Tag Archives: cocktails

Passion Fruit Strawberry Margaritas

passion fruit strawberry margaritas

You know how I feel about margaritas. OBSESSED.

But in a strange twist of events, I didn’t miss margaritas while I was pregnant. Like, at all. When it came to alcohol, all I wanted was a cold beer. And this craving lasted for pretty much the whole pregnancy, to the point where it actually sorta bothered me. I enjoy a good microbrew from time to time, but I never would have chosen beer over margaritas pre-pregnancy. Leave it to me to develop a serious love for beer after leaving Portland. Sigh. I wondered if I’d ever be “normal” again. Continue reading


lime margaritas

easy lime margarita recipe

I have to get something off my chest. I’m a total margarita snob.

There, I said it. And I feel better already. It’s taken me 3+ years to admit that, but I couldn’t lead you on anymore. The truth is, I only drink margaritas made with fresh ingredients – and I am totally that girl at the bar who asks what’s in the cocktails. Making fresh margaritas is so easy – why use the syrupy-sweet, preservative-filled mix? Believe me, I’ve had enough margaritas to know that there is a difference. I also prefer my margaritas without triple sec. Or salt. High maintenance, I know. Continue reading


Warm Winter Cocktails {recipe roundup}

I never thought I’d say this, but a cocktail just isn’t going to cut it this weekend. A cold cocktail, anyway. Hot bevys are a whole different story. They warm you up from the inside out, and feel somehow a little more appropriate than drinking an ice-cold margarita in 10 degree weather. I’ve been collecting a list of warm cocktail recipes for my own benefit, and thought it was time to share the wealth. So – put that margarita glass away, grab your favorite mug, and pick your weapon of choice!

warm cocktail roundup 3warm cocktail roundup 4warm cocktail roundup 2

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Hawaiian Lava Flow Cocktails

lava flow

Summer hit Portland like a freight train last week. The weather went from 60s-and-rainy to high-90s-and-super-hot within a 24 hour period. And all I could think about was a Lava Flow. Like, I probably would have had one for breakfast if that was appropriate. I finally got around to inviting some friends over and making a batch – and let’s just say that it was totally worth the wait.

Hawaiian Lava Flow Cocktail

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Spiked Mango Passionfruit Sweet Tea

spiked mango passionfruit sweet tea

Now that Cinco de Mayo is over, put down the tequila. And pick up a bottle of Honey Whiskey, y’all. Have you tried this stuff? Maaaaaan it’s good. But wait – don’t start chugging just yet. You’ve gotta save it for the perfect summer cocktail: Spiked Mango Passionfruit Sweet Tea. As if sweet tea isn’t delicious enough on it’s own, right? But spiked sweet tea is truly delightful on a hot day – and it has been H.O.T in Portland.

Spiked Mango Passionfruit Sweet Tea_ Margaritas In The Rain

I’m not a southern belle, so naturally I had to add some tropical to this equation. I brewed the tea per the usual sweet tea recipe, but added much less sugar to compensate for the sweet fruit juice and honey whisky. Traditional whisky is also lovely in sweet tea – but frankly, I just really like Honey Whiskey. It sort of… takes the edge off? So I modified the recipe to accomodate it. 

Spiked Mango Passionfruit Sweet Tea _ Margaritas In The Rain

And, voila.

Served on ice with a wedge of lemon and fresh mint, this drink is smooth, refreshing, and just the right amount of sweet. Bring it on, summer.

Spiked Mango Passionfruit Sweet Tea  _ Margaritas In The Rain


Spiked Mango Passionfruit Sweet Tea
Yields 1 pitcher

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6 cups water
8 bags of tea
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups Trader Joe’s Mango Passionfruit juice
Honey Whisky (6+ oz)
Mint and lemon slices for garnish

Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Remove from the heat, add tea bags, and let steep 5-10 minutes. Remove tea bags and stir in sugar until dissolved. Transfer to a pitcher and add juice. Stir to combine and let chill for at least 1 hour in the refrigerator (I let cool overnight). Stir again before serving.
Add ice and 1 ounce of Honey Whisky to each glass. Pour sweet tea over rum, and garnish with mint and a lemon wedge. Put your feet up and enjoy.

Margaritas in the Rain http://margaritasintherain.com/


Party like it’s Cinco de Mayo

Cinco De Mayo recipe roundupGiven the name of this blog, you’ve probably induced that I’m a big fan of Cinco de Mayo. And right you are my friends. In fact, here’s the photo booth evidence from one of our recent Cinco de Mayo parties:

And yes, those are homemade cardboard photo booth props made by my husband extraordinaire. But I digress. Whether you are going to go big or stay at home this Cinco de Mayo, you’ll want to check out this roundup of recipes.Homemade Infused TequilaBaked Margarita Donuts

Fruity White Sangria
Mini Rosemary Cornbread muffinsSouthwest Brown Rice Bowl
Baked Apple Empanadas
Easy Chicken Tortilla Soup
Frozen Lime Yogurt Mini Pies

Homemade Infused Tequila

Homemade Infused Tequila

I went through a period in college where I thought that cherry-flavored vodka was the bees knees. My friends and I would drink it with diet cokes, and think that we were super classy for making such delicious “cocktails.”

Ahh, the good old days.

Homemade Infused Tequila

Today, I look at cocktails a little bit differently.

I prefer using real ingredients, like fresh squeezed juice instead of pre-packaged mixers. And my newest thing? Making my own infused liquor instead of buying the sticky-sweet pre-maid stuff. If you’re a marshmallow-flavored vodka-type person, no worries. I don’t judge. But I will say this: the flavor of liquor infused with fresh fruit, herbs and spices is like a totally different experience.


Go ahead and try making infused tequila and you’ll see for yourself. I recently made my own batch of infused tequila. And because I was too indecisive to pick one flavor combination, I decided to go with three:

Strawberry Basil for a fresh taste of spring
~ Pineapple Jalapeño for a tropical kick
~ Grapefruit Cinnamon for a citrusy-yet-savory combo

Homemade Infused Tequila
And in a nutshell? Totally a success!

I was really pleased with the results, but I wanted to give these infused tequilas the ultimate test. So naturally, I brought them out for our friends to taste test at our latest dinner party. For variety (and because not everyone likes to sip tequila straight), I also brought sparkling water, grapefruit juice and orange juice.

It’s safe to say our friends had a blast mixing and matching their own cocktails. I was sort of hoping there would be a clear winner – but everyone had their own favorites for different reasons. So, I have to share all three flavor ideas.

With Cinco De Mayo right around the corner, this would make a pretty fabulous alternative addition to tequila shooters or margaritas. What flavors are you going to mix up?

Homemade Infused Tequila
Homemade Infused Tequila

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1 cup of desired infusion ingredients, ex: fresh strawberries and basil leaves, pineapple chunks and sliced jalapeños, grapefruit slices and cinnamon sticks or your own fun combination
3 cups tequila

Wash and prep infusion ingredients. Add to glass container along with tequila, and screw lid on tight. Let jar sit on counter (out of sun) for 3-5 days, taste-testing each day to achieve desired flavor. When tequila is properly infused, strain and re-bottle. And that’s it. Enjoy responsibly 🙂

Margaritas in the Rain http://margaritasintherain.com/


Spiked Apple Cider Cocktail

It started pouring yesterday in Portland.

Spiked Apple Cider Cocktail

I mean truly dumping buckets. The only real way to cope with the sogginess is to have a cocktail and enjoy it from inside a warm living room. So I skipped my gym class and did just that. 

Spiked Apple Cider Cocktail

Although I adore margaritas, I typically don’t enjoy sticky sweet cocktails. But this recipe for Spiked Apple Cider is a win. Whether you’re looking for a cocktail to serve at Thanksgiving, or you just need a treat after a long day, you’re going to love this drink. 

It’s the perfect combination of being really flavorful and interesting, without being overly sweet. It would be perfect as a pre-dinner cocktail or dessert. Either way, it’s perfectly fall. 

Spiked Apple Cider Cocktail
Spiked Apple Cider Cocktail
Serves 1

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1 cup spiced apple cider
1 oz dark rum
1/2 oz cinnamon schnapps
1 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice

Peel and chop an apple into small squares. Sprinkle with desired amount of cinnamon and toss until semi-coated. String several pieces onto toothpick or skewer. [Save remaining pieces for additional cocktails or for tomorrow morning’s oatmeal!] Add liquid ingredients to cocktail shaker with ice. Shake, strain, and pour into glass. Top with apple garnish and enjoy.

Margaritas in the Rain http://margaritasintherain.com/

Adapted from Aaron McCargo’s Food Network Recipe



Light + Fruity White Sangria

I don’t know about you, but I always start my weekends with a To Do list.

fruity white sangria

You know, for things like: organizing the closet, cleaning the inside of the refrigerator, writing overdue thank-you cards, and painting my nails. And about 50 other things.


I start out with good intentions, I really do. But then… I get distracted.

fruity white sangria

This weekend was no exception. It was sweltering in Portland. We were hosting some friends for dinner, and I quickly realized that a batch of cold cocktails was in order. I put together a large pitcher of white sangria, and let me tell you: it did NOT disappoint. Unlike some sangria recipes, this one doesn’t call for sugar or sweetener, so it’s fruity, crispy and very refreshing.

fruity white sangria

The best thing about recipes like this one is that you can totally improvise depending on what’s in season – or in your fridge. I added basil, peaches, strawberries, blueberries and orange watermelon from the Portland Farmer’s Market. 

fruity white sangria

I love summer.

fruity white sangria

Bartender Spotlight: Aviary’s Ross Hunsinger

Aviary is, without doubt, one of Portland’s top restaurants. Its inventive and creatively-executed menu has acquired plenty of buzz from the local and national food community. And it’s not hard to see why. Originality and splendor simply oozes out of the Aviary kitchen.

Despite a simply exquisite menu and dining experience, it was the cocktails at a recent girls night that blew me away. I may have been a couple drinks in, but I knew there was something special happening at the bar. 

Last week, I spent some time with the man behind the bar, Ross Hunsinger. Between chatting about his love of baking and pop-culture, I learned how this bartender extraordinaire is humbly upping the cocktail game, one ingredient at a time.

Hi Ross, thanks for spending some time with me today! Word on the street is that you’ve whipped up some awesome new seasonal cocktails.
We’ve got some new stuff. A couple of our new seasonal cocktails are already gone, but some are not. I made a gallon of brown butter bourbon. We went through a gallon in like, three or four days. So yea, there’s a fare amount of drinking happening.
Obviously I want to start with asking about your favorite.

Right now it’s the Dark & Shrubby. I’m stoked about that guy. The bar program over at Ping and PokPok uses this vinegar. We waited for like three months to get a bottle of it, and thought it was really good. So we got a case of it and I made like five gallons of soda. And it’s…awesome. I have not seen something like this, like a carbonated shrub. Back in the day, if they told folks a drink had vinegar or egg in them, they usually would not buy them. So, shrub is an old school term for drinks with vinegar in it. So, I’ve never seen a carbonated shrub, so that’s the carbonated shrub ala the Dark & Shrubby. It’s super good, it’s really summery, and it’s got a great color…

{Ross’s homemade Purple Yam Vinegar Soda}
{Dark & Shrubby cocktail}

So that was one of the cooler, more original additions. A lot of flip stuff happening. I’ve found that for a lot of the things I’ve been doing recently, it’s kinda a cool pill that lets base ingredients stand on it’s own. I’ve been doing a brown butter flip and a house wood-aged gin flip. I literally took a bunch of American Oak and split kindling out of it. Then I burned it with a blow torch, then I put it in a ziplock bag with a gallon of gin for a month and a half.  Tastes like a campfirey-super-smokey-summertime gin thing.

{The Gnt’nT cocktail}
That’s definitely a creative approach to cocktails! Where did you get your start bartending?
I started at Salty’s when I was 20. I was just interested in all the stories about wine and booze. The bar manager was like, “hey, as soon as you’re 21…”  So I started bartending there and doing inventory management. Eventually went to ClarkLewis
So you’ve worked with a variety of chefs and bartenders here in town. Do you look to other local bartenders for inspiration?
I usually will look at a cookbook or a chef, and totally just straight up steal a flavor profile or see if I can make that work in liquor. At a certain point, these guys have widdled down the flavor combinations and the profiles in a way that really works for them. So if there’s a way for me to take that and pull it on back… All the bartenders focus on bartenderly stuff – liquor, etc. I try not to limit myself with that. I think it’s really good for food like this, really delicate and really conceptual food, to have cocktails that are conceptual and not just about booze. I’ve never really looked up to a bartender until recently. David Chang is a big deal at his new bar, Booker and Dax [Editor’s note: in NYC], and it’s awesome. Aviary in Chicago is another bar. It’s insane. There are these dudes now who are pushing cocktails beyond what they’ve been, and those are the dudes I’m stoked on. 
I guess it’s worth mentioning too, that I have my brewmaster certification. For a while I thought it’d be really cool to be a brewer, like everybody else. So I actually went off to school for a while. And I’ve done nothing with it.
Well, I wouldn’t say you’ve done nothing…
The practical application is that I make all the sodas now. The whole program is house made except for CocaCola. That’s kinda cool. This is my lab. I make 5 gallons of things at a time. I carbonate everything, I’m a freak about it. It’s fun.
And tasty. I would buy this purple yam soda if you bottled it. How long have you been here at Aviary?
I was in school when it opened. When I came back, I was really close to opening a brew pub. Eventually this came up on my radar…. I was reading the paper and saw that they applied for a liquor license. This is one of the few restaurants in town that I actually had a lot of respect for, just because of what they do, I thought they were really ahead of the city. I totally get the casual gastro thing. But, I’m really stoked to see this whole swing back to really fussy, kinda pretentious, hyper-executed stuff.
Pretentious but affordable…?
For the first few months I ran this thing, the wine list was dirty cheap, it was goofy, stupid cheap. Because it was so punk rock, we were like, let’s just give the best to the people for nothing! And then we were like, that’s crazy, we should probably make a little bit of money. But, that’s totally the concept.
I have to say, the website lists the menu as “eclectic,” and I would say that the cocktail list is too. It could easily be intimidating, but you make it very approachable.
If this place were to have a gimmick, I’d say that’s it. There’s so much cool stuff in here in terms of ingredients, product and people that know technique – but it’s so little about that. Jasper [Shen], Kat [Whitehead] and Sarah [Pliner] are the three most humble people I’ve ever met, and they’re also three of the most talented people I’ve ever met too. They’re also insanely hard workers, and I totally respect them. When you do something all the time, it’s just what we do. I don’t think there’s any room for pretension. 
Well said. So – would you say you have a signature drink?
I would go ahead and say it’s the Brix Layer. That’s the one everyone’s stoked about, and one that I’ve been making as long as I’ve been bartending basically, that I came up with. Never been popular, but now everyone’s all over it. 
What about the names? How do you come up with them?
If I think of a name, I’ll reverse-engineer a drink around the name. I can make things that taste good all day long, but in order to market and sell stuff, it’s gotta have that snappy cocktail name. Actually, a lot of these drinks kinda existed in my notebook. So, putting a name to all of them was really hard to do. We sat around for like a week talking about it. We’re all kinda nerdy. There’s no two ways about that, so they’re all kinda nerdy names. The Curious Yellow is a reference to a criterion collection film, it’s an off color Swedish film from the 70s. St. Germaine’s Bisilica being a church. I’m kinda pop culture cuisinart. Pinkerton, inspired by the Weaser album. McCarthy, inspired by my buddy Jeff McCarthy. It’s just a drink he likes to drink. For the Choke & Coke, I got a bottle of cynar, the Artichoke liquor. I was like Artichoke… Choke… choke and coke? Let’s make a drink somehow with that.. and it worked! We’re such the information age. It’s gotta taste good, look awesome and be clever. Gotta up the game! 

{The Brix Layer cocktail}
{The Pinkerton cocktail}

But, you really have. Even artichoke liquor… I wouldn’t see that on a shelf and feel compelled to buy it.It’s compulsory at this point.  Yes, I would imagine it is. So with all of this great cocktail knowledge, what’s your drink of choice?I don’t drink too much. I drink wine, or maybe a little bit of whisky. That’s pretty much it.  Are you snobby about your wine or whisky?No. The thing that interested me about alcohol is that there are all these infinite stories. So even if something is really bad, if it’s got a cool story, there’s something kinda compelling about that to me. So I’ll drink it and check it out. I feel like I’m digesting stories more than anything. The whole thing with wine and cocktails, which I do all the time. I figure if you work your whole life, or you’ve been a part of a family that’s worked for, like this really stylistically perfect wine that has this expressive quality about it or whatever, then you’ve really focused that in. So, if I can pick up on something that works with alcohol, then cool, because they’ve already spent hundred years perfecting it. I don’t understand why there’s not more wine in cocktails. So the Pinkerton was barrel-aged tequila that’s really oaky and a really oaky chardonnay, and that just made sense to me. I don’t think there’s a bartender doing that, but I think it’s because I look at it like a chef. If you have a flavor profile inside of a drink, you can pair it with wine inside a drink… and blow a mind apart! So, what’s next?Well, I’ve never competed in the bartender competitions, but I’m doing one this summer.  It’s the Cocktail World Cup. The regionals are here in town at the Heathman. 
Can you give us a sneak peak?It’ll involve fennel and eucalyptus, sauvignon blanc and mandarin orange. Sounds intriguing. Where are you eating out when you’re not working?I love the retooling of the Brasserie and what they’re doing. Really, really solid. I also love Boke Bowl. I dig Interurban. I’m a pretty simple dude. I love a Grain and Gristle burger. That’s a great little neighborhood drop zone. On the weekends, I get out of here so late. Luc Lac is open until 4, so it’s totally the industry hangout. …Luc Lac is my reference point for everything. They are killing it. It’s completely straightforward Vietnamese restaurant, but their drinks are insane. They are totally aware that what they are doing is pho, Vietnamese food and spring rolls and stuff, but they’ve got a little something and they keep pushing it a little bit further, and I see that in what they do, and I totally respect that.  Along with being a rockstar bartender, do you consider yourself a chef?I wouldn’t ever say that, when I see what the chefs here do. But I wanted to be a baker when I was young – until I found out those dudes get up at 3 in the morning. Crossed that off the list. But I have a wood fired oven in my yard. It’s so good! I do a lot of baking, and I love pizza.  OK, last question – and only because I’m hungry. What are your favorite items on the menu here at Aviary?The pig ear is ridiculous. The warm vegetable salad is great as well. [Editor’s note: we ordered both dishes after the interview. Ross was absolutely correct]

{Bread Starter}
{Warm Vegetable Salad – fava beans, sugar snap peas, black olive cake, gruyere}
{Crispy Pig Ear – coconut rice, chinese sausage, avocado}