Rowdy ROY ROGERS COCKTAIL with an Adult Twist

Yesterday was my birthday and I wanted a fun drink to go with the new wine glass my friend Melodieann sent me for my birthday, but I wanted a cocktail instead of wine.

Something, probably the bright colors and playful designs on the glass, brought to mind a children's drink, the Roy Rogers. This classic non-alcoholic kid "cocktail" was a parental dining out appeasement for the kiddies made with cola mixed with Maraschino cherry syrup (or Grenadine) and garnished with that neon cherry the tykes loved for its bright red color and high sugar content. It was the boy's version of a Shirley Temple and, as a tomboy youngster who loved all the cowboy serials on TV, my preferred virgin cocktail choice.

I figured why not try to recapture a bit of childhood at my advanced age? A birthday in the 60s deserves a little injection of youthful high spirits and joy. I could definitely use it and the wine glass was certainly large enough to accommodate a tall drink. The only difference between my new birthday glass and a typical Roy Rogers glass was a stem and, hey, I'm old enough at this point for the fancy glass, right?

However, because I'm not a kid anymore and I needed a tad more than just a sugar rush from the soda, I decided it needed a little bourbon, an adult upgrade of the maraschino cherry syrup and a few of drops of bitters to balance out the sweetness of the cola.

Worked out perfectly. I almost feel like a kid again. Happy Birthday to me. Yippee-Ki-Yay.


2 Oz. Buffalo Trace Bourbon
1/2 Oz. Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
2 Dashes Cherry Bitters
1 Dash Angostura bitters
4 Oz. Cola

Garnish: Luxardo Maraschino Cherry

Chill glass.
Add the bourbon, Maraschino liqueur and the bitters to a chilled glass filled with ice then stir.
Too off with cola, garnish and serve.

Happy Trails, Buckaroos!





English Toffee is a hard, crunchy candy typically made with sugar, butter and cream then topped with chocolate and chopped almonds. In the U.S. the candy is usually made with cane sugar while in the British Isles it's made with brown sugar or molasses.

These ingredients sounded like a pretty good cocktail to me so out came my cocktail shaker.

1 Oz. Caramel Vodka
1 Oz. Dark Creme de Cacao
1/2 Oz. Amaretto
1 Oz. Half & Half
Garnish: Dark chocolate rim dipped in crushed almonds, chocolate and caramel syrup drizzle inside glass bowl.
Tools:  Cocktail Shaker
Glass: Cocktail (Martini) or Coupe
Melt some dark chocolate, dip the rim of the glass in the melted chocolate then dip in crushed almonds.
Chill the glass in the freezer for 15 minutes then remove and drizzle in the chocolate and caramel syrups and place back in the freezer. This will set the drizzles in place as well as chill the glass.
Fill the cocktail shaker with ice, add the ingredients and shake until chilled.
Strain into the chilled glass and serve.
National English Toffee Day is January 8th.



For years I have been making a quick hot toddy with Good Earth's original Sweet and Spicy orange spiced tea and a splash of Grand Marnier, whiskey or rum. Whether I came home chilled or just needed a comforting drink on a cold day it was an easy way to warm both my hands and my core temperature.

When our Tucson weather finally decided to head to winter this year it did it fast and furious so out came my Good Earth and some rum. I was sipping away when it dawned on me that my little toddy might make a great hot holiday punch if I dressed it up a bit.

I decided to add a few extra touches to the mix, experimented a few times (I was nice and warmed up after that) then finally settled on the apple and cranberry additions below. If you're looking for a new take on your traditional Christmas Wassail Bowl, give this recipe a try. It's also lovely for a winter tea party.

You might also like the little cookie sandwiches I whipped up to enjoy with my tea toddies (recipe below). Dunking is suggested.


1 Bag Good Earth Original Sweet and Spicy Tea
3 Oz. Water
1/2 Oz. Cranberry Juice
1/2 Oz. Dark Rum
1 Oz. Hard Apple Cider
1 Tsp. Honey Ridge Honey Créme Spiced

Garnish: Dried Orange or Apple Slice, Fresh Mint Leaf, Dried Cranberry

Tools: Saucepan, Strainer

Glass: Punch Cup

Bring the cranberry juice and water to a boil.
Lower to simmer, add the apple cider and heat for another minute.
Remove from heat, add the tea bag and steep for 3 to 4 minutes.
While this steeps add the spiced honey and dark rum to a punch cup.
Strain the steeped tea and cider mixture over the rum and honey.
Stir well, garnish and serve hot with a couple of my Hot Buttered Rum Gingerbread Men Sandwich Cookies (recipe below).


Multiply the ingredients times the number of cups required. 16 cups filled my crock pot.

Garnish: 1 cup of fresh cranberries, 1 orange sliced into half wheels

Tools: Crook Pot, Ladle

Brew the tea, toss the bags, add tea to the crock pot.
Add the cider, rum, cranberry juice and spiced honey and stir well.
Cover and heat on high for 1 hour.
Add the fresh cranberries and orange wheel halves to the mixture.
Reduce to warm or low for serving.

And now for those cookies. Did I tell you they were stuffed with rum butter? 


Rum Butter Ingredients:
1 Stick Salted Butter
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
1 Ounce Dark Rum
Optional: Pinch of fresh grated nutmeg

Rum Butter Directions:
Cream the ingredients together with a mixer until smooth. Refrigerate until required.

For the cookies simply spread the inside of one cookie with some rum butter, add the second cookie then refrigerate until serving time. I used some cute store bought gingerbread men but regular gingersnaps or shortbread cookies would be nice as well.

P.S. The Rum Butter makes a really nice hostess gift!




WHISKEY BUTTER is the best thing you'll make this week. The second best thing will be the HOT BUTTERED WHISKEY you make with it.

Seriously, a friend posted this recipe for Overnight Steel Cut Oats with Whiskey Butter from The View from Great Island on Facebook recently and it had me at Whiskey Butter. Had to try it. SO glad I did.

Adapted from The View from Great Island

1 Stick Salted Butter
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
1 Ounce Jack Daniels
(or your favorite whiskey)
1/2 Tsp. Vanilla Extract
Dash Angostura Orange Bitters

Tools: Med Mixing Bowl, Hand Mixer, Container for Butter

Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy.
Add the whiskey, vanilla and bitters and beat until until smooth.
Spoon into a lidded container and refrigerate until firm.

Now put that luciousnous in this:


2 Oz. Jack Daniels (or your favorite whiskey.)
1 Tablespoon Whiskey Butter
1 Oz. HOT Water

And the whiskey and the butter to one of your favorite cups, top with boiling water, stir well and garnish with a dried orange half.

The recipe for the steel cut oats you can get over at The View from Great Island.

Oh, and make enough Whiskey Butter for pancakes, waffles, muffins, toast ... you get the idea.



COOKING WITH COCKTAIL BITTERS - The many uses of cocktail bitters outside the bar

Outside of the Bar
You've probably seen a bottle in bars, that ubiquitous, mysterious potion the bartender has close at hand to dash a few drops in certain cocktails like Manhattans, Old Fashioneds, Americanos or Sazeracs. Maybe you've even had a few drops on a slice of lime the bartender gave you when you got the hiccups.  (My very first experience with bitters.) One thing's for sure, if you drink any cocktails at all you will have had bitters at one time or another.

Bitters are defined as a "liquor that is flavored with the sharp pungent taste of plant extracts and is used as an additive in cocktails or as a medicinal substance to promote appetite or digestion." (Bitters are also employed in cocktails via drinkable bitter liqueurs called Amari or Amaro, but for today we'll stick with those tiny little bottles of boozy flavor bombs, most often dispensed via an eye dropper.) The plant extracts can be from spices, herbs, barks, nuts and seeds, fruits and berries and/or roots which are used in various combinations to create specific flavor profiles to accent a cocktail.
Originally bitters were created for medicinal purposes. Extracts made by infusing plant elements in alcohol to draw out the curative powers were prescribed for all natures of ailments. To mask the bitter taste (help make the medicine go down) the medical practitioners would advise adding the bitters to honey, tea, juices and even wines and ales. Yes, the first "cocktails" employing bitters were quaffed down by prescription.

One of the first mentions of the use of bitters simply for taste comes from The Balance, and Columbian Repository which defined a cocktail as a "stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters.” The practice itself was much older, dating back to around 7,000 B.C. when a drink of grapes, rice, honey, and (very bitter) hawthorn berry was discovered in China, though this may well have been a medicinal application.

Thanks to the Temperance movement in the 1800s, bitters became mainstream because, as a medicinal cure, they were not subject to spirit taxation. Being touted as medicine they were also a vehicle of profit for flim-flam men who brewed up and sold all nature of nasty bitter concoctions (most often high proof) as cure-alls for nearly every disease known to man. In 1908 the Pure Food and Drug act put an end to the flim-flam trade and only reputable brands remained, at least until Prohibition when alcohol based bitters were deemed illegal. At the end of Prohibition, Peychaud's and Angostura were the only two brands to survive the Volstead Act.

It wasn't until the early 1950s that Fee Brothers came to join the bitters market with their aromatic and orange versions. Forty years later Gary Regan began the modern day resurgence of artisanal bitters when he introduced his Regan’s Orange Bitters No. 6. Fast forward to the 21st century and we have arrived at a heyday of cocktail bitters with access to dozens of new brands and a multitude of exotic flavor profiles that are limited only by imagination. We even have access to a plethora of online tutorials for homemade bitters should the need arise for a bespoke bitters recipe.

Types of bitters include aromatic (like Angostura), citrus (orange, lemon, grapefruit) herbal (arugula, tarragon), spice, fruit (peach, cherry, etcetera) and nut (nuts, coffee, chocolate).

The basic bitters necessary to every well stocked bar are Angostura Bitters, orange bitters and Peychaud's bitters. There are too many classic cocktails that cannot be made without one of these three, but you can personalize the classics or any drink (check out my Chocolate version of a Rob Roy) by substituting any one of the wonderful new bitters flavors available in today's craft cocktail loving world. The standard aromatic bitters of the medicinal days are things of the past as bitters rapidly expand into new territory like chocolate, coffee, lemon, lime, grapefruit, cherry, peach, rhubarb, mint, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, lavender, arugula, celery, chocolate mole, fig and sriracha. Combos are gaining ground and even specialties like barbecue, Mexican mole and Prickly Pear are showing up to play. If that's not enough for you to play with, try making your own bitters.

Bitters are the salt of the cocktail world, like salt they wake up the palate and they help focus the flavors in a cocktail as well as bring their own tastes to play. They can balance out sweetness and acidity, smooth out aggressive ingredients and accentuate a particular taste profile with just a drop or two. They are the "seasoning" of the bar and, as people discover that bitters are just more creative food extracts that can be used much like the familiar vanilla and almond, those little bottles are beginning to show up in cooking environments as well. Bitters can be employed in a multitude of cooking and baking techniques and recipes as well as be the star of non alcoholic beverages. 

PERK UP YOUR COFFEE OR TEA: Add a few dashes of some chocolate bitters or a dash of two of cherry of orange to your morning cup.

CAKES, COOKIE, MUFFINS: Wherever it calls for an extract? Use some bitters instead, just be careful as bitters are generally much more powerful than extracts. Start with a few drops, not teaspoons.

DRINKING WATER: Add a few drops to carbonated soda water for a refreshing cooler. Sweeten this with honey and you have a great way to kick the cola habit. Tap a bit of a citrus bitters into your tap water to cover the taste of the purifying chemicals.

SALAD DRESSING: Add a few drops of an aromatic or herbal bitters to your oil & vinegar. I love using arugula bitters and celery bitters for this application. I've also been know to tap in some orange, pomegranate or fig bitters.

ICE CREAM: Add a few drops of bitters to the custard for homemade ice cream (add after cooking the custard because heat can disrupt the balance and flavor of the bitters depending on its ingredients) or tap a drop right on top of that pint of Ben & Jerry's® or Häagen-Dazs®. My favorite combinations are a drop of floral bitters on fruit ice creams and a drop or two of coffee bitters on chocolate ice creams.

ADD THEM TO WHIPPED CREAM for a punch of extra flavor. My favorites here are coffee, chocolate and cardamom.

Vintage bitters bottles via Wheaton Glass Company, NJ

I often use bitters in my desserts to cut the cloying sweetness.  A few drops of cardamom in a caramel apple pie, some coffee bitters in chocolate frosting and a drop or two of cinnamon or orange bitters in cream cheese frosting can take a dessert to another level. I've also been known to add cilantro bitters to salsa when I don't have any fresh cilantro and I even tap a drop of something interesting on a fresh apple or pear sometimes.

If you want to experiment you can buy travel or tester sets of many brands which include several different flavors of bitters. This is a great way to add to your home bar bitters collection as well. Amazon has several sampler sets including The Bitter Truth and Scrappy's Bitters,  which gives two flavor group options.
There are now too many bitters brands out there to list them all, but some of the most well known are, again, Angostura, Peychaud's, Fee Brothers and Regan's Orange Bitters No. 6.
Here's a short list of some of the other popular bitters available:
Scrappy's Bitters
AZ Bitters Lab
Hella Cocktail Company
Frape & Sons
Miracle Mile
Cecil & Merl
The Bitter Truth
Bitter End
Boker's Bitters



The WHITE LADY, A Prohibition Era Gin Cocktail

Today is Repeal Day, a true drinking holiday created by Jeffrey Morgenthaler, to celebrate the end of Prohibition. That got me thinking about classic Prohibition era cocktails and none is more classic than a White Lady.

The White Lady is a sour cocktail first created either by Harry MacElhone at Harry's Bar in Paris in 1929 or by Harry Craddock of the American Bar at the Savoy, who published his recipe in the 1930 edition of The Savoy Cocktail Book. Frankly, I don't really care who created it, I just like this vintage cocktail and have to have one every so often. 

Neither of the two original recipes included egg white but most modern versions do and I believe the egg really improves the quality of this drink. I'm also a huge fan of the visual of foams on top of my cocktails so that's a plus on the egg side as well. The simple syrup was also not part of those recipes but, for my palate, it balances out the citrus and I always add the sweetness.

Celebrate with us all today and enjoy one.


1-1/2 Oz. London Dry Gin
3/4 Oz Triple Sec
3/4 Oz. Lemon Juice
1 Tsp. Simple Syrup*
1 Tbsp. Pasteurized Egg White

Garnish: Lemon Twist

Tools: Cocktail shaker, Jigger, Coupe glass

Glass: Coupe

Dry shake all the ingredients (shake without ice) in your cocktail shaker for at least one minute. Add ice then shake until chilled and strain into a chilled coupe. Express the lemon twist over the top then add it to the lip of the glass.

* If you want to play with this a bit try a flavored simple syrup or change out the lemon juice for orange or grapefruit juice. I've done variations with orange juice and tarragon simple syrup, grapefruit juice and lavender simple syrup and lime with cilantro simple syrup.




It has been unseasonably warm here in Tucson this holiday season, I'm talking 90 plus temperatures right through the end of November.  When I had a few friends over the other evening it was warm enough to sit outside until the wee hours without jackets.  That meant I wasn't going to be serving any traditional holiday cocktails, not by a long shot.
On top of that, one of my guests was from out of town and I wanted to serve up a little bit of Arizona in a glass for him.  That meant bringing out my Prickly Pear syrup again, but this time I wanted something I could batch up for several guests so I could enjoy my company.
Daiquiris are an easy cocktail to mix by the batch.  All you need to do is multiply your recipe for the number of cocktails you need, throw that into a baggie, give it a good shake then freeze early in the morning and by happy hour all you'll need to do is pull out your "bag o' daiquiris", toss it back in the blender and pulse until nice and smooth. (Because of the level of alcohol your "frozen" bag of daiquiris will be slushy instead of a frozen block so no need to defrost or worry about killing your blender.) One added advantage of pre-freezing is you get a finer ice crystal and, thus, a much smoother frozen cocktail from the double blending.
I just multiplied my ounces below by cups and I had one blender full.  I did this for 3 bags, just in case we decided we needed more daiquiris while we played Cards Against Humanity.  The great thing about making extra is that it keeps, for several weeks in the freezer, if you don't drink it that same day.
(Multiply times the number of drinks required)
2 Ounces White Rum
(I used Bacardi Silver)
1/2 Ounce Freshly Squeezed Lime Juice
1/4 Ounce Prickly Pear Syrup
4 Ice Cubes (or 1/2 cup of water if pre-freezing)
Garnish: Small cube of cactus candy and/or lime twist
Tools: Blender (plus baggies if batching) 
Glass: Coupe
Throw all the ingredients into a blender and pulse blend until smooth.
Pour into chilled coupes, garnish and serve.
(If pre-freezing just pour into a baggie and freeze.)
Bailey was, of course, part of the party. He won't have it any other way.
This little bag of frozen cocktails is a trick I started using decades ago when I went off in my motor home for a weekend art show and didn't want to drag along a blender.  I would prepare frozen cocktails ahead of time in small freezer bags and toss them in my RV fridge. When it was happy hour I would take them out, smoosh them a bit with my hands and, voila, I had an instant frozen colada, margarita or whatever ready to drink whenever needed.
If you like this Prickly Pear cocktail try my:
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