Winter Cocktails for 2018

Winter Rose

What, you haven’t sworn off drinking as a New Year’s resolution? We still swear that when the weather is dreary outside, there is nothing better to warm you than a nice winter cocktail (and perhaps a big bowl of chili — our favorite recipe follows).

Enjoy these cocktails as you dream of spring!

Winter Rose
created by Nick Mautone
2 oz. Haikara Yuzu or Haikara Momo Sake
½ oz. rum
1 oz. lime juice
dash of simple syrup
dash of rose water
dash of lavender bitters
ginger ale for topping
fresh cranberries or orange peel (for garnish)

Add all ingredients, except ginger ale, to a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake vigorously until the outside of the shaker is frosted and beaded with sweat. Next, strain into rocks glass. Top with ginger ale and garnish.

Apricot Toddy
1 1/4 oz. Bailoni Apricot Liqueur
¾ oz. lemon juice
2 barspoons honey
2 ¾ oz. hot water

Mix preheated Bailoni Apricot Liqueur with lemon juice and honey in heat resistant glass and stir. Fill up with hot water. Garnish with lemon pierced with cloves and a cinnamon stick.

Drambuie’s Mulled Wine
8 parts Drambuie
1 bottle (750 ml) Cabernet Sauvignon
2 parts honey
1 spearmint-peppermint tea bag
peel of ½ grapefruit
peel of 1 orange
2 Tbsp. fresh grated ginger
½ tsp. whole juniper berries
½ tsp. whole allspice berries ½ tsp. whole peppercorns

With a mortar and pestle grind the berries and pepper corns and add to a large pot. Add all other ingredients and bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat and let stand for 1 minute. Strain and serve. If not hot enough, bring back to a simmer. Serve hot.

Magnus PI

Magnus P.I.
created by Steven Teaver, The Four Seasons Resort and Residences Vail
1 1/2 oz. Highland Park Magnus
1/2 oz. Douglas Fir Eau de Vie
1/2 oz. burned simple syrup
2 cups sugar
3 cups water

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice; shake and strain into a Collins glass over ice. Garnish as desired.

To make the burned simple syrup:
Melt 2 cups of sugar on low in a sauce pan. When the sugar is a dark honey color and consistency; add 1 cup of water (slowly). This seizes the melted sugar, essentially turning it into a hard candy. Add 2 additional cups of water and return the pot to medium heat and slowly stir until the seized sugar dissolves.

Mexican Mary
2 oz. Tequila Cazadores Blanco tequila
6 oz. Zing Zang Bloody Mary Mix
½ oz. fresh lime juice
2 dashes Maggi Seasoning Sauce
1/8 tsp. dry chipotle powder
pinch of dry oregano
salt rim using Manny’s Salt (pasilla and guajillo chiles with a touch of hibiscus flower)

Add all ingredients (besides salt) to a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously. Pour into salt rimmed glass. Garnish with a Mexican style grill shrimp kabob with tomatoes, Fresno chile, Mexican zucchini, and an onion.

Winter Whisperer

Winter Whisperer
1 1/2 oz. Smirnoff Peppermint Twist
3/4 oz. pomegranate syrup
4 oz. Pama pomegranate liqueur
4 oz. sugar
3/4 oz. fresh lemon juice
8 mint leaves
2 oz. club soda

Make the pomegranate syrup by mixing the POM and sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Muddle mint with syrup, then and add lemon juice and Smirnoff Peppermint Twist. Fill with ice and shake. Strain over ice in a rocks glass and top with club soda.

Laphroaig ‘Tis the Season
by Chicago mixologist Benjamin Schiller
2 oz. Laphroaig Select
3/4 oz. vermouth
1/4 oz. walnut liqueur
¼ oz. allspice liqueur
grated nutmeg

Combine Laphroaig, vermouth, and walnut liqueur in a mixing glass. Add ice and stir. Meanwhile, rinse a coupe glass with allspice liqueur, and then empty any excess liquid. Strain the cocktail into the glass, and grate nutmeg over the cocktail; then serve!

Café ala Mexicana
by Jaime Salas, National Milagro Ambassador
1 1/2 oz. Milagro Añejo
¾ oz. Ancho Reyes Chile Liqueur
4 oz. fresh brewed coffee
1 tsp. brown sugar
1 oz. heavy cream

Build in a clear mug or other drink vessel suitable for hot beverages. Top with whipped cream and chile flakes. Garnish with two coffee beans before serving.

Brockmans Fiery Side

Brockmans Fiery Side
2 oz. Brockmans Gin
1/2 oz. cinnamon syrup
ginger beer
1/4 oz. cherry brandy

Fill a highball glass with ice cubes, add the gin and cinnamon syrup; then top with ginger beer. Drizzle the cherry brandy over the top. Garnish with a stick of cinnamon and a cherry.

1602 Alexander
courtesy of Henry’s Hotel Bar at Harbor View Hotel
1 ½ oz. Copper and Kings brandy
½ oz. dark crème de cacao
1 ½ oz. lavender and clove infused honey milk
dark chocolate, grated

Shake all ingredients very well with ice and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with freshly grated dark chocolate.

To make the lavender and clove infused honey milk:
½ cup dried lavender
½ cup cloves
¾ quart milk
¼ quart honey syrup (1:1 honey/water)

Combine all ingredients in a quart container. Shake and allow to sit for at least 48 hours. Strain out solids and re-bottle.

Strongbow Chili

Strongbow Slow Cooked Pork and Apple Chili
3 pounds skinless, boneless pork shoulder, cut into 8 large pieces, fat trimmed.
1 Tbsp. olive oil
3 dried ancho chilies, stemmed and seeded
2 dried New Mexico chilies, stemmed and seeded
1 dried chipotle chile, stemmed and seeded
1 1/2 cups homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock
3 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 large Spanish onion, diced
1 jalapeño, stemmed, seeded, and minced
8 medium cloves garlic, minced
28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
12 ounce bottle Strongbow Gold Apple Hard Cider
1 1/2 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 firm red apples, cored and diced
two 15 oz. cans dark kidney beans, drained
salt and freshly ground black pepper
hot sauce to taste
steamed rice

Optional fresh toppings: sliced jalapeño, cilantro, and apple.

Blot pork dry with paper towels. Heat oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over high heat until shimmering. Add pork and cook until browned on the bottom, about 4 minutes. Turn pork and brown opposite side. Transfer pork to slow cooker.

In a small saucepan, add chicken stock all dried chilies and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until chilies are softened about 15 minutes. Transfer to blender and add tomato paste, cumin, and Worcestershire sauce. Blend to a smooth paste. Scrape paste into slow cooker with pork.

Add onion, jalapeño, and garlic to slow cooker, arranging them on and around the pork. Pour crushed tomatoes on top.

In a medium bowl, whisk together Strongbow Gold Apple Hard Cider and cornstarch. Pour into slow cooker. Gently stir in kidney beans if using. Cover and cook on low until pork is fall-apart tender, about 6 hours.

Remove pork from sauce and shred using 2 forks. Add diced apples to sauce, Return pulled pork to slow cooker, stir gently, and season with salt and pepper. Add hot sauce for additional heat, if desired. Let flavors meld and additional 30 minutes in the crock pot and serve with steamed rice.

Recipe: Ritten Word

I recently encountered a cocktail called Ritten Word (you’ll get the name in a minute) at Zero Zero in San Francisco. It was an outstanding drink, with a recipe listed merely as follows (in all lowercase): rittenhouse, canton, cynar.

Interesting combo. Doesn’t immediately sound like it would work. But I ordered one and was blown away. I didn’t think to inquire as to its construction, so I set to work a week later trying to recreate it at home. I think I did so, just about perfectly. Try whipping one up and see if this combination of flavors — the ginger and rye spicing up the front; that amaro note washing over you on the finish — doesn’t do wonders for your winter cocktailing.

Ritten Word (Drinkhacker Tribute)
1.5 oz. Rittenhouse rye (or another quality rye)
.75 oz Domaine de Canton liqueur
.75 oz Cynar

Stir well in a mixing glass with plenty of ice and strain into a coupe or a cocktail glass. Garnish with a long strand of lemon peel.

Try it as well with Cynar 70 for a bolder amaro influence.

Cocktail Recipes for New Year’s Eve 2017

Midnight Magic

Whether you’re celebrating that 2017 is finally over or just looking forward to a brighter 2018 (or both), it’s tradition to celebrate with booze. We want to share a few cocktail recipes with you; some are perfect for a quiet evening with your significant other, some are built as party punches. A few are simple; some require a bit more pre-planning. All of them are enjoyable to be sure, as are the easy-to-make truffles in the recipe at the end.

Happy 2018!

Midnight Magic
Stella Rosa Black Lux
strawberries, sliced
lime juice

Fill glass with strawberries and blueberries. Pour in Stella Rosa Black Lux to the top. Next, add a squeeze of lime juice and a drizzle of honey. Garnish with a sprig of mint before serving.

Bourbon Blackberry Rickey
1 1/2 oz. Coopers’ Craft Bourbon
3/4 oz. fresh squeezed lime juice
3/4 oz. simple syrup
8 oz. sparkling water, separated
4 fresh blackberries
1 lime wheel skewered with blackberry

Crush the blackberries in a cocktail shaker. Then add bourbon, lime juice, simple syrup, and fill with ice. Shake for 15 seconds to combine and chill. Strain into Collins glass, then add ice and top with sparkling water. Garnish with a lime and blackberry skewer and serve with a straw.

Cranberry Sauce Gin and Tonic
by Jimmy at the James
2 parts Botanist Gin
½ part simple syrup
½ of fresh lemon juice 1 heaping barspoon cranberry sauce
Q Tonic
lemon wheel

In a cocktail shaker combine the gin, simple syrup, lemon juice, and cranberry sauce. Shake with ice for about ten seconds and then strain into a tall glass with ice. Stir in tonic water and garnish with a lemon wheel.

buttterfly tea flower tea

Butterfly Pea Flower Tea
1 1/2 oz. Reyka Vodka
1 oz. fresh lemon juice
3/4 oz. Butterfly Pea Flower tea syrup
dry champagne

Make the tea syrup by boiling a cup of water, a cup of sugar, and Butterfly Pea tea leaves. (These are available online.) Once thickened into a syrup consistency, remove from heat and let cool.

Combine all ingredients ingredients in a shaker. Shake and strain into a glass; top with champagne.

Crimson Royale
created by Josh Campbell, Bartender at Leyenda, NYC
1 oz. Campari
1 1/4 oz. Chai-Infused Cinzano 1757
1 tsp. ginger syrup
1/2 tsp. pomegranate molasses
Cinzano Prosecco

Combine ingredients in a mixing glass and stir, then strain into a champagne flute and top with Prosecco. Express and discard an orange peel. Garnish with a flamed cinnamon stick.

To make the Chai-Infused Cinzano 1757:
Mix one tablespoon each of black tea, cinnamon, clove and cardamom. Pour into a 750 ml bottle of Cinzano—you may want to use a small funnel to keep the spices from spilling over the bottle lip. Let sit overnight.

To make ginger syrup:
Bring 2 cups water and 2 cups sugar to a boil, then add in 8 oz. sliced ginger. Let steep for 30 minutes; then fine strain and discard ginger. Store refrigerated in an airtight container.

The Promise

The Promise
1 1/2 parts Facundo Neo Rum
1/2 part Yellow Chartreuse
1/2 part honey syrup (equal parts honey and water boiled)
1 part milk kefir
mint leaf (for garnish)

Combine all ingredients in a shaker and give a gentle shake. Add ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled Nick and Nora Glass. Garnish with a mint leaf.

A Good Beginning
by Jon Foley, The Relief and Resource Co.
1 1/5 oz. Don Ciccio and Figli Amaro Donna Rosa
1/2 oz. Mount Gay XO
1/4 oz. Rare Wine Co. Boston Madeira
1/2 oz. lemon juice
1/4 oz. vanilla bean syrup

Do a reverse dry shake (with ice, and then without) and fine strain into an 8 oz. cocktail glass. Decorate with bitters atop the foam.

The Sun Also Rises
by Jacob Johnson, winner of the 2017 Wyoming Whiskey Shares Bartender Shootout
2 oz. Wyoming Whiskey Small Batch Bourbon
.5 oz. Sierra Maestro Oloroso Sherry (15 Year)
1 Barspoon Bols Crème de Cacao White
1 Barspoon Pernod Absinthe Supérieure pinch of salt
rosemary ice ball

Ahead of time, make the ice ball by putting a sprig of fresh rosemary in an ice ball mold; fill with water and freeze.

To make the cocktail, put the absinthe in a coupe glass and swirl to coat the inside of the glass. Dry shake the remaining ingredients. Put the ice ball in the glass and pour the liquid concoction over top. Then serve.

cardamom pear punch

Cardamom Pear Punch
3 cups Smirnoff No. 21 Vodka
6 cups pear juice
1-2 teaspoons orange bitters
2 red pears, sliced thinly horizontally
cardamom ginger syrup (see below)

Make the syrup first; here’s how. Place 1/4 cup honey, 1/4 cup water, 10 crushed cardamom pods, 1/8 cup sliced ginger, and 1 Tbsp. vanilla in a small pot and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Turn the heat off and let this steep one hour, or overnight for the best flavor.

In a medium punch bowl or beverage dispenser, pour in the Smirnoff Vodka, pear juice, bitters and sliced pears. Stir in the cardamom ginger syrup. Refrigerate until ready to serve, and serve over ice.

This can be made a day ahead or the night before the party and refrigerated, allowing the flavors to meld.

This one’s for the more adventurous:

Pine apple punch

Pine-apple Punch
by mixologist Nick Strangeway
51 oz. apple juice
34 oz. chilled lemon verbena tea
17 oz. Banks 5 Island Blend Rum
12 oz. Banks 7 Golden Blend Rum
10 oz. Douglas Fir Syrup (see below)
7 oz. Douglas Fir Infused Banks 5 Island Blend
7 oz. apple molasses
3 ½ oz of citric acid solution (available in all major supermarkets, online, or a brewery shop)
3-4 large springs of fresh lemon verbena
1 cup caster sugar
dehydrated crab apple wheels

First, create the Douglas Fir Syrup by infusing 10 grams of gently dried Douglas Fir needles in 1 1/4 cups of boiling water for about 10-15 minutes. Add 1 cup of caster sugar. Stir well to dissolve the sugar and then strain to remove the Douglas Fir Needles. Keep refrigerated before use.

Next make the verbena tea by infusing 3-4 large sprigs of fresh lemon verbena in 2 ¼ cups of boiling water for 15 minutes. (Or brew several verbena teabags for a few minutes.) Add 2 ¼ cups of cold water and leave for a further 10 minutes before straining. Keep refrigerated.

Now, infuse 5 grams of gently dried Douglas Fir Needles in ¾ cup of Banks 5 at room temperature for no longer than 24 hours. Strain before use.

To create your punch, combine all the ingredients in a large punch bowl with a large block of ice. Garnish with dehydrated crab apple wheels and serve.

Baileys Truffles

Baileys Irish Cream Truffles Recipe
by Sugar and Charm
2 bags of white chocolate chips
5 Tbsp. Baileys Irish Cream
6 Tbsp. heavy cream
a pinch of salt

Add Baileys Irish Cream, heavy cream, 2 cups white chocolate chips, and a pinch of salt to a sauce pan on low heat. Stir, whisking constantly so the mixture doesn’t burn. When the mixture is melted and smooth, pour into a small 6 x 6 baking dish; cover and refrigerate until the truffle mixture is set—overnight works great.

Melt 1 bag white chocolate chips to coat the truffles (Use a double boiler or a small pan sitting in a larger pan…chocolate in smaller pan and water in the larger pan. This is so it melts without burning.) Using a melon ball scooper, scoop small balls. Dip in the chocolate using a spoon and place on parchment paper.

Add garnishes like nutmeg and cinnamon, edible gold, and dried rose petals. We used gold and silver cupcake sprinkles. Enjoy!

Note: you can make varying flavors by substituting other thick or cream liqueurs in place of the Baileys—Rumchata, Kahlua, Amarula, or chocolate wine sauce for example. Additionally you can insert a candied cherry, hazelnut, or malted milk ball in the center for more variation.

Christmas Cocktails 2017

Who doesn’t love a holiday cocktail? Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, or another cultural holiday, these cocktails are sure to please you and any guests. We’ve also included an easy appetizer which pairs nicely with beer, plus a holiday cake recipe. Imbibe and enjoy!

White Christmas Mojito
courtesy of

juice of 1 lime
8 mint leaves
1 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. white rum
1 Tbsp. coconut rum
1/4 cup canned coconut milk
sparkling water for topping
fresh pomegranate arils for garnish

Muddle the lime juice, sugar and mint leaves in a heavy glass until the leaves have broken down. Fill the glass half way with ice. Next combine the white rum, coconut rum, and coconut milk in a blender and pulse until smooth. Pour over the ice and stir to combine. Top with sparkling water, mint leaves and pomegranate.

Santa’s Hat Christmas Cocktail
courtesy of
2 Tbsp. confectioners sugar
1 tsp. water
3 Tbsp. shredded sweetened coconut
6 oz. cranberry juice
2 oz. coconut rum
1 oz. grenadine* (Note: you can also used maraschino cherry juice or Pama Pomegranate Liqueur.)
peppermint sticks or candy canes for garnish (optional)

First prepare the glass rims. Place coconut on a small plate and confectioners sugar on a separate small plate. Add water to the sugar and mix with a fork until well combined with no lumps. Dip the rim of one martini glass in the sugar mixture, ensuring that the entire rim gets well coated. Immediately dip sugared rim in coconut.

Next prepare the cocktail. Fill a cocktail shaker 3/4 full with ice. Add cranberry juice, coconut rum, and grenadine; shake for about 10 seconds until chilled and well mixed. Strain into the prepared glasses. Garnish each cocktail with a peppermint stick or candy cane, if desired.

The cocktail mixture can be prepared in larger batches in advance and chilled in the refrigerator until serving time for up to 2 or 3 days. Be aware that the peppermint stick/candy cane garnish will melt into the cocktail and change the taste. If you’re not a peppermint fan, just leave off the garnish.

Home for the Holidays

Home for the Holidays
created by Pete Canny, The Wayland and The Lost Lady
2 oz. Patrón Silver tequila
3/4 oz. lemon juice
3/4 oz. allspice syrup
1/2 oz. Cocchi Americano
1 egg white
silver luster dust

Add Patrón, lemon juice, allspice syrup, and Cocchi Americano to shaker and shake with ice. Strain into a glass mug over ice. In separate shaker, dry shake egg white. Add Silver Luster Dust to mug and stir. Top with egg white foam, and garnish with a miniature gingerbread house (available from Williams Sonoma online).

Baileys Pumpkin Spice Gingerbread Shake
1 oz. Baileys Pumpkin Spice
1/2 oz. Irish whiskey
1 tsp. dried ground ginger
3 scoops coffee ice cream
whipped cream
maple syrup

Combine Baileys Pumpkin Spice, Irish whiskey, coffee ice cream, and ginger in a blender. Blend thoroughly. Then pour contents into a mason jar. Garnish with whipped cream, a drizzle of maple syrup, and garnish with a gingerbread cookie.

White and Stormy
1 1/2 parts Amarula Cream Liqueur
1 slice plus fresh grated ginger
a dollop of honey
1/2 part bourbon
1 1/4 part half cream a half milk

Dry shake and fine strain all ingredients over fresh ice in a short glass. Garnish with the piece of sliced ginger dipped in honey.

Smoky Star
by Young Kim at the Flatiron Room
1 1/2 oz. BenRiach 10-year-old Peated Curiositas
1/2 oz. dry vermouth
1/4 oz. maraschino liqueur
1/4 oz. Benedictine
1 cinnamon stick
2 whole star anise

Add all ingredients including 1 cinnamon stick and 1 star anise in a mixing glass with ice. Stir well and then strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with the remaining star anise.

Punch Tagada

Punch Tagada
created by Hendrick’s Gin Ambassador Team
2 parts Hendrick’s Gin
3 parts fresh apple cider (We used Crispin Original Hard Cider.)
1 part Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur
1 part earl grey tea
½ part fresh lemon juice
½ part simple syrup
¼ part hulled fresh strawberries (or mulled fruit)
4 star anise
4 tsp. allspice
grated nutmeg (to taste)

Steep 1 tea bag in 5 oz. of hot water for 5-10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat all of the ingredients and keep warm on a low flame. Add fresh strawberries, star anise, all spice, and grated nutmeg to taste. Allow the flavors to blend together in a large punch bowl or slow cooker. Serve hot, garnished with a strawberry or mulled fruit.

Hudson Norway Spruce
2 parts Hudson Manhattan Rye
3/4 part sweet vermouth
1/2 part Zirbenz Stone Pine Liqueur
2 dashes aromatic bitters
orange peel
cocktail cherry

Stir liquid ingredients over ice until well-chilled, and strain into a pre-chilled cocktail coupe. Using a vegetable peeler, cut a swatch of orange zest and squeeze peel-side over drink to express oils on surface, and discard zest. Garnish with a cocktail cherry.

Cuppa Cheer

Cuppa Cheer
created by Pamela Wiznitzer of Seamstress NYC
1 oz. Kerrygold Irish Cream
1 oz. Brancamenta
1 oz. Crystal Head Vodka
1 sprig of fresh mint

Combine all ingredients into a shaker. Dry shake well and pour over crushed ice in a champagne flute. Garnish with a sprig of mint before serving.

1 oz. Smirnoff No. 21 Vodka
1/2 oz. Amontillado sherry
1 oz. organic pear juice
1 oz. fresh lemon juice
1 oz. orgeat syrup

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass and shake. Strain over cubed ice into a rocks glass. If you cannot fine pear juice, blend 2 fresh pears in the blender and strain out the pulp. A suggested garnish is blanched or thinly sliced almonds or a lemon wheel.

Cachaca egg nog

Cachaça Egg Nog
courtesy Multnomah Whiskey Library, Portland, OR
12 eggs
1 1/3 cups super fine sugar plus 3 Tbsp. on the side
1 pint heavy cream
1 quart whole milk
1 750 ml bottle of Novo Fogo Barrel Aged Cachaça
1 tbsp real vanilla extract

Separate the egg whites from the yolks into separate large bowls. Slowly add the sugar in a fine stream to the egg yolks while whisking vigorously until the sugar is completely dissolved. Then slowly whisk in the heavy cream, whole milk, and vanilla extract to the yolk-sugar mixture. In the other bowl, add 1 Tbsp. of sugar to the egg whites and beat until stiff peaks form and the egg whites take up about five times their original volume. Fold the beaten egg whites into the yolk and cream mixture. Pour the entire mixture into a large jug using a funnel, then pour in a bottle of Novo Fogo Barrel-Aged Cachaça. Screw the cap onto the jug and give it a hearty shake to combine. Refrigerate and serve with a fine dusting of freshly grated nutmeg on top.

Note: if you are concerned about the raw eggs, then create a ‘cooked base’ by heating half the milk and eggs on medium while stirring constantly. Strain out any egg bits which develop and proceed with the rest of the recipe. You cannot cook the egg whites unless you skip beating them and just make the base with the whole eggs. The egg nog will taste just fine.

Holiday Tree
KANU Lounge at Whiteface Lodge, Lake Placid, NY
2 oz. Tanqueray Gin
1 oz. Campari
2 oz. cranberry juice
1/2 oz. lime juice
1/2 oz. simple syrup
3 dashes of Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel-Aged Bitters
1 egg white
apple slice

Shake all ingredients without ice. Then add ice and shake. Double strain into a coupe, then garnish with the apple slice and cinnamon.

Everything Nice

Everything Nice
1.5 oz. Mezcal Pelotón de la Muerte
1 oz. Cointreau
1 oz. lemon juice
1 oz. cranberry juice
1 bar spoon of allspice dram

Combine all ingredients into a shaker with ice. Shake well and strain into a rocks glass with ice and serve. You can garnish with fresh cranberries if you like.

Roasted Pears with Brie & Pistachios Recipe
adapted from
½ cup Balsamic vinegar
½ cup brown sugar
2 ripe pears, preferably Bosc
2 ounces Brie cheese, cut into 4 slices
4 tsp. chopped pistachios, toasted if you like

Roasted Pears

Preheat oven to 425°F. Coat an 8-inch-square (or similar-size) metal baking pan with cooking spray. Cut pears in half lengthwise, hollow out the core and slice a small piece off the other side so they will lie flat when served. Placed cored side down in the prepared pan. Bake the pears for 30 minutes.

While pears are baking, create the balsamic glaze by adding the balsamic vinegar and brown sugar in a small sauce pan. Heat on medium, stirring constantly until it begins to boil. Lower the heat to low. Continue to stir often. Simmer until glaze is reduced by half, about 20 minutes. Glaze should coat the back of a spoon. You can make this ahead of time and pour into a jar with a lid; store in refrigerator.

After the pears have baked for a half hour, gently turn them over, baste with the balsamic glaze and place a piece of Brie in the hollow of each pear. Bake until the pears are tender and the Brie is slightly softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle each pear half with 1 tsp. pistachios and drizzle a bit more balsamic glaze before serving.

These pears are an excellent pairing with a sour beer. We used a pomegranate Belgian style ale.

Bundt Cake

Cider-Gingerbread Bundt Cake Recipe
courtesy of King Arthur Flour
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, at cool room temperature, 65°F to 68°F
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. sugar
2 1/4 tsp. ginger
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
5 Tbsp. boiled cider (We used Brooks Dry Cider.)
3 Tbsp. molasses
1 cup grated apple

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a small 5- to 6-cup capacity bundt pan. Combine all the spices; set aside 1 tsp. for the glaze and use the rest for the cake.

To make the cake: beat together the 4 Tbsp. of the butter, oil, ¾ cup of the sugar, spice mix, salt, baking powder, and baking soda on medium speed of an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition until the batter looks fluffy. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl.

Beat in half the flour, then 3 Tbsp. of the boiled cider. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, then beat in the remaining flour, followed by the molasses. Fold in the grated apple.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake the cake for 38 to 42 minutes, until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Remove the cake from the oven, and cool it for 5 minutes before turning it out of the pan.

To make the glaze: while the cake is still warm, heat the remaining 2 Tbsp. of butter, 2 Tbsp. of the boiled cider, 2 Tbsp. of the sugar, and spice mix together in a saucepan set over medium heat until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved, stirring until smooth.

Brush the glaze onto the warm cake. Allow the cake to cool completely before slicing. Store the cake, well wrapped, at room temperature for several days. Freeze for longer storage.

Eggnog: A Holiday Cocktail History

It’s that time of year again: holiday joy, holiday cheer, and of course, holiday cocktails. One drink that can make your nights a little more merry and bright is eggnog, that love-it-or-hate-it egg-and-alcohol combination that goes great with turkey and figgy pudding and whatever other holiday treats you want to indulge in before swearing them all off forever on New Year’s Day. But what really is eggnog, where does it come from? Can this heavy holiday drink have an interesting history behind it? Read on.

Like many alcoholic treats, eggnog can be traced back to those pious brewers supreme, medieval monks. We have writings from the 13th century that describe British monks whipping up an egg drink spiked with ale, called posset, as a cold and flu remedy. The ale was later swapped out for sherry and the drink was appropriated by British aristocrats, who used it as a status symbol, eggs and sherry being expensive treats mostly reserved for the affluent. At this point, the egg-and-alcohol drink wasn’t specifically a yuletide tradition. It was consumed year-round at aristocratic gatherings.

Posset was introduced to the New World by the 17th century, and here is where it began to take on the characteristics we might recognize. Colonial America was a land of farms and plantations, and so things the colonists had in abundance included milk, eggs, and rum, which became the prime alcoholic ingredient over English sherry, an expensive import. George Washington was fond of entertaining guests at Mount Vernon with a nog-like drink made of eggs and milk with sherry, rum, and rye whiskey; needless to say, this would have kept one pretty warm at Valley Forge. America was also where eggnog acquired its status as a holiday drink, a tradition that continues to this day. While the drink is enjoyed during the winter season in other countries as well these days (Canada and Australia both have a fondness for the stuff), nog as a holiday treat will always be an American tradition.

After all this time, the basic recipe for eggnog hasn’t changed all that much: British monks made posset with milk, eggs, cream, sugar, and alcohol, and that’s pretty much all it takes these days as well. Of course, there are plenty of variations; the easiest swap to make is in the alcohol. Nowadays, eggnog is most often made with brandy, but rum and whiskey are both popular additions as well. In Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago you can drink a glass of ponche crema, eggnog made with lemon rind, in Puerto Rico they make coquito, eggnog with coconut juice or milk instead of eggs, and in Mexico they make it with Mexican cinnamon and vanilla and call it rompope. Eggnog can be an acquired taste, but a warm glass on a cold winter night can be an experience without parallel. Just be careful; not only can the alcohol can be high (especially if you try the Washington special) but all that cream and eggs mean that it’s a highly caloric drink as well. One too many glasses and you can end up looking like Santa.

And now for a treat, here’s George Washington’s eggnog recipe, straight from the pen of the first president himself. He doesn’t record the number of eggs in the recipe, but as this is an industrial-sized batch, about a dozen are typically used.

“One quart cream, one quart milk, one dozen tablespoons sugar, one pint brandy, ½ pint rye whiskey, ½ pint Jamaica rum, ¼ pint sherry—mix liquor first, then separate yolks and whites of 12 eggs, add sugar to beaten yolks, mix well. Add milk and cream, slowly beating. Beat whites of eggs until stiff and fold slowly into mixture. Let set in cool place for several days. Taste frequently.”

How to Make Conditum Paradoxum, Ancient Roman Spiced Holiday Wine

December is the month of many holidays, but one winter celebration that’s been lost to time is the ancient Roman tradition of Saturnalia, a festival that lasted from December 17th to December 23rd. The Saturnalia was dedicated to the Roman God Saturn, and involved banquets, gift-giving, and a flipping of social norms such as slaves being waited on by their masters.

One of the crown jewels of the season was a spiced wine called conditum paradoxum, which loosely translates to something like “surprise wine.” Conditum was so prized by the Romans that it’s the very first recipe in the Apicius, one of the oldest cookbooks in the world. Since we have the Apicius recipe readily available, and since the Saturnalia is as good a time as any to try, we’ve attempted to recreate this ancient alcohol. Follow along, and if you make a bottle for your own December celebrations, remember the Roman toast: Salus!

Conditum Paradoxum

“Put six sextarii of honey into a bronze jar containing two sextarii of wine, so that the wine will be boiled off as you cook the honey.  Heat this over a slow fire of dry wood, stirring with a wooden rod as it boils.  If it boils over, add some cold wine. Take off the heat and allow to cool.  When it does cool, light another fire underneath it.  Do this a second and a third time and only then remove it from the brazier and skim it.  Next, add 4 ounces of pepper, 3 scruples of mastic, a dragma of bay leaf and saffron, 5 date stones and then the dates themselves.  Finally, add 18 sextarii of light wine.  Charcoal will correct any bitter taste.” – Apicius, 1.1

750 ml bottle of white wine
1 cup honey
1 date
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp fennel seeds or mastic gum
2 bay leaves
pinch saffron

Put the cup of honey, 75 ml of wine, and the date in a saucepan and bring to a boil, make sure the honey dissolves completely.

Once the honey-wine mixture is boiling, lower the heat to simmer and add the remaining ingredients. Cover the pan and let simmer for 10 minutes, giving the spices time to infuse.

Strain the mixture into a pitcher with a fine strainer and a coffee filter. If any of the spices make it into the pitcher you can pour back into the saucepan and re-strain as many times as you’d like. Add the rest of the wine into the pitcher and stir. Use a funnel to pour the wine back into the bottle if desired. Either way, put the wine into the fridge and chill. 

Makes one bottle.

Adapting the Recipe

The first revelation when making conditum was that the unit used in Apicius, the sextarius, is about 550 ml; the author of Apicius must have been cooking for a big group because this is a huge amount of wine, several liters. All of the measurements used in the recipe are shrunk accordingly to just make one 750 ml bottle of conditum. The original recipe called for mastic, which is something we had never even heard of before attempting this; it’s apparently a gum made from the sap of trees found only on a single island in Greece called Chios and, if Amazon is anything to go off of, costs a fortune to import. Mastic apparently tastes piney and licoricey, so instead our recipe uses fennel seeds as an inexpensive substitute. Apicius calls for the initial honey-and-wine mixture to be heated and cooled several times, likely to make a kind of reduction out of it; if you’re looking for the authentic experience you can heat the mixture to boiling and let it cool 3 times, but considering you’re adding so much wine to it after the fact it’s not necessary. As for the wine itself, Apicius doesn’t specify. Since you’re adding so much to it, a light, dry white wine would be best, we used an inexpensive Italian pinot grigio for that Roman touch. Finally, Apicius calls for the wine to be filtered through charcoal. You can find charcoal that is used for alcohol of course, as many vodkas for instance are charcoal filtered, but for a modern Roman on a budget, a strainer and coffee filters should do just fine.

So How Is It?

So you’ve made a bottle of conditum, now how about a taste test? Our wine is rich yellow-gold, a much fuller-bodied color than the initial pinot grigio. It’s also a bit cloudy, which is perhaps something that the charcoal filtering could have taken care of. The honey is strong on the nose, but the pepper pushes its way through, giving it a strong and sharp backbone. The other scents are more muted, mostly just a general melange of spice in the background.

And the taste? Very, very sweet! When the wine initially touches your tongue it’s a strong honey rush, somewhat like moscato. The rest of the spices don’t register much until the finish, which is lightly warming on the tongue and the roof of the mouth. The Romans drank conditum chilled, but this might actually be pretty nice warmed, like a mulled wine. It could probably do with some time in the bottle as well; the first taste test we did was after about a half hour of chilling and it was pure dessert-wine sweetness. The second glass, tried about 10 hours later, had more nuance to it, with a little more bite from the spices. The pepper is stronger, much like it was on the nose, with the fennel seeds giving a light anise-like bitterness under the taste of the honey and date. It’s definitely a more unique wine than it first seemed. It’s still a bit sweet, but if you’re a fan of dessert wines it could definitely be worth a try, and the peppery spices might warm your belly on a cold winter night.

* * *

So what do you think, Drinkhackers? Did you try making a batch of conditum yourself? Anybody throwing any Saturnalia celebrations? Should we tackle Apicius again someday? Let us know what you think in the comments!

Cocktail Recipes for Fall 2017


With the changing weather and all the busy things going on in our lives during the fall, we wanted to share with you a few cocktails to settle down with when your day is finally done. We’ve also included a punch recipe for when you have friends over, and to finish it up, check out a barbecue ribs recipe — because ribs aren’t just for summertime cookouts.

Thunder Struck
courtesy of SOCIAL Costa Mesa, CA
1 oz. Novo Fogo Silver Cachaça
½ oz. Atlantico Reserve rum
1 ½ oz. smoked butternut squash purée
1 oz. Thunderking Chai cold brew
½ oz. cinnamon syrup
2 dashes Scrappy’s Bitters
1 egg white

Hard shake all ingredients, and double fine strain into large snifter over a big ice rock. Garnish with grated fresh cinnamon and one fresh sage leaf.

Bold and smokey

The Bold and Smokey
by Gabriel Rieben, Dullboy Bar
1 oz. Paul John Bold Whisky
1 oz. Stolen Smoked Rum
½ oz. Gran Classico bitter liqueur
½ oz. St. George Spiced Pear Liqueur

Stir all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Strain into a Nick and Nora glass, then serve.

Autumn Alexander
created by April Wachtel, CEO/Founder, Swig and Swallow
1 part Amarula
1 part bourbon
coffee dust
orange zest

Build ingredients in a mixing glass. Add ice, stir 20-30 seconds and strain over crushed ice. Grate coffee dust and orange zest over the cocktail as a garnish.

Cruzan Hot Buttered Rum
1 part Cruzan Single Barrel Rum
2 heaping spoonfuls batter
steaming hot water

Fill coffee mug 1/2 full with hot water. Stir in batter until dissolved. Add rum and top with steaming hot water. Serve with a cinnamon stick as a stir stick.

To make the batter:
1 lb. brown sugar
1/2 lb. salted butter
4 tsp. pumpkin spice seasoning
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Mix together in a pan and heat on medium, stirring until all the sugar is dissolved and you have a syrup consistency. Keep unused portions in the refrigerator for other cocktails or more of this one.

Orchard Hour

Orchard Hour
created by Allan Roth, Glenfiddich Ambassador
2 parts Glenfiddich 15 Year Solera Reserve
½ part Montenegro
¼ part Calvados
¼ part Amontillado Sherry
lemon twist, to garnish

Stir all ingredients except the lemon twist over ice. Strain into a coup glass or over one large ice cube in a rocks glass. Express a lemon twist over the drink and discard before serving.

Golden Pineapple
by Miguel Aranda of The Black Lodge

2 oz. BenRiach 10 Year Old Peated Curiositas
3/4 oz. lime juice
1/2 oz. walnut liqueur
1/2 oz. orgeat
1 oz. pineapple juice

Mix all ingredients and serve over crushed ice in a copper cup. Garnish with mint and a lemon peel.

Mai Tai Saga

Mai Tai Saga
by Chris Zulueta of Sylvain, New Orleans
2 oz. Mizu Shochu
1/4 oz. Orgeat
1/4 oz. Maraschino Liqueur
1/2 oz. Rothman and Winter Pear Liqueur
1 oz. lime juice
1 dash Bittermen’s Tiki Bitters
1 sprig of fresh mint for garnish

Combine all ingredients into a shaker with ice. Shake and strain over ice in a rocks glass. Garnish with the mint sprig and enjoy.

Solera Sidecar
by Joaquín Simó of Pouring Ribbons, New York
1 1/2 oz. cognac V.S.O.P.
1/2 oz. Lustau East India Solera Sherry
1/2 oz. fresh lemon juice
1/4 oz. Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao
1/4 oz. Lazzaronni Amaretto
1/4 oz. simple syrup

Combine all ingredients into a shaker with ice. Strain into a coupe glass. No garnish is needed.

Honey and Smoke

Honey and Smoke
1 part honey simple syrup
2 parts Miel de Tierra mescal
2 parts ginger beer
juice from ½ lime

Combine simple syrup, mescal, and lime juice in tumbler. Shake for 10 seconds. Pour over ice and top off with ginger beer. Garnish with lime slice. Optional glass garnish: salt rim of glass with Jalapeño salt or sea salt.

To make the honey simple syrup:
1 part honey
1 part water

Boil water and pour over honey in a bowl. Whisk to combine.

“PSL” Smirnoff Caramel Punch
12 oz. Smirnoff Caramel Vodka
8 cups cream soda
pumpkin spice syrup
espresso syrup

Combine Caramel Smirnoff and cream soda in a larger pitcher or punch bowl. Add pumpkin spice syrup and espresso syrup to taste. Stir and add ice (if serving immediately). Garnish individual servings with a dash of cinnamon or a cinnamon stick.

If you prefer to make your own syrups:

Espresso Syrup
from Martha Stewart
½ cup brewed espresso coffee
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup water

Boil until the sugar is dissolved and you have a syrup consistency.

Pumpkin Spice Syrup
1 1/2 cups water
3/4 cup light or dark brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 1/2 Tbsp. vanilla extract

Add water and both sugars in a medium saucepan. Simmer on medium-low heat until the sugar dissolves, about 4 minutes. Turn the heat down to low and whisk in cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and pumpkin puree. Simmer for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Do not allow the mixture to come to a boil. Remove from the heat and strain through a mesh strainer lined with cheese cloth or a very thin, clean tea towel.

Allow the syrup to cool to room-temperature before stirring in the vanilla extract. Store in a mason jar or airtight container. The syrup will last for 1 month at room-temperature or 3 months in the refrigerator.

Strongbow Gold Apple Smoked, Sauced and Spiked Ribs

Strongbow Gold Apple Smoked, Sauced and Spiked Ribs

1 rack baby back pork ribs, 3 lbs. or less
1/2 cup BBQ spice mix
2 cups Applewood chips

1 cup apple cider vinegar
6 oz. Strongbow Gold Apple Cider
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 apple, thinly sliced
red pepper flakes

Strongbow Apple BBQ Sauce
6 oz. Strongbow Gold Apple Cider
5.5 oz. can tomato paste
1/2 sweet onion, finely diced
1/2 apple, finely diced
1/4 cup BBQ spice mix
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
Kosher salt to taste

To prepare the ribs, rub them all over with the BBQ seasoning mix (available in the grocery market spice aisle). Wrap the ribs in plastic wrap and let set in the refrigerator for at least an hour, up to overnight.

Make the mop sauce by combining all ingredients in a glass jar. Place by the grill. (You can use the oven for this recipe as well but a grill works best.)

Prepare a charcoal or gas fire. If using charcoal, bank all the charcoal on one side of the grill. Arrange the grates so that you can add more charcoal without removing the cooking grate, if possible. Form a tray out of aluminum foil large enough to hold the wood chips. Sprinkle water over the chips. Place the chips by the coals or over a lit burner if using gas. The ideal temperature is 250 degrees. This is easier to achieve with gas, but with practice and patience can be achieved with charcoal.

When the chips are smoking and the grill has reached around 250 degrees, place the ribs on the coolest part of the grill (farthest from coals or burner), bone side down. Close lid. Monitor the temperature and the smoking chips, and apply the mop sauce every 15 minutes. If the chips get too hot and start burning, sprinkle them with water. Check on doneness after 90 minutes. The rib bones should be sticking out, and if the rack is held by tongs on one end they should bend, but not break. If unsure, smoke for another 30 minutes.

While the ribs are smoking, make the Strongbow Gold Apple BBQ sauce. Mix all the ingredients together in a saucepan and simmer on low for 15-30 minutes, depending on preference of thickness.

Let the ribs rest a minimum of 30 minutes, then cut the bones individually from the rack. Serve with the sauce and enjoy.