July is a time to bask in the sun and enjoy a great cocktail outdoors. We thought it would be fun to send local blogger Stephany Wieland out on the town to check out some of the cool drinks St. Croix Valley bartenders are stirring up this season.
Wieland was among five finalists in a 2014 international cocktail competition hosted by British TV chef Jamie Oliver. Not a mixologist by trade, the mother of two is a 911 dispatcher, wedding photographer and recurring guest on Twin Cities Live on KSTP-TV.
Stephany’s Blackberry Limoncello
Makes about 4 cups
- 2 ½ cups vodka
- 6 large organic lemons, peeled and juiced
- 1 6-oz. package fresh organic blackberries
- 1 cup water
- 1 ½ cups sugar
Make sure all lemons are scrubbed under hot water and soap with a brush. Peel lemons with peeler carefully. Try to only peel off the skin without removing the white pith underneath. It is very bitter and will make the liqueur taste bitter as well. Put peels in a large glass container with the vodka. Set aside.
Juice the lemons. You will get around 2 cups of juice.
Next, make the simple syrup. Add 1 cup water, 1 ½ cups sugar, the blackberries and the lemon juice to a medium saucepan. Place over a high heat, and bring to a boil, stirring once in a while for 4-5 minutes. Let syrup cool to room temperature, then add to the vodka, berries included.
Let mixture sit for at least 48 hours in a cool, dark place. (Letting it sit for three days is ideal.) When you’re ready to serve, strain out the lemon peels and blackberries and store in the freezer. Serve over ice, with soda or champagne. It’s fantastic with San Pellegrino lemon or blood orange soda.
Q: When did you begin your blog, Making it with Stephany?
A: March 2014. I basically wanted to make fun how-to videos that help people make interesting things. For example, I did a cooking episode on how to make an Indian dish that is super easy and delicious. I like to be fun and a little bit cheeky, while also being educational and entertaining.
Q: Is it all about cooking and cocktails?
A: No, it’s really about lifestyle. There’s an episode where I got a tattoo at Anchor’s End Tattoo in Hudson. I’m not a total punk rocker, but I do have a bunch of tattoos, and I wanted to show people that [getting a tattoo] is not scary.
Q: And you’re also a recurring guest on Twin Cities Live.
A: Yes, I’m on once a month, talking about food and décor or mixing up cocktails. I’m not a bartender, which is funny, but I enjoy making improvements on standard cocktails or making things taste good.
Q: What made you decide to enter Jamie Oliver’s contest?
A: It really was a fluke. I came across it online, and I saw they were doing a video contest on how to make a cocktail. I had only done one for my blog at that point, a kiddy cocktail, so I submitted that. I found out that I was the only semifinalist from Minnesota, and only one of three women. Then I had to make a second video for the top five, so I created a new cocktail that was up for international judging.
Q: What did you make in the second video?
A: It was a peach piña colada. The contest was sponsored by Bacardi rum, and there was a short list of alcohol I had to use. I’m not much of a piña colada fan, so I wanted to make something that I would enjoy drinking. I used a lot of fresh fruit, an organic pineapple-coconut juice, delicious dark rum and peaches.
Q: What inspired the blackberry limoncello recipe that you created for St. Croix Valley Magazine?
A: I made a Valentine’s Day blood orange limoncello for Twin Cities Live. I had always wanted to make limoncello, but I had read that it was a huge project. I came across some recipes where you could make limoncello within a few days, so I wanted to give it a try while using blood oranges as something new. It turned out so well, I thought a blackberry version would be perfect for summer.
Q: What do you look for in a great summer cocktail?
A: Something that you can imagine yourself sitting [with] outside, talking to friends. A drink that tastes good, but also quenches your thirst. Summertime in a glass.
@ Learn more about Stephany Wieland at eyespyweddings.com or makingitwithstephany.com.