Carolyn Pascual White has always had a natural flair for making cocktails. “[My friends and family] always asked me to come up with cocktails for things like wedding events or baby showers. It’s never something I’ve done professionally – I’ve never even worked at a bar – but I’ve always had a personal interest in cocktails.”
So it’s no surprise that, in 2018, Pascual White pursued her calling when she started The Social Sipper, a blog focusing on fresh and delicious drinks that anyone can make at home with minimal ingredients. “I started it as a creative outlet – a way to share the creations I made at home,” says the San Diego-based blogger. “Cocktails are kind of like art, and I like to think of mixing and presenting a good drink as creating an experience.”
A food stylist by trade, Pascual White knows a thing or two about creating dining experiences. Together with husband Travis, a professional photographer, the pair take beautiful, scroll-stopping photos that have earned them a sizable, loyal following on social media. “Our audience is mostly people just like me. They aren’t bartenders; they just want to make a good cocktail at home, so we keep it simple.”
Inspired by her travels, seasonal produce, and ingredients readily found in her local supermarket, Pascual White has developed and perfected a library of tantalizing libations over the past three years. Her signature style? Sticking to time-tested classics – think sours, fizzes, and spritzes – with an unconventional twist that’s easy to pull off. In her recipe collection, you’ll find ambrosial concoctions like a Coconut Water Gimlet or Turmeric Pina Colada.
Since the pandemic began, Pascual White says she’s noticed more people have shown an interest in making cocktails and food photography. To get that perfect image, she recommends setting up the shot in natural light with a pretty garnish and one or two raw ingredients, and using your phone’s camera settings to capture as much detail as possible – using your fingertips on the screen to zoom in is a strict no-no.
And when it comes to home bar essentials, Pascual White shares four go-to’s that every cocktail enthusiast should have on hand:
1. A Trusty Muddler
“You can definitely get away with making cocktails at home without tons of fancy equipment, but I always have a muddler,” says Pascual White, adding that a wooden spoon can work in a pinch. Most of her recipes call for this handy tool, which is used to mash fresh fruits, herbs and spices to release flavour, aroma and colour in the bottom of a glass before you add any liquids.
2. A Jigger
It’s easy to overdo it when you’re getting started. Pascual White advises being pragmatic and heading off a potential hangover by keeping an eye on your pours with a jigger. Or simply a measuring cup or spoon – any reliable measuring tool. “It’s just so much safer and gets your recipes closer to where you want them to be!”
3. Gorgeous Garnishes
Adding a final touch – even something simple like an orange slice – enhances your drink of choice, adds Pascual White. Her go-to garnish? “I love edible flowers! I use them all the time because they just elevate the whole presentation,” she says, listing pansies, marigolds and chamomile flowers as three of her favourites.
4. Showstopping Glassware
“I definitely think that we eat and drink with our eyes first,” insists Pascual White. “Even the prettiest cocktail isn’t going to taste as good if you serve it in your everyday water cups. So upgrading your glassware helps to bring your drinks to the next level.”
These days, she’s partial to BOMSHBEE’s Chandelier glassware. “I love that it has so many unique details – it’s like a showpiece in and of itself. When you have glassware that’s this interesting, half the work is already done because the presentation is so on point!”
This week, try shaking things up in your home with Pascual White’s easy-to-make (and drink!) Mezcal Passionfruit Cocktail recipe, that’s just the right blend of sweet, smokey and citrus.
The Drink: Mezcal Passion Fruit Cocktail by The Social Sipper
- 2 oz mezcal (or 1 oz mezcal and 1 oz tequila)
- Juice and pulp from 1 large passion fruit
- 1 oz fresh lime juice
- 1/2 oz agave
- Garnish: lime wheel, passion fruit and pineapple frond
- Add mezcal, passion fruit, lime juice and agave to a cocktail shaker with ice and shake until chilled.
- Strain into a cocktail glass over crushed ice.
- Garnish with a lime wheel, passion fruit and a pineapple frond. Enjoy!