Blueberry and Basil Vodka Lemonade and Weekend Guests

When inviting guests to spend the weekend, it is a definite bonus that one be a part-time bartender.  The other should be a food lover with a creative flair in the kitchen.  Add in two adorable little kids for giggles and a fun weekend is certain.

For the past several years, my best friend Ayesha comes for a visit.  Whenever we are together, conversation always turns to food and we always turn to the kitchen.  Last year my Forever Young Avocado Pie was our weekend dessert spiked with Liquor 43.  Ayesha took it one step further and added a shot of Liquor 43 to each pie slice upon serving!

This year Ken took the spotlight with this drink.  He first made  this on Thursday when they arrived and from that evening forward I requested this cocktail every day.   Yes, it was that good…..Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday!  Sweet and tangy lemonade with muddled blueberries and basil, what a combo of infused flavors!

Ayesha is not a fan of blueberries, so Ken had purchased a Pomegranate Vodka.  I personally, love blueberries, so Blueberry Vodka is perfect for me.

Blueberry and Basil Vodka Lemonade

Per Cocktail:

In a cocktail shaker, muddle 4-5 blueberries, 4-5 fresh basil leaves and 1 1/2 oz Blueberry Vodka, smashing well.  Add in about 4 ice cubes and top with 4 oz of lemonade.  Shake well and serve!  Per Ken, this drink can be strained but he, and I agree, it’s fantastic looking and tasting with the bits of blueberries and basil.

Espresso Martini Jello Shots

Jello shots bring back a lot of memories….mostly those I’d like not to recall  🙂   I was young, they were fruity, sugary and colorful.  Who could resist?  Need I say more??

Flash forward to adulthood.  I mean really, can’t we still have fun?  I served these at a cocktail party this past weekend; Espresso Martini Jello Shots.  I like to spice up my parties by adding in the unexpected, something different and whimsical.  More sophisticated for the adult palate; espresso coffee, espresso and vanilla vodka and Kahlua topped with whipped cream and a chocolate covered espresso bean!!

I made these in my Wilton silicon brownie pan.  They could be also made in little cups or an 8 x 8 baking pan and then cut out into little squares.  The cups would make them easier to pick up as they are a little wiggly but no one seemed to mind!

Espresso Martini Jello Shots

Adapted from Jello Shot Test Kitchen

1 cup brewed dark roast or espresso coffee, cooled

2 ½ envelopes Knox gelatin

1/3 cup espresso flavored vodka

1/3 cup vanilla flavored vodka

1/3 cup Kahlua

1 teaspoon agave or simple syrup

Prepared whipped cream

Chocolate covered espresso beans

Prepare the mold or baking pan with non-stick spray.  If using the mold place it on a baking sheet that will fit into the refrigerator.

Pour coffee/espresso into small saucepan.  Sprinkle on gelatin and allow to soak for a minute or two.  Heat over very low heat, stirring constantly, until gelatin is dissolved about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and add the vodkas and Kahlua, stirring well.  Add agave or simple syrup to taste.  Pour into the mold, pan or cups.  Refrigerate until fully set, several hours or overnight.  Cut into squares or pop out of the mold and plate.  At serving time, top with whipped cream and an espresso bean.  Makes about 15-20 shots.

Just as fun to give as it is to receive

This year I made Cranberry Vodka to give and share with my family and friends.  Homemade gifts, made from the heart and from alcohol just seem to be so well received!  I would also bet that aside from my label “made with love from Linda”, this little bottle will not be re-gifted!   

Planning ahead is required as the cranberries need to steep for about 3 months to produce the berry red color and infuse the vodka.  Think of Christmas in July and get a jump on holiday gift giving!  I actually started the Cranberry Vodka in October along with small bottles of vanilla extract to give to my baking friends.  I always keep a large liquor bottle of vodka filled with Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Beans steeping continuously for my intense vanilla extract usage! 

I purchase the bottles from Specialty Bottles and the labels from My Own Labels.  There is no exact science here, just fill a large jug with good quality vodka and fill with organic cranberries.  Set in a dark place, shake once a week and in about three months, the Cranberry Vodka is ready.  Printed on the back label I included two martini recipes; Very Berry  Martini and French Martini.

Very Berry Martini

2 oz Cranberry Vodka

4 ox Cranberry Juice

1 oz Triple Sec

Shake vigorously in a cocktail shaker with ice.  Pour into chilled martini glass.  Makes 1 martini.

French Martini

1 oz Cranberry Vodka

1 oz pineapple juice

1 oz Chambord

Shake vigorously in a cocktail shaker with ice.  Pour into chilled martini glass. Makes 1 martini.