Above Photo By Gail. Cocktail Photos Courtesy of Cascade Ice.
Are you on the lookout for a few fantastic new cocktail recipes to provide liquid refreshment for your Valentine’s Day / Eve festivities? Then you’re in luck, because Cascade Ice just sent me a selection of their latest delicious and unique flavors including Cranberry Pomegranate, Black Raspberry, Pomegranate Berry, Blueberry Watermelon and Peach Mango. Yummy!
Cascade Ice fruity sparkling waters – which are free of calories, sodium, caffeine, gluten and sugar – have a delightful “fizz” combined with natural fruit juices and are absolutely ideal as cocktail mixers. I always try to have a few bottles chilling in the fridge. Here are three easy and delicious cocktail recipes that are fully appropriate to the mood of the day!
Love Potion Pizzazz:
To mix up the irresistible potion, mix 2 oz of Cascade Ice Pomegranate Berry with 1 oz of vodka. Add a garnish of fresh cherries and you’re ready to go!
Passion Pucker-Up Cocktail:
Mix up this tantalizing drink by pouring 1.5 oz of tequila and 3 oz of Cascade Ice Black Raspberry over crushed ice into your mixer. Next, add the juice of a lime wedge and a handful of raspberries. Garnish the cocktail with an orange wedge and you’re ready to serve!
Mix 1 oz of whipped cream vodka, 4 oz of Cascade Ice Pink Grapefruit, the juice of a lemon wedge and a handful of ice in a mixer. Pour the cocktail into a chilled glass and garnish with lemon wedges.
Cascade Ice is available for purchase in all 50 states, at retailers such as Albertson’s, Safeway, Ralph’s, QFC, A&P, Raley’s, Coborn’s, HEB, Market Basket, Shoprite, Food City and Price Choppers, among many others. Click Here for a full map of retailers.
Sure, Teqa Still Does a Mean Taco, But There’s So Much More You’ll Want to Try (All Food Photos By Anne Raso)
It’s a fact that Foodies can get Fickle Fast. Even restaurants that have laser-like focus on a successful culinary groove may need to change things up in the kitchen sooner than anticipated. On a review visit to traditional Mexican eatery Teqaback in the late summer of 2011, this self-proclaimed ‘Taqueria & Tequileria’ was savoring its position as a hip newcomer and was all about promoting a ‘Tacos and Tequila’ vibe that would attract a fresh crowd to its Murray Hill neighborhood. But it wasn’t long before anyone with a Mexican food hankering could find Tacos and Tequila every few blocks. It was clearly time for a re-think, as Teqacame under new ownership, bringing in a new Chef, 28-year-old Steven Cruz (a private catering expert also formerly of the Lower East Side’s Orchard House).
Earlier this month, we were part of a large group of bloggers and journalists invited to dine at Teqa, meet Chef Cruz and sample many of his new dishes for ourselves. And while the menu has been revamped (think now of Teqa as a culinary equivalent alternative to Dos Caminos for when you’d rather not drop $100 on dinner and drinks), Teqa still feels comfortable and familiar. The cocktail menu still includes a full page, triple column listing of specialty tequilas offered behind the bar; and yes, Teqa’s cozy yet modern dining room still flaunts that amazing Tequila Bottle Chandelier by designer Johnny Swing. Here’s a walk through some of our favorite new items!
Our dinner kicked off with potent cocktails and a “family style” service of many of Teqa’s new featured appetizers, so everyone got a chance to try many things. The Avocado Ensalada (pictured above, $12) is a refreshing mix of carrots, frisee, cucumber, hearts of palm and chives dressed with a pleasantly sweet cilantro lime vinaigrette and, of course, a generous portion of rich ripe avocado.
The Chips & Dips ($15) deliver three varieties of Salsa, plus freshly-made Guacamole to be scooped up by both quick fried plantain and house-made tortilla chips, which is a nice take on a traditional antojito!
Another sure to please starter is the Guava Chicken Wings ($10) — a generous portion of tender chicken drumettes grilled in a Guava BBQ Sauce with cilantro chimichurri dipping sauce on the side. Finger lickin’ good!
We also really enjoyed the Crispy Calamari ($12.00), which is lightly cornmeal crusted and served almost like a salad tossed with crisp Nappa Cabbage and a Chipotle Agave Aoili. Honestly, this is the best Calamari appetizer we’ve had in any NYC restaurant, ever. Tuna crudo lovers will absolutely want to try the Tuna on Crack ($16.00): Sushi Grade Tuna, avocado, cucumber, Sriracha, toasted sesame seeds and chive cilantro oil served with tortilla chips! Delicious!
The night’s superstar entrée selection proved to be the Boneless Short Rib ($25) one of Chef Cruz’s specialties. Preparation begins on this truly outstanding dish when Cruz arrives at the restaurant at 10 AM to begin braising the ribs for a total of seven hours. Tamarind BBQ Sauce adds flavor before and the dish is served simply over a roasted corn puree and topped with cilantro oil. Even though this is just one rib, it is a huge portion and the meat is so tender and lean it would fall off the bone if it was not already boneless! High Fives all around on this one.
Meat lovers should also check out the ample Grilled Skirt Steak ($28), marinated in chipotle adobe for 14 hours, then grilled to order and served with grilled scallions, yucca fries and chimichurri sauce.
Stand out desserts include a plate of traditional Mexican Churros (yummy donut sticks, $6) which arrived to the table crispy and hot from the fryer, dusted with cinnamon sugar and served with both dulce de leche and chocolate tequila sauces for dipping.
Another of Cruz’s new additions to the Teqa menu is the Crema De Chocolata ($8), a divine milk chocolate pudding which was light and luxurious but more substantial than a mousse. Just a dollop of whipped cream kicked it up a notch to sheer perfection. Cruz confessed that he adds a splash of tequila to all of his desserts!
Teqa is open late most nights and has what looks like a fantastic Brunch on the weekends that we are looking forward to checking out. Thanks to Teqa and Chef Cruz for hosting such a fun and delicious dinner!
Teqa is located at 443 Third Avenue (near 30th Street). Hours are Sunday and Monday 4:00 – 10:00 PM, Tuesday and Wednesday 4:00 PM – Midnight, and Thursday to Saturday 4:00 PM to 2:00 AM Brunch is served Saturday and Sunday starting at 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Phone 212)213-3223 for reservations or visit their website at Teqa Dot Com for menus and information on special events.
With the Emmy Awards airing tonight, and your Drinking Game already in hand, why not enjoy the show with a couple of low-calorie cocktails? The recipes below feature Sparkling ICE, a naturally flavored sparkling water that is zero calories, gluten-free, lightly carbonated…and a delicious addition to any mixed drink. Sparkling ICE contains B-Vitamins and Vitamin D, along with a caffeine-free Green Tea Extract, which contains healthy antioxidants.
And now, to the drinking!
Strawberry Lemonade Emmy-tini
1½ oz. Corzo Tequila Silver
1 oz. Cointreau
1 oz. Strawberry Lemonade Sparkling ICE
¾ oz. Lime juice
½ tsp. Jalapeño, diced
Directions: Muddle strawberry and jalapeño in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and remaining ingredients. Shake vigorously and strain into a glass filled with ice. Garnish with strawberry.
Calories per 6 oz serving: 130
Red Carpet Raspberry Rave
1 oz. Makers Mark Bourbon
½ oz. Dry Vermouth
2 Bourbon Cherries
2 oz. Black Raspberry Sparkling ICE
Directions: Combine the bourbon and dry vermouth in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled glass. Top off with Black Raspberry Sparkling ICE. Gently stir and garnish with blackberries.
Calories per 6 oz serving: 130
Sparkling ICE is part of the TalkingRain® family of beverages, and retails for $1.19-$1.29. To locate Sparking ICE (In NYC I’ve see it at Duane Reade stores) visit Sparkling ICE Dot Com!
Legendary music festival Lollapalooza is coming to Chicago’s Grant Park August 2-4, 2013 and tickets are already sold out. But ultra-premium tequila maker Maestro Dobel is currently holding a photo contest on Facebook and will give two lucky grand prize winners a VIP weekend experience for two at the much-anticipated event, complete with two VIP Lollapalooza Passes, roundtrip airfare to Chicago, hotel accommodations for three nights and $500 in cash. To enter the contest, participants age 21 or older must “Like” Maestro Dobel on Facebook and upload a photo and description of a Rock Star Moment – however one defines that – from his or her life using the form provided. Entrants are then encouraged to have friends and family for their entry. The contest, which celebrates Dobel spokesman and Lollapalooza Founder Perry Farrell of Jane’s Addiction and gives fans a chance to experience his devil-may-care lifestyle for a weekend, is now live on Dobel’s Facebook Page and will run through July 18th.
In addition to receiving a ringside seat to see 130 of the best bands in the world, each winner and his or her friend will receive a true VIP experience that includes access to all VIP areas, golf cart shuttle transportation, viewing platforms with premium sightlines to take in all the rock-and-roll action, complimentary food and specialty beverages from Lollapalooza sponsors (including Maestro Dobel), reserved air-conditioned restrooms and shaded lounge seating.
Contest entries must include a photo that depicts a Rock and Roll Moment at a concert, having fun with friends – or any suitable image that unmistakably says, “This contestant rocks!” Participants must also provide a title for their photo entry and a short description that tells why he or she should win. Contestants can then share their entry and invite their friends to vote for it on Maestro Dobel’s Facebook Page. Entries will be judged by their creativity and the number of votes each receives.
To enter the contest, please visit Maestro Dobel’s special contest tab on their Facebook page at This Link. Learn more about ultra-premium Maestro Dobel Tequila, which can be found at multiple distributors and retail stores throughout the United States and in select countries worldwide, at http://www.maestrodobel.com. Find out more about Lollapalooza at http://www.lollapalooza.com.
As someone who has literally grown up hearing Carlos Santana’s music since I was a small child, it is exciting to see him continually harvesting personal and financial success through diversification into projects that transcend the scope of music. Carlos’s latest endeavor is a partnership with the respected Tequila brand, Casa Noble, a company on whose board he now sits as a part owner.
Carlos Santana Speaks to Guests at the Casa Noble Tequila tasting at Midtown’s Core Club (Photo By Anne Raso)
Regarding the partnership, Carlos explained that he and the company share many core values. “Passion, dedication and integrity is what attached me to Casa Noble Tequila,” he said, adding, “I feel at home.” Santana also revealed that Casa Noble and his family have the same origins; with roots dating to the 1700s in Jalisco, Mexico. “When I visited the distillery,” said Santana, “I immediately felt spiritually connected to the [CEO, Jose] Hermosillo family and Casa Noble. Together we celebrate the gift of life and all of the blessings that come with it. Together we can all make a difference in the world.”
Last evening, Casa Noble and CEO Jose “Pepe” Hermosillo held a private tasting event at midtown’s Core Club to formally introduce Carlos’s alignment with and contribution to the brand, and to taste some delicious, triple distilled Tequila.
Three varieties were featured at the Core Club reception: Crystal (the Casa Noble version of the clear Silver or Blanco tequila variety), Reposada and Anejo. I must say that the deep amber Anejo variety scored as a favorite with the guests, owing to its butterscotch, vanilla and chocolate notes and an almost brandy-like essence. In a word: Smooth!
All Casa Noble Tequilas come in beautiful, hand blown glass decanters and are certainly Tequilas that anyone would be proud to serve or give as gifts to your finest friends and guests.
Read more about the Casa Noble brand and its partnership with Carlos Santana at This Link.
Tiny Bottles of Casa Noble Tequila Were Given to Guests to Take Home
While its doors opened just this past March, the word is already on the street about Teqa; a Mexican restaurant that does things just a bit differently. Filling a void in a neighborhood previously longing for an infusion of youthful vibrancy, this Taqueria & Tequileria (say that five times fast) is the creation of entrepreneurial owner Derek Axelrod, who’s enlisted the right All-Star team to make Teqa a success. In the kitchen, chef Lisa Schoen (also personal chef to Derek Jeter) creates a presentation of modern and traditional Mexican cuisine that draws from global influences, while in the dining room, Interior Design by Lesly Zamor combines the warmth of dark wood and leather with the rustic/modern touch of custom lighting (courtesy of Johnny Swing) to create a very comfortable and welcoming interior.
Tequila Bottle Chandelier by Johnny Swing
Now, consider that the Bartenders at Teqa mix refreshing signature cocktails from a tequila menu featuring over 100 different bottles, and you’ve scored with an establishment that appeals to both those who desire to satiate the appetite and those who also hunger for a nightlife vibe.
But us? We came to eat!
All Food Photos By Anne Raso
A generous portion of fresh, ripe Teqa Guacamole ($14) arrives on your table spiced to your desired level of heat at Mellow, Orange-Habanero or Mega Watt (or choose trio of all three for the same price).
If you’re not a Guacamole fan, do try the House made, tri-color Tortilla Chips and Salsa in a selection of flavors like roasted tomato, green tomatillo and shrimp-mango ($9 each flavor), or try a sampling of all three (see above photo) for $10.
Oaxaca Queso Fundido (warm melted cheese dip with chips, $11) is accompanied by tomatillo salsa and available in plain cheese (for purists) or with a choice of chorizo or ground beef (add $6) or veggies (add $4).
Hibiscus & Rose Maragarita and the Voodoo Child Cocktail
Other appetizers include the popular Teqa Nachos platter ($14) topped with a cheese blend, seasoned ground sirloin, black beans, guacamole, pico de gallo and cilantro crema. Quesadillas stuffed with wild mushrooms or BBQ pulled chicken ($11 each) round out the starters menu. A couple of shared appetizers could easily serve as a satisfying meal when accompanied by one or two of Teqa’s delicious cocktails such as the Voodoo Child with Tequila and fresh pineapple, or the Hibiscus & Rose Margarita.
February 22nd is National Margarita Day, in case no one hipped you to that fact. Also, did you have any idea that the Margarita is the Number 1 cocktail drink in the US? I sure didn’t, as I am a Martini gal, myself. Still, I am not adverse to the occasional frozen fruit margarita (peach or mango being my favorite varieties) when the occasion presents itself. The recipe below might be a fun one to try out while relaxing at home this evening, and you don’t even need a blender! Ole!
Total prep time: 10 minutes
Wedge of lime
2 teaspoons coarse margarita salt
14 ounces ruby red grapefruit juice, with pulp (about 3 medium grapefruits)
1 ounce lime juice
5 ounces reposado tequila
2 ounces triple sec
4 slices grapefruit or twists
1. Run a lime wedge halfway around the rims of four margarita glasses and dip into salt. Set aside.
2. Combine 7 ounces grapefruit juice, one-half ounce lime juice, 2 1/2 ounces tequila and 1 ounce triple sec in a cocktail shaker. Shake over ice until chilled. Strain into two ice-filled, salt-rimmed margarita glasses.
3. Garnish with a twist or slice of grapefruit. Repeat to make two more cocktails.