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When we invited a handful of people over for happy hour at our place, it seemed like the perfect time to test drive Pure Vegan . Yowza. The title is dumb and the conceit (proud hedonist) discomfiting, but the recipes are aces.  We prepared five dishes from the book for this gathering, and every one was exceptional.

We also adapted a syrup from the blissfully useful Vegan Food Gifts  to make a pitcher of Raspberry Yerba Buenas (recipe way below). We took her treasured idea of premixed booze for gifts and applied it to parties. Not only does it simplify drink making once the party is underway, it also allows you to know in advance exactly how much liquor you're handing out, so you can budget your party to the penny.

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Top: Fig Paste (seriously next level--the flavor balance is nailed down tight), Right: Pear Chips (beautiful), Left: Chile Peanuts (we skimmed an 8-oz mason jar's worth of these off the top for a thank-you gift, even) 

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Left: Muhammara (gorgeous and kicky), Right: Vegetable Ceviche (MSV's pick for Official Summer Dish of 2013, but we subbed capers for the called-for olives). These were served with crudite and a stack of fresh tortillas (not pictured, but always highly recommended).

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Bright, beautiful, and refreshing at any warm-weather event. Or make the Raspberry-Ginger-Lime Tequila for a gift.

Raspberry Yerba Buena

Print the recipe 

syrup adapted from Vegan Food Gifts 

 For the Raspberry-Ginger-Lime Tequila:

1 heaping cup frozen (or fresh) raspberries

1 1/2 limes, sliced

1/3 cup ginger root, sliced

1 1/2 cups natural cane sugar (evaporated cane juice) 

1 1/2 cups water

1/4 cup, plus 2 TBSP lime juice

3 cups tequila blanco

 To serve


club soda

lime slices or wedges, for garnish

In a medium sauce pan combine the raspberries, lime slices, ginger, sugar, and water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 1 hour. Let cool completely.

Strain and discard the solids from the syrup, then combine the syrup with the lime juice and tequila.

To serve, crush a sprig of mint in the bottom of a serving glass with the back of a spoon. Top with ice, pour in 1/3 cup of the Raspberry-Ginger-Lime Tequila and 1/3 cup club soda. Garnish with lime and serve.