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Cocktails! Archives - alex thomopoulos

Friendsday Night and an IZZE® Spicy Georgia Peach Cocktail

Instead of going out to a restaurant to see each other, my friends and I have made it a habit to have at least one to two gatherings at my place a month, now lovingly called “Friendsday Night”. We all make an effort to find time in our busy schedules, meet up for dinner, drinks and a very competitive game of cards. Every gathering has a few requirements: good food, great drinks, and a ton of laughs. It’s become a time I cherish deeply, where we all take the time away from our phones to talk with one another, catch up and unwind.

Being the chef of the group I am usually in charge of the menu. I hit up the weekly farmer’s market and create my menu off of what I find. I especially love finding seasonal fruits at the markets and incorporating them into my cocktail recipes.

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Living in Los Angeles, my group of friends is pretty health conscious. We really take advantage of the fresh produce available to us and naturally try and avoid anything with fake sugars, chemicals or additives. I am all about leaving my guests full, happy and healthy.

I have been looking for a great beverage to mix our cocktails with. I tried a bunch of natural sodas and juices, but I found either their flavors to fall flat or be completely overwhelming and “fake” tasting. I recently was introduced to IZZE®, an all natural, sparkling juice drink. IZZE® comes in several natural flavors, and after trying them I was inspired to play around a bit with some cocktail recipes. I was blown away with how accurate each flavor was. They didn’t taste like “fake” juice flavors. The peach tasted just like a peach, the grapefruit was bright, like I just bit into one for breakfast, the mandarin tasted like a sparkling cup of fresh juice. IZZE® on its own is delicious, which makes it the perfect backdrop for a killer cocktail.

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IZZE® beverages have been making an appearance almost every Friendsday Night. Each week there is a new flavor and a new cocktail.

I wanted to share my favorite IZZE® cocktail on my blog. I like to call it the “Spicy Georgia Peach”. The farmer’s market is finally starting to carry stone fruits, so I thought it would be the perfect accompaniment to IZZE® Sparkling Peach beverage. I caramelize some nectarines halves in coconut oil until they are nice and toasty. (It tastes kind of like a peach pie when you do this!) With any cocktail I LOVE to pair a little sweet with something tangy and something SPICY! I paired that sweet, delicious caramelized nectarine with some Serrano chili and lots of lime juice. I muddled it all together and added my favorite libation tequila and topped it all off with IZZE® Sparkling Peach.

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Fruity and a touch of sweetness at first, then that spiciness follows and hits you right in the back of the throat. If a sassy Georgia Peach was personified in a drink this would be it.

Friendsday Night has become my favorite night of the week. I hope it inspires you to throw one of your own. Here are a few tips to throw an AWESOME Friendsday Night of your own.

  • Pick a menu that’s simple to make and easy to clean up. I love one pot meals like a yummy veggie lasagna, roasted chicken, roasted salmon or healthy enchiladas. Serve it with a big ol’ salad and call it a night!
  • Have one of the guests bring a dessert.
  • Pick out an awesome playlist. Here is one of mine that I made that I love. https://open.spotify.com/user/124097350/playlist/22keSM1Z64fr50Ms8QBqM8
  • Take the time to really connect with your friends. Have one person be the designated picture taker, that way people aren’t tempted to grab their phones every 5 minutes.
  • I always think of 5 questions to ask the table, they have to be different than the night before. You will be amazed at what you find out about your friends!
  • Bust out a board game or a deck of cards after dinner. It always makes for a barrel of laughs.
  • Bring IZZE®, with or without booze this stuff is great to sip on all night.

IZZE® Spicy Georgia Peach

(Makes 4 cocktails)
  • 2 ripe nectarines, sliced in half, pits removed
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 6 ounces silver tequila
  • 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lime (about one lime)
  • ½ jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 bottles IZZE® Sparkling Peach

  1. In a medium skillet, over medium high heat, melt coconut oil. Place nectarine halves, flesh side down, into the skillet and let it cook for about 2 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove the nectarines and set aside.
  2. Take two caramelized nectarine halves and chop them into quarters. Take the other two halves and slice them into thin slices. Set the sliced ones aside for garnish later.
  3. Place the chopped ones into a cocktail shaker. Squeeze the juice of one lime in, and then toss the remains of the lime into the cocktail shaker, followed by the jalapeno. With a muddler, muddle all the fruit together, until the nectarines break down.
  4. Next add tequila, and mix to combine. Add about ½ of an IZZE® Sparkling Peach beverage and stir to combine.
  5. Fill four cocktail glasses up with ice. Place a few slices of caramelized nectarine into each glass, reserving 4 slices for garnish.
  6. Carefully strain the liquids evenly into four glasses filled with ice. Top each glass with move IZZE® Sparkling Peach and garnish with a fresh lime wedge and a slice of nectarine.

 

“Disclosure: This post was sponsored by IZZE®  through their partnership with POPSUGAR Select. While I was compensated to write a post about IZZE®, all opinions are my own.”

 


“Peaches & Herb” Cocktail

It’s no surprise that I enjoy my cocktails.

To me there is no better way to relax than to sip on a deliciously refreshing libation in the company of good friends. Summertime cocktails are always the best because the fruit is so deliciously sweet. I am not a huge fan of overly sweet cocktails, in fact when I go to restaurants I usually will order a cocktail either straight up on the rocks w lemon or if it’s a mixed drink I have them omit the simple syrup. Sugar= hangover city. When I make my cocktails at home I can control the amount of sweetness that goes into it. I like using honey, a few drops of stevia or agave to take some of the kick out of a drink. By adding fresh ripened fruit you can dramatically reduce the amount of sugar you need to add into a drink.

Summertime to me screams PEACHES! I wish you could that could be an acceptable greeting, like instead of “hello” or “howdy” just nodding your headed and happily saying “Peaches!”. The world would be a whole lot better in my opinion. Alright, on to the cocktail making.


Blood Orange Margaritas, The Big Traveling Potluck & The Power of Believing

About 5 months ago my friend Melissa Lanz texted me and said “Go to this website http://www.thebigpotluck.com and buy a ticket NOW.” I responded to her “Why?”
She said “Just do it”
“A whole weekend with 100 women in the middle of nowhere California? No, I am good, but thanks”
Melissa replied “I didn’t ask, I am telling you to buy a ticket. Everyone is going. You won’t regret it.”
Reluctantly I ended up buying a ticket, and this past weekend was the big event. Even though I was excited to see all my friends, I was still not thrilled on the concept of being stuck at a barn in the middle of God knows where for 3 whole days talking about quiche and God knows what else food bloggers talk about.

All those fears and worries changed once I got to the event. Truthfully I had one of the best weekends I have had in a long time. I got to meet so many new people and was inspired by everyone there. The creativity was infectious and the food was overflowing.

If you know me, you know that I can’t go anywhere or do anything without making a statement. In honor of my tequila love affair, and my new friend Gaby Daklin’s book Absolutely Avocados I brought many sombrero themed costumes to wear through out the conference. They were a huge hit. They were so ridiculous, but everyone seemed to really enjoy them…..at least I know my friends and I did.


GAME DAY BLOODY MARY RECIPE

I LOVE ME SOME BLOODY MARY’S! There are a wide spectrum of delicious additions and garnishes you can play around with. For me I love a thick rich, smoky Bloody Mary with extra kick. A good Bloody Mary has the perfect balance between acidity and sweetness. My Roasted Tomato Bloody Mary is the perfect balance between the two. I actually add roasted tomato salsa in the mix and I know it sounds crazy but trust me it works. I came about this recipe because literally was eating Wholly Guacamole’s Roasted Tomato Salsa one day and thought to myself, “this kind of tastes like a bloody mary”. BOOM! Inspiration hit. I of course dove right into creating a recipe for it. I came up with what now is my absolute favorite bloody mary on the planet. Sometimes I will garnish it with grilled shrimp, other times I’ll leave it plain, or throw a few olives in there. It just depends on my mood and the weather. :) This is perfect for game tomorrow! Do it. I dare you.


How to Make Almond Milk

I think I have sleeping under a rock. Homemade Almond Milk?! I always thought you needed to have a special machine, 15 hours and 10000 pounds of almonds in order to create such liquid bliss. Turns out, all you need is a high-powered blender, some almonds, water, agave, vanilla and a pinch of salt. That’s about it.
My roommates can attest to the fact I have a gross addiction to almond milk. I drink at least 3 glasses of Almond Breeze Unsweetened Vanilla milk a day. I would bath in it if I could…what? It’s that good. It’s cold, creamy, low in calories and carbs and is filled with healthy fats and protein. What’s the problem!?!?! Well, to be honest the ONLY downside is the additives and stabilizers they put in the milk in order to prolong it’s shelf life. BOOO. So sad, but other than that, I am pretty sure Jesus himself would drink this incredibly delicious milk.
Okay, back to my almond milk making adventure.