Happy Friday! And, Happy Weekend, friends!
It’s time for another edition of Feature Fridays…and, Cocktails A-Go-Go! What better way to launch the weekend, right? Originally, this post featuring my Sparkling Tart Cherry Margarita was to be published here on the blog last Friday, August 9th, in celebration of my birthday month. However, I received an email from a blogging friend that sort of rocked my world around Noon that day. And, of course, I dropped everything to immediately reply. It is what you do for friends. It is not the time to share this story with you today, but I will address it in a forthcoming post. No worries. Everything is fine. She wrote back and expressed to me that she over-reacted and we are still Twitter pals, or “tweeps”. Whew! What a relief. Now, it is time to celebrate!
Also, I have a special summer recipe round-up post I have been working diligently on. Initially, the plan was to feature All-American favorites from the most patriotic month of the year (July) and post it in early August. However, I revised my initial plan because several superb recipes have been posted since then by favorite fellow bloggers in wickedly fun categories that I just could not pass up! You’ll see. It’s a fabulous round-up and I cannot wait to share it with you. Plans are dynamic, right? In life, you just learn to roll.
Speaking of “roll”, for today’s post, instead of just chatting about the recipe, I thought I’d weave in some rock and roll for the weekend and share a bit about my favorites, my childhood home and some interesting facts about my mom. She was a very hip lady. And, of course, there will be ample references to cherries. By now, y’all know how nutty I am about tart cherries!
What is it about cherries that excites us? For me, I would have to say their shape, color and taste. Oh, that red! That red really grabs me. Every. Single. Time.
The color red was a prominent color in my childhood home. My mother loved cherries, raspberries and strawberries. Interestingly, my sister was born with a strawberry birthmark and I was born with strawberry blonde hair. Granny was the beautiful redhead in our family and resembled Liz Taylor in looks—especially when she was younger. Think of the film, A Place in the Sun. Below is a photo of granny holding me as a baby during my first Christmas. Isn’t she pretty? She was pretty glamorous for a housewife in her day, too. Her hair was always done nicely, she wore lipstick, dresses, aprons and heels. The whole nine yards.
My mother loved the color red and guests in our home—whether young or old—were fascinated by my mother’s domestic diva take on interior design. She adored all things Spanish, so our living room was done tastefully in red and black. What made this possible and not overbearing and claustrophobic was the fact that our living room had soaring studio ceilings and a large brick wall painted in white with another done with antique mirrors. If it were Mom’s choice, that brick wall would never have been painted. She always wished the brick had been left naturally exposed before purchasing the home.
The living room was open to what was once the dining room. Mom and Dad converted it into an area for entertaining with an open bar and table seating which was open to the kitchen—ideal for all their Pinnacle, Poker and billiard/pool parties. Of course, the kitchen was also decked out in red complete with a nifty red patterned kitchen carpet (for its time), a special ordered side-by-side flaming fire engine red refrigerator and a red “hotline” rotary dial wall-mounted telephone (I kid you not) in the breakfast nook. The countertops, tabletop and bar top were all done in a Formica black slate look and all the swivel chairs and bar stools were done in either red or black faux leather to complete the look.
The breakfast nook had boho chic beaded curtain dividers, from ceiling to floor, in red and black beads. And, of course, Mom fashioned beaded tie-backs to create a curtain look when she wanted the beads pulled back. Mom was crafty and installed the beads herself on a track attached to the ceiling but concealed behind a large beam dividing the breakfast nook and the kitchen. The track was painted black thus only visible once inside the nook and only if you looked hard for it.
To this day, I still chuckle over Mom’s attempt to dye her favorite white layered curtains in black and red for her breakfast nook. She cursed the Ritz dye company for weeks on end over the fact that her curtains turned out pink and gray and their dye failed her. She settled on a set of red and white curtains (with polka dots!) but had always wished they were black and red with cherries and not polka dots. Since Mom was terrible at sewing and never wanted to learn (she despised it and Dad was the one to sew zippers into our roller skating outfits for competition), she would have had to custom order her envisioned black and red curtains from a designer. My father was relieved because he never liked the idea of black and red curtains in the kitchen. I think the words casket and funeral parlor were mentioned. But, Mom, well…she had a vision. What pulled off the look of Mom’s curtain choice was the faux brick façade she installed on all the kitchen walls giving it a cottage look. She adored Julia Child and wanted a sort of French yet Spanish look. The look sounds hideous, but it was quite charming in a kitschy retro way.
Mom had a passion for the Margarita. It was her favorite cocktail once she moved on over from her beloved Singapore Sling. I am definitely my mother’s daughter. I adore the Margarita as well. In fact, as you may know, it is my favorite cocktail. Like me, Mom was attracted to the “dark fairytale side” of things—hence her love of black and red as a color combo. She would be shocked at how similar we are if she were here and saw my Pinterest board, My Dark Fairytale Side. She adored everything fairytale, read us stories about far off lands and was elated whenever television programming was geared to children. She would asterisk special programming for us in her TV Guide during the Christmas holiday season and count down the days to watch said programming along with us and serve up buttered popcorn in her big yellow vintage Pryex® bowl. She loved Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella (1965) when it first appeared on television and Leslie Ann Warren was one of her favorite talented young actresses. It was an event. My inner goth and lover of Edgar Allan Poe, all things Hans Christian Andersen and old-school (read: darker) fairytales comes from Mom.
Speaking of “the dark side”…
A Side Note: Irony has a way of manifesting itself. Guess what The Big Lug turned on for me and what I happen to be watching on THIS TV channel right now as I am writing this? Eddie and the Cruisers (1983), a 3-star film, starring Tom Berenger, Michael Paré and Ellen Barkin based on the novel of the same name by P.F. Kluge. Incidentally, it was P.F. Kluge who penned the magazine article “Dog Day Afternoon” which the film, starring Al Pacino, is based upon. The lead song from the film’s soundtrack is On the Dark Side. It’s a good tune. Take a listen and see if you remember or recognize it. Back in the day, the first time I heard this song, I actually did think it was Bruce Springsteen on vocals and that The E Street Band had gone a little rockabilly.
Due to their style, what I would classify as Heartland Rock (my favorite music genre, think Jackson Browne, Bob Seger, Bruce Springsteen, John Mellencamp, Bruce Hornsby, Eddie Money, Tom Petty and Melissa Etheridge), and their prominent use of the saxophone, The Beaver Brown Band, with lead vocals by John Cafferty, was critically compared to Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band. Bruce. A great segue, any day of the week! Ah, Bruce. Let’s discuss.
I just love me some Bruce. Saw “The Boss” and The E Street Band in concert several times back in the day. To this day, no other live performance compares to Bruce kickin’ it with Born To Run. I love to watch this vid to relive those incredible moments. Oh, the lyrics…and, Bruce’s inimitable passionate delivery. And, his butt. Oh, Lord help me…his butt! His butt in those worn denim jeans. And, those sweaty, tan biceps and his curly hair. And, that building crescendo, 1-2-3-4…, and the crescendo itself…the BEST in rock history, I tell you. And, that Bruce megawatt smile. I. DIE. If this anthem doesn’t get your blood pumpin’ on this summer Friday, leading into the weekend, I don’t know what will!
By the way, isn’t Max as handsome as ever on the drums? Killer drummer.
And, Clarence…stylin’ and rockin’ it, as always. Miss him. What would The E Street Band be without him?
But, those lyrics! “I wanna die with you Wendy on the street tonight in an everlasting kiss…” I just grow weak and throw my head back like Cher in the film Moonstruck when Nick Cage passionately carries her off to the bedroom. If you are female and reading this, don’t you do this? Ha!
And, the lyrics, “But I gotta know how it feels…I want to know if love is wild. Babe I want to know if love is real…Oh, can you show me!” I always want to scream, “Yes! Yes, Bruce!” Hahaha! 😉
What about that arrangement? Do you hear the glockenspiel-like chimes dancing in the background? Just beautiful. Reminds me of the arrangement Sony Bono orchestrated (although Bob Stone wrote the lyrics, I once read that Sony wrote the arrangement) for Cher’s solo hit, Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves. (Mom’s music. You gotta love it. Love Cher.) Take a close listen and compare.
Do you hear the rhythmic chimes dancing in the background in both songs? Bruce’s lyrics speak of an amusement park and Cher’s lyrics surround gypsy life in a traveling show. Interesting comparison, no?
Also, do you do this? Compare recording artists and their songs? The Big Lug and I enjoy playing a game when we’re in the car together. While listening to a song, we share our favorite parts and then debate each other over our pairings of similar artists with the song and say, “So and so could cover that. Definitely. Just imagine. It would be incredibly wild!” Ha! 😉
Now, can you just imagine Bruce Springsteen covering On the Dark Side? 🙂
But, before there could be “The Boss”, there had to be a Sir Paul—as in Paul McCartney & Wings, no? Without Band on the Run (1973), could there have BEEN Born to Run (1975)? (In my best Chandler Bing, of Friends, voice.) Distinctly different, yes. But, the similarities in composition are to be celebrated. The change ups (recognized sound-wise as several songs in one which influenced Bob Seger greatly as the man didn’t know it could be done!), the anthemic nature, the word “run” emphasized when sung in rhapsodic raspy vocals indicative of the genre and the crescendos as well as the lyrics “fell into the sun” and “sprung from cages” which are common themes of the oppressed with newfound freedom, respectively, as often reflected in Heartland Rock.
Although, I was way too young to enjoy Wings or The E Street Band in concert in the 1970s (darn it!), I sure caught up with Bruce in the summer of 1985 once I was out of high school. Saw him perform live at The Pontiac Silverdome, in Michigan, on one of the hottest days of that summer—thus, making it very memorable for me and my gal pals. The Silverdome’s broken down A/C system made it difficult for all in attendance—especially Bruce. I was a “sweaty Betty” fer shure and went to the First Aid Office to get some rolled gauze bandages just to tie up my long hair. The place was a melting pot. We were seated close enough to the stage to catch glimpses of Bruce backstage bending over a long table with a row of deep trays of water the size busboys use to bus tables. He grabbed a large sponge in each hand, doused them in water. Then, he bent over to wring those sponges over his back, neck and shoulders to rinse and cool his body several times—sort of like taking a shower—and rinsed his face. As you can imagine, he did this often throughout the show. After witnessing this, I always held “The Boss” in the highest of esteem. The guy is amazing in concert. He is a real showman in ensuring his fans enjoy his show. Just amazing.
But, let’s get back to Mom for a moment.
Mom rocked a poet’s blouse with lace and cameo finery like no one’s business. The look suited her and she didn’t care if the look was in fashion at the time or not. To her, the look was classic and timeless. Hard to argue that. Her nails were always nicely done—manicured and painted in fashionable colors. She drank plenty of gelatin (collagen) back in the day to keep her nails strong, her hair healthy and her face free of bags and wrinkles. Mom was a bleach bottle blonde, but a “mousy blonde” naturally as she put it. We never knew what Mom’s natural hair color looked like. She always wore light make-up during the daytime, only going heavier in the evening, and my father claims never knowing what she looked like without make-up on.
Mom’s music is a big part of my own life soundtrack as my sister and I grew up listening to her favorite music as well as our own. Mom only imbibed socially and I am the same. With my love of concocting cocktails, you’d think The Big Lug and I indulged often. Well, once having been diagnosed as a pre-diabetic, and having succeeded in reversing my condition, I only drink occasionally (read: rarely) and, when I do, I like to use stevia or agave nectar as they are low glycemic alternatives to regular table sugar. Therefore, you will never see me calling for a commercially made sweet and sour mix or other mixers (loaded with sugars including high fructose corn syrup) in my cocktail recipes. And, you will only see recipes calling for naturally flavored spirits.
Today, as part of Cocktails A-Go-Go, I present you with the rockin’ red Sparkling Tart Cherry Margarita. She’s a beautiful Marg and is my hands down favorite of non-traditional Margaritas. And, I just know Mom would have loved it as well. She adored the red cherry motif in retro 1950s design, the taste of tart Michigan Montmorency cherries, the color red and Margaritas. As for me, this cocktail reminds me of my beloved Red Rocker, Sammy Hagar. Any Red Rocker fans out there? The guy is extremely talented, a true showman and I admire his work ethic. His family means the world to him. And, I just happen to also be a big fan of his tequila, Cabo Wabo®, in addition to his music. When I was younger, I imagined that I would get a back stage pass to meet him. What would I wear to the concert? A t-shirt with two red cherries (you know where) with the lyrics, “hot, sweet cherries on the vine…” from the song, Your Love is Driving Me Crazy.
I’m such a tart!
Talk about being a tart. Here is a photo of me during one of my earliest Christmases at Grandma Gigi’s house. Yes, I’m pulling up my dress! Also, notice the cutout cookies, in animal shapes, hanging on the tree with all that tinsel. Retro pretty.
Here’s that great song by Sammy with that lyric mentioned above, “…hot, sweet cherries on the vine.” This song is perfect to listen to while driving in the car. Sammy’s passionate vocals in this song just give me goosebumps! How could I leave my beloved Red Rocker out when sharing some great tunes and a rockin’ red Sparkling Tart Cherry Margarita today incorporating his fabulous tequila, Cabo Wabo®?
Isn’t he fabulous? He’s cute, too. Of course, he’s featured on my Pinterest board, Handsome Guys. Swoon!
Briefly, let’s talk about this cocktail. This is not your average Margarita, that’s fer shure. This one is packed with all-natural tart cherry flavor from all angles and dances on your tongue like the glockenspiel-like chimes dance in the background of Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run arrangement. Plus, it’ll make your heart sing…just like the music I have featured here today on the blog. It’ll give you those feel-good spine tingles you quite don’t experience enough in life. Promise.
Our Sparkling Tart Cherry Margarita consists of all-natural organic tart cherry juice by Eden Foods® (available at Whole Foods Market®), a fabulous tart cherry liqueur by Dancing Pines® which is over-the-moon divine and packed with natural tart cherry flavor whilst showing off a deep ruby-red hue. Swoon. The orange liqueur of choice is Cointreau®. I simply could not make this tart cherry Margarita without it. I love me some extra citrus kick in addition to fresh squeezed lime juice, don’t you? Of course, Cabo Wabo® Reposado is my #1 choice for the tequila. It never disappoints and always finishes smooth. For the bubbly (because red cherries sparkle in the summer sun), I call for Fizz56 Brachetto Spumante which is so ideal when you want all-natural red color and flavor as well as some bubble action. In fact, the people at Terlato Wines International say there are 56 million delicate bubbles in every bottle. Whew! I think my skirt just flew up! It happens. Seriously. The last time I called for Fizz56, it was in Wicked Good Kitchen’s original cocktail recipe for Passionate Kisses Sparkling Cocktail. Speaking of Bruce, Born to Run, and an everlasting kiss, eh? I sense several themes today at Wicked Good Kitchen. Um, I think the themes sum up one common theme called passion.
In lieu of my favorite simple syrup sweetened with agave nectar, I simply call for fresh lime juice and agave nectar. This way, this single serving cocktail (with variations below for two pitcher recipes in different sizes) can be adjusted for desired sweetness with the agave and tartness with the lime juice. And, I did all the math calculations for you for your next party! How cool is that?
Also, for an appropriate pink rim to match this stunningly beautiful red cherry cocktail, I went with my favorite Hawaiian pink (or red) sea salt, (Alaea Red Hawaiian Sea Salt available at Cost Plus World Market). Bliss.
Friends, you are going to flip for this Sparkling Tart Cherry Margarita cocktail. Best part? You can make it any time of year! You read that right. So, there’s no excuse not to whip up a batch and indulge with close friends at your next gathering. And, do so soon. You won’t regret it.
What makes our Sparkling Tart Cherry Margarita wicked good? I’ll let you decide for a change. This unbelievably tasty and bubbly cherry-red cocktail needs no Don Draper sales pitch, that’s fer shure!
- For the Optional Rim & Cocktail Garnishes
- Sliced fresh limes, to moisten cocktail glass rims
- Pink sea salt, such as Alaea Red Hawaiian Sea Salt in Medium Grain, crushed
- Fresh sweet cherries, such as Bing, sliced at bottom up to pit
- Fresh limes, sliced very thin
- For the Cocktail
- Ice for cocktail shaker
- 2 ounces tequila, such as Cabo Wabo® Reposado
- ½ ounce tart cherry liqueur, such as Dancing Pines®
- ½ ounce orange liqueur, such as Cointreau®
- 2 ounces tart cherry juice
- ½ ounce fresh lime juice
- ½ ounce agave nectar
- 2 ounces chilled Fizz56 Brachetto Spumante
- Or, 2 ounces chilled sparkling cherry juice, such as R.W. Knudsen®
- Ice for cocktail, optional
- Special Equipment
- Cocktail shaker with strainer
- Chilled cocktail glasses
- Rimmed shallow plates for rim garnish, optional
TipsIf tart cherry juice is difficult to find, consider using fresh sweet cherries when in season to make fresh sweet cherry juice. Place 12 pitted cherries into a cocktail shaker and mash them with a muddler expelling the juices, about 1 minute. If you do not have a muddler, you can use the end of a wooden spoon. Then, continue with recipe and adjust tartness with lime juice and sweetness with agave nectar. Recipe can easily be multiplied to make full pitcher. First, determine the size of your pitcher. (Standard pitchers range from 60 to 72 ounces.) To make full pitcher, we have multiplied the amounts of recipe ingredients by 7.5 for a 60-ounce pitcher or by 9 for a 72-ounce pitcher since one cocktail makes 8 ounces. For 60-ounce Pitcher, You Will Need:
Ice for pitcher
15 ounces (almost 2 cups) tequila, such as Cabo Wabo® Reposado
3.75 ounces (almost ½ cup) tart cherry liqueur, such as Dancing Pines®
3.75 ounces (almost ½ cup) orange liqueur, such as Cointreau®
15 ounces (almost 2 cups) tart cherry juice
3.75 ounces (almost ½ cup) fresh lime juice
3.75 ounces (almost ½ cup) agave nectar
15 ounces (almost 2 cups) chilled Fizz56 Brachetto Spumante
Or, 15 ounces (almost 2 cups) sparkling cherry juice, such as R.W. Knudsen®
For 72-ounce Pitcher, You Will Need:
Ice for pitcher
18 ounces (2¼ cups) tequila, such as Cabo Wabo® Reposado
4½ ounces (½ cup + 1 tablespoon) tart cherry liqueur, such as Dancing Pines®
4½ ounces (½ cup + 1 tablespoon) orange liqueur, such as Cointreau®
18 ounces (2¼ cups) tart cherry juice
4½ ounces (½ cup + 1 tablespoon) fresh lime juice
4½ ounces (½ cup + 1 tablespoon) agave nectar
18 ounces (2¼ cups) chilled Fizz56 Brachetto Spumante
Or, 18 ounces (2¼ cups) sparkling cherry juice, such as R.W. Knudsen®
A little bit about Fizz56 for ya…
Fizz56 comes from a small Italian winery nestled in the heart of Piedmonte, a region known for their outstanding Brachetto. Native to Italy and rare in other wine-growing regions of the world, the Brachetto grape is a light-bodied red grape, highly aromatic and naturally effervescent. Fun, fresh and whimsical, this Italian sparkling wine has a beautiful red color and tantalizes the taste buds with scents of candied rose petals and seductively sweet flavors of raspberry, cherry and strawberry. Fizz56 Brachetto Spumante is a delicious complement for dessert, an irresistible way to enjoy a romantic evening for two, celebrate a special occasion or make a Fizztini cocktail with your favorite mixers. There are 56 million delicate bubbles in every bottle. Source: Uncorked Recipe Source: WickedGoodKitchen.com Copyright © Wicked Good Kitchen. All content and images are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words. Alternatively, link back to this post for the recipe.