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TIP OF THE DAY: Rosé Sangria (Think Pink!)


Shades Of Rose Wine

[1] Rosé sangria, an adieu to the formal summer season (photo courtesy La Marina restaurant | NYC). [2] The many shades of rosé depend upon the grape varietal and the length of skin contact (photo courtesy Jot Dot).


We started the summer season with a rose tasting party, and we’re ending it more quietly, with pitchers of rose sangria. Easy to make, easy to drink, we have a pitcher in the fridge all weekend.


Ingredients For 12 Cups

  • 2 bottles* rosé wine
  • 1 quart or liter* bottle club soda, seltzer or sparkling mineral water, chilled
  • 1/2 cup agave†, honey, superfine sugar or simple syrup
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries
  • 1 cup sliced strawberries
  • 1 cup sliced nectarines or peaches
  • 1 cup melon, sliced
  • 2 blood oranges, juiced
  • 1 lemon, juiced (about 2 tablespoons)
    Optional Alcohol

  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 1/4 cup orange liqueur (types of orange liqueur) – or –
  • 1/4 cup blackberry, blackcurrant or raspberry liqueur (crème de mûre, crème de cassis, Chambord)
    *1 quart is 32 ounces, 1 liter is 33.8 ounces, 1 standard wine bottle (750 ml) is 25.4 ounces.

    †Use equal amounts of agave or honey, but half as much agave as sugar. Agave is twice as sweet. Always add a portion, taste, and continue to add until the desired sweeteness is reached.


    Use a 1-gallon pitcher (128 ounces) or other vessel to blend. You’ll be making 84 ounces of sangria (more if you add brandy and liqueur), and also need room for the fruit. We like this oblong gallon pitcher because it fits more easily in the fridge.

    1. COMBINE the wine, brandy and liqueur and half of the sweetener in the pitcher. Blend well and taste; add more sweetener as desired. We prefer less added sugar to better enjoy the alcohol and the fruit.

    2. ADD the fruit and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 1 day in advance. When ready to serve…

    3. Add the club soda, stir gently and serve.

    Sangria appeared in Spain around 200 B.C.E., when the conquering Romans arrived and planted red grape vineyards. While the majority of the wine was shipped to Rome, the locals used some to make fruit punch, called sangria after the blood-red color.

    Here’s the scoop.



    Unlike Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and the other grape varietals, there is no rosé grape. Any red wine grape can make rosé.

    The term rosé refers to the pink color that is the result of allowing the pressed grape juice limited contact with red grape skins during vinification, a process known as maceration.

    Once it achieves the desired rosiness, the skin contact ends. Extended skin contact products red wine. The juice pressed from red wine grapes is the same color as the juice from white wine grapes: clear.

    A rosé wine can be actually be made by blending red and white wine together; however this is not a common process. Most rosés are dry wines made from red wine grapes. Some are sweeter, such as White Zinfandel; but this is an American taste for blush wine rather than a European tradition.

  • Pink wine, a term that encompasses rosé, blush, and anything else with a pink hue, can be any shade from pale pink to deep rose. It depends on the grape used and the length of skin contact (from one to three days).
  • Blush wine is an American term that refers specifically to pink wines made from red wine grapes, with only enough skin contact to produce a “blush” of red color.
  • The term first appeared in the U.S. in the early 1980s, as a marketing device to sell pink wines.
  • At the time, Americans were not buying rosé wines, while White Zinfandel, a sweet rosé wine, was flying off the shelves (at one point it was the largest-selling wine in America).
  • There weren’t enough Zinfandel grapes to meet demand, so winemakers had to use other red grape varietals. Pink wines made from other grapes could not legally be called “White Zinfandel,” so a new category name—blush—was created.
  • American pink wines, whether from Zinfandel or another grape, are typically sweeter and paler than French-style rosés. The term “blush” began to refer to not just to pink wines, but to those that were made on the slightly sweet side, like White Zinfandel.
  • These days, all three terms are used more or less interchangeably by people outside the wine-producing industry.


    Summer Rose Sangria Recipe

    Mixed Berries

    [1] While luscious summer fruits are still in the market, use them in your sangria. You can get apples and oranges any old time (photo courtesy Good Eggs | San Francisco). [2] Don’t forget the berries (photo courtesy Giant Fresh).




    TIP OF THE DAY: Watermelon Cocktails

    Spicy Watermelon Margarita

    Watermelon Mojito Mocktail

    Tajin Seasoning

    [1] A Spicy Watermelon Margarita? Sure! (Photo courtesy STK LA). [2] A Watermelon Mojito Cocktail (photo courtesy The Merry Thought). [3] Tajin seasoning, a versatile hot spice blend (photo courtesy Tajin Products).


    If you’re buying a watermelon for the holiday weekend, buy a bigger one and make watermelon cocktails.

    STK LA, which sent us this recipe, calls it the Secret Affair, made with Don Julio tequila.

    Somehow, that name didn’t ring true so we’re calling it as we see it: a Spicy Watermelon Margarita. We have more watermelon cocktail recipes below.


    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2 ounces silver tequila (the different types of tequila)
  • .75 ounce fresh lime juice
  • .5 ounce simple syrup (we substituted orange liqueur—the different types of orange liqueur)
  • 4 watermelon cubes
  • 1 slice fresh red chile pepper (anything from an Anaheim (modest heat) to jalapeño or habanero
  • Optional: whole red chile or chile slice
  • Ice cubes: make them from watermelon juice for more intense flavor/less drink dilution
    For The Rim

  • Sparkling sugar/sanding sugar (the different types of sugar)
  • Coarse salt
  • Red chili flakes
  • Substitute: Tajin seasoning (see below)

    1. MAKE the glass rimer: Combine the sugar, salt and chile in the proportions you prefer. We used 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 tablespoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon chili flakes. Moistening the rims of the glasses, twist in the mixture. Set aside.

    2. MUDDLE the chile and watermelon in a cocktail shaker. Add the tequila, lime and simple syrup.

    3. SHAKE and strain on the rocks into the rimmed glasses.

    Made by Tajin Products, a Mexican company, this mildly spicy seasoning combines chili, lime and salt. It is delicious on fruits: citrus, cucumber, melon, and tropical fruit (mango, papaya, pineapple, etc.); and in cooked fruit recipes.

    It’s a versatile seasoning. In addition to its popularity as a glass rimmer for cocktails or juice drinks, try it on:

  • Eggs
  • Fries
  • Ice pops and sorbet
  • Popcorn
  • Proteins
  • Mozzarella sticks
  • Vegetables and grains
    A Mexican staple, you can find Tajin seasoning in the Mexican foods aisle in supermarkets, in Latin American food stores, and online.

    Thanks to The Merry Thought for this luscious cocktail. Designated drivers, kids, non-drinkers and the regular cocktail crowd will clamor for it.

    For extra fun and flavor, make the ice cubes from watermelon juice.
    Ingredients For 2 Drinks

  • 3 cups chopped watermelon
  • Juice of 2 limes (4 tablespoons)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • Mint leaves (for cocktails and garnish)
  • Ice
  • Ginger ale
  • Club soda
  • Garnish: mint sprig and watermelon wedge
  • Optional: bottle of tequila for those who might want a real Mojito*

    1. BLEND the watermelon, lime juice and 1 teaspoon sugar in a blender until smooth. Muddle 2 mint leaves with 1/4 teaspoon sugar in the bottom of each glass. Add the watermelon pur ée, filling the glass about 1/2 full.

    2. ADD the ice and a splash of ginger ale and top with club soda. Stir to combine. Garnish as desired and serve.

  • Watermelon-Cucumber Summer Splash
  • Watermelon Gin Martini
  • Watermelon Margarita
  • Watermelon Mint Lemonade
  • Watermelon Wave & 5 More Watermelon Cocktails
    *Provide a shot glass and stirrers with the bottle.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Sgroppino

    Hot enough for you? Cool off with sgroppino.


    Sgroppino (sgro-PEA-no), which originated in Venice, is a refreshing, frothy sorbet cocktail: a slushy combination of lemon sorbet, vodka and prosecco.

    It’s served as a digestif (after-dinner drink) or liquid dessert. You don’t want very sweet drinks before a formal European-style dinner, but it works with hot and spicy cuisines. Sgroppino is no sweeter than a frozen Margarita.

    Sgroppino was created by an anonymous kitchen servant in 16th century Venice. At that time, only wealthy households had the means to keep an ice house* and the staff to make sorbet (sorbetto in Italian) by hand.

    In the Venetian dialect the drink is called sgropin from the verb sgropàre, which means to untie a small knot. The reference is to the knots in one’s stomach following at the multi-course dinners of the wealthy. A sweet drink was believed to aid in digestion; hence the after-dinner liqueur.

    Sgroppino was also served as a palate cleanser† to refresh the taste buds between the fish and meat courses as well. This “intermezzo,” used to cleanse the palate of fish before moving onto meat, is still served at some fine restaurants today.

    The classic was made by whisking softened lemon sorbet with prosecco until frothy (it was described as “whipped snow,” although today we call it a slush).

    The recipe evolved to include limoncello, sambuca or vodka. Today it can be both liqueur and vodka.

    More modern variations substitute grapefruit, orange or strawberry sorbetto. If a larger percentage of sorbetto is added, you get a thicker drink.

    In its simplest form, it’s a scoop of sorbet topped with Prosecco, or vice versa.

    The drink separates if left to stand, so in Italy the waiter will often prepare the drink at tableside.


    You can serve sgroppino in a martini glass, coupe, flute or wine glass…or those “sherbet Champagne” glasses‡, designed for Marie Antoinette but not actually good for serving sparkling wine.


    Pomegranate Sgroppino

    [1] If only every bar and restaurant served these (photo courtesy What’s Cooking America. [2] Chef Bikeski adds pomegranate arils for a bit of color.

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1/3 cup lemon sorbet
  • 3 ounces prosecco
  • 1 ounce vodka
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon liqueur—Limoncello; orange liqueur; sambucca, pastas or other anise liqueur
  • Optional garnish: citrus curl or zest, fresh mint, pomegranate arils, micro-herbs

    Lime Sgroppino

    [3] Some people prefer the cocktail to be separated. In this version, from Zoetrecepten, a scoop of lime sorbet is added to the top of the alcohol.



    1. WHISK together the sorbet and a splash of prosecco until fully blended, using a cocktail shaker or a stainless steel bowl. Continue whisking while slowly pouring in the vodka and prosecco.

    2. If using a liqueur, you can blend it with the vodka or drizzle it, Venice-style, into the center of the glass right before serving.

    3. SERVE immediately. The drink will separate as it stands, so provide iced tea spoons or straws so people can re-blend as desired. If you take the modern approach of adding sorbet on top of the alcohol, you save the trouble of whisking!

    Some mixologists don’t blend the drink in the first place. Instead, they place the scoop of sorbet on top of the alcohol (see photo 3). So separation is not a bad thing, but a choice.

  • Do not use a blender, but hand-whisk this drink.
  • If you don’t have a whisk that’s small enough, get this graduated set. The smallest is handy for whisking instant cocoa that doesn’t dissolve. They’re inexpensive: here’s a set on Amazon.
  • Don’t add extra alcohol or the drink will be too liquid.


    *Before refrigeration, only the wealthy could afford to have ice cut from lakes and rivers in the winter and stored in ice houses for summer use. The oldest known ice house, built by a king in Persia, dates from about 1700 B.C.E. Most other people dug ice pits, lined with straw and sawdust as insulation. While commercial refrigeration was available by the late 1800s, the home refrigerator didn’t arrive until 1930. Prior to then, the wealthy as well as the middle class used an insulated metal “ice box,” which held a large block of ice delivered from the “ice man” to keep perishables cold. When the ice melted, it was replaced.

    †The tartness and citrus acid of lemon sorbet clear the taste buds. Citric acid elicits salivation, which aids in cleansing the palate. Lemons and limes have the highest level of citric acid, which can constitute as much as .3 mol/L, depending on the cultivar and growing conditions. By comparison, grapefruits and oranges have just .005 mol/L (source). Passionfruit also can work. It has 38.7 mg/100g compared to 30 mg/100g (source).

    ‡“Sherbet champagne” glasses were purportedly designed by Marie Antoinette, who had them molded after the shape of her breasts. Here’s a photo. They are rarely made anymore, as modern knowledge shows that a wide mouth-glass is not appropriate for sparkling wine: It lets the bubbles escape that much more quickly. But if you have these glasses, they’re just fine for serving sorbet, fruit cocktail and other foods…or sgroppino.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Alcohol Slush

    Zoku Slush Maker

    Godiva Chocolate Liqueur

    [1] Alcohol slush drinks made in the Zoku Slush Maker (photo courtesy Williams-Sonoma). From top to bottom: Bellini Slush, Gin & Tonic Slush, Screwdriver Slush. [2] Turn your favorite liqueur into a slush (photo courtesy Godiva Liqueurs).


    Call it an Icee®, Slurpee*, slush or slushy*, adult versions of shaved ice drinks with alcohol are certainly an delightful advance on the shaved ice or snow with syrup enjoyed in China 4,000 years ago.

    This is the frozen dessert that traveled to Persia and later to Italy. On the dinner table along with plenty of wine, surely someone must have splashed some alcohol on it. (Arabic people drank alcohol until the early 7th century C.E., when the Holy Prophet Muhammad proscribed it.)

    (That shaved ice evolved into granita, sorbet, snow cones and modern shaved ice (a form of granita). A Florentine Renaissance Man adapted the idea and made the first ice cream. Here’s the history of ice cream.)

    Then there’s the present: A company called Beyond Zero has developed a technology that will freeze alcohol. It will be available soon, and will not likely be priced for home use (unless your home has 100 rooms).

    The beginning of the American frozen drink trend, frozen Margaritas, started in Houston around 1935 with the blender Margarita.

    It reached its zenith with the invention of the frozen Margarita machine in 1971, which greatly enhanced the demand for Mexican restaurants. The history of that machine is below.

    Then there’s the present: A company called Beyond Zero has developed a technology that will freeze alcohol, but it’s not yet available and will not likely be priced for home use (unless your home is a mansion).

    The alcohol’s proof is double the ABV, alcohol by volume. So if a wine is 12% alcohol, it is 24 proof. Standard spirits are 80-proof: too much alcohol to freeze in a home freezer. You need to take some extra steps.

    So first, let’s look at lower-proof spirits that will freeze into slush:

  • Apérifs: Aperol, Dubonnet, Lillet, Kahlúa, and others†.
  • Beer: You can freeze your favorite, but try a cherry or raspberry lambic (beers run 3 to 26 proof).
  • Hard cider, from 3 to 24 proof.
  • Some Liqueurs Many are up to 80 proof, but St-Germain‡ is 40 proof and Baileys Irish Cream is 34 proof.
  • Sochu (like vodka but 40 proof).
  • Wine and sparkling wine (with proofs under 26%, the alcohol is low enough so that you can also make ice pops).
    Mixologists nationwide are creating recipes for low-proof cocktails. You can turn them into slush cocktails. Here are low-proof recipes from

    Even the strongest is 26 proof; and light beer is just 3 proof. Here’s more on ABV, or alcohol by volume. You double the ABV to get the proof.

    You can’t use high-proof spirits and liqueurs straight to make slush. You have to lower them to 40 proof or less.

    Do this by diluting the spirit: with water, a carbonated beverage or juice, even iced tea or coffee. If you dilute it beyond a 1:1 ratio, you can bring the mix to 40 proof, which will freeze (we used a 2:1 ratio).

    You can make, for example:

  • Gin and Tonic Slush
  • Bloody Mary Slush
  • Rum and Coke Slush
  • Scotch and Soda Slush
    We used a 2:1 ratio of non-alcohol (orange juice) to spirit (vodka) for our Screwdriver Slush and a 1:1 ratio of peach nectar and Prosecco for a Bellini Slush, since wines are under 13% proof.

    Technique #1: Combine the alcohol in a blender with ice cubes or better, with crushed ice.

    Technique #2: Pour the alcohol into ice cube trays and allow to freeze thoroughly (at least four hours). The cubes won’t freeze rock-hard like ice cubes. Tip: Smaller slush cubes will melt more quickly than large ice cubes; it’s a matter of personal preference.

    Technique #3: The easy way to do it is to buy a Zoku Slush Maker; but one 8-ounce slush maker is $19.99. That could be for two people; but if you want more portions, you need to purchase others.

    Technique #4: The easiest way is to invest $30 in an electric shaved ice machine).

    Technique #5: The hard way is to make a granita.

    *Icee®, and Slurpee® are trademarked names. You can use them at home when presenting your drink to guests, but the names cannot be used commercially (e.g., at a bar or restaurant) without a license from the owner. Instead, use the generic, slush or slushy. It’s the same deal with Popsicle®, the generic of which is ice pop.

    †Check the bottle. Some favorites, like Grand Marnier, are not liqueurs but liqueur blended with brandy and a higher proof (70% for Grand Marnier). Even the generic triple sec orange liqueur ranges from 30 to 60 proof.

    ‡St-Germain liqueur is Saint-Germain l elderflower liqueur is our personal favorite and the best-selling liqueur in history. It is a favorite mixer with sparkling wines.



    The original Margarita on the rocks began appearing in bars and restaurants along the U.S.-Mexico border in the late 1930s. An improvement on the first electric (1922), the Waring Blender appeared in 1935.

    The Waring, which could efficiently chop ice, enabled the creation of “frozen” drinks”—a conventional cocktail made in a blender with chopped ice.

    By the 1960s, slushy soft drinks (non-alcoholic) had become the craze among kids and adults alike. The concept and the machine to make them was invented by in the 1950s by Omar Knedlik, a Dairy Queen franchisee. He did not have a soda fountain, so he served semi-frozen bottled soft drinks, which became slushy and were immensely popular.

    This gave him the idea to create a machine that made slushy sodas, resulting in the ICEE Company. They were a huge hit, and in 1966 7-Eleven purchased machines to sell their proprietary-brand Slurpees.

    Yet no one made the leap to using the machine for frozen cocktails.

    At that time, frozen drinks were made by bartenders in a blender with ice cubes.

    But it wasn’t a great solution.


    Frozen Margarita

    Thanks to Mariano Martinez of Dallas for creating the first Frozen Margarita machine, in 1971 (photo courtesy Herradura Tequila).

    In Dallas, a restaurant manager, Mariano Martinez, could not deliver frozen Margaritas to the satisfaction of his customers—who no doubt were comparing them to the Slurpees from 7-Eleven. His bartenders complained that the blender drinks were too time-consuming to make.

    One day in 1971, Martinez stopped for a cup of coffee at a 7-Eleven and saw the Slurpee machine. The light bulb flashed on, and Martinez bought and retrofitted an old soft-serve machine to make frozen Margaritas.
    The rest is history. The frozen Margarita was responsible for the growth of tequila in America, as well as the growth of Tex-Mex cuisine to go with all those frozen Margaritas.

    According to Brown-Forman, in 2006 the Margarita surpassed the Martini as the most ordered alcoholic beverage, representing 17% of all mixed-drink sales.

    Martinez’ original machine is now in the Smithsonian. You can see a photo here.



    TIP OF THE DAY: The Different Types Of Rum

    August 16th is National Rum Day.

    Rum can be a confusing spirit for the everyday consumer. What’s silver versus white rum? What’s silver versus gold rum? Which one should you use for a rum cocktail?

    It starts with distilling molasses.

    Sugar cane grew wild in parts of Southeast Asia. It was first domesticated sometime around 8,000 B.C.E., probably in New Guinea. It arrived in India, where better extraction and purifying techniques were developed to refine the cane juice into granulated crystals.

    Sugar then spread quickly. By the sixth century C.E., sugar cultivation had reached Persia; and, from there to elsewhere in the Mediterranean, brought by Arab expansion and travel.

    In 1425, sugar arrived in Madiera and the Canary Islands. In 1493, his second voyage to the New World, Christopher Columbus brought sugar cane seedlings. They were grown, first in Hispaniola and then on other islands. The main sugar-exporting countries in the Caribbean today are Barbados, Belize, Cuba, Guyana and Jamaica.

    In the 17th century, Caribbean sugar cane planters produced sugar by crushing sugar cane, extracting and boiling the cane juice, then leaving the boiled syrup to cure in clay pots. A viscous liquid would seep out of the pots, leaving the sugar in the pot.

    The seepage was molasses—and no one wanted the thick, cloying by-product. It was fed to slaves and livestock, but a monumental amount of molasses was still left over. Sugar was a great cash crop for European planters, but two pounds of sugar yielded a pound of molasses!

    There were no customers or known uses for molasses, so the planters dumped it into the ocean: very sweet industrial waste.

    Finally, slaves figured out a use, and a great one at that. They fermented the molasses and distilled it into alcohol, to yield what became known as rum (source).

    Then, playing around with the now-valued molasses, it was discovered to be as good as sugar in baked goods, and more flavorful.

    There are several types of rum, known as grades of rum, in the industry.


    Aged Rum On The Rocks

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/jamaican iced coffee 230

    [1] Enjoy aged rum on the rocks. [2] Add the basic grade, known a light, silver, white and other names, to an iced coffee for Jamaican Iced Coffee (photos courtesy Appleton Estates rum).

    The different types based on factors such as distillation technique, blending technique, alcoholic content and style preferences of the country or the individual distiller. One of the easiest differentiators to understand is aging.

    Aged rums will differ based on type of barrel and length of time in the barrel. Anejo means old in Spanish; Extra-Anejo is the most aged rum you can buy.

    The better rums are made with high-quality molasses, which contains a higher percentage of fermentable sugars and a lower percentage of chemicals.*

  • Light Rum or Silver Rum or White Rum or Crystal Rum. This is “entry-level rum,” offering alcohol and a little sweetness, but not much flavor. Light rums can have a very light color, or can be filtered after aging to be totally colorless. It is aged briefly or not at all. It can be filtered to remove any color, earning it the names “crystal” and “white.” Light rum is typically used for mixed drinks.
  • Gold Rum, Oro rum or Amber Rum. Medium-bodied rum, midway between light rum and dark rum, gold rum is typically aged in wooden barrels. Use it when you want more flavor than light rum provides, for example in a simple cocktail like a Daiquiri or a Mojito.
  • Dark Rum. The rums in this group are also called by their particular color: brown, black, or red rum. This category is a grade darker than gold rum, due to longer aging in heavily charred barrels. As a result, dark rum delivers stronger flavors, more richness and a full body. There are strong molasses or caramel overtones with hints of spices. Dark rum is used to provide a deep flavor in cocktails and is typically used in baking and cooking (it’s the rum used in rum cake).
  • Flavored Rum. Following the growth of the flavored vodka market, you can now find light rum flavored in apple. banana, black cherry, citrus, coconut, cranberry, grape, guava, mango, melon, passionfruit, peach, pineapple, raspberry, strawberry, spiced…and on and on. They have a base of light rum, are mostly used to make cocktails, but are also enjoyable drunk neat or on the rocks.
  • Spiced Rum. Spiced rum is infused with spices—aniseed, cinnamon, pepper and rosemary, for example—and botanicals such as orange peel. The better brands use gold rum and are darker in color, but cheaper brands made from inexpensive light rum will darkened their products with caramel color.
  • Single Barrel Rum. This is the finest rum for sipping. The term “single barrel” refers to the process: After its initial aging, the rum is handpicked and blended before it is barreled for a second time in new American oak barrels, which impart flavors. It is slowly aged again, and finally bottled.
  • Overproof Rum. For serious tipplers, these rums are much higher than the standard 40% ABV (80 proof). Many are as high as 75% ABV (150 proof) to 80% ABV (160 proof). Bacardi 151, for example, is 151 proof.
  • Premium Rum or Viejo Rum. This long-aged spirit is like Cognac and fine Scotch: meant for serious sipping (viejo means old, añejo means aged—it’s semantic). The rum can be aged 7 years of more, and is produced by artisan distillers dedicated to craftsmanship. Premium rum has far more character and flavor than “mixing rum”—it’s a different experience entirely, enjoyed for its complex layering of flavors. The 18 year old Centenario Gold from Flor de Cana is a wonderful sipping experience, but also is priced at $65 or so. You can find a nice 12-year-old in the $25 range.

    Flavored Mojitos

    Daiquiri Cocktail

    Use silver/white rum for mixed drink. [1] Mojitos—original, mango and lime—from RA Sushi in Orlando. [2] The classic rum drink: the Daiquiri (photo courtesy Tempered Spirits).



    For mixed drinks, use the basic light/silver/white rum. Here are the top rum cocktails.

    For sipping, look to aged rums. Compared to aged Scotch, they’re relatively inexpensive.

    Here are some tasting notes from Ethan Trex at:
    Here are recommended brands from Ethan Trax at Unlike pricey aged whiskey, you can pick up some for $25 and $40.

  • Bacardi Anejo
  • Brugal 1888 Gran Reserva
  • Cruzan Estate Single Barrel
  • Don Q Gran Anejo
  • El Dorado Special Reserve 15 Year Old (Guayana)
  • Gosling’s Old Rum
  • Mount Gay Black Barrel
  • Pyrat XO
  • Ron Zacapa Centenario 23 Year Old
  • Ron Vizcaya VXOP
  • Sugar Island Spiced Rum

    Cachaça (ka-SHA-suh) is a sugar cane distillate made in Brazil, in the style of gold or dark rum. It is the ingredient used in the popular Caipirinha (kai-puh-REEN-ya), Brazil’s national cocktail.

    Cachaça is often called “Brazilian rum,” but the Brazilians take exception to that. They consider their national drink to stand in a category of its own.

    The actual difference between rum and cachaça, which taste very similar, is that rum is typically made from molasses, a by-product after the cane juice has been boiled to extract as much sugar crystal as possible. Cachaça is made from the fresh sugar cane juice (but so are some Caribbean rums, particularly from the French islands). Both are then fermented and distilled. The style is usually like that of light rum, but some cachaça brands are in a style similar to gold rums.
    Cachaça has its own holiday: International Cachaça Day is June 12th.

    Here’s more about cachaça.

    *The chemicals, which are used to extract sugar crystals from the sugar cane, can interfere with the actions of the yeast that fermentat the molasses into rum.

    †Black rum is so-named for its color; brown rum and red rum are dark rums described by their colors.



    FOOD FUN: Alcohol & Gummy Candy

    Champagne With Gummy Worms

    Gummy Worm Mojito Cocktail

    Gummy Worm Cocktail

    [1] Champagne with gummy bears. [2] Mojito with a gummy worm garnish—although a Mezcal drink might make more sense with the worms (photos 1 and 2 courtesy Monarch Rooftop). [3] Gummies slithering in a Tequila Sunrise (photo courtesy Drinking In America.


    Search for “adult gummies” and you’ll turn up bottles and bottles of nutritional supplements.

    They’re not just multivitamins but biotin, fiber, fish oil, melatonin, vitamin C and more. (Caveat: Before you get too excited, check the grams of sugar on the bottle.)

    Let us introduce you instead to our kind of adult gummies: soaked in wine or spirits.

    Some background: A few months ago, a candy boutique in Los Angeles, Sugarfina, introduced rosé-infused gummy bears. Thanks to social media, they were sold out by pre-order before they even arrived from Germany; there’s a long waiting list (Monarch Rooftop says the number now exceeds 14,000).

    We had tried the Champagne Gummies, which are still available. There also are Cuba Libre Gummies, infused with rum and Coca-Cola.

    We wouldn’t have known the Sugarfina gummies were infused with Champagne, much less with Dom Perignon. (We deduced that the amount of champagne used was “just a splash.”)

    Monarch Rooftop, a lounge with a view of the Empire State Building (71 West 35th Street, Manhattan), infuses its own gummies for a selection of creative cocktails. The current menu offers:

  • Tipsy Teddy Bears: gummy bears soaked in Champagne/Rosé.
  • Rummy Worms: gummy worms soaked in rum and paired with a Mojito.
  • Fish Out Of Water: vodka-soaked Swedish Fish laid atop a blue Jell-O shot.
    They inspired us to infuse our own gummies by soaking them in alcohol. We first tried spirits, then wine. We briefly considered a Boilermaker: beer with whiskey-infused gummies instead of the shot. Maybe for the Super Bowl?

    Whatever you want to infuse, the recipe is below.
    National Gummy Worms Day is July 15th, giving you plenty of time to test your own cocktail menu.


    The hardest part of this is deciding which spirit and which fruit juice to use. You can halve the spirits and juice and make a split batch to see which you like better. Flavored vodka is even better.

    Beyond Gummy Bears & Worms

    So many decisions! There are gummy butterflies, Easter bunnies, fish, flower blossoms, frogs, fruits, gummy rings, lobsters, peaches, penguins, pigs, rattlesnakes, sharks, Smurfs, soda bottles and turtles.

    You can make your own adult gummy recipe book, with different shapes and flavors for different occasions. Tequila-infused gummies for your Margarita? Certainly: And get the Mexican Hat gummies.

    Check out the novelty gummies on



  • Look for a large size of gummies: a 1 kg tub (2.2 pounds) or bulk pricing. A five-pound bag of Haribo Gold-Bears is $12 on That’s $2.40/pound. If your local store sells them in bulk for much more than that, you may wish to consider your options.
  • Don’t overlook flavored vodkas. We think they’re a better choice than plain vodka. We also loved sipping artisan gin, so made them for a small snack bowl. We ours soaked in gin; although we used everyday Tanqueray to infuse.
  • Test the amount of alcohol. You can make a split batch, or vary the amount your next batch.
  • Make them as gifts, too, with a reminder note to consume within five days.
  • These are not Jell-O shots. Don’t expect a buzz.

    Plan ahead: The gummies need to infuse in alcohol for five days.


  • 1-1/2 cups of vodka or other spirit or wine
  • 2 pounds gummi candy

    1. PACK the gummies into a lidded container and cover with the spirit. The alcohol should barely cover the top of the gummies.

    2. STIR, cover with the lid and place the container in the refrigerator.

    3. STIR twice a day for five days. If you use a large enough container, you can simply shake it. When ready, drain and serve.

    That’s it!
    What If They’re Too Alcoholic?

    First, taste them on the third day. If they’re what you expect, drain them and enjoy. If they’re still too boozy, try them with a cocktail. The combination may provide the right counterpoint. If not…

    You can fix the batch by draining the alcohol and covering the alcohol in apple juice. Shake and taste in a few hours. They may need to juice-infuse overnight.

    Gummi candy was first produced by Haribo, a Bonn, Germany, confectioner. Haribo is a contraction of Hans Riegel Bonn.

    Founder Hans Riegel invented the Dancing Bear, a fruit gum made in the shape of a bear, in 1922. It was succeeded in 1967 by what would become known worldwide as Gummi Bears, which would spawn an entire zoo of gummi animals.

    Gummi worms, however, were introduced by another gummi candy manufacturer, Trolli (named for forest trolls), in 1981.

    Many Americans use the English spelling, gummy, instead of the German gummi.


    Gummy Bear Sangria

    Cocktail With Gummy Candy

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/shark tank sugarfactory 230

    [1] Wine-infused dummies with sangria. Given all the fruit, we’d serve them on the side. Here’s the recipe from [3] A root beer float with soda bottle gummies. Add vanilla vodka along with the root beer and ice cream. Check out these alcoholic root beer float recipes on [4] What to drink while watching “Shark Tank.” At the Sugar Factory in New York City, it’s called The Ocean Blue (photos 2 and 3 courtesy Sugar Factory).


    Beyond filling candy bowls, you can:

  • Garnish the rim of soft drinks or cocktails.
  • Garnish desert plates.
  • Top cupcakes or iced cookies.
  • Use as ice cream/sorbet toppers.
  • Make gummy fruit kabobs, alternating gummies with fresh fruits.
  • Dip in chocolate and harden on wax paper or parchment, for “gourmet” gummies. For this one, it’s better to avoid the smaller gummies like bears.
  • Decorate the rim of cocktails.
  • Add to popcorn.
  • Make gummy trail mix: gummies, M&Ms or Reese’s Pieces, nuts, pretzels and raisins or dried cherries or cranberries.
  • Make the classic Dirt Cake or Dirt Pudding.


    RECIPE: Blueberry Lemon Drop Cocktail

    Blueberry Lemon Drop Recipe

    Highbush Blueberries

    Lemon Drops

    [1] A Blueberry Lemon Drop vodka cocktail. [2] Fresh highbush blueberries (photos courtesy U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council). [3] Lemon Drop candies (photo LettuceTemptYou | Tumblr).


    The Lemon Drop cocktail is a relatively new one, invented in the 1970s at Henry Africa’s bar in San Francisco.

    It is named after old-fashioned lemon drop candy: lemon-shaped hard candies sanded (coated) with very fine sugar. No doubt, it’s why the cocktail version is often made with a sugar rim.

    A sweet-and-sour vodka-based cocktail, it combines using lemon juice, triple sec, simple syrup and vodka (in this recipe, lower-glycemic* agave syrup replaces the simple syrup).

    Variations such as the Blueberry Lemon Drop and the Raspberry Lemon Drop followed.

    For more complex flavor, replace the agave with ginger or lavender simple syrup.

    The drink is served straight up in a Martini glass or other stemmed glass.


    This recipe was contributed by Erin Rebecca of

    Variations can be made with any muddled blueberries or puréed fruit. Blueberry and raspberry are two popular versions.
    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1 ounce fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 10 frozen blueberries, thawed slightly
  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 1 teaspoon agave syrup
  • Ice cubes
  • Garnish: rosemary sprig and fresh blueberries for garnish
  • Optional rim: superfine† sugar
  • __________________

    *A better choice than sugar is agave nectar, a low-glycemic natural sweetener from the agave plant. Agave nectar has a glycemic index (GI) of 32; half that of table sugar (GI 60-65). Honey has a GI of 58, pure maple syrup has a GI of 54.

    †If you don’t have superfine sugar, you can pulse regular table sugar in the food processor.

    1. MAKE the optional sugar rim by moistening the rim of a Martini glass and twisting it in a shallow dish of superfine* sugar.

    2. MUDDLE the blueberries and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker. Add the vodka and agave and fill the cocktail shaker with ice.

    3. SHAKE well and strain into a chilled Martini glass. Garnish with a rosemary sprig and blueberries.

    Find more blueberry recipes at

    The lemon drop was the first candy sold commercially in the U.S., in 1806. The hard candy was made in lemon and peppermint flavors by a confectioner in Salem, Massachusetts, and called the Salem Gibralter [sic].

    According to Wikipedia, modern lemon drops, like most hard candies we know today, evolved from ancient medicinal lozenges. Eighteenth century advances in sugar technology made hard sugar concoctions possible.



    RECIPES: National S’mores Day Cocktail

    Combine chocolate liqueur, marshmallow vodka and graham cracker crumbs into a special cocktail for National S’mores Day, August 10th.

    Numerous recipes abound, but we had fun with this one, adapted from

    You can also use chocolate vodka and marshmallow syrup, or a cream liqueur in any combination.

    You can use a simple rim of graham crackers and a single marshmallow garnish, or go over the top.

    Serve in a Martini glass or other stemmed glass (you can use a wine glass).


    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2 ounces marshmallow vodka (Pinnacle and Smirnoff make it)
  • 1 ounce chocolate liqueur
  • 1 ounce creme de cacao
  • 2 ounces cream or half & half
  • Ice
  • Garnish: 2 standard marshmallows
    For The Rim

  • Chocolate sauce (fudge sauce)
  • 1 crushed graham cracker

  • No marshmallow vodka? Use vanilla.
  • No creme de cacao? Double the chocolate liqueur.
  • No cream? Use milk (the drink will be less rich).
  • Alternative garnishes: chocolate-covered marshmallow, pick of mini marshmallows, Mallomar


    Smores Cocktail

    Smores Cocktail

    [1] What’s a S’mores celebration without a S’mores cocktail? Photo and recipe courtesy [2] More subtle, this variation uses white chocolate liqueur (from Carrabba’s Italian Grill | Facebook).

    1. CREATE the rim. Crush the graham cracker into crumbs on a plate or in a shallow bowl. Place the chocolate sauce into a shallow microwavable bowl and microwave for 30 seconds or until melted. Dip the rim of the glass into the chocolate, then into the graham cracker crumbs. Set aside to set.

    2. COMBINE the marshmallow vodka, chocolate liqueur, creme de cacao and fresh cream to a cocktail shaker. Fill with ice, shake well and pour into the prepared glass.

    3. TOAST the marshmallow garnish. Place the marshmallows at the end or in the center of a skewer. Use at the end to set the skewer into the drink, use the center to lie the skewer across the rim. Hold the skewer over an open flame to lightly toast (if your skewers are bamboo, soak them first). Add the skewer to the drink and serve.



    RECIPES: Top Rum Cocktails For A Party

    Daiquiri Cocktail

    Dark & Stormy Cocktail


    [1] The Daiquiri, invented by an American engineer in Cuba (photo courtesy [2] The Sidecar, made with dark rum (photo courtesy Hyatt Regency| LA). [3] Our favorite rum cocktail is the Banana Daiquiri. Here’s a recipe from*.


    August 16th is National Rum Day. This year it’s on a Tuesday, but that’s not stopping us.

    We’re having a rum cocktail party the weekend before and the weekend after, to try and compare as many rum drinks as we can.

    If you like this idea, here are the top rum cocktails (although there are scores and scores of them).

    Since rum is distilled from sugar cane (actually, the molasses left over from refining the cane juice into sugar crystals), it’s not surprising that these are sweet drinks.

    All have added sugar and many have variations (e.g. Banana Daiquiri, Pomegranate Mojito).

    All have their traditional garnishes, from lime wedges and mint sprigs to a pineapple wedge and gardenia†.

    For your consideration, here are recipes for the top rum cocktails (don’t get mad if some links make you sign into the website, to verify that you are 21 or older):

  • Bacardi Cocktail: rum, lime juice, pomegranate grenadine.
  • Bacardi Rum Punch: two rums, grenadine, orange juice, pineapple juice, cranberry juice.
  • Blue Hawaii: rum, vodka, blue curaçao, pineapple juice, sweet and sour mix.
  • Coquito: super creamy with coconut milk, cream of coconut, condensed and evaporated milks.
  • Cuba Libre: rum, Coca-Cola, lime (a.k.a. Rum & Coke).
  • Daiquiri: rum, lime and sugar over ice.
  • Dark ‘N’ Stormy: dark rum and ginger beer.
  • Hot Buttered Rum (Rum Toddy): dark rum, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spices, butter.
  • Hurricane: two rums, orange juice, lime juice, passion fruit syrup, grenadine.
  • Long Island Iced Tea: rum, gin, tequila, vodka, triple sec, Coca-Cola
  • Mai Tai: two types of rum, curaçao, lime juice
  • Mojito: rum, lime, mint, soda water
  • Pina Colada: rum, coconut cream, heavy cream, pineapple juice
  • Planter’s Punch: dark rum, lime juice, pineapple juice, orange juice, grenadine
  • Scorpion: rum, cognac, orange juice, lemon, mint
  • Sidecar: rum, triple sec, lime juice
  • Zombie: two rums, triple sec, orange juice, lime juice, grenadine
    …not to mention the Bahama Mama, Beach Bum, Brass Monkey, Bushewacker, Flaming Volcano.
    We could have a party that just includes rum drinks with evocative names!

    FINAL TIP: Drink responsibly, unless you’re hosting a sleepover party.
    *Our own recipe per drink: Toss in the blender 1 very ripe banana, 3 tablespoons ounces white rum, 2 tablespoons banana liqueur (it delivers a richer banana flavor), 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice.

    †As far as anyone can tell, the Scorpion was first served 1930s at Honolulu bar called The Hut. “Trader Vic” Bergeron (“Trader Vic”) picked up the recipe a decade or so later at his bar in Oakland, tweaked it a bunch and multiplied it by about four, and thus birthed the Scorpion Bowl, a large-format cocktail now served in Tiki bars and seedy Chinese joints around the world.The Scorpion, when served in a bowl large enough to float the flower.




    What’s your weekend cocktail?

    For the next three weeks, when watching the Olympics, it could be the Caipirinha, the national cocktail of Brazil. It’s made with the national’s official spirit, cachaça.

    In the U.S., cachaça is considered “Brazilian rum,” but don’t call it that in front of a Brazilian!

  • Rum is distilled from molasses, the residue that remains after the sugar crystals are extracted from the sugar cane juice.
  • Cachaça is made from fresh cane juice, the purest product of sugar cane.
  • According to Wikipedia, cachaça is the third most consumed spirit in the world, although it doesn’t appear in this analysis from The Economist.

    Although the exact origins of caipirinha are not known, it is said that it began around 1918 in the state of São Paulo as a tonic for the Spanish Flu: cachaca, lime, garlic and honey. It is still used as a palliative for the common cold.

    Along the line, someone replaced the honey and garlic with sugar and ice as a cocktail, and the modern caipirinha was born.

    The name caipirinha is the diminutive of the caipira, Brazilian Portuguese for a peasant. Caipirinha is a “little peasant.”

    According to, sugarcane plantations and cachaça production were established in rural areas where land and the labor of the caipiras were cheap. The spirit they made was what people drank, and a novelty variation emerged sweeting the spirit sugar and lime.

    When the cocktail traveled to the larger port-town of Santos, it was given the name of “Caipirinha.”

    The traditional drink is made in an Old Fashioned glass. Many varieties have proliferated in recent years, from expected fruit versions like berries or pineapple, and sophisticated flavor combinations like rose and pink pepper.

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1 lime, cut into eight wedges
  • 2 teaspoons superfine sugar or 1 tablespoon simple syrup
  • 1½ ounces cachaça
  • Crushed ice
  • Optional garnish: lime wheel, mint sprig, sugar cane stick

    Caipirinha Cocktail


    [1] The national cocktail of Brazil: the Caipirinha (photo courtesy [2] A leading brand of cachaça, Leblon is named after the most affluent neighborhood in Rio.


    1. MUDDLE the lime and sugar into glass; then add ice to the top of the glass.

    2. ADD the cachaça, stir, garnish and serve.

  • Read more about the History of Cachaça
  • Try some of The Nibble’s Cachaça-Based Cocktail Recipes

    The Old Fashioned glass, also called lowball glass, or rocks glass, is a short tumbler used for serving an alcoholic beverage with ice cubes (“on the rocks”). It gets its name from the Old Fashioned cocktail, invented in the 1860s in New York City.

    Old Fashioned glasses are made with a wide brim and a thick base for muddling (source).

    Bottoms up!



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