vodka

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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boozey strawberry lemonade

The arrival of warm weather, and the ability to leave the windows and doors open, has a very distinct affect on my state of mind.

boozey strawberry lemonade | Brooklyn Homemaker

Primarily, it puts me in the mood for day drinking. If you’re unfamiliar with the idea of day drinking, it’s pretty simple. You drink (alcohol) during the day, preferably outdoors. Boom. I know. Can you think of anything more wonderful?
Day drinking is something that most people consider a weekend activity, but since I work in retail I’m usually working on Saturdays. When it’s bright and pleasant outside and the rest of Brooklyn is out eating brunch and laying on blankets at the park, I’m indoors selling picnic baskets and wine thermos’, and grill tongs. Don’t shed any tears for me just yet though, I do usually have Sundays off so if the weather is just as warm and sunny, I still get one day to join in the fun.

boozey strawberry lemonade | Brooklyn Homemaker

I was lucky enough a couple weekends ago, just before that last cold snap, when the weather was just nice enough to go out and spend some quality time in our back yard. We decided to make a day of it and called some friends over, fired up the grill, and cooked up some delicious lemon herb chicken thighs (which I told you about here). Of course, I also dove head-first into the task of crafting some seriously amazing spring-time cocktails. I thought hard about what would pair well with the spring-y weather and decided strawberries, lemonade, & vodka were the just the ticket.

boozey strawberry lemonade | Brooklyn Homemaker

Our good friends Karen and Mari of Crown Street Productions wanted to join in the fun too, so they came over to bask in the sunshine with us. Since I was whipping up some cocktails, they brought along their equipment to capture the moment. They’re so much fun to work with, and the best part is that they’re complete videography geniuses. I don’t know how they do it. I’m a total awkward weirdo in real life, and they somehow manage to make me appear charming and professional!
Check out this amazing video for a complete tutorial on how to make these delicious boozey strawberry lemonades. I hope you enjoy the video as much as the cocktails!

Did that make you thirsty or what?

If you want to make this for a crowd you could easily do it in large batches by tossing the strawberries into a blender or food processor. If you went this route, I don’t think adding the extra sugar to the strawberries would be necessary. If you like the idea of a big pitcher or punch bowl with some chunks of strawberries floating around, just pulse your blender until the berries are mashed but not pulverized. If you want to serve these from a drink dispenser with a spigot or pour spout though, you’ll need to completely puree them so that none of the chunky strawberries get stuck in the spout.

boozey strawberry lemonade | Brooklyn Homemaker

Normally I’m not a big vodka drinker, and prefer my tipple to have a bit more backbone. For this drink though, I thought that the neutral flavor (or lack thereof) of vodka would let the other ingredients be the stars of the show. To add an extra hint of citrusy goodness, I also added just a bit of orange liqueur. Any orange liqueur will do just fine, but I think the mix of bitter orange and cognac in Grand Marnier gives this cocktail the cojones that the vodka’s missing.

The combination of sweet tangy lemonade, ripe red strawberries, orange liqueur, and vodka is really phenomenal. There’s just enough alcohol to make you feel gooood without tasting too strong. Muddling the strawberries with a bit of sugar helps them to give off their juices and flavor the drink without turning to total mush. This way you get some little chunky bits of juicy fresh berries floating around in your drink, soaking up all the boozey goodness. All stirred together in a tall glass with plenty of ice, it tastes like you’re sipping on springtime.

boozey strawberry lemonade | Brooklyn Homemaker

You may have have noticed that I served these drinks in quilted mason jars. I know they’re really trendy right now, but before you roll your eyes, here’s the thing. Not only are they cute and homey, but they’re also made of really sturdy glass and they’re really affordable! You can take them outside for your next bbq because if they break they’re easily replaced, and they’re only about $2 each! The 12 oz quilted jars are tall and skinny so they also make great highball glasses in a pinch. Russell and I have a bunch of them because we used them as glassware at our wedding last summer!

No matter what you serve it in, this cocktail is perfect for sunny days spent with friends. Odds are that your friends will agree, so you should call them up and get to drinkin’!

boozey strawberry lemonade | Brooklyn Homemaker

Boozey Strawberry Lemonade

  • Servings: one 10 oz cocktail
  • Print
2-3 strawberries (depending on size)
1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/2 oz orange liqueur (such as Grand Marnier)
2 oz vodka
6 oz lemonade

Roughly chop your strawberries and place into a mixing glass or cocktail glass. Top with sugar and muddle until well mashed and juicy. Top with orange liqueur and vodka and stir. Add ice, top off with lemonade and stir again. Add a lemon slice as garnish, if desired.

Homemade Lemonade
makes about 6 1/2 cups of lemonade

3/4 cups of sugar
5 cups of water, divided
1 cup of lemon juice

In a small saucepan make a simple syrup by bringing sugar and 1 cup of water to a boil, stirring frequently. Once all sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and let cool. In a pitcher, combine remaining water, lemon juice, and cooled simple syrup; and stir until well mixed.