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Archive for Cocktails & Spirits

RECIPE: Holiday Sorbet Cocktail

We spent much of the weekend enjoying limited-edition, seasonal batch flavors from Ciao Bella Gelato: Cranberry Prosecco Sorbet, Montebianco Gelato and Pumpkin Sea Salt Caramel Gelato.

Cranberry Prosecco Gelato. No matter how stuffed you may be from a big holiday dinner, there’s always room for sorbet. Ciao Bella’s Cranberry Prosecco Sorbet marries sweet-tart cranberry sorbet with a hint of Prosecco, the Italian sparkling wine.

Colorful and delicious by itself, it creates an easy cocktail—apéritif or dessert—when scooped into a glass of Prosecco or other sparkling wine. A great idea for Christmas or New Year’s Eve. It can be made as a mocktail for non-drinkers.

Montebianco Gelato. Montebianco, or Mont Blanc, is a famous European dessert made with puréed, sweetened chestnuts, whipped cream and chocolate shavings. Ciao Bella’s Montebianco Gelato is a luscious chestnut cream with organic dark chocolate chunks and a bit of rum extract. If you’re an ice cream lover who’s dreaming of a white Christmas, this could be it.

Pumpkin Sea Salt Caramel Gelato. What a great way to enhance delicious pumpkin gelato! Made with real pumpkin purée and a hint of cinnamon, the thick swirls of sea salt caramel make it the best pumpkin ice cream you could wish for. While you can still get pumpkin ice cream, pick up a pint.


Make a sparkling cranberry sorbet cocktail. Photo by Lognetics | Fotolia.

The flavors are all natural and the milk for the gelato is rBST-free.

Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2 mall scoops cranberry sorbet
  • 6 ounces Prosecco or other sparkling wine; sparkling Italian soda (like San Pellegrino) for mocktail
  • Optional garnish: cocktail pick or toothpick threaded with mint leaves and fresh cranberries—or—lime curl
  • Optional garnish: sparkling sugar rim (green, red or white)

    1. SOFTEN sorbet at room temperature for 5-7 minutes. Add optional sugar rim to a Champagne glass.

    2. PLACE 2 small scoops of sorbet in the bottom of the glass.

    3. TOP with Prosecco or soda, garnish and serve.


    Enjoy limited edition seasonal flavors while
    you can. Photo courtesy Ciao Bella Gelato.



    Use Nutella and pizzelles (Italian waffle cookies) to make a most delicious ice cream sandwich.


  • 1 package pizzelles
  • 1 jar Nutella
  • 1 14-ounce container Ciao Bella Montebianco gelato
  • Optional: melted chocolate for dip

    1. SOFTEN gelato at room temperature for 5 minutes. Lay the bottom pizzelles on a cookie sheet, 2 per sandwich.]

    2. SPREAD Nutella on the bottom pizzelles and top with 1-2 scoops of Montebianco gelato. Add the top pizzelle and press down slightly to seal.

    3. DIP half of the sandwich in the optional melted chocolate.

    3. PLACE sandwiches in the freezer to harden until ready to serve.




    RECIPE: Eggnog “Martini”

    The Eggnog “Martini” in sunny Napa Valley. Photo courtesy Boon Fly Café | Carneros Inn.


    Can you call any a cocktail poured into a Martini glass a Martini?

    Of course not; otherwise you’d call a Cosmopolitan a Cranberry Lime Martini with triple sec substituting for vermouth.

    The Martini is a cocktail made with gin and vermouth, and garnished with an olive or a lemon twist. The first recipe for a vodka Martini appears in 1951, but didn’t gain world notice until the publication of the second James Bond novel, Live and Let Die, in 1962 (Bond’s cocktail of choice was a vodka martini, “shaken not stirred”).

    Why a vodka Martini? Two good guesses are that a bartender made it for a customer who didn’t like gin; or that a vodka distributor created and promoted it to move more vodka—also a clear spirit but without the aromatic gin ingredients.


    If you want to make a cocktail with rum, tequila or whiskey, call it something other than a Martini.

    Here’s more Martini history.

    But even if they don’t know the rules, the folks at Boon Fly Café at the The Carneros Inn in sunny Napa Valley are pleasing customers with Eggnog “Martinis.”

    All you need is eggnog, Captain Morgan Spiced Rum and a Martini glass.



    Ingredients For One Drink

  • 1 ounce of Captain Morgan Spiced Rum
  • 3 ounces eggnog
  • Garnish: Dash of nutmeg or cinnamon

    1. SHAKE rum and eggnog with ice and strain into a Martini glass.

    2. GARNISH and serve.

    Candy Cane Martini

    Cranberry Martini

    Ginger Martini

    Pomegranate Martini


    Captain Morgan, ready to pour rum into his eggnog. Image courtesy Diageo.




    RECIPE: Dirty Santa Coffee Cocktail

    What happens when you mix hot coffee, milk, bourbon and Marshmallow Fluff? You get The Dirty Santa cocktail (hey, we don’t name them!).

    Given the number of people who love a good cup of coffee, this could be a holiday hit.

    The drink is on the menu of Joe and Misses Doe, a casual restaurant in Manhattan’s East Village.


    Ingredients Per Drink

  • Strong coffee
  • 1.5 ounces whole milk (or substitute)
  • .5 ounce simple syrup (recipe)
  • Marhmallow Fluff or other marshmallow creme
  • 1.5 ounces bourbon

    The Dirty Santa served in a trendy, pint-size drinking jar. Libbey sells a dozen for just $16.50.


    1. FILL a microwaveable safe mug 3/4 of the way with coffee. Add milk, and syrup.

    2. COVER the whole top of the mug with Fluff to seal in the liquid.

    3. MICROWAVE for 2 minutes.

    4. POKE a hole in fluff and pour in bourbon.

    We have a responsibility to maintain the accuracy of the English language, even if few other people seem to care about it. So Joe: It’s not Misses Doe, it’s Missus Doe.

    Misses are what happens when you fail to hit the ball, or overlook opportunities.

    Missus, or the missus, is the informal term of address for a wife.

    Teaching moment: Don’t carve anything in stone until you check a dictionary. is an easy click away.



    RECIPE: Mint Chocolate Candy Cane Cocktail

    A fun, retro Christmas cocktail. Photo
    courtesy SideBAR | NYC.


    Deck the halls with this Christmas cocktail from SideBar restaurant in New York City.

    For more color, purchase tricolor candy canes: red, white and green.


    Ingredients For One Cocktail

  • 1 ounce vodka
  • 1/2 ounce green creme de menthe
  • 1/2 ounce white creme de cocoa
  • Whipped cream for garnish
  • Crushed candy cane for garnish
  • Shaker and ice


    1. COMBINE vodka and liqueurs and shake with ice until chilled.

    2. DIP rim of Martini glass into a dish of whipped cream, then into dish of crushed candy canes.

    2. STRAIN drink into glass; serve immediately.

    Find more of our favorite holiday cocktail recipes.



    THANKSGIVING COCKTAIL: Cranberry Maple Cooler

    While people often default to their favorite cocktails, we enjoy the occasion to serve a specialty cocktail. Here’s a Thanksgiving cocktail developed by Lee Anne Wong, one of our favorite cheftestants from the first season of “Top Chef,” for Maker’s Mark Bourbon.


    Ingredients For 1 Drink

  • 1-1/2 parts bourbon
  • 1 tablespoon cranberry jam
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 drop vanilla extract
  • 3 parts cranberry juice
  • Splash club soda
  • Fresh cranberries for garnish
  • Ice

    A cocktail with cranberry and maple for Thanksgiving or Christmas. Photo courtesy Makers Mark.



    1. COMBINE the bourbon, cranberry jam, maple syrup, vanilla extract and cranberry juice in a shaker. Add ice and shake vigorously.

    2. STRAIN over ice, add a splash of soda and garnish with cranberries.



    GIFT: Moschino Disaronno

    What happens when two of Italy’s prominent brands get together? One gives the other a fashion makeover.

    Disaronno, Italy’s best selling liqueur and international fashion house Moschino have launched a special edition holiday bottle concept, “Moschino Loves Disaronno.”

    Moschino has adorned the classic Disaronno bottle with a red and black heart pattern (actually more appropriate for Valentine’s Day gifts, so buy them now while you can). A great gift for amaretto fans, it’s also a collectible for the fashionistas with whom you exchange gifts.

    The limited edition bottle is available now for $24.99 at stores nationwide, or through

    Profits from the Disaronno and Moschino project will support the charity Fashion 4 Development, an African initiative sponsored by the United Nations, with the aim of developing creative strategies for sustained economic growth and development in countries worldwide.



    Limited edition for the holidays (or buy in advance for Valentine’s Day). Photo courtesy Disaronno.


    The legend of Disaronno dates back to 1525, when Renaissance artist and Leonardo da Vinci pupil Bernardino Luini was commissioned to paint a fresco in the town of Saronno. To portray the Madonna of Miracles, he chose as his muse a beautiful local innkeeper. She repaid the honor by giving the artist a flask of the fragrant and delicate amber liquor known as amaretto di Saronno.

    There are numerous brands of amaretto. But with its distinctive square stopper, Disaronno is the world’s best-selling Italian liqueur.

    Amaretto is enjoyed neat (a popular pairing with after-dinner coffee), on the rocks, or in cocktails. To celebrate this festive collaboration, Disaronno has created a special cocktail:


    A holiday sour, garnished with currants
    (often mis-identified as “Champagne
    grapes.”) Photo courtesy Disaronno.



    Ingredients For 1 Drink

  • 3 parts Disaronno or other amaretto liqueur
  • 1 part lemon juice
  • 7 muddled cranberries
  • Ice
  • Champagne, prosecco or other sparkling wine
  • Garnish: currants, lemon wheel, rosemary sprig or other favorite

    1. SHAKE the ingredients with ice and strain into a flute.

    2. TOP with champagne and serve.




    TIP OF THE DAY: A Holiday Hot Toddy

    Mulled cider can be a cocktail (add gin
    or whisky) or mocktail. Photo courtesy Zaya


    The expression “cup of good cheer” that comes to us from Merrie Olde England refers to hot mulled cider and wine. Whether or not you have a fireplace, horse and sleigh, invite friends over to share that cup, and have one waiting as Thanksgiving guests arrive.

    Warm alcoholic beverages such as glögg, mulled wine and toddies originated in Northern Europe, where beer, cider, wine and spirits were mulled (heated) with sugar and spices to add some cheer to cold winter days (before central heating, no less).

    Serve a toddy (or one of the related drinks below) instead of egg nog and you’ll save big on calories. A hot toddy is just as festive and is made with mostly water instead of mostly cream and eggs!


  • Glögg (pronounced like the “eu” sound in French—here’s an audio file pronunciation from a native Swede) is the Scandinavian form of mulled wine, sweetened with sugar and spiced with bitter orange peel, cardamom, cinnamon sticks, cloves, ginger, vanilla pods, and often, almonds and raisins.

  • Hot Buttered Rum is a rum toddy, a favorite drink in Colonial America. The classic recipe contains butter, which adds creaminess and body. Many people use the term “hot buttered rum” when they mean “toddy,” so if you care one way or the other, ask if it contains butter.
  • Hot Cider can be made with or without spirits. You can serve it plain, mulled (with spices) or with gin or other favorite spirit.
  • Mulled Wine is hot and sweet: “Mulled” means to heat, sweeten and flavor with spices. Ale and cider are also mulled.
  • Toddy is a cocktail made with alcohol, boiling water, sugar and spices. Toddies can be made with any spirit—bourbon, brandy, tequila, Scotch and other whiskeys are popular. Back in Merrie Olde England, bourbon and tequila—New World spirits—were not part of the repertoire.
    While it’s not related to any of the hot drinks above, we’ll add another to the list to clarify the difference:

  • Nog, a beverage made with beaten eggs (“egg nog” is a redundancy, like “hot toddy” [a toddy is made with boiling water] and in another category, “shrimp scampi” [scampi is Italian for “shrimp”]).
    We have more history and recipes for all of these hot cocktails.



    This recipe comes from Laphroaig, using its 10-Year-Old Scotch Whisky. We’re big Laphroaig fans—we love that peaty, smoky taste—but you can use whatever Scotch you have. If you’re not a Scotch drinker, substitute your favorite spirit.

    Instead of added spices, this recipe uses ginger liqueur.


    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1 part Scotch
  • ½ part ginger liqueur
  • 3 parts hot apple cider

    Cider and gin. Photo courtesy

  • Garnishes: lemon wedge studded with cloves, dash of fresh ground cinnamon

    1. BUILD drink in a pre-heated coffee mug.

    2. GARNISH and serve.



    This drink, from Tanqueray London Dry Gin, is especially attractive in a tall glass mug, as in the photo below.

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1.25 ounces London Dry Gin
  • .5 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 3 dashes simple syrup
  • 3 dashes bitters
  • Hot apple cider
  • Optional garnish: cinnamon stick or lemon wheel


    1. COMBINE first five ingredients in a glass. Top with hot apple cider and stir.

    2. GARNISH with cinnamon stick and serve.
    Want a cool, not hot, holiday celebration drink? Here’s an option from Cruzan Rum.



  • 5 cranberries
  • Handful of mint leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon agave or honey
  • 1.5 parts aged dark rum
  • Ice
  • Club soda
  • Garnish: mint sprig

    1. MUDDLE the cranberries, mint, spice and agave. Add rum and shake well.

    2. STRAIN over ice into a highball glass. Top with club soda and garnish with a mint sprig and three cranberries.



    TIP: 12 Ways To Use Chocolate Liqueur

    The craze for chocolate Martinis a few years back led many people to buy a bottle of chocolate liqueur. If you still have most of it on the shelf, finish it up this holiday season.

    Beyond sipping as an after dinner drink or mixing into a cocktail, what else can you do with chocolate liqueur?

  • Add it to coffee or hot chocolate (including iced coffee and chocolate).
  • Spike a milkshake or float.
  • Drizzle over ice cream.
  • Add a tablespoon to a basic whipped cream recipe.
  • Drizzle over chocolate pound cake, to create a chocolate cousin of rum cake.
  • Replace the liquid in brownies or cake; this recipe adds 1/2 cup of chocolate liqueur to a chocolate cake recipe.
  • Add it to a trifle.
  • Add to a dessert sauce.
  • Switch out the Kahlúa in tiramisu.
  • Add to chocolate mousse.
  • Enjoy a dessert of sliced bananas.
  • Make chocolate truffles.

    Dorda is named after the owner of Chopin Vodka, Tad Dorda, who began making it for his own enjoyment. Photo courtesy Podlaska Wytwórnia Wódek Polmos.



    Godiva White Chocolate Liqueur. Photo
    courtesy Godiva.



    There are three types of chocolate liqueur: liqueur, cream liqueur, and crème de cacao.

  • Chocolate liqueur is a distilled spirit flavored with chocolate and optional ingredients (fruits, nuts, spices, etc.) plus added sugar. Examples include Godiva Dark Chocolate, Royal Mint-Chocolate Liqueur and Sabra liqueur (made with Jaffa oranges).
  • Chocolate cream liqueur, which adds dairy cream to the blend. Examples include Cadbury Cream Liqueur, Godiva White Chocolate Liqueur and Vermeer Dutch Chocolate Cream Liqueur.
  • Crème de cacao, which does not include dairy cream; “crème” refers to the creamy texture of the liqueur, which is made in dark and white versions. It is made specifically with cacao beans instead of baking chocolate or cocoa powder and is less sweet than other chocolate liqueurs.


    Chocolate liqueur has been around for centuries. In the historical record, the earliest mention is a French reference to producing chocolate en liqueur, in 1666. In New England prior to the American Revolution, a “chocolate wine” was popular, made from chocolate, port, sherry and sugar.

    Recipes for chocolate liqueur appear in a 1789 French manual, an 1803 French pharmacy manual and an 1825 American cookbook. Recipes are prevalent throughout the 19th century and into the early 20th century.*

    Here’s a modern chocolate liqueur recipe if you want to make your own. Remember: The better the chocolate, the better the liqueur.

    Today, you can find chocolate liqueur in dark chocolate, milk chocolate, mocha, and white chocolate, as well as infused with other flavors such as mint, orange, raspberry. If you’re looking for something else: Go ahead, make it!
    *Source: Wikipedia.



    RECIPE: Currant Cocktail

    Currantlicious: currant juice, vodka and triple sec. Photo courtesy CurrantC.


    We are huge fans of CurrantC black currant juice.

    It looks like grape juice, but don’t let that fool you: It’s a bit grape-like, but currant tastes distinctive, bold, pleasantly tart and sophisticated. It’s the kind of juice wine drinkers would choose if they were designated drivers.

    And the extraordinarily high antioxidant levels of currants make blueberries, chocolate and green tea dull news.

    Look for CurrantC currant juice, or buy the concentrate online. Then, replace your morning O.J. with an even better-for-you glass of currant juice, cook with it (Cumberland Sauce is a classic for game, duck and pork), make sorbet and other desserts.

    And start with this delicious cocktail, a great fit with holiday celebrations. The recipe is courtesy CurrantC.


    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2 ounces currant juice
  • 2 ounces citron or regular vodka
  • 2 ounces Cointreau, triple sec or other orange liqueur
  • Squeeze of fresh lime juice
  • Ice
  • Garnish: lime wheel or curl

    1. COMBINE ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice; shake and strain into a chilled Martini glass.

    2. GARNISH with line and serve.

    The juice is also delicious frozen into high-antioxidant popsicles.

  • Currant soda, with juice and sparkling water
  • Ice cream and sorbet
  • Mousse and pudding
  • Salad dressing
  • Smoothies


    It’s cost-effective to buy the concentrate and mix your own juice: 8 ounces cold water to 1 teaspoon CurrantC black currant concentrate. If you’d like it sweeter, you can add sweetener to taste—and keep the calories lower with a non-caloric sweetener.

    Look for recipes and buy currant concentrate and juice at



    Black currants are extremely popular in Europe and, prior to 1911, were big in the U.S. In 1911, the commercial cultivation of currants in the U.S. was outlawed by an act of Congress—for its alleged part in spreading the disease, white pine blister rust, which threatened the U.S. timber industry. The ban was based on incomplete scientific knowledge of the disease.

    At the behest of New York State farmers in this century, scientists from Cornell University revisited the white pine disease issue and concluded that currants didn’t pose the threat to white pines that was once believed.

    Until April 2003, black currants were “forbidden fruit” in the U.S. Then, following the Cornell studies, New York State* overturned the black currant farming ban, opening the door for New York currants—for eating, juice, jam, yogurt, tea and other applications. It’s also a boon for family farms, which now have an in-demand, non-commodity crop to revive sagging revenue.
    *The ban still stands today in several states.


    A bowl of fresh-picked currants. Photo courtesy CurrantC.



    Since domestic currants only began to appear in the marketplace recently, what are those things we’ve been calling currants?

    They are the so-called Zante Currants, which are actually raisins (dried grapes) that have nothing to do with real currants.

  • Grapes grow on vines and are sweet; currants grow on bushes and are quite tart.
  • The botanical family of currants is Saxifragaceae, genus Ribes while the botanical family of grapes is Vitaceae, genus Vitis. The relationship is apples to bananas.
  • Raisins have little or none of the black currant antioxidants studied in the research.

  • Why the confusion?

    After the commercial cultivation of currants was outlawed in 1911, currants dropped off the culinary radar screen. In the 1920s, Greece began to export small dried seedless grapes, one-fourth the size of the average raisin, from the area of Corinth, known in the U.S. as Zante currants

    Zante currants are not currants: They are the dried form of an ancient Greek grape variety properly called the Black Corinth, Vitis vinifera, the smallest of the seedless grapes. They come from the third largest Ionian Island called Zakýnthos, which is often called Zante (and where they were first cultivated more than 2,000 years ago).

    On the first shipment, the Greek writing for the word “Corinth” was mistakenly translated at the pier into “currant.”



    RECIPE: Kentucky Mule Cocktail

    We saw this Kentucky Mule at Del Frisco’s Steakhouse and thought: what a nice harvest color for Thanksgiving cocktail. Then we went back to research the drink.

    A Moscow Mule is a more familiar drink: vodka, ginger beer and lime, often served in a copper mug.

    The Kentucky Mule substitutes bourbon for the vodka and is appropriate for Thanksgiving: an American-made spirit for the most American of holidays.


    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1-1/2 ounces bourbon
  • 4 ounces ginger beer
  • 1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
  • Ice
  • Optional garnish: lime wedge for garnish

    A Kentucky Mule. Photo courtesy Del Frisco’s.

  • Alternative garnish for Thanksgiving: whole cranberries, halved kumquats


    1. FILL a glass with ice. Add bourbon and lime juice; top with ginger beer.

    2. GARNISH and serve.


    A Moscow Mule, cleverly garnished with
    crystallized ginger in addition to the
    traditional lime wedge. Photo courtesy Arch
    Rock Fish Restaurant | Santa Barbara.



    “Mule” and “buck” are old-fashioned names for a family of mixed drinks that include ginger ale or ginger beer and lime or lemon juice.

    Adding lime to a Dark ‘n’ Stormy creates a Rum Buck (also called a Jamaica Buck or a Barbados Buck). You can have a Gin Buck (a.k.a. London Buck), a Bourbon Buck (Kentucky Mule), a Tequila Buck or a Whiskey Buck.

    A buck is the male of a number of different animals, including the antelope, deer, goat, hare, mule, rabbit and sheep.

    Buck cocktails have been around for as long as ginger ale. The Gin Buck was a popular summer cooler during the Roaring Twenties (1.5 ounces gin, 4 ounces ginger ale, juice of half a lemon or lime).

    The Moscow Mule was invented in 1941 by John G. Martin of G.F. Heublein Brothers, Inc., a spirits distributor; Rudolph Kunett, president of Heublein’s vodka division; and Jack Morgan, President of Cock ‘n’ Bull Products (which produced ginger beer) and proprietor of a restaurant of the same name, on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles.


    According to one citation, the three friends were in the Chatham Hotel bar in New York City, and wondered what would happen if a two-ounce shot of vodka—then a relative novelty in the U.S.—was combined with ginger beer and lime. Four or five drinks later, the new cocktail was christened the Moscow Mule. (Source: Wikipedia)

    The name “Moscow” was conferred in honor of the vodka. In terms of why “Moscow Mule” instead of “Moscow Buck”: We can only imagine that they liked the alitteration.



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