Category Archives: Drinks

Drinks / Sweet

How to Make a Starbucks-Quality Mocha at Home

November 15, 2016

I know I’ve posted on here before about making mochas on your stovetop, but since I feel like I’ve really perfected the recipe I thought I’d post about it again. Those of you who know me may know that I have a long history with coffee. I was hired at Starbucks at the age of 16 and ended up working there for 6 years — through college. It was a great job and my love of coffee was solidified during those years. I still frequent the ‘bucks, but more often I can be found making coffee at home and experimenting with recreating my favorite recipes from my barista days.

This recipe works just as well for homemade hot chocolate if you omit the coffee. I’ve never been much of a fan of those powdered packets that you add hot water to, so be warned — this recipe is not that. (And I can definitely recommend topping off your mug with a big dollop of whipped cream — it makes life worth living.)

This recipe is perfect for one person, but it’s just as easy to double, triple or quadruple it — whatever your fancy. I will admit that an instant espresso machine (like the Nespresso) makes things a bit easier here, but you can certainly make do with a stovetop espresso pot or any other type of coffee contraption that you have on hand. If you’re using a standard coffee pot or french press, just make sure to double the coffee strength to make a more concentrated, espresso-like batch of coffee. (I recommend using 4 tbsp coffee per 6 oz of water to do this.)


Homemade Mocha

serves one

  • 25 grams / 1 ounce / 2.5 tbsp dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • tiniest pinch of salt
  • 1.5 cups milk
  • 1/8 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1.5 ounces (one shot) or more espresso or double-strength coffee
  1. Place chocolate, sugar, salt, and milk in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk regularly until chocolate is dissolved and milk is heated through to desired temperature.
  2. Take milk mixture off the heat and add vanilla extract.
  3. Add desired amount of coffee/espresso and stir to combine in a large mug.


  • I prefer to use semi-sweet chocolate in this, which has at least 35% cocoa content. The chocolate I get here in the Netherlands has a minimum of 45%, which seems to work perfectly. The higher the cocoa content, the more bitter/less sweet the mocha will be. I’ve used chocolate with up to 90% cocoa content in this recipe, and while I prefer the higher cocoa content for general chocolate snacking, I think the mid-range (35 – 60%) works best.
  • You can use any types of milk you prefer in this, but I generally use whole milk as I think it gives the best result.

Cocktails / Dairy-Free / Drinks / Gluten-Free / Happy Hour / Sweet / Vegan / Vegetarian

Bourbon Blackberry Smash Cocktail

August 6, 2014

Bourbon Blackberry Smash Cocktail

Given that it’s the middle of the week, I thought a cocktail post might be in order.  Sometimes a Wednesday night calls for this sort of thing, y’know?

This cocktail is a summery twist on the classic whiskey-ginger, and is perfect for mid-week drinking (given that it takes almost zero effort and brain cells in order to make.)  The recipe is also highly adaptable, so feel free to sub in a different berry and/or herb if you feel like it.

Bourbon Blackberry Smash

makes one cocktail

  • Bourbon
  • 2 large, ripe blackberries
  • 4 mint leaves, torn
  • Ginger beer
  • Ice
  1. In a rocks or double old-fashioned glass, muddle together the blackberries and mint leaves.
  2. Add 1.5 ounces bourbon.
  3. Fill glass with ice and top with ginger beer.

Notes and Modifications:

  1. I used Woodford Reserve, but feel free to use any whiskey or bourbon you like here.
  2. Cherries or blueberries would be a nice alternative to the blackberries, if you’ve got them on hand.  If your berries are more on the tart side, add a little sugar during the muddling step.
  3. Feel free to try basil in place of the mint.
  4. I used Cock & Bull ginger beer.  If you find the cocktail too sweet (as different types of ginger beer will add different amounts of sweetness) add a squeeze of lime.

I mean, it’s pretty much rocket science, right?  Maybe I’ll recreate this around the holidays with cooked cranberries and rosemary.  I think that might be quite a treat!

Cocktails / Drinks

Cocktails for a Crowd

July 16, 2014

If you know me personally, or if you’ve been reading my blog for a bit, you’ll know that I love cocktails.  I mean, I DIY-ed a bar cart, so I don’t think I need to tell you about my commitment to liquor.

I love fancy drinks, and think that homemade cocktails are an awesome way to show someone that you care about them.  My one gripe about the homemade cocktail situation is that it tends to be a little time consuming.  You spend a solid 5 minutes juicing and mixing and pouring, and then somewhere between 5 and 15 minutes later, you’ve got to do it all over again because you and your pal have already downed your drinks and you’re ready for another.

However, when KC and I were traveling through Europe, we went to a little pub in Edinburgh which presented me with a solution to this very problem:


Hello, pot-tail.

Yep, that’s a teapot with cocktails in it.  Cocktails — plural.  So, assuming that you and whoever you’re with are enjoying the same beverage, you can throw more than one drink together into a teapot and have it ready to pour whenever.

Genius right?  Totally.

I scored a new silver teapot at an estate sale over the weekend, so I made a pot-tail for KC and I the other night, doubling this recipe to make 4 cocktails at once.  (Sometimes Monday nights call for that sort of thing.)


Now, this whole pot-tail business won’t work for drinks that have to be shaken (not stirred.  ← had to.)  So, sadly, you’re on your own if your friend or significant other wants a pisco sour.  But if you’re putting together a drink that’s normally shaken and strained, or served over ice, just throw the ingredients into a teapot along with some ice, stir it all together and you’re in business.

Bonus points if you’ve got some adorable teacups to serve your beverage in.  (I didn’t.  But another estate sale or two and maybe I will.)

Cocktails / Date Night at Home / Drinks / Holidays

Valentine's Ideas: Cocktails

February 11, 2014

What better way to start off Valentine’s than with a delicious cocktail?  There’s something so fancy and special about a cocktail, I think.  While I love me some bubbly any night of the week (and especially on Valentine’s Day), I always feel like kicking things off with a handmade drink is just something that’s a little extra-special.

So put on some music, dim the lights, and whip up one of these (I’d prefer the Monk’s Garden — I mean, a pink cocktail for Valentine’s?  Does it get anymore perfect?)

Instant love.

Valentine’s Day Cocktails

  1. Monk’s Garden Monks Garden Copycat Cocktail
  2. Pisco Sour Pisco Sour 1
  3. Mixed Citrus Margaritasmarg
  4. Skinny Mojitos                                IMG_2162
  5. The Cuke                            IMG_2134
  6. Blended Strawberry Lemonade MargaritasIMG_2045
  7. Vodka Lemon SparklerIMG_1678


Cocktails / Dairy-Free / Date Night at Home / Drinks / Favorite Things / Gluten-Free / Happy Hour / Vegan / Vegetarian

Monk's Garden Copycat Cocktail

January 29, 2014

I have a ridiculously delicious, pink (!) cocktail for you today.  And don’t worry, this isn’t one of those grossly sweet, girly pink cocktails — it’s a well-balanced, citrusy-bitter type of cocktail.

I mean, KC was even singing the praises of this cocktail, so don’t rule it out just because you’re manly.

This cocktail came A. from my quest to use a pomelo which had shown up in our most recent CSA box, and B. from my desire to recreate the cocktail I’m obsessed with at one of my favorite eateries — Boot and Shoe Service.  The cocktail is called the Monk’s Garden (I have no idea why), and it’s bright, refreshing, a tad bitter, and, of course, pink (hello).  The traditional cocktail uses grapefruit and yellow chartreuse, but I didn’t have either of those (and yellow chartreuse is sort of absurdly expensive), so this copycat was born.

And y’know what?  It tasted spot-on to me.  Dead ringer for one of my favorite $10 beverages.

So next time you’re having a date night at home, or a fancy girls-night-in, whip up a couple of these (maybe even top it off with champagne..? OMG WHAT.)

Monks Garden Copycat Cocktail

Monk’s Garden Copycat Cocktail

makes 2 cocktails (feel free to cut in half to make just one — but why would you want to?)



  • 3 oz gin*
  • 1.5 oz St. Germaine
  • 3 oz fresh-squeezed pomelo** or grapefruit juice
  • 1.5 – 2 oz fresh-squeezed lime juice (depending on how tart/bitter you want your cocktail)
  • scant 1/2 oz simple syrup*** (optional — you won’t need this if your grapefruit is really ripe)
  • 7 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
  • ice
  1. Add all ingredients into a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously for 60 seconds.
  2. Strain into two chilled cocktail glasses and enjoy!


*Gin: I used Hendricks Gin in these.  I wouldn’t recommend Tanqueray for this cocktail (too piney for these, I think).

**If you use pomelo rather than grapefruit, you may need to add a little more simple syrup to balance out the bitterness.

***For the simple syrup, I prefer to start without it and then add a little if I feel like it needs it (remember: you can always add, but you can’t subtract!)