Preserving foods in sugar is an ancient practise which dates as far back as ancient China and Mesopotamia. Around the 14th century Arabs were making candied roses and citrus and spread the technique through Europe as they moved to conquer the West. Candied fruit, also called crystallized fruit or glacé fruit, has been documented in written recipes as far back as the 16th century.

Today you can find candied orange peels in higher end candy stores, online or you can make your own. Believe it or not, it's an easy candy treat to make and it has the added benefit of using something you would normally throw away. Candied peels are a delicious sweet treat and even better when dipped in a nice dark chocolate and can be used in a number of recipes. I've added diced pieces to a homemade pound cake batter, used it as garnish on desserts and even tossed it in salads.

Thanks to National Candied Orange Peel Day, it occurred to me I could also make a candied orange cocktail - so, I did!


2 Oz. Templeton Rye Whiskey
2 Oz. Fresh Orange Juice
1/2 Oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
Fresh Rosemary Leaves
1/2 Oz. Candied Orange Peel Simple Syrup*
3 Dashes Scrappy's Orange Bitters
2 Tablespoons Pasteurized Egg White
Ice for chilling

Garnish: Orange Slice Ice Sphere, Rosemary Sprig, Candied Orange Peels (I used this recipe from Glorious Treats)

Tools: Mixing Glass, Muddler, Cocktail Shaker, Strainer

Insert 2 orange slices in your ice mold and freeze until solid.
Muddle some rosemary leaves with the orange simple syrup, lemon and orange juices and the Rye in the bottom of the mixing glass.
Strain this into the cocktail shaker then add in the egg white and orange bitters and dry shake (shake without ice) for one minute to emulsify the egg and develop the foam. (You can also do this step using a blender.)
Add the ice and shake about 20 seconds or until the cocktail is chilled.
Slide the orange slice ice sphere into the glass then strain the cocktail over the sphere.
Garnish with the rosemary and some candied orange slices then serve.

For an extra special happy hour, dip a few of the candied oranges in a nice dark chocolate and serve alongside the cocktail.

* Yes, that sugar syrup that's left over after you boiled the oranges in it is exactly what you have if you wanted to make an orange flavored simple syrup. Don't throw it out, it will keep in your refrigerator for several weeks. Not only is it wonderful as a simple syrup for cocktails, but it can be used in iced tea or hot tea, marinades, salad dressings, brushed on cake layers to keep them moist or used as the sweetener in orange or lemonade.

This cocktail recipe calls for candied orange peels, but the same process can be used for any citrus peel including lemon, grapefruit, tangerine and other similar citrus fruits. Change up the bitters and fruit juice to match and you can have Candied Lemon, Grapefruit or Tangerine Cocktails, although I think I would use a nice, aged rum with the lemon and vodka in the grapefruit version.

National Candied Orange Peel Day is May 4th, just in case you need a special day to celebrate.

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You can't celebrate Cinco de Mayo without a few cocktails, right?

Here are a few suggestions for your celebrations.

A Favorite Refreshment in Mexico!
LICUADOS DE MAYO Cocktail AND Mocktail

Mojitos are the Cuban Cooler version of Mexico's PALOMA, but they're Cool and Chill so I won't tell anyone if you don't ...

Because everybody likes a Margarita.

Naturally you need some Mexican Blue Agave booze.

Gotta have Wine Punch.

¡Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

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Once again it's Kentucky Derby time and this year I've teamed with Four Roses Bourbon to bring you another great Derby Cocktail. Last year I did a Brown Sugar and Peach Mint Julep variation of the signature Kentucky Derby Julep cocktail. This year I'm giving you a cocktail riff and a sweet snack, both inspired by the famous chocolate and nut Derby fans pie.

If you ever had Mayday Pie at the Kentucky Derby you're familiar with the dessert, as it and numerous other Kentucky area chocolate nut pies, including the Kern Family DERBY-PIE®, are all versions of an iconic Southern chocolate, nut (and often bourbon) pie. Ask all around Kentucky what to eat and drink at Derby time and you'll hear two things, Mint Julep and what locals call "Derby" pie.

The "official", trademarked version, DERBY-PIE®, was created in 1950 by George Kern for the Melrose Inn in Prospect, Kentucky and got its name from a family hat draw. The Kern family is fiercely (and legally) protective of it's trademarked pie, but it is just one version of the traditional Southern chocolate nut pie, made with walnuts and NO BOURBON.

Despite all the legal brouhaha and in-fighting over the names and recipes, ALL the Kentucky nut pies, and other regional versions of this sugar, butter and egg confection (such as shoofly pie, sugar pie, butter tarts and chess pie) are - each and every one of them - descendents of Medieval sugar pies. Kentucky most likely got it's version by way of the French who brought their Tarte Au Sucre to New Orleans then added the local pecans after landing. But let's give Kentucky its due, it added BOURBON!

Now, DERBY-PIE® does not have bourbon in theirs, bless their hearts, but most other versions do, after all we're talking about nut pies in the bourbon capitol of the world, Kentucky. And since it's Kentucky, we should also be talking pecans and not walnuts.

No pee-cans, no bourbon? Sugar, that dog won't hunt! So my Derby cocktail and sweet snack both use pecans AND bourbon and they'll both make you want to slap your grandma. (Just go easy on the drinks though or all y'all'll get drunker 'n Cooter Brown.)


2 Oz. Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon
3/4 Oz. Dark Crème de Cacao
1/4 Oz. Courvoisier
3 Dashes Scrappy's Chocolate Bitters
Dash of Salt
1 Cup Ice

Garnish: Four Roses Derby Pecans  (Recipe below), Melted Chocolate Rim*

Glass: Coupe

Tools:  Pastry Brush, Cocktail Shaker, Strainer

Make the Four Roses Derby Pecans  (Recipe below).
*Use the leftover melted chocolate chips to paint half the rim of the glass.
Add a few extra dollops of melted chocolate to the painted rims to anchor a couple of the Four Roses Derby Pecans to the rims.
Chill the rimmed glasses in the refrigerator.
Add the cocktail ingredients to a cocktail shaker and shake until chilled.
Strain into the chilled, rimmed glasses and serve with extra nuts.


1 C. Pecan Halves
2 Tablespoons Four Roses Bourbon
2 Tablespoons Dark Brown Sugar
1/2 Tsp Sea Salt
1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
1 C. Semisweet Chocolate Chips

Tools: Large Mixing Bowl, Parchment Paper, 2 Baking Sheets, Tongs, Small & Microwave Safe Measuring Cup, Microwave

Preheat oven to 350.
Mix together the pecans, brown sugar, salt, vanilla extract and the Four Roses Bourbon until all the pecans are evenly coated.
Lay a piece of parchment paper on the cookie sheet and spread the pecans out in a single layer as separated as possible.
Bake for 15-20 minutes.
Using tongs remove the nuts to a clean sheet of parchment paper.
Allow to cool.
Add another sheet of parchment to the second baking sheet.
When the nuts are cooled, add the chocolate chips to your microwave safe cup and heat in 30 second increments, stirring after each session, until completely melted. Do not over heat.
Grab a cooled pecan by your fingers, dip halfway into the melted chocolate then place on the parchment. Repeat with the rest of the nuts.
(* Use the remainder of the melted chocolate to paint the rim of your FOUR ROSES DERBY COCKTAIL Glasses.)
Chill the finished Four Roses Derby Pecans in the refrigerator until serving time.

P.S. Trust me, make a double batch of the bourbon glazed nuts, with or without dipping in chocolate, for snacking on later.

Let's all #GetDownAndDerby for this year's Run for The Roses this Saturday and be sure to check out my other Triple Crown Cocktail, The Belmont Jewel, for the Belmont Stakes. (Yes, I am working on a cocktail for this year's Preakness as well.)

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"Whosoever says truffle, utters a grand word, which awakens erotic and gastronomic ideas...."
Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1755-1826)
preface to ‘The Physiology of Taste’ (1825)

Most truffle cocktail recipes you will find will give you a sweet drink that employs chocolate in one way or another. That is because most people know about, and like, chocolate truffles. I'm one of those people and have created several chocolate inspired truffle drinks myself, including my Orange Truffle Martini and a Drunken Oreo Truffle Cocktail. They're delicious, no doubt about it but they're made with chocolate, not actual truffles.


Those cocoa dusted chocolate "truffles" got their name from the "diamond of the kitchen", the edible fruiting body of subterranean Ascomycete fungi, commonly called truffles. These highly prized, very expensive fungi  have an earthy, mushroom flavor that is loaded with umami that is highly prized by gourmands and chefs. It also makes truffle a perfect flavor profile for a savory cocktail.

When I discovered that there was a vodka infused with black truffles I decided it was time to make an authentic truffle cocktail, one with all that earthy, umami goodness. The Black Moth Vodka is infused with black Périgord truffles and it is not the easiest liquor to get ahold of. Considering the price and the unusual flavor, that's understandable. I ordered mine here but they also have 30 milliliter nips which are perfect if you just want to try this vodka out. 


2 Oz. Black Moth Truffle Infused Vodka
1/4 Oz. Manzanilla Sherry

Garnish: 3 Cocktail olives stuffed with Truffle Salt infused Cream Cheese

Tools: Cocktail shaker, Strainer, Cocktail pick

Glass: Cocktail (Martini)

Mix half a teaspoon of the Truffle Salt into 1/4 cup of soft cream cheese then stuff this into green olives. Dip the cheese end of the olive lightly into more truffle salt. Slide these onto a cocktail pick.
Combine the ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker and shake until well-chilled.
Strain into your chilled cocktail glass, garnish and serve.

You'll note I used a dry sherry instead of vermouth. This is because I did not like the botanicals in the vermouth combined with the truffle flavor in the vodka. It's often fun to experiment with different  fortified wines for a unique martini style cocktail. Manzanilla Sherry comes from a Seaside area and brings an interesting salty tang to the cocktail which, I think, complements the truffle.

National Truffle Day is May 2nd. 

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Arya is blind, Daenerys is captive, her alpha dragon, Drogon, is licking his wounds, Cersei is bald, Tyrion is still drinking, Jon Snow is still dead and Winter Has Come, dragging White Walkers with it. Just another day in the neighborhood in the Land of Ice and Fire.

I say we set flame to some booze and prepare for war.

A Flaming Drink for
Game of Thrones

3 Oz. Malbec Wine
1/2 Oz. Diplomatico Rum
1 Oz. Bacardi 151 Rum
1 Oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
1 Oz. Fresh Lime Juice
1-1/2 Oz. Orgeat Syrup

Garnish: Sugared Lemon Wheel, Sugared Raspberries, Lime Slice

Tools: Cocktail Shaker, Strainer, Bar Spoon, BBQ Lighter or Fireplace Match, Small Plate, Straw

Glass: 12 Ounce Julep Cup (or any other Medieval looking metal tankard)

Soak the lemon wheel, lime slice and raspberries in some 151 rum.
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice then add the ingredients and shake to chill.
Strain into an ice filled glass then add the garnishes.
Turn the bar spoon upside down over the top of the drink then slowly pour the Bacardi 151 rum over the spoon back so it will layer on top of the fruit and cocktail.
Carefully* set flame to the 151.
Enjoy the spectacle of the blue flames for a few moments then lay the plate over the drink and EXTINGUISH FLAMES BEFORE DRINKING! Insert straw and serve.

If you allow the drink to flame for too long you could heat the glass and the top layer which could burn your mouth even after the flame is extinguished so exercise caution and serve with the straw.

Yes, I used my silver Julep cup again. Sadly, I don't happen to have a great Medieval tankard laying around.

*Flaming Drink Precautions
Before lighting the cocktail on fire, have a fire extinguisher at hand, move all the spirits away, wipe up any liquor spills, wipe any residual alcohol off your hands, make sure you're not wearing loose clothing or have any napkins, towels, etcetera that could be exposed to the flame.  Do not blow out or slap out the flames as the burning liquid could spill out and spread the fire. Use common sense and do not attempt to flame any cocktail while drunk!

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Like blueberries? You're going to love this cocktail if you do. It's ripe with fresh blueberry juice and gets a nice kick from blueberry and vanilla vodkas and a little zing from some orange bitters. This is a drink loaded with antioxidants from all the fresh blueberries and the perfect way to put a little healthy into your happy hour.

When I bake a blueberry pie I always use a little lemon juice to brighten up the flavors so I added a bit of fresh lemon juice here as well. The pie crust rim ties it all together and gives you a true blueberry pie experience in a glass.


1 Oz. Blueberry Vodka
1/4 Oz. Vanilla Vodka
2 Oz. Fresh Blueberry Juice
1/4 Oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
1 Tablespoon Blueberry Simple Syrup
Dash of Angostura Orange Bitters

Garnish: Fresh Blueberries, Crushed, Baked Pie Crust Rim

Tools: Juicer, 2 Small Plates, Cocktail Shaker

Glass: Coupe

Juice the blueberries.
Sprinkle with sugar then blind bake up one sheet of Pillsbury pie dough. When cool, crush up in a small plate. Add some of the blueberry simple syrup to another small plate. Dip the glass rim in the syrup then into the crushed pie crust then chill the glass in the freezer. (Save the rest of the pie crust for other Pie Cocktails.)
Add all the ingredients to a cocktail shaker and shake until chilled.
Slide a few fresh blueberries on a cocktail pick and serve.

If you're into food holidays, this cocktail is perfect for National Blueberry Pie Day which falls on April 28th.

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NIX THE MIX! Homemade Sweet & Sour Mix Recipe

If you do nothing else for your cocktails this year, at least
NIX THE (Pre-made) SOUR MIX!

I've said it before but it's worth saying again - commercially made, chemical laden, fake flavored cocktail mixes are death to a good cocktail. Commercially produced sour mixes are the reason you never thought you liked a Whiskey Sour, an Amaretto Sour or any other cocktail that calls for citrus and a sweetener. Like your food, your cocktails were never meant to have ingredients you couldn't pronounce in them.

It really doesn't take that long to make a fresh, nutritious homemade sour mix and the difference it makes in the taste of your cocktails is amazeballs.

Now, go get some REAL lemons and limes and do yourself and your cocktails a huge favor.


2 Cups Cane or Demerara Sugar
2 Cups Water
2 Cups Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice
1 Cup Freshly Squeezed Lime Juice
1 Oz. Vodka, optional

Tools: Medium Saucepan, Juicer, Funnel, Resealable Storage Bottle, 

In a saucepan, bring the sugar and water to a boil. Stir until the sugar dissolves then remove from the heat and allow this to cool. (Congratulations you have just made simple syrup!)

While your simple syrup is cooling, juice, then strain out the pulp from your lemons and limes. (If you're using a centrifical or cold press juicer you won't need to strain. If you using a hand juicer you will need to strain.)
Pour the fresh juices into your storage bottle then add the simple syrup and give it all a good shake.
This should keep refrigerated for up to 2 weeks. Toss the sour mix when you notice it getting cloudy. If you add the vodka it will keep for up to a month, however it will not taste as fresh.

Yes, you can leave out the vodka and cut the recipe.

Yes, you can use oranges, grapefruits and other citrus, though you might have to adjust the amount of sugar. Try different citruses for different cocktails. Mix it up, have some fun!

No, you cannot use artificial sweeteners. Yes, you can use honey or agave syrup but you'll need to adjust the water amount. And remember that honey carries it's own distinct flavor.

P.S. This homemade sour mix is also great in iced tea.

You're welcome.

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