Today’s the day you didn’t know you needed, everyone! Today’s the day we learn about one of my absolute FAVORITE spirits:

TEQUILA!

It’s like a law or something that says whenever you say it in all caps you have to embed the video. I don’t make the rules, I just follow ‘em.

But let’s be real, here. We’re talking about this gorgeous, flowing bottle of clear deliciousness:

sauza 100% blue agave tequila

 

Everyone who has ever made a margarita knows the name Sauza, and the go-to should always be your Sauza 100% Blue agave Tequla Silver Tequila. This is a blanco tequila or new, un-aged tequila made from 100% blue agave grown in the Mexican state of Jalisco. There are other classifications of Tequila as well– the youngest is blanco, which is aged for less than two months in stainless steel barrels. Then there’s reposado tequila (rested tequila) which is aged between 2 and 12 months in oak barrels. The next level is añejo tequila, or “old” tequila, aged from one to three years in oak barrels. The last is extra añejo tequila, which is aged at a minimum of three years. This “type” of tequila wasn’t in existence until 2006, when the craft spirit industry really took off, and people were looking for less-harsh and more mellowed out flavors in their tequila.

If the label of your tequila does not say “100% blue agave” it is likely that sugar has been added to the tequila. This is 100% not a bad thing, especially if you’re using your tequila in sweetened mixed drinks. But if you want a “pure” tequila, buy one that says 100% Blue Agave!

If you think that tequila is the beverage for bad college memories, think again. Our mistakes while under the influence of beverages consumed out of red Solo cups are our fault alone. Tequila is one of the most highly-regulated spirits in the world, and Mexico takes its production very, very seriously. While, certainly, there are some tequilas that are higher quality than others, there’s nothing in it, inherently, that causes co-eds to go streaking or make out with other people’s significant others. (That’s just the fault of being 21.)

Mexican Victor-ita

Now, another misconception is that there’s nothing to do with tequila beyond the realm of shots and margaritas. And I’m ready to show you that that is simply not true. 

This cocktail to the left is called the Mexican Victor-ita– more of a twist on a Cosmopolitan than a marg, but still as refreshing.

  • 1 ½ parts Sauza® Blue Silver 100% Agave Tequila
  • ½ part DeKuyper® Triple Sec
  • 4 parts cranberry juice
  • 2 parts orange juice
  • 2 oranges
  • ½ cup cranberries, frozen (optional)
  • 2 tbsp. sugar

Preparation: First make your garnishes. Freeze ½ cup of cranberries. Using a channel knife cut a long spiral from on orange (see if you can make it all the way in one try!) and cut into 6 inch pieces. Twist the peels around your bar spoon and reserve for garnish.

 Zest the other orange with a spice grater to remove just the peel and none of the pith and combine with sugar.

Cut the zested orange into wedges. Rub a wedge of orange around half the rim of your glasses. Roll the glasses through the sugared orange zest.

In a shaker, combine the rest of the sugar and orange zest mixture with the cranberry juice, orange juice, Sauza® Blue Silver, orange liqueur, and the juice from the orange. Twist the orange peel over the drink and place on the prepared glass. Top with frozen cranberries and serve your cocktail.

But I was personally WAY more excited about the Spicy Señorita– a tequila-and-beer cocktail that sounds perfect for Cinco De Mayo:

  • 1 part Sauza® Blue Silver 100% Agave TequilaSauza Spicy Senorita Ingredients
  • 2 parts beer
  • 1 part frozen limeade concentrate
  • 1 part water
  • A dash of hot sauce (I left this out– too hot for me!)
  • Sugar (for garnish)
  • Salt (for garnish)
  • Red pepper (for garnish)
  • Chili pepper (for garnish)

In a glass, combine all ingredients. Chill and serve in glasses rimmed with sugar, salt and red pepper.

Or, if that’s a bit too spicy for you, I recommend rimming your glass in a mixture of salt and Tajin. It’s a really awesome mix of peppers and spices sold in many grocery stores. It’s fantastic as a cocktail garnish, or even on top of fruit.

IMG_7389

I love beer cocktails and this one is bright, citrusy, sweet and refreshing. This will be a great addition to your Cinco de Mayo party!

FullSizeRender

 

Salud!

For more information about Sauza tequila, those 21+ can like them on Facebook or follow the brand on Twitter.

I was not monetarily compensated for working with Sauza tequila. I was sent a free bottle of Sauza 100% Blue Agave Tequila Silver.

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So, one of the biggest drawbacks of being a food- or DIY-focused blogger with a 9-5 job is that you can’t really snap pics of your projects during daylight hours. And this is what happens to pics when you try to take them with regular old light bulbs:

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Vegan risotto with mushroom “bacon” from my new favorite cookbook Isa Does It? Boy, that’s really going to make you guys want to try it. Snark!

So when I received an email from a PR team to try the new GE Reveal Light Bulbs, I thought to myself, “Hells. Yes.”

After all, this was the pic they sent to show the amazing powers of these halogen bulbs:

GE Before and after 650 px

Hubba hubba, right?

Meh.

What you don’t notice is this fun little caveat on the pic, and the box the bulbs come in:

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“Photos enhanced to dramatize difference in color.”

My photography skills are minimal at best, so all I’ll say is that the above photo was snapped with the new GE Reveal bulbs installed. Way less yellow than the risotto, but not blog-worthy without a heavy dose of color correction. I will say that these GE Reveal bulbs are, yes, less yellow than the bulbs we were previously using. But dramatically so? Not really.

On the plus side, they’re energy efficient and not as expensive as compact fluorescent bulbs. I received Halogen samples, but they also come in LED, which is pretty fantastic. And, they’re available at Target, so you can pick them up when running your usual errands– no special trips to Home Depot or other home improvement stores to get pretty new bulbs. Round of applause all around.

Just, like with any product, take the packaging with a grain of salt. Any think that has to rely on a bit of Photoshopping to sell? Maybe just save some cash and open up the blinds instead.

*I was not monetarily compensated for this review of GE Reveal light bulbs. All opinions are my own.

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Valentine’s Day? What’s that?

Not a big holiday ’round these parts– I’m not the Kay jewelers’ kind of gal who expects presents on February 14th. But considering the next major holiday is St. Patrick’s Day (and I am decidedly *not* Irish), it’s the last chance I’ll get til the Fourth of July to decorate.

Enter Bic® Magic Marker® brand Window Markers!

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I received two different kinds of markers: a jumbo pink chisel-tip marker and a two-pack of bullet point markers in red and white. All of these– and other colors!– are available at your local Staples. (That’s easy! Heh.)

Now, first I have to point out that these markers– unlike other window markers I’ve used in the past– don’t smell. They wipe off glass with warm water, and they’re non-toxic. Super cool!

I tried working with the bright-pink marker because I loved the color so much, but since I wasn’t using it on a  window or large surface of glass, it was a bit too clunky for what I had in mind…2014-02-03 17.01.40

Womp. But that has no Photoshopping, if that gives you an idea of how bright the paint really is!

Instead, I worked a bit of crafty magic on that mason jar with the two pack of bullet-tip markers…

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I freehanded two pointillism hearts on the side of a mason jar. Not exactly symmetrical, but it’ll do :-)

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I also added bands of chevron arrows down the side. I couldn’t believe how opaque the white paint was!

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This is going to get some super cute red flowers in it for our dining room table– a perfect crafty vase for a last-minute Valentine’s Day.

What are your last minute craft ideas for the day of loooooooooove?

You can shop all Bic® Magic Marker® brand products on Staples.com!

I was not compensated monetarily for this use of Bic® Magic Marker® brand Window Markers. Just got some cool products :-)

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So, a little bit earlier I mentioned the phrase “new blog” on Twitter. And it’s the truth– I am moving to a new space! You can now visit me at www.YankeeSmartass.com

Screen Shot 2014-02-09 at 4.44.50 PM

Why the change?

Well, for the most part, it’s due to a change in myself. I’ve been getting really exhausted with trying to keep up with a project-only blog. I’ve always felt strange about putting something up on The Happy Home that wasn’t about baking, cooking, DIY or cocktails.

Yankee Smartass is the nickname David gave me after a particularly interesting conversation we had a few years ago– my Texan loves my unique and decidedly North Eastern sense of humor. The ambiguous name gives me an opportunity to talk about more than just whipped cream and vodka, and also gives me a kick in the pants to be truer to my own voice and sense of humor– and not so much focused on being, say, family friendly or Martha-ready.

I hope that you’ll come and visit me over on the new site. The first few weeks of content will definitely be the same that it is here, with more editorial and op-ed kind of stuff.

Thank you so much for many years of readership on The Happy Home. Off to a new adventure!

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I was recently contacted by the lovely people at Partida Tequila and asked if I wanted to try their wares– blanco, reposado and añejo tequila, made from carefully cultivated blue agave. Of course I said *yes!* but for not the reason you think*

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*(if you think the reason is because I just wanted free hooch)

The fact of the matter is, I LOVE LOVE LOVE tequila but NEVER EVER EVER order it at bars, and NEVER buy it for myself. I honestly have no idea why. Tequila is delicious. Good tequila is even better. I won’t knock the Cuervo because it has its place and time, but if you ever splurge on fine tequila.. you’re doing yourself a mitzvah.

Boring people would put this in a regular margarita– fancy it up a bit if they wanted by using a splash of Cointreau. But I’m not boring people.

I’m a lady with a bushel of organic thyme in her fridge and some mason jars.

First step: make thyme tequila.

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  • Thyme– somewhere between 15-25 stalks (fronds? branches?)
  • Tequila (about 4 ounces total, to make two drinks)
  1. Wash thyme. Shove into bottom of mason jar.
  2. Add tequila.
  3. Shake. Put in back of fridge. Shake every day for 5-10 days. Depending on how herbaceous you like your drinks.

Now, you have thyme tequila.

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Let me be clear with you: I tried the tequila by itself and it was glorious. Smooth and a bit sweet, clear and none of that, “It tastes like college” sort of backlash. This could be– and even more so in its aged forms– sipping tequila. It’s damn good.

But the thyme flavor with it? Life-changing. Forget infusing vodka for a while. Tequila is where it’s at, kids.

tequila thyme margarita.jpg

 

Oh, but if you want to make a Tequila Thyme Margarita…

  • 2 ounces thyme tequila
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 ounce Cointreau or Triple Sec or Grand Marnier (optional)
  • Salt
  • Ice
  1. First, rim your glass (this is a Champagne coupe, which is smaller in capacity than your classic restaurant Margarita glass, which looks like an upside down sombrero) with kosher salt. 
  2. Then, in a shaker over ice, shake together the tequila and lime juice. I did *not* use Cointreau in my drink, because I wanted it herby and tart. David wanted his sweeter, so that’s where the Cointreau comes in.
  3. Strain into your prepared glass and garnish with a lime wheel.

Cheers to a Cocktail Friday, everyone!!

To keep in the loop with Partida Tequila, follow them on Twitter or like them on Facebook.

I received no monetary compensation for talking about their product. Just free samples.

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So, a little ways back I received an email introducing me to Hatch Hub.

hatch hub

 

What is Hatch Hub? Only, like, the best idea for product innovation since sliced bread. Behold:

Hatch Hub was created to make sure nothing stands in the way of exceptional design. We know the process to bring products to market can be archaic, so we’re removing those old barriers and giving independent designers a place to showcase their talent, interact with a design community and succeed in a new and progressive marketplace.  With on-going design challenges for up and coming designers, a community of design lovers, creators, and makers, and behind the scenes designer profiles, Hatch Hub is focused on bringing community engagement and involvement back into the retail scene. 

BASICALLY, product designers and artists put up their wares, and then we get to SHARE our ideas of what we might want to see, VOTE on designs that are submitted & realized, and then …

well, SHOP what’s made.

You can bend the numbers out on this gorgeous, minimalist clock to highlight your favorite time of day. (For me? 6pm. Start of cocktail hour.)

This tealight holder by Craig Varterian was inspired by lilypads. Also? It’s only $49. So just remember that gorgeous design doesn’t have to cost more than something you pick up at IKEA.

These might be my go-to housewarming gifts from now on– brushed gold-tone coasters. So chic.

To shop their first round of products, or suggest new ideas, sign up for Hatch Hub!

(Or like them on Facebook for more info)

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In previous years, my Valentine’s day drinks have been pretty tame– a strawberry drink here, some wacky sparkling wine there. But this year, I wanted to make something pink and fruity and sweet that just screams, “LOVE ME!!”

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Enter the sparkling wares of Cascade Ice Sparkling Water. The people at Cascade Ice asked me if I wanted to try their sugar-free, caffeine-free, and gluten-free sparkling beverages, and I was very excited. While they didn’t explicitly say so, I think the understood subtext was, “… and mix them with spirits to make a fizzy, fruity cocktail.”

I was jazzed about the Wild Berry flavor they sent (along with other flavors like Orange Mango, Mackintosh Apple, and Coconut!) because it would be PERFECT for V-day.

The Cascade Ice Sparkling Water is refreshing and fruity, with no hint of that horrible “cough syrup flavor” you sometimes find in sugar-free waters. I loved sipping on the crisp flavor, and am jazzed to try the other flavors and variations on the product!

Here’s what you’ll need for a Sweet Sparkly Kiss:

  • 2 ounces dark rum (NOT spiced rum!)
  • 1 ounce amaretto
  • 1 ounce Maraschino cherry syrup
  • Cascade Ice Wild Berry to fill
  • Ice
  • Cherries to garnish
  1. In a shaker over ice, mix together the rum, amaretto and cherry syrup. Make sure it’s frosty!
  2. Strain into a collins glass OR a Champagne flute. Top with Cascade Ice Wild Berry.
  3. Garnish with three Maraschino cherries on a pick, and toast to love and pink, fruity cocktails

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If you want to make this a Virgin sparkling drink, chill your Cascade Ice generously, then pour into a flute. Top with a float of Maraschino cherry juice or grenadine, and — if you have it– a few teaspoons of almond syrup like the kind from Torani.

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To find out where you can pick up Cascade Ice Sparkling Waters, check out the Where to Buy page on their website. Los Angelenos, the answer is “Albertsons.”

 

Cheers, lovebirds!

And to keep in touch with Cascade Ice Sparkling Water, follow them on Twitter or Like them on Facebook!

Note: I was not monetarily compensated for reviewing and using the Cascade Ice Sparkling Water. 

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