Recipes for National Gin and Tonic Day 2018

Blackberry Honey

April 9th is the day we raise our Gins and Tonic in a toast to the cocktail that idealizes spring. Whether you like yours sweet, savory, or spicy, we know you’ll thoroughly enjoy these cocktails. Whip one up to enjoy while you make our Gin Penne Pasta, which you’ll find at the bottom of the page. It’s perfect for a dinner with friends or lunch out in the garden.

Poached and Tonic
1 ½ oz. The Botanist Gin
tonic water
1 slice of Bosc Pear
1 cinnamon quill

Press the Bosc Pear slice into a cocktail glass and leave in glass. (Note: muddle it if you want more pear flavor.) Add The Botanist Gin, then ice. Top with Tonic Water and garnish with a cinnamon quill.

Hot Gin and Tonic

Hot Gin and Tonic
courtesy of Bar Belly, NYC
1 1/2 oz. Brooklyn Gin
1/4 oz. TomR’s Tonic syrup
1/2 oz. Salers Aperitif
1/2 oz. Amaretto Disaronna Lemon wedge with clove and cinnamon

Combine Brooklyn Gin, TomR’s Tonic syrup in a glass mug. Stir well and top with boiling water. Garnish with a Lemon wedge, clove and cinnamon.

Secret Garden
created by Hendrick’s Ambassador, Mattias Horseman
2 parts Hendrick’s Gin
2 parts squeezed mandarin juice
¼ part lavender flavored soda water

Shake the first two ingredients together and strain into an ice filled high ball glass. Add the lavender soda, stir, and garnish with dried cucumber slice.

To make Lavender Soda: (if you want to make your own)
Cook a Tbsp. lavender in 1 ¾ oz of hot water for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes add 1 ¾ oz. simple syrup, filter and pour into a siphon. Charge with CO2 cartridge, keep handy.

The Piccolo Fiore
from Bar Crema
1 1/2 oz. Bombay Dry Gin
3/4 oz. Hibiscus Berry Tea Syrup
1 dash Angostura bitters
3/4 oz. fresh lemon juice

To make Hibiscus Berry Tea Syrup:
1 Tbsp. Rishi Hibiscus Berry Tea
6 oz. boiling water
¾ cup white sugar

To begin, steep the tea for three minutes, then strain and combine with white sugar. Combine all of the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a lemon twist. Top off with tonic water if you like.

Here’s a cocktail using seltzer water instead of tonic.

Kiss Me, Kiwi
1 1/2 ounces Kiwi HI-CHEW Infused Dry Gin
2 ounces cream soda
seltzer water
1 scoop vanilla ice cream

Measure the gin and cream soda into a parfait or pint glass. Fill 2/3 with seltzer, then top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Serve with a spoon and straw, and garnish with Kiwi HI-CHEW Candies.

To make the infused Gin:
Pour 6 oz. of gin in a jar. Toss in the candy blocks from one stick of Hi-Chew candy and allow to sit overnight. Stir occasionally.

This Feels Good
courtesy of Seamstress (NYC)

1 oz. dill-infused St Germain Elderflower liqueur
1 oz. Bombay Sapphire gin
¼ oz. Green Chartreuse
¼ oz. honey syrup
¾ oz. lime juice
3 cucumber slices
5 arugula leaves

Infuse the Elderflower liqueur by tossing fresh dill into a canning jar with 6 oz. of the liqueur. Allow to sit overnight.

Combine all ingredients to tin and shake with ice. Double strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with sprig of fresh dill. Top off with tonic water and serve.

Blackberry Honey
1 ½ oz. Benham’s Dry Gin
blackberries for garnish and simple syrup
blackberry sparkling water or tonic water

Make a simple syrup by muddling 12-15 blackberries and pour them into a small pot. Add a cup of water and a cup of honey. Bring to a boil, stirring often. Then set aside to cool.

Mix the cocktail by putting the gin and 1 ½ oz. of the blackberry simple syrup you made. Stir and top with blackberry sparkling water or tonic water. Garnish with three blackberries and enjoy.

Strawberry Black Pepper Gin and Tonic
courtesy of Buzz Feed
1 ¾ oz. Martin Miller’s Gin
4 large strawberries
black peppercorns and grinder
6 oz. Fever Tree tonic water

Pour the gin into a tall glass, and add three sliced strawberries. Fill the glass with ice, and a twist of black pepper. Pour in the tonic water, stir, and add a strawberry for garnish. We also made this with Dixie black pepper vodka instead of the peppercorns for a bigger kick.

The ParisianParisan
1 ½ oz. Few American Gin
elderflower liqueur
tonic water
fresh sage

In a champagne flute, add the gin and pour in a tablespoon of elderflower liqueur. Add equal parts tonic water and champagne, garnish with a slapped sage leaf or two and a lemon wedge.

Rosemary Gin and Tonic
courtesy of
2 oz. gin
Fresh rosemary
Tonic water

For this simple, yet flavorful cocktail add the gin and rosemary to a tin and shake with ice. Strain into a Nick and Nora glass. Garnish with a fresh sprig of rosemary. If you prefer it sweet, add a ½ oz. of simple syrup.

Gin Penne Pasta

Gin Penne Pasta
1 pound penne pasta, cooked al dente
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1-28 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 cup gin
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup fresh Parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 cup fresh basil, minced
salt and pepper

In a medium pot, add olive oil, onions, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Begin cooking over medium heat. Cook for 5 minutes until onions are soft and fragrant. Be careful not to brown the onions and garlic. You just want them soft. Add in tomatoes and cook for a few minutes. Remove sauce from heat and blend with a stick blender, or normal blender until sauce is fairly smooth. (We skipped this step, preferring the chunks of tomato. ) Add gin and sugar to sauce and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes or so until alcohol cooks off from gin. You’ll know when it’s ready because it won’t smell like strong alcohol.

Stir in cream, Parmesan cheese, and basil; then season with salt and pepper. Keep warm. Cook pasta according to package. Make sure to pull it when it is al dente or has a slight bite to it still. Drain pasta well and add directly to sauce. Stir together. Serve garnished with Parmesan cheese and fresh basil!

Note: we browned Italian sausage and added it to the sauce just before stirring in the pasta.

Highlights from the California Artisan Cheese Festival 2018

As the winter starts to thaw, a young man’s fancy turns to cheese. What could be better than an evening at the California Artisan Cheese Festival, particularly The Best Bite event, where cheese-centric foods are paraded alongside some of Marin and Sonoma County’s best beers, wines, and ciders.

This year’s event had plenty to enjoy, as always, and guests had to practically be rolled out at the end of the evening. Picking favorites was tough, though attendees are explicitly asked to vote for winning bites, with prizes awarded to cheesemakers and chefs. Some of my favorites included a concoction of Foggy Morning cheese with salmon and potato pancakes from Market Hall Foods Oakland, a pork belly pastrami on rye toast from Sonoma classic The Girl and the Fig, and Chef Jodie Rubin’s Moonside Creamery Starlight Blue on crostini with maitake mushrooms and crispy kale.

If I had to pick just one (straight, unadulterated) cheese to eat, it’d be Point Reyes’ Bay Blue, the creamiest but most flavor-packed blue cheese I think I’ve ever had.

As for the drink, some old favorites were out in force with new brews, including Lagunitas Brewing’s Sumpin’ Easy (a session version of Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’), and a Hazy IPA from Sierra Nevada. Seismic, North Coast, and Bear Republic all attended with classics well worth sipping on. As for wine, Fogline’s pinot noir remained my hands-down favorite in a field that saw more than its share of odd wines being served, such as Portuguese varietals being poured by the Monterey-based Pierce Ranch Vineyards.

I came hungry and thirsty, and left a happy, happy man. If you’re in the Marin/Sonoma area this time of the year come 2019, I highly recommend you join me at the event.

2018 St. Patrick’s Day Cocktails

3 of Clubs
Whether you’re Irish or not, St. Patrick’s Day is time for some hearty food and drink. Preparing it doesn’t have to keep you in the kitchen or bar area for long. Try out these cocktails along with our recipe for Beer Battered Corn Beef Bites with a stout cheese sauce. Soon enough, you’ll be toasting the night away.

Irish Twist
created by Pamela Wiznitzer of Seamstress NYC
1 1/2 oz. Kerrygold Irish Cream Liqueur
2 1/2 oz. heavily brewed Ceylon tea
1 oz. Zaya Rum
1 oz. coconut milk
1/2 oz. sweetened condensed milk
vanilla bean

Mix the Kerrygold, sweetened condensed milk, and coconut milk together with cloves, vanilla, and anise and allow to sit for 2-3 hours. In a glass, place the tea and rum with ice. Then add 3 oz. of the mixture on top and layer them. Finish with a dusting of nutmeg.

Rowdy Irishman

The Rowdy Irishman
1 oz. The World’s Best Moonshine
1.5 oz. WhiskeyGirl Peach Whiskey
1 oz. Sallie’s Greatest Blackberry Sage Simple Syrup
3 oz. cranberry juice
1 oz. orange juice

Add all ingredients over ice in shaker. Shake to combine and pour over fresh ice in a rocks glass; then serve.

The Luck Of The Tiki
courtesy of Casa Tua Cucina at Saks Brickell City Centre, Miami
8-10 mint leaves
¼ oz. Green Chartreuse
¼ oz. Creme de Noyaux
splash of Velvet Falernum
1 ½ oz. white rum
1 oz. lime juice

Swizzle with crushed ice to dilute and chill. Pour into a Collins glass and top with Angostura floats. Garnish with mint leaves, dehydrated lemon, and lime peel before serving.

Teeling Irish Coffee

The Teeling Whiskey Irish Coffee
1 1/2 oz. Teeling Small Batch Whiskey
4 oz. freshly brewed, robust coffee
1/2 oz. spiced stout syrup (see below)
orange zested cream
freshly grated nutmeg

Preheat a hot drinks glass with some warm water and discard, add the Teeling Whiskey, stout syrup, and brewed coffee and stir to combine. Warm a large spoon and gently pour the cream over the back of the spoon and onto the coffee.

To make Spiced Stout Syrup:
2 pints (32 oz.) of Irish Stout
4 cups demerara sugar
1/2 cup whole cloves
1/2 cup pimento/allspice dram
3 cinnamon sticks
1 whole orange zest
2 inches fresh grated ginger
pinch of salt
3 whole star anise pods

Add all ingredients to a saucepan and bring to the simmer; allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to steep for 5 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve and cheesecloth, then bottle. Keeps for 2 weeks refrigerated.

Laphroaig Pot of Peat
3/4 oz Laphroaig Select
3/4 oz ginger liqueur
3/4 oz pineapple juice
3/4 oz lemon juice
3 dashes absinthe verte
sprig of mint (for garnish)

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake well. Strain into a coupe glass and garnish with a mint sprig.

3 of Clubs
created by Aaron Melendrez, Bartender at The Prince, Los Angeles, CA
1 1/2 oz. Knappogue Castle 12 Years Old Irish Whiskey
3/4 oz. Celtic Honey Irish liqueur
1/2 oz. coffee liqueur
1/2 oz. Goslings Black Seal Rum
1 oz. cold brew coffee
3 oz. heavy whipping cream

Stir all ingredients in a mixing glass and pour into a chilled coupe. In tin, whip 3 oz. heavy whipping cream. Layer cream with bar spoon on top of cocktail. Garnish with clover leaf stencil sprayed with green chartreuse and a few drops of green food coloring.

Fresh Perspective
created by Hendrick’s Ambassador, Mattias Horseman
2 parts Hendrick’s Gin
1 ½ parts cucumber, kale, mint, & apple juice
¾ parts lemon juice
1 part aloe juice
rinse of Malic Acid

Shake all ingredients and double strain into a Collins glass. Garnish with fresh mini veggies and a bay leaf.

Celtic Twilight
(traditional Irish cocktail)
1 oz. Frangelico liqueur
1 oz. Baileys Irish cream
1 oz. Jameson Irish Whiskey

Build in a rocks glass with ice. No garnish is needed!

St Kevin’s Garden
courtesy of Glendalouch Distillery
1 3/4 oz. Glendalough Poitín
1/4 oz. lemon juice
3/4 oz. honey
4 mint leaves
2 thyme sprigs
2 blackberries

Muddle the blackberries, mint, and thyme in a shaker tin. Add the lemon juice, honey, and finally the Glendalough Poitín. Shake well with ice and double strain into a chilled old school flute cocktail glass and garnish with a herbal blackberry flower. Serve up with a smile!

Caraway Stout Cocktail
courtesy of McCormick spices
2 Tbsp. Caraway Simple Syrup
1 oz. Irish whiskey
1 bottle (12 ounces) Guinness Extra Stout

For each Cocktail, mix Caraway Simple Syrup and whiskey in tall glass. Pour beer into the same glass. Serve immediately.

To make Caraway Simple Syrup:
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tsp. McCormick caraway seed, coarsely crushed

Bring sugar, water, and caraway seeds to boil in small saucepan on medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat. Let stand 1 hour. Strain caraway seeds. Refrigerate syrup until ready to serve. (Makes enough Simple Syrup for 6 cocktails.)

This food pairing is inspired by Matt and Shannon Heaton, from the Precinct Kitchen and Bar.

Beer Battered Corned Beef Bites

Corned Beef Poppers Recipe
courtesy of
1 corned beef brisket (Flat Cut)
beer batter

Put beef in pot and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 3 hours. Remove from heat and let cool. Trim off any fat and cut against the grain into strips about 1/2 inch thick.

Prepare Batter. Dip beef into batter and deep fry about 2 – 3 minutes. Place on a paper-towel lined plate and serve with stout cheese sauce.

To make Beer Batter:
courtesy of
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 bottle of the beer of your choice (ales work very well)
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

Combine flour and pepper in a large bowl. Slowly pour in beer, whisking constantly until smooth. Dip food in batter, allow excess to drip back into bowl and drop directly into deep-fryer. Fry for 2 minutes or until dark golden brown, then remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels or newspaper.

Stout Cheese Sauce
(based on Guinness’s recipe)
12 oz. cream cheese
4 c. shredded Cheddar cheese
6 oz. stout beer
1/4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
hot sauce or salsa (optional)

In a mini slow-cooker, combine cream cheese, cheddar, and stout. Cover and cook on low, stirring well every 10 minutes, until warmed through and creamy, about 1 hour. Garnish with chives.

Recipes for National Margarita Day 2018

Vanilla Pear Margarita

February 22nd is National Margarita Day — the day to serve up pitchers of margaritas along with some Mexican delights, like our Mexican Spiced Chicken Thighs. Since most people have a good grasp on making the basic margarita, today we want to showcase a few interesting variations.

Vanilla Pear Margarita
by Lauren Lester, Wicked Spatula
4 oz. pear juice (we used a cored whole red pear and mixed all the ingredients in a blender instead of a shaker)
2 oz. blanco tequila
1 oz. fresh lemon juice
fresh vanilla bean seeds from a 3 inch piece of vanilla bean
drizzle of honey (about 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon)
pinch of cinnamon
cinnamon sugar for rim (equal parts cinnamon and sugar or coconut sugar)

Run a slice of lemon along the rim of a glass and then rim it in the cinnamon sugar. Fill the glass with ice.

Combine all ingredients except for the cinnamon sugar in a cocktail shaker and shake until combined. Pour over ice and garnish with a slice of fresh pear or vanilla bean.

Margaritas don’t have to always be filled with flavors of fruits or chiles. Try this one, which is floral through and through.

Prickly Pear Margaritas
recipe courtesy of Pink Patisserie
3 oz. prickly pear syrup (If you can’t find it locally, Amazon has it here )
4 1/2 oz. premium tequila or mezcal (If you want to be really fancy, use equal parts of each)
9 oz. premium sweet and sour mix
4 1/2 oz. fresh squeezed lime juice
zest of 1 lime
1/4 cup. kosher salt
mint sprigs
lime rounds

Prepare salt rim by finely zesting one lime and mixing it with the kosher salt. Run a lime wedge around the rim of your glasses and dip in the lime salt. Combine all ingredients in a tall shaker with ice and shake until chilled. Strain into three glasses filled with ice. Garnish with fresh mint and lime rounds.

Lavender Margarita

Lavender Margarita
inspired by
2 oz. silver tequila
1/2 oz. Cointreau
¼ oz. elderflower liqueur
1 oz. lavender simple syrup 1/2 lime
1 ½ cup sugar
dried lavender (instead we used rose sugar crystals found in the produce section of the grocery store)

First make the lavender simple syrup by boiling a Tbsp. of dried lavender in 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water for 5 minutes. Strain off the lavender pieces.

In a shaker, combine 2 oz. silver tequila, 1/2 oz. Cointreau, 1 oz. simple syrup and the juice of half a lime and let sit. On a plate, mix the sugar and dried lavender (or rose sugar crystals) and use it to rim the outside of a rocks glass. Fill the glass with ice. Shake and strain the contents of the strainer into the glass.

Mango About Town
adapted from STK Meatpacking Restaurant (NYC)
3 oz. Don Julio Reposado
1 oz. Ancho Reyes Chile Liqueur
1 small mango, pureed
1 ½ oz. lemon juice
1 ½ oz. agave nectar
1 Tbsp. cayenne pepper

Rub rim of margarita glass with lemon juice and dip in the cayenne pepper; set aside. Combine the remaining cayenne with other ingredients in a blender with two cubes of ice and blend well. Pour the mixture into the prepared glass and serve. ¡Muy caliente!

Dandelion MargaritaDandelion Margarita
courtesy of
2 oz. Patron Reposado tequila
1/2 oz. dandelion simple syrup
1/2 oz. Triple Sec
1 oz.lemon juice
Dandelion to garnish

Combine all ingredients into shaker mixed with ice. Shake well. Use sugar to rim the glass with. Pour contents of your shaker into rocks glass and top with dandelion flowers.

To make Dandelion Simple Syup:
Obtain dandelion petals. You need about 1 ½ a cup which approximates to about 125 flowers. You can either forage for them yourself (c’mon, they are literally everywhere) or buy some at your local health food store. Soak the petals, bring them to a boil in 3 cups of water, let steep and add 2 cups of sugar. Voila, you have dandelion simple syrup!

Kiwi Margarita

Kiwi Margarita
courtesy of
1/2 cup superfine sugar
1/3 cup gold tequila (We used Herradura Reposado)
1/3 cup Triple Sec
2 large kiwis, peeled
1 cup fresh lime juice
2 cups small ice cubes

Combine the sugar, tequila, triple sec, kiwis, and lime juice in a blender; fill with ice cubes; blend until smooth. Pour into a margarita glass and enjoy!

Lobo Negro
2 parts Montelobos Mezcal
¾ part ginger syrup
1 part fresh lime juice
4 blackberries

Add blackberries to a cocktail shaker and muddle. Combine the rest of the ingredients and shake well to mix. Strain over fresh ice into a rocks glass. Garnish with 3 blackberries on a pick.

Shooting Star Margarita

Shooting Star Fruit Rosemary Margarita
2 oz. blanco tequila (We used Hornitos Blanco)
1 ½ oz. lemon juice
1/2 star fruit (Save some for garnish too!)
4 sprigs rosemary (2 for garnish)
1/2 oz. agave syrup
1 handful ice

First muddle the rosemary with the tequila and strain away the herbs. Add the tequila, star fruit, lemon juice, agave, and ice and blend with a stick blender. Serve in a glass rimmed with agave and rosemary salt. (Fine chopped rosemary with coarse salt.) Garnish with a star fruit disc and rosemary trailing behind!

Boracho Amigo
courtesy of Johnny Swet of The Skylark (NYC)
2 oz Casamigos Reposado tequila
1 oz pineapple juice
.5 oz fresh lime juice
.5 oz cane sugar
8-10 cilantro leaves
Optional: 1/2 thick rim sugar, cilantro salt (equal parts)

Preparation: Combine all ingredients into tin shaker. Add ice. Shake vigorously for 8-10 seconds. Strain into rocks glass. Add ice. Garnish with 2 pineapple leaves.

Dragon Fruit Margarita

Dragon Fruit Margarita
inspired by
1 oz. silver tequila
1 oz. mezcal
3/4 ounce Triple Sec or Cointreau
1 1/2 oz. freshly-squeezed lime juice
3/4 tsp. red dragon fruit purée
1 1/2 oz. simple syrup
1 1/2 oz. club soda (optional)
lime slice, for garnish

Combine all ingredients except club soda in a cocktail shaker. Fill with ice and shake vigorously for 15 seconds, then strain into a martini glass, or over ice in a margarita or Collins glass. Top with the club soda, garnish with a lime slice, and serve. Cheers!

Note: Dragon fruit comes with red or white pulp, though the outside looks the same. The only difference is the red pulp will give a bright red look to your margarita.

Mexican Spicy Chicken Thighs

Mexican Spiced Chicken Thighs
Author: Rachel Farnsworth
8 chicken thighs
2 limes, juiced
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
½ tsp. cayenne pepper
½ tsp. garlic powder
? tsp. ground cloves
½ tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. butter

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a 9 X 13 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. (Note: a deep cast iron skillet works great too!)

Lay out the chicken thighs in the prepared pan, skin-side up. Squeeze the lime juice all over the meat. Combine all the spices in a small bowl. Sprinkle generously over the meat. Divide the butter up into 8 little clumps. Place 1 clump on top of each chicken thigh. Bake for about 45 minutes.

Place on the serving dish and sprinkle cilantro leaves across the top. Serve with warm tortillas.

Review: MarieBelle x Reserva de la Familia Chocolate Box Set

In partnering with chocolatier MarieBelle, Jose Cuervo has created a limited edition of “luxuriously decadent ganache chocolates,” a mix of dark and milk chocolates that are infused with Cuervo’s extra anejo Reserva de la Familia tequila.

This isn’t Cuervo’s first spin with a chocolate producer. Last year, the company released a delightful (but different) collection in conjunction with Tcho.

As noted, the collection of squares combines both milk and dark chocolates (a handy map explains which is which, based on the artwork on top), and both are equally delightful. Bursting with cocoa flavor, the slightly fruity chocolates are pure, fresh, and lightly chewy thanks to an ample amount of ganache in the filling. Ultimately I had trouble picking a favorite between the two styles and found it more fun to pick them at random.

The bad news? What I didn’t get was any sense of tequila in these chocolates, even after polishing off half the box. Quizzing friends on what spirit might be infused within the confections (when tasted blind) never once elicited “tequila” as a response. So, bad news if you’re looking for a little agave punch in your chocolate squares… but good news if all you really care about is having an amazing bite of cocoa to nosh on.

A / $55 per box of 16 chocolates /

Cocktails for Valentine’s Day 2018

Better Than

Not everyone wants to get out to brave weather and traffic for a jam-packed restaurant on Valentine’s Day. Instead, why not create a romantic dinner in with your sweetie, friend, or even yourself. Check out these great cocktails to get things started, and finish the meal with a red wine-infused cake. You’ll be glad you did.

Blushing Pear

Basil Hayden’s Blushing Pear
1 ½ parts Basil Hayden’s Bourbon
1/2 part tawny port
3/4 part simple syrup
3/4 part lemon juice
5 pear slices (2 for garnish)
2 fresh rosemary sprigs

Add 3 pear slices and 1 sprig of rosemary to a cocktail shaker and muddle. Next, combine all remaining ingredients in the cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled rocks glass with ice. Garnish with a sprig of rosemary and 2 pear slices before serving.

Smoke and FLowers

Smoke and Flowers
7 ½ parts Montelobos Mezcal
2 ½ parts St. Germain
5 parts strawberry puree (wash strawberries and blend in a blender)
3 ¾ parts lemon juice
2 ½ parts simple syrup
strawberry slices
lemon slices

This serves five. Combine all ingredients in a pitcher and stir together vigorously. Add ice cubes when ready to serve. Garnish with strawberry and lemon slices.

Great Pretender
1 part Drambuie
1/2 part peach brandy
½ part sweet vermouth
2 parts Chameleon Vanilla Coffee

Combine all the ingredients in a shaker with Ice. Shake, then double-Strain. Garnish with brandied cherry before serving.

Tam O’Shanter
by NYC mixologist Andrey Kalinin
1 1/2 parts Laphroaig Select Scotch Whisky
1/2 part Drambuie Liqueur
1 part bordeaux red wine
3 dashes orange bitters
orange peel (for garnish)

Add all ingredients together in a mixing glass and stir. Strain into a chilled coupe or martini glass. Garnish with a flamed orange twist.

In Good Company Hot Cocoa
courtesy of In Good Company Hospitality Cocktail Curator Will Benedetto
1 1/2 oz. In Good Company Cabernet
1/2 oz. Montelobos Mezcal
1 ¾ oz. chocolate syrup
a pinch of salt
4 oz. soy milk
mini marshmallows

In a saucepan on low heat, warm up the milk until it’s just about to simmer. Turn the temperature down to to low and stir through the chocolate syrup and wine. Take the pot off the stove and carefully pour the liquid into a mug. Stir in the Mezcal and sprinkle with salt. To garnish top with marshmallows and any extra chocolate syrup.

Cherry Sake

Cherry Sake Cocktails
adapted from Food Network Magazine
6 dark sweet maraschino cherries (We used Amarena Fabbri)
4 shots sparkling sake (We used Mio)

Divide cherries among two tall glasses, along with a teaspoon of the syrup they’re packed in. Fill the glass with ice and chilled sparkling sake. Sip and let it be.

The Wanderlust
by Hendrick’s Gin Ambassador Mattias Horseman
2 parts Hendrick’s Gin
1 1/2 parts fresh lemon juice
½ part vanilla simple syrup
2 parts plumb bitters
1 part brandied Amarena cherry syrup

Shake all ingredients together with ice. Double strain into chilled and sugar-coated glass. Garnish with 1 cherry and ½ powdered sugar rim.

Red Lady
courtesy of Botanist Gin
2 oz. Botanist Gin
1 oz. Cointreau
1 oz. fresh squeezed lemon juice
6 strips julienned red bell pepper
3 drops homemade orange bitters (store bought bitters are fine as well)

In a shaker tin, muddle the red bell pepper, then add all remaining ingredients. Dry shake without ice vigorously, then add ice and shake briskly again. Double-strain into a coupe glass and garnish with a strip of julienned red bell pepper.

Eve of the Don

Eve of the Don
1 3/4 oz. Don Papa Rum
1 3/4 bar spoon raspberry and thyme purée
3/4 oz. lemon
3/4 barspoon sugar
lemon zest

Combine all but the Prosecco in a shaker and shake hard until diluted and chilled. Strain into a coupette, Top with Prosecco. Garnish with a raspberry and thyme. Grate lemon zest on top and serve.

Raspberry White Chocolate Cheesecake cocktail
courtesy of
1 oz. white creme de cacao
1 oz. Chambord
1 Tbsp. cream cheese
2 scoops vanilla ice cream
1/2 cup crushed ice

Pour all the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Pour the mixture into a parfait glass. Garnish with a raspberry.

Better Than Flowers
courtesy of Eureka! Restaurant
1 oz. egg white
1 oz. lemon juice
1 oz. rose water simple syrup
¼ oz. St George Raspberry Liqueur
1 ½ oz. Copper and Kings Immature Brandy
2 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
2 dashes rose water

Add ice and soda water to a coupe glass to chill. Next, Combine all ingredients into a shaker tin and dry shake vigorously. Add ice and shake for 10 seconds. Dump ice and soda water from coupe glass. Then double strain into coupe glass. Using an eye dropper; drop 4 droplets of rose water on top of cocktail foam. Use a bamboo skewer straight down each droplet to make a heart.

To make rose water simple syrup:
8 oz. granulated sugar
8 oz. water
4 oz. Fee Brothers Rose Water

Combine rose water, sugar and water in a pot. Bring mixture to a light boil and remove from heat. Let cool at room temperature. Place in bottle and refrigerate for up to 30 days.

Apothic Dark Cake

Apothic Dark Red Wine Cake
recipe by Russell van Kraayenburg
¾ cup flour
¼ cup oz. cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
8 oz. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 ¾ cup vanilla sugar (or granulated sugar)
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/3 cup sweet red wine (We used Apothic Dark)
1 cup cinnamon red wine sauce, recipe below

Preheat an oven to 350°F.

Butter and flour or grease a bundt pan. Set aside. Mix together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Set aside. Beat the sugar and vanilla together until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and then the vanilla, mixing well after each addition. Add half of the dry mixture and mix in well. Pour in the wine and mix in well. Add the rest of the dry mixture and mix until the batter is smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared Bundt pan. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out just clean.

Let the cake cool upright in the pan for a few minutes. Turn the pan over on a rack, and let it cool completely before unmolding. Before serving, poke holes across the cake and drizzle on a little cinnamon red wine sauce. You can use any left over cinnamon sauce in place of simple syrup in an Old Fashioned.

To make Cinnamon Sauce:
2 oz. unsalted butter
8 oz. vanilla sugar (or granulated sugar)
1 cup sweet red wine (try Apothic Dark)
1 cinnamon stick

Place all of the ingredients in a heavy-bottomed sauce pan. Heat the mixture over high heat and bring to a boil. Stirring occasionally, maintain a boil until the sauce is thickened, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool completely. Makes 2 cups.

Review: Tcho x Reserva de la Familia Dark Chocolate Box Set

Chocolate and spirits frequently make for natural companions, but rarely does anyone put much thought into elevating this combination into something special. Tcho turned the tables on that idea with this wild pairing: Tcho dark chocolates plus Cuervo’s luxe Reserva de la Familia bottling. Specifically, Tcho soaks cacao nibs in Jose Cuervo Reserva de la Familia extra añejo tequila for three months, then folds the tequila-soaked nibs into dark chocolate, then packages them up as a 12-pack of single-serving squares.

It takes eating a few squares before you get a real sense of the tequila here, and even then it’s fleeting. There’s a hint of acidity, vanilla, and spice right as you bite into the chocolate, and on the finish a lingering echo of agave. It’s faint, but if you really work at it, you’ll catch the essence — and get what Tcho and Cuervo were going for. In between, it’s a beautiful dark chocolate with those crunchy cacao nibs to gnash on, which have a toasty, roasted almond character.

Delightful, and not really at all what I was expecting.

A- / $20 (twelve 8-gram squares) /

Recipe: Homemade Beer Cheese

Belgian Abbey Ale Beer Cheese
Many of us had our first taste of beer cheese at the local brew-pub. But it’s easy to make your own at home!

We picked up this beer cheese recipe from HomeBrewChef and cooked up two variations. The beer we used for the first batch was Armstrong Stout from Fogbelt Brewing Company. We added bacon slices cut into small pieces and fried them up with red onions and butter. The cheese for this batch was a sharp cheddar. We also used a pepper grinder on the peppercorns instead of tossing them in whole.

Not everyone will like this version because the stout came through strongly, giving the cheese a smoky element. It also colored the beer cheese to a medium tan shade, which may turn off some folks. The bacon pieces added a nice pop, though. Other than dipping pretzels or smothering French fries, this beer cheese would be good atop a steak with some mushrooms added.

In the second variation, we replaced the onion with fresh garlic. Then we made our own bread from a basic soft pretzel recipe with rosemary added and served it up along with chicken strips. You could also throw dried tomato or chopped jalapeno peppers into the dough if you prefer. The beer used this time was Brother Thelonious Belgian style abbey ale from North Coast Brewing Company.

Although the abbey ale is still a darker beer, the cheese sauce does look and taste lighter. The garlic came through the cheddar cheese without overpowering the sauce. Again, we used cracked pepper from our pepper mill instead using whole peppercorns. We bet this one will be a favorite. Check the end of the recipe for other variation suggestions from the chef.

For both recipes, we added an extra 1/4 cup of cheese but that is a matter of individual taste.

Beer Cheese
4 tablespoons butter, unsalted preferably organic
1/2 cup onion, yellow, large, peeled and chopped
1 bay leaf, preferably freshStout Beer Cheese with Bacon
1 teaspoon kosher salt or sea salt
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups beer
1 cup heavy cream
5 whole, black peppercorns
3 whole cloves
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup grated cheese

In a heavy bottom sauce pan over medium heat, add the butter and let it melt. Add the prepped onion, bay leaf, salt and sauté for 4-5 minutes, until the onion is transparent.

Dust the onions with the flour, stirring with a flat edge spatula, so you can scrape any flour from the bottom of the pan, to make a roux. Cook the roux for 3-4 minutes, stirring the whole time, to prevent the flour from burning. Take care not to have the heat too high.

Switching to a whisk, slowly pour in the beer, whisking to combine, getting any fond from the bottom of the pan, making sure all the lumps (if any) from the flour are dissolved. Add the cream. Bring the mixture to a simmer and adjust the heat to keep a gentle simmer. Add the peppercorns, cloves and nutmeg. Whisk the mixture occasionally over the next 30 minutes, as the flour flavor cooks out and the sauce thickens slightly.

Remove the bay leaf, cloves, and peppercorns from the sauce. Take the sauce off the heat. Slowly add the grated cheese while whisking to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed with more salt or cracked pepper.

Recipe Notes and Variants
This sauce can be made with many beer styles. You can pair the beer’s flavor with the type of cheese you use, or pair them both with a specific main course. The versatility is endless. Here are a few ideas:

Classic Cheddar Pale Ale Beer Cheese Sauce: Use a Deschutes Brewery Mirror Pond Pale Ale and grate some Tillamook Medium Cheddar Cheese for this sauce. Try it on nachos, use a cheese fondue or pour over roasted broccoli.

South of the Border Chipotle Smoked Jack Beer Cheese Sauce: Use a Rogue Farms Chipotle Ale and use either a pepper or smoked Monterey Jack cheese. This is awesome over nachos, over enchiladas, as a dip for chips, vegetables (grilled and roasted), over a baked potato, or mixed in with cooked elbow macaroni, roasted peppers, caramelized onions, and topped with barbecue style potato chips.

German Beer Cheese Sauce: To make the perfect dip for your fresh baked pretzel, take a Märzen Oktoberfest beer and add some smoked gouda or räucherkäse cheese. Also perfect to pour some of this over a pretzel coated pork schnitzel served with some spaetzle.

Recipe: Whiskey Barbecue Meatballs

Whiskey Barbecue Meatballs

Super Bowl time is upon us! Don’t watch the game with just any old snack food. Make it something special with these original Whiskey Barbecue Meatballs. (We’re using frozen meatballs here because it’s really about the sauce, but you can also make your own easily.) You can cook up the spicy sauce a couple of days early for game day convenience. It will only get better with a day or two in the refrigerator.

Barbecue Sauce

Whiskey Barbecue Meatballs
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 minced red onion
4 cloves minced garlic
3/4 cup whiskey
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons dark corn syrup
1/2 cup honey
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 cups ketchup
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tablespoon sea salt
1/3 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon ginger (freshly ground is best)
1 shot espresso
1 32-ounce package of frozen, cooked meatballs

In a blender or food processor combine the olive oil, onion, garlic, and whiskey. Puree the mixture and then pour the mixture into a large pan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium; simmer for 10 minutes. Mix in the remaining ingredients, except for meatballs, and bring to a boil again. Reduce heat to medium-low. Let it simmer for 20 minutes, stirring often.

Pour barbecue sauce into a large skillet and add meatballs. Bring to a boil again. Then reduce heat to medium-high and simmer for 20-25 minutes. Turn meatballs over after the 10 minute mark and spoon sauce over them every five minutes or so. The sauce will thicken. Serve with your favorite brew and enjoy.


For the sample recipe, we used Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey was used to enhance the honey added. Substitute bourbon if you prefer.

In lieu of meatballs, try sliced kielbasa sausage.

Lastly, in place of the dried red pepper flakes, hot pepper sauce or ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper may be substituted.

Now Shipping: 2017 L.A. Burdick Robert Burns Chocolates

We all drink whisky on Robert Burns’ birthday (January 25), but if you really want to wow folks, get your hands on a box of L.A. Burdicks’ Robert Burns Chocolate collection, which is available only during this time of the year.

Each box of about 36 bonbons (1/2 a pound) includes multiples of seven different items, each made with a different whisky. Those include Lagavulin, Macallan, Talisker, Springbank, Highland Park, and Glenfarclas. A final chocolate is a whisky honey truffle made with an unspecified whisky.

These are some amazing chocolates and, even though mine got a little freezer burned during shipping thanks to some unseasonably cold weather, they are absolutely delightful and totally worth getting. Order now in time for Burns Night!

More specific reviews and ratings of the individual chocolates can be found here.

$42 /

Recipe: Bourbon and Barrel Aged Imperial Stout Pecan Pie with Bourbon Crust and Malted Whipped Cream

This incredible pecan pie recipe comes from, which adapted it from a recipe in Beer Advocate magazine. I made this with Jim Beam Double Oak Twice Barreled Bourbon. For the Russian Imperial Stout, I used So Happens It’s Tuesday from The Bruery (A / $20 per 750ml bottle), which is aged in bourbon barrels. I was surprised to find the stout had a sour side to it and initially worried it would negatively impact the pie. However, I also used dark corn syrup instead of the light listed in the recipe ingredients. The two balanced one another nicely. The pie filling came out sweet, but not syrupy sweet.

Traditionally, cooks use vodka instead of water in their pie crusts. The reason for this is because the alcohol evaporates, leaving a flaky crust. This recipe calls for bourbon instead of vodka and it worked well for the same reasons. I also loved the use of barley flour in the crust for something truly unique. I found the flour at our local community market.

This recipe also needs dry malt extract (DME), which is not something normally found in the supermarket. I did get mine from the local The Beverage People shop. They do have a website to order from here. It is interesting to note that DME is used in the center of candy malted milk balls. No wonder they are so good! I also recommend the use of real maple syrup and not the imitation kind; a pie this good deserves the real thing.

With the whipped cream, the malt extract adds a malty sweetness to the bourbon and cream flavors. The recipe called for powdered milk. This is an important ingredient as it gives the whipped cream body. I used real heavy cream for mine. The taste is heavenly.

Most of the alcohol, except for the bourbon in the whipped cream, cooks off so there is no real alcohol content to speak of…only the wonderful, warm flavor.

This pie is a bit expensive to make because of the unusual ingredients, not found normally at the grocery store, and the alcohol. However, this is the best pecan pie I have ever tasted. Some things, like fine foods and good beer and spirits, are worth the money spent on them, particularly when they are for a special occasion. This pecan pie is no exception and I highly recommend it.

Here is the recipe. I should also note the crust is for two pies, while the filling is for one. I simply doubled the filling ingredients and baked two pies, which serves twelve slices. Preparation time is about 20 minutes. Cooking time is 60 minutes.

Bourbon Barley Pie Crust
• 1 1/2 cups flour, unbleached all purpose
• 1/2 cup flour, barley
• 1/2 cup flour, pastry
• 3 tablespoons Dry Malt Extract (DME)
• 1 teaspoon sea salt
• 8 ounces unsalted butter
• 4 – 5 tablespoons Bourbon, ice cold

Stout Pecan Filling
• 3 each eggs, jumbo at room temperature
• 3 each eggs, jumbo, yolks only, at room temperature
• 1/2 cup Dry Malt Extract (DME)
• 1/2 cup sugar, organic
• 1/2 cup Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout
• 1/2 cup light corn syrup
• 1/4 cup maple syrup
• 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 1/2 teaspoon salt, kosher
• 3 cups shelled pecan halves

Malted Whipping Cream
• 1 cup heavy cream
• 3 tablespoons Dry Malt Extract (DME)
• 1 tablespoon sugar
• 1 tablespoon milk powder
• 2 tablespoons Bourbon

Bourbon Barley Pie Crust Directions:
• In the bowl of a food processor, add the flours, DME, and salt. Pulse several times to mix the ingredients together. Add the cold butter cubes to the bowl and pulse a few times to cut the fat into the flour mixture.
• Keep pulsing until the mixture has small grain size chunks of fat evenly distributed throughout the mixture.
• With the motor running, quickly add the bourbon until the mixture just forms a ball. Since the alcohol mixed with flour cannot form gluten like water and flour can, over mixing isn’t as much of an issue with this crust. Plus the alcohol will evaporate (40% alcohol), resulting in a flaky crust. Form the dough into two equal size balls. Take plastic wrap and wrap each ball of dough, pressing down on each to create a disk. Place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to re-chill, while fully hydrating the flour, making it easier to work with and helping the crust from shrinking as it cooks.
• Preheat the oven to 350°F | 177°C. Take one dough ball and roll it out to ¼ of an inch thick round on a lightly floured surface. If you don’t have a rolling pin, use a 22 oz bottle that is chilled will also work. Place it in your pie dish or tin. Crimp the edges of the crust and set aside. Use the second pie crust for another pie (try apple) or another application like turn overs.

Stout Pecan Filling Directions:
• In a large bowl, add the eggs and yolks (saving the whites for another recipe), whisking until light and frothy. Add the DME, sugar, Imperial Stout, corn syrup, maple syrup, melted butter, and salt; mix well. Add in the pecan halves and mix to coat. Pour this mixture into the prepared pie crust, smoothing out any pecans which are sticking out. Place into the center of the oven and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until the custard is set. Remove from the oven and let cool completely before serving.

Malted Whipped Cream Directions:
• In a cold metal bowl, add the cold cream, DME, sugar, milk powder, and bourbon. Using a whisk, beat until soft peaks form. Top each slice of pie with a healthy dollop and serve.

Homebrewchef recommends pairing the pie with Parabola Russian Imperial Stout from Firestone Walker Brewing Company (A / $20 per 650ml bottle). This recommendation was spot on as the flavors of both the stout and the pie mingled well together on the tongue. I also recommend, for the wine folks reading, pairing this pie with a Kelley and Young Late Harvest Zinfandel, from Robert Young Vineyards (A+ / $36 per 375ml bottle).

Review: Vineyard Chocolates


Entrepreneur Joe Woerly has an idea: Chocolate bars, flavored with wine. It’s unclear where the flavors come from — actual wine, or just flavors inspired by wine — but the chocolate is from Venezuela and comes in a variety of cocoa levels.

In advance of Woerly’s Kickstarter campaign (see link below) to get the word out about his product, we tried all three flavors.

Vineyard Chocolates Cabernet Flavored Dark Chocolate – 73.5% cocoa. Nicely bittersweet, with notes of blackberry, coffee, and a hint of licorice. A little grainy, but fairly well balanced.

Vineyard Chocolates Merlot Flavored Dark Chocolate – 61% cocoa. Unlike the more fruit-focused cabernet flavor, this version tastes more clearly like merlot wine, with merlot’s iconic violet notes plus a touch of strawberry. Probably my favorite of the bunch.

Vineyard Chocolates Chardonnay Flavored White Chocolate – 34% cocoa. Gooey white chocolate, indistinctly flavored with some fig and orange character. The finish isn’t altogether on this one, but that might be a prejudice against white chocolate.