Red White and Blue Cocktails for the 4th of JULY

Three cheers for the red, white and blue!!! Be sure to celebrate our country’s independent spirit with some incredible American brands.

Square One Organic Vodka: Basil
The makers of Square One are introducing their latest flavor for summer. This strongly herbaceous blend starts with100% organic American rye and is infused with the essences of 4 different organic basil varieties (Genovese, Thai, lemon, sweet) plus a little bit of coriander, honeysuckle and lemongrass. It will make a big statement in your cocktail. The Caprese Martini might be a good way to start your 4th of July party, instead of the typical Bloody Mary, and if you leave off the basil leaf from the garnish, you will have a red/white combo, so all you will need are dark blue napkins or a blue toothpick to tie into the celebration.

1.5 oz. Square One Basil
.75 oz. tomato juice or 5 cherry tomatoes cut in half
.5 oz. fresh lime juice
.25 oz. agave nectar or simple syrup
small pinch of salt
1/2 barspoon of Dirty Sue olive juice or 3 drops of Worcestershire sauce
cherry tomato, basil leaf and mini mozzarella ball as garnish
If using fresh tomatoes, muddle in mixing cup until pureed. Combine all other ingredients and shake with ice. Double strain into a chilled cocktail glass and serve with a “Caprese pick”–skewered cherry tomato, basil leaf and mini mozzarella ball. [I recommend using Calabro Mozzarella Fior Di Latte Bocconcini. It’s delicate taste and creamy texture will have you switching from your former brand. Plus it’s made only with the highest quality Grade A Vermont farm milk by an Italian-American family for over 50 years.]

American Harvest Vodka

From a family owned and operated organic wheat farm in Rigby, Idaho comes an exceptionally smooth tasting new vodka. This spirit is created without any compromise to the environment, from the recyclable glass bottle which uses only organic inks, to their use of wind power to provide for one third of their energy needs. American Harvest is perfectly handcrafted in small batches. If you live where its especially hot, this watermelon cooler recipe that follows might just do the trick for celebrating the 4th. Use blueberries for garnish to get the red, white and blue effect. For now, just available in the following states: Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, Maryland, Oregon, South Carolina.

2 parts American Harvest
1 part freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2  part agave nectar
5 cubes of fresh watermelon
Soda water
Combine all ingredients except soda water in a cocktail glass with ice and shake well. Strain over fresh ice in a tall cocktail glass and top with soda water. Garnish with a watermelon slice and lime wedge.

John Beck: American Attitude

I came across John Beck’s furniture line at the recent ICFF show, and was impressed by his individualistic style and amazing use of steel. Each piece exudes a straightforward, masculine swagger, a little bit rock-and-roll, along with a touch of humor. Take the Beatty Light, which starts with a sheet of steel, then is blasted with a shotgun—and ends up looking pretty amazing. I adore his series of limited edition tables, with weathered graphics, as seen in Table 2, which can be custom ordered. Thanks to Brian Cummings of RGG Photo for supplying the photos. At the show (top photos), I admired the steel sliding door, and AntiTrunk tables, with numbers or graphics, which can double as stools. You can see, and purchase, more pieces at Bobby Berk Home website.

Renewing America’s Food Traditions (RAFT)

America, once the land of plenty, is losing its food traditions along with valuable and tasty food sources. For instance, a century ago, Americans grew 15,000 varieties of apple; today, there are only 1500. That’s why the members of RAFT have created a book to cherish and showcase foods in America that are in danger of becoming extinct. The mission of RAFT is not only to educate the population about what is endangered, but also to share time-honored recipes using the ingredients, and ways to stop the decline. A chart in the back of the book points to which species are threatened (marginally available), endangered (hard to locate, but not gone yet), and functionally extinct (unavailable except in private collections). What can you do about it? Grow your own, create your own recipes, or support those who do! Get a peek at what’s inside the book at this link.


EAT OUT SERIES: part two

Going on a picnic or to the beach? Bring along these stylish and functional pieces.

let’s dish: French Bull
I don’t believe in using disposable dishes. They’re not really nice to eat off of, especially if you are not seated at a table to stabilize the situation. French Bull has a super cool line of plastic melamine dishes that you can take out with you and not worry about breakage. They even have a handsome carrying trolley to tote your set. The ROSE collection will add a cheery blast of color to your gathering. $11 for the 11” plates, $8 for the 8” plates, available on the website.

Bambu: responsible disposable

If you must use disposable utensils, you can’t do better than Bambu’s All Occasion Veneerware. Depending on what you are serving, you might choose the adorable spork, which does the job of a spoon or fork, or go for the traditional knife, fork and spoon assortment. Available from their website, the spork comes in packages of 24 for $10, the trio of utensils serves 8 for $10. These pieces are made from made from 100% bamboo, are biodegradable/compostable, and do not contain any chemicals, bleaches, dyes, or pesticides. For bulk sales you can email Terry at terryl@bambuhome.com or call 877 226 2829.

Govino: unbreakable wine glasses

For those who wouldn’t dream of drinking wine in anything other than crystal, Govino has created an unbreakable glass that was developed for wine salespeople on the go. Though not actually glass, the BPA-free polymer feels like it, and will not take away from the drinking experience. The wine glass measures 4.4 inches in height and holds 16 ounces, the champagne flute is 5.3 inches high, and holds 8 ounces. Practically a steal at $12.95 for a pack of 4; for those who throw large parties outdoors the 36 or 72 packs will come in handy. Available on the website.

outdoor LOUNGING

Comfortable seating makes being outdoors even better.

Gardenhouse: an artist’s touch
Photographer Cheryl Maeder and artist husband Gary love to scour flea markets and antique stores and update their vintage finds in vibrant colors and modern fabrics. This refurbished gold metal settee, seen above, is just one example. It can be used indoors or out, and has Sunbrella canvas cushions and pillows which flip to black patent leather on the reverse. Check the website to see their other finds. While you’re there, see Cheryl’s photography which also keeps with the “vintage gone modern” concept, featuring Dreamscapes of soft-focused beach scenes and sweeping landscapes. Decorate your weekend house with both! All the pieces can be purchased through the website and can be shipped throughout the US.

oh, so comfortable: Royal Botania

If it’s total relaxation you are looking for, and have the space, this set from Royal Botania is for you. I recently spotted FOLD at ICFF, where I road-tested it and can assure you it was absolute heaven-on-earth. The outer piece is moulded out of material which is scratch resistant and requires minimal maintenance. Deluxe, all-weather cushions come in 13 basic colors and 36 premium color and pattern options. Choose the pieces you need to suit your space, from $1,300 per setion (plus cushions). Check out the flagship store located at 394 Broadway between Walker and White streets in Tribeca where you can do your own testing.

eco chic from Seasonal Living

The Nest Day Bed is the bean bag for the future. The exterior fabric is made completely out of recycled plastic water bottles, hand woven on traditional looms, and double bagged with polystyrene beads. This cushy pool-side lounge is resistant to the effects of salt water and chlorine and guaranteed not to fade, split or crack from exposure to the sun. It requires no special maintenance; dirt rinses away with a squirt of the hose. Best of all the lounge is 100% recyclable and free of toxic residue. $2,000. Check out Seasonal Living’s other outdoor items, such as their eco-cement planters. The Column Planter and Soho Planter’s concrete is a mix of natural sands and hemp-like grass, available in weathered grey or chalk white. These planters can also work as table side coolers with removable zinc liners. Party time!