Root Beer Float x 2

by Lisa

We have a great debate going in our house: which goes in a root beer float first, the ice cream or the soda?

This has been an ongoing experiment all summer long, since we discovered Trader Joe’s has a good bottled root beer (& a caffeine free cola that’s pretty terrific, too.) We don’t drink bottled soda as rule around here (although we do indulge in homemade kidtinis), but I’ve been making an exception lately and I keep a few bottles of this soda on hand for fun and nostalgia.  It’s great for a weekend cocktail and floats make for an easy, fun dessert in the hot weather.  Especially for guests and grandparents.  Lately, about once a week Ella will mix up a cherry coke before dinner or we’ll have root beer floats after dinner.

In our effort to settle the ice cream/soda debate, we stumbled upon Bobby Flay’s adult version, which includes bourbon and is pretty much the perfect end to a barbeque if you’re a grown-up.

To wit, our method is this, and involves floating the ice cream on the soda. But you put the ice cream in first and get a slightly creamier drink.

Fill a large frosty mug with root beer (and a little crushed ice if you like. It’s nice if it’s colder, but it also gets in the way).  Float 1 scoop vanilla ice cream on the soda.  If you’re an adult, add a up to a shot of bourbon over the ice cream. Top the ice cream with fresh whipped cream.

For adults only

Frozen Hot Chocolate

By Lisa

One of the magical things about trips to New York as a kid were trips to the whimsical Serendipity 3 after seeing a show or going to a museum.  We went with family, we went with friends, and now, when we’re back east (which is not so often), we take our own kids. It’s not that the food is that great, or that it’s an easy place to take kids.  In fact,the food is sort of average, and the wait can stretch well past an hour. In the cold and dark. On the street. With tired and hungry and cranky kids.  But the place is full of charm and eccentricity and serendipitous gifts on the first floor, and it’s magical if you’re a kid. The foot long hot dogs really are a foot long and they serve something called Frrrozen Hot Chocolate, which is worth the wait in itself. Even for the grown-ups.

Frozen Hot Chocolate is rich and creamy and icy and made with a deep, dark mix of incredible chocolate. It’s served in an enormous goblet with a pillow of whipped cream and chocolate shavings.  It’s legendary.  For years, it was nearly impossible to replicate.  Now the recipe is readily available, and I decided this summer to introduce my kids to it with the recipe provided by the restaurant and available on Epicurious. With a little more searching, you can turn up this recipe that has a more particular list of chocolates. But the generic one is terrific and made with things you most likely already have in your house.  This recipe really makes enough for 4, but if you really want to recreate the Serendipity experience, use if to serve 2–or one enormous goblet to share.

Needless to say, the kids loved it. The husband and best friend were pretty happy after dinner, too.

Fizzes for the Family

by Lisa

A few months ago, I had a gin fizz at the Moss Room in San Francisco and fell in love.  You might remember my first unsuccessful search for orange flower water .  I did find it, however, at Whole Foods, and a few weekends ago I whipped (or shook) a couple up for the husband and me.  They were done in the late afternoon on a Saturday, and we promptly banished the kids to their bedrooms for a lovely 25 minutes, and Kory and I sat in the living room and had a quiet cocktail.

The drink is outstanding. It’s a little fizzy from the splash of seltzer, creamy but not rich, and slightly sweet.  It’s my new favorite, and I urge you to try it.

Recipes online abound.  I used this one, originally posted here, and it was perfect.

  • 1-1/2 ounces gin (Old Tom gin if you can get it)
  • 1/2 ounce lemon juice
  • 1/2 ounce lime juice
  • 1 ounce simple syrup
  • 3-4 drops orange flower water
  • 2 drops vanilla extract (very optional; there’s some controversy over whether this was ever really used, but it does add a nice touch)
  • 2 ounces cream
  • 1 egg white
  • Soda water

Shake all ingredients except the soda water WITHOUT ICE very vigorously for at least one minute, preferably longer — the longer the better. Then add ice and shake for 1-2 minutes, as long as you can manage, until extremely cold and frothy. Strain into a tall thin glass, or a very large old fashioned glass, and top with soda water. Stir gently.

When we finally let the kids out, we were refreshed and relaxed (an argument for making an small oasis of time for the adults in the house, even in the middle of the day), and Kory mixed up a version for them, which involved bubbly water, a few drops of orange flower water, a dash of (maybe raspberry?) syrup, and a small scoop of  vanilla ice cream.  Certainly, a better, more authentic kids version would involve lemon and lime syrup, but we didn’t have any in the house. We’re happy to improvise when necessary, and the kids, of course didn’t care.  This was probably their favorite one yet.

Blood Orange Prosecco Cocktail

by Lisa

I had gone to BevMo to find Orange Flower Water, to recreate the Gin Fizz I had at the Moss Room, but they were out.

Then I saw Blood Orange Bitters, which immediately reminded me of our road trip  and meal at the Hotel Del Coronado last summer.

There, I had a lovely drink of champagne and blood orange bitters, which I had always assumed was really fancy and unobtainable at home. But there it was, in the dead of winter, in my own hometown, the bottle of blood orange bitters, for under $5, so I bought it. At home I read the lable, and there was my drink, which we mixed up that afternoon for company. It’s a lovely bubbly drink with the exotic, not too sweet flavor of blood orange. The sugar cube gives it just a touch of sweetness. I made it with Prosecco, of course, but any bubbly will do, I’m sure.

This is the kind of thing I love:  something that feels very fancy, that you think you can never have at home, because the ingredients are too expensive or exotic. But in fact, a lovely version can be made with a decent bottle of your favorite, inexpensive Prosecco (many are available for $10-12) and a serendipitous find at BevMo, which is not exactly a bastion of exclusive, foody culture. It’s more like the work horse of a home that likes their cocktails on a budget.

It’s a lovely drink, it’s seasonal and delicious, and one of those things that can just make you happy. The color is glorious and the flavor just a bit suprising.  It’s probably what we’ll be toasting each other with this weekend.  And for winter weekends to come.  At least until the bitters run out.

Blood Orange Prosecco Cocktail

  • Blood orange bitters
  • Chilled Prosecco
  • Sugar cube
  • Sliced blood oranges for garnish (optional)

For each drink, place a sugar cube in the bottom of the glass and cover with bitters.  Pour chilled prosecco on top. Garnish with blood orange.

The Real Thing

by Lisa

I have never brought a bottle of soda into the house. Occasionally when my father or father-in-law are visiting, they buy their own diet soda, but I can safely say that nothing with corn syrup has ever been brought into my house by me or my husband.

This is not to say the kids haven’t had their share of Shirley Temples at restaurants, and if you’ve read even a little of this blog you know that they have kidtinis with some frequency.(Try the new search engine on the blog site! You can have your pick of recipes!). The point is,  we don’t have a ban here on sugary drinks, but we do choose to drink them selectively and to make them less sweet than say, a can of coke.

However.    As I was paying for my wine at BevMo a week ago, I saw a big stack of Coca-Cola. From Mexico. Made with real sugar.  In thick glass bottles.   Caroline’s husband is, I think, partial to this elixir for himself. But we don’t see it all that often here, and if you know me, you know I bought a dozen bottles.

When I showed the kids the treasure I had found, they had no idea what it was.  “What’s coke?” Finn asked. “What’s it taste like?” Ella wanted to know.   “It’s delicious,” I told them, and I let them split a bottle for lunch, over ice.

We made appropriate ceremony, and then they tasted.

Finn loved it.

Ella really didn’t care for it, and now, while Finn will chant “Coca-Cola! Coca-Cola!” while watching football (we each had a bottle during the Superbowl), Ella leaves her bottle untouched.  There are worse things, of course, but for the rest of us, not much better than a good, real Coke once or twice a year.