IN THE SPIRIT FEATURING: DAWN MCCOY

TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF:

I always say that I am a purveyor of joy. As a child, my mom always called me a Pollyanna because I tended to see the world through rose-colored glasses, but I simply know no other way to look at it. My goal is to bring joy into people's lives and to inspire them to live a life they love. I have big goals and big dreams, and love entertaining - whether it be hosting a tv show or podcast, emceeing a charity event or simply hosting an intimate game night with cocktails and tapas in my home.

CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT YOUR MOST RECENT PROJECTS?

I have a movie coming out on UPtv this holiday season - "Wedding Wonderland" and it is just the perfect holiday rom-com. And, my 40th birthday is coming up on November 30th so I feel like I'm basically celebrating all month long which is just a gift in itself! I'm also currently the Holiday Ambassador for the city of Beverly Hills, which is just a dream come true. Mayor Lili Bosse is a force of nature and inspires me every time I work with her.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE RECIPE YOU HAVE COME UP WITH USING AN AJC PRODUCT? WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION BEHIND IT? 

Ooh! I am loving the recipe I came up with this month for my birthday cocktail: "The Sparkling McCoy Mango Margarita!" With a little tequila, a little bubbly and the sweet-tart punch of American Juice Company's Herman Mangoville flavor, it is one tasty, tantalizing libation. While it's perfect for the upcoming holiday season, there are also a fun few ways you can jazz it up to be the ultimate birthday cocktail. I suggest dipping the rim of the margarita glass in buttercream frosting and rolling it in sprinkles for extra party pizazz. I am a fervent believer in celebrating birthdays to the fullest, and for me, that means that EVERYONE needs at least one birthday cake with candles for their birthday. And, why not add some birthday fun - and, frosting - to your birthday cocktail?

WHEN YOU ARE COMING UP WITH NEW DISHES OR DRINKS, DO YOU HAVE A SOURCE(S) FOR INSPIRATION?

My inspiration is always a combination of my answers to the following questions: What would I enjoy if I was one of my guests? What works with the theme of the event or meal? What whimsical, "unique-to-me" approach can I take with the recipe? Is there a sense of nostalgia I can give a nod to? I find nostalgia to be the most powerful feeling of all.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE RESTAURANT OR BAR, WHAT DAY OF THE WEEK DO YOU RECOMMEND IT, AND WHAT KIND OF EXPERIENCE CAN A VISITOR EXPECT?

Ooh! Just one? I can't. So here we go. In Los Angeles, I love Citizen Beverly Hills for hosting a party or group dinner with friends, Village Idiot for a casual Sunday one-on-one hang with one of my girlfriends or a date, and the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills for the best view of the city...and, Instagram opps, of course. I also love Officine Brera in the Arts District downtown. Quite honestly, 2 of my top 10 best meals have been there. In my hometown of Dallas, a Mi Cocina mambo taxi or frozen margarita is not to be missed. In my former town of Nashville where I was - fun fact! - a country singer for 4 years, you've gotta hit Lockeland Table for their community hour, Adele's for brunch and Five Daughters Bakery for the best donuts of your life. In my happy place - Palm Springs - I always make time for daily happy hour at Mr Lyons, late-night drinks at Seymours, the best breakfast of your life at Cheeky's and iconic, retro steak dinners that would make Frank Sinatra jealous at Melvyn's. And, speaking of Palm Springs, those fun, festive cupcakes you see featured in my recipe are from my favorite cake spot there, Over The Rainbow Desserts. Don't leave Palm Springs without hitting these places!

WHAT INFO ABOUT COCKTAILS DO MOST PEOPLE MAKING DRINKS AT HOME NOT KNOW THAT WOULD BE HELPFUL TO THEM?

Don't be afraid to be creative! As my dear friend in Nashville, Peter Cooper, always says, "Don't be tentative. EVER!!" If you get a "hit" of inspiration, as I call it, follow through with it and try it out. What's the worst thing that can happen? You have to pour something out and start again? No big deal. If you just commit to following your gut and your inspiration, and trust your tastebuds, there is an endless amount of magic that can come to life. Trust me on this. I've made a whole career and life out of believing - and, DOING - just that.

FAVORITE AJC FLAVOR?

ANYTHING ELSE YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE?

For more of my recipes and life adventures, follow me at @iamDawnMcCoy (my main lifestyle and loving-life account) and @DineAndDishWithDawn for all of my culinary adventures. I hope by living a life I love, I can inspire everyone out there to create - and, live - a life they love.

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