Tag Archives: cocktails

Letters & Libations: Mr. Zip Cocktail

mr. zip cocktail, letters & libations, gimlet, gin cocktailHe’s always “on thyme!”

This is the cocktail we served at the Letters & Libations birthday party. I think it was a hit, based on the amount of gin consumed at the party. (We only served this cocktail and also beer and wine.) Naoto is the kind of bartender who tops off your cocktail when you’re not looking, though. The Mr. Zip is a simple gin gimlet, with a bit of a twist. We swapped out the lime juice for lemon and we added a hint of thyme to the simple syrup.

Thyme Simple Syrup

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

Handful of fresh thyme sprigs

In a pan on the stove, dissolve sugar in water. Once sugar is completely dissolved, remove from heat and add thyme sprigs. Steep for 30 minutes and strain into a container. Chill before using. The simple syrup will last up to a week in the refrigerator. This makes enough syrup for five cocktails. (You can adjust the amounts based on the size of your party, but the basic recipe is the same: equal parts sugar and water, and a handful of thyme.)

Mr. Zip Cocktail

2 oz gin

3/4 oz thyme simple syrup

3/4 oz fresh lemon juice

Add all ingredients to cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake, shake, shake. Strain into cocktail glass and garnish with a sprig of fresh thyme. Enjoy with friends, preferably while writing letters.

 

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Letters & Libations Stationery

letters & libations stationery, donovan beeson, letters and libations birthday party, letter writing party, birthday, kimberly's birthdayAs I mentioned the other day, Naoto had special Letters & Libations stationery made especially for the party. He knew that Donovan sometimes makes special stationery for the Letter Writers Alliance letter writing socials so he commissioned her to draw something that incorporated letter writing and cocktails. He met with Donovan to chat about the plan and she came up with a few designs. Because he knew I would probably want to use the stationery beyond the party, he let me choose which one I liked best. letters & libations stationery, donovan beeson, letters and libations birthday party, letter writing party, birthday, kimberly's birthdayThis was the winner…a perfect cocktail coupe with a stack of mail ready to go. I love that the top letter has a little paper airplane on it and it’s addressed to me from the LWA. (But that detail is small enough so others could use the stationery without it being weird.) Donovan formatted the image so two sheets of stationery fit on an 8.5×11 sheet of paper. Naoto had them printed at the UPS store, where fifty copies cost $5. (He brought his own paper, Superfine White from Paper Source from my stash at home. I love Superfine papers…almost anything–fountain pens, gel pens, felt pens, pencils–writes nicely on it.)

I now have a nice leftover stash of my own personal stationery and the ability to print more. I’m so excited to write some letters on it this week! (By the way, I’m staying on top of my letter writing this week…how about you?)

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Letters & Libations

letters and libations birthday party, letter writing party, birthday, kimberly's birthday, birthday cake, kays bakeryFor my birthday this year, Naoto threw me a Letters & Libations party, complete with a theme cocktail, letter writing, and lots of friends. It was so fun and a perfect beginning to a new decade. My only regret is that we didn’t get more good pictures… letters and libations birthday party, letter writing party, birthday, kimberly's birthday So, about the cake…we got it at our local bakery, Kay’s. When Naoto ordered it, he asked if they could do red and blue (airmail colors!) and draw an envelope on the cake. Simple, right? I mean, and envelope is a rectangle with a triangle inside. (Even I can draw an envelope and I’m terrible at drawing!) They said they couldn’t do an envelope but they could do a pencil and a notebook so he figured close enough…well…that’s what we got. Funny, right? It still tasted delicious. Birthday cakes are my favorite…nothing fancy, just white cake with buttercream frosting.

letters and libations birthday party, letter writing party, birthday, kimberly's birthday letters and libations birthday party, letter writing party, birthday, kimberly's birthdayWhen Naoto sent out the invitations, a few people wondered what a letter writing party was. I was feeling a little nervous about making my non-letter-writing friends write letters, but it all worked out in the end and almost everyone wrote a letter! I even had some Mr. Rogers stamps on hand for people to use and Naoto had some special stationery made for me. (I’ll share that soon!) I was so happy to see tables of friends writing letters and drinking cocktails at my dining room table. It was really the best birthday gift ever. (Confession: I didn’t write a letter!) letters and libations birthday party, letter writing party, birthday, kimberly's birthdayWe ate Freddy’s meatballs (pretty much a party standard around here) and Lou Malnati’s pizza and salad, cheeses, chips and salsa, and Karen made her famous pimento. letters and libations birthday party, letter writing party, birthday, kimberly's birthdayNaoto turned my desk into a bar and mixed up a signature cocktail for us…I’ll share that soon, too.

My heart is full, and I’m well-stocked for National Letter Writing Month.

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Happy Birthday, Naoto!

Naoto making cocktails, Trader Joes guyHappy birthday to my charming husband. May this year be your best one yet…I know you’re off to a great start in 2018!

XO

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A Cocktail Story at CH Distillery

A Cocktail Story at ch distilleryFor the second year in a row, Naoto and I went to CH Distillery in the West Loop for their Christmas pop-up, A Cocktail Story. I love a good theme party, so it’s right up my alley–all of the food and cocktails are based on the holiday classic, A Christmas StoryA Cocktail Story at ch distilleryI wish I’d taken pictures of the menu, because I can’t remember the witty names of our cocktails, but we started with bourbon (Naoto’s was a version of an Old Fashioned and mine was similar to a Manhattan) and moved onto tasty rosemary gin cocktails.  We ate classic snacks like deviled eggs, cheese balls, and fried rice (keeping with the movie’s Chinese Christmas dinner theme.) A Cocktail Story at ch distillery, eggnogFor me, the best part of the whole experience was Eddie’s Frozen Eggnog. (Eddie = Clark’s cousin in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.) It is so deliciously decadent. I’ve been thinking about it since I tried it last yearA Cocktail Story at ch distillery, eggnogCheers to the holidays once again!

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Cocktail Perfected: The Rosemary Gimlet

rosemary gimlet, Hasegawa Happy Hour, cocktail hour, summer cocktailsWe don’t have any ripe tomatoes in Plot 6 yet but our herbs are flourishing like crazy. So far, I’ve made Greek orzo salad with our parsley, a round of pesto with our basil, and a cocktail with the rosemary.

I haven’t made a classic gimlet in a long time, and I thought rosemary would be a nice addition and what do you know? Someone‘s already done it! I love the balance of herbal and tart with a hint sweetness (though mostly herbal.) Rosemary used to remind me of fall, Thanksgiving turkey, roasted potatoes…but in a cocktail, it’s very fresh and summery.

Rosemary Simple Syrup

Make this ahead of time so you have time to chill it before making the cocktails.

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

~2 Tablespoons of rosemary, roughly chopped (Or for a lighter rosemary flavor, just add 2-3 stalks of whole rosemary into the sugar/water mixture.)

Add ingredients to a small saucepan and bring to boil, stirring occasionally until sugar dissolves. Turn off heat and let sit until cool. Strain into a jar and refrigerate. This makes enough for 4+ cocktails.

The Rosemary Gimlet 

2 oz gin

3/4 oz freshly squeezed lime juice

3/4 oz rosemary simple syrup

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until very chilled and pour into a chilled coupe. Garnish with a sprig of fresh rosemary. Enjoy on the lanai on a hot summer night!

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Letter Writers Alliance 10th Anniversary Party

cake, letter writers alliance 10th anniversary, paper pastries, LWAinLALast month Naoto surprised me with a trip to Los Angeles for the Letter Writers Alliance 10th anniversary party hosted by Margaret from Paper Pastries. Margaret and I have been pen pals for a few years now but we’d only met briefly at Ex Postal Facto. So I was really looking forward to seeing her again and meeting her sweet family. The trip exceeded my expectations. There wasn’t a ton of time for sight seeing (especially since my Friday was cut short thanks to flight delays, womp womp) but I loved the time I spent with Margaret and celebrating ten years of writing with the LWA.Los Angeles City Hall viewLos Angeles City Hall mailbox

On Friday afternoon, Margaret took me to the top of City Hall for a view of LA. Then we shopped around Little Tokyo. Chicago doesn’t have a Japanese neighborhood so it was such a treat to go to these little shops and restaurants. We haven’t planned our 2017 trip to Japan yet, so I’m feeling a little Japan withdrawal so it was great to immerse myself in the cuteness of Little Tokyo. I bought some stickers and a fuurin, which is a Japanese wind chime. (I’ve been wanting one for Tanabata next month. I’ll show you soon!)

Honeymee, Little Tokyo Los AngelesWe also had Honeymee which was amazing and is making me rethink my summer treats. It’s a special soft serve that comes topped with a real honeycomb. Seriously, what a combination! It was so good and worth the sticky hands that followed.

Poketo, LA, stationery and home goodsPoketo, LA, stationery and home goodsI also got to go to Poketo which has been on my list for some time. I only bought some greeting cards but I just love their style. ​

On Saturday morning I went to brunch with Margaret, her husband Tony, and their adorable daughter Ellis. (Sadly no pictures of this…)

Museum of Neon Art, Glendale, CAclayton plumbers at the MONA in Glendale, CA Pep Boys at Museum of Neon Art japanese katakana, neon, neon art, museum of neon art, monaThen I killed time at the Museum of Neon Arts in Glendale. It was the smallest museum ever, but it was packed with neon signs and modern art. I liked the old neon signs the best but I was smitten with the Japanese katakana in the last piece above. (It says “neon” and was made for an art installation in Japan in 1998.) donovan and kathy, letter writers alliance, 10th anniversary party, giant sprinkle cake, paper pastriesletter writers alliance, 10th anniversary party, giant sprinkle cake

On Saturday afternoon, a few dozen people showed up at Paper Pastries for the official Letter Writers Alliance anniversary party and letter writing social.  letter writers alliance, 10th anniversary party, letter writing social, paper pastries, glendale, CA letter writers alliance, 10th anniversary party, letter writing social, paper pastries, glendale, CAI shopped, I wrote a few postcards, I chatted, I drank champagne punch, and I ate the most delicious cake ever–white cake with white frosting and COVERED in festive sprinkles. It was perfect. It was so amazing to see people come from far and wide to celebrate letter writing! The letter writing community is so diverse and friendly!

bubble martini Clifton's cabinet of curiosities After the party we all went out for dumplings and drinks which was the perfect ending for a day with pen pals who’ve become true friends.in-n-out burgerin-n-out burger

On Sunday my flight left pretty early so I just had time to finish some postcards and eat an In-and-Out burger, my first. (It was good…I didn’t get the fries because it was 10:30AM.) Burbank Airport, Bob Hope AirportWhew…it was a whirlwind trip. Now I’m home and looking forward to the NEXT LWA party, tomorrow night at Greer!

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Cinco de Karen

Cinco de Karen, Cinco de Mayo, Fiesta, retirement party, piñata, cactusA few weeks ago, we threw a surprise fiesta-themed retirement party for our friend Karen. Her last day at her job was May 5th so we deemed it “Cinco de Karen.” We told her that Naoto and I were going to take her out to dinner, but instead, all of the guests were waiting for her in the lobby. (Because she lives across the hall from us, I thought it would be too risky for guests to come in, for fear she would leave her apartment for something and run into a random friend.) Karen was really surprised.  Cinco de Karen, Cinco de Mayo, Fiesta, retirement party, piñata, cactusThe apartment was decorated with papel picado everywhere. (Sadly, it was plastic and not the paper one I ordered…womp womp!) I bought a colorful table runner and added a few succulents to tin cans for the table. taco piñata Cinco de Karen, Cinco de Mayo, Fiesta, retirement party, piñata, cactus taco piñata Cinco de Karen, Cinco de Mayo, Fiesta, retirement party, piñata, cactus taco piñata Cinco de Karen, Cinco de Mayo, Fiesta, retirement party, piñata, cactusOur friend Jackie made a taco piñata which was AMAZING! Seriously…is it not the cutest taco you’ve ever seen? (Plus it was filled with grown-up candies!) Cinco de Karen, Cinco de Mayo, Fiesta, retirement party, piñata, cactusI made a taco garland (Naoto is holding a piece of it above.) but we hung it in the living room where it didn’t get much air time. I didn’t want to compete with the big taco!
Cinco de Karen, Cinco de Mayo, Fiesta, retirement party, piñata, cactusAnd I made giant cacti out of cardboard, tissue paper, and spray paint. Of course I waited until the last minute so the morning of the party, I was outside on the balcony spray painting in the wind. Thank goodness for giant boxes to catch the overspray. (Idea from here.) Now I’m addicted to oversized party decorations–think of the possibilities! Cinco de Karen, Cinco de Mayo, Fiesta, retirement party, piñata, cactusWe drank (too many) margaritas and ate chips and salsa and homemade guacamole, beef and chicken tacos, Mexican corn salad, fruit, and a Mexican chocolate mousse pie. Cinco de Karen, Cinco de Mayo, Fiesta, retirement party, piñata, cactus Cinco de Karen, Cinco de Mayo, Fiesta, retirement party, piñata, cactusCinco de Karen, Cinco de Mayo, Fiesta, retirement party, piñata, cactusJackie made a little door in the piñata so we didn’t have to beat it up to break into it. Genius! Now the taco can live on! Cinco de Karen, Cinco de Mayo, Fiesta, retirement party, piñata, cactus Cinco de Karen, Cinco de Mayo, Fiesta, retirement party, piñata, cactus Cinco de Karen, Cinco de Mayo, Fiesta, retirement party, piñata, cactus Cinco de Karen, Cinco de Mayo, Fiesta, retirement party, piñata, cactus, Pleasant Home Book Club ladiesIt was such a fun night and I’m so relieved we were able to pull off the surprise. Congratulations to Karen as she starts a new career chapter!

 

P.S. Picture of “surprised Karen” by Peggy. Pictures of taco by Jackie.

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CH Distillery’s A Cocktail Story

A Cocktail Story at CH Distillery 2016

This may be my favorite Christmas adventure of the year! I love a good theme party, so when I read about CH Distillery’s A Christmas Story themed pop up, I jumped at the chance to take Naoto on a little Christmas date. He’s never seen the movie, but he enjoyed the cocktails anyway. Here are a few pictures from our night out…from appetizers to the best eggnog I’ve ever had. A Cocktail Story at CH Distillery 2016 A Cocktail Story at CH Distillery 2016 A Cocktail Story at CH Distillery 2016 A Cocktail Story at CH Distillery 2016 A Cocktail Story at CH Distillery 2016 A Cocktail Story at CH Distillery 2016 A Cocktail Story at CH Distillery 2016 A Cocktail Story at CH Distillery 2016 A Cocktail Story at CH Distillery 2016 A Cocktail Story at CH Distillery 2016 A Cocktail Story at CH Distillery 2016 A Cocktail Story at CH Distillery 2016

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Rio Olympics Party 

Olympics Party Rio 2016, viewing area decorations, flag bannerIt’s Olympics time again! Last Friday I hosted a few friends for an Opening Ceremonies viewing party. Just like in 2014 and in 2012, I made a few decorations to get into the Olympics spirit. I had my flag banner left over from last time. (Yes, I saved it. No regrets.) This time, I added some tissue poufs in Olympics colors and a little torch. tissue and paper olympic torch, Olympics decorationsI may have taken a few laps around the apartment with the torch before I sat it by the TV. (I got the idea here in case you want to make one of your own. I used super sticky tape instead of pins and it’s still holding quite nicely.)Olympic rings fruit platterKaren and I chopped up fruit to make up the easiest Olympic centerpiece ever. BrigadeirosI made sausage, beans, and rice and brigadeiros, little chocolatey truffles made with condensed milk.  (They are so easy to make! I highly recommend them as an easy treat while you watch swimming or gymnastics!) Olympics party food spread, Rio 2016Karen made Brazilian cheese bread and Jackie made little shrimp and mango tostadas and James made two kinds of guacamole. We had quite a feast! CaipirinhaAnd of course we had to drink caipirinhas, the National Drink of Brazil. They were delicious (topped off with a bit of sparkling water to dilute the booze just a little bit!)

I had so much fun getting the party ready and of course so much fun celebrating with friends. We tested each other’s geography skills and did our own commentary about the uniforms and cheered extra hard for the countries with small delegations. Go athletes!

 

 

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