Midnight Mai Tai

I mean, what better way to celebrate a Friday the 13th in October?

This Midnight Mai Tai features a spooky twist on the classic tiki drink with the addition of activated charcoal.

If you know me, you know I’m not the superstitious type, but when a Friday the 13th also happens to fall within the spookiest month of the year, I feel it’s only appropriate that we celebrate with a dark-as-night Midnight Mai Tai. You feel me?


But before we get to the recipe, I want to take a minute to send out thoughts and prayers to all my dear friends in Napa and Sonoma Counties who have been quite literally living in their own type of apocalypse this past week.

As you may know, I lived in Napa for three years before moving to Santa Barbara, and I can say with confidence that I made the best group of friends and had the strongest sense of community living there than any other city I’ve lived in in my life. It’s a small town with a big reputation, but everyone supports each other and lifts each other up.

While most of my friends are currently safe, I am sad to say that my dear friends from college lost their home in Santa Rosa. They’re estimating that their house burned down only 10 minutes after they were able to get out with what mattered most – themselves and their three little boys.

We also have a good friend who is a firefighter up there, taking on the daunting task of getting these fires under control, and we are praying for his safety and courage every day.

It’s a very sad time for many who I still call my closest friends, and I feel helpless being so far away and somewhat limited in what I can do, seeing as we could be welcoming our baby girl into the world any day now. Nevertheless, we’re finding ways to help, and if you’re interested in doing so as well, please feel free to reach out and I will steer you in the right direction.

A Midnight Mai Tai is the perfect spooky cocktail to kick off the weekend.

With all that being said, I’m sharing this Midnight Mai Tai recipe with the hopes of providing a small bit of fun distraction amongst a barrage of unsettling news. It’s also my hope that, by the time Halloween rolls around, my friends’ worlds will have returned (as much as possible) to normal and they’ll be ready to enjoy a festive cocktail or two.

Activated charcoal has become one of my new favorite ingredients, especially during the month of October when inky black foods are hip and on-trend, for quite some time now. In fact, last October I shared this recipe for a Total Eclipse cocktail, which is still one of my favorites today. I also have a fun dessert to share with you later this month that gets a Halloween-esque hue from the popular new superfood. How fun is that?

So this year for my annual activated charcoal cocktail, I decided to put a spooky spin on the classic Mai Tai. I love a good Mai Tai, and it is certainly my drink of choice whenever I’m in Hawaii or visiting another tropical locale. That being said, I didn’t want to mess with the classic recipe too much.

Midnight Mai Tais use activated charcoal to give them their inky black color, perfect for Halloween!

In this Midnight Mai Tai recipe, you’ll find the requisite rum, orange curacao, lime juice and orgeat, but then you’ll add just a smidge of activated charcoal (which you can easily find on Amazon) to give it that jet-black color that makes it so fun.

So no, this isn’t a complicated recipe, but right now I think it’s just what we need to kick off what will hopefully be a relaxing weekend. We’re hoping to hit up our local Harbor & Seafood Festival and maybe a pumpkin patch to get in the Halloween spirit before baby comes. We’re trying to get in as much quality time as possible before we’re a busy family of three!

Midnight Mai Tais are the perfect cocktail for Halloween!

I hope you have a wonderful weekend as well and, remember, if you’re looking for ways to help those affected by the fires up north in Wine Country, leave me a comment below!

A Midnight Mai Tai is the perfect spooky cocktail to kick off the weekend.
Print
Midnight Mai Tai
Prep Time
5 mins
 

This spooky take on the classic tiki drink uses activated charcoal to achieve a rich, inky black color. The perfect cocktail for Halloween!

Course: Drinks
Servings: 1 cocktail
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 2 ounces dark rum
  • 3/4 ounce orange curacao
  • 1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 ounce orgeat
  • 1/4 teaspoon activated charcoal
  • Pineapple wedge and cocktail umbrella, to garnish
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake to combine. 

  2. Strain ingredients into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice. 

  3. Garnish with a pineapple wedge and cocktail umbrella and enjoy!

Midnight Mai Tai | CaliGirlCooking.com

Apple Cinnamon “Faux-mosa”

Because when one can’t enjoy a mimosa, you might as well enjoy a fall-themed “faux-mosa!”

These Apple Cinnamon "Faux-mosas" are the perfect mocktail for fall.

Yes, I’m counting down the days until I can consume the real deal again, but until then I’ll have to say I’ve been pretty darn good at coming up with tasty alternatives – like this Apple Cinnamon “Faux-mosa!”


It may be because this season is always met with so much anticipation, but it seems like every year once September or October rolls around I get the urge to make some sort of fall-themed mimosa. In fact, this exact same week last year I made this delicious Harvest Mimosa featuring pear, apple AND brandy, and you can bet it’s one of the first things on my list to make once Baby D arrives in just a few short weeks!

So here’s the deal with this Apple Cinnamon “Faux-mosa”: My primary complaint about most virgin mimosa recipes is they either taste (a) too sweet from an overload of juices (both sparkling and still) or (b) the sweetness problem is overcompensated by using club soda to add bubbles, but then the drink tastes incredibly watered down.

Well, I’m proud to say this Apple Cinnamon “Faux-mosa” solves both those problems!

An Apple Cinnamon "Faux-mosa" with tons of flavor - and perfectly acceptable for breakfast!

It took a bit of trial and error, but I tasted through a couple of brands of sparkling apple cider and found one that isn’t too sweet. I’m sorry to say that I didn’t write down the brand and discarded the bottle, but I highly suggest you make your own decision on this anyhow as the perfect “faux-mosa” is largely a matter of personal taste anyway.

You’ll also be adding some still apple cider on top of the sparkling apple juice, which tends to be a bit more concentrated. Plus, if you get your hands on a high-quality brand such as Trader Joe’s Honeycrisp Apple Cider, you’ll get tons more flavor in every sip.

Finally, an Apple Cinnamon “Faux-mosa” just wouldn’t be a “faux-mosa” without a hint of orange juice. I mean, we need to make this drink acceptable for breakfast, don’t we?

Looking for a festive fall-themed nonalcoholic drink? These Apple Cinnamon "Faux-mosas" are the answer!

I don’t know what your plans are for this weekend, but we have some big ones (shhhh….it’s a surprise – I’ll fill you all in on Monday!) so some Apple Cinnamon “Faux-mosas” are definitely in my very near future.

Cheers to a relaxing weekend that I hope is filled with all the fall-themed things!

These Apple Cinnamon "Faux-mosas" are the perfect mocktail for fall.
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Apple Cinnamon "Faux-mosa"
Prep Time
5 mins
 

This virgin take on the mimosa features tons of apple-cinnamon flavor - perfect for kids, drinkers and non-drinkers alike!

Servings: 1 drink
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 4 ounces sparkling apple cider
  • 2 ounces apple cider
  • 1/2 ounce fresh orange juice
  • Dash of ground cinnamon
  • Apple slice, for garnish
Instructions
  1. Pour both apple ciders and orange juice into a champagne flute. Top with a dash of cinnamon and garnish with an apple slice.

Virgin Raspberry Mojitos

Who’s ready for a drink??

Virgin Raspberry Mojitos are a quick and easy, refreshing way to kick off the weekend.

Meeeee!! Oh my goodness, yes please. This has been a long week and I am so ready to kick my feet up and relax (well, as much as possible with all the fam in town) with a Virgin Raspberry Mojito in hand for the next couple of days.


Not only has it been a crazy one workwise this week with me trying to get things prepped and ready for maternity leave, but our precious little fur baby was fixed on Tuesday so we’ve been playing nurse to her and trying to keep her as calm as possible the past few days. Not an easy feat with a 6-month-old golden retriever!

On top of all that excitement, my parents came into town yesterday and my hubs’ parents get here today, so we’ve been hustling trying to get our house (and lives) organized to host them all and be able to spend some quality time with them.

But enough about me, let’s talk about these Virgin Raspberry Mojitos that have become one of my absolute favorite non-alcoholic beverages to enjoy both at home (thanks to this super-easy recipe) and as a special treat at restaurants whenever we go out to eat.

A Virgin Raspberry Mojito is the perfect mocktail - not too sweet and very refreshing!

I love virgin mojitos because they are refreshing and tasty without being overly sweet. I’ve mentioned it before and I’ll mention it again, I’ve noticed I’ve been extremely sensitive to sugary drinks during this pregnancy, so I would much rather enjoy something like a mojito – with that hit of fresh mint and some acidity from fresh lime juice – than some fruity, blended concoction that’s sure to leave me with a headache minutes later.

For these Virgin Raspberry Mojitos, the only added sugar I used was a little bit of simple syrup to just give a slight balance to the fresh, tart muddled raspberries and sour lime juice. Other than that, you’ll just need some fresh mint and soda water. That’s it!

You’ll muddle the fresh raspberries in a cocktail shaker with the mint, simple syrup and lime juice, shake it up real good, dump it into a glass and top with the club soda. Ready in a flash.

These Virgin Raspberry Mojitos taste as good as they look!

This drink is really unbelievably tasty for how easy it is, so if I were you I’d whip it up just in time to celebrate the weekend. And if you feel like jazzing things up with a little booze, I wouldn’t be one bit upset if you decided to throw in some of the classic white rum.

So what are YOUR plans for the weekend? Does it feel like fall yet where you are or are you in the middle of a late-September heat wave like we are here in Southern California? No matter what the weather’s like, I hope you make time to whip up a Virgin Raspberry Mojito or two!

A Virgin Raspberry Mojito ready to be enjoyed.

Virgin Raspberry Mojitos are a quick and easy, refreshing way to kick off the weekend.
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Virgin Raspberry Mojitos
Prep Time
5 mins
 

These tasty mocktails strike the perfect balance between sweet, sour and refreshing with loads of fresh raspberries and mint. Add rum to make it boozy!

Course: Drinks
Servings: 2 cocktails
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup fresh raspberries
  • 14 fresh mint leaves, plus additional sprigs for garnish
  • 2 ounces simple syrup
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • Club soda, to top
Instructions
  1. Muddle the raspberries, mint leaves, simple syrup and lime juice in the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Top with ice and shake vigorously for 20 seconds. 

  2. Divide shaker’s contents into two glasses, add more ice if necessary and top each with club soda.

  3. Garnish with fresh mint sprigs and enjoy!

Virgin Raspberry Mojitos | CaliGirlCooking.com

Citrus, Pomegranate and Cherry Kombucha Punch

It’s been far too long since I’ve brought out the ‘booch.

This Citrus, Pomegranate and Cherry Kombucha Punch is the perfect non-alcoholic batch drink to serve a crowd during the holidays.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still as in love with it as ever, but I was told by my OB that I should be careful about consuming kombucha while pregnant (which is slightly odd seeing as I have other friends whose docs told them it was good for them) but I just couldn’t help myself with this Citrus, Pomegranate and Cherry Kombucha Punch!


When you can’t consume alcohol, you’ve got to get creative with how you enjoy your festive beverages. As a die-hard bubbles lover, I’m the first to use a delicious sparkling wine as my punch base when I’m not pregnant (case in point: this Sparkling Pomegranate Party Punch I made last year) so naturally I was looking for something that would be a suitable substitute, at least for the next 5 weeks or so.

[Side note: I can’t believe we’re only five-ish weeks away from meeting our little girl!]

Because these days I seem to be getting “sugar headaches” if I consume too much overly sweetened juice, I wanted something that had minimal added sugar. I also wanted some bubbles – because we’ve got to keep things festive somehow! A citrus-y kombucha seemed just the answer.

Citrus, Pomegranate and Cherry Kombucha Punch is the perfect batch mocktail for the holiday season.

I decided to keep with the new season (hello, fall!) by using some of its star produce. While cherries may be on their way out, pomegranates are most certainly on their way in, as are all the citrus fruits. So into my base of citrus kombucha went equal parts pomegranate and cherry juices (which you can find at any Trader Joe’s) and then, to keep my Citrus, Pomegranate and Cherry Kombucha Punch not too basic, I added just a touch of orgeat to add a little extra dimension of flavor.

[Second side note: Orgeat has become a huge favorite mocktail ingredient for me and I highly recommend that you add some to your home bar arsenal ASAP.]

Once you have all the ingredients on hand, your Citrus, Pomegranate and Cherry Kombucha Punch will come together in a snap, which means it’s the perfect batch mocktail to whip up this weekend.

A glass of Citrus, Pomegranate and Cherry Kombucha Punch is the perfect way to kick off the first weekend of fall.

Speaking of which, what are your plans? We have a few birthday parties to attend, but otherwise we’ll be relaxing, watching football, putting together baby stuff and packing our “go” bags for the hospital!

No matter what mischief you’re getting into, I hope you make this Citrus, Pomegranate and Cherry Kombucha Punch a part of it!

Cheers to the weekend with a glass of Citrus, Pomegranate and Cherry Kombucha Punch!

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This Citrus, Pomegranate and Cherry Kombucha Punch is the perfect non-alcoholic batch drink to serve a crowd during the holidays.
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Citrus, Pomegranate and Cherry Kombucha Punch
Prep Time
5 mins
 

This festive punch is full of seasonal flavor and gets a non-alcoholic kick from citrus kombucha. The perfect drink for children and adults alike!

Course: Drinks
Servings: 1 drink
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 4 ounces orange- or tangerine-flavored kombucha
  • 2 ounces pomegranate juice
  • 2 ounces cherry juice
  • 1/2 ounce orgeat
  • Thin orange wedge or wheels, for garnish
Instructions
  1. Fill a tallboy glass with ice.

  2. Add kombucha, pomegranate juice, cherry juice and orgeat and give a little stir.

  3. Garnish with orange wedges or wheels and enjoy!

Citrus, Pomegranate and Cherry Kombucha Punch | CaliGirlCooking.com

From-Scratch Slow Cooker Spiced Apple Cider

We’re not going to miss out on any of the fall foods this year!

From-Scratch Slow Cooker Spiced Apple Cider is the perfect drink to take us into fall!

With all of the excitement of pumpkin spice season, I feel like we often forget some of the other amazing produce that really shines this time of year. Yes, squash are plentiful, but let’s not forget about persimmons, pomegranates, Brussels sprouts and, of course APPLES!


Since I feel it’s just a tad too early for all the pumpkin (but don’t worry, it’s coming soon!) I wanted to take advantage of what I feel is a true September fruit and share this delish From-Scratch Slow Cooked Spiced Apple Cider today!

To be honest, I’d never ventured into the homemade apple cider realm before, but since I’m firmly on the wagon this September, I decided now was a better time than any to try my hand at a tasty non-alcoholic sipper. I love a good apple cider (and, let’s be real, I love it even more when I can spike it with some bourbon), but sometimes the store-bought stuff can get a bit too sweet for me.

A warm glass of From-Scratch Slow Cooker Spiced Apple Cider is all you need on a cool fall day.

In fact, ever since I’ve been pregnant, I’ve noticed I’m much more sensitive to overly sugary drinks. If I have more than one glass of juice or other sweetened beverage, I get a massive headache not unlike you’d get from an actual alcohol hangover. I guess that goes to show that my body doesn’t like too much of anything! Balance my friends, balance.

As I was browsing through homemade apple cider recipes online, I came across a bunch of variations and ultimately decided on a combination that I felt would be uniquely “me.” While I omitted any sort of added sugar (maple syrup, brown sugar, honey, etc.) that other recipes included, I also included what could be called the “secret ingredient” in my homemade boilo hot toddy I make every winter – caraway seeds! Of course, that would be in addition to the requisite cinnamon sticks and cloves. The result was so deliciously spiced and NOT overly sweet, I immediately fell in love!

So here’s the deal on this super-easy From-Scratch Slow Cooker Spiced Apple Cider:

I used Gala apples because I felt they have a good balance of sweetness and acidity, but you could really use any variety you prefer. If you like things more sour, go for the green apples. If you like things more mellow, go for the red ones, or try a combination of a few different varieties to get a truly unique flavor.

An orange is added for a little extra dimension, and of course the whole spices mentioned above – caraway seeds, cinnamon sticks and cloves. The chunks don’t matter because we’re straining it all out in the end anyhow.

As far as the process goes, our use of the slow cooker means things couldn’t be easier. We simply throw all of the ingredients in together with some high-quality H2O, set it and forget it. I cooked mine on low for 7 hours, but the other great thing about this recipe is it won’t really hurt to leave it in there a little bit longer. Basically, we can start the slow cooker before bed and wake up to delicious hot apple cider, or we can get everything organized in the morning and have a huge batch of apple cider ready to be spiked up a bit for an after-dinner drink 😉

From-Scratch Slow Cooker Spiced Apple Cider is garnished with fresh apple slices and whole cinnamon sticks.

And if you happen to like your cider a bit on the sweeter side, simply add some maple syrup or honey to taste after you strain all the solids out after the cooking process is done.

Bet you didn’t think a tasty batch of From-Scratch Slow Cooker Spiced Apple Cider was that easy to whip up, did you?

Delicious From-Scratch Slow Cooker Spiced Apple Cider ready to be consumed with or without bourbon.

Happy Friday, friends! I hope you have a great weekend! Xx

From-Scratch Slow Cooker Spiced Apple Cider is the perfect drink to take us into fall!
Print
From-Scratch Slow Cooker Spiced Apple Cider
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
7 hr
Total Time
7 hr 5 mins
 

A not-too-sweet homemade version of a favorite fall drink, full of mouthwatering spices and fresh apple flavor and ready in just a few hours.

Course: Drinks
Servings: 6 servings
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 8-10 medium Gala apples, cored and sliced, plus more for garnish
  • 1 orange, cut into wedges
  • 1 tablespoon caraway seeds
  • 3 whole cinnamon sticks, plus more for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon whole cloves
  • 10 cups filtered water
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker. Cook on low for 7 hours.

  2. Strain solids from mixture using a sieve (or cheesecloth) and into a large pitcher. Add more sliced apples and cinnamon sticks. Serve warm (and add bourbon if you want to booze it up!)

From-Scratch Slow Cooker Spiced Apple Cider | CaliGirlCooking.com