Pin #21 – Cranberry Apple Vodka Punch

Cranberry Apple Vodka Punch

Cranberry Apple Vodka Punch from Skinny By the Sea

Last week we hosted a little get together for friends and neighbors to celebrate the 4th of July. While Mother Nature wasn’t in a very agreeable mood (rain, rain, rain, rain, rain!), we had a pretty great time celebrating with old and new friends alike.
Go USA!

Anyway, as we were planning for the shindig, the hubster suggested I find a vodka recipe on Pinterest so we could finally get rid of a bottle of vodka that’d been sitting around the house for a while (Hey, what can I say? We live in Tennessee – it’s Jack Daniels country down here.) After finding either really boring or really complicated cocktail recipes, I finally landed on this Cranberry Vodka Apple Punch pin.

The folks at Skinny by the Sea posted this as a Christmas holiday punch, which works fine, but it definitely has a pretty summery vibe to me. This vodka punch got rave reviews – and it even seemed to be the drink of choice among our party’s usual beer-loving guys. (Maybe since it was the 4th of July the dudes were more comfortable holding a red, girly drink? Who knows.)

Here are my thoughts on Skinny By the Sea’s Cranberry Apple Vodka Punch:

  1. Easy, peasy. This recipe comes together super easy. The original recipe on Skinny By the Sea’s page recommends throwing the ingredients in the blender to make them frothy, but since I was serving this “pour it yourself style”, getting it frothy just so it could sit around for hours was going to be a wasted effort, so I skipped it.
  2. Personalize It! Since this was a 4th of July party, I summer’d the recipe up a bit to make it more seasonal and festive. This is an easy-to-alter recipe to fit your theme… If I make this for a winter party I’ll probably sub in real apple cider instead of the cran-apple juice blend, add in some homemade ginger ale to spice it up and throw in some cranberries for a seasonal garnish. But since this was a summer party, here’s the final recipe I used based on Skinny By the Sea’s original concept:
    • 750 ml bottle of Vodka
    • 64 oz. bottle of Cran-Apple Juice
    • 1 liter of Ginger Ale
    • Apple slices
    • Strawberry slices
    • Blueberries
    • Ice
  3. Booze-free & Still Yummy. Knock out the vodka from this recipe and you’re  going to have a great mocktail. This would be a great punch for any party where you need  alcohol-free beverage options – baby showers, kids parties and the like.
  4. Supply the Masses. This punch recipe was about the perfect amount for the dozen or so people that we had over for the party.  Adjust the ingredient amounts depending on how many people you’re going to be serving.
Pinterest In Real Life: Cranberry Apple Vodka Punch

Pinterest In Real Life: Cranberry Apple Vodka Punch

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Pin #19: Watermelon & Strawberry Mojitos

Strawberry Watermelon Mojitos

Strawberry & Watermelon Mojitos
from What Katie Ate.

Summer, summer, summertime… it demands a good cocktail (or two, actually). Recently I reorganized my boards and created one just for the blessed cocktail: Gulp, gulp, gulp. The summer heat has yet to really set in here in Nashville (knock on wood), so now is as good of time as any to start testing out some of these pinned summertime cocktails ideas, right?

Some time ago I found this Strawberry & Watermelon Vodka Mojitos pin then low-and-behold this week I happily discovered a basket of strawberries and a whole watermelon laying around. Time to put these fruits of the summer to work.

After testing a couple of rounds (it took a lot of convincing), here are my thoughts on Katie’s Strawberry & Watermelon Vodka Mojitos recipe

  1. “Mmm, that tastes like summertime…” I believe those were my first words after tasting this concoction. This is a light, creative summery cocktail that will get a lot of smiles (and refill requests).
  2. Get out your mesh strainers. As I learned when I tested out the Strawberry & Honey Sorbet pin last year, strawberry recipes tend to require a lot of straining to get the seeds out, otherwise you’ll wind up with a lot of seedy grit. Katie recommends using a fine strainer, but I found a two-phase straining process worked pretty well. First I ran the blended watermelon-strawberry mixture through a medium-sized sieve to get out the bigger watermelon chunks, then I used a fine mesh strainer to catch the remaining strawberry seeds. This process gets messy & sticky, so try to keep it contained to the sink as much as possible.
  3. A little more of this, a little less of that. I used an 8 ounce glass to make our mojitos and found I needed to make several adjustments to Katie’s recipe.
    1. Less lime. Katie suggests an entire lime for each glass. I found this a bit much – the lime flavor was very overpowering. On our second round, I used 1/2 lime for each mojito and there was a much better taste balance.
    2. Syrup, schmyrup. The recipe calls for a simple syrup to mash with the lime, but I think you can probably skip this step and simply mash together the mint with sugar to release the minty oils.
    3. More strawberries & watermelon! The original recipe calls for just one tablespoonful of the strawberry-watermelon juice. That’s a cryin’ shame! On our final (and favorite) round, we used 3 tablespoons of the strawberry-watermelon mixture and that was perfection. I got about 1/3 of a pitcher full of juice from blending the strawberries & watermelon, so you’ll have plenty of supply for multiple mojitos even with 3 tablespoons in each one – I’m guessing it’s enough for at least a dozen mojitos.
    4. Rum v. Vodka. On our honeymoon in Costa Rica, I became a sucker for rum. Katie’s recipe calls for vodka or rum, so we tried out both versions. They were both good, but ultimately hubs and I both agreed the rum version was better for summertime evenings on the patio.

Overall this cocktail required a little more work than others (mostly the straining process), but it does make for one light and tasty drink with all the flavors of the season. Grab your cocktail shaker and get to drinking!

Pinterest In Real Life: Strawberry Watermelon Mojitos

Pinterest In Real Life: Strawberry Watermelon Mojitos

Pin #9 – Summer Pineapple Strawberry Limeade Cooler

Pineapple Strawberry Limeade Cooler from MommaMag

For any party, it’s important to start off with the right drink – and a Saturday afternoon pinnin’ party is no exception. Since one of our attendees has a baby on the way and one is breastfeeding, I wanted to make sure to have a tasty and festive non-alcoholic beverage, so I hunted through my pins and found this Summer Pineapple Strawberry Limeade Cooler.

The recipe for this limeade mix is very simple and turned out to be a big hit at the party – for those who drank it straight as well as those of us who sprinkled in a little rum 🙂  My concern when I added in the limeade and pineapple mixes was that this drink would be too sweet. It wasn’t – even for my husband who doesn’t like sweet drinks really enjoyed this one.

Pinterest in Real Life: Pineapple Strawberry Limeade Cooler

A few recommendations…

  1. Be sure to add in all the water that’s recommended in the recipe… a few of the comments on the recipe page suggested leaving out the water and just letting the ice melt in – I tried that and wound up with a drink that was WAY too sweet. Once I added in the water, it evened out much better.
  2. Add in the fruit early and let it all meld together for at least a couple of hours before serving. I used strawberries, limes, lemons in my mix.
  3. If you want to make this a traditional cocktail, have some rum or vodka to mix in.

Mix it up, add plenty of ice and get some festive drinkware ready – this is a fun drink that will set the tone for a great party.