rosemary

vanilla greyhound pitcher cocktail

I know it’s still very much winter out there, but I couldn’t wait to share this super easy, super summery pitcher cocktail with you all.

vanilla greyhound pitcher cocktail | Brooklyn Homemaker

Now that I think about it, I guess I posted another citrusy cocktail recipe pretty recently didn’t I?

I think maybe this whole kitchen project has been driving me to drink! Thankfully I’m finally able to just sit back and enjoy the benefits of all my hard work! I guess this long, cold, wet, windy, snowy, awful winter hasn’t been helping either, and might be just as much to blame for driving me to drink too.

vanilla greyhound pitcher cocktail | Brooklyn Homemaker

I always crave citrus in the winter, especially near the end. Citrus fruit is so bright and sunny and fresh that I can’t resist it when everything else is so dull and dreary and dead. Not only does this cocktail have citrus in spades, but it also has a really fresh summery feeling that I think most of us could really use plenty of right about now.

vanilla greyhound pitcher cocktail | Brooklyn Homemaker

I first came up with this recipe for our wedding back in 2013. We were married outdoors on the first of June in a big white tent overlooking the Hudson River and Catskill Mountains. We were serving two signature cocktails in big drink dispensers at the bar and, while our caterer was providing the bartenders, we were in charge of supplying the booze and all the fixins. I wanted the cocktails to be so simple that all I’d need to do is give the bartenders the ingredients and a spoon, and just tell them what quantities to mix together.

vanilla greyhound pitcher cocktail | Brooklyn Homemaker

In the name of trying to please everyone (or mostly everyone) we served one signature cocktail with whiskey, and another with vodka for our friends and family who aren’t as crazy for the brown liquor as we are.  The first was a bourbon spiked Arnold Palmer and the other was one of my favorite summery vodka drinks, a vibrant greyhound made with pink grapefruit juice. To really make it our own, we added some vanilla to warm it up, and some rosemary for a little fresh herbal depth. In honor of Doris (this was before Betty joined our family) we called it the little grey dog.

vanilla greyhound pitcher cocktail | Brooklyn Homemaker

I was expecting the Arnold Palmer to be the more popular of the two drinks because most of our friends have the same penchant for whiskey that we do, but to my surprise our vanilla greyhound was a much bigger hit. In fact, despite bringing enough ingredients with us to fill our 2 1/2 gallon drink dispensers twice, we actually ran out of it before the sun went down! I think it may have had something to do with the fact that it was unbelievably hot that day, and that this greyhound is light and refreshing and oh-so-thirst-quenching.

vanilla greyhound pitcher cocktail | Brooklyn Homemaker

The other day we were having some friends over for drinks to show off our fancy new kitchen. We wanted to serve something that might help take our minds off of the frozen muck and slush outside and I thought this would be the perfect thing for it. It’s easy to mix up in advance so you’re not stuck tending bar all night, and it’s so light and bright that you can drink a few without feeling like you’ve had a few too many!

vanilla greyhound pitcher cocktail | Brooklyn Homemaker

The grapefruit juice really shines here so you want to make sure that you get a the best quality 100% pink grapefruit juice you can find. The addition of vanilla adds an unexpected homey warmth that doesn’t normally go along with grapefruit but somehow works really well. Despite the fact that grapefruit juice doesn’t taste all that sweet on it’s own, once it’s mixed with the vodka and vanilla it’s somehow perfectly (and surprisingly) sweet enough and doesn’t want for any additional sugar. For that reason, I’d advise against using vanilla flavored vodka for this, which tends to have artificial sweeteners already added.

Right at the end the whole thing gets just a hit of effervescent soda water to keep it feeling light and bright. If  you’re only serving a few drinks at a time I think it’s best to leave the soda water out of the pitcher and just top off each drink as they’re served, but if you want to make this in a big ol’ drink dispenser, just mix it all right in. With volume in mind by the way, this recipe is easily doubled (or quadrupled in the case of our wedding).

If you have time, I think the rosemary comes through a little better if you let it infuse with the vodka and grapefruit juice overnight. If you have lots of time (and love rosemary) you could even let it infuse in straight vodka for a couple days to really extract it’s flavor. Really though, the rosemary isn’t meant to be the star of the show here and you don’t want to overdo it, so adding to the drink just before serving is totally delicious too.

Drink up y’all!

vanilla greyhound pitcher cocktail | Brooklyn Homemaker

Vanilla Greyhound Pitcher Cocktail

  • Servings: Makes about 9 or 10 six ounce cocktails
  • Print
2 cups vodka
3 1/2 cups pink grapefruit juice
2 tbsp vanilla extract
4 to 5 rosemary sprigs
1 cup soda water

Mix vodka, grapefruit juice and vanilla in a large pitcher and stir well. If you have time, I think the cocktail benefits from letting the rosemary infuse overnight. If serving immediately, you can add the rosemary to the pitcher or use a single sprig as garnish in each glass. Just before serving you can either stir the soda water into the pitcher, or you can top off each glass with about 2 oz of soda as the cocktails are poured. In a drink dispenser or punch bowl it’s best to just stir the soda in, but if you don’t want the soda to go flat over time, it’s better to top off each glass as they’re served.
Either way top off each glass with plenty of ice.

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grilled lemon herb chicken thighs

So, in case you haven’t already noticed, it’s starting to warm up outside and things are starting to turn green. I’m so into it.

grilled lemon herb chicken thighs | Brooklyn Homemaker

On Sunday we decided it was warm enough to have our first cookout of the year. It wasn’t really, but we were drinking so no one seemed to notice. We gathered some friends, fed them some cocktails, and cooked up a bunch of food over an open flame. We also tried to overlook the fact that I was standing over the grill with a camera while everyone else was enjoying the outdoors for the first time since 2013. In case you were wondering, photographing a grill while smoke pours out can be an awkward task, especially when the wind can’t decide which direction it wants to blow.

grilled lemon herb chicken thighs | Brooklyn Homemaker

I thought the perfect thing for a warm(ish) spring day would be some lemony grilled chicken thighs with plenty of fresh green herbs. I know, chicken thighs again. I’ve already said this, but beyond being affordable, chicken thighs are also really juicy, tender, and flavorful. They also happen to lend themselves perfectly to grilling. I love white meat too, but I sometimes find that breast meat can dry out on the grill if you’re not a really experience griller. Chicken thighs are much more forgiving if you forget them while you’re sipping your drink and accidentally leave them on just a bit too long, or if you’re afraid of undercooking and intentionally leave them on just a bit too long. Either way, they’re going to come out moist and delicious and all your friends will tell you how skilled you are at cooking with fire.

To go along with our chicken, I also grilled some marinated veggie kabobs. A nice mix of grape tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, and mushrooms was just what the doctor ordered. I LOVE the way grape tomatoes get all hot and juicy and just barely hold their shape when you grill them. You can definitely play with other veggies too, but it’s important to keep in mind that they’ll all cook for the same amount of time. Simply cut up your veggies into bite sized chunks (l left my mushrooms and tomatoes whole), marinate for an hour or two, arrange on skewers, and cover until you’re ready to grill. If you’re using wooden skewers you should soak them in water while your veggies marinate so they don’t burn on the grill. As for marinades, I think vinaigrettes work really well for grilled vegetables, but you can really use whatever you like. In this case, I just made a little extra lemon herb marinade and used that.

grilled lemon herb chicken thighs | Brooklyn Homemaker

When it comes to cooking outdoors, I’m a firm believer that charcoal grills give your food MUCH more flavor. Gas grills cook your food, and you’ll be standing outside while it happens, but you’re really not going to get any of that smokey “grilled” flavor. If you have a gas grill at home and want to try to get that smokiness, I’d suggest trying some hardwood smoking chips. Smoking chips usually come in a few different flavors like hickory or applewood, and can be found online or at many grocery or hardware stores. Before using them you need to soak the chips in water so they don’t just burn up. To contain the ash and prevent them from burning too quickly, you can make a pouch for your chips out of aluminum foil, or get one of these handy smoke boxes.

grilled lemon herb chicken thighs | Brooklyn Homemaker

This chicken is seriously phenomenal. So good in fact, that one of our friends who usually doesn’t eat meat went back in for seconds. The skin gets all crispy and golden brown, while the meat stays moist and full of flavor. The marinade completely permeates the meat without being overpowering. It’s savory, aromatic, and earthy thanks to two fresh herbs and a healthy dose of garlic, and the olive oil and lemon juice make it tangy, sweet and bright. These fresh clean flavors are an ideal pairing with the smokiness that comes from cooking with charcoal or hardwood chips. You might not see another grilling recipe for the rest of year, because I’m just going to make this over and over and over. Just kidding! I promise!

grilled lemon herb chicken thighs | Brooklyn Homemaker

Grilled Lemon Herb Chicken Thighs

  • Servings: 5-10ish *see cook's note
  • Print

8-10 chicken thighs
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup lemon juice
zest of 3 lemons
4-5 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon rosemary (finely chopped)
2 teaspoons thyme (finely chopped)
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse Kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper

Wash and dry chicken thighs and place in a shallow dish. Combine all remaining ingredients, mix well, and pour over the chicken thighs. Turn the pieces over and over until they’re all well coated in marinade. Press the chicken down into the dish so it’s as submerged as possible. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4-8 hours, turning the chicken a few times so it’s all well coated.

Once marinated, prepare your grill. A gas grill should be on low heat, or a charcoal grill should be prepared so one side has fewer coals than the other. Place the chicken on the cooler side of the grill, skin side up, and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, until the underside is golden brown. Resist the urge to pour the marinade over the chicken. Turn each piece over once, cooking for another 10 to 12 minutes, or until the skin is golden brown and the chicken is cooked through. Remove from the grill and let rest, covered with foil, for 5 minutes before serving.

*cook’s note:
You can definitely increase (or decrease) this recipe to accommodate the number of guests you’re cooking for. I’d recommend one to two pieces per person, depending on the size of your thighs, what else you’re serving, and how hungry you think your guests might be.