Good things come in twos is what I always say. Wait, that’s not right. I’m getting my sayings mixed up. I think it’s, “two is better than one” and “good things come in threes,” is what I always say. Yup, that’s it. That sounds about right. Two is definitely waaaaay better than one. And just in case you don’t believe me, I’ll give you some examples. Prime examples of course. For instance, why settle for one doughnut when you can have two? Why only drink one beer when you can have another? And why stare at just one pretty face when you can gawk at two? (I’m totally kidding on that last one…only one of us has a pretty face). With that being said, this weekend I had the pleasure to collaborate with the beautiful and mega-talented Joy Wilson (she’s the one with the pretty face in case you were wondering) from Joy the Baker dot com. I’ve gotten so used to cooking and working and shooting and cleaning alone in my own kitchen that I often forget how nice it is to cook and work and shoot and clean alongside someone else in their kitchen. You get that chance to feed off each other’s ideas and to see what their work process entails. You learn something new through the entire operation and I can happily say I most certainly did. What makes the whole experience even more worthwhile is that I normally wouldn’t have learned all these things if I hadn’t cooked with my friend. If I had just made these things on my own, I wouldn’t have learned much, really. There’d be no insight into another person’s train of thought. The benefits of getting in the kitchen with friends and family is far too grand to not give it a try every now and then, take my word for it folks.
Although we were “working” it didn’t feel like that at all. We were just two friends enjoying each other’s company having a good time, eating and drinking and laughing. And in the end isn’t that what cooking is all about? To me, cooking is so much more than just a chore getting into the kitchen and making something to eat because you have to in order to survive so you won’t starve to death. It’s really a hobby. An entertaining activity. Something I love to do and am truly passionate about. So of course it was exciting to collaborate with someone who has the same passion for food with the same penchant for capturing and sharing it.
Friends, insanely delicious food, and refreshing cocktails; Let me tell you, life doesn’t get any better than this.
As you’ll notice, this post is a little different from what you’re normally used to on here. Not only because it is a cocktail recipe but also in the way it’s presented. It is such a simple recipe that I decided not to show it step by step. The cocktail actually is fool-proof and you don’t have to worry at all about doing it wrong. Most of the ingredients are added to your liking and dependent on whether or not you want to add more or less of it.
One of the things I’ve learned about making cocktails is that they’re just a fun thing to make. Nothing is cooked so if you add too much of one ingredient you can normally fix it right away by adding more of another ingredient to balance it out. The whole point of cocktails are to have fun and enjoy a good drink with family and friends, so the key is to not over-think it and just have a blast.
This isn’t any ol’ cocktail. No, this one is different. This one is grander. Is grander a word? If it isn’t don’t tell me let’s just pretend it is. It’s grander than a normal cocktail. This here my friends is a beer cocktail. Does anyone know why it’s called a beer cocktail? Anyone? Anyone? Yes, that’s right because it has beer it in! Did I just blow your mind? Things just got real, right?
I’m not the biggest fan of traditional Bloody Marys. I find them to be too heavy, thick and tomato-y. But this one, this here light and bubbly Bloody Mary I could get behind.
Let’s get started.
The first step is to add a few grape tomatoes into a cocktail shaker. You can also use cherry tomatoes.
To that you’ll add a pinch of celery salt, a pinch of freshly cracked black pepper and a squeeze of fresh lime juice.
Your next step is to muddle the ingredients at the bottom of the shaker, with a spoon or wooden object (like the handle of a wooden spoon, that’ll work), or a muddler (whatever that is)…whatever you have on hand that will get the job done, use it. A ruler perhaps? Don’t joke about that, I almost used a ruler that was in the kitchen. Joy had to stop me. It was kind of a sad and depressing moment. A definite low point in my life. Now that’s all I’ll think of whenever I see a ruler. “You can muddle drinks with that,” I’ll say.
Muddling is a fancy cocktail term often used by people with vests (not really but sort of) in a lot of cocktail recipes. It just means to squish and stir and mash and blend a few of the ingredients beforehand to develop and bring out their flavors. In this case we’re muddling to draw out the juice and flavor from the tomatoes. The acid in the lime and the grittiness from the salt and black pepper will help with this process as well.
Once you’ve attacked the tomatoes and all you see at the bottom of the shaker is pulp, then you are good to go.
To the shaker, add the cucumber juice.
**Note: You know what else I learned? Markets don’t sell cucumber juice. Yup, I figured that out the hard way. I went to three different stores and asked in each one in what aisle I could find their cucumber juice. They all looked at me like I was crazy or on drugs. Turns out cucumber juice in the grocery store isn’t a thing. Who would have thought? Not this guy that’s for sure. So you will have to juice your own cucumbers with a juicer like we did. One large cucumber should be enough.**
Add a dash of hot sauce (more or less depending on your preference). I added a few dashes. I like the kick in the background.
Also throw in a few dashes of worcestershire sauce. Another side note—I just right now this very moment as I write this—found out that I’ve been spelling worcestershire sauce completely wrong. (Who am I?) Almost as wrong as how I pronounce it. I was mistaken before about the ruler, this is the lowest point in my life. So please disregard any and all previous spellings of that complicated word. I could go back and fix it BUT “ain’t nobody got time for that!”
Dump in a few handfuls of ice.
Place the lid on the shaker and give it a shake. Shake as if your life depended on it. Shake it as if you were dying of thirst and the only way to get a drink of this was to vigorously shake it. As if this is the last drink you’re ever going to have. Man, what a sad prospect that would be. But thankfully it’s a good drink for it to be the last one.
Once you’ve finished shaking it to death, strain out the juice into two glasses. Evenly divide it among both. You can add ice to the glasses if you’d like. I didn’t feel the need to, so I didn’t, but it’s up to you. You can contradict me, it’s okay. Of course I’ll never speak to you again, have a nice life. I kid I kid.
It’s a good idea to make these in a tall glass to fit in the next step.
Last thing to do is to top off each glass with the blonde beer. It is a beer cocktail after all so we definitely need this step. No specific brand, just make sure it’s a “blonde-colored” beer that you enjoy drinking.
Okay I lied, that wasn’t the last thing to do. Because everyone knows that the best part of a cocktail is the garnish, you can garnish the cocktail at this point. We decided upon a celery stick, a cucumber spear, a lime slice and a tomato and olive skewer. “All the garnishes!” I say that as I twirl my mustache and laugh maniacally. Muahahahamuahahahahaha. Okay I don’t have a mustache you caught me. But the laugh…oh that’s totally there.
That’s it. The time has finally come to drink it. Somewhere out there it’s 5 o’clock. Okay, I’m stopping now because I’m running out of cheesy sayings. Cheers!
To go along with our yummy beer cocktails, Joy made us an amazing dish, Shrimp and Grits.
Yes, Shrimp ‘n’ Grits.
“No self-respectin’ Southerner uses instant grits.” A little My Cousin Vinny quote for ya’ll, ’cause I know I’m not the only one who thinks of this movie whenever grits are mentioned.
Words can’t even begin to describe the flavors of this recipe. It’s so simple to make yet loaded with complex flavor. As if the shrimp wasn’t enough, she makes it even better with browned sausage. The grits make a right turn into Flavortown with cheese, and it all comes together to make a mouthwatering phenomenon of a meal that I cannot wait to make again. Trying it for the first time, I was like a kid in a candy store. Like…like me in a doughnut shop—and if you knew me well enough you’d know that I love doughnuts with a burning passion greater than life itself as you can see with my constant need to bring them up in this post—I just kept wanting more and more. Wishing it would never end.
I managed to get in a few shots in between her working and cooking and shooting, taking advantage of the styling she did and the shots she was setting up for, for her images. So you can have a few, although I don’t do it justice. You have to go check out her take on it.
You can get the recipe, with even more images, over at Joy The Baker. Her site is a marvel of incredible treasures and delectable photographs, you won’t even know where to begin. I suggest the Maple Blueberry Scones, Cranberry Orange & Pecan Coffee Cake, Mini Pretzel Dogs, Kale and Quinoa Cakes, and you gotta, just gotta, check out my personal all-time favorite Happy Hour Hot Fudge Milkshake (there’s even a kick-ass video to go along with it). And if you already have seen these and know all about Joy then go over and check them out again because why wouldn’t you? She’s amazing.
Aaaaaaaand because I’m obsessed with Joy’s cat, Jules Stevens, (I swear he’s my spirit animal) I had to include this image. The sneakiest little monster (with the softest fur on the planet I might add) you’ll ever lay eyes upon and have the pleasure of meeting. Not even two minutes into our session and I already wanted to steal him and take him home with me. I was about to but then I reasoned with myself, “You’re not a pet thief Jonathan are you? You won’t steal a cat!” You’d be surprised what my answer was, because for this cat, I’d happily be a pet thief.
Needless to say I didn’t take him. Joy still has Jules….for now. I’ve come to the conclusion that in my next life I want to come back as Jules circa right now so I could eat, play, nap and climb on things. Life would be so difficult.
Cucumber Blonde Bloody Mary
If you do not drink alcohol and would like to make these cocktails “virgin,” then you can omit the beer and use club soda, ginger ale, or lemon lime soda instead. Best accompanied on the side of Joy the Baker’s Shrimp and Grits.
yield: 2 cocktails
- 6 grape tomatoes, plus more for garnish
- ¼ teaspoon celery salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- juice of 1 lime
- 3 dashes worcestershire sauce
- 1 to 3 dashes hot sauce (you can adjust to your heat level)
- 2 oz cucumber juice, freshly juiced
- 8 oz blonde beer (whatever brand of blonde beer you prefer)
- celery sticks, garnish
- cucumber spears, garnish
- green olives, garnish
- lime slices, garnish
1. In a cocktail shaker muddle tomatoes, celery salt, black pepper, and lime juice until it is completely squished and looks like pulp.
2. Add remaining ingredients (except the beer and garnishes). Place the lid on the shaker and shake vigorously.
3. Strain into two tall glasses, dividing evenly among both, fill with ice (if desired). Top each glass with beer, pouring slowing and off the side to prevent foam from rising.
5. Garish with celery stick, cucumber spear, green olive and tomato skewer and lime slice. Cheers!