Tag Archives: vodka

Strawberry Lemonade/Spring



(Sorry, but I had to yell that at you. HAD TO.)

Today we have a deliciously grownup Strawberry Lemonade from Janessa, perfect for the impending bucket-loads of strawberries that will be hitting the markets.

And, a few links to recipes from the Bazaar Spices blog, written by yours truly:

Braised Collard Greens with Black Cardamom and Coconut Milk – I know you might not feel like braising these days, but trust me and just do it one last time before you start quickly blanching things and eating salads.

Smokey and Sweet Roasted Nuts – These are ADDICTIVELY good, and now that I’m on my own blog and not that of a professional establishment, I can be immature and giggle. Anyways, go make these nuts. (Tee hee).

And now, Strawberry Lemonade!



Strawberry Lemonade (My Way)

FOREVER ago, Kara asked me to come up with a unique-ish drink.  I did, took pictures, but forgot to write about it.  When cleaning up and organizing iPhoto a couple days ago, I ran into these pictures again.  I figured there is no harm in sharing it with you all now!

I love strawberries.  Fresh, juicy strawberries make me happy.  Unfortunately, when making this drink, we didn’t have any.  Frozen strawberries aren’t the same, but they worked fairly well.

Ok, so either thaw a handful of frozen strawberries and chop them, or slice the yummy fresh kind.  Add a little bit of sugar (probably 2 teaspoons) to soften the berries as well as provide a delicious bit of juice.

Strawberry mush

Next, measure 1.5 ounces of vodka using nifty shot glasses.



Fill a cup with ice, add some of the strawberry mixture, and the vodka, and top with lemonade.


Add lemonade


Ta-da!  Easy, and delicious!  I added a bit of basil to the top of my glass.  It was aromatic and mmmmm.


Topped with basil


Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

On being legal

Hey there, readers!

The past weeks have been full of cooking and adventuring, but a distinct lack of blogging, so let’s get down to business:

September 1st came and went, and we at the Troika Table up and missed our second anniversary. Yep, this little ol’ blog is two years (and 29 days) old!

In blog years, two years and 29 days is basically drinking age (or at least it is in Europe), so I have a little cocktail for you.

half full

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about grapes and rosemary – it’s something about a grape’s sweet, juicy flesh and rosemary’s wintery woodiness. Wouldn’t that be nice to drink on a crisp fall evening? Wouldn’t a little ginger liqueur add a welcome, warming zip? I thought so. This drink is quite easy to pull together but does require you to plan ahead a few weeks: you’ve got to infuse your own grape vodka, after all. I used a mixture of seedless green and red grapes from our stand at the farmers’ market (Reid’s Orchard and Winery!) to infuse the last of the vodka left over from the second-annual Russian New Year’s party*. It was as easy as pie (or, more accurately, way easier than pie): Toss a pint’s worth of grapes into two cups of vodka, smush the grapes with a potato masher or fork, and infuse in a glass container for a few weeks, giving everything a stir and a few more smushes whenever you remember. After two weeks, the vodka will be a lovely shade of mauve and have a balanced, understated grape flavor. For the gingery bite, I added a touch of ginger liqueur that I made a while back (I followed this recipe exactly). Making your own ginger liqueur is fairly easy, but if infusing your vodka is as much DIY as you can handle, you can buy some ginger liqueur (Domaine de Canton is the only kind I know, but I’ve never actually tried it). You could also try adding a splash of ginger syrup, which would add the ginger zip and a bit of sweetness without adding more alcohol. To the vodka and liqueur, I added a few drops of bitters, but I admit that when I made a second one without bitters I couldn’t tell the difference.** Stir with a few ice cubes, top with club soda, tuck a short sprig of rosemary in the glass, and you have quite a drink. I really, really recommend that you add the rosemary sprig – its savory, woody smell offsets the sweetness of the drink perfectly, but you don’t actually taste the rosemary in the drink. Just don’t knock it ’til you try it, ok?

You’ll likely see a few more vodka-based cocktails around here in the future – my best friend Kelly and her fiancé (!!!) Gilbert have asked me to concoct three vodka-based cocktails for them to try, and they might choose one of them to serve at their wedding (!!!!!!!!) next September. I’m thinking this one would be nice, but I’ll let them decide.


Grape Vodka Fizz

For one drink:

  • 2 ounces grape vodka (recipe below)
  • 1/2 ounce ginger liqueur, homemade or otherwise
  • ice
  • club soda
  • 1 to 2-inch sprig of rosemary
  • a few dashes of bitters, if you happen to have them

Add 5 or 6 ice cubes to a short glass. Pour the grape vodka, ginger liqueur, and bitters (if using). Stir to combine and chill. Top with club soda, stir a few times, and add the rosemary sprig.

Grape Vodka

  • 1 pint (about 2 cups) grapes – I used a mix of seedless red Suffolk and seedless green Thompson grapes
  • 2 cups vodka (I used Skyy, another high(ish) quality like Stolichnaya or Russian Standard would do)

Combine grapes and vodka in a glass container or jar, smashing grapes to extract some juice. Cover the container and infuse in the refrigerator for up to two weeks for lots of grape flavor, or one week for a subtle grape flavor. Whenever you happen to remember (ideally every few days, but I only did it once in the two-week period), stir the vodka around and smash the grapes a bit more to extract more juice. Strain and store in your refrigerator.

from the top

If the description, recipe, and pictures aren’t enough to convince you to try the Grape Vodka Fizz, consider this anecdote:

Today at market, a certain someone who works for NPR (and shall remain nameless because I don’t want to be that blogger), was telling us how he or she likes to muddle our grapes in cocktails. I, naturally, chimed in that I infused vodka with our grapes and crafted a drink with the infused vodka, ginger liqueur, and a sprig of rosemary. To my delight, the certain someone reacted with an “Ooooh!” and a fellow customer inquired “What kind of ginger liqueur did you use?” to which I replied “Well, I made my own, but you could buy some.” The certain someone correctly interpreted my statement to mean “Well, made my own, because I’m awesome, but if you want to, you could buy some, although it’s less awesome.” Basically, this cocktail got a vote of confidence from this certain someone, so clearly you should try it, too.

Happy infusing!


*Btw, that iPhone that was stolen? Totally got it back. I see you, Instagram. I see you.

**An aside: Do people really notice the difference without bitters? (Am I supposed to ask that?) I know adding bitters is a thing and it sounds like you know what you’re doing, but really, can you actually tell the difference in a drink made sans bitters? I guess if your drink is club soda and bitters, then yes, you can tell, but if it’s club soda + other things that have lots of flavor + bitters, can you really taste the difference? Please know that in asking this I’m also teetering a thin line with Braeden, who will always espouse the use of bitters in his beloved rum drinks, or in other words, I’m probably questioning our relationship, sort of.

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

The cure to winter blues II

I don’t know if you all heard the news, but DC now has its own groundhog. That’s right, Punxsutawney, make way for Potomac Phil. Since Phil predicted that there would be six more weeks of winter, I thought everyone could use a little drink.

All this citrus in the stores has made me go a little citrus happy; I’ve made lemon curd, lemon pasta, eaten lots of oranges over the sink, and attempted a few orange daiquiris. But last night’s drink tops them all. It’s a spinoff of a fresh juice I found over at 101 Cookbooks for Lime, Grapefruit, and Ginger Juice – with a few little changes. Instead of using ginger in the juice, I infused vodka with ginger and mixed that in with fresh grapefruit and lime juice, then sweetened it a bit with agave nectar. Yep.

And so, in honor of six more weeks of winter, leaking pipes, and broken hot water heaters, I present to you my winter juice.

Winter Juice
makes one cocktail

Note: The measurements I’ve given for agave and vodka are, as usual, more guidelines than actual rules. Adjust to your own tastes, but also know that the citrus masks any taste of vodka, well, quite nicely.

  • juice of one grapefruit
  • juice of one lime
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons agave nectar
  • 2 to 3 ounces ginger infused vodka (recipe below)
  • seltzer water

Combine grapefruit and lime juice in a tall glass. Add vodka and agave to taste, stir everything around to combine, and top with seltzer water. Throw in a few ice cubes to finish it off, and watch your worries about no hot water and fears of scurvy melt away.

Ginger vodka

  • 1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 4 cups vodka

Place vodka and ginger in an airtight container (such as a quart sized Ball jar), give it a few shakes, and place in a cool, dark place (but not refrigerator) for at least two days, shaking jar every couple of days. I let my vodka infuse for four days, and I’m going to keep the ginger in the jar to keep it infusing. Take ginger out if you don’t want a strong flavor.



Tagged , , ,

Piloncillo Kahlua

Hi, all.

I meant for this post to be about a recent Old Russian New Year’s/Housewarming party we had last weekend. (Also, aren’t you glad Wikipedia is up again? Dear oh dear.) But, alas, I’ve been distracted by something so delicious and easy and relatively (or at least comparatively) inexpensive that I have to tell you about it before you go gallivanting out in the cold this weekend and need a little somethin’ somethin’ to add to your coffee or hot chocolate.

I have made kahlua, and no ordinary kahlua at that. Yes, oh yes.

When I visited Janessa a few weeks ago, she gave me a sample of some homemade kahlua her sister-in-law’s husband had made. The thought had never occurred to me; make your own kahlua? So simple, so ingenious! And after the previously mentioned Old Russian New Year’s party (which, I promise, will be featured in a post soon because we made some really yummy things that everyone in the entire would should know about), we had a surplus of vodka that was just  begging to be used. I racked my brain (ish) and thought back to the homemade kahlua, which is where we find ourselves this chilly evening.

Homemade kahlua is as simple as coffee, a sweetener, a little vanilla extract, and vodka. That. Is. It.

I adapted my recipe from a lovely cupcake blog, and you can find the original recipe here.  Instead of using light brown sugar, I used the rest of a piloncillo cone I had laying around. Piloncillo is the Mexican version of brown sugar, but comes in solid cones or discs and has a deeper and more complex taste than your average brown sugar. I’d recommend finding it at a Mexican/Latino market, as it will probably be more inexpensive than in a supermarket (if a supermarket even carries it in the first place). We don’t have a drip coffee maker, just a French press, so I used that to brew my coffee. (I’m not at all a coffee connoisseur and couldn’t really tell you the difference in taste, but, well, it turned out very well.) The last change was completely by accident: I added more than twice as much vodka as I was supposed to. You see, I was only making half a recipe, but somehow misread the directions and thought that it called for 1.5 liters (which, not-so-coincidentally is how much the yield is, not how much vodka you add, oops), so naturally I said “Ok, simple math, .75 liters = a little over 3 cups of vodka, boom.) But, well, as you already know, that is over twice as much vodka as I should have added. The result? It’s good. My kahlua isn’t exactly like what you’d buy in the store, but it is good. You can drink it straight, over some ice. Or, added to hot chocolate. Or, you could mix it with milk and have some nice calcium with your cocktail.

In sum, make this now.

Homemade kahlua

Note: I didn’t weigh or measure how much piloncillo I used but rather sweetened the coffee to taste (making it a little sweeter to make up for the vodka). I ended up using about half of a cone, which I think might be about a cup to a cup and a half. You can really just use as much or little as you want, depending on how sweet (or not) you want your kahlua.

  • 4 cups brewed coffee (Make it stronger than you normally would)
  • piloncillo to taste
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups vodka (of a medium to good quality – I used Stolichnaya)
While coffee is still hot, stir in piloncillo to dissolve. I chopped the piloncillo a bit first to make it dissolve more quickly, but you can leave it solid and still be fine.
Let coffee and sugar mixture cool, then add vanilla extract and vodka. Stir to combine, and you are done. Store in an airtight container or pitcher. (I’m not sure how long it lasts, so I will report back if it goes bad ever).



p.s. I found another recipe for kahlua that has you steep whole coffee beans in vodka and dark rum, which sounds really very, very good. I’ll be trying that next.

Tagged , ,