Sunday, December 21, 2014

Homemade Irish Cream

Looking for a last minute DIY gift? This easy, quick, and affordable Irish Cream recipe works wonders in coffee, desserts, and as an evening nightcap. Mix up a batch for friends and family, neighbors, co-workers, or to keep to yourself! You won't regret it. Happy Holidays, Kansas City!

Irish Cream

1 2/3 cups good Irish Whiskey*
1 cup heavy cream
1 (14oz) can fat-free sweetened condensed milk
2 T. Hershey's chocolate syrup
2 T. cold coffee
2 t. pure vanilla extract

Place all ingredients in a blender and mix on high speed for 20 seconds.

Transfer the mixture to an airtight container (I used recycled starbucks glasses).

Store in the fridge for up to two months. Shake well before using.

*I used Jameson and it turned out lovely. The only thing I might change is perhaps adding another tablespoon of coffee. Creamy, flavorful, and indulgent. Perfect for the holidays.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Christmas Bakery Tea

Drink: Christmas Bakery Tea
Type: Tea
From: Anna Marie's Teas
Price: $6 / 2 oz.
Description: spicy

What an aptly named tea. This warming winter tea is full of baking spices and flavor. From Anna Marie's in Liberty, this flavored black tea has bits of orange, ginger, cinnamon, cocoa, coconut, coriander, rose petals, cloves, cardamom, and almonds. Together it lends itself to a subtly spice (flavor-wise, not heat-wise) tea perfect for snowy days and nights.

The drink: aromatic, sweet, full, unique.

This tea, along with all the other winter and Christmas tea classics offered at this quaint shop are perfect for sharing with family and friends after a large meal or while opening gifts. Be sure to visit the shop online or on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays to get your loose-leaf fix!

Hot Chocolate

Drink: Hot Chocolate
Type: Non-Alcoholic
From: Parkville Coffee
Price: $2.50
Description: Light

With the late Holiday hours, Parkville Coffee is one of the coziest places to visit these days. However, late at night, I certainly don't need caffeine, so I opted for trying the non-fat hot chocolate.

The drink: smooth, light, creamy, warming.

My favorite part is that it wasn't heavy at all, more like a cocoa than a true chocolate beverage. With the perfect amount of whipped cream, it's a lovely treat for children and adults.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Ritz Cocktail

Drink: Ritz Cocktail
Type: Alcoholic
From: 801 Fish

This orange-forward cocktail comes from the local seafood restaurant in Leawood, 801 Fish. It's very light on the tongue and has no bite. Made with Courvoisier Cognac, Cointreau, Luxardo, Lemon Juice and Champagne, it's served with an orange peel in a martini glass.

The drink: citrusy, floral, smooth, light.

This lightly sweet cocktail is a great pair to the many options on the menu.

Festive Cocktails

Need some easy cocktails to impress family members and friends this holiday season? I served the Brandy Cider Champagne before Thanksgiving dinner as a festive fall cocktail, and the Hot Toddy after dinner and dessert while we watched The Plaza Lighting

Brandy Cider Champagne

Apple Cider
Powdered Cinnamon

Put a splash of brandy and about 3/4c. of cider to a shaker with ice. Shake. Fill champagne flutes 1/4 way, add Prosecco, dust with cinnamon, and garnish with an orange twist. 

Hot Toddy

Hot water

Boil water and steep with black tea (1 t. per 8 oz water), whole cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, allspice, and lemon peel. Meanwhile, add 1 oz. whiskey and 1-2 t. honey to mugs. Add hot water to mug, garnish each mug with lemon peel, star anise, and grated nutmeg. Serve immediately. 

J. Rieger & Co. Whiskey

Located in the East Bottoms, the renewed J. Rieger & Co. is flourishing. With a newly assembled still, and plenty of high quality sherry, Ryan Maybee and Andy Rieger's venture into whiskey has been something all of Kansas City benefits from. 

Once one of the midwest's most popular whiskeys, J. Rieger fell off the grid after Prohibition began, but not before the family built The Rieger Hotel, currently home of The Rieger Hotel Grill & Exchange and Manifesto

Tours (and tastings) are available, and I definitely recommend checking it out. The entire process is filled with historical intrigue and local love. 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Last Word

Drink: The Last Word
Type: Alcoholic
From: 801 Fish
Description: Herbal

I ended up at 801 Fish in Leawood by chance, and was fortunate enough to sample some cocktails while dining on crab legs and oysters. This Chartreuse-forward drink is a wonderful compliment to the seafood options in this beautiful restaurant. 

The drink: clear, light, sweet, smooth. 

The lime adds a nice citrus touch to the floral, herbal-ness of the Green Chartreuse. The chartreuse is so well balanced and lovely - it's really highlighted in this cocktail with flavor and clarity. 

Swirl Wine Bar

Drink: Wine
Type: Alcoholic
From: Swirl Wine Bar & Shoppe
Price: $10 / flight
Description: Lovely

Thanks to a Groupon I was finally able to check out Parkville's Swirl Wine Bar, located in the Burlington Creek shops just off 45 Hwy. This chic, comfortable bar offers both wine and beer flights for just $10 along with great local flair. The variety was very nice, and I enjoyed each of the wines, including a Reisling, a Pinot Gris, Amigoni Cepage, and a Cabernet. The bar also offers some wonderful small bites and platters that are well developed and pair well with the wine options. With affordable pricing, a great space, and delicious wines, this Northland shop is unmissable!

Brown Sugar and Rosemary Latte

Drink: Brown Sugar and Rosemary Latte
Type: Coffee
From: Kaldi's
Description: Fragrant

Kaldi's Coffee is quickly becoming one of my favorites, especially with discovering the drive-through location in Briarcliff. The syrup compliments the espresso perfectly, is light, and well-balanced. I literally could not stop enjoying this latte. Every time I took a sip, it was delightful. With the house-made syrup, this latte has the perfect blend of dark sweetness and herbal lightness. 

The drink: warm, calming, soothing, perfect. 

This is the most perfect cold-weather beverage I can imagine. Shout out to Laura Clark for introducing me to this phenomenal drink! Forget your PSL and peppermint mochas, this blend of dark sugars and fragrant rosemary will keep you warm this winter season. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Fall Caffeine Crawl 2014

Better late than never, right? The fall Caffeine Crawl back in October took Kansas Citians and visiting caffeine addicts a tour of some of the best bean joints in town. 

My tour started out at Parisi, where we were served coffee before experience a phenomenal demonstration of molecular gastronomy to make coffee caviar. To illustrate the juiciness of the coffee pearls, Kate served them with homemade pomegranate pop rocks. It was a truly unique way to experience the coffee flavor.

Molecular Gastronomy Demonstration at Parisi

Coffee Caviar and Pomegranate Pop Rocks at Parisi

Kate and the folks at Parisi also served carbonated plums in order to illustrate "sparkling stone fruit acidity" which is a coffee term, but one that can be sometimes difficult to place. "Coffee should be fun." - Kate. 

The second stop was at Foo's Fabulous Frozen Custard, where our group was again offered some home-brewed coffee while getting the run-down on how they make their famous coffee custard (for special occasions, only!). The coffee frozen custard, which uses a unique toddy-like ice cream method) was paired with Christopher Elbow citrus chocolate bar and was literally the smoothest and creamiest dessert ever experienced.

Foo's has been serving KC custard and coffee since 1988.

Leaching out coffee flavor for frozen custard. 

Coffee Frozen Custard with Christopher Elbow
Chocolate Square at Foo's Fabulous Frozen Custard. 

Oddly Correct, the primarily whole sale coffee roaster, was our next stop. Their location downtown is their tasting room, where they focus on educating coffee lovers about the effects of temperature and time on the end flavor results in the coffee.

The Costa Rican coffee was served three ways. 

Coffee 1, the control coffee, was sweet, complex, uniquely smooth and flavorful. Coffee 2, roasted at 8* hotter than the first coffee, resulting in a darker roast, had a more caramel flavor, it stayed on the tongue longer, was heavier and had diminished sweetness. Coffee 3, which was roasted 7* lighter than the control coffee, was lighter on the tongue, sweeter with an up-front sweetness and was less complex and almost underdeveloped.

Discussing the effects of roasting time and
temperature on coffee beans at Oddly Correct.

PT's at the Crossroads began their presentation with three different types of chocolate that were blended with different types of coffee. They have recently re-blended and re-launched for the new season, so you'll always find something different in their chocolate selection. 

The Ethiopian chocolate was smooth and phenomenal. 

Jeff began the company in 1993 and began roasting in 1997. According to USA Today, they are the 5th best roaster in the states, which along with his two Cup of Excellence wins with at least two coffees in the top five of the competition since 2007 proves this is one of the best local coffee shops.

Jeff telling us about his family/friends from
whom he gets his coffee from Guatemala. 

The first coffee, a caturra, was sour, bitter, and floral. The second coffee, the Paca Mara (a likely future cup of excellence winner, and my personal favorite) was smooth and sweet, while the third coffee, margagatura, was bold and robust. It was created by blending two coffee varieties and has won the Cup of Excellence twice. 

Caturra, Paca Mara, and Margagatura coffees from Guatemala. 

Black Dog Coffeehouse began their presentation with a wonderful array of Ibis toast and jams (seriously, you haven't had toast till you've had this stuff!) 

Using Messenger Coffee, they demonstrated the flavors of pour over coffee. The Ethiopian was sweet and tasted of berries, while the Guatemalan had flavors of red apple and chocolate. The third coffee, Suluwase, tasted almost of garden vegetables. They explained that for pour-over, the water should be 204-208 degrees and the coarseness of the grind depends on the filter and how strong the coffee will be.

It was nice to have the flavors and grinding explained by people who understand them, as well as be able to relax and enjoy their large space. 

Our final stop of the day was to Homer's, where Jarred had the local band, Attic Wolves, performing while we sipped on Messenger Coffee and tasted a great variety of snacks that they offer. 

Homer's is a place of fellowship, where people can go to hear (free) live music in a non-smokey and non-bar environment. It's a great concept, and with delicious coffees like the Adado, which tasted of blueberries with a sweet finish, and Sumatra, which had a dry finish, it's nice to know that you can find both great entertainment and great coffee. 

Homemade scones, ginger cookies, and sugar cookies. 
All in all, this was a perfect Caffeine Crawl, and I can't thank the folks at The LAB enough for making this a thing. It's always a phenomenal time where patrons can enjoy a multitude of coffees, teas, chocolates, and other treats while learning about all the things that are involved in making our cup of joe. 

Smoke & Flowers

Drink: Smoke & Flowers
Type: Alcoholic
From: Q39
Price: $10
Description: Tart

This competition style BBQ joint down on 39th street features some of the most phenomenal burnt ends and brisket around town, with plenty of cocktails to pair with the different platter options. The Smoke & Flowers is a tart combination of Johnnie Walker Black, Elderflower, lemon, and soda.

The drink: smokey, floral, effervescent, and tart.

The smokiness from the whiskey comes first with an extreme tartness and flowery sweetness at the end. The fresh lemon gives it a pucker factor that goes well with the sweetness of Q39's sauce. The cocktail really does compliment the barbecue well, which is an added bonus.

Latte 3

Drink: Latte
Type: Coffee
From: Barista de Casa
Price: $3.25
Description: Creamy

Tucked away in the basement of one of Liberty's quaint houses in the old towns square is Barista de Casa, a family owned coffee shop and roaster. For the past three years this cute and cozy shop has been serving up snacks, tea, and most importantly, coffee. The latte that I had (while settled next to the fire) was perfect. It felt like being at a friend's house.

The drink: smooth, nutty, roasted, light.

The espresso has a wonderful toasted flavor to it that compliments the smooth nature of the latte. There was virtually no bitterness, but it also wasn't overly sweet. I can't imagine how lovely it must be to sit beside the fire sipping on coffee while the snow falls outside the low windows.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Hot Toddy Recipe

Drink: Hot Toddy
Type: Tea / Alcoholic
Description: Soothing

It's definitely hot toddy season, especially with this recent cold front. Between the winter weather and the cold I've been suffering from, this hot toddy has been my go-to drink. There are a million ways to make a toddy, this just happens to be my favorite: 


1 oz. whiskey
8 oz. black tea
1 T. honey
fresh lemon

Brew tea. Steep 1 t. dry tea leaves in 8 oz. hot water for 3-5 minutes. While steeping, add about 1 T. honey, 1 oz. whiskey, and a slice of fresh lemon to a mug. When tea is finished brewing, add to the mug, stirring to mix honey and whiskey in the tea. Sip and enjoy. 

I like to choose my whiskey based on the tea that I'm using. My preferred tea for a hot toddy is Cream Royal Black Tea, with which I like to use American Honey or Jameson. A more floral tea, like Earl Grey, would pair better with a bourbon. I like the creaminess and smooth flavor that comes with the Cream Royal tea combined with the spiciness in Jameson and smoothness of American Honey.

Vieux Carre

Drink: Vieux Carre
Type: Alcoholic
From: The Majestic
Price: $10
Description: Flavorful

The Majestic, formerly The Fitzgerald Saloon, is an iconic KC staple located on Broadway. With wonderful food, great cocktails, and a jazz club that features live music seven nights a week, this downtown spot is great for date nights.

If you're looking for a late lunch, the happy hour menu is affordable and delicious. Their version of a Vieux Carre comes on the rocks and has a lingering spicy flavor that pairs quite nicely with their awesome burgers (one of the best in town).

The drink: spicy, flavorful, intense, smooth.

It's a wonderful sipping cocktail with deep flavor from the Old Overholt, Deau VS Cognac, and Dolin Sweet Vermouth. I can't wait to pair this with a night listening to music in the 100 year old building.

Cold Brew

Drink: Cold Brew
Type: Coffee
From: Thou Mayest
Price: $3.25
Description: Complex

Thou Mayest, located in The Crossroads, has a great space with both indoor and outdoor seating on two levels and a range of both coffee and cocktails available. Obviously this cold brew is perfect for warm and hot days (of which we are not currently having), but it's so delicious I couldn't resist doing the write-up for it!

The drink: rich, nutty, earthy, bold.

This cold brew coffee has just the right amount of dilution from ice and has a bold, acidic flavor that isn't overwhelming. Best enjoyed on the upstairs patio looking over the Crossroads KC stage, this coffee is delicious and flavorful.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Smokehouse Manhattan

Drink: Smokehouse Manhattan
Type: Cocktail
From: Smokehouse Bar-B-Q
Description: Well-Matched

Great KC BBQ requires a cocktail that can match. Smokehouse has a lovely take on the classic Manhattan. With Old Overholt Rye Whiskey, bitters, and sweet vermouth, it's well balanced and compliments the sweet nature of Smokehouse's sauce.

The drink: sweet, tart, great whiskey flavor.

What makes this a unique Manhattan is the black cherry infusion of Old Overholt. It adds a subtle fruitiness and depth of flavor to the cocktail. The cocktail is a bit heavy on the vermouth, but it adds that extra sweetness that goes well with their style of BBQ.

Cocktails at Jax Fish House

Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar on the Plaza is the new home of phenomenal local bartender Kenny Cohrs. During the media preview in October, Kenny shared several of the cocktails that are on the KC menu. 

The Roanoke

Named for the street on which this new oyster bar and restaurant resides, this gin-based cocktail includes ginger liqueur, fresh lemon juice, angostura bitters, and is topped with Moscato. It's light and refreshing with the perfect amount of effervescence and a subtle ginger flavor.

Jax Strawberry Lemonade

The world famous drink is a great option made in-house with fresh lemons and their own strawberry simple syrup. It's lightly sweet, not too tart, and has lovely strawberry flavor. 

 High Plains Negroni

With Greyling gin, Aperol, Dolin Rouge, and an orange peel, this is a great Negroni. It's well-balanced, bitter but fresh from the citrus and easy on the palate.

With a partnership with the Monterey Bay Aquarium, a by-the-glass wine list to pair with the freshest oysters you can get, a wonderfully diverse and unique menu, and a passionate staff, this is a gem that shouldn't be missed. Happy Hour is 4-6, with an all-night Happy Hour on Mondays. 

Autumnal Seasonal Italian Soda

Drink: Autumnal Seasonal Italian Soda
Type: Soda
From: Second Best Coffee
Price: $2
Description: Spicy

Other than the best espresso in Kansas City, one of the greatest things about Second Best Coffee in Waldo is their house-made syrups. I fell in love with the Lavender-Honey months ago and how well it compliments the coffee and espresso of the drinks instead of covering the flavors. The syrups are available as freshly-made Italian Sodas, and so in order to appreciate the straight flavor of the Autumnal Seasonal syrup, that's how I tried it.

The drink: bubbly, spicy, sweet, cool.

The Autumnal Seasonal syrup is ginger, cinnamon, and brown sugar. It's a perfect fall flavor and would be wonderful in coffee and espresso, and is delicious as a soda. The coolness and bubbly of the soda is a nice balance to the warmth and spiciness of the syrup, making for a very dynamic and tasty drink.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Lavender-Honey Latte

Drink: Lavender-Honey Latte
Type: Espresso
From: Second Best Coffee
Price: $3
Description: Perfect

Don't let the name of this coffee shop fool you, it's certainly one of the best in Kansas City. Second Best Coffee in Waldo focuses on simplistic quality in its beverages. With a focus on espresso, they own the only Slayer (a high-end, custom, professional espresso machine) in KC.

The drink: frothy, bold, smooth, full-flavored.

The absolute best part of this latte is the perfect foam and the subtly of the house-made syrup. Second Best Coffee prides itself on the quality and flavor of their coffee and espresso and have created their syrups to compliment those flavors, rather than cover them. The result is a phenomenal latte.

Iced Ginger Lemon Sencha Tea

Drink: Iced Ginger Lemon Sencha Tea
Type: Tea
From: Kaldi's
Price: $2
Description: Hydrating

It's difficult (in my opinion) to find a good iced tea. The defining characteristic of a good tea is that its bitterness doesn't overwhelm its natural flavor. This green tea from Kaldi's is a great example of a good tea.

The drink: super refreshing, lemony, light, flavorful.

The great lemon flavor is complimented by the subtle ginger, both flavors which are leveled out by the natural acidity of green sencha tea. The overwhelming sense of hydration came through with this drink, which would be my go-to if I were incredibly thirsty or feeling dry.

The Man From Another Place

Drink: The Man From Another Place
Type: Cocktail
From: The Westside Local
Price: $10

The Westside Local is a small restaurant; a really casual and fun place to get phenomenal food and great craft cocktails. This particular cocktail is made with Jack Rudy small-batch Grenadine, a flavoring that isn't syrupy or fake-tasting which adds wonderful flavor depth without taking away from the other flavors.

The drink: sweet, subtly citrusy, light, spicy.

The spiciness comes from the scotch, which is complimented well by the juice, soda, and grenadine. All in all, a very well mixed cocktail with great balance and flavor.

Thursday, October 16, 2014


Drink: Cashewtini
Type: Alcoholic
From: The Cashew
Price: $11
Description: Girly

For a girl's afternoon out, a little bubbly is in order. This cocktail, made with champagne, St. Germain Elderflower Liquor, and garnished with a Hibiscus flower, is exactly that.

The drink: floral, fruity, sweet, bubbly.

The Cashew uses a nice, dry champagne which mellows out the sweetness from the Elderflower liquor. It's wonderful for sipping and the bubbly just makes it fun.

French 75

Drink: French 75
Type: Alcoholic
From: Aixois Bistro
Price: $9
Description: Refreshing

Located at 55th and Brookside, Aixois is a lovely French bistro and coffee shop with a beautiful patio and delicious options.

The drink: tart, sweet, light, herbal.

This cocktail is well-mixed with fresh flavor that compliments the gin with the perfect amount of carbonation. Be sure to pair it with the Happy Hour specials Monday - Saturdays 4-6pm.

Raspberry Rose Slushie

Drink: Raspberry Rose Slushie
Type: Soda
From: Little Freshie
Price: $3.25
Description: Vintage

With all of Little Freshie's weekly syrups, it's hard to decide between a soda, a snowcone, or a slushie. Having tried a soda and snowcone, this slushie was wonderful. With ice of great consistency, it absorbs the subtly sweet syrup well.

The drink: floral, icy, light, and bubbly.

The rose flavor in this is really nice and not at all overwhelmed by the raspberry flavoring. The slight effervescence adds to the refreshing nature of this treat. It also has a lovely throwback, vintage feeling from the rose flavor.