Archive for May, 2014

Summer Cocktail Recipe: Kentucky Sunset

Thursday, May 15th, 2014

Remember when you were 5 years old and summer break was a thing?  Whole months in the summer to play, relax and enjoy every moment of every day?  In an effort to reclaim that relaxed spirit of summer in adulthood, we sat down on one unseasonably hot afternoon and created this craft cocktail.  The plan:  with just one sip, the day melts away, you can relax and feel like a kid on summer break all over again.  We’re pretty proud of the way it turned out.   This drink is sweet with fresh squeezed strawberry juice, tangy from grapefruits and just the right amount of bitter.  The bourbon adds a rich note, bringing the whole thing together beautifully.  Ready?  Break out your bottles, or your summer cocktail set, if that’s more your style, and get ready to drink in summer. Literally.

cocktail with strawberries, served in jars

This recipe makes 4 bourbon cocktails. – a perfect summer cocktail recipe for sharing with friends or neighbors by the pool.  When we throw parties, we love putting our fresh squeezed juices, garnishes and bourbon out on the table in Kilner bottles so guests can mix their drinks to their own liking, kids can drink just juice, and everyone can pick the perfect umbrella to go with their outfit.  Because what’s an electric-pink drink without a cocktail umbrella anyway?

How to make a perfect Bourbon cocktail from scratchIngredients

  • 12 oz high-quality Kentucky Bourbon.  Maker’s Mark works beautifully.
  • 8 oz grapefruit juice
  • 12 oz strawberry juice.
  • Angostura Bitters (1 healthy dash per drink)
  • 1 liter club soda, tonic(if you want a sweeter drink) or champagne (if you want a stronger drink)
  • Ice
  • Fruit for Garnish – I like small strawberries and chunks of pineapple.
  • Festive umbrellas.

how to make a summertime cocktail


  • Like so many craft bartenders, we make our own juices for this drink.  If you’d like to take a shortcut, buy good-quality, fresh squeezed juices at your local grocery store. If you’re making juices, feel free to do them ahead of time, transfer the juice into bottles, and take time to chill it. It’s summer – you want that drink to be as refreshing as a dip in the pool.
  • Add Ice to 4 glasses (I love the rustic look of Kilner mason jars for bourbon cocktails).
  • Quickly add 3 oz of bourbon to each glass. Yes, they’re strong drinks. Please remember that before getting in the car.
  • Add 2 oz of grapefruit juice and 3 oz of strawberry juice to each glass.  Throw in a healthy dash of bitters and give each drink a stir with a cocktail spoon.
  • Top off with an assortment of fresh fruit (ideally speared on a vividly colored cocktail umbrella.)
  • Kick off your shoes, relax, and enjoy your summer break. Remember, it’s a state of mind.

classic summery cocktail Fruit in Kilner jars - for garnish how to garnish drinks enjoying drinks in Kilner jars poolside

Shameless self-promotion time: All the glassware pictured above is included in our summer cocktail set.  It includes the 3 bottles, 9 jars (6 for drinking, 2 for garnish) and even a funnel to fill those bottles easily.  Basically, if you’re looking to stock a bar cart (for summer cocktails or for making and garnishing the perfect martini recipe.) The umbrellas are not included, but believe me, they’re pretty easy to find and TOTALLY worth having.

Spanish Tapas Recipes Worth Trying: Gambas al Ajillo (Shrimp with Garlic)

Thursday, May 8th, 2014

Shrimp with garlic recipe

It has been said that Gambas al Ajillo is the world’s most perfect tapa, and every time I try this killer tapas recipe I seriously have to agree. Shrimp. Garlic. Olive Oil. Salt. A hint of parsley. A touch of Paprika. Really, it’s that simple. 6 ingredients total and you have a full-on perfect bite of food.  Now, if you don’t like garlic, or you’re not big on seafood, this probably won’t rock your world.  But for the rest of you, believe me. This is one of those tapas recipes you’ll try once and end up  making a million times, over and over again. You’ll look for any excuse to make it, because it’s that easy and that delicious.

How to make Spanish Food

Want the perfect excuse?  Throw a summer tapas party. Pull together some of your favorite recipes for small, shareable bites (that’s what tapas are, after all) and invite a few good friends. Break out a bottle of Spanish Cava or Rioja (or a lovely, fruity summer cocktail) and enjoy the easiest dinner party you’ve ever thrown. If you need more tapas ideas, click here for last week’s patatas bravas recipe.  Or bounce on over here for some meatballs.  Or head on over to this post for a watermelon salad that, when served in small bowls makes for a refreshing, flavorful bite.

Tapas tasting set spread

But enough talk. Let’s make some shrimp. I’m sure you want to see what the best tapas recipe ever is all about.  This recipe serves 4.


  • 1 lb shrimp, shelled and de-veined. I often buy mine frozen. It works and it’s cheaper.
  • 10 cloves garlic, sliced. It may seem like a lot, but it’s delicious. Don’t skimp.
  • 1/2 cup Olive Oil (Go for Spanish if you’ve got it.)
  • 1 pinch of salt, plus more to taste
  • 1.5 tsp hot smoked Spanish Paprika
  • 3 Tbsp minced fresh parsley.


  1. Make sure your shrimp are thawed (if frozen) and peeled. make sure your garlic is sliced and your parsley is minced. This will go quickly.
  2. Throw olive oil, a pinch of salt and garlic into a large saucepan.  Gradually bring to medium high heat, stirring frequently in order to keep garlic from burning.
  3. When garlic is golden brown and your entire kitchen smells amazing, remove garlic from pan with slotted spoon and set aside.
  4. Add shrimp and paprika to the hot oil. Give it a stir to combine the ingredients. It may spatter. Prepare yourself.
  5. Cook over medium high heat until cooked through, tossing occasionally. If you used fresh shrimp, they’ll most likely be cooked through 3-4 minutes – They’ll be done a minute or two after they turn pink.
  6. Add garlic back in with shrimp, tossing to combine.
  7. Taste a shrimp (chef’s privilege, y’all) and decide if it needs anything. Add salt, additional paprika. Consider a squeeze of lemon.
  8. Transfer from pan into a terracotta dish.
  9. Serve with crusty bread to sop up all that garlic-oil deliciousness. #carbs

tapas restaurant style gambas al ajillo

There you have it, folks. In less than 10 steps, and WAY less than 10 ingredients, you’ve got the best tapa recipe in the world. So break out your tapas serving dishes (don’t have any? let us fix that!) and call up your friends. You could be rolling in the shrimp and the awesome conversation in less time than it takes to get one of those fancy, $12 cocktails at your local upscale watering hole. Seriously though. Since when does it take 20 minutes to get an old-fashioned?

Restaurant style tapas at home

Easy Tapas Recipe: Patatas Bravas (Spanish Potatoes with Sauce)

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

When it comes to summer entertaining, there’s nothing I love more than bringing together a bunch of good friends, whipping up a bunch of easy tapas recipes, and entertaining on my patio.  It’s the easiest, most relaxed way to throw a party, and let’s face it: summertime just calls for relaxed, chilled out fun. I’m SO inspired by super-awesome summertime tapas parties in fact, that we put together a tapas party serving set on the website.  Now everyone can enjoy one of my favorite summertime activities.

Patatas Bravas Recipe: How to make tapas

Now, unless you’ve been to Spain or to an awesome Spanish restaurant (or you watch a lot of the Food Network) you’re probably wondering: What are tapas and why are they awesome? Simply put, tapas are small bites of food, often served family style, meant to be shared, and straight-up perfect with a cold, refreshing drink.  They’re often foods that taste good hot, room temperature or even cold, so you can serve and forget all about them while you mingle and have a good time.   Plus, they’re tops with a glass of sangria, a cold beer, a glass of wine, or even a nice summery cocktail. And since they can be eaten with fingers, they’re pretty ideal for a party where you want to encourage mingling.

Delicious tapas: Patatas Bravas

So on to the cooking! This recipe for patatas bravas (sometimes called papas bravas) is one of my favorite tapas recipes ever. It’s a little nontraditional, but I’m totally fine with this spicy, flavorful update on a classic. Plus, since we’re sauteing the potatoes rather than deep frying, it’s a little lighter.  This hearty vegetarian tapas recipe (actually it’s a vegan recipe AND a Gluten Free Recipe) is one that will stun both meat eaters and herbivores with its simplicity and seriously bold, punchy flavors. So get your taste buds ready, folks. Let’s make some potatoes that’ll put a tapas restaurant to shame.  Spoiler alert: they’re really easy to make.  This recipe serves four easily, most likely 6. Of course, it makes for fantastic leftovers as well. Reheat in the oven with a fried egg for the best hangover breakfast ever!

Ingredients for gluten free vegan recipe


For Potatoes:

  • 3 lbs red skin potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon smoked Spanish Paprika
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 5 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp fresh parsley

For Sauce:

  • 3 ripe tomatoes (canned ok)
  • 1 cup roasted red peppers
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp smoked hot paprika
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar (or sherry vinegar)


  1. Pre-Cook the potatoes: Cut the potatoes into bite-sized pieces and place in a large pot of salted water. Bring to a boil and cook until cooked through. When potatoes are fork-tender, remove from heat, drain and allow to cool. Leave them alone while you make the sauce.
  2. Make the Sauce:  If you like the taste of raw garlic, keep the cloves raw. If not, saute the garlic cloves in the olive oil over medium low heat until tender.  Set garlic and oil aside.
  3. Add tomatoes (chopped or crushed,)  roasted peppers, salt, spices and vinegar to the carafe of your blender.  Pulse to blend.  Add garlic and oil and blend sauce until creamy.  Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Sometimes I add a little lemon juice.
  4. Saute the potatoes:  Heat oil and sliced garlic cloves in a pan and bring to medium high heat, stirring constantly so garlic doesn’t burn. When garlic is golden-brown and fragrant, remove it from the pan with a slotted spoon. Set on a paper towel and resist the urge to snack on the garlic chips.
  5. Add the paprika, garlic powder and salt to a small bowl. Toss to combine, then add the potatoes. Toss again, then put directly into the hot pan of oil.  Saute until the outsides of the potatoes are golden brown and crisp and the insides are warm, moving the potatoes occasionally so they don’t burn.
  6. Plate your food: Pour the potatoes into a couple of terracotta dishes (they’ll hold heat so the potatoes don’t get cold). Drizzle with that red-pepper/tomato sauce and garnish with parsley leaves.

Patatas Bravas Closeup

There: Told you it was easy. This recipe fits pretty perfectly in the large terracotta dish included in our Tapas for Two Tasting Set.  Sure, it may overflow a little, but we love that bountiful look.   Let us know in the comments: What’s your favorite tapas dish? What’s your favorite finger food? What’s your fave way to serve potatoes? Also share your photos with us on Instagram and Facebook with the hashtag #PacificMerchants. We’ll repost/share our favorites.Restaurant style tapas at home


May the tapas be with you.

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