Thursday, June 26, 2014

Cosmo De Provence

Drink: Cosmo De Provence
Type: Tea Cocktail
From: Tea Forte
Price: $12*
Description: Floral

The Cocktail Infusions from Tea Forte are meant to be steeped directly into alcohol to add the depth and freshness of tea to cocktails. There are an abundance of recipes and ideas available through their website and in a packet included in the box of infusers.

I was introduced to these Tea Cocktails through Stacie at Tea Market in the Crestwood shops at E 55th Street.

* A box of 8 pyramid infusers from Tea Forte (including Lavender Citrus, Lemongrass Mint, and Silkroad Chai infusers) costs $12. This cocktail only costs minimal uses of the spirits, fruit and juice and $1.50 for the one infuser.

The drink: Smells of fresh lavender, springlike, fruity, light.


1 Lavender Citrus infuser
2 oz vodka
1/2 oz French orange liqueur
1 1/2 oz white cranberry juice
splash of fresh lime juice
1 fresh lemon (optional garnish)

- Place infuser in glass.
- Pour vodka over infuser and steep to desired strength.
- Mix infused vodka, French orange liqueur, cranberry juice, lime juice and shake vigorously with ice.
- Strain into a martini glass.
- Garnish with infuser and lemon peel if desired.

In case you're interested - here are the recipes and notes I took for the Tea Cocktails.

Gilded Summer

Drink: Gilded Summer
Type: Alcoholic
From: Manifesto
Price: $12
Description: Cooling

I try not to be biased - but I just had to share this unbelievably unique cocktail from Manifesto's summer menu. The reason for this is because I truly enjoyed it - despite the fact that it has ingredients that I don't necessarily care for. It's made with whiskey, lime, basil, Tomolive, and habanero shrub. 

Instead of being "spicy" or "hot", the habanero seems to enhance the coolness of the lime and basil, making it exceptionally perfect for hot summer nights spent in the cool basement of The Rieger. 

My point being, that despite the fact that (had I carefully read the ingredients) I wouldn't have normally ordered this drink, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. One or two ingredients in a cocktail shouldn't keep you from trying something new - it just might be a surprise! 

P.S. The same thing happened when I tried The Bronx Is Burning, which is gin based. I've never been a fan of gin - until now. New cocktails = new favorites. 


Drink: Toddy
Type: Coffee

Toddy is a specific system of cold-brewing or cold-press which is the process of steeping coffee in cold or room-temperature water for an extended period of time. This easy - to - follow recipe is courtesy of One More Cup from the Kansas City Spring Caffeine Crawl.

Get the PDF download here

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Parkville Coffeetini

Drink: Parkville Coffeetini
Type: Cocktail
From: Rusty Horse Tavern
Price: $8
Description: Full-Flavored

This cocktail is made with locally distilled S.D. Strong vodka infused with coffee from Parkville Coffeehouse. It is then mixed with vanilla vodka with a thin layer of heavy cream on top. The cream adds a subtle sweetness to the bitter coffee flavor in the vodka.

The drink: smooth, stout, sweet, indulgent.

The Parkville vodka and coffee mix well into a smooth and flavorful cocktail that has the added sweetness from the vanilla vodka and heavy cream. It's boozy without tasting that way and a fun way to experience some local products at a local restaurant.

Mocha Latte 2

Drink: Mocha Latte
Type: Coffee
From: Parisi Artisan Coffee
Price: $3.25
Description: Robust

Driving down I35 through downtown, I've seen the building with Parisi neatly printed across the side for years. I finally made it to one of their cafes, and was pleased to be able to try their house-made chocolate in a coffee.

The chocolate has the strong flavor of a dark cocoa, which mixes well with their espresso. It has an earthy flavor with creamy aroma. I paired mine with a champagne macaron in the modern-style cafe at Park Place in Leawood.

The drink: rich, cocoa-y, creamy, strong.

Parisi's Arte Della Tazza is based on hand-crafted practices such as infusing espresso on site, made-from-scratch marshmallows, and pour-over or press style brews.

Peach Apricot Honey Bush

Drink: Peach Apricot Honey Bush
Type: Tea
From: Anna Marie's Teas
Price: $5.90 / 2 oz.
Description: Fruity

Since there are a limited number of tea shops around the KC area, I tend to visit shops frequently to try new blends. The ladies at Anna Marie's in Liberty are friendly and informed about all things tea. During my last visit, I was fortunate enough to snag some tea samples to try. This organic and caffeine-free green honey bush tea is mixed with natural pieces of orange peel, apricot, peach, candied pineapple, candied papaya, and rose blossom leaves.

The drink: sweet, refreshing, fruity.

Honeybush is an herbal tea, similar to rooibos, but sweeter. It makes for a strong flavor of fruitiness and natural sweetness. You won't need to add any sugar or simple syrup to this tea. Even when I mixed 1 part tea to 3 parts water, it had plenty of flavor and sweetness: perfect for hot summer days.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Organic Uganda

Drink: Organic Uganda Sipi Falls
Type: Coffee
From: Parkville Coffee
Price: $11.99
Description: Sweet

I stopped by my local coffee shop and picked this up after the Caffeine Crawl to make myself some toddy. After cold-brewing for sixteen hours, I had some of the most flavorful coffee ever! This brew has a great aroma and a smooth finish - nothing bitter or harsh.

The drink: sweet, nutty, earthy, smooth.

To fix my toddy, I usually use 1/3 ratios of coffee, water, and ice with a just splash of organic skim milk. It's perfect for hot summer days when brewing hot coffee is just out of the question, and the toddy keeps nicely in the fridge.


Drink: Mimosa
Type: Alcoholic
From: The Westport Cafe & Bar
Price: $6 (or free with brunch entree)
Description: Refreshing

Shocker: another drink from The Westport Cafe. I can't help it - they know how to mix a cocktail. This staple is done incredibly well - the orange juice to champagne ratio is perfection. It's not too sweet, or too tart, just bubbly and fruity. 

Their brunch menu is spectacular, so hit them up on a weekend and get this (or a Bloody Mary, or Bellini) complimentary with your meal! And they serve brunch till 4pm - which is my kind of breakfast time!

Prince Henry Tea

Drink: Prince Henry Black Tea
Type: Black Tea
From: Anna Marie's Teas
Cost: $7 per 2 oz.
Description: Floral

National Iced Tea day was this week, and in true KC style - it was cold and rainy. But that doesn't mean the rest of the month isn't perfect for some lightly-fruity iced tea. I gathered some samples at my last visit to Anna Marie's (located in The Terrace Avenue Inn in Liberty) and this naturally flavored black tea was one of them. I chose to make sun tea, since I'm inherently lazy and it requires such little effort.

The drink: fruity, light, floral, and fresh.

To make sun tea, I fill my large pitcher with water and add two self-made tea bags. In each bag, I put about 4 t. of loose leaf tea. There's no real math behind this - in regular tea you should use 1 t. of loose leaf tea per 8 oz. water. This iced tea measurement comes from a lot of trial and error. Then I put the pitcher in a sunny spot for about four - six hours.

I also like my iced tea weak (more like flavored water), so what I do is fill my glass about 1/4 of the way with tea and then add ice and water - it also helps the tea last a long time (I mentioned the laziness, right?), but if you enjoy a stronger flavored iced tea, just add ice.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Caffeine Crawl

The KC Spring Caffeine Crawl was May 31 and June 1. This weekend full of coffee, tea and chocolate was created by The LAB to teach passionate beverage drinkers about the processes and techniques of local fare. I attended Sunday Route 1, which covered a range of coffee and tea shops. 

Our first stop was Second Best Coffee in Waldo. Nathan's presentation focused on how the three variables of brewing coffee affects the final product: pressure, time, and temperature. The Panamanian bean (which earned a 95) was served as an espresso, a kyoto, and a cold brew alongside a house-made jalapeno cheddar scone. It was enlightening trying the same coffee prepared three different ways and I have to say, the espresso was mind-blowing-ly awesome. In addition to great coffee, Second Best also makes their own syrups (Lavender Honey? yes), in order to enhance the flavor of coffee, instead of cover it, and you can attend cuppings every Wednesday at one. 

Second on our route was t.Loft, a tea and juice bar on State Line Road. The shop, one of three locations, is gluten-free, organic, with clean-eating snacks, like their delicious Peanut Butter Protein Balls.

Megan's presentation focused on the teas and juices served as samples. The Fast Focus Juice, which has passion berry black tea in it, is a favorite among customers with its fresh-pressed fruits. The other loose leaf teas included the White Peach Tea, Pomegranate Green Tea, and Passion Berry Black Tea. One thing I liked was how the tea is never brewed for you - its given to you in a to-go cup with a filtered lid so that the leaves can be reused and brewed to your own taste. 

The third stop was the incredibly cute One More Cup, also in Waldo. This family oriented shop has great outdoor seating and some awesomely unique options. Stacy provided fresh Strawberry Lemon Biscuits, Cali-Cola, and super-handy DIY handouts on how to brew toddy. Cali-Cola is a combination of Mexican Coke and cold-brewed toddy. It's amazing, and perfect for summer. 

I was particularly excited about this stop on our route, as Thou Mayest hasn't even opened yet. Located in the Crossroads Arts District next to Grinders, these roasters have taken their passion of locally made products, horticulture, and having a good time has resulted in a seriously awesome space with delicious coffee. A fully stocked bar, two floors of space, and a patio overlooking the Crossroads KC stage means this place will undoubtedly be packed once they open the doors. 

Bo offered two hot coffees and fresh toddy, proving he and his crew doesn't need a lot of marketing because the great tasting coffee combined with a great space really speaks for itself. 

Mud Pie Vegan Bakery and Coffeehouse was the fifth stop for our route, at 39th street. These incredibly friendly vegans provided a large selection of gluten-free and vegan snacks - all of which were moist, flavorful, and completely delicious. In addition to snacks, the guys prepared their signature Dirty South drink - a coffee based drink with "milk." Mud Pie makes all of its milks (i.e. cashew, almond, hemp, etc.) and provides organic soy among loads of other drinks like their new Tea Spritzers with green coffee extract. I tried the Earth Balance Dirty South coffee drink and loved the smooth, creamy flavor, especially compared to the Coconut Dirty South, which was light and refreshing. 

Our final stop was a great, high-energy presentation at The Roasterie, which focused on the different hulling and drying processes of coffee berries and how that affects the end flavor. I appreciated the comparison of coffee to peanuts in terms of explaining the difference between wet and dry hulling and the straight-forward discussion about the drying process. Even though I've been on a tour at The Roasterie factory, I felt this added a new layer of understanding and appreciation. I also really enjoyed how they provided the same coffees brewed different methods in order to compare and contrast flavors and texture changes. 

Despite my "newness" to the coffee world, I felt included and welcomed at all of the locations along our route, and I think The LAB has done a really great thing providing informative tour guides, easy-to-follow routes, and time and location options. I'm already looking forward to October's Fall Crawl

The Rockefeller

Drink: The Rockefeller
Type: Alcoholic
From: Snow & Company
Price: $7.50
Description: surprising

Recently Snow & Co was named to Paste Magazine's 10 Best Frozen Cocktail Bars, meaning if you haven't had a chance to check out their "Snow Cocktails" you now no longer have an excuse. At least that's what I told myself. The most surprising aspect, to me at least, was just how unique these cocktails are. They are truly cocktails, and not just slushies with booze added to them. This one, made with Old Overholt, Sweet Vermouth, and cherries, was impossible to resist.

The drink: cold, fruity, sweet with spiciness from the whiskey. 

The building itself is super spacious with loads of comfy chairs. With the ability to try all of the flavors for only $25, or even flights starting at $11.50, it's easy to see why people would stick around. Even my husband, who is not a drinker, couldn't resist trying a flight of three (The Limey Bastard, Sunshine Boulevard, and Elbow's Sexual Chocolate). 

P.S. Did I mention they're opening a second location in the Northland? 

Westport Fizz

Drink: Westport Fizz
Type: Alcoholic
From: Westport Cafe & Bar
Price: $9
Description: Fizzy

If you're a regular reader, you know how much I enjoy Westport Cafe & Bar. Located on Westport Road, they have a delicious Happy Hour twice every day, and some of the best cocktails in KC. Being a sucker for Champagne, I couldn't resist trying this fruity fizzy drink.

The drink: light, fizzy, fruity, hint of tart sweetness.

This drink isn't overly sweet, which I can really appreciate, it has a very subtle and natural sweetness to it, not syrupy or heavy. The ratio of bubbly to fruitiness is perfectly balanced, making this cocktail as refreshing as it is pretty. Plus, Westport Cafe just unveiled their new summer cocktail menu...

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Tea Cocktails

If you haven't had the chance to make it to Tea Market at the Crestwood shops just south of The Plaza, you need to add it to your to-do list. The shop, owned by Stacy, opened in 2002 and hosts a variety of afternoon teas and classes. This particular class in May focused on infusing tea into liquor through the Tea Forte infusers.* 

According to Stacie, the great thing about infusing is that you can use lesser quality ingredients "for more party," and you can reuse (resteep) the infusers like when making loose leaf tea (for example, to make a pitcher of cocktails for a party). 

The class was held in the basement of the lovely tea shop in an intimate and casual room. Stacy showcased how to make several of the recipes from Tea Forte in addition to a few of her own. 

The first (and my favorite) tea cocktail was the Cosmo de Provence. It smells of fresh lavender from the Lavender Citrus Infuser from Tea Forte, and is very light and spring-like with fruity undertones. 

Infuse 2 oz. vodka with 1 Tea Forte Lavender Citrus Infuser,
1/2 oz. Cointreau, 1.5 oz. White Cranberry Juice, splash of
fresh lime. Mix or shake with ice. 

During the Holidays, Stacy likes to spice up cheap wine with her house-made Mulling Spice Tea to create Tea Mulled Red Wine.

Infuse 1 full bottle of mediocre (but drinkable)
red wine with 3 T. Mulling Spice Tea for 3-5
hours, strain and re-bottle. 

The Brandy Macaroon tea cocktail is another of Stacy's creations, using her Macaroon tea (flavored with coconut, almonds, citrus, and cloves, among other spices) and brandy.

Steep 1.5 scoops Macaroon tea in 8 oz. 195* water for
5 minutes, add 2 T Brandy. 

The Tea Forte infusers come in threes: Lavender Citrus, Lemongrass Mint, and Silkroad Chai.

The Wild Mint Mojito tea cocktail comes from Tea Forte as well, using the Lemongrass Mint infuser. The lemongrass flavor really comes through and is emphasized by the club soda and freshened by the addition of fresh mint.

Infuse 2 oz. White Rum with 1 Tea Forte
Lemongrass Mint Infuser and simple syrup,
lime, ice, and club soda. 

The Chai White Russian was smooth, creamy, and sweet without being overly-sweet. 

Infuse 1.5 oz. vodka with 1 Tea Forte Silkroad Chai Infuser,
1 oz. simple syrup, stir with ice and add 2 oz. cream. 

The final cocktail of the day showcased Tiger Spice Chai, available for purchase at the Tea Market, in the Godiva Chai. It's another drink born from "Holiday in Crestwood" like the Tea Mulled Wine. It's very indulgent, rich, ultra smooth with an extra depth of flavor from the chai.

8 oz. boiling water, add 3 T. Tiger Chai, 2 T.
Godiva Chocolate Liqueur and 1 T. cream, stir.

If you're ever hosting a small get together, or a large party, these tea cocktails can really put it over the top. They're indulgent, and easy to make in large batches, or small. Any of these would make a great signature cocktail for a party. I can't wait to put mine to use!

* Tea infusers can be purchased at the Tea Market and through Tea Forte's website. 

Underdog Wine Co.

I'm no wine sommelier, but I do enjoy a nice glass of vino and trying different ones at wineries and shops. I found myself near the Underdog Wine Co. building on 55th downtown and I'm so glad I did.

After receiving the nickel tour from Ryan, I can see the appeal of this tiny shop. It's unique set-up is very user friendly - especially if you're (like me) not super familiar with all the names, types, styles, etc...

The shop is set up by taste and style, rather than region like most wine stores, starting with sparkling wines then moving around the room to whites, roses, reds, then dark reds surrounding the center shelves of liquor.

It means that if you know that you like Riesling, you can bet that you'll like the wines on nearby shelves. It's also set up so that the "cheaper" wines are up top and the more expensive wines are on the lower shelves. Ryan explained that this is because so many "cheaper" wines these days are great, quality wines, and so people can be more comfortable choosing wines from all ranges and make decisions based on taste and price and not feel badly about it. All in all, a pretty smart set up.

There's also a section of wines near the window that are 6 for $60 that you can mix and match to your tastes, plus a fun gourmet chocolate initiative of chocolates from independent makers all over the country.

Oh, and of course you can bring your four-legged friends in - which is awesome.