[Meta Update] My Long, Unannounced Absence

Holy cracker barrels, I have been gone for a while! I swear I have a good reason, though. Several, in fact!  Back in October I found out I was going to become the proud papa to a beautiful little girl, which prompted my lady and I to slap together a fast, small, and beautiful wedding right after Christmas. I did my best to keep posting new content for y’alls but once the wedding and the honeymoon were over I started a new full-time job with a hell of a commute, which basically left me with enough free time during the weekdays to help my then-pregnant wifey with a few household chores and doctor visits followed by 6 hour comas before heading back to work. As rough as that schedule was for the both of us, this new job allowed us to finally move out of my parents’ house. I don’t know if you have ever tried to move into a studio apartment with a pregnant woman in her third trimester and a cluttered bedroom filled with 5+ years of college-kid life crammed into it, but it’s kind of like building a sandcastle with your elbows (if you are reading this, I mean that in the most loving way possible, honey).


Once we were settled in, our new lives started to run pretty smoothly until we learned my wife would have to have induced labor three weeks before her due date to prevent preeclampsia. Fortunately my wife is like a cross between Athena and Pele so she managed to give birth to our daughter after about 3 hours of labor and no epidural. Her birth went so smoothly it almost seemed too good to be true, which is why the next part should not have come as a surprise to us: our child was on the border of being underweight and developing jaundice. The nurses did not seem too concerned, but told us to keep an eye on her. On our next visit, they told us she was officially underweight and diagnosed with jaundice. Thus began the hardest three weeks of our lives. Our daughter needed to eat constantly through all  manner of apparatuses: nursing, bottles, syringes. She was in so much pain and shock that she almost never stopped crying. She had to rest on a special ultraviolet blanket for a strict 24 hour period at one point. We felt helpless looking at this tiny, screaming, creature with sunken eyes and exposed ribs whose skin was so sensitive to light that the slightest contact with any rays peaking through the blinds could cause her to fly into a convulsive rage.


It was, and still is, the most rewarding feeling to see and feel her gaining weight and sleeping for longer stretches of time. Now she actually looks like a fat, healthy baby and is getting stronger every day. I’ve been lucky to acquire three weeks of time off from work to help my wife with our child in the final moments of our child’s recovery and I can tell that they will both do just fine while I’m away. Now that my life is beginning to be less dramatic, I am finding myself with the need for a creative outlet. My wife has been patiently listening to all of my half-baked, ideas, plans, and goals while gently reminding me that I have to actually do these things in order to feel accomplished. I am trying to find a way to start posting again, but I have encountered some hiccups that are keeping me from posting regularly. My new apartment has very limited space and it is tricky to get the right kind of lighting I need to take quality photos without cluttering up the few empty spaces we have. Once I can find a solution to these issues, the posts will start to trickle back in on my days off. If you have been checking up on my blog in spite of my absence, please know that you have my sincerest gratitude and love. I hope you will keep checking in to see what cool new stuff I come up with and I promise to make each recipe and review worth the wait.


Much love,

Andy Garcia

The Boozy Barista

Uncle Val’s Orange Collins


Why should I drink this?

I’m drinking this because It’s 80 degrees here in California! This is an orange adaptation of the classic Tom Collins made with my own orange simple syrup and a new gin I’ve discovered called Uncle Val’s Botanical Gin. The familiar herbal taste of gin manages to elbow its way through the delicately sweet flavors of orange and lemon.making this drink ideal on hot days like today!

Whatchoo need is…

  • Fresh lemon juice (3 tsp)
  • Orange simple syrup (1 oz)
  • Uncle Val’s Botanical Gin (2 oz)*
  • Club soda
  • A collins glass
  • Ice
  • A stirring stick
  • A straw
  • (optional) An orange slice

Then you gotta:

  1. Fill your collins glass with ice.
  2. Pour your lemon juice and simple syrup over the ice, followed by the gin.
  3. Stir everything together until it all mixes.
  4. Top with soda water and give one last quick stir.
  5. (optional) Garnish with a slice of orange and sip through a straw.

Romero Roja

rosemary-cranberry-tequilaWhy should I drink this?

Tequila is so much more than margaritas and bad hangovers! (In fact, if it’s giving you a worse than usual hangover, you should find some better tequila!) This cocktail is a small twist on Wine Geeks Steve Olson and Andy Seymor’s “Rested Rosemary.” A little tartness balanced with just a touch of sweetness and the stimulating, fresh aroma of rosemary will make this drink your go-to tequila based beverage.

Whatchoo need is…

  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • Cranberry juice (2 oz)
  • Silver Tequila (1.5 oz)
  • Agave Nectar (0.5 oz)
  • Ice
  • A cocktail shaker
  • A glass

Then you gotta:

  1. Fill your cocktail shaker with ice.
  2. Pour your tequila and agave nectar over the ice into the shaker.
  3. Take your rosemary sprig in the palm of your hand and slap it! (This releases the essential oils within the rosemary.)
  4. Pick off about 8 rosemary leaves from your sprig and add them into the shaker.
  5. Cover and shake your, uh… shaker. Once it is frosty, pour it over a glass filled halfway with ice. Garnish with the rest of your rosemary sprig and serve!

The Pear Orchard


Why should I drink this?

Sometimes all you want is a shot, and sometimes what you want is a fancy shot! Between my humble garden and the farmer’s market delivery service we subscribe to my home has been overrun by delicious fruits and herbs, which means I am constantly looking for ways to use everything before it expires. The result of my first brainstorm is this delicately sweet and aromatic shot served in an elegant crystal cordial glass. Isn’t it just friggin’ adorable?

Whatchoo need is…

  • White Rum (0.75 oz)
  • Ginger Syrup (1 tbs)
  • Anjou Pear (1/2 quartered)
  • Thyme (2 small sprigs, stems included)
  • A Cordial Glass
  • A Cocktail Shaker
  • A Muddler
  • Ice
  • A Large Fork
  • Measuring Utensils

Then you gotta:

  1. Place your quartered pear, rum, and ginger syrup into your cocktail shaker.
  2. Muddle all of the contents of your cocktail shaker until it becomes a mushy pulp.
  3. Fill your shaker about halfway with ice, cover and shake until frosty.
  4. Rub the inside of your cordial glass with a sprig of thyme thoroughly. The glass should smell like thyme.
  5. Take the top of your cocktail shaker off and strain the contents of the shaker into your cordial glass with a large fork.*
  6. Garnish with a sprig of thyme and serve!

*I suggest using a large fork as a strainer because the pear pulp will plug up the holes of your cocktail shaker if you are using a cobbler shaker.

Bloody Room Service


Why should I drink this?

While on my honeymoon I had a craving for a Bloody Mary, but I was not about to abandon my pregnant wife and wander off to a bar. We ordered room service earlier and I had an abundance of left over condiments from my delicious Kobe burger. A quick step to the in-room mini-bar for some vodka and the ice from our water pitcher were the last things I needed to make a mighty fine Bloody Mary: savory, a bit briney and peppery with a hint of onion. You could just as easily make this at home, provided you have the right ingredients. In fact I would encourage you to do so, because I doubt you travel with a cocktail shaker in your bags at all times (although if you do, you’re my hero). As for me, I had to use a ketchup bottle as a cocktail shaker and strain it out with a fork. Not bad in a pinch, but not ideal. Let me show you how my evening of improv went down.

Whatchoo need is…

  • Ketchup (1 tbs)
  • Vodka (1 oz)
  • Grey Poupon Mustard (1/8 tsp)
  • Salt (1/2 tsp)
  • Black Pepper (1/4 tsp)
  • Spanish Olives (1/2 tsp minced)
  • Kalamata Olives (1/4 tsp minced)
  • Red Onion (1 tsp minced)
  • Bread & Butter Pickle (1/2 tsp minced)
  • A Leaf of Lettuce
  • A Small Plate
  • A Low Ball Glass
  • A Cocktail Shaker
  • Ice

Then you gotta:

  1. Mince all of your veggies and toss them into your cocktail shaker.
  2. Add your ketchup, mustard, salt, and pepper on top of your veggies.
  3. Shake it all up without ice!
  4. Take your glass and wet the rim with tap water.
  5. Take a small plate and coat it with salt and pepper, then dip the wet rim of your glass into the salt and pepper.
  6. Drop some ice cubes into your salt and pepper rimmed glass.
  7. Strain the contents of your cocktail shaker into the glass.
  8. Take a leaf of lettuce and wet it with tap water, then place it on the plate of salt and pepper.
  9. Roll the lettuce up into a nice, tight spear and place it into your cocktail.
  10. Serve and sip at your leisure.

Orange Simple Syrup & Orange Sugar


Why should I make this?

Simple syrups are must-have ingredients in any bar or kitchen. Orange flavored syrup will help complement and sweeten cocktails that possess a citrusy character such as the Purple Saturn.

A byproduct of making orange simple syrup is candied orange peels, and with those we can make orange sugar (of course they’re delicious to eat as they are, but today they serve a higher purpose). Let’s make some tasty orange garnishes!

Whatchoo need is…

  • Navel Oranges (2 whole)
  • White Granulated Sugar (4 cups)
  • Water (2 cups)
  • A stove
  • A stirring spoon
  • A large sauce pan
  • A pair of tongs
  • A coffee or spice grinder
  • An oven
  • A baking sheet
  • A large plate
  • Parchment paper

Then you gotta:

  1. Peel two navel oranges and drop the peels into a large sauce pan.
  2. Pour 2 cups of water and 2 cups of sugar over the orange peels and place the sauce pan on the stove.
  3. Stir everything together at medium-high heat. Stir constantly until the sugar completely dissolves in the water.
  4. Once the sugar is dissolved, cover the sauce pan, turn the heat up to high and allow it to boil. Check on it occasionally and stir after each check.
  5. Once the mixture reduces, becoming thick and foamy, turn the heat off and allow it to cool to room temperature.
  6. While you wait for it to cool, preheat your oven to 225 degrees Fahrenheit, then line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  7. Once the syrup reaches room temperature, use your tongs to remove the orange peels and place them on a plate coated in about 2 more cups of white sugar. Coat each peel in white sugar and then place it on your baking sheet.
  8. When your oven reaches 225, place the sugar-coated orange peels into the oven and allow them to bake for 1 hour and 40 minutes or until they look dark orange-brown.
  9. Once the orange peels are finished, take them out of the oven and allow them to cool.
  10. Once the peels are cooled, place them in a coffee or spice grinder and grind them to a fine powder.
  11. Congratulations! You now have orange simple syrup and orange sugar! Find some fancy containers to keep them in and store them for whenever you need to impress some peeps!

Purple Saturn


Why should I drink this?

Need a cocktail to make with your newly infused Cranberry-Orange Vodka? How about a twist on the classic Cosmopolitan? The cocktail itself is simple to make, it’s the garnish that is tricky. I’ll be nice and include that in a separate entry, until then let’s make something astronomical.

Whatchoo need is…

  • Cranberry Orange Infused Vodka (1 oz)
  • Grand Marnier (1 tsp)
  • Cranberry Juice (0.75 oz)
  • Orange Simple Syrup
  • Orange Sugar
  • A Cocktail Glass
  • Measuring Utensils
  • A Cocktail Shaker
  • Two Small Plates
  • Ice

Then you gotta:

  1. Fill a cocktail shaker 2/3 with ice.
  2. Pour your Infused Vodka, Grand Marnier, and Cranberry Juice over the ice in the shaker.
  3. Shake all ingredients together until frosty.
  4. Coat one of your small plates with Orange Simple Syrup and coat your other plate with Orange Sugar.
  5. Dip the rim of your cocktail glass into the Orange Simple Syrup and then dip the syrup-laden rim in your Orange Sugar.
  6. Pour the contents of your cocktail shaker into your rimmed cocktail glass and serve!

Cranberry Orange Vodka


Why should I drink this?

This flavor combo typically pokes its head out around fall and winter since everyone is busting out the cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but few will find a way to make cranberries and oranges coexist in the party-time world of vodka. To that end, I present a cranberry-orange infusion that will satisfy even the most difficult flavor critics. This formula will make a small batch of cranberry orange vodka, but you can always double the measurements if you like!

Whatchoo need is…

  • Fresh Orange Peels (2 tsp diced)
  • A Can of Cranberry Sauce with Whole Berries (3 tsp)
  • Vodka (5 oz)
  • A jar or bottle for infusing
  • Measuring utensils
  • Funnel if using a bottle for infusing
  • A fine mesh siev
  • A coffee filter or cheese cloth
  • A measuring cup

Then you gotta:

  1. Place your orange peels into the infusion container.
  2. Add your whole-berry cranberry sauce in with the orange peels.
  3. Pour 5 oz of vodka into the infusion container with the other two ingredients.
  4. Seal the container and shake thoroughly!
  5. Store it away from direct sunlight and shake it once a day for 2 weeks.
  6. After 2 weeks, strain your infusion through a fine mesh siev lined with a coffee filter or cheese cloth placed over a measuring cup.
  7. Once your infusion has been strained, pour it right back into the original container or find a more aesthetically pleasing vessel to keep it in.
  8. Enjoy!



Why should I drink this?

If you are having trouble finding a way to use your Ginger Maple Vodka, allow me to provide a quick hot cocktail to warm your soul and make you feel like a higher class of vodka drinker.

Whatchoo need is…

  • Ginger Maple Vodka (1 oz)
  • Loose Leaf Black Tea (1.5 tsp)
  • Hot water (8 oz)
  • A Tea Ball or Tea Strainer
  • A Mug
  • Measuring utensils

Then you gotta:

  1. Pack your tea into a strainer or ball and place it in your mug.
  2. Gently pour hot water over the tea and allow it to brew for 5 minutes.
  3. Remove the tea ball or strainer.
  4. Top off your tea with a shot of Ginger Maple Vodka and enjoy hot!

Ginger Maple Vodka Infusion


Why should I drink this?

If you ever had the passing notion of what these two ingredients would taste like you should seriously consider this marriage of woodsy sweet and sweetly spicy. The trick is to make sure it isn’t cloyingly sweet or too acidic. The formula I have created for you aims for that balance and succeeds at making something more akin to a schnaps than to flavored vodka, but is mouthwatering all the same!

Whatchoo need is:

  • Fresh Ginger Root (1.25 inch piece, diced)
  • 100% Pure Maple Syrup (4 oz)
  • Vodka (6 oz)
  • An air tight bottle or mason jar.( 10-12 fluid oz)
  • A fine mesh siev
  • Measuring Spoons
  • Liquid Measuring Cup (2+ cups size)
  • A Funnel*
  • 2 Weeks Time

*If you’re using a narrow necked bottle.

Then you gotta…

  1. Dice your ginger root as finely as you can and place it in your bottle or mason jar.
  2. Add your maple syrup into the container.
  3. Pour your vodka in to join them.
  4. Seal your container and give it a good shake! You will need to shake it thoroughly at least once a day, every day for two weeks. Keep it away from direct sunlight.
  5. After two weeks, place your fine mesh siev over your measuring cup and strain the contents of your bottle so that there is no visible ginger left in the vodka.
  6. Pour your newly infused vodka back into the original whatever final receptacle you have chosen to keep it in.
  7. You now have delicious Maple Ginger Vodka!