I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving with friends and family! I know I did. We spent the long weekend in Charleston with Edward's family. I went to school in Charleston, and while that fact is more than enough to make it special to me, it's also the place where Edward and I met and later got married. Happy memories abound here, and I took advantage of the gorgeous weather we had to wander around and take a million pictures.
We stayed out at Folly Beach and rented a house that could accommodate all the grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins for Thanksgiving dinner. Few things make me happier than being on the water.
A while back we played a game of Marry, Kill, or What to Effing Do in the living room. The room had some good elements, but it was feeling a bit insubstantial and lacked cohesion. Many of you chimed in (thank you! I love that) to suggest adding some darker decor to balance the black fire place and dark chairs, and I think that's exactly what was needed.
It's no secret around these parts that I'm a fan of both tequila and smoky scotch (though not at the same time). So naturally I've been a fan of the mezcal drinks that have been popping up on practically every restaurant's cocktail menu. If you're new to mezcal, it's a liquor made from oven roasted agave. This gives it a strong smoky flavor that makes it an unexpected hit in cocktails made traditionally with either tequila or whiskey.
I finally bought a bottle to take home and try out for myself. I didn't have a specific drink in mind, but I knew I wanted something seasonal, and I had a bottle of a local apple cider in the fridge just begging to be used. Mix that was some trusty ginger beer and garnish it up and there you have it. A smoky fall cocktail that would definitely meet my requirements for Thanksgiving on the road.
THE OAXACA CAMPFIRE
2 ounces mezcal (I'm using Vida here. If you find the smokiness of the mezcal too overpowering, you can try half mezcal and half tequila.)
2 ounces good apple cider
Fresh ground nutmeg
Pinch sea salt
Fill a collins glass with crushed ice. In a mixing glass, mix mezcal with cider. Pour mixture into collings glass over ice. Top with ginger beer. Sprinkle with just a pinch of nutmeg and sea salt.
As I mentioned the other day, Edward and I spend Thanksgiving in Charleston with his family. A vacation house can definitely provide challenges for the holidays, but there are a whole lot of benefits. (Ocean views? You got it.)
Today we'll go from the dining room to the kitchen, and I'll share what I've learned when it comes to planning a menu and preparing a meal in a rental house. Since we drive to Charleston, we have a bit more freedom to pack than if we had to fly somewhere. If you're flying to your Thanksgiving destination, you'll need to narrow down this list. (Hint: Don't bring that knife.)
Not traveling? There's still some sanity-saving advice and plenty of recipe ideas.
Plus, one of my favorite recipes for Brussels sprouts.
It's been a minute since I promised some updates on the tiki bar. Sorry about that. We made some major progress on it, and while it's not quite finished, it is so close. As a reminder, here's what it looked like when we moved in:
We'd gone back and forth on whether to tear the whole thing down. There's already a garden shed (which you can see just to the right), and that takes care of our storage needs. The white lattice detail up there is plastic and looks terrible up close. And the cement blog is blah, especially when compared to the nice brick paving the rest of this area. The one great thing about this space? It provides a covered area for our grill. Edward and I use that thing all the time, and I wanted to optimize the space for outdoor entertaining.
I've got a strong one for you today to make up for last week's missing cocktail post. (Apologies. Work travel kicked my ass.) The Sazerac is one of those delightful old cocktails whose original recipe is fussy and its ingredients hard to come by. Think an old fashioned by way of New Orleans.
However, we're nothing if not adaptable, so I promise you won't have to smuggle in any absinthe today. (But if you already have, call me.) It's not cheating - rye replaced the traditional brandy base of the cocktail in the late nineteenth century after an especially cold-hearted aphid destroyed many of France's vineyards. Pernod replaces absinthe because it's, um, legal.
Today I'm using bitters-infused sugar cubes. My friend Jess made them for me, and I use them all the time. They're great in champagne cocktails, old-fashioneds, and a host of other drinks. If you don't have access to bitters cubes or Jess, plain old sugar and a few dashes of bitters will be just fine. Or if you're intrigued, here's a link to the recipe.
1bitters-infused sugar cube, plain sugar cube, or 1 teaspoon sugar
Couple dashes bitters (Peychaud's is the traditional brand here)
2 1/2 ounces rye whiskey (I've got my go-to, Catoctin Creek's Roundstone Rye)
Splash Pernod, Herbsaint, or other pastis
You'll need two old-fashioned glasses to be authentically fussy for this one. In the first, muddle sugar with bitters, then add rye and stir. In the second glass, add a splash of Pernod, swirl, and pour out the excess. Add ice, and then pour the rye mixture from the first glass to the second. Garnish with lemon and laissez les bon temps rouler!
P.S. - Jess? I think I need a re-up on those cubes.
Guys, I have a good one for you today. Not only is Celia Bailey a crazy talented photographer, she also happens to be one of my oldest and dearest friends. I cannot get enough of her photos of California, and it's high time I shared them with you.
Earlier this week Celia and I chatted about life in LA (the east coast misses you but, sigh, I understand), photographing her adopted city, and what inspires her most. When you're done reading what she has to say here, head on over to her website to oggle more inspiring goodness.
There's nothing like an equipale chair for some instantly-recognizable, laid-back southwest vibes. After a few weeks of spending way too much time on Amtrak, and seeing way too little of the sun, these bright and relaxed spaces are looking pretty tempting. And seriously, what is more classic cool than worn and faded leather?
Image credits: A bright and casual sitting area via Domino / A Spanish-style wedding table via 100 Layer Cake / Mixing traditions in this dining room from Design Sponge / One of my favorite little corners via The Lane
Let's hang onto the weekend a bit longer, refill our coffees, and curl up on one of these fine looking balconies for the morning.
Or just inside if your balcony won't accommodate your fabulous chaise.
This monochrome balcony warms my heart and practically requires a fresh daiquiri.
Pile on the cushions, sheepskins, and, sure, a hammock and you've got just the spot to sip mulled cider on a chilly November day.
Who's with me? Collective personal day? Cider's on me.
Image credits: Black and white and green all over via My Domaine / Best view in the house via Lonny / Ernest Hemingway's green balcony via Domino / A hammock on a balcony is double the fun, via Apartment Therapy / Small balcony, big sky via My Domaine
Every Thanksgiving, Edward and I head to his hometown of Charleston, South Carolina to celebrate the holiday with his family. We rent a beach house and spend the week cooking, cheering on the Gamecocks, taking chilly beach walks, and eating everything in sight (Bowen's Island, I'm coming for you). I come from a small family (we just eat like there's a lot of us), and it's still a treat to me to watch all the various grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins gather around a table that was meant for half as many people.
A rental house provides limited options for table decor. That's fine, because impeccable linens and fine china can't compete with ocean views, walks to Bert's Market, and a jumble of family. We make it work with a mix of what the rental house has on hand, and what we bring ourselves.
So what to bring?
Welcome! I'm Arielle, and this is Scotch & Nonsense. Whether you've come for the home projects, the recipes, or the cocktails, I'm thrilled you're here and I hope you'll stay a bit.