Labor Day weekend marks the last official hurrah for pool parties, cookouts, beach picnics and daily frozen treats. Before you start thinking about the return of crisp fall leaves and pumpkin spice everything, send the sunny season off in style with our eight genius ways to win summer. Watch the video below for inspiration. You’ll learn genius ways to spike snow cones and take ice-cream floats to the next level, three things you should be making with watermelon, how to make treats from melted ice cream and more. Read more
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Perhaps when you first heard of the craze for Bulletproof Coffee, coffee blended with butter and oil and purported by its creators to provide health benefits, you thought to yourself, “Sheesh, what will they think of next?” If so, the answer you’ve been waiting for has now presented itself: FATwater.
The latest brainchild of entrepreneur and Bulletproof Coffee mastermind Dave Asprey, FATwater is precisely what it sounds like: H20 with tiny drops of fat (coconut oil) suspended in it. Asprey says the product, which contains 2 grams of saturated fat and 20 calories per serving, provides the drinker with a short-term energy boost, helps the body burn fat (for some reason) and aids in appetite suppression. Currently available in only a handful of places in Los Angeles, FATwater will soon be available nationally, Asprey says.
As I type, I am surrounded by a sea of binders and lined papers, high-top shoes, low-top ankle boots, trendy-again ’70s stretchy hipster pants and crisply colored backpacks smelling of factory nylon. Just removing the tags from all this loot makes me feel like taking a nap.
’Tis the season of coffee. (Did I really just say “’tis the season?” It’s not even Labor Day! I think I even outpaced Costco there!) Coffee and autumn go hand in hand in our household. Any time an alarm clock jolts me out of sleep, I want the jolt of caffeine shortly thereafter. My husband makes the coffee as part of our nightly routine, setting the timer for exactly 15 minutes before I wake up, so that I walk downstairs and into the kitchen at the perfect moment, when the machine is gurgling and spattering lightly as it confirms that all the water is gone from the chamber and the machine can finally, confidently turn itself off, while a final few drops of coffee plop gently into the full pot. It’s the glorious announcement of another day full of possibility.
I am a coffee fan (I don’t say “snob” because I find that loosely translates into people who don’t like Starbucks), so I like my coffee exactly right: no sugar and about two tablespoons of half-and-half, or a quarter-cup of milk (but, in that case, heated). Quite simply, the day doesn’t begin without coffee for me. I love the routine, the smell, the warmth and, of course, the caffeine (although I only drink half-caf so I can have two cups without feeling jittery). And all this coffeepot experience has taught me a few little tricks — some coffee hacks, if you will.
1. Mom’s trick to improve cheap coffee:
Growing up, we were incredibly poor, and my mom bought the cheapest coffee she could find at the grocery store. But, no matter, she insisted, because a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of cinnamon in the filter along with the coffee elevated bargain beans to gourmet status. Well, almost. But this trick did get me through the lean college and graduate school days pretty darned well.
As the dog days of summer press down on us, it’s only natural to feel a little parched. There’s no better way to beat the heat than with an array of large-batch cocktails and drinks, and that’s exactly what Punch Bowls and Pitcher Drinks offers. The title, written by Jeanne Kelley and Sarah Tenaglia, pulls inspiration from fresh, seasonal fruits, plus herbs and spices. Classic cocktails are reimagined as new sips, like Julep-Tea Punch, Lychee Mojito Punch, Old-Fashioned Manhattan Punch and Mai Tai Punch. But we can’t get enough of the drinks from the Height of Summer section, especially the Peachy Moonshine, Spiked Spa Water and Watermelon-Tequila Punch (pictured above; recipe below for you to try at home).
Before you dip into any of the recipes, keep in mind these tips and tricks for working with fresh cocktail ingredients and various spirits:
- The tartness of citrus fruit varies considerably from backyard tree fruit to purchased fruit from the farmers market or the grocery store. Hyper-fresh backyard citrus will have a more intense flavor.
- Unless the recipe specifies, you do not need to peel the fruit or vegetables. In many cases the peel or rind of a fruit adds a note of necessary bitterness to counter the sweeter meat of the fruit, and also helps infuse the lunch with more aromatic flavors.
- Brands of alcohol also vary considerably. In order to get the right balance, add the amount of liquor called for in the recipes (the smaller amount if a range is listed). If, after tasting, you want a more potent mix, add more liquor by the tablespoonful to taste.
- Some folks really prefer sweet drinks. If a recipe calls for a flavored syrup or sugar, a little more can be stirred into the mix, but start with the recommended amount.
If a beach escape isn’t in the cards this summer, ramp up the tropical factor with some island-themed snacks and perhaps a tiki cocktail, to take advantage of the warm weather. The tiki masters behind Chicago’s popular Three Dots and a Dash shake up to 2,000 rum-centric drinks on a typical night.
Beverage director Diane Corcoran oversees the menu of fruity, potent and often flaming combinations, including the classic Mai Tai, the coconut-based Painkiller and the smoky-sweet, summer-ready Bikinis After Dark (recipe below).
“The key to great tiki cocktails is keeping it balanced,” she says. “Use fresh juices — pineapple, lemon and lime — and get flavors from things that aren’t syrup. You can use a lot of fresh fruit and purees without added sugar to get that fruit flavor.”
What’s the best way to get the most flavor out of your cocktail? Muddling. The gentle mashing and combining of fruits with other ingredients will help to release fresh flavors and encourage a mingling of your base and spirit. In fact, it may be even more important than shaking or stirring when it comes to creating the perfect summer cocktail. Be careful not to over-muddle when working with delicate herbs such as mint and basil (which will become bitter) or delicate fruits that may benefit from larger pieces (for color and for visual appeal). Rosemary, lemon, limes and sturdier ingredients will be able to stand a heavy muddling. Whether you choose to use a wood, plastic or metal muddler, it’s the ultimate tool to craft these summer cocktails.
Pineapple-Raspberry Rum Refresher (pictured above)
Skip soda water or tonic and use coconut water for your summer cocktail. Melissa D’Arabian gently muddles frozen raspberries before topping with coconut water, pineapple juice and rum. Stir gently and serve with sprigs of mint.
My brother recently tied the knot, which meant lots of parties and prep beforehand. A few months ago, I got to plan a super-fun bachelorette party for my now sister-in-law, and the individual strawberry champagne gelatin shots that one of the girls brought were the hit of the night.
Not only were the shots adorable and fun, but they tasted delicious. And she kept telling me how simple they were! I begged for the recipe. For the party, she used mini plastic cups and sealed them with plastic lids for easy transporting and consumption in a hotel room. I could not even wait to make my own version of these!
I’m rather nutty about Bellinis — give me all the Prosecco and all the fruit. I adore trying new combos, and last year I even made a Bellini bar, which has been an easy go-to at parties these days.
For the party shots, I stuck to a classic, the peach Bellini. And since we were serving these at home, I made them in a baking dish, but they would definitely work in the single-portion cups if you’d like to take them to a party. These are my new favorite party trick, and they couldn’t be better for summer, now that peaches are finally in season.
The dog days of summer call for ice-cold drinks, but you already knew that, right? With the cooling qualities of an icy drink in hand, all of your warm-weather dreams are possible: breezy pool days, lively backyard barbecues and even relaxing nights spent at home. Stay refreshed all summer long with these oh-so-summery fruity spins on your favorite sips that you shake up at your home bar.
Give the rum-based New Orleans classic, the Hurricane, an extra-summery edge by whipping up Ted Allen’s Passion Fruit Hurricane (pictured above). Combine rum, grapefruit juice and passion fruit puree with ice in the blender and you’ll see why it’s so pleasant to sip through a straw.
We’ve all heard the saying “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” Before you cue the eye rolls, let me clarify: I’m not preaching a life motto. I’m preaching the splendor of lemonade — sweet-tart, thirst-quenching lemonade. Chilled with ice and freshly squeezed, it completes every summer picnic, barbecue or block party. Escape the summer heat with the refreshing beverage in its many forms — classic, fruit filled, slushy and more — with these simple recipes.
Since we’re on a roll with the cliches, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Equal parts sweet and tart, Ree Drummond’s Perfect Homemade Lemonade (pictured at top) is your go-to lemonade for picnics, cookouts and more. The tried-and-true combination of sugar, water and freshly squeezed lemon juice is simple yet timeless — and guaranteed to please any crowd.
Kentucky bourbon is all the rage these days. You’d think that would be nothing but good news for distillers — but they’re finding it difficult to keep up with demand.
Because bourbon is generally given years to age in wooden barrels, even if makers were to ramp up production now, the new supply wouldn’t be available for a long time to come.
Aging in charred white oak barrels is considered essential to bourbon’s taste and hue. The liquor’s process of expansion and contraction over time, as seasons and temperatures change, imparts richness and complexity. Some whiskey experts cite five to 10 years of aging as the sweet spot for better bourbons, depending on how it has been aged.
You can’t rush flavor, the thinking has always gone. But wait … can you?