Your first thought for summer sipping probably isn’t a dark bourbon or a single malt scotch. Mix it the right way and your mind will change forever. From a kick of ginger to a squeeze of citrus, we have a few tricks up our sleeve to give whiskey its time in the spotlight this summer.

Whiskey doesn’t have to be sipped around a fire as a seasonal indulgence. Toss your coat in the closet and slip into something a little lighter, because these cocktail recipes are beach ready for your hot summer. Our team at Valley Smoke knows a thing or two about great whiskey and how to serve it. Here are a few of our favorites:

Block Party Bourbon Fishbowl

Nothing says summer like a strong cocktail with heavy notes of citrus and sweet fruit. Grab a group of friends and give this gallon-size cocktail a try on a sizzling day this season.

Ingredients:

5 Shots of Black Tea Bourbon

3 Oz Fresh Strawberry Simple Syrup

1 Oz Clover Honey Simple Syrup

3 Oz Key Lime Juice

5 Dashes of Bitters

Combine all of the ingredients in a fishbowl then stir in plenty of ice and the sliced citrus, strawberries and cherries. Garnish with halved strawberries, lemon slices and a few cherries. This serves four-to-six people, so proceed with caution!

Backwoods Bourbon Punch

This one’s courtesy of the pros behind the bar at Valley Smoke. Have a hankering for something fruity that still packs a punch? We’ve got ‘ya covered.

You need to find a good bourbon for this one — we use Old Forester 1897. Now, the proportions are top-secret but we can break down the components:

Ingredients:

1-2 Shots of Bourbon

Grapefruit Juice

Sweet Vermouth

Aperol

Mix ingredients together and garnish with a slice of orange and a booze-soaked cherry. Voila! You’ve got yourself a top-shelf cocktail recipe. Grab a seat around the Whiskey Bar at Valley Smoke for a taste of the real deal.

Jacksonville Julep

Skip the races and head to the St. Johns River instead. We love sipping this version of the classic Mint Julep on a boat in the middle of the water.

Ingredients:

2 Shots of Bourbon

.5 Oz Coconut Lime Simple Syrup

Sprigs of Mint

Crushed Ice

Muddle five mint leaves and simple syrup in a julep cup (an old fashioned glass will work just fine in a pinch). Fill the glass to the brim with ice and pour in the bourbon. Stir. Garnish with mint and a slice of lime.

Swing into Valley Smoke for Waterfront Sunset Cocktails

The team behind the bar at Valley Smoke really knows their stuff. From the perfect pour of Prosecco to the unrivaled Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (another Valley Smoke bourbon staple), you can’t go wrong with summer sipping on the Intracoastal.

Want to grab dinner while you’re here? Make a reservation to ensure a table with a view. We can’t wait to see you!

The BBQ pit crew over here on Roscoe knows allll about the perfect grilled meats and veggies to try out each season. What you’d eat when it’s cold and rainy outside is often very different than what you’re in the mood for on a sizzling hot day in Florida. We’re here to talk about the best foods to throw on your grill this summer and a few Valley Smoke favorites you’ll have to stop by and try. (more…)

Now that Halloween’s over, it’s finally time to think about Thanksgiving, everyone’s favorite holiday! Whether you celebrate with family or friends, begin your day with a marathon, parade or snuggled in bed, it’s important to focus on what’s really important and leave the stress of meal planning to us. These side dishes are the perfect accompaniment to grandma’s traditional turkey, will impress the in-laws and are super easy to bring to your best friend’s potluck.

 

Creamy Baked Mac ‘N’ Cheese

Mac ‘n’ cheese never lasts that long, but this recipe is going to blow your mind! In a food processor or blender, combine one cup cottage cheese, two cups milk, one tsp dry mustard, a pinch or two of cayenne (depending on how spicy you like it), grated nutmeg, salt and pepper. Combine cheese mixture with 1/2 pound uncooked macaroni and close to a pound of grated cheddar cheese (save 1/4 cup of the pound for topping) and add to a buttered baking dish. Bake for 30 min at 375° then top with butter and the 1/4 cup of leftover cheese. Bake for another 30 minutes.

 

Not in the mood to prepare mac and cheese for your big group? No problem. We make the best dang mac ‘n’ cheese this side of the Mississippi…but we may be biased. Order a pint or two for your Thanksgiving dinner and find out for yourself.

 

Sweet Potato Casserole

The best part of Thanksgiving is that calories don’t count (just go with it), so we know you’ll come back for seconds of this sweet potato casserole. In a large bowl mix four cups of mashed sweet potatoes,1/2 cup white sugar, two eggs, 1/2 teaspoon salt, four tbsp butter, 1/2 cup of milk and 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract. Once smooth, move to a 9×13 baking dish. In a separate bowl, mix 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/3 cup flour, three tbsp butter and 1/2 cup chopped pecans and sprinkle on top of the sweet potato mixture. Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes.

 

Cranberry Sauce

We fully believe this slow cooker cranberry sauce will beat all others and have you drizzling it all over the turkey, potatoes and everything else on your plate. Nobody has to know you made it in a slow cooker, either! Serve it in a beautiful crystal bowl and your guests will think you’ve been working on it all day. In your slow cooker, combine 1/2 cup orange juice, 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup white sugar, 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon and 12 ounces of fresh cranberries. Cook on low for three hours, then bump the temperature up to high for another 45 minutes. Don’t forget to stir the mixture once every hour.

 

Green Bean Casserole

This classic recipe is nearly impossible to mess up, can be made ahead of time and travels great in a casserole dish. All you need is a can of cream of mushroom Soup, 3/4 cup of milk, a pinch of black pepper, two cans of drained green beans and one 1/3 cups of crispy fried onions. Mix the soup, milk and pepper in a 1.5-quart baking dish and then stir in the beans and 2/3 cup of the crispy fried onions. Bake at 350° for 30 min, top with the remaining onions and bake five more minutes, or until onions are golden.

 

No matter how you celebrate this year, these dishes are sure to knock it out of the park. Hey, you might even get off the hook for cleaning duties! One of the best things about celebrating Thanksgiving in the south is the variety of dishes and the ability to stray away from the traditional. Happy Thanksgiving from the Valley Smoke family!

 

Pickles add a certain tang to any dish and we can’t get enough of them! We make our pickles in-house and they add the best flavor to all of our meals that come from the pit. There are so many things you can do with pickles. You can enjoy pickles with a plate of fall-off-the-bone meat or simply blend them into a relish. The options are endless, but we have a few favorite ways to incorporate sweet and spicy pickles into your next meal:

Pickle Relish

There’s nothing like tailgate food during this football season (can we get a #DUUUVAL?!) What’s better than a hot dog on a Sunday before watching the Jags play? A hot dog with pickle relish before the game. It’s delicious and super easy to make. All you need is a jar of your favorite pickles, chopped onion, a pinch of sugar and your favorite mustard. Simply, throw the pickles and onions in a food processor until they’re finely chopped, then add in the sugar and mustard. Stir them all together, then you can store your homemade relish up to a week!

Dill Cheese Ball

We love cheese almost as much as we love pickles, which is a lot. Put them together and you’ve got a match made in heaven. This recipe is perfect for any and all cheese boards, whether it’s for a holiday party, tailgate or just because it’s a Thursday and you need a pick-me-up. It’s an easy recipe that you can enjoy any time, for this recipe you’ll need cream cheese, dill pickle relish, finely chopped onion, cheddar cheese, worcestershire sauce, mayonnaise and fresh parsley. All you need to do is combine all of the ingredients, excluding the parsley, until smooth. Then form into a ball, refrigerate and then serve and sprinkle parsley on top. So easy that you can make it for any occasion, big or small!

Cuban Sliders

Here in Florida, we’re familiar with delicious Cuban food, thanks to our neighbors south of the equator. The popular Cuban sandwich is well-known for its ham, mustard and pickles, of course! We have a special spin on the traditional Cuban – we make them into sliders. Pick out your favorite roll bread, thinly sliced ham (the good stuff…cold cuts have no place on a good Cuban), a tangy mustard, the best pickles you can find and some swiss cheese. Throw them all together and you’ve got a kickin’ Cuban slider that highlights your favorite pickles.

You’ll never go wrong with pickles: sweet, tangy or spicy. There are so many reasons to celebrate this Fall, whether it’s for football, holidays or a big life event. You have the best pickle recipes to please any crowd. If you want to see how we treat our pickles, stop by and order the best meat from the grill you’ve ever had. We’ll add some pickles on the plate to take your meal to the next level. We can’t wait to see you at Valley Smoke this Fall!

At Valley Smoke, we specialize in two things: bourbon and BBQ, so you could say we know a thing or two about a tasty BBQ sauce! Let us be your guide into the world of sauces. There are many different styles of barbeque that come from different regions of the United States. From the Carolinas to Texas to Kansas, the meat cuts and sauces vary to create very unique forms of ‘que. Let the experts (us) school you in the main BBQ sauces:

 

Vinegar Based

Vinegar based sauce is a staple in the world of barbeque. It’s acidic flavor was adopted in traditional Carolina BBQ but has made its way all around the United States. Unlike other ‘que styles, vinegar based sauce doesn’t call for tomato in the recipe. Rather, they rely on vinegar (usually cider) with a combination of other spices. Spices typically found in this type of sauce include cayenne, black pepper, hot sauce, crushed red pepper or salt. The amount of each spice added depends on how spicy you want the spice to turn out. At Valley Smoke, we have two vinegar based sauces, one with red peppers and one without. The one with red peppers is a hit for those who like a kick to their ‘que. The one without is a go-to for those who don’t enjoy a the heat with their barbeque.

 

Sweet & Smoky

What’s better than some thick, sweet sauce on barbeque that’s been cooked to perfection? We’ve yet to find an answer. Sweet and smoky sauce originated in Kansas City, Missouri and has since become an American original, you can find it in almost any BBQ restaurant. Some Mcdonald’s in Missouri actually provide sweet and smoky as a regular sauce option! It’s typical base of molasses and ketchup has a flavor some people just can’t resist. Other ingredients usually consist of Worcestershire, brown sugar, vinegar and soy sauce. Here at Valley Smoke, we offer a standard molasses based sauce for those who love sweet BBQ and one with red pepper for those who love a sweet and tangy profile.

 

Mustard Based

Mustard based sauce is a delicious creation we can thank the people of South Carolina for! If you love a tangy flavor, this is probably the sauce you reach for when eating BBQ. Mustard-based sauce is usually thinned with vinegar and spiced with a zingy flavor to perfectly dress any pork cuts. Valley Smoke offers two different types of mustard based sauces. One is called the three mustard, made with three different types of mustard (hints the name). The other is a spicy mustard based sauce for our tangy and heat lovin’ customers.

 

At Valley Smoke, we take barbeque pretty seriously. We believe sauce should be created with only the best and freshest ingredients, which is why we homemake all out sauces. Come see us at Valley Smoke in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida and we’d be more than happy to let you sample all our sauces over a few craft cocktails and some tasty ‘que. Call or click here to make reservations today!