A few days ago I invited some lady friends over for an end-of-the-year holiday cocktail. When I invited them I asked them what they like to drink, like a good hostess does. The answers were bourbon, bourbon and coke and coffee. Yep, that's pretty much all they said they drink. Of course, being who I am, I wanted to do something more festive and complicated than tossing a shot of whiskey in a cola or a cup of coffee.
How creative can you get with those options and still make your guests happy? Well, I happen to know they do drink eggnog as well because they served me some last year. And I just happened to have some eggnog ice cream and a little bit of my Homemade Caramel Liqueurs tucked away so ...
Garnish: Caramel Candy (I used the same McCrea's Cafe Noir candy used in the caramel liqueur), Dusting of Nutmeg
Glass: Punch Cup, Coupe or Cocktail (Martini), Cocktail pick for caramel.
Combine all the ingredients in your blender and mix until smooth and creamy. Pour into your punch Cup, garnish with the caramel candy and a dusting of nutmeg and serve.
I served them up with some
DRUNKEN OREO CHEESECAKE TRUFFLES:
1 Package of Double Stuff Oreos
8 Oz. Cream Cheese, room temperature
1 Tbsp. Instant Espresso Powder
2 Oz. Coffee Liqueur
1/8 Tsp. Salt
1 C. Dark Chocolate Pieces
1 C. White Chocolate Pieces
Tools: Food processor or something to grind up the Oreos with, toothpicks, mixing bowl, double boiler(s) or microwave safe bowl(s), cookie sheets, parchment paper.
Garnish: Ground up cocoa nibs, sparkly cake decorations, whatever you want to decorate them with that will stick to the chocolate coating. I had some cool Wild Hibiscus Salt from WildHibiscus.com that I sprinkled on top.
Grind up one package of double stuff Oreo cookies, blend this with the softened cream cheese, instant espresso powder, salt and coffee liqueur.
Roll these into one and a half inch diameter balls, stick a toothpick in each one then freeze them on a parchment lined cookie sheet for about 30 minutes. Most recipes for the Oreo Cheesecake Truffles say to freeze for 15 minutes, but because you have added liquor you will need to keep them in the freezer a little longer .
While the truffles chill, melt the chocolate you're going to dip them in, either in the microwave or a double boiler, until smooth and creamy.
Take your truffles out of the freezer and grab them by the toothpicks and dip them in your melted chocolate(s) until covered. Gently tap off the excess chocolate and place them on another parchment lined cookie sheet. I simply flip the parchment paper over and use the same one.
Sprinkle on some ground up cocoa nibs and/or some sparkly cake decorations and chill in the refrigerator until time to serve.
I got low on my melted dark chocolate at the end so I grabbed a bit more of the instant espresso and some dark cocoa powder and rolled the last few in the espresso then in the dark cocoa. These were my favorites, I really liked the bitterness of the coatings because they balanced a pretty sweet treat.
When I first found out that National Candy Cane day was the day after Christmas I thought, "well that's kind of a day late and a dollar short." After all, by the day after Christmas I figured most people would be pretty tired of candy canes, in any form. We'd been inundated by pictures of them and pummeled with candy cane flavored everything from coffee to chocolate bark to cookies and candy since the day after Halloween. Enough with the candy canes already.
Then on second thought, I realized what better day for having Candy Cane Day? The day after Christmas was the day your mom would finally let you eat the candy canes off the Christmas tree! If you were the mom or dad, you gave yourself permission to take the candy canes off the Christmas tree and make some candy cane infused booze with the broken canes the kids didn't like. National Candy Cane day on December 26th finally made sense to me!
So kick the piles of crumpled wrapping paper under the couch until tomorrow, avoid the after Christmas sales melee, yank those candy canes off your Christmas tree and have yourself a restful day of peppermint booze and cocktails:
If you're looking for a beautiful white cocktail for winter or your holiday and Christmas parties, you can't find one that is more delicious than my classic White Chocolate Martini. A delicious combination of vanilla vodka and white chocolate liqueur with a touch of cream, it's a deliciously wintry, white martini.
For this year's Winter Solstice party I decided to bring it up to date with some healthy coconut milk and a little dash of bitters to balance all the sweetness. For the white chocolate liqueur you can use a white crème de cacao, but I prefer the richer Godiva White Chocolate Liqueur. The coffee bitters I used were from Frape & Sons and my vanilla vodka was from Absolut.
1 Oz. Vanilla Vodka
1-1/2 Oz. White Chocolate Liqueur
1-1/2 Oz Coconut Milk
2 Dashes Coffee Bitters
Garnish: White Cake Pearls, Finely Shaved White Chocolate
Glass: Cocktail (Martini) or Coupe
Tools: Cocktail Shaker
Dip the glass rim in some white chocolate liquor and then into the white cake pearls and shaved chocolate and chill the glass in the freezer.
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, pour in the vanilla vodka, white chocolate liqueur and the coconut milk then shake until well chilled.
Strain into your chilled cocktail glass tap in the bitters and serve.
I am always looking for ways to make my cocktails healthier. Because many recipes call for simple syrup, granulated sugar or another sweetener in them, one of my favorite ways to make my drinks healthy is to replace these sugars with a sweetener that is better for you. Maple syrup happens to be one of those healthier sweetening options.
Aside from the health benefits that maple syrup brings, it also adds its own unique flavor that is particularly delicious in whiskeys, especially bourbons. I've not only infused bourbon with maple syrup, I use it often as a sweetener in my crafted cocktail recipes.
Below are some of my favorite cocktails and recipes that employ maple syrup or maple infused bourbon.
I rather like the Fancy Free cocktail recipe I found on Serious Eats**. I've done a couple of riffs on it too, but one day, when I was feeling especially celebratory, I decided to try a tobacco infused cocktail and went and grabbed my bottle of (cue heavenly music and little drunken angels flitting about) 23 year old Pappy. RELAX! Sanity set back in and I put My Precious back in its shrine and grabbed the 15 year Old Pap for my experiment. Sorry if I just gave any Pappy fan a heart attack, it was a momentary aberration.
Pappy Van Winkle is the "be all, end all" bourbon. The 23 year is the penultimate bourbon lovers possession and not to be messed with. Sip it, thank the gods you are blessed to have a friend who has excellent taste, connections and a fat wallet and do not besmirch the Pappy 23 with ANYTHING. Some would be loath to use the 15 year as well, but I was treating myself. Besides, my generous, fat walleted friend always brings his own bottle and leaves me the leftovers. Leftovers, what a word to apply to old Pap.
As for the tobacco addition, it was a whim based on seeing all the buzz lately in the cocktail world about tobacco in cocktails and I was in just enough high spirits from a new design contract to go for it and risk two ounces of Pappy in the attempt. Besides, the 15 year Pappy, a wheated bourbon with a woody, brown sugar and cherry nose and a nutty, vanilla and orange taste, had the right notes to go with the tobacco and the cherry. And Pappy 23 was safely back in his secret domain, safe from any further possible insanity. Of course, what I didn't know at the time and since found out from my friend, the darned 15 year is also hard to get ahold of. Thank the gods, the cocktail turned out great and no Pappy was ruined in the process.
I want to hand out some props to my Twitter friend @TheDiveWhisperer for inspiring the name of this cocktail. I have held off posting it for want of an appropriately great name, and fear of the wrath of the Pappy community, but this gave it to me:
Yes, folks I have succeeded in bringing back the aromatic essence of my dad with this one. I said "ghost of my father" then realized Dad was the first "Pappy"in my life so ....
GHOST of My PAPPY Cherry Tobacco Smoked Old Pappy Cocktail
INGREDIENTS: 2 Oz. Pappy Van Winkle 15 Year Old Bourbon 1/4 Oz. Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur 1/4 Oz. Aromatic Cherry Tobacco Infusion* 2 Dashes Orange Bitters Large Ice Sphere or Cube
Prep: In the morning of the day you are going to try this cocktail take one Luxardo Maraschino cherry (per drink) and drop it in just enough of the Pappy to cover the cherry. Let that get nice and drunker all day. Next, prepare your cherry tobacco infusion*. Chill your glass ahead of time in the freezer.
For the Cocktail: Mist the glass with a quick spritz of the Aromatic Cherry Tobacco Infusion. If you don't have a cocktail mister, simply wash the glass interior with the tobacco infusion. Add your ice cube or sphere then pour in the Luxardo, then the Pappy and give this about 12 stirs with the bar spoon to chill. Drop the orange bitters on top of the ice then garnish with the Pappy soaked Luxardo Cherry and serve.
*Aromatic Cherry Tobacco Infusion Recipe I took a teaspoon of Gawith Hoggarth & Co. Top Black Cherry tobacco and dropped it into a bit of Pappy in a very small glass bottle. I let that infuse for a few hours, just until I got that hint of cherry and tobacco. I didn't want it too powerful, just enough to lend the smoky tobacco and a little extra cherry into the cocktail as a teaser. When the cherry and the tobacco hit your nose your infusion is ready. Strain the tobacco out of the infused bourbon and pour the infusion into a cocktail mister. There should be just enough to mist two cocktails.
I loved this cocktail and I really loved how the extra Pappy, Luxardo and juice from the cherry dripped down a bit to the bottom making my last sip have a little extra kick. To be honest, I didn't get a big tobacco hit from this, a little whiff at first sip and just a little extra hint of smoke, and that's probably not such a bad thing, after the fact. Yes, at the end I also tossed back that little dram of Pappy that I soaked the Luxardo cherry in. I'm no fool.
By the way, my above mentioned generous friend threatened to take back all of the leftovers when he heard of this "folly" and vowed never to leave a bottle in my hands again. Then I made him one and he shut up about all that nonsense. I love you, JP, but you can be a pill.
** Dear Serious Eats, I love you but I will no longer link to you
because all the video ads and scripts on your website crash my browser
and I don't want to pass that issue on to my readers. Let me know if you
ever kill them and I'll link again.
The Grasshopper cocktail was created back in 1919 by Philbert Guichet, the owner of Tujaque's in New Orleans, as an entry for a cocktail contest in New York, and Guichet too home a second prize for his recipe. His classic Grasshopper consisted of equal parts green creme de menthe, creme de cacao and cream, shaken together with ice, then strained into a coupe.
Here I've instilled a little extra Christmas cheer by adding chocolate vodka for a much merrier holiday. Something not found in the classic Grasshopper Recipe.
Drink responsibly, no sleigh driving after these.
The CHRISTMAS GRASSHOPPER
INGREDIENTS: 1 Oz. Chocolate Vodka 1 Oz. White Cream de Cacao 1 Oz. Green Creme de Menthe 1 Oz. Half & Half
Garnish: Simple Syrup, Chocolate Sprinkles
Glass: Coupe or Cocktail (Martini) Glass
Tools: Cocktail shaker
DIRECTIONS: Dip the rim of your cocktail glass into simple syrup, then dip into the chocolate sprinkles. Chill the glass in the freezer. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, add the chocolate vodka, creme de cacao, creme de menthe and half & half and shake until well chilled. Strain into your chilled glass and serve.
Feel free to add a fresh mint garnish if you like. I actually forgot about my mint because it's in my little greenhouse being protected for winter!
Inspired by all the chatter lately on the Moscow Mule, I decided to do my own version, only I left the cold of Russia and sauntered down to sunny Mexico with a tequila version. I really don't get the fascination with a Moscow Mule, it's not a bad drink if you like ginger beer because, vodka being pretty neutral, that's pretty much what you'll taste along with the small part of lime. Copper mugs aside, it's high octane ginger beer with a squeeze of lime and I don't really like ginger beer. Add to that the fact that the Moscow Mule was created solely as a marketing ploy to sell vodka and ginger beer, and I lose interest.
But, with all the hooplah about it lately in the booze community I thought I'd have a go at it to suit myself. So, the first thing I did was remove the ginger beer and vodka and replace it with ginger ale and tequila. Bye bye, Moscow Mule. Hello, Tijuana Jackass!
Yes, I went there. The TIJUANA JACKASS INGREDIENTS 1-1/2 Oz. Anejo Tequila
2 Oz. Fresh Watermelon Juice 1/2 Oz. Fresh Citrus Juice 1/2 Oz. Simple Syrup Ginger Ale Grapefruit Bitters Ice GARNISH: Wild Hibiscus Salt Flakes, Citrus Wheel
GLASS: Highball, Pint
TOOLS: Cocktail Shaker, Strainer
DIRECTIONS: Rub glass rim with citrus, dip in the hibiscus salt flakes, chill your glass in the freezer.
Hand squeeze the watermelon juice. Yes, you can use a juicer. Add the ingredients, except the ginger ale, to an iced filled cocktail shaker, shake until icy cold then strain into the chilled glass.
Top off with ginger ale, add a straw if desired. Garnish and serve.
Make fun of them it all you want, call it a "girlie" drink and "not really a martini" (which, of course, it's not), laugh at me BUT ....
I LIKE APPLE MARTINIS!
So there! You can play cocktail snob all you want and prattle on about "bespoke" cocktail recipes and the latest obscure liquor find you've tripped over but you can't take it away from me, I like Apple Martinis. They taste like the Sour Apple Jolly Rancher candy I loved as a kid but they have the added grown-up benefit of booze. As an adult I like being able to enjoy something I loved as a kid in a higher proof version. I always keep the ingredients stocked in my bar and make myself an Apple Martini every so often. It's great served with some onion crackers and smoked Gouda cheese.
I believe happy hour is a personal experience, a ritual everyone observes in their own way. I don't believe any cocktail you enjoy drinking is "wrong" - even those made with my personal anathema, high-sugar and chemical laden cocktail mixes. If you like them, you're entitled to drink them (no matter how much crap they load into your body.)
I believe in fresh ingredients, high quality ingredients and I try to share my philosophy with others so their cocktail hour is a heightened experience. (I even wrote a book about this whole happy hour attitude called The ZEN of COCKTAILS.) BUT I will not call you out if you just love a can of margarita, a bottle of pop wine or whatever you choose to drink. I might tease you a bit and try to cajole you into trying one of my own "bespoke" cocktails but I will not make you feel bad. That's just not zen, or cool.
I've decided to re-post my Apple Martini recipe. It is my number two most popular recipe, second only to my classic Chocolate Martini and deserves to be back in the public eye. The only thing I've ever changed is the cherry. Instead of those awful grocery store Maraschino cherries I now only use my own homemade ones.
I'm going to be completely up front here, I stole this whole recipe from Alton Brown. Well, almost. I cheated and used eggnog I bought from the store because I'm not Alton Brown. And I made it chocolate. And I used a different (and more) booze. And I'm lazy and I didn't have time for homemade eggnog because a couple of friends stopped by with a bottle of what they called "bourbon" that was actually a bourbon liqueur called Sweet Lucy.
I expected bourbon, I got a sweet liqueur. So I had to adjust dear Alton's recipe a wee bit.
The Not Quite
almost, but not quite, stolen from Alton Brown
Recipe makes 4 cocktails
3 Ounces of Sweet Lucy Bourbon Liqueur
2 Ounces of Maker's Mark Bourbon
2 Cups of Prepared Eggnog (Make it or buy it, your choice)
3 Tablespoons of Dark Chocolate Syrup*
GARNISH: Powdered Dark Chocolate Cocoa, Cardamom and Nutmeg, Cinnamon Stick
GLASS: Cocktail (martini) or coupe
TOOLS: Cocktail shaker
Fill your cocktail shaker with ice and add the Sweet Lucy, Maker's Mark, the eggnog and the chocolate syrup and shake until nicely chilled.
Pour into your cocktail glass and garnish with a dusting of each of the powders (dark cocoa, cardamom, nutmeg), add a cinnamon stick and serve.
* Homemade Dark Chocolate Syrup Recipe:
I prepared my own Dark Chocolate Syrup by taking 1/4 cup of Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa Powder and mixing it with 1/2 a cup of milk, a pinch of salt, 1/2 cup of sugar (I wanted a BITTER chocolate syrup to balance the sweet bourbon liqueur. If your want regular syrup you need to double the sugar.) and several hearty dashes of Frappe & Sons Chocolate Bitters and a few of their Coffee Bitters. I brought this all to a quick boil, immediately reduced the heat and simmered until it thickened then allowed it to cool in the fridge.
Dear Alton, yes, I cheated and messed with your recipe. I'm dangerous that way.