Grilled Lemon Rose Vodka Cocktails for Valentine’s Day

Sweetened with an herbal honey syrup, these Grilled Lemon Rose Vodka Cocktails are the perfect rosy drink to toast your Valentine, or simply toast yourself.

Grilled Lemon Rose Vodka Cocktails for Valentine's Day // www.WithTheGrains.com

Happy Valentine’s Day Eve!

If you follow my Instagram wanderings, you may have noticed I’ve been traveling the Pacific Northwest, styling events for my friend Lindsey’s cookbook, Eat Your Feelings (which I also styled). I’ve been soaking up the West Coast sunshine, trying to eat as much as possible, caffeinating to the brink of jitters and admiring the Crafstman Style architecture to the point of spying/stalking. The only downside to this trip is I’ll miss spending Valentine’s Day with the Rustbelt Farmer (and Julep!). 

Are you gagging?

Grilled Lemon Rose Vodka Cocktails for Valentine's Day // www.WithTheGrains.com

I’m unabashedly a romantic at heart, but in the interest of not grossing you out, or sending you promptly to X the tab where my blog lives, I’ll stop the “missing my boyfriend” thread right here. Instead, I’ll tell you about another hobby that has emerged on this cookbook tour: binge watching true crime shows.

Grilled Lemon Rose Vodka Cocktails for Valentine's Day // www.WithTheGrains.com

I’m not talking high quality productions like Manhunt or Mindhunter (though I do recommend them). I’m talking terrible, laugh-out-loud, true crime shows like Forensic Files (thanks Netflix!), a Forensic Files MARATHON (thanks random television station!), Snapped (I’m new to Oxygen, but it makes me want cable) and even the E! True Hollywood Story on Tonya Harding (#TeamTonya).

Grilled Lemon Rose Vodka Cocktails for Valentine's Day // www.WithTheGrains.com

A BIG common thread on these shows? Failed romances. 

Grilled Lemon Rose Vodka Cocktails for Valentine's Day // www.WithTheGrains.com

A few life lessons I’ve gleaned from these shows:

  1. ALWAYS be suspicious when your spouse/significant other/new love interest takes out a life insurance policy on you.
    1. Pro Tip for those considering a life of crime? Be sure to get the life insurance policy that is good for more than a commercial airline death before you commit to a crime of passion.
  2. Romances are never what they seem from the outside.
  3. Whenever the dramatic narrator voice says, “They looked like the perfect couple to all their friends, but police began to investigate..,” then you know the husband or wife was definitely involved. 
  4. I’m fairly certain they drug the victim’s friends and family members to be able to ACT IN THE RE-ENACTMENTS because that is the fodder of a lifetime of therapy. 

Grilled Lemon Rose Vodka Cocktails for Valentine's Day // www.WithTheGrains.com

So my bitter, anti-romance, cupid haters, my recommendation to you is to whip up these Grilled Lemon Rose Vodka Cocktails for Valentine’s Day, and take a deep dive into true crime and dark humor. Share these cocktails with a fellow bitter friend, or simply enjoy a few all by yourself.It’s your Valentine’s Day. Do whatever you gotta do to get to February 15th in good spirits (pun intended… not sorry)! 

Grilled Lemon Rose Vodka Cocktails for Valentine's Day // www.WithTheGrains.com

Grilling the lemon slices adds an extra special touch and an intensified natural sweetness to these Rose Vodka Cocktails. While you have the grill pan in use (or an actual grill, since I am now realizing people live in places that are warm and pleasant in the winter), grill some extra lemons for a dessert garnish.

Grilled Lemon Rose Vodka Cocktails for Valentine's Day // www.WithTheGrains.com

The honey rosemary syrup base for this drink, which also makes a satisfying mocktail, makes a great drizzle for cakes as well. I’m giving you efficient cocktail and dessert tips and anti-Valentine’s Day crime dramas… do you see how much I care for your emotional wellbeing? For more on these organic red velvet cakes, check out my post on the Healthyish Foods blog

Grilled Lemon Rose Vodka Cocktails for Valentine's Day // www.WithTheGrains.com

Stay tuned for more adventures, and enjoy tomorrow with or without romance. 

Cheers friends,


Grilled Lemon Rose Vodka Cocktails

Yield: 1 cocktail (the syrup yields enough for several cocktails)

Rosemary Honey Syrup

1/2 cup local raw honey
1/2 cup water
3-4 sprigs fresh rosemary

Cocktail Ingredients

1 organic lemon, sliced
1 1/2 oz Vodka
3/4 – 1 1/2 oz rosemary honey syrup
3/4 oz tart cherry juice
1/2- 3/4oz rose water, to taste
juice from one half lemon
fresh rosemary

Simple Syrup:

In a small saucepan, combine the honey, water, and rosemary sprigs. Bring to a boil, swirling to dissolve the honey, then remove from the heat and steep for at least 5 minutes. Strain and chill until needed, up to 1 week.

For the Cocktail:

Cut a lemon into slices. Place the slices on a hot stovetop grill pan. Grill until the flesh is charred, 2-3 minutes. Remove and let cool.

Pour vodka, rosemary honey syrup, tart cherry juice, rose water and lemon juice in a glass, over ice. Stir, then top with a grilled lemon slice and a sprig of rosemary.

Enjoy!

Father’s Day Cocktail: Frosty Sazerac and Boozy Cake Pairing

Father’s Day is this weekend, so here’s a Father’s Day Cocktail for the dad who is classic but doesn’t take himself too seriously. 

Father's Day Cocktail: A Frosty Sazerac and Cake Pairing // www.WithTheGrains.com

My dad, Doug Kogel, was ahead of his time. When I think of my dad in summertime, I think of him wearing cut-off jean shorts, tilling the garden and then cooling off with what, at the time, I thought was the most repulsive summer refresher- tomato juice and (non-alcoholic) beer. Ewwwwww. 

Father's Day Cocktail: A Frosty Sazerac and Cake Pairing // www.WithTheGrains.com

But then the Michelada craze hit, and I had to admit, maybe my dad, with his o.g. heirloom tomatoes and my mom’s homemade heirloom tomato juice, was actually onto something, albeit a less seasoned something. Granted, the idea of beer and tomato juice still makes my face squish with disgust, but I can at least accept that my dad’s gross drink of choice is a popular gross drink of choice. Agree to disagree. 

Father's Day Cocktail: A Frosty Sazerac and Cake Pairing // www.WithTheGrains.com

I wrote off his drink, and I didn’t listen enough in those ways that come back to haunt me- why don’t I know the butcher’s diagram of a cow?!? I have only myself to blame (shameful for the daughter of a cattlemen)! But, we’ve both acknowledged a need to listen to each other more, and that is worth celebrating. (More on those thoughts + a BBQ Sauce recipe in this post.)

Father's Day Cocktail: A Frosty Sazerac and Cake Pairing // www.WithTheGrains.com

Unfortunately, my dad and I will be separated by multiple states and a time zone this Father’s Day, but I hope he’ll be rocking some jean shorts and his drink of choice. I’ll be sipping this licorice flavored Chilled Sazerac and indulging in its cake counterpart. If you’re lucky enough to share the day with your dad, and even luckier enough to both count whiskey as your spirit of choice, then this Father’s Day Cocktail might be for the two of you!

Father's Day Cocktail: A Frosty Sazerac and Cake Pairing // www.WithTheGrains.com

This icy Father’s Day Cocktail is a riff off a classic cocktail- the Sazerac– a staple from one of America’s cultural hot beds, New Orleans. I’m adding extra chill because this father’s day, I’m playing it cool (like dad used to be). I’m also using Pernod, Absinthe’s less hallucinogenic, lighter-on-the-wallet-and-alcohol-content kid brother. To top it off, I’m baking up Sazerac style Healthyish cakes because if there is one realm where my dad and I align, it’s definitely the dessert realm! 

Father's Day Cocktail: A Frosty Sazerac and Cake Pairing // www.WithTheGrains.com

If your dad has a sweet tooth, and you’re still stumped on what to give him for his years of shaping you into the human you are today, consider gifting a Healthyish cake subscription

A Gift for Dads- a Discount on Healthyish Cakes!

If you’re still looking for the perfect gift for dad, indulge his sweet tooth and sign him up for a monthly subscription of Healthyish cakes and keep experimenting with cocktail pairings. Enter DADSROCK at checkout for 10% off your gift subscription, and be sure to tag your Father’s Day dessert moments with #HealthyishFoods on Instagram.

Father's Day Cocktail: A Frosty Sazerac and Cake Pairing // www.WithTheGrains.com

Father's Day Cocktail: A Frosty Sazerac and Cake Pairing // www.WithTheGrains.com

Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads out there and an extra special hug to all those missing their dads this weekend. 

Cheers,

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Healthyish Foods, the makers of organic, perfectly portioned cake mixes, but all opinions are my own. I’m excited to partner with Healthyish Foods to bring you ideas for appeasing those sweet cravings in ways that won’t include a kitchen full of dishes or elaborate frosting techniques.


Sazerac Style Healthyish Cakes

Yield: for 3-4 Healthyish Cakes

About this Recipe: This recipe yields enough glaze for 3-4 individually portioned Healthyish cakes, but you can follow the same ratio and process to increase quantities and glaze a larger cake. 

Ingredients

Healthyish Baking Kits
3-4 Tablespoons Whiskey

1 Tablespoon Pernod Anise
2 Tablespoons Organic Powdered Sugar

For the Cakes

Follow the Healthyish baking instructions. Immediately after removing the cakes from the oven, use a cake tester or toothpick to poke holes in the cakes’ surfaces. Pour 1 Tablespoon whiskey onto the surface of each cake (or more whiskey, to taste), spreading the liquid evenly over the surface.

For the Glaze

Whisk together the Pernod and powdered sugar until smooth. Drizzle over cakes.


A Father’s Day Cocktail: The “Spazerac” (A Frosty Take on a Sazerac)
Recipe adapted from Liquor.com

Ingredients

2  1/2 oz your favorite whiskey
1/2 oz Simple Syrup
1 teaspoon Pernod Anise (or absinthe)
1/4 oz Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
3 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
Ice

Garnish

Lemon twist
Fresh rosemary or other herbs

Glass

Old Fashioned

Directions

Add all the ingredients to a blender with just under 1 cup of ice. Blend until smooth and pour into an Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Cheers!

Whole Wheat Lemon Mint Olive Oil Cake (Vegan) for a Farm Cookout

“Farming is a strange combination of forced patience and instant gratification,” is how local farmer Tara Rockacy explained her endeavor, and she would know! The lady has been moving and hustling, expanding, growing and evolving with each season, from CSAs to goats emerging from new barns to mingle with the city’s top chefs. The “forced patience” aspect reminded me how a farm must work in tune with the season and the elements. Unlike a business startup, there can’t be a complete change of direction mid-season. There can’t be a last-minute decision to focus on flowers because that’s what the market wants. That decision has to be planned and put in motion long before the competitive scrambling to catch a bridal bouquet. That’s why a bloom, at long last, is so instantly gratifying.

A Farm Cookout // www.WithTheGrains.com

Photo by Christopher Sprowls.

Nonetheless, my dreamer, imaginative, event designer, stylist side gets swept away with the farm’s full potential, until a brief reality check finds me ensnared in visions of long tables, farm-fresh bouquets, wedding vows amidst the basil, banjo nights, yoga by the hoop house, drawing classes with edible still lifes, herbalism workshops, etc, etc, etc. The “forced patience” is remembering the main goal for this season: to repair the soil, grow food and feed people. Everything else will come in its due time. Due time means starting small: one picnic table, four friends, and one enjoyable evening of just being on the farm.

A Farm Cookout // www.WithTheGrains.com

Photo by Christopher Sprowls.

“This is the first time I’ve had people on the farm and haven’t put them to work,” the Urban Farmer joked, and though the work is rewarding, just sitting, laughing and eating sausages was a welcomed change of pace.

A Farm Cookout // www.WithTheGrains.com

Photo by Christopher Sprowls.

Starting small, or simply starting, can be such a hurdle, so this cookout was a much needed reminder for me to slow down, enjoy this season, and take advantage of the here and now. I should probably plaster that reminder all over my apartment: Start small, start small, start small!

hazelwoodmemorialday-4

Photo by Christopher Sprowls.

Bricks that once clad homes on these vacant lots, were born again as a our fire pit, where we grilled sausage and smoky potato wedges with herbs. The Urban Farmer picked the salad straight from the ground- a flavorful mix with bitter, citrusy notes and crunch- a far cry from the plastic container of greens in the produce aisle. The watermelon was juicy, the cocktail was refreshing, the view of the city was stunning, and dessert was just the right mix of sweet and tart.

A Farm Cookout // www.WithTheGrains.com

Photo by Christopher Sprowls.

While my head will probably always spin with ideas and grand dreams, I’ll take plenty more of these small, first steps and remember to appreciate patience, albeit forced, and cherish the ensuing moments of instant gratification!

Single-Grain

Cheers,
Quelcy

Whole Wheat Lemon Mint Olive Oil Cake & Sage Lemonade Cocktails

About These Recipes: Olive oil, lemon juice and lemon zest make this a moist, spongey cake fit for vegans and dairy-loving fools alike! Serve with homemade whipped cream, organic vanilla bean ice cream, or vegan whipped coconut cream. The cocktail is a loose recipe for a fruit-infused punch. Free of precise ratios, it’s an effective way to serve cocktails to multiple people. You’ll need a gallon jug or pitcher.

Whole Wheat Lemon Mint Olive Oil Cake // www.WithTheGrains.com

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The Dandelion, An Empire & A Bit of London in Philly

May 2012

There were many motives for a Memorial Day Weekend in Philadelphia:  friends in need of a vistit, family, a variety of restaurants from which to choose, a cultural pull, the pulse of a bigger city and a bit of scheming that led me to a very special dinner. There’ll be more, much more, on that dinner later.  Once my special one agreed to support my Quelcadelphia whims, I began setting my food goals.

Hamburger research put The Dandelion high on my list of restaurant goals. Its metropolitan hommage reminded me of the very grand, inaugural adventure my special one and I made to London.  Consequently, the dapper and Dandy Lion introduced me to a well known name for Philly foodies, a name that is synonymous with “Philly food scene”- Stephen Starr.   At the young age of 21, Starr entered the restaurant business.  Fast forward a few decades, and his name is now behind several concept restaurants in Philly, a couple in New York and then some in Atlantic City and Florida (I have no goals for sampling from those last two locations).  After experiencing The Dandelion and a brunch spot, which I shall address in another post, I understood why the man had become an empire.

From street level, a tall, corner locale with a dim, warm glow from ornate bay windows caught my eye.  As I took in its stately elegance, my view shifted to the text on the streetlight style lamp above the door- The Dandelion!  We had arrived!

The Dandelion
18th and Sansom St
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Neighborhoods: Rittenhouse Square, Penn Center

Scotch Honey Suckle
Dewar’s scotch, dry vermouth, honey, lemon, rose water

Smoky and floral all at once.  A solid choice for a slow sip.

Bourbon Ginger Fizz
Bulleit bourbon, ginger, lemon, bitters, egg white

Refreshing like a high quality soda.  I would have slurped this too quickly had it been my own rather than offered to me for a few sips.

Dandelion Salad
mixed greens & dandelion leaves, cucumber, avocado, lemon vinaigrette

This salad was the obvious choice based on its name, and for a simple salad with a few green accents, it packed a complexity of flavors stemming from the bitter (in a good way) greens and the extra buttery kick of the lemon vinaigrette.

Oysters Of The Day 
with shallot mignonette sauce

My special one is the oyster expert in our duo, and he said these were just the way he likes them- vinegary.  I can barely keep oysters and mussels straight (much to my special one’s disbelief), but oyster indifference aside, these shells even impressed me.

Berkshire Pork Paté
celeriac remoulade, shallot-pear chutney, wheat toast

The specificity of “Berkshire” in the name is what first drew me to this appetizer.  It’s a fitting choice of swine for a British inspired gastropub, since the Berkshire pigs originated on the fine soils of the Queen’s land.  It seems foolish to write, but what had me repeatedly dipping the knife into the paté was its meatier pork flavor versus the heavy notes of fat that often overpower a paté.  The shallot-pear chutney added the contrast of sweetness that pairs so well with pork, but I preferred the celeriac remoulade as a separate side dish (Pittsburghers would probably automatically use it as a sandwich topping due to its similarities with coleslaw).

House Blend Aged Beef Burger 
Vermont sharp cheddar, Brooklyn brine pickles, apple smoked bacon, special sauce

Our raison d’être- the burger that brought us to the table.  Jono took a big bite and then offered, “Don’t hate me for saying this, but it tastes like a Big Mac.” I couldn’t hate him for saying it (aside from being a rather minor reason to hate someone) because he was right. McDonalds hasn’t fed a nation on convenience alone.  The chain knows a thing or two about pleasing people.  I’m not throwing away all my food values.  I’m merely justifying an odd compliment because this burger tasted like a better Big Mac, and the thick french fries clearly had a stronger tie to the potato than the greasy lot of a Happy Meal.  Our burger search had not led us astray.

Lamb Shepherd’s Pie 
mashed potatoes, root vegetables

Succumbing to the tantalizing temptation of this shepherd’s pie results in a burned tongue. Beware!  However, when root vegetables and lamb are hidden under cheesy, mashed potatoes, a little burn is easily (or all too hastily?) ignored.

There was no room for dessert, but there was room for us at The Ranstead Room (which I documented here previously), located conveniently just a few blocks away!

Stephen Starr Addendum

Remember all the way to the top of this post when I used “Stephen Starr” and “empire” in the same sentence? I thought I was being hyperbolic, but when I looked for a Ranstead Room website, I found myself directed to none other than a Stephen Starr restaurant.  I felt deceived, dumbfounded and inspired all at once.  What I would describe as your hipster cousin’s attempts to redecorate your sleezy old uncle’s basement was a 100% intentional concept bar, and it had been fooling me this whole time!  I’ll still continue to go there when I’m in town, but now I know I should order the tacos too!

Stay tuned for more Quelcy in Philly adventures, or what I like to call… The Adventures of Quelcadelphia!

My Special One’s Birthday: Simple Syrup for Birthday Bourbons

April 2012

April marked another year in my special one’s life, but it also marked the start of a new chapter.  Shortly before his birthday, Jono signed his offer letter, thus accepting an important position at a company that will one day change the world!  The entire world!  It’s also the company that brought us together!  What is that company?  I leave you in suspense.  I spend 40+ hours a week talking about it, whereas, I do not spend nearly enough time talking about whiskey…

Ok…a tad more about my work… part of my job, at the mysterious company, is to make sure the movers and shakers enjoy their jobs, their spaces, represent our values, etc.  A whirlwind brought me into this atypical line of work, and though it’s not my dream job (still figuring out what my dream job is), it’s an amazing opportunity to be a part of something epic!  One of the most inspiring aspects of my day job is being surrounded by passionate, smart people who really, truly love what they are doing.  My special one loves what he is doing, and he worked really hard to get there.  He chalks a lot of his early success up to luck, but I give the credit to that big brain of his.  His foresight and dedication have served him well, and for that I offered a bourbon from the big leagues.  I also offered a silly little bottle ‘o Beam that he may stay humble, stay driven and stay crazy!

I do hope girlfriend privileges will merit a taste of that fancy jockey’s reserve, but for the birthday festivity, I stuck to my own supply.  For a sweet and peppery birthday cocktail, I infused a few extra flavors into a simple syrup.

Simple Syrup for Birthday Bourbons

1 cup water
1 cup turbinado sugar

Fresh blueberries, sliced
Pink Peppercorns
Fresh mint
A drizzle or so of pure maple syrup

Bring 2 cups of cold water to a boil. Stir in 2 cups of turbinado sugar. Turn the heat to low and stir constantly until the sugar dissolves completely.

Remove from heat and add your infusions.  Keep refrigerated until ready to use.

Suggested serving:  Bourbon + bitters + simple syrup (on the rocks)

Bon Anniversaire Mon Amour et Santé!

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