Italicus: An Italian Aperitivo You Need for Summer Drinks!

I’ve recently been experimenting with a new Italian aperitivo: Italicus. It’s light and herbal and citrusy…a perfect summer spirit presented in a classic bottle. It is elegant and gives my bar a classy feel as it takes a coveted spot atop my counter. The taste is even nicer.

Tonight I made my first mixed drink with it: Gin and Italicus Sour. Folks, this is seriously amazing. Equal parts (1 ounce each) Italicus, Gin (a dry gin), and lemon juice – fresh squeezed of course. Mix all of that together with simple syrup (1/2 ounce) and an egg white…shake with ice to chill and pour into a cocktail glass. Here is the link to the Food and Wine article with the recipe. There are a few recipes here worth checking out.

Warning: this drink goes down easy. Way easy. I kinda like that in a drink.

Just An Old Fashioned Girl!

Cocktail Hour!

A [very good] friend gifted me with the most delicious cherries recently. Sweet with the first bite, yet a bit sour on second impression, they are divine for all sorts of taste sensations. She suggested they would pair well with an Old Fashioned, and that is exactly what we made as soon as she delivered them.

If you’ll remember, I am a Bourbon Girl…well, really more of a Whiskey Girl since I also love Scotch and Rye and pretty much anything “whiskey.” I see no reason to discriminate. In fact, the very first mixed drink I ever made was a Manhattan. I was probably ten years old and my dad taught me the recipe. I used to bring them to him as he watched TV, taking tiny sips so it wouldn’t spill as I made my way down the stairs. I know what you’re all thinking: “That was one lucky girl!” [sarcasm] Okay, okay, perhaps it wasn’t the best skill to pass along to a kid, but it’s served me well over the years…and I, in turn, have served others well over the years! By the way, my dad no longer drinks (in case you’re wondering).

Amarena Wild Cherries

Back to Old Fashioned’s. Actually, let’s first get back to the cherries. So amazing! Years ago I evolved from those neon jars of sickening sweet orbs and moved on to Luxardo cherries. I thought they were the bomb. Certainly they were way better than the glow-in-the-dark cherries I grew up with. And way more expensive. I believe a jar of these babies goes for around $18-25 depending on where you buy them.

There’s a new cherry in town…these are my new favorites: Fabbri Amarena Wild Cherries.

Can I just say “Wow!”?? With my first taste I was already planning on who I’d give my Luxardo jar to. I cannot fathom there being any other cherries worthy of garnishing the myriad cocktails I make more so than these. I checked online and can get them on Amazon for around $13 for the size jar pictured above (click the blue “Amazon” to link to them…I get zero compensation from anyone). I know they are also pricey, but really, if you are going to craft a decent drink, don’t you deserve a decent garnish to go with it?

Back to Old Fashioned’s (finally!)

One classic Old Fashioned recipe involves soaking a sugar cube in bitters, then muddling them together. Next you would add ice, followed by bourbon, then an orange slice and cherry to garnish. Voila!

My friend and I made our Old Fashioned drinks using Willett’s bourbon (it has caramel undertones which work well here), the Amarena cherries, and orange bitters. Rather than using a sugar cube, we spooned in some of the syrup from the jar and added a generous shake of orange bitters. We muddled in the cherries here to get as much flavor as possible out of them. After that we added crushed ice and stirred in the bourbon to mix it all together and chill it. I have to say, the end result was divine. Heavenly. Other-worldly.

I did not have any oranges to garnish our drinks, and that was the one component we both felt might make it better. At the store yesterday I spotted blood oranges…in my cart they went! Last night I did a bit of experimenting to see if it added any depth. I have to say, I don’t think last night’s endeavor was any better than the version we made on Sunday; however, it had its own merits and was just as nice in its own respect. The final verdict: you really can’t go wrong either way.

Not only for cocktails?

I’d like to think this jar would last me for a good long while. And perhaps it would were I merely using it for drinks. Yet I see a future for these cherries that goes beyond cocktails. I’m thinking ice-cream toppings, cakes, cookies…maybe even over pancakes or French toast. I bet they would even be tasty in a baked brie with some slivered almonds thrown in for good measure.

Have you tried these? Any further suggestions for how to use them?



Grocery Store Etiquette: A Few Rules

On This Day…

I love the “On This Day” feature on Facebook. It’s fun to look back over what I had posted in various years…sort of a written scrapbook of my life brought back to me in snippets. I had to laugh when I came across one of my memories from this day six years ago. It seems I had just returned from the grocery store and was frustrated. A bit of a rant ensued.

In lieu of an explanation, here is the post:

Grocery Store Etiquette

“There are some very important rules that should be followed by anyone grocery shopping, especially on prime weekend days.

Here are a few:

1. Keep your cart to the side rather than in the middle of the aisle when pausing to gather an item. Pretend there are imaginary dotted lines (like on the highway), and if you are going slow – ie browsing, collecting samples, comparing prices – stay to the far right to allow others to pass. 

2. Just like in driving, STAY OFF THE PHONE!!! There is this thing called paper; you can actually write a list of things you need on it before you ever leave your house…your SO*  (I am making a huge assumption here) probably could use the time to finish whatever they got you out of the house for in the first place w/o being disturbed. 

AND finally,

3. And this is perhaps the most important rule: do not wait until you are at the checkout line, checking out, cart fully unloaded with a line behind you, to realize you forgot something or need to question the cashier about one of your products, thus holding up the line for others.
Thank you and have a great day!”

*Significant Other

I stand by my rant. And that makes me curious, what are your grocery store pet peeves?

Breakfast For Dinner

I needed a quick meal tonight, and what can be faster than breakfast? I made a salad of cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers and radishes. Then I soft-scrambled a couple of eggs. Cantaloupe and a dollop of plain Greek yogurt rounded out the meal…

Now it’s time to dash off to my [Italy] meeting!!


My “Inner Censor”

“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” ~Anne Lamott

That quote is posted on a corkboard in my office. It sounds like sage advice, yet it is difficult to include others in my stories without worrying about how it might affect them. It is not my intention to do harm or incur pain on another from my posts. Yet I want to tell my stories in the way I experienced them. Sometimes the two don’t mix so well…

Today, I had a post all ready to publish, but at the last minute decided it might come across as hurtful to another, so I’ve decided to table it for now. It was actually never intended to be about the other person, but I re-read the post as if I were that other person. I asked myself, “How would I feel if I read those words about me?” I wasn’t sure, so I chose not to hit “publish.”

For now I will go to bed. In the morning I will look at the post with fresh eyes. I can decide then if I will let it stand, edit it, or write something completely different.

Good-night, All!