Whipped Strawberry Spritzers with Pinnacle Whipped Vodka

Thanks to Pinnacle Vodka for sponsoring today’s post!

A few weeks ago, James and I stumbled upon a bar that served vodka cocktails featuring muddled strawberries, and it was like walking into a dream – in fact, my dreams have been filled with muddled strawberries and cocktails ever since. I don’t remember what was in these dream-like concoctions, exactly – they tasted like a combination of Lip Smackers chapstick and summertime in the best way possible – but I set out to recreate them … and I ended up with something EVEN BETTER!

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These cocktails, oh so creatively dubbed Pinnacle® Whipped Strawberry Spritzers, would be great to sip poolside while wearing oversized sunglasses, at a bachelorette party during games and gift-opening, or even at your next book club as you discuss the latest best-selling bodice-ripper. They’re bubbly, they’re refreshing, and they are ridiculously simple to make. Plus, they’re pink.

What are you waiting for?!

Pinnacle® Whipped Strawberry Spritzers

You need:
Muddled strawberries
Pinnacle® Whipped® Vodka
Brut champagne
Ice
Whole strawberries for garnish

1. Muddle strawberries in the bottom of your glass, then fill the rest of the glass with ice.
2. Pour 1 to 1 ½ shot of Pinnacle® Whipped® Vodka into the glass.
3. Top with champagne.
4. Add whole strawberry to the glass rim for garnish.

And that’s it! They’re so easy-peasy, you are going to want to drink them every day, all summer.

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I know some people will want to get fancy with their muddled strawberries, boiling sugar and water together to make syrup and mashing it with strawberries using a muddler, but not me. I prefer no-nonsense cocktails, so I put cut-up strawberries in a bowl, sprinkled them with some sugar, and threw them in the refrigerator overnight. Not only did it make muddling them (using the handle of a wooden spoon) super easy, but the bowl was snack-ready whenever I opened the fridge looking for a treat.

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If you’re short on time, throw cut-up berries into the bottom of the glass, top with a few pinches of sugar, then go ahead and mash it right there on the spot. It will be just as tasty, trust me.

The spritzer possibilities are limitless and certainly don’t end with strawberries. As I was whipping up these cocktails, I thought of fruit that would complement the berries, Pinnacle® Whipped® Vodka and champagne … What about adding pineapple to the mix? Or how about lime, but swapping out the Pinnacle® Whipped® Vodka for a different flavor, like Coconut or Citrus? What about throwing some mint in there, too, and doing a twist on a vodka berry mojito?

Just typing these out makes me want to try them all, but I want to hear what you guys think. What Pinnacle® Vodka and fruit combinations do you think would taste the best and make for the world’s greatest poolside sipper? Let me know in the comments, and I nominate myself to be the official taste-tester, of course.

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Pinnacle® Vodka shakes things up with unexpected experiences and delightful discoveries. Explore with other fun flavors at http://www.pinnaclevodka.com.

Pinnacle® is a registered trademark of Jim Beam Brands Co. and is used with permission. This is a sponsored partnership, with Pinnacle® Vodka, via Mode Media. The information, comments, and ideas expressed on this website are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or positions of Jim Beam Brands Co., its affiliated companies, or any of their directors or employees.

Liquor Lab is an exclusive, boozy club that will get you get you (super) tipsy

James is totally obsessed with local startups, and for good reason: A lot of them are really, really fricking cool. So when we were invited to learn more about Liquor Lab – a Chicago-based startup and underground cocktail club that hosts bi-monthly events at top-secret locations – we jumped at the chance. I mean, it was an event at Epic Restaurant featuring Donati Family Vineyard wines, you guys. Can you blame us?

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I’ll be honest – the concept of Liquor Lab confused me a bit at first. Its website, in an effort to promote a mysterious, members-only vibe, only offers minimal information, like this:

“Liquor Lab is a social mixology experiment that seeks to push the boundaries of modern mixology. We transform your average ‘night out’ into a unique, private, pop-up experience that is never duplicated. Think a five-course dinner menu, but made entirely of cocktails, from appetizer to dessert. Think whiskey straight from the barrel, or a hands-on personal mixing experience. Liquor Lab has no boundaries or blinders, we seek only to combine a unique community with an evolutionary experience.”

Do I love the sounds of that? Yes, all of it. Give me all the pop-up evolutionary experiences, especially if they involve drinks.

But did I know what being a Liquor Lab member meant, really? Not until we actually went to the event. In hindsight, this mystery really did amp up our anticipation, but we truly had no idea what to expect going in. Should we eat chicken and waffles at Miss Ricky’s before the event so we don’t drink six wine courses on an empty stomach? (Yes.) Should I wear a sweater skirt? (Yes.)

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Let’s get one thing straight: This was not some wimpy wine tasting – this was a full-blown wine fest with hearty pours in full-sized wine glasses. Had I not had so much life experience drinking wine (and had we not eaten those aforementioned chicken and waffles), my sweater skirt and I would have been falling out of the chair by the end of the night.

The food pairings, which we didn’t know were included at the event, were red meat- and seafood-heavy small bites – because I don’t eat too much of either, I was again thankful for our Miss Ricky’s excursion.

Liquor Lab Fancykins 11 Liquor Lab Fancykins 9Liquor Lab Fancykins 13Liquor Lab Fancykins 7Liquor Lab Fancykins 10Vegetarians (and non-vegetarians who didn’t eat full meals before the event) were absolutely hammered. Despite everyone’s words being incomprehensibly slurred by the end of the night, it was a great way to meet people … you might just not remember their names the next morning.

Liquor Lab membership deets:

Liquor Lab membership costs $175 a year (or, about $15-ish a month) and grants you invites to bi-monthly, booze-fueled events in top-secret Chicago locations. Membership does NOT include event price, which is typically $40 to $100 per person and includes tax and gratuity. Non-members can only attend these events if they are invited by a Liquor Lab member, so it’s exclusive, but also pricey for not including much sustenance.

I would have gladly traded a wine course or two for some carbs –  James and I are too old to drink our dinners and wake up with brain-throbbing hangovers.

So, yeah, there are a few kinks in the system, but isn’t that the case for most startups? Props to Liquor Lab founders Cedric Combs, Owen Meyer and Chris Lindsey for the business’ recent Scion success, too; if I had to guess, I’d say there are a lot of great things in Liquor Lab’s future. And a lot of delicious drinks, too.

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You’ve heard of super-secret supper clubs (and, odds are, have wanted to join at one point), but what do you think about a secret cocktail club? Is it up your alley, or would you rather plan your own not-so-secret night out?

DISCLOSURE: I RECEIVED LIQUOR LAB EVENT ENTRY IN EXCHANGE FOR WRITING A REVIEW ON THE BLOG. ALL REVIEWS AND OPINIONS ARE MY OWN BASED ON MY EXPERIENCE. AND YES, THE WINE WAS ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC.

An ode to Black Bull’s Tabla Mixta, AKA the greatest thing to consume on a date (or, you know, alone)

If you live in Chicago, you know that Division Street in Wicker Park is the greatest place to do basically anything you can imagine.

• Want to eat a delicious sandwich? Go to Jerry’s.

• Want to go to a dive bar that has live music AND a basketball court/beer garden out back, which is totally cool because there’s nothing better than drinking and playing H-O-R-S-E? Go to Phyllis’ Musical Inn.

• Want to buy your pregnant friends the cutest things, because ALL your friends are pregnant? Sprout Kids is the shit.

• Looking for a sick beer list and some kick-ass karaoke? Obviously you’re going to go to Bangers & Lace, then cross the street to Bob San karaoke, where you will stay until they turn on the lights and kick you out at 2 a.m.

But. BUT. I have to tell you guys that I have discovered the greatest thing to eat on Division Street and in the entire city of Chicago, and it’s perfect to order on a date or with friends. Or alone, because more deliciousness for you, you lucky duck.

The Tabla Mixta from Black Bull. Apparently Black Bull is also home to a speakeasy that needs a password to access (James may have been pulling my leg, so let’s go with it), but I will never go because I can’t get over the Tabla Mixta for long enough to go upstairs.

Behold:

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What you’re seeing here is jamon serrano, chorizo, salchichon, olives, fruit, bread and spanish cheese with sprigs of rosemary that are literally LIT ON FIRE with a torch.

Pardon me while I hold myself back from licking my computer screen.

It’s best to devour this meat and cheese board with a pitcher of Black Bull’s homemade sangria or an entire bottle of Nabucco Spanish red. In my opinion, it’s best to not limit yourself in this department – Bob San karaoke is less than a block away, afterall.black bull tapas division street chicagoImage via Black Bull Chicago – picture those walls open in the summertime, because IT IS REALLY CHARMING.

Anybody out there been to Black Bull? More importantly, any Tabla Mixta-lovers in the house? Share your favorite Division Street hot spots, too!

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