Bittersweet Champagne Cocktail

We may be a day late with this post, but it's never too late to pamper yourself or your loved one with a champagne cocktail.  Pick your favorite bottle of bubbly, add a splash of Campari, and voilà!,  your champagne just got a pair of rose colored glasses.  Campari is slightly bitter and also quite sweet, so you only need to add about 1/3 of an ounce.  You don't want to overpower the champagne, just enhance it.  

So whether your Valentine's Day was bitter or sweet, cheers to you! 

xoxo, Pickled Rose  

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The Terrible 2's

So, it's been two years since the humble beginnings of Pickled Rose. We started with 4 or 5 regular readers, and in the intervening years, our readership has doubled. At least. If you're one of those few people, thank you. I really do mean that.

So, what are we doing for this blog's second birthday? Well, befitting anybody's second birthday, there's alcohol involved. For the parents, of course. Websites can't drink. Don't be ridiculous.

Anyway, we decided to come up with a cocktail. This drink requires only one specialized ingredient, and it's one that you can make yourself with two simple ingredients: pepper and vodka. 

This cocktail combines the classic flavors of citrus and bourbon with the spice and earthiness of pepper vodka and fresh sage. Pepper vodka is quite easy to make - it involves combining whole peppercorns with vodka, letting it steep for several days, and then straining it.

Pepper Vodka

  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 750 ML vodka

In an airtight container, combine the pepper and the vodka. Place in a cool, dark place and allow to steep for 3-4 days. Taste a small amount (just a few drops) every day or so, until the pepper flavor is very pronounced. When the flavor reaches the desired intensity, run the vodka through a fine strainer, and discard the peppercorns. Store the pepper vodka in an airtight container, away from heat and light.

Terrible 2's

  • 3 oz. bourbon
  • 2 oz. of orange/lemon juice mixture: juice of 3 blood oranges and 1/2 of a Meyer lemon, combined.
  • 1/2 oz. pepper vodka
  • 3 fresh sage leaves
  • Ice cubes

In a small bowl, mix the orange and lemon juice. 

In a cocktail shaker, combine the bourbon, 2 ounces of the blood orange/lemon juice mixture, the pepper vodka, the sage leaves, and a few ice cubes. Shake until the cocktail is chilled and mixed, about 30 seconds.


Pour into a chilled glass, and garnish with a sage leaf, if desired.


Enjoy. Here's to two more years.


John here. Last night, Becky invented a seriously awesome cocktail. It's called "Shanghaied." 

Shanghaiing is the once-common practice of kidnapping people, throwing them on a ship bound for the other side of the ocean, and giving them the option of serving on the crew for the duration of the voyage, or swimming home. One of the easiest ways to accomplish this was to get a sailor good and drunk, and take them on the ship after they pass out. Since moving to San Francisco, we've both been fascinated with the more unsavory elements of the town's early history. I can think of few things more unsavory than Shanghaiing. 

Becky decided to make an homage to this deplorable practice, which I definitely do not condone (well....I wouldn't say "homage," exactly, but...screw it. Yes I would.). And we don't live in the Gold Rush days anymore. I doubt the average San Franciscan would be of much use on a ship. After waking up in the cargo hold, and figuring out what's going on, they'd probably start snapping photos with their iPhone, delighting in how retro the whole situation is, and enjoying it ironically.

Anyway, I doubt the crimps of old ever used a cocktail like this to get somebody aboard a ship, but they certainly could have. This thing packs a serious punch, and is incredibly smooth. If I were possessed of less restraint, I might have gotten myself into trouble with these (oh, who am I kidding? There were 5 of us, and we ran out of vodka.)

In all seriousness, have a designated driver if you plan on being in the same room as one of these drinks.


Warning: fire hazard


Makes 2 servings

  • 2 lemon wedges
  • 1 pinch sugar
  • 4 oz. Absolut Wild Tea vodka
  • Juice of 2 Mandarin oranges
  • 4-6 mint leaves
  • 2 dashes orange bitters
  • Ginger beer

In a cocktail shaker, thoroughly muddle the mint leaves, lemon wedges, and sugar along with some ice cubes. Add the remaining ingredients, except the ginger beer.

Shake for 30 seconds, strain into two chilled martini glasses, and top off with cold ginger beer. Garnish with mint leaves and/or a lemon wedge, if desired. Serve immediately, while still ice cold. 

These drinks went very well with dinner last night. For my birthday, Becky got me a great Chinese cookbook, and a set of bamboo steamers. We had some friends over last night, and tried our hands at dim sum for the first time. The results were pretty good for a first attempt. But I won't be posting the recipes yet, because I feel they still need some work. 

Dim Sum

Crab rangoons and steamed pork buns. 

I'll definitely be experimenting with some more authentic Chinese recipes. And, yes, I'm aware that the crab rangoon is about as Chinese as, well, a dish that involves mixing crab meat with cream cheese and deep frying it.