Girl Walks Into a Bar


Sunday  August 6, 2017

6 Skinny Drinks for Summer

Our skinny drinks posts continue to be some of our most popular on the blog, especially during the summer months when the weather is warm and our readers are out with friends or entertaining more at home. We’re big proponents of healthy eating and drinking, and know that a cocktail’s calories can add up fast. Here are a few simple and easy-to-make recipes that you’ll both enjoy, and feel good about.

→ Don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel for lots of great cocktail recipe How To’s!

Skinny Cosmopolitan: 108 Calories
1.5 ounces vodka (96 calories)
1.5 ounces diet cranberry juice (0 calories)
½ tablespoon of triple sec (11 calories)
Squeeze of 1 lime wedge (1 calorie)

Combine all of the ingredients in a martini shaker filled with ice. Shake well, then strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a lime and serve.

Skinny Spicy Margarita: 121 Calories
1.5 ounces tequila (97 calories)
1.5 ounces diet Margarita mix (0 calories)
1 tablespoon of triple sec (22 calories)
1 -2 habañero slices, muddled
Squeeze of 1 lime wedge (1 calorie)
Squeeze of 1 lemon wedge (1 calorie)

Combine all of the ingredients in a martini shaker filled with ice. Shake well, then strain into a rocks glass filled with ice. Don’t forget to dip the rim in salt first! Garnish with a lime and serve.

Super Skinny Mini Marg*: 77 Calories
1 ounce chilled tequila (65 calories)
½ tablespoon of triple sec (11 calories)
Squeeze of 1 lime wedge (1 calorie)
*served best in a tall shot glass

Combine all of the ingredients in a martini shaker filled with ice. Shake well, then strain into a shot glass. Repeat a few more times for several low cal cocktails!

Skinny Mai Tai: 148 Calories
1 ounce light rum (64 calories)
1 ounces dark rum (64 calories)
1 tablespoon pineapple juice (8 calories)
1 tablespoon orange juice (7 calories)
1 teaspoon grenadine (5 calories)
Small pineapple wedge to garnish. Maraschino cherry is optional.

Combine all the ingredients except for the dark rum into a martini shaker filled with ice. Shake well to mix, then strain into a rock glass filled with ice. Add the dark rum as a floater on top. Garnish and serve.

Slim Cherry: 26 Calories
2 ounces Barcadi Silver Low-Carb Black Cherry Rum (16 Calories)
2 ounces diet tonic water (0 calories)
Splash coco-cherry juice (10 calories) *optional if you can find at Whole Foods Market

Fill a high ball with ice. Add each ingredient and stir to mix.

Skinny Morning: (100 Calories)
1.5 ounces Vanilla Vodka (81 Calories)
1 ounce orange juice (16 calories)
Orange wheel garnish (3 calories)

Combine all of the ingredients in a martini shaker filled with ice. Shake well, then strain into a rocks glass filled with ice. Garnish and serve.

Monday  July 24, 2017

Hurry Up and Get Your HOOCH

One free drink every day. How’s that sound? That’s the motto of Hooch, the subscriber-based app that encourages you to leave your couch and your comfort zone to find a few new watering holes in your neighborhood. And what better way to do that than with the promise of a free drink?

Here’s how it works. First, you download the app to give it a whirl. If you like it, you sign up for a month membership of $9.99. Once you’re registered, you select a bar from their list of venues and head over for your complimentary drink of the day. Maybe you’ll see the name of a bar that you’ve heard about from friends, or maybe there’s a spot that you’ve driven past 1,000 times on the way home from work and now have a legitimate reason to stop. Either way, this is a definite no-brainer to us!

You’ll learn a lot about Hooch from their FAQ page, but we thought we’d share a bit more about the company via our friend, Justin Neill.

This Girl: What is your background in the spirits industry?

Justin Neill: Previously I worked with the marketing company Brand Allies.  The founder of the company, Mike Appel had extensive experience in marketing for many spirits companies and I was able to learn a great deal from him.  Our speciality was entertainment marketing and connecting the dots for brands looking to expand their exposure with local LA tastemakers and influencers.  Every spirit is unique but what is not unique is they all need to get people to be correctly educated on the product, enjoy the product and spread the word though social media/word of mouth.

This Girl: Describe the moment you realized that you needed to launch this business.

Goldies – Photo Credit: William Todman

Justin Neill: The idea for HOOCH came from our founder Aleksey Kernes who wanted to create a “universal drink ticket”.  Aleksey was a well established top door guy in NYC and to help get new people in the door at his venues he would give them them a drink ticket so the first drink was on him.  HOOCH became the electronic marketing solution to get new people into venues.  Aleksey, brought in our now CEO Lin Dai who had built and sold start-ups in the past. Lin had been a friend of mine for many years and I was able to jump on board and launch the second market, LA (NYC was the first).  I immediately saw the value for venues and liquor companies to get exposure to many new millennials who do everything on apps. Obviously,  there is a ton of value for the member who can redeem one promo every single day for the price of one cocktail.

This Girl: You have a few competitors out there. What makes you different?

Justin Neill: We are the only company like this who has 9 active markets, including Hong Kong.  Just like Class Pass, members can use the app in any active market.

Harlowes – Photo Credit: William Todman

This Girl: Have you noticed ordering trends and does it vary from city to city?

Justin Neill: The biggest variance in ordering is time of day.  LA tends to be most popular for happy hours and mixed drinks and NYC tends to have more redemptions later in the night.

This Girl: What are the next big plans you have in store for HOOCH?

Justin Neill: We are in the middle of fundraising that will be used to grow the company.  So expect to see HOOCH grow into more cities and more major liquor brand partnerships.

To download the app, follow this link ti iTunes:


Resident – Photo Credit: William Todman

Friday  June 30, 2017

How to Make Star-Spangled Sangria!

This was a recipe on our blog way before we included it in our cocktail recipe book, Cocktails for Cougars & Cowgirls. It has evolved a bit over the years but continues to be a drink we get great feedback for. It’s easy to make and it’s beautiful! Plus, you have the added bonus of eating sangria-soaked fruit when the pitcher is empty. Score!

If this recipe becomes part of your July 4th celebration, snap a photo and tag us: @GirlWalksIn2Bar. Happy 4th!

Star Spangled Sangria ~ Serves 6 – 8
1 bottle chilled chardonnay
1 cup peach schnapps
½ cup vanilla brandy
½ cup extra fine baker’s sugar
2 cups strawberries
2 apples
2 cups blueberries
1 lemon (for apple slice preservation)
Star-shaped cookie cutter

Combine the chardonnay, peach schnapps, vanilla brandy, and sugar in the pitcher or punch bowl and stir until the sugar dissolves.

Wash the blueberries and set aside.

Wash the strawberries, remove the tops, slice, and set aside.

Wash the apples and thinly slice from the top of the apple to the bottom to produce the largest slice possible. Store each slice in a bowl of lemon water to keep the slices from browning as you work.

Use the star-shaped cookie cutter to punch out apple stars. Return each star to the lemon water to preserve until use.

For a red, white and blue layered sangria, use a pitcher and add the strawberries first, followed by the apple stars and the blueberries.

Slowly pour in the sangria mix until the pitcher is filled.

For a red, white and blue potpourri, add the fruit directly to the sangria mixture and stir.

Get a copy of Cocktails for Cougars & Cowgirls on Amazon, and have access to dozens of easy-to-make recipes for great entertaining!

Sunday  June 25, 2017

Product Spotlight: Bundaberg Brewed Drinks

Up until a few weeks ago, our only experience with the Bundaberg brand was using their ginger beer for making Moscow Mules. Then they sent us three other flavors and after tasting them we practically did backflips in the kitchen.

To call the liquids in these bottles “soda” is grossly inaccurate. It would be like calling Perrier “club soda” or Fever-Tree “tonic water”. Each flavor is spectacularly bright and boasts sophisticated mouth-feel (it’s all in the carbonation). The bottles are fine to drink straight out of the fridge of course, but we’re inclined to mix them up with a few other ingredients for some tasty cocktails. Let us know what you think!



Root Beer Cheer
1 ounce light rum vanilla
1 ounce dark rum
4 ounces Bundaberg Root Beer

Guava Lava

2 ounce cinnamon whiskey
1 ounce pineapple juice
4 ounces Bundaberg Guava

Citrus Mojito
1.5 ounces light rum
1 ounce fresh lime juice
1 sprig mint, muddled
3 ounces Bundaberg Lemon, Lime, & Bitters

Moscow Mule
1.5 ounces Russian vodka
¾ ounce lime juice
3 ounces Bundaberg Ginger Beer

Don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube Channel for dozens of easy drink recipes!

Tuesday  May 30, 2017

Cristie Norman: Sommelier Extraordinaire

It’s not every day that you meet a young and talented female sommelier who also happens to work at Spago, one of the top restaurants in Los Angeles, or as many would argue, the world. We met Cristie Norman last year during a wine tasting at the Malibu Beach Inn and have been big fans ever since. She’s warm and approachable, and despite being more knowledgeable about wine than most of the population will ever be, she’ll never make you feel embarrassed about what you don’t know. Oh- and she’s funny too. She recently debuted her own YouTube show, Adulting with Alcohol, a mix of comedy and wine education.

Intrigued by her story, we asked for an interview to get her take on $2 wine, pink wine, and her favorite wine region.
Cristie Norman_1
This Girl: Describe the moment you discovered that you had a talent for wine.

: I think very few of us have a definitive moment when we discover having a talent for wine. It comes more like ‘Ah-ha’ moments that inspire us to keep learning and growing. Being talented in wine means having a holistic understanding of the beverage world, but it also means being an example of complete hospitality, salesmanship and business sense. With that definition in mind, would I consider myself talented? Certainly not yet. However, I have had a few ‘Ah-Ha’s recently. A few weeks ago, a woman asked to see the sommelier (me) and said she wanted something spicy, red-fruit driven and jammy. I suggested a few varieties and she was open to anything, except Grenache. She said Grenache was far too light. She told me to surprise her so I brought a bottle with the label hidden, gave her a taste and she LOVED it. I revealed that it was an Australian Grenache by Kalleske. It was a risk, but changing her mind about an incredibly versatile grape was worth it. ‘Ah-ha’.This Girl: Tell us about your background in this industry.

Norman: I got my first serving position at a teahouse at sixteen years old. We had over 120 teas on the list. I had to guide guests to the right beverage based on variety, region, taste profile and personal preference; sound familiar? I always joke that I first started off as a tea sommelier and that’s why I’m so young in this industry. After getting hired at a small steakhouse at twenty years old, I was quickly promoted to lead server. I wanted to understand our wine list better, so I started reading books like “Sotheby’s Wine Encyclopedia” and “Zraly’s Windows on the World” which sparked a curiosity, which eventually set fire. About two weeks after my twenty-first birthday I took my level one sommelier exam through the Court of Master Sommeliers and passed. Six months later I passed level two, became a Certified Sommelier, and was hired at Spago Beverly Hills. Just to make sure I actually knew my stuff, I tested into WSET Level 3, Advanced Award in Wine and Spirits, and passed with Merit. I just came back from the Advanced Sommelier three-day course in Dallas by the Court of Master Sommeliers and should hopefully get to take the exam in 2018. I have a long way to go and a lot of studying to do, but being around Spago’s wine list of over three thousand selections and under the apprenticeship of Phillip Dunn and Rina Bussell, I’m confident I’ll get there.

This Girl: What was one biggest misconceptions you had about wine before you became an expert?

Norman: Before becoming a sommelier, I thought that wine became more expensive in correlation with the level of quality. What I find that I love most now isn’t the major producers and hyped up brands, although I do taste a lot of them where I work. I love wines that drink far above their price point. Value-wines are much more exciting to me.

This Girl: There stills seems to be a disproportionate number of male Somm’s. would you agree with this and if so, why do you think this is?

Norman: Fortunately in Los Angeles, there are quite a few female sommeliers, but overall we are still a minority in the industry. I think that the stereotype of the sommelier is an older male, so it doesn’t occur to women right away that it’s a career option open to them; it definitely did not come to mind for me, until I was knee-deep in becoming certified. We are here though and if we continue to be present, provide leadership and mentorship in our community, our girl-power is only going to grow.

Cristie Norman_12

This Girl
: Somebody recently told me that there’s really no difference between a $30 bottle of wine and a $2 bottle. Either spend big or go cheap. What are your thoughts? 

: There is definitely a huge difference between a $30 bottle and a $2 bottle of wine. I actually just made a video on this, but there are huge costs that go into a wine’s production. A lot of people forget that wine is an agricultural product… produce from a place name with ethical treatment of the environment are going to cost more, but they usually taste a whole lot better. Same with wine grapes. The cost of the land doesn’t even factor in the cost of harvesting, bottling, marketing, etc. When I see a bottle with a $2 price tag, I’m asking myself what they had to sacrifice to drop the price that low.

This Girl
: 20 years ago we rarely saw anyone drinking pink wine. Now it’s a staple in the home wine cooler. How did trashy go to chic?Norman: Everyone should drink rosé. Rosé is just such a versatile food wine. I think once people began to notice really prominent producers making really great rosé, the trend began to shift. It’s nice in the summertime when it’s hot, or all the time if you’re in LA, and it still has some bitter tannin to handle substantial food. Chateau Simone’s Les Grand Carmes Rose from Provence makes a rosé that is such a deep ruby that sometimes guests change their mind and ask for a lighter one. I want to tell them that it would go better with their entrées, but alas, I’m just a servant of the people.

This Girl: What’s your favorite wine region and why?

Norman: My favorite region right now is Piedmont. I didn’t have a taste for Italian wine for a really long time, definitely because I didn’t drink enough of it and the laws confused me, but I’m growing to love it. I’m especially loving Luigi Einaudi’s 2010 single vineyard Barolo “Terlo” as a more modern, approachable introduction of Barolo. Nebbiolo is so versatile and really allows each producer to express their vision.

This Girl: Which part of the world’s wine country have you yet to explore and what makes your want to go there

Norman: I would love to visit the Mosel in Germany. I think the river lined with vineyards is just so beautiful, that’s definitely a dream destination.

This Girl: Do you believe in the ABC rule or is that just for “wine snobs”?

Norman: Are we talking about “Anything But Chardonnay”? I completely disagree with that. I think that oaked chardonnay from the US suits a particular taste; you either love it or you don’t. Unfortunately, I think that gives chardonnay a bad rap in other regions where it can have restrained oak-use or none at all, in a tastefully done and balanced way. I would not identify as a person that likes new oak on wine, however, when a wine is balanced it can blow you away. I had an 2002 Henri Boillot Grand Cru from Chassagne Montrachet last week that literally made me start dancing. It was that good. Did it have oak? Definitely. ABC is silly.

Learn to bartend with our book, This Girl Walks Into a Bar, available on Amazon.

Cristie and Wolfgang

Tuesday  May 23, 2017

Wine of the Week: San Simeon Sauvignon Blanc

This has been one of the coldest springs in a lonnng time. We’ve suffered enough! We’re now praying for a warm summer here in SoCal after record rainfall and sixty-degree days (yeah yeah, poor us). Enough with the June gloom that began in April! We’re ready for some new freckles, a gentle tan line, and some natural highlights.

On Sunday afternoon I sat down with my friend for a glass of wine in her beautiful home overlooking the Pacific, and brought along my bottle of San Simeon to help coax the summer weather along. I’ve been drinking merlots and cabs since October and am ready for the change. Here are my thoughts:

The WineSan Simeon 2016
The Varietal: Central Coast Sauvignon Blanc
The Price: $18.95
The Hook: Family owned since 1017
Bottle Design: Classy
The Taste: The tartness of the first sip will surprise you. It’s bright in a “I wear my sunglasses at night” kind of way. Strong notes of lemon and sour apple burst through initially, followed by more mellow notes of strawberry, cantaloupe, and lush green grass.  I’d recommend serving this sauvignon blanc with a cheese platter that includes soft cheeses, cashews, and sweet fruit jams. Fans of dry white wine will love it, and should consider pairing it with fish entrées that are topped with sweet glazes. It’s a very light wine that would be perfect with your Sunday brunch, or as a night cap on a hot summer night when it’s eleven o’clock and you can’t sleep.
The Grade: A
Where to Buy:

This is not a paid endorsement; however, we have received complimentary product (best job ever!).  All opinions, recipes, commentary, reviews, and photographs are our own. 

San Simeon