This post was created in partnership with MacKenzie-Childs. All opinions are our own.
Two weeks ago, we visited upstate New York. Thirty minutes north of Ithaca rests a charming town called Aurora with a population of just five hundred people. Filled with picturesque gardens and cute colonial houses, we enjoyed walking around the village, admiring the vibrant tulips and pink blossoming cherry trees that lined the sidewalks. We were invited by MacKenzie-Childs to tour their headquarters, meet the staff, and get a behind-the-scenes look into how they make their handmade products. This was an easy decision for us since we were already fans of the company, and the east coast is beautiful this time of year.
The historic E.B. Morgan House at the Inns of Aurora was our home for the week. Joined by five other lovely bloggers, Lauren, Ashley R, Allie, Rebekah, and Ashley A, we were treated to three days of fun activities, delicious locally-sourced food, and of course lots of wine. There was flower arranging (with champagne, naturally), clay forming, a mug painting class, a place setting activity, essential oil and tea blending, a guided wine tasting at Heart & Hands vineyards, and of course a full tour of the expansive grounds and gardens of MacKenzie-Childs. Their whimsical designs are colorful and inspired, and it was a treat to get a sneak peek into the facilities to see how their handcrafted products are manufactured.
It felt a little like visiting Willy Wonka’s factory, except we couldn’t eat what we were seeing. We learned about the multiple steps it takes to produce something as simple as a coffee mug, and it was fascinating to witness the process—and even participate in it! From the beginning stages in the molding room to the final firing in massive kilns, each area in the facility is dedicated to a specific task. One of the highlights of the property is the converted farmhouse where each room is entirely decorated in MacKenzie-Childs products. Everything from the psychedelic tiles on the floor to this mind-altering bar cabinet (WANT!) was playful and colorful, making it feel like we were walking through a life-sized dollhouse. It was an unforgettable week, we learned so much, and made some new friends along the way.
Feeling inspired from our recent trip, we created a cocktail based on the famous MacKenzie-Childs Courtly Check pattern. Simply made using equal parts gin, st. germain, aperol, fresh lemon juice, and an egg white, this refreshing citrusy drink is garnished with activated charcoal in an elegant checkered pattern. For those of you that have never tried using this unique ingredient before, please note that it has absolutely no flavor, and is only used here for its striking jet-black color. This smooth sipper is fruity and light, and will be the showstopper everyone will be “checking” out at this weekend’s Memorial Day parties.
Also, the Feedfeed invited us to take over their Instagram Stories to host a new monthly show, Happy Hour with Husbands that Cook! For the first episode, we show you how easy it is to make an Aurora Spring. Watch the video HERE, and join us as we tour our garden and recreate this delicious cocktail!
1 ounce (30ml) gin
1 ounce (30ml) aperol
1 ounce (30ml) lemon juice
1 ounce (30ml) St. Germain liqueur
1 egg white OR 1 ounce (30ml) aquafaba (see note)
activated charcoal, for garnish (see note)
edible flowers, for garnish
In a cocktail shaker, combine the gin, aperol, lemon juice, St. Germain, and egg white. Shake without ice for 15 seconds, then fill shaker with ice and shake for another 15 seconds. Strain into a cocktail glass and dust with activated charcoal to create the checkered effect (see below). Cheers!
— Activated charcoal is taken as a nutritional supplement, and can found in natural food stores and online. You can buy capsules, then carefully empty the powder into a small container to use as needed.
— To create the checkerboard garnish, first make a stencil: any thin piece of plastic will work—we used the lid of a clear plastic tub. First, use a ruler to draw a grid of lines on a piece of paper, making each square about 1/4-inch in size. Lay the lid on top and trace the lines onto the lid. Now carefully use an x-acto knife to cut out every other square, making a checkerboard of square holes. Prepare the cocktail and pour it into a serving glass. Rest the stencil just over the surface of the drink—not touching the foam, or the design will smear when lifting it off—and place some activated charcoal powder in a small fine-mesh strainer. Hold the strainer above the drink and tap it with your hand to dust the surface of the drink until blackened. Remove the stencil, revealing a checkerboard design on top of the foam.
— Aquafaba is the liquid from a can of garbanzo beans. It behaves the same way as an egg white when shaken, and will produce the same foamy top without adding any flavor whatsoever. Use 1 ounce of aquafaba to equal 1 egg white.