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Tuesday  August 15, 2017

New Video: How to Make a White Russian

A White Russian is a ridiculously easy drink to make and only requires three ingredients. Watch the how-to video on our YouTube channel here!



Wednesday  August 9, 2017

Bar Review: Laurel Tavern in Hermosa Beach

Not too far from where the sun meets the salt water sits the ideal restaurant and bar.  The beer drinker, craft cocktail connoisseur, foodie, sunbather, dog walker, tourist, and local will all find something to love about Laurel Tavern in Hermosa Beach.

Steps from the sand, Laurel Tavern boasts a large dining room and bar that opens out to a bustling Hermosa Avenue. Outdoor dining, especially for large groups, is hard to find near the ocean but here you have the best of both worlds. You can grab some shade with a bunch of your friends without feeling like you’re cooped up indoors on a beautiful day. And in the South Bay, every day is beautiful. There are long, community-style tables and stools to accommodate your groups, and even a room that can be partitioned off for a private party. Locals with pooches will be especially appreciative of the canine hydration station on the dog-friendly patio. Now, your afternoon walk with Fido can include a break for beer!

Last week, Jocelyn and I stopped in on a Wednesday evening, eager to sample a few of the drinks featured on their cocktail menu and very hungry for some good food. Jocelyn lives right around the corner and is always on the lookout for good spots to meet up with friends for a drink, or to enjoy a good meal with her family. Neither of us were prepared for how outstanding this place actually was going to be.

But before I get to the menu though, we have to address the staff. We all know that the vibe of a restaurant’s employees can dramatically affect the energy of an establishment and ultimately make or break it, regardless of how good the grub is. And vice versa. We’ve all returned to a restaurant or bar for an entertaining bartender or a witty waitress, even if the food and drink will never appear on one of Jonathan Gold’s lists. At Laurel Tavern, you’re in for a great experience all around the moment you arrive. From the hostess to the bartenders to the owners, we were greeted with such enthusiasm that it was contagious.

Most of our time was spent with Lee Farrell, who is one of the owners and also the general manager. Originally from Canada and a long line of restauranteurs, Farrell approaches the business in a way that makes you want to open a restaurant too. He’s clearly a perfectionist when it comes to ingredients, taste, and presentation (heck – even the build took three years because they wanted it to be just right), but it’s also evident that he’s still having fun in a line of work that can suck the life out of you with the demanding, twenty-hour days, and an unrelenting focus on the bottom line. Farrell might very well be putting in those hours with that exact focus but as guests at the bar, we’d never know it. While you’re speaking with him you kinda forget that he’s also the dude in charge. It’s refreshing.

Now for the drinks and food which are AMAZING! For dinner we shared the fried chicken salad and the jalapeño burger. You guys. If you are anywhere within a twenty-mile radius of this place you should get there tonight to eat. These are two of the best dishes we’ve had in a long time and that statement comes on the heels of recent trips to New York City and Chicago. To drink we tried Dr.’s Orders, The Best Old-Fashioned, Wake Up Call (brunch cocktail), and Spicy Pineapple Margarita. Each drink was so well-balanced and flavorful that it was hard to choose a favorite. If you’re there for brunch on a Sunday you must order Wake Up Call. For our next visit, Jocelyn would start with The Best Old-Fashioned and I’d choose a Spicy Pineapple Margarita. However, based on what we tried, I suspect that you really cannot go wrong with anything on the menu.

We also want to be sure to mention that all the beers, except one from Japan, are locally brewed at small breweries. At any given time Laurel Tavern has homemade sangria’s and punches to offer, and when it’s available, a signature, barreled-aged cocktail.

Laurel Tavern is a fantastic addition to the Hermosa Avenue business district, destined to become a popular spot year round. We considered encouraging you to put a claim on a bar stool as a regular sooner than later, but luckily there are plenty of seats to go around.

Want to stalk them on social first? Go for it! Find them on Instagram and Twitter @LaurelTavern.



Tuesday  August 8, 2017

Fireball Whiskey – You’re Not the It Girl Anymore

It sucks to lose star power.

It was October of 2012 when I took my first sip of Fireball whiskey.

Forty minutes before my first taste my friend had called and said, “Jordan. Stop what you’re doing and go to VONS now to buy a bottle of Fireball Whiskey. You are going to taste something unbelievable.” I needed a few things from the market anyway, so I followed her orders and drove off.

She was right. It was a remarkable taste. I was immediately transported back to my middle school years of playing Bobby Sox softball when Atomic Fireball jaw-breakers were every player’s candy of choice. You weren’t supposed to eat them on the field but since I spent most of my time in the dugout, let’s just say that I ate A LOT of them.

Fireball Whisky took the world by storm and soon found its way into every bar, club, and restaurant bar. It was the drink of choice for the 21+ and millennial crowd. Then came the copy cats. In droves. You can now walk into any specialty liquor store and find Flame Thrower Cinnamon Whisky, Jim Beam Kentucky Fire Bourbon Whiskey, After Shock Cinnamon Liqueur, Dirty Tequila with cinnamon and pineapple, Jack Daniel Tennessee Fire, Not Your Moms Apple Pie cinnamon beer, Apple Pie Moonshine, Ten High Bourbon, Stillhouse Red Hot, D’USSE Cognac VSOP, 8 Second Honey Cinnamon Canadian, and the list goes on and on. Even Cinnabon, the airport pastry staple, got into the mix with a Cinnabon Cinnamon Creme Liqueur. No lie.

So here’s the chicken or the egg question. Did cinnamon flavored spirits just peak? Or did the saturation of the market cause the people to tire of the trend?

Either way, there’s a new “It Girl” in the house and her name is Deep Eddy Vodka. We learned about Deep Eddy early on because we met the CEO in the lobby of BevMo! when we were we there for a meeting. He could give a shit who we were, and has never returned an email, but it’s been busy in Texas. Their regular vodka is nothing to write home about (don’t worry Tito’s), but their favored vodkas are knocking it out of the park. Here’s a list of them in order of our favorites: Grapefruit, Peach, Lemon, Orange, Cranberry, and Sweet Tea. All of them land on the sweet side of the palate, but people…they are seriously good.

We can thank Fireball for ushering in a new flavored-spirits trend, but whether or not it’s sustainable is to be determined. We’ve seen low-cal, organic, and ready-to-drink spirits all come and go. So our only advice for fledgling spirits companies is to enjoy the spotlight while you can. Take a cue from Hollywood’s young starlets and recreate yourself as you age for a more mature audience. The gimmicks of flavoring will only last you so long.



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)

Directions
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)

Directions
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

Directions
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.

Directions
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

Directions
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)

Directions
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: https://bnc.lt/2HAk/5ZcppYtLUE

Cheers!

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

Directions
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!