tour they will be releasing their first full length album in over 3 years!

Anyways I thought I would share my favorite music video by them- Natural ni Koi Shite (Fall in Love Naturally) which was released in 2010. I think it is their most unique video, since most videos is kind-of mostly special effects with singing girls. This one I find to be a bit of a jab at high end shopping culture in Japan. When we think of Japanese fashion you will probably think of Fruits, but there fashion there is pretty basic. And there is a big culture for expensive western brands, particularly the Ginza district which has all the top Western brands that we know of. Pretty much the girls shop and drop, and then reveal they are in an artifical setting, perhaps with an artificial happiness? Maybe I am reading too much into it, but technology and optical illusions is their thing… hell, their new album cover is an optical illusion! I’ve been a fan since Sweet Donuts, so I am excited about that. But truthfully I am excited for FUCKING AWESOME SHOW!

Totally stumbled upon this video. Samantha Bee talking about how if it isn’t Trump, we are still fucked with Cruz. Ugh. Yes, it is a scary time to be an American. And frankly I do get why so many people HATE Hilary Clinton. I prefer Bernie (with like 90% of the 30 year old and youngers in the USA) but I am more concerned about Trump or Cruz, and I do hear a few people say that Hilary is “worse” than them. What? How?! Anyways, I just need to get a few laughs from this dismal situation.

What a video of cocktails AND glassware?! Sign me up. I remember LOVING the idea of having my own adult home bar, probably just to own tons of pretty glasses. Do I need to mention how much I love cocktails? Part of my problem of trying new drinks is figuring out which glass. I love makgeolli but I find drinking it out of a bowl weird. So I finally found my perfect glass- a champagne flute. As a Western drinker I think it makes sense to have it for the light carbonation, and the long flute helps slosh the rice sentiment back up in between drinks.

The Brain Scoop explores what species means. She explains the version you have probably heard in school, but goes into the various ways people in the scientific field define or try to “prove” an animal is their own species. This can be important for understanding animal behaviors better or trying to conserve certain areas and animals. This is something that I’ve read articles about before, but it is nice to have all the information together in one video.

I love hearing good news about younger generations. One thing I want to try and not do as I get older is talk about how the “youths” today are going to shit. I am always hearing my bosses complain that kids don’t get outside enough or don’t know cursive, but they don’t actually know any kids directly that have this to be the case (you know, just hearing it from a customer who’s daughter told them that their grandchild isn’t taking gym *rolls eyes*) This is a quick video reading into some studies that show kids get the same amount of exercise as in the past, do less drugs, drink less, and are in general more awesome people. Yes, there is hope for the planet.


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I’ve seen a few “spooky” cocktails out there. Some do make me get the Halloween feels, but most just have spooky photos and a spooky name. Maybe these do too. But I tried to keep some “creepy” ingredients, mostly kombucha and absinthe. Why are they spooky? Well both drinks are brightly colored like many candies. Eerily unnatural if you will. Then kombucha really reminds me of the blob with it’s mother culture. You are drinking living creatures by having this drink.

Absinthe on the other hand has a more sinister history. For anyone who hasn’t had the drink before, it is composed of various plants, but the most well known ones are wormwood, green anise, and sweet fennel. So it really has a taste like licorice. It is often described as a liqueur but it has no added sugar so it is technically just a spirit. Absinthe became popular in 19th-20th century France in part because of a wine shortage (European grapes were plagues by a bacteria from the United States) and also from soldier drinking it during the war to prevent malaria (thanks to the wormwood). The drink was popular with various artists, and got a reputation for causing hallucinations. Often the effects of the drink were described as being visited by the Green Faerie. Many paintings show a poor soul drinking absinthe while being visited by the green faerie, being driven to madness. Although wormwood technically does have some psychoactive chemicals, the amount present is absinthe is minimal. Many countries banned the drink, but once proven to be no more harmful that other alcoholic drinks, the bans were lifted.

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So next question, is absinthe vegan? It should be. Absinthe is characterized by the plant based flavoring, not what is used to produce the alcohol. There is an absinthe that is made from honey, which is unusual. If you want to be safe, you can see the list of approved vegan absinthes on barnivore. There aren’t many listed, and truthfully I have only seen one of these liquors sold in a store- Lucid. And I understand that what you find at your local liquor store might vary greatly from mine, but I used a very cheap absinthe called Parnasse. I got it for roughly $14 from Total Wine and More. Would I get it again? No. Hell no! But it gave me an idea what absinthe tasted like, and I am now more willing to splurge more money on a bottle when I run out. Another way you can try absinthe are those cute little bottles of booze. Total Wine and More sells one brand- so grab it if you can get liquor shipped to you in your state. 

And what about that beautiful green color? Well, I know my bottle artificially colors it, but some companies choose to let the liquor stay clear. But there can be a natural green color, it just won’t be as bright. In the past, some companies used copper to color the drink green, which is thought to be the culprit to it’s hallucinatory reputation. So if you are looking for something more natural, look for less toxic green colored bottles.

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Ever read a recipe, and make it, but the recipe is so simple that you don’t need to look at it again next time you make it, so you completely forget where you got it originally? That happened to me with The Reanimator. I couldn’t for the life of me find the recipe, until I found it on a fluke. I knew it was in the book Let’s Bring Back the Cocktail, but where? There are so many recipes. Turns out the original drink was “Battery Charger” and I made some artist interpretations on it. Which is fine, but when I tried to find it again I was looking for all the wrong things. 

I like to pretend this is the ye-old jägerbomb. I may of had one or two of these in college, but I like to point out that I went to art school. We knew why we were drinking booze, it was to get drunk. Why bother with crappy beer? But this drink is actually very different. I am not sure what Red Bull is suppose to taste like, but the red in this drink is from grenadine, you know like in a Shirley Temple. The mix between pomegranates and licorice is a big eye opener, which is why I named the drink The Reanimator. The color of your drink will rely on the grenadine you use and the absinthe you use.

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What I love about these two drink is how different they are. This cocktail I named Suspiria in honor of my favorite horror film of the same name. The movie features so many vivid colors, including green, and evil being are witches. This completely looks like some mystery witch brew. The drink features lime juice and bee free honee to flavor it. This really lets the true colors of absinthe shine through, but still working with the lime-citrus flavors. If you can’t use kombucha, feel free to just use water.

I hope these two drinks give you the courage to give absinthe a try! They are both really very different from each other, giving something for everybody. 

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When I think of retro foods, casseroles are the first thing that comes to mind. I mean there are quite a few other oddball ones out there, but do I WANT to make them? I mean there was a huge fascination with jello-mold savory foods. Heck even my Grandma made a shrimp “mousse” recently for a family get together. I remember eating it when I was pescetarian, and neither hating or liking it.

I do have to say, I regret not doing more research because some of the retro snacks are really funny and would of been fun to remake. Like this “meat-za” where there is a ground beef crust and tomato soup topping. I could of made an all seitan pizza crust! Agh! Stinks. But some of the search results really make me think about some of the quirky fun foods we see on Pinterest and Mom blogs. Will fruitshi be viewed as being as silly as a pineapple treasure chest? Then again, I think that treasure chest is pretty awesome… why the hell didn’t I make a vegan version of that?!

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But I TRIED to make a vegan tuna noodle casserole. I had a cute name picked out- Tu-NAH! Noodle Casserole. I flipped out my Vegan Casseroles book for guidance because it pretty much taught me everything I learned about casseroles, vegan or otherwise. The end result was a HUGE flop! The chickepeas were weird, there was too much sauce, not enough nasty mayo, and I can’t find eggless egg noodles for the life of me. Oh and I forgot to put salt into the dish. I wanted throw in my towel, I needed a drink.

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I don’t know where I found out about it, but I read about The Pink Lady, it sounded pretty dated and tacky. When inspecting it, I found it listed on a chart of Mad Men cocktails, but it dates back to the 20s. I am taking a stab in the dark and assuming it is an American cocktail. Many people suspect that it was invented or popularized during prohibition since there were so many sub-standard gin available. The idea was that the egg white and grenadine would make the drink easier to swallow.

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The drink eventually built a reputation for being dainty as fuck. It was pink, girly, and “safe.” So I was surprised when I took a sip, this drink packs a punch. This is no appletini or strawberry daiquiri. Sure, there is some grenadine, which I am sure you remember sucking down at weddings when you were kid in your Shirley Temples. But this has only a small amount to give it a pink hue. 

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So what was “veganized” about this drink? Well, ever since aquafaba came out I was dying to know, can I make drinks out it? I use to love foamy cocktails, yes, as I vegan I miss raw eggs more than bacon! Gasp! So I thought, okay, why not try this out? The idea of egg white cocktails had fallen out of fashion in the United States in the 50s and most drinks started to feature sodas, juices, flavored vodkas, and neon colors. Know what though? The aquafaba worked beautifully! The drink foamed up, and STAYED that way. 

I’ve been really into retro cocktails lately. I think this time of the year I always crave cocktails probably because of the over abundance of fruit. That is why I made my watermelon basil cocktail, and pretty much all my other drinks on the blog uses some sort of fruit or vegetable. Heck I recently made a tomatillo shrub which I debated posting on this retro post… but I think it needs to age more.

Anyways, make this drink and if you haven’t yet, check out my tea giveaway. Just comment, and if you want extra entries follow me on different social media platforms. Continue reading


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I might be one of the few people who got stumped by todays prompt to recreate a dish from a restaurant. I don’t eat out often, and I think part of the fun of eating out is that it is something you can’t make. So the desire to recreate is a little low. At first I thought about recreating the heirloom beans with a hazelnut-tomato vinegrette that I had from Charlie was a Sinner. But truthfully they were pretty simple, and I felt weird adapting an already vegan recipe. And then I started thinking of NON-vegan restaurants I’ve been too lately, which is pretty much only Indeblue. And then I thought about the bloody mary.

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Then it occurred to me that their bloody mary might not of been vegan, because I always forget about Worcestershire sauce. Even though the bloody mary tasted awesome, the texture was a little off. It was really thick, and some of the spices, particularly the black pepper, were just in chunks. So I thought I could surely make something better, especially since I had a bunch of delicious tomatoes picked from my CSA farm.

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I am a big bloody mary fan, but I am aware of it’s very un-vegan potential. It is one of the few savory cocktails that are popular, and therefore it is easy to add animal based umami flavors. A lot of cocktails end up using beef consommé or bouillon and worcestershire sauce, and that is if they didn’t fancy up the cocktail. Some places will add a slap of bacon or shrimp instead of a celery or pickle garnish. And then there is the Mary’s Canadian cousin Caesar that uses clamato juice. Ugh! And I am not going to get into the whole bloody mary mix. So many disappointments!

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So what’s a vegan suppose to do? Well, make their own, duh! It is easy to make in large batches and serve in a pitcher for Sunday Brunch. And it tastes pretty good without the vodka too! So if you aren’t a drinker or underaged, you are still in luck. I tried to make this drink pretty simple, no fancy appliances. So hopefully most of you guys will have these two things: a blender and a nut milk bag. And your set!

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Of coarse it is in order to point out that this isn’t a normal bloody mary. I got this at an Indian restaurant that was serving brunch, so it uses a curry blend in the drink.

I’ve heard from my sister who has traveled to various parts of Europe, and even lived in France for a year that Bloody Mary’s are a very American cocktail. Since Vegan Mofo has a lot of readers across the globe, I would love to hear if you had any Bloody Mary. When do you drink it? In a bar or brunch like Americans do? You wouldn’t think Bloody Marys would be such a brunch drink because of the vodka. I recently told my father in law how you make it, and he seemed pretty surprised!

Side note- if this is your first bloody mary, there are some standard garnishes. Celery is the classic, but I prefer the pickle (I just didn’t have any for the photo.) But there is still more variation including carrots, olives, and heck, do some facon-bacon!

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I find it is a little funny how vegans compassion can vary so much. The other night I was talking to my friend Chrissy who is also a vegan. I asked if she still ate honey, and she said yes. That is a little too extreme for her, while I try not to consume it. But later on in the night she said how she wouldn’t eat food sharing a deep-fryer with meats. Me on the other hand, very cool with shared cooking areas with vegan and omni foods. Everyone has their own boundaries.

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Even my recently turned vegan husband and I have totally different views on compassion. A big nasty house fly got stuck in our house and kept bothering us. It bothered me endlessly, and I was waiting till he got old and fat so I could smack it. I mean that fly is a big asshole and had it coming, right? My husband instead says “This fly is annoying as hell, but I don’t want to KILL it. I just want to catch him and release him.” Sure enough he eventually caught the fly and released him back into the wild, making me into a horrible evil person for wanting to hurt a fly.

Roles reverse today. I noticed a few ants on our rug, and told him about it. It suddenly became a battle of the ants for him. He is looking up natural ways to kill the ant and block their passage. And then there is me, feeling a little bit like what is the harm for letting them hangout? Maybe we should just leave bags of sugar outside of the house so they don’t come in ours? Then I would be known in the neighborhood as the crazy ant lady, collecting ants instead of cats.

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But enough bug talk- let’s talk about this awesome drink! I’ve been laying off the hard liquor lately or rather making drinks because of the move. Heck, I technically haven’t even unpacked the cocktail mixer yet. But I got a little excited when I found Sage by Art in the Age at my local liquor store since I’ve been wanting to try it for awhile now. I got a little creative and used glass, espresso tamper, and a hand strainer to make this drink.

I also had a bunch of badly bruised shiro plums from the orchard. They are pretty tasty, but not the pretties things to look at. So I thought this would taste pretty good with Sage, so I made a drink by muddling the plum into the drink. Now I am not sure where this drink sits on the cocktail genealogy‎ tree, but as far as I can tell I used fresh seasonal fruit and smashed it. So it’s a smash in my book. If you want to make this drink more “smash-ish” I would use some sage leaves instead of mint to work with the liquor.

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If you asking which bourbon we used, well I used Knob Creek’s Rye Whiskey but mostly because that is what we had on hand. I probably would use Bulleit Bourbon next time. And if you can’t find any Sage, then I would use a very mild gin or perhaps a homemade infused sage vodka. But honestly there is a really unique flavor going on with Sage so I wouldn’t try and sub it.

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