There is no question summer is here, and it is a hot one! Temperatures in the Midwest have hovered near 100 degrees for weeks! I kind of feel like I start sweating in the morning and don’t stop all day, even after I re-apply deodorant multiple times. Anyone else? The need for some serious cool down time seems obvious. For some that means hitting the pool, others heading north, and others just never leaving the comfort of the AC! Regardless, cooling down breeds more happiness when it is done with the perfect beverage gracing your hand. Kate Bolt from Living Lark is literally a drink master (mastress??), so if you are looking for a way to sweeten your summer, either personally or as a hostess, she is your go-to girl!
Kate’s story around creating Living Lark is yet another reason why I am so incredibly passionate about the power of coaching using a Strengths-based approach. She was in a season of restlessness with a desire to express her creativity bubbling just below the surface. Have you been there? Maybe you are there right now. Her solution bloomed with Lark. Through some consistent time with a Strengths Coach in Michigan last year, she realized all the ideas and creativity within her were going untapped. Her number one Strength of INPUT, which gives her the ability and drive to gather ideas and information and then to share and engage her findings and insights with others, could be leveraged further. Remaining stuck inside her mind, recipes were going untouched and unshared. Thus Lark, and the dream of publishing a cookbook, was born. At the end of this feature you are going to see this Strength of Kate come alive. Not only does she give you a recipe, but she gives you insight into the ingredients, origins and the story behind her recipe. You are in for a real treat. (Quite literally!)Isn’t it often that once we find a spark, we don’t know where to begin? Sometimes ideas and possibilities are endless, but then I find myself frozen, wondering where to start. Kate was encouraged to begin to write – to put her ideas on paper. As she wrote, she realized she had 52 cocktail recipes just waiting to be shared with those thirsty for creative libations. And that is where she capitalized. Currently her niche and newsletter surround sharing one recipe for a drink a week. You should definitely sign up! After a year, she will be expanding into additional food spaces under the philosophy that 80% of your food should be intentionally healthy and 20% should be relaxed and filled with fun! Kate chose to be brave and serach what was inside of her that was lacking. She “went on a lark.” (Hence the name) She did something for fun and to create beauty in the world from what was within her. What Lark do you need to go on yourself?Kate chose to be brave and search out what was inside of her that was lacking. If you ever get to meet this sweet soul, you will know the gift she is to the world. Her spunk and incredible positivity, her care for others and extraordinary hospitality, it makes you want to sit on her front porch sipping a cool beverage with her for hours (I really mean it!). Going to her home in Holland for her feature was a gift. I am grateful she went on the inner journey. Her story encourage others to do the same! She “went on a lark.” (Hence the name) She did something for fun and to create beauty in the world from what was within her. What Lark do you need to go on yourself?
Kate’s cocktail recipes have a unique spin – large batch. The more the merrier, right!? Think about it… how many of us when hosting just want to be with our friends, but too often find ourselves working away in the kitchen? What better way to add a little zip and sparkle to your party than providing a fun new drink for your guests to try that doesn’t have you in the kitchen the whole time?
So here are some easy ways for you to begin to use Kate’s method of large batch cocktails:
-Be sure to get a large glass pitcher with a spout to make it convenient for your guests to fill their glass
-Never add ice! Even on a cool day, or inside, the ice will melt and dilute your drink. Rather, find a fun, festive ice bucket to sit next to your beverage and allow your guests to add ice as needed!-While it is beneficial to get as much done ahead of time with preparations, don’t mix your drink up more than a day in advance. Flavors do not stay fresh for a super long time, and if you are making anything with bubbles do not add them until the last minute! (Or else you will lose your fizz!!)-Always, always keep some simple syrups and herbs handy in fun containers next to your gallon pitcher to dress up the beverage. Every group of friends has variety in their preferences – let your guests add sweetness and flavor if that’s their jam.-And, if this even happens, make some fun popsicles with any leftovers you might have! The only thing better than popsicles on a hot day is an ADULT popsicle! Move aside kiddos – adult frozen treats have arrived!! Frozen champagne anyone?!
Now that we have covered how to do drinks on a large scale, let’s talk your everyday bar cart. Some of us have bar carts that are stocked with all the fancy stuff, while others may have a few wine glasses in our cupboard. Here is Kate’s approachable advice on how to stock your bar car:
Stocking a Bar Cart:
-Make sure you have the essential elements, and even when it comes to bar carts, less is more. Above anything else, Kate recommends having rocks glasses. You can’t keep every type of glass handy (wine, beer, martini, shot…etc) but because rocks glasses are versatile, they are great to keep on hand.
-In terms of liquid supply, be sure you have the following as your go-to base: gin, vodka, tonic, bitters, and another bitter element like Campari.
-In the fridge, be sure to have beer and wine, because someone will always ask!
– Don’t leave your non-drinking guests in a lurch. Kate emphasized the importance of club soda for guests who may still want the appearance of a drink without the alcohol.
– One final tool to ensure people will swoon over your drinks is your cocktail’s magic wand – the cocktail spoon. Be sure to purchase a long windy one for functionality and fun!
With all the above-mentioned elements (ooh, and don’t forget the ice bucket!), you are sure to have something for everyone!
As mentioned earlier, simple syrups are an easy way to dress things up in your cocktail recipes and bar cart. As a final bit of advice, Kate hooked us up with the basics to creating her favorite simple syrups.
-Boil equal parts sugar and water (Kate recommends 2 cups each) in a saucepan, then add any of these ingredients for five minutes. Strain, cool, and serve:
– Fresh rosemary (kate’s fave), basil, sage, or tarragon, dried lavender, fresh ginger root, a few drops of essential oil (food grade), & jalapeños to name a few! You can also add fresh fruit with the sugar and water before boiling and strain it off afterward.
Now you may be asking yourself, “what is the best way to serve simple syrups?” Kate’s favorite simple syrup example is the lavender collins. To create this delicious drink, mix 5 cups gin, 2 cups lemon juice, 1 3/4 cup lavender simple syrup, and 7c club soda. -Swirl, serve over ice in rocks glasses, and watch the delighted look on your guests’ faces! Full recipe here.
We couldn’t end this post without giving you a sneak peak into some of the incredible recipes that Kate has concocted over this past year. Kate exemplifies the beauty of unlocking your strengths and using them to make the world a more beautiful, and creative, place. We are so thankful Kate was brave enough to reach inside of herself and find what was needed to light her creative spark again! Now our parties and carts can be improved because of her passion and expertise!!
Summer Cocktail Recipes::
Cocktail: Fig Sangria
Serves 20 or a few more, in a 10 ounce rocks glass filled with ice
2 c water
2 cup sugar
6 star anise seeds
1 c lemon juice
2 c grapes, frozen
1 c figs, trimmed and cut in quarters
9 cups dry white wine
1/2 c non-alcoholic elderflower liqueur
3 c club soda
1 rose, for ice cubes (in two empty ice trays add one rose petal per cube, add water, and freeze)
25 mint leaves or a few stems of mint, for serving
For Anise Syrup: In a heavy-bottom pan, place 2 cups water and 2 cups sugar with 6 star anise seeds and heat over a medium flame or medium heat. Boil for 5 minutes and remove from stove, then chill completely. Discard seeds right before use.
In a gallon jug mix 2 cups star anise syrup, 1 cup lemon juice, 9 cups white wine, and ½ cup non-alcoholic elderflower liqueur. Directly before serving, in a large 1.5 gallon serving container( if possible) pour pre-mixed syrups, wine, and lemon juice. Add 3 cups club soda, mint stems and serve rose ice on the side.
Cocktail Inspiration: In search of a signature cocktail for the BIG READ HOLLAND, I found this recipes inspiration originally @artfuldesperado, Gabriel Cabrera, while in search of a cocktail with Japanese influence. The Big Read is a community reading project highlighting the book When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka. It’s been fun to search for a signature drink for this event, and the one I landed on has no resemblance to this cocktail! The star anise in this recipe caught my attention, although that is where the Asian influence stops. The recipe is inspired by Moroccan flavors, but it’s a serious fusion with elderflower syrup, star anise, and figs. Overall the theme here is lavish and elegant — two things that I love in recipes. Enjoy this mix of sultry flavors, and buy fresh figs while they are ripe and available in stores (or at Trader Joe’s once in awhile!) Freeze figs for the winter months when rich luscious fruit will be a welcome treat!
Cocktail : Caipirinha
Serves 16 (in a 10 ounce rocks glass filled halfway with ice)
1 ½ c sugar
3 limes, each cut into 8 wedges
1 ¼ c lime juice
9 c cachaca
4 ½ c club soda
In a wide mouthed pitcher (that can hold 4 cups of liquid or more), and with a wooden spoon, for one minute muddle 1 ½ cups sugar with all of the lime wedges until juicy. Add 1 ¼ cups lime juice and stir well. Transfer this mixture to your gallon serving container, and add 9 cups cachaca (yep, 9 cups!) and stir more. You may have to stir longer than you think you should! Right before guests arrive, add 4 ½ cups club soda and stir well again. Saude! (That’s cheers in Portuguese, guys.)
Cocktail Inspiration: Say it with us now: Kai-Pee-Reen-Ya. This is the Brazilian national cocktail. (This makes me wonder if there is a national cocktail of the United States?) This cocktail is made with cachaça, which is an alcohol that results from the fermentation of fresh sugarcane juice that is then distilled. My friend Emily’s husband Joe frequently travels to Brazil, and we schemed to create this in batch size for his 40th birthday bash. Three cheers for one of my first elementary school friends, Joe, and for this batch version of the Caipirinha!
Cocktail: Sour Cherry Lemonade
Serves 20 (in a 10 oz. rocks glass filled halfway with ice)
2 pounds fresh sour cherries, pitted – or 6 cups frozen & thawed cherries
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
2 T fresh lemon juice
8 cups club soda
3 cups lemon juice
To make the syrup: Simmer those lovely cherries with the sugar, water, and lemon juice in a medium saucepan over medium heat until the cherries are broken down and juicy with liquid like thin maple syrup. This should take about 30 minutes. Cool the mixture slightly and strain through a very fine mesh sieve. There will be approximately 2 cups of cherry syrup. Reserve the cherry solids for muffins or something fabulous (freeze and reserve for another day.)
To make the lemonade: Combine lemon juice, sugar, and cherry syrup. Stir vigorously to combine. Right before serving, slowly add 8 cups of club soda and then stir gently. In a rocks glass, pour this combination over a generous amount of ice. Top with 2 T of vodka, per glass, if desired.
Cocktail Inspiration: I feel better about serving our kids homemade lemonade than the powdered version and it reminds me of the way my Grandmother Mildred always made us a special drink when we ate lunch at her house. My mom worked close to Grandma’s house so when I was home from college for the summer we would convene at Grandma’s for a quick bite at noon — and always sun tea or lemonade to drink. Grandma grew up feeding farm workers with a BIG lunch to get them through the long workday, so the lunches at her house were similar…hot food that was simple and satisfying. With lunch came tea afterward and a pan full of homemade date-filled cookies, pecan sticky rolls, chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter rice krispie bars, and a dessert list that could go on and on.
Three cheers to good food memories and to warm hospitality…and to my dear Grandmother Millie!
(Credit to the original recipe from Martha Stewart Living, date unknown.)
Cocktail: Jalapeno Paloma
Serves 20 (in 10 oz. rocks glasses, filled halfway with ice)
4 c tequila
8 large jalapeno peppers
1 ½ c lime juice (I like Nellie & Joe’s Key Lime juice)
½ t fine grain salt
5 c 100% pink grapefruit juice
1 ½ c agave nectar
3 c club soda
2 limes, for serving
Wearing gloves, slice the ends off of the jalapeños and discard, then slice them into thin rounds. Transfer the peppers to a large glass container and pour 4 cups tequila over top. Allow this mixture to set in the refrigerator overnight.
In a gallon jug (using a funnel), pour 4 cups of tequila, sifting out jalapenos with a mesh sieve and saving for later use. Add 1 ½ cups lime juice, 5 cups pink grapefruit juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1 ½ cups agave nectar. Place cover on jug and shake until the agave nectar dissolves. Right before serving, carefully add 3 cups club soda, cover jug, swirl gently, and pour into a serving pitcher or punch bowl. Garnish with sliced limes and serve ice on the side. Keep the tequila soaked jalapenos in a bowl on the side for guests who love some extra kick!
Cocktail Inspiration: The idea for this cocktail came from a lovely evening in Saugatuck, Michigan, with great friends. We were on the porch for one of the first times that year at a great local restaurant. We all ordered the same thing — a spicy margarita on the rocks, no salt. The margarita came out and we all swooned over it with every sip — a touch on the very spicy side and just the right balance of agave to take the edge off the heat. I was bummed after visiting a few months later and the drink was completely different than the first one I had. I ordered the same cocktail but there was absolutely no resemblance to the first drink, which annoyed me as I had been dreaming of it since the last one! Consistency — that’s what was missing from my two experiences — and what can be found in this drink! Recipes that turn out the same for every cook, in every kitchen, every time. It’s so hard to find recipes that do that and are easy to make — so here at Lark we are excited to put together recipes that are tried and true and specific enough to be the same each time!
We imagine you all trying one of these recipes with your friends and family around a nice fire (ok it might be too hot still!) or poolside! Share the cocktail inspiration, send this feature to a friend who would get a kick out of making fun concoctions!! Cheers to you from Living Lark and Bridging HerStory!
Know someone we should feature?!!?