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Archive for Cocktails & Spirits

RECIPES: Halloween Cocktail Party

No plans for Halloween? You can still invite the gang for a Halloween cocktail party with these special cocktails:

There’s still time to invite friends to a Halloween cocktail party—costumes optional. Create your cocktail menu from these cocktail recipes:

  • Bloody Eyeball Martini
  • Bloody Vampire Martini
  • Brandy-Based Cocktails
  • Drunken Pumpkin Pie
  • Candy Corn Cocktail
  • Gin-Based Cocktails: Bloody Scream, Satan’s Whiskers, Swamp Demon, Witch’s Brew
  • Harvest Moon Cocktail
  • Kahlúa-Based Cocktails
  • Pumpkin Divine Martini
  • Smoking Blood Orange Mimosa
  • Spider Bite With Frangelico, dripping with “blood”
  • Vampire Cocktail With Fangs
  • Vodka-Based Cocktails
  • Toffee Apple Martini
  • Vampire Elixir

    1. SEND out the invite. Costumes optional?

    2. DEVELOP the menu: 4 or 5 cocktail options, plus a mocktail and soft drinks for the designated drivers.

    3. CHOOSE some recipes that can be made in advance, and make multiple quantities in pitchers.

    The easiest: a mix of apple cider, pomegranate juice and club soda, with an optional candy pumpkin, notched to fit on the glass rim, or a lime wheel.

    Mix the juices in a pitcher, and add club soda to the glass after pouring. Vary the proportions as you prefer, starting with a 2:1 or 3:1 proportion of juice to soda.

    Alternatively, there are hundreds of Halloween cocktail recipes online.


    Vampire Martini

    Bloody Eyeball Martini

    [1] Vampire Martini (photo courtesy Betty Crocker). [2] Bloody Eyeball Martini (photo courtesy Kim Plaszek).




    FOOD FUN: Jim Beam Caramel Apples (Or Other Favorite Whiskey)

    To celebrate its Apple Bourbon—available year-round but especially popular in fall recipes—Jim Beam has stepped beyond cocktails to caramel.

    Yes, you can dip your caramel apples into an easy homemade caramel that incorporates a cup of Jim Beam Apple Bourbon.

    No time to buy Jim Beam Apple Bourbon? Use what you’ve got on hand (including another whiskey) and pick some up Apple Bourbon when you can. You’ll definitely want to make another batch of these!


    Ingredients For 10 Caramel Apples

  • 2 cups light brown sugar
  • 8 ounces unsalted butter
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 6 ounces cold half and half
  • 8 ounces Jim Beam Apple Bourbon
  • 10 Granny Smith apples on thick wooden skewers
  • Optional garnish: 4 cups chopped salted peanuts, honey roasted nuts or other garnish

    1. COOK the brown sugar, butter and corn syrup in a large pot over medium high heat until a light boil begins. Whisk in the half and half and the bourbon and continue to whisk until the caramel sauce reaches 248°F. Remove from the heat.

    2. DIP each of the apples into the caramel, coating on all sides. Set on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. If desired, coat apples on all sides with chopped salted peanuts.

    3. ALLOW the caramel to cool before serving.

  • Classic Red Candy Apples
  • Easter Candy Apples
  • Matcha White Chocolate Granny Smith Apples (for Christmas or St. Pat’s)
  • Modern Art Chocolate Apples
  • Sugar-Free Red Candy Apples
    You can also host a candy apple party!


    Jim Beam Caramel Apples

    Jim Beam Apple Bourbon

    [1] Bourbon caramel apples. The caramel is made with [2] Jim Beam Apple Bourbon (photos courtesy Beam Suntory).


    The practice of coating fruit in sugar syrup dates back to ancient times. In addition to tasting good, honey and sugar were used as preserving agents to keep fruit from rotting.

    According to, food historians generally agree that caramel apples (toffee apples) date to the late 19th century. Both toffee and caramel can be traced to the early decades of the 18th century, buy inexpensive toffee and caramels for all became available by the end of the 19th century. Culinary evidence dates soft, chewy caramel coatings from that time.

    Red cinnamon-accented candy apples came later. And, while long associated with Halloween, they were originally Christmas fare, not a Halloween confection.

    According to articles in the Newark Evening News in 1948 and 1964, the red candy apple was invented in 1908 by William W. Kolb, a local confectioner. Experimenting with red cinnamon candies for Christmas, he dipped apples into the mixture and the modern candy apple was born.

    The tasty treat was soon being sold at the Jersey Shore, the circus and then in candy shops nationwide.



    COCKTAIL RECIPE: Pumpkin Martini


    Pumpkin Vodka

    [1] Pumpkin Pie-tini. Photo courtesy SandAndSisal, which uses a different recipe from ours, with whipped cream vodka, pumpkin eggnog and a rim of brown sugar and pumpkin pie spice. [2] Pinnacle is one of the brands of pumpkin-flavored vodka on the market. Pumpkin is a seasonal offering.


    Today is National Vodka Day, and it’s fall. So what better than a pumpkin martini?

    To make a true pumpkin martini, you’ll need a bottle of clear, pumpkin-flavored vodka and the other ingredients for your favorite martini recipe. We picked up a bottle of Pinnacle Pumpkin Pie Vodka, which gave a pumpkin-pie-spice accent to a standard martini. For garnish, we floated a star anise on top.

    Otherwise, you can make a Pumpkin Pie-tini with vanilla vodka and real pumpkin purée (top photo). If you want a spicier drink, use pumpkin pie filling instead of purée; pie filling includes the pumpkin pie spices.


    Make one of these as a test drink. You can then decide to vary the ingredients—more or less of something, pumpkin vodka, etc.

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1 ounce cream, milk or eggnog
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin purée or pumpkin pie filling
  • ½ ounces vanilla vodka
  • 1½ ounces crème de cacao or vanilla liqueur
  • Ice and shaker
  • Optional glass rim: maple syrup, honey or water plus crushed biscotti, graham crackers or vanilla wafer crumbs
  • Optional garnish: sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice with or without whipped cream, or a cocktail pick with candy corn

    1. PURÉE the purée. Why? Pumpkin purée can be slightly grainy. For a smooth cocktail, run the pumpkin through a food processor or use an immersion blender in the can.

    2. CREATE the glass rimmer. Using a small amount of maple syrup, honey or water on the rim of the glass, place the rim on a plate of cookie crumbs and twist until the rim is coated.

    3. SHAKE the cream/milk and pumpkin puree with ice to combine. Add the remaining ingredients and shake well. Strain into the martini glass.


    All you need are vanilla beans and vodka…and 10 days to let them infuse.

    If you’ve had the vanilla beans for a while, check to see that they’re not dried out. If they are, get new beans and stick the old ones in a sugar jar, where they’ll lightly scent the sugar.

    If you don’t need an entire bottle of vanilla vodka, make half a bottle.

  • 2 vanilla beans
  • 750 ml vodka
  • Empty glass quart jar with cap

    1. CUT the vanilla beans in half lengthwise to expose the interior as possible (that’s where the flavor is).

    2. POUR the vodka into the glass jar, retaining the original bottle for the final product.

    3. PLACE the vanilla beans in the jar, cap it tightly and shake gently. With a quart jar, the top 20% should be empty. Then put the bottle in a cool, dark place to infuse.

    4. STRAIN the vodka after 10 days. Use a funnel and a fine sieve, coffee filter or cheesecloth to strain the vanilla vodka into its original vodka bottle. You’re ready to go!


    TIPS OF THE DAY: Double Strain Your Cocktails & Pumpkin Liqueur For Fall

    This tip is for people who can’t abide citrus pulp, whether in their juice or their cocktails.

    Bartenders use an extra strainer, beyond what is built into a cocktail shaker or standard bar strainer.

    All you need is a fine mesh strainer, which has multiple uses in the kitchen.

    Hold the strainer over the glass and pour from the shaker through the strainer. Mission accomplished!

    From from September through November, you can find pumpkin liqueurs on the shelves.

    Our favorite is Fulton’s Harvest Pumpkin Pie Cream Liqueur is a cream liqueur: delicious in shots, cocktails and for pouring over vanilla ice cream.

    We also are partial to Kahlúa Pumpkin Spice, which blends their coffee liqueur with the spices: a great combo.

    Most pumpkin liqueur are pumpkin pie spice-flavored rather than pumpkin-flavored. We like that Fulton’s Harvest Pumpkin Pie Cream Liqueur is just sweet enough, not overly sweet. Some are positively cloying.

    At 140 calories per 1.5-ounce shot, Fulton’s is a better dessert choice than a slice of pumpkin pie!

    We use our pumpkin liqueurs for Pumpkin Martinis and as after-dinner drinks, straight or in coffee.

    For recipes, check for how to add the liqueur to banana bread, cookies, French toast, ice cream, muffins and more drinks.

    This season, consider a different cocktail “glass”: a baby pumpkin. It’s sure to delight at Halloween, Thanksgiving or anytime during the fall.

    You can wash, dry and freeze the pumpkins in food storage bags in advance; and wash and re-freeze them to use again fall. And of course, you can serve this pumpkin cocktail in a rocks glass.
    Ingredients For 1 Drink

  • 2 ounces whiskey of choice
  • 1 ounce Fulton’s Harvest Pumpkin Pie Cream Liqueur
  • 3/4 ounce white creme de cacao
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon honey (we left it out)
  • 1 dash bitters
  • Ice
  • Optional: baby pumpkin, scooped out
  • Optional: mint leaves for garnish, pumpkin pie spice, whole clove

    1. COMBINE all ingredients in a shaker and shake vigorously with ice.

    2. STRAIN into chilled cocktail glass—or a baby pumpkin, or a pumpkin mug.


    Straining A Cocktail

    Cocktail In Baby Pumpkin

    Fulton's Pumpkin Pie Liqueur

    [1] Straining a cocktail at Artisan restaurant in Paso Robles, California. [2] Pumpkin cocktail in a baby pumpkin (photo courtesy American Alibi Whiskey). [3] Fulton’s Pumpkin Pie Liqueur, a limited fall edition (photo courtesy Fulton’s Harvest).

    3. GARNISH with a mint leaves, a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice and a whole clove.
    BEER LOVERS: Here’s a Pumpkin Beertail for you.



    RECIPE: Sparkling Pear Cocktail

    La Poire Sparkling Cocktail

    America's Favorite Pear

    [1] La Poire sparkling cocktail (photo courtesy Grey Goose). [2] America’s favorite pear, the Bartlett (photo courtesy CookThink). There are also red Bartlett and d’Anjou are available in green and red varieties.


    This week we had a bottle of Angry Orchard’s Knotty Pear Cider at lunch, and it reminded us that fall is also a time for all things pear.

    For a celebration, toast or other special occasion—or weekend chillaxing—this cocktail from Grey Goose is a star. Easy to make, it combines pear and citrus with sweet Moscato. You can use other slightly sweet sparkling wine such as Asti Spumante.

    If it isn’t a special occasion, don’t go out of your way to find the perfect garnish. Or a Champagne flute.


    Ingredients For 6 Drinks

  • 6 parts Grey Goose La Poire
  • 1 part lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 small pear, ideally Anjou or Bartlett*, red or green
  • 1 bottle sparkling Moscato or other sparkling wine, chilled
  • Garnish options: baby orchid, crystallized ginger, sliced star fruit

    1. PEEL and core the pear and cut into 1/4-inch dice.

    2. PLACE the lemon juice, sugar, pear and Grey Goose La Poire in a bowl. Stir well to combine until the sugar is fully dissolved.

    2. DIVIDE the pear mixture into six Champagne flutes or wine glasses. Fill each chilled glass with Moscato.

    3. GARNISH and serve.
    *A juicier pear variety will accentuate the pear flavors. Here are the different types of pears.




    RECIPE: Rum Punch For National Rum Punch Day

    September 20th is National Rum Punch Day. While the word “punch” conjures up a large bowl of drink, the word actually derives from the number five in Sanskrit and Hindi.


    Punch is a general term for a broad assortment of mixed drinks, made with or without alcohol. The word “punch” derives from the Hindi word, panch, from the Sanskrit is panchan, five.

    In India, panch was made from five different ingredients: sugar, lemon, water, tea or spices and an alcoholic spirit; hence the name.

    Punch was “discovered” in India by the British sailors of the East India Company. The concept was brought to England in the early 17th century. From there it spread to other countries.

    While Western punch recipes generally contain fruit or fruit juice, fruit isn’t essential. Nor is an elegant punch bowl required: a pitcher is fine, and in many cases, it’s more practical.

    You can also make just one punch drink at a time. Here are two recipes for individual punch drinks—rum punch, of course, to celebrate National Rum Punch Day.

    For serving in tall glasses, get some fun straws.

    It’s hard to resist 144 cocktail umbrellas for $4.79, but we resisted.


    This classic rum punch uses two different types of rum: white and dark. If you don’t have both, use what you have.

    Because this recipe is in “parts,” you can make anything from a single glass to a party portion, without any calculations.

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1 part Bacardi Superior (white rum)
  • ½ part Bacardi Select (dark rum)
  • ¼ part grenadine
  • 1 part orange juice
  • 1 part pineapple juice
  • ½ part cranberry juice
  • 1 lemon, sliced

    1. COMBINE ombine all liquid ingredients iIn a large container. Refrigerate until chilled and enjoy. If making a large batch, just before serving…

    2. POUR into a large punch bowl, stirring in ice. Garnish the bowl with floating lemon slices. Serve each glass with a lemon wheel.

    This recipe, from Inspired By Charm, uses coconut rum and dark rum. No dark rum? Try it with all coconut rum.


    Rum Punch

    National Rum Punch Day

    Yellow Striped Straws

    [1] Grenadine and orange or yellow fruit juices create the “sunset” effect (photo courtesy Inspired By Charm). [2] Get out your Mason jars (photo courtesy The Blond Cook). [3] Tall drinks deserve a fun straw (photo courtesy Balloon Red).

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 3 ounces pineapple juice
  • 2 ounces orange juice
  • 1 ounce dark rum, plus 1/2 ounce to splash on top
  • 1 ounce coconut rum
  • Splash of grenadine
  • Garnish: lime slice

    1. POUR into a glass the pineapple juice, orange juice, 1 ounce dark rum and 1 ounce coconut rum. Gently stir.

    2. SLOWLY POUR in a splash of grenadine. The grenadine will sink to the bottom to create the “sunset” coloration.

    3. ADD 1/2 ounce of dark rum to the top. Garnish with a slice of lime and serve.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Drinks For Mexican Independence Day

    Tequila & Grapefruit Juice Cocktail

    Bandera Shots

    [1] The Paloma, said to be Mexico’s favorite tequila-based cocktail (photo courtesy [2] The Bandera comprises shots in green, white and red, the colors of the Mexican flag (photo courtesy [3] A layered bandora shot with chartreuse, maraschino liqueur (clear) and grenadine (photo courtesy


    September 16th is Mexican Independence Day. It’s also National Guacamole Day. Coincidence? We think not!

    Yesterday, we explained how Mexicans celebrated with shots of Reposda tequila, aged for up to a year.

    But what if you don’t like drinking straight tequila?

    You can enjoy another tequila cocktail or a non-alcoholic Mexican drink. Here are some of the most popular:

    You can have a plain Mexican beer, of course. Bohemia, Corona, Dos Equis and others are commonly found across the country.

    But if you like a bit of heat, have a Michelada (mee-cha-LAH-dah), a traditional cerveza preparada, or beer cocktail.

    Michelada is a combination of beer, lime and hot sauce served over ice in a salt-rimmed glass. Chela is Mexican slang for a cold beer, combined with mixto, referring to the the mix of ingredients added to the beer. Eliminate the hot sauce and you’ve got a Chelada.

    Here’s the complete Michelada recipe.

    This cocktail couldn’t be easier: 3 parts grapefruit soda and 1 part tequila, served over ice cubes in a highball glass, garnished with a lime wedge. You can add an optional salt rim.

    And you can make it by the pitcher-ful, which we’ll be doing tonight.

    Paloma is the Spanish word for dove. In Mexico the soft drink of choice is Jarritos brand grapefruit soda (in the U.S., look for it at international markets or substitute Fresca.

    You can purchase pink grapefruit soda from the premium mixer brand Q Drinks, or combine grapefruit juice with club soda or grapefruit-flavored club soda.

    At better establishments, fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice is combined with club soda. Use pink grapefruit juice and you’ll have a Pink Paloma (our term for it).

    Here’s the history of the Paloma from, which says it’s the most popular tequila-based cocktail in Mexico.

    In Mexico the Bandera (flag), named after the flag of Mexico, consists of three shot glasses representing the colors of the flag (photo #2).

    The first is filled with lime juice (for the green), the middle has white (silver) tequila, and the last contains sangrita (for the red), a chaser that usually contains orange and tomato juices. Here’s the recipe from Food Network.

    You can also make layered shooter with liqueurs in the national colors (photo #3). Here’s a recipe.




    In Spanish, agua fresca means fresh water.

    In culinary terms, it refers to a variety of refreshing cold drinks that are sold by street vendors and at cafés throughout Mexico and other Latin American countries (photo #4). They’re also sold bottled at stores, and are easily whipped up at home.

    Agua fresca is nonalcoholic and noncarbonated. The recipe can include a combination of fruits or veggies, flowers (like hibiscus), herbs and/or spices, cereals (barley, oats, rice), seeds (chia), even almond flour (which is used to make horchata, the next example).

    A traditional agua fresca is an infused, sweetened water, flavored with fruits and/or vegetables—often a more complex layering of flavors than lemonade and limeade.

    Our favorite combinations: watermelon (or any melon), basil cucumber and mint hibiscus. Here’s how to make them.

    As you can see from this recipe template, it’s easy to mix your favorite flavors.

    Agua de horchata—horchata for short—is a very popular recipe, made from ground almonds and rice spiced with cinnamon (photo #5). Other flavors such as coconut can be added.

    Here’s a recipe from

    It’s not conventional, but, you could add a shot of tequila or rum.

    After all, it’s a day to celebrate!


    Watermelon Agua Fresca

    Mexican Soft Drink

    [4] Whip up a pitcher of watermelon aqua fresca with this recipe from Whole Foods Markets. [5] Horchata, made from ground almonds and cooked rice, may sound unusual—but it’s unusually good (photo courtesy Noshon.It).




    TIP OF THE DAY: Instead Of Cinco De Mayo, Celebrate September 16th…With Reposado Tequila

    Blue Nectar Reposado Tequila

    Tequila Manhattan Cocktail

    [1] Reposado tequila is the preferred type for celebrations [2] Distrito Federal is Manhattan cocktail that replaces the bourbon with tequila (all photos courtesy Blue Nectar Tequila).


    Many Americans look forward to celebrating Cinco de Mayo each spring. This relatively small Mexican holiday commemorates a regional battle in 1862, long after Mexican Independence was declared. More Americans celebrate it than Mexicans!

    Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day.

    That honor goes September 16th, known as Grito de Dolores (The Cry of Dolores, the town where the battle began). It’s the most popular holiday in Mexico.

    Here’s the scoop on Mexican Independence Day, commemorating the beginning of the Mexican War of Independence from Spanish colonial rule in 1810.

    As with America’s Independence Day, the Mexican National Day of Independence is a patriotic holiday, with celebratory drinks, food and fireworks.

    Today’s tip: Wherever you live, celebrate Mexican Independence Day on the 16th.

    The folks at Blue Nectar Tequila tell us that the most popular type of tequila consumed in Mexico on national holidays is the more aged (and more expensive) Reposado, not the clear Blanco (a.k.a. silver or white tequila—here are the different types of tequila).

    Blanco is aged not at all or up to two months, while Reposado and Añejo tequilas are aged longer: Reposado for six months to a year, Añejo for one to three years. Aging gives layers of complexity to the spirit.

    While tequila was first produced in the 16th century by Spanish immigrants to Mexico, aged tequila styles such as Reposado and Añejo did not appear until the early 1900s.

    Some producers began to age their tequila in oak casks left over from red wine, brandy and rum that had been imported for consumption by the Spanish aristocracy.

    This stroke of genius changed the overall quality and taste of basic tequila, which at the time was raw-edged and without complexity.

    So today’s tip is: Celebrate September 16th by sipping a glass of Reposado or Añejo tequila, neat or on the rocks, enjoying the flavors with each sip.

    Or try one of the cocktails below, or this wonderful menu of tequila cocktail recipes.


    Reposado tequila has a woodsy quality that pairs well with beef-based, poultry and pork-type main dishes. (complementary flavors in recipes include orange, cinnamon and honey).

    Instead of America’s go-to grilled food for Independence Day, a favorite dish in Mexico is pozole, a classic soup made of hominy and pork.

    In modern times it’s also made with beef, chicken, seafood, or vegetables and beans. Here’s a selection of pozole recipes.

    For dessert, have churros or dark chocolate with Añejo tequila.

    And sure: Bring on the guacamole, salsa, chips and esquites—Mexican corn on the cob.

    The classic bourbon-based Manhattan cocktail is the inspiration for this Mexican version, which is named after historic Mexico City, an area known as Distrito Federal.
    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2 ounces Reposado or Añejo tequila
  • 1 ounce sweet red vermouth
  • 2 dashes orange bitters
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
  • Ice cubes
  • Garnish: brandied cherry

    1. COMBINE the spirits and bitters in a cocktail glass. Add ice and stir until cold, about one to two minutes.

    2. STRAIN into a coupe glass, garnish with the cherry and serve.



    Ingredients Per Drink

    The vodka-based Cosmo is remade with Reposado teqila.

  • 4 lime quarters
  • 1 ounce simple syrup
  • 1 ½ ounces Reposado tequila
  • 1 ounce cranberry juice
  • ¾ ounce orange liqueur
  • Ice cubes
  • Garnish: lime wheel

    1. MUDDLE the lime quarters with the simple syrup in a cocktail shaker. Add the tequila, orange liqueur and cranberry juice.

    2. TOP with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the lime wheel.


    Tequila Cosmopolitan Cocktail

    [3] The Mexipolitan: A Cosmopolitan with tequila instead of vodka. Calling Carrie Bradshaw!



    Blue Nectar Tequila, is a hand-crafted, super-premium tequila that focuses on agave-forward flavor profiles.

    While by Mexican law Reposado must be aged a minimum of 2 months, Blue Nectar Reposado Extra Blend is aged 6-8 months and then blended with three-year-old Extra Añejo, to deliver hints of vanilla and smoke.

    For more information on the different expressions of Blue Nectar tequila, visit



    TIP OF THE DAY: Ancho Reyes Chile Liqueur & How To Infuse Your Own

    Ancho Reyes Liqueur

    Casa Noble Reposado Tequila

    Tequila Cocktail

    [1] Today’s pick: Ancho Reyes chile liqueur (photo courtesy Ancho Reyes). [2] Casa Noble reposado and blanco tequilas. Mix reposado with the liqueur in the cocktail below (photo courtesy Casa Noble). [3] Combine them to make this delicious cocktail (photo courtesy Casa Noble).


    If you like tequila, mezcal and the cuisine and culture of Mexico, why should you celebrate September 16th?

    Because it’s Mexican Independence Day.

    In the U.S., the holiday Americans celebrate is Cinco de Mayo. But Cinco de Mayo is a minor holiday in Mexico. More Americans celebrate it than Mexicans!

    Here’s the scoop on Mexican Independence Day, commemorating the beginning of the Mexican War of Independence from Spanish colonial rule in 1810—the biggest holiday celebration in Mexico.

    Why do Americans celebrate Cinco de Mayo?

    The date commemorates the Mexican Army’s victory over superior French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. It is celebrated locally in the city and state of Puebla, in south-central Mexico.

    A relatively minor holiday in Mexico, in the U.S. Cinco de Mayo has taken on a life of its own. It has evolved into a celebration of Mexican culture, particularly in areas with large Mexican-American populations, and many non-Mexican fans of the cuisine. Here’s more on the holiday.

    So what’s today’s tip?

    Celebrate with some chile-infused liqueur.

    In 1927, the Reyes family of Puebla, Mexico made a homemade liqueur from the area’s ample ancho chile crop. Fortunately, they decided to make it commercially.

    We love its smoky heat, for mixing, sipping neat, in marinades or for drizzling over lemon or lime sorbet.

    It’s not simple, sweet heat: Beyond the smoky chile are notes of cinnamon, cocoa, herbs and tamarind (maybe more depending on the sensitivity of your palate).

    Here’s a detailed story in pictures of how the chiles are grown and infused to become Ancho Reyes.

    We’ve seen it on Wine-Tracker from $29.99 to a high of $48.99.

    We really enjoyed this cocktail from Casa Noble Tequila (here are more recipes).

    The recipe specifies reposado tequila, slightly aged (a minimum of two months by law): Casa Noble reposed is matured in French white oak barrels for 364 days!

    We had only silver/blanco, but it was delicious just the same. (Here are the different types of tequila.)

  • 1.5 ounces reposado tequila
  • .5 ounce ancho chile liqueur
  • .25 ounce simple syrup
  • 2 dashes orange bitters
  • 2 drops mole bitters
  • Ice cubes
  • Garnish: orange peel
  • Preparation

    1. COMBINE all ingredients—except the garnish and ice—in a mixing glass. Stir and strain the drink into a glass over ice.

    2. SQUEEZE the orange peel into the glass; then rub the inside of the peel around rim and drop into the glass.

    Here’s an Ancho Reyes cocktail we published, featuring grilled pineapple.



    While not an exhaustive list, we found these products at retailers:

  • Tanteo (a NIBBLE favorite) and other brands make chile-infused tequila.
  • Stolichnaya and other brands make chile-infused vodka.
  • Patrón XO Cafe Incendio adds arbol chiles to a chocolate liqueur based on their tequila.
  • Kiss Of Fire is another chile-infused liqueur.

    You can infuse tequila or vodka (or any other spirit) with fresh chiles. The spirit adds more heat to Margaritas and Bloody Marys (and the tequila-based Bloody Maria and Chipotle Maria.

    You can also cook with the infused spirits. Just search online for “cooking with tequila” (or vodka) and you’ll find everything from salad dressing and marinades to pasta sauce and tequila-lime sorbet.

    You can use any type of chile; habaneros will give more heat than jalapeños (check the Scoville Heat Units. For a smoky flavor, chose ancho or chipotle.

    Try three chiles your first time out. If you want more heat when you taste it after 3-4 weeks, you can add more chiles and infuse for another 3-4 weeks (or just use more chiles next time).

    Here’s our glossary of the different types of chiles.

  • 1 bottle (750ml) tequila, vodka or other spirit
  • 3 large chile peppers

    1. WASH the chiles, pat dry, slit lengthwise and insert into the bottle of tequila.

    2. CAP the bottle tightly and place in a cool (away from a heat source), dark place for 3 weeks. Taste and if you want more chile flavor, infuse for another 1-2 weeks.

    3. KEEP or strain the chiles from the bottle, depending on how you like the look.


    Ancho Chile

    Infused Tequila

    [4] An ancho chile, used to infuse the alcohol base of Ancho Reyes chile liqueur (photo courtesy [5] It’s easy to infuse your own favorite chiles into tequila or vodka. This photo shows how Foodie Misadventures did it (photo © Foodie Misadventures).

    Infused spirits are great for gifting!



    RECIPE: Bacon Bourbon Cider

    Bacon Cocktail Garnish

    Cinnamon Sticks

    [1] Another way to enjoy fall’s apple cider: with bourbon and bacon (photo courtesy Davio’s | Manhattan). [2] Make your own cinnamon simple syrup with cinnamon, sugar and water (photo by Ben Fink, Indian Home Cooking by Suvir Saran).


    As restaurants and lounges switch to their autumn menus, we’re getting lots of fall cocktail recipes. We test cocktail recipes each weekend, typically inviting friends to stop by between their errands.

    This week’s cocktail recipe: Bacon Bourbon Cider from Davio’s Manhattan, one of New York’s fine steakhouses with a Northern Italian-accented menu.

    Two fall favorites—apple cider and maple-candied bacon—will make this a favorite fall cocktail. It’s so easy that it may well end up on your favorite home cocktail list.

    Davio’s uses Bulleit Bourbon for the cocktail. We used another top brand/
    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2 ounces Bulleit Bourbon
  • 1 ounce cinnamon infused* simple syrup
  • 3 ounces apple cider

    1. COMBINE the ingredients in a cocktail shaker; shake and pour into a Collins glass.

    2. GARNISH with a slice of candied bacon.
    *You can add ground cinnamon to plain simple syrup or use the recipe below.

    This recipe is for 8 pieces, but trust us: You’ll want to candy the entire pound package.

  • 8 pieces thinly sliced bacon
  • 1/4 cup plus two tablespoons maple syru

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 300°F. Place the bacon strips flat on a cooling rack screen placed over a baking sheet. Bake the bacon for approximately 10 to 12 minutes, or until thoroughly brown and crisp.

    2. COOL the bacon; then brush both sides of the strips with maple syrup, using a pastry brush. (We long ago replaced our bristle pastry and basting brush with a silicon pastry brush—so much easier to use and clean).

    3. PLACE the bacon back on the rack in the oven and bake for an additional 3-4 minutes.

    4. RESTRAIN yourself from eating all the candied bacon.


    You can make simple syrup up to a month in advance and keep it in the fridge, tightly capped. It can keep even longer, but why take up spice with an item you don’t use?

    Instead, use the cinnamon syrup to sweeten tea or coffee, or to drizzle over desserts: baked goods, fruits, puddings, etc. You can also give it as gifts in a Mason jar tied with a ribbon.


  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 cinnamon sticks

    1. BREAK the cinnamon sticks into pieces (1 inch or longer), using a rolling pin or other implement (or break them by hand). Place them in a small sauce pan with the sugar and water.

    2. BRING to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring until all the sugar is dissolved. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let it cool.

    3. STRAIN out and discard the cinnamon stick pieces, and refrigerate, tightly covered.

  • For each 2-inch cinnamon stick piece a recipe requires, substitute 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon.
  • Taste to see if you want more cinnamon flavor, and proceed 1/4 teaspoon at a time. Ground cinnamon has a stronger flavor than cinnamon sticks.
  • However, the flavor of ground cinnamon dissipates after 6 months or so (the minute a spice is ground and has much more exposure to air, the flavor begins to fade). If you don’t use cinnamon often, buy cinnamon sticks instead: They keep their flavor for up to 2 years. Grind them in a spice grinder or coffee grinder as needed.

    Who knew that most of our ground “cinnamon” is actually cassia—not true cinnamon?

    Check out the different types of cinnamon.


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