kelly magyarics

washington, d.c.-based wine, spirits, travel & lifestyle writer / wine educator


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Featured Cocktail: Pomegranate Margarita

Pomegranate Margarita, Photo courtesy Rosa Mexicano

Pomegranate Margarita, Photo courtesy Rosa Mexicano

Though there is still snow on the ground here in the D.C. area, tomorrow (February 22) is National Margarita Day. While I'm always partial to the classic recipe made from scratch, with a Reposado Tequila, Combier and fresh lime juice, flavored versions made with high quality ingredients can whet my whistle, too. And nothing can bring a little bit of sunshine to a dreary winter day like the tart and tangy flavor (and vibrant hue) of pomegranate.

Rosa Mexicano's signature Frozen Pomegranate Margarita has been on the menu since 1984 (!). To mix it at home, look for POM Pomegranate juice in the produce department of your supermarket. Its easily batched for a party, too.

Pomegranate Margarita
Courtesy of Rosa Mexicano

2 ounces Silver or Blanco Tequila
1/2 ounce Triple Sec (or Cointreau or Combier)
1 ounce fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon fresh pomegranate juice
Lime wheel or wedge, for garnish

Add all except garnish into a blender, and add 6-8 ounces of ice. Blend until smooth and frothy. Pour into a chilled rocks glass rimmed with coarse salt, and garnish with the lime wheel or wedge.

For a pitcher:
12 ounces Silver or Blanco Tequila
3 ounces Triple Sec (or Combier or Cointreau)
6 ounces fresh lime juice
6 tablespoons fresh pomegranate juice
Lime wheels or wedges, for garnish

Add all except garnish to a blender. Add 36-40 ice cubes, and blend until smooth and frothy. Pour into chilled rocks glasses garnished with coarse salt, and garnish with a lime wedge or wheel.



Featured Cocktail: Apple Manhattan

The Applejack Manhattan (minis the cool apple garnish). I love a good Manhattan--especially at this time of the year. My basic recipe is 2 ounces Bourbon, 1 ounce Dolin Red Vermouth, and a few dashes of Woodford Reserve Spiced Cherry Bitters, stirred and served over one large cube. But sometimes, I like to mix it up a little. Nothing too crazy, but just a tweak here, or a riff there.

Recently, while chatting with John Wabeck, General Manager and beverage director at Spoon, and beverage consultant at the recently opened Grit + Grace (both in Pittsburgh), he told me about an Applejack version he was putting on the menu at Spoon. (DC folks will remember Wabeck as a fixture on the D.C. wine and dining scene, until he moved to the 'Burgh a year ago...)

Wabeck uses a melon baller on apples, stains them with grenadine, compresses them, and poaches them in a Cryovac. The end result looks like a cherry, (and has some of the flavor of Maraschino cherries, thanks to the grenadine), but with a decidedly different texture. He uses one to garnish his Apple Manhattan, pictured above (I cheated and used Luxardo Maraschino cherries, though.) Here's his recipe for the cocktail--the Applejack adds a very subtle apple flavor, and substituting Peychauds' for cherry or Angostura bitters ramps up the spice.

If you want to make the apple balls, but (like me) don't have a Cryovac setting around, you can get a similar result from scooping out apple pieces with the melon baller, and soaking them in high quality grenadine (or pomegranate juice mixed with sugar.)

Apple Manhattan Courtesy of John Wabeck, Spoon / Grit + Grace, Pittsburgh, PA

1 1/4 oz. Laird's Applejack Brandy 1 oz. Crown Royal 3/4 oz. red Vermouth 2 dashes Peychaud's Bitters Cryovac apple ball (or cherry), for garnish

Add all except garnish to a cocktail shaker. Add cracked ice, and stir until well chilled. Strain into a chilled rocks glass that has 1 large ice cube (or serve up in a chilled rocks glass.) Garnish with the apple ball or cherry.

Featured Cocktail: Horchata Margarita

Horchata Margarita cropped

In case you haven't heard, July 24 is National Tequila Day. (I know my Inbox and Twitter feed have been bombarded with recipes and promotional info....) And while I like to sip a high quality Tequila all by itself, I can also be persuaded to drink it in a cocktail...

I received a press release the other day about the "Secretos del Tequila" program at CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort and Spa, a tequila appreciation program developed to increase guests' knowledge of and understanding for Tequila. The resort produces five types of Tequila, and also feaures 126 distinct by-the-glass options, and a number of Tequila-based cocktails.

The Horchata Margarita is a creamy, spicy version of the Margarita. (Think of Horchata as the liquid part of rice can find it in ethnic grocery stores and specialty food shops.)

Horchata Margarita Courtesy of CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort and Spa

2 oz. CasaMagna Aged Tequila (or a Reposado or Anejo Tequila of your choice) 1 1/2 oz. Controy (Mexican orange liqueur) or your favorite orange liqueur (Cointreau, Combier, etc.) 3 oz. Horchata 1/2 oz. simple syrup (or to taste) Freshly grated cinnamon, for garnish

Add Tequila, orange liqueur and horchata to a cocktail shaker. Add ice, and shake until chilled. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass, and garnish with freshly grated cinnamon.

Featured Cocktail: Papagayo Peninsula

caribbean cocktail This summer, Bryant Park Hotel's Cellar Bar has created eight tropical-inspired tipples. Named after some of the world's most beautiful beaches, each cocktail is designed to transport guests to their own version of a tropical paradise.

The Papagayo Peninsula on Costa Rica was the inspiration for this sip, which mixes Death's Door Gin with grapefruit and blood orange, topped with basil. Mix up a batch, and imagine yourself lazily lounging on a hammock strung between two palm trees. Ahhhhhh..

Papagayo Peninsula, Costa Rica Courtesy of Esther Gonzalez, Head Bartender, Cellar Bar at Bryant Park Hotel, New York, NY

3 oz. Death's Door Gin 2 oz. Grapefruit juice Splash blood orange puree Grapefruit slice 2 Basil leaves Grapefruit peel and basil, for garnish

In a shaker tin, muddle a grapefruit slice and 2 basil leaves. Add the gin, grapefruit juice and blood orange puree. Add ice, and shake well. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass, and garnish with a piece of basil and a grapefruit peel.




Featured Cocktail: Rhubies and Gold


Tart and stalky, rhubarb isn't just for pies anymore. I've seen it crop up in lots of cocktails recently, and love what you can do with products like Swedish Rhuby Liqueur. The Rhubies and Gold cocktail blends it with the smooth taste of Bourbon and a zesty bit of lemon. Feel free to adjust the amount of simple syrup to taste...I actually think it would also be delish if you infused some mint into the simple syrup (instead of vanilla) for a porch rocking cockail.

Rhubies and Gold 2 oz. Rhuby Liqueur 2 oz. Woodford Reserve Boubon 1 oz. lemon juice 1 oz. vanilla simple syrup (see Note) Red currants, for garnish

Add all ingredients except garnish to a cocktail shaker. Add ice, and shake until chilled. Strain over one large ice cube into a rocks glass, and garnish with the red currants.

Note: For the vanilla simple syrup: Combine 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and scrape the contents of one vanilla bean into the syrup. Let steep until desired flavor is achieved. Strain out solids with a cheesecloth, and store the syrup in the refrigerator.

Featured Cocktail: Hardly Wallbanger

The Hardly Wallbanger at Sycamore Den. The Harvey Wallbanger is one of those drinks so popular in the 1970s that's typically not seen on any ambitious or trend-forward cocktail menus. Basically a screwdriver with Galliano (that sweet herbal Italian liqueur, often found in the corners of dining and living rooms during that eras as the tall slender bottle just couldn't fit on bar shelves), this throwback tipple was allegedly created by mixologist Donato "Duke" Antone. Depending on what you read, the drink was either inspired by a 1950s Manhattan Beach surfer who could frequently be found on a stool at Antone's Sunset Avenue Bar, or created by the marketing department at Galliano, it was crazy popular in the me decade.

Mixologist Eric Johnson of San Diego's Sycamore Den, a bar whose decor is a modern take on a 1970s middle-class family room, updated the drink by adding fresh lemon, simple syrup and vanilla extract. Feel free to sip the Hardly Wallbanger on your shag rug amid your owl macrame, if that's how you roll.

Hardly Wallbanger Courtesy of Eric Johnson, Sycamore Den, San Diego, CA 1.5 oz. Vodka 1 oz. Galliano 1/2 oz. lemon juice 2 oz. orange juice 1/4 oz. simple syrup 2 dashes vanilla extract Soda water Orange wheel and cherry, for garnish

Build the drink in a Collins glass, add ice and stir. Top with soda water, and garnish with the orange wheel and cherry.