Recipes: A Taste of New Orleans for Mardi Gras 2017

Can’t make it to New Orleans for Mardi Gras this week? Break up the end of winter blues with a good ol’ celebration featuring these seven cocktails. Don’t forget the bead strings, jazz music, and a big pot of jambalaya (Emeril’s recipe is after the drinks).

Smoke Stack SazeracSmoke Stack Sazerac
1 ½ parts Monkey Shoulder whiskey
1/5 part sugar syrup
dash Peychaud’s Bitters
dash absinthe
top with Peach Smoke

Add all ingredients to mixing glass. Add cold dry ice and stir. Once dilution is reached, strain into a glass. Top with Smoke and garnish with peach smoke.

Hudson Storm King
2 parts Hudson Baby Bourbon
1/2 part St. Agrestis amaro
5-6 parts Succession sparkling hard apple cider
2 dashes Fee Bros. barrel-aged aromatic bitters
nutmeg

Build over ample ice in rocks glass: first bitters, amaro, and Baby Bourbon, then top with apple cider. Finally, grate fresh nutmeg on top.

Lavender 75Reyka’s Lavender 75
1 ½ parts Reyka Vodka
1 part fresh lemon juice
¾ part lavender syrup (1/2 cup water; ½ cup sugar, 2 Tbsp. lavender; if you don’t have fresh then use the dried lavender from the spice aisle of the grocery store. Put in a small pan and boil for at least five minutes or until mixture becomes syrupy in texture. Strain out the lavender before using the syrup.)
dry champagne

Combine all ingredients in a shaker except the champagne. Shake and strain into a glass; then top with champagne. Note: you can add a dash of lavender bitters if you like for an additional lavender flavor.

Hop ‘til it Hurts
by Billy Armijo at Cafe Adelaide and the Swizzle Stick Bar
1 bottle IPA beer
1 1/4 oz. Alto del Carmen Pisco
¾ oz. grapefruit juice
1 dash rhubarb bitters
1 dash simple syrup

Put all ingredients except for the beer into a shaker. Shake all ingredients on ice for 7 seconds, strain into a chilled coupe glass. Top with the IPA. Garnish with expressed grapefruit twist.

Epiphany Milk PunchEpiphany Milk Punch
by Laura Belluci at SoBou
1 1/2 oz. King Cake Infused brandy
½ oz. Frangelico
½ oz. cardamom syrup
3 oz. milk
2 dash angostura bitters
candy sprinkles or colored sugar for garnish

Shake without ice and strain into a coup glass. Add sprinkles on top before serving.

Sailor Jerry’s Ginger Daiquiri
1 ½ parts Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum
¾ part homemade ginger syrup (1/2 cup water; ½ cup sugar, fresh ginger slices. Put in a small pan and boil for at least five minutes or until mixture becomes syrupy in texture. Remove ginger slices before using.)
½ part fresh lime juice

Add all ingredients to empty mixing glass then fill with ice. Shake vigorously. Double strain into chilled cocktail glass and garnish with candied ginger.

Spicy PalomaCitrus Aisle Party
by Apartment Bartender
2 oz. tequila
3/4 oz. lime juice
3/4 oz. cinnamon syrup
pinch of salt
Q Grapefruit soda

Shake all ingredients and strain into a glass filled with ice. Top with grapefruit soda. Garnish with a lime and grapefruit wheel.

What to pair with any of the above? Why, this of course:

Cajun Jambalaya
by Emeril Lagasse
24 medium peeled, deveined and chopped shrimp, about 1/2 pound
1/2 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, diced
1 Tbsp. Emeril’s Original Essence
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup chopped green bell peppers
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. chopped garlic
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
3 bay leaves
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. hot sauce
1 1/2 cups long grain rice
3 1/2 cups chicken stock
1/2 pound Andouille sausage, sliced
chopped green onion for garnish

Combine the shrimp, chicken and Essence in a bowl and toss to coat evenly. Set aside. Heat the oil over in a large, heavy pot over medium heat. Add the onions, peppers and celery, salt and pepper and cook, stirring, for 10 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic, tomatoes, bay leaves, Worcestershire and hot sauces. Stir in the rice and slowly add the broth. Bring the rice to a simmer, cover and reduce heat to low and cook until most of the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in the shrimp and chicken mixture, and the sausage. Cover and cook for 10 minutes longer. Turn off the heat and allow the jambalaya to continue to steam 10 minutes longer before serving. Stir in the green onion.

Note: if you want to add to the party, we recommend adding a ½ cup of bourbon with the Worcestershire.

Emeril’s Original Essence
2 1/2 Tbsp. paprika
2 Tbsp. coarse salt
2 Tbsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. onion powder
1 Tbsp. cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp. dried oregano
1 Tbsp. dried thyme

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl; stir until well combined. Transfer mixture to an airtight container and store in a cool, dark place.

Drinks and Dishes for the 2017 Oscars

Neo Fresco
The 89th Academy Awards are upon us (tomorrow night). Wolfgang Puck is heading up the menu at the Governor’s Ball, so we’re including some of his recipes for the dishes being served that you can adapt for your own Oscar party. Of course, this is Drinkhacker, so we’re also giving you five cocktails to round out your evening.

Smoky Deviled EggsDeviled Eggs
Courtesy of McCormick Spices
6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled
1/4 cup real mayonnaise
1/2 tsp. McCormick Mustard, Ground
1/4 tsp. McCormick Paprika, Smoked
1/4 tsp. Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
2 slices bacon, crisply cooked and crumbled

Slice eggs in half lengthwise. Remove yolks; place in small bowl. Mash yolks with fork or potato masher. Stir in mayonnaise, mustard, smoked paprika and seasoned salt until smooth and creamy. Spoon or pipe yolk mixture into egg white halves. For piping, you don’t need to buy cake decorating supplies; just stuff the filling into a plastic sandwich bag, snip one corner, and squeeze out the mixture from the hole. Sprinkle with crumbled bacon. Refrigerate 1 hour or until ready to serve.

You can dust the tops with paprika if you wish. For a variation, add 1 Tbsp. of sweet pickle relish to the yolk mixture.

Roasted Nuts With Rosemary, Cayenne, Sea Salt, and Brown Sugar
Courtesy of Food Network
1 1/4 pounds cashew nuts
2 Tbsp. coarsely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1/2 tsp. cayenne
2 tsp. dark brown sugar
Spiced Nuts2 tsp. kosher salt
1 Tbsp. melted butter

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the nuts on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes until they are warmed through. Meanwhile, combine the rosemary, pepper, sugar, salt, and butter in a large bowl. Toss the warm nuts with the rosemary mixture until the nuts are completely coated. Serve warm for a sweet and spicy treat.

Stir Fried Chicken In Lettuce Cup with Thai Basil and Pine nuts
From Wolfgang Puck
3 Tbsp. peanut oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup plum wine or sherryWolfgang Puck's Stir Fried Chicken
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
2 tsp. chopped peeled ginger
1/2 tsp. crushed chili pepper flakes
1 1/4 cups chicken stock
2 tsp. Wolfgang’s Asian Rib Sauce (see recipe below)
1 cup sliced shiitake mushrooms
1/2 cup each 1-inch cubes of yellow and red bell pepper
2 scallions, cut into 1-inch slices
2 tbsp Thai basil (if you can not find Thai basil substitute 1 Tbsp. each mint and basil)
1/2 cup pine nuts
1 head of romaine lettuce, leaves separated
4 Tbsp. (2 ounces) unsalted butter

In a 10-inch skillet or wok, heat the peanut oil until smoking. Season the chicken lightly with salt and pepper and sear, about 1 minute on each side. Deglaze the pan with the plum wine or sherry and stir in the garlic, ginger and chili flakes. Pour in the stock and reduce by half (sauce will begin to thicken). Add the rib sauce, mushrooms, peppers, scallion, basil, and nuts, and cook 1 or 2 minutes longer, stirring occasionally, until chicken is done. Stir in the butter and correct seasoning to taste. Spoon the stir-fried chicken onto the lettuce leave, arranging all the ingredients evenly throughout.

Wolfgang’s Asian Rib Sauce
From Wolfgang Puck
1 1/4 cups rice wine vinegar
1 cup honey
3/4 cup soy sauce
3/4 cup mirin (rice cooking wine) or sweet sake
2 scallions, chopped
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. fresh ginger, finely chopped
3/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

In a 4-cup enamel or stainless steel saucepan, combine all the ingredients and cook, over medium-high heat until syrupy, 50 to 60 minutes. Watch it carefully because it may burn soon after thickening. Strain into a clean container and cool. Refrigerate, covered, and use as needed. It makes a great base for barbecue sauce.

Simplified Apfelstrudel: Baked Apple Pouches with Cinnamon and Raisins
From Live, Love, Eat! by Wolfgang Puck
7 Tbsp. unsalted butter, plus 1/2 cup, melted unsalted butter
1 pound Fuji apples, peeled, cored, halved, and thinly sliced
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup golden raisins
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 cup coarse white bread crumbs
16 large egg roll skins
confectioner’s sugar, for garnish
vanilla ice cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. To make the coarse bread crumbs, toast slices of white bread in the oven until crisp, about 10 minutes. Break into pieces and place in a food processor. Pulse the processor until the bread resembles large bread crumbs. In a sauté pan, over medium heat, sauté the bread crumbs in 1/4 cup of the melted butter until they are golden brown. Reserve the sautéed bread crumbs and the remaining melted butter separately. In a large sauté pan over medium heat, melt the butter; pour off 1/4 cup of melted butter adding it to the remaining melted butter and set it aside.

Add the apples, sugar, raisins, lemon juice, and cinnamon and sauté, stirring frequently, until the apples are tender, about 8 minutes. While the apples are cooking, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and cut 8 pieces of kitchen string, about 6-8 inches long each, and set aside.

In the sauté pan, divide the apple filling into eight roughly equal portions. Place an egg roll skin on a flat work surface with one of the points facing towards you. Place another skin on top, perfectly aligned with the first. Sprinkle dough with breadcrumbs. Spoon one portion of apple filling into the center of the wrappers and gather the corners up around the filling to create a pouch. Tie the pouch around the top with a piece of kitchen string. Don’t worry if some of the wrapper isn’t completely contained within the string. Don’t tie the string too tight. Transfer the pouch to the baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the ingredients to make 8 pouches in all. Brush the pouches with the reserved melted butter. Put the baking sheet in the oven and bake the pouches until their wrappers are golden and crisp, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer the pouches to individual serving plates and snip the strings off with kitchen shears. Dust each pouch with powdered sugar and and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Makes 8 pouches.

Note: There is a difference between egg roll wrappers and spring roll wrappers. If you use spring roll wrappers, you need to dampen them with warm water first to make them pliable. You will want to fry them in peanut oil, rather than bake because otherwise they won’t brown. They will taste just as good.

With your table set, serve up these cocktails to your guests.

Ciroc Cosmo
1.5 oz. Ciroc Red Berry
2 oz. cranberry juice
1 squeeze of lime
orange twist for garnishThe Seductress cocktail

Combine all ingredients in a shaker. Shake and then pour into a martini glass. Lightly squeeze orange twist and rub around the glass rim before adding it as a garnish.

The Seductress
Courtesy iPic Theatres
4 oz. Piper Heidsieck Cuvée Brut champagne
½ oz. chilled passion fruit purée
½ oz. chilled ginger syrup (Add a Tbsp. grated fresh ginger to 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar. Boil until thickened to a syrup consistency.)
1 oz. chilled Aperol
red rose petals for the garnish

Chill a champagne flute. Fill with 4 oz. champagne. Add chilled passion fruit purée, ginger syrup, and aperol. Gently stir. Top with a red rose petal before serving. 

Note: When you get the rose petals, be sure to ask the florist for edible ones. Yes, all rose petals are technically edible but you want to make sure the ones you use have not been treated with pesticides or other chemicals.

NEO FrescoZesty Pop
½ part Facundo NEO rum
½ part Chareau Aloe liqueur
¼ part St George Raspberry liqueur
¼ part simple syrup
½ part lime juice
Makrut Lime Leaf for garnish

Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a Makrut lime leaf.

Rufino’s Zesty Pop
3 oz. Ruffino Lumina Pinot Grigio
8 raspberries
3/4 oz. fresh lemon juiceIn the Patch cocktail
1/4 oz. simple syrup
ginger beer

Add Ruffino Lumina Pinot Grigio to a cocktail shaker with ice. Add lemon juice, simple syrup, and 6 muddled raspberries. Shake well and strain in a glass over ice, before topping with Ginger Beer. Stir briefly and garnish with 2 remaining raspberries and a lemon slice.

Svedka’s Cocktail of the Year
1½ parts Svedka Cucumber Lime
¾ part simple syrup
¾ part fresh lime juice
1 strawberry (top removed)

Muddle strawberry in a cocktail shaker; add remaining ingredients and fill with ice. Shake well and fine strain into a Collins glass over fresh ice. Garnish with strawberries and a cucumber slice.

How to Use Infused Ice to Upgrade Your Cocktails

Anise Infused Ice

Infused ice is a fun way to add flavor to your drinks and add an eye-pleasing touch. To make infused ice, start by using distilled water to mitigate cloudiness. Add any fruit or spice (such as whole star anise, cardamom pods, or cinnamon stick pieces) to water in a pan and boil for a few minutes. This will infuse the ice with the flavor of the additive and also blanch fruits like strawberries, pineapples, and cranberries enough for them to be safely frozen. It’s the same process for preparing fruit to be put into gelatin. Cool the water. Then place a piece of the boiled fruit or a chunk of the spice used to flavor the water in each section of an ice tray. Fill the tray with the cooled water and freeze. Be aware that some spices like cloves, cinnamon, and anise may turn the water brown. The flavor is still packed inside.

Next use the ice in any beverage—alcoholic or not—in which you want to add that fruit or spice flavoring. For example: Throw a few strawberry or raspberry infused ice cubes in an iced tea for a nice fruit flavor which intensifies as the ice melts. Consider using a cinnamon, nutmeg, or anise cube in a rocks glass with your favorite whiskey. The trick is to not overdo the number or intensity of the ice cubes or the spices can become overwhelming.

Want to give it a try? Here are two professional cocktails from Stoli’s Elit Vodka that use infused ice which will give you an idea of how to be creative with the stuff.

Frozen TerrainFrozen Terrain
Created by Whitney Morrow, Beverage Director at Drumbar, Chicago
1 part Elit Vodka
½ part St. George Terroir Gin
¾ part Lillet Blanc
¼ part pear liqueur
1 cinnamon ice cube

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass and stir. Strain into a rocks glass over a 2” x 2” cinnamon ice cube. To make the cinnamon ice cube: place 7 sticks of cinnamon into 3 cups of water and bring to a boil. Place into large format ice tray with one sprig of rosemary and a thinly sliced piece of pear. Freeze.

Tickled PinkTickled Pink
Created by Ashtin Berry, Bartender at Ace Hotel Nola, New Orleans
¾ part Elit Vodka
½ part cranberry syrup (equal parts cranberry juice and sugar, cooked on low to thicken into syrup)
¼ part lemon
2 dashes orange bitters
champagne or club soda

Shake all ingredients with cranberry infused ice (made from cranberry juice) and strain into a coupe or flute. Top with bubbles (either champagne or club soda) and add a couple of cranberries and an orange twist.

Recipes for National Margarita Day, 2017

 

Brighter, warmer days are coming our way — eventually — so this is a perfect time to celebrate National Margarita Day (February 22). Margaritas are crowd-pleasers because of their bright flavor and for us they are always reminiscent of warm evenings out with friends. Invite those friends over, cook up a pizza pan full of your favorite nachos, and enjoy these five margarita recipes — two using tequila and three with smoky mezcal.

DeLeón Platinum Tequila Margarita
1.5 oz. DeLeón Platinum tequila
3/4 oz. lime juice
1/2 oz. simple syrupTe Verde Margarita
salt

Pour all ingredients into a shaker with ice and shake well. Strain into a salt rimmed margarita glass and garnish with a lime wedge before serving.

Té Verde Margarita
1 1/4 parts Montelobos mezcal
¾ part Ancho Reyes Verde
3/4 part strong green tea syrup (brew green tea with equal parts of water and sugar until it thickens into a syrup)
1 part fresh lime juice
5 mint leaves

Add all ingredients to a shaker. Shake and serve over ice in a rocks glass. Garnish with a mint sprig and a lime wheel.

Juan to Juan
1 part Montelobos mezcal
1 part Ancho Reyes OriginalFrose Margarita
3/4 part fresh lemon juice
1/2 part simple syrup
2 dashes Angostura bitters

Shake all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Pour into a coupe glass, garnish with a lemon wheel, and serve.

Frosé Margarita
2 parts Montelobos mezcal
1 oz. rosé wine
3/4 part fresh lime juice
1 part Jamaica concentrate syrup (hibiscus)
2-3 medium strawberries

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend with 1 1/2 cups ice. Garnish with half of a strawberry, a lime wheel,Rio Verde Margarita and grated Mexican chocolate on top.

Rio Verde Margarita
1 ½ oz. Milagro tequila
1 oz. Ancho Reyes Verde
1/2 oz. agave
3/4 oz. lime
fresh cilantro
tomatillo (grilled)

Muddle cilantro sprig and grilled tomatillo wedge with all ingredients and shake with ice. Strain into a salt rimmed glass. Garnish with spiked grilled tomatillo and cilantro sprig.

Cocktail Recipes for President’s Day 2017

Presidential Punch
These days all things presidential have many of us reaching for a drink. Thankfully, on President’s Day, February 20, we take a moment to reflect on two of the greatest leaders of America: George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Let’s give them a toast with these three cocktails.

ObamatiniObamatini
1 oz. grenadine
1/2 oz. blue Curacao
1 oz. Tito’s vodka
2 oz. of Prosecco

First, rim a martini glass with sugar; pour the grenadine in. Then put the blue Curacao and vodka in a shaker and shake. Layer that mixture over the grenadine. Slowly add the Prosecco. Garnish with strawberry and blueberry on skewer.

Presidential Punch
1 1/2 oz. Milagro Anejo tequila
1/2 oz. Ancho Reyes Chile Liqueur
2 oz. sweet and sour mix
1/2 oz. orange juice
1/8 cup salt
1/8 cup chili powder

Mix the salt and chili powder. Rim a margarita glass with the mixture. Add all other ingredients into a shaker with ice and shake. Then strain over big ice into the glass and garnish with a jalapeño slice.

Ford’s FizzFord's Fizz
1 1/2 oz. Stoli vodka
2 oz. ginger beer
splash of lime juice
1 oz. cranberry juice

Add vodka, lime juice and cranberry juice into a rocks glass with ice. Stir add the ginger beer. Garnish with a lime wheel.

Recipes: Valentine’s Day 2017 Desserts and Cocktail Pairings

Raspberry Vodka Blast Cupcakes

What a lovely tradition we have of giving sweets to the one we are sweet on! We want to make that easy for you with a trio of sweet recipes and paired cocktails to offer your loved one on Valentine’s Day. Single? Simply make them and treat yourself!

Van Gogh Raspberry Vodka Blast Cupcakes
Created by Dawn Belisle, Delights by Dawn
1 box white cake mix (like Duncan Hines)
1 box instant French vanilla pudding
1/2 cup fresh raspberries
1 tsp sugar
2 cups Van Gogh Raspberry Vodka
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs

For the White Chocolate Raspberry Frosting:
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks) at room temperature
4 oz. white chocolate melted and slightly cooled, but still pouring consistency
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup International Delight White Chocolate Raspberry Coffee Creamer
1/4 tsp salt

Coat 1/2 cup of raspberries with sugar and 1 tablespoon of Van Gogh Raspberry Vodka, set aside for about 10 minutes. Combine white cake mix, French vanilla pudding, eggs, vegetable oil, and 1 cup of Van Gogh Raspberry Vodka and the raspberry-sugar-vodka mixture from above. Mix on medium speed for about 1 minute. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full and bake for 18 minutes at 350 degrees or until toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

While the cupcakes are cooling, make the frosting.

Once cupcakes have cooled and before adding the frosting, put the remaining Van Gogh Raspberry Vodka in a small, shallow bowl and dip the top of the cupcake in the vodka until the top is covered, but not overly saturated. Allow the raspberry vodka to soak in for about five minutes before frosting.

For the frosting, melt the white chocolate and let it slightly cool, it should be pouring consistency. Using a hand mixer, or if using a mixer use the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed for 1 minute.  Scrape the sides down. Put the mixer on low speed and slowly add the confectioners’ sugar. Next, quickly pour in the melted white chocolate and then beat again for 2 minutes on medium speed until creamy. Add coffee creamer and salt. Beat for an additional 1 minute until combined. Frost the cupcakes and decorate as desired.

We decorated ours with a raspberry in the center of each cupcake. If you use frozen raspberries or strawberries, be sure to drain them and pat them dry before using them to garnish the cupcake so they don’t bleed juice. That may be fine for a Halloween theme but not here.

Lapping TongueThe perfect cocktail to serve with these cupcakes is the Lapping Tongue.

Lapping Tongue
1 1/2 parts Jose Cuervo Especial Silver tequila
1/2 part lemon juice
1/4 part rich simple syrup (2:1, sugar:water)
1/2 part Creme de Cassis
1/2 part Campari
orange slice

Add all ingredients except garnish to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange peel after expressing the natural oils over the drink and rubbing the peel around the rim of the glass.

Chocolate Stout Bundt Cake
By Carla Hall of The ChewChocolate Stout Bundt Cake
2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (softened, divided)
2 cups sugar
1 cup stout beer (warmed)
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Dutch process unsweetened cocoa powder (plus more for dusting pan)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 cup sour cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 6-cup Bundt pan with 2 tablespoons of butter and dust with cocoa powder. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium speed, add the butter and sugar and cream until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the stout beer and beat until the butter is melted. Add the eggs one at a time along with the vanilla extract and beat until the mixture is smooth. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. In a large bowl, add the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, black pepper and salt and whisk to combine. Turn the speed down to medium-low and add the flour mixture until just combined. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and add the sour cream to incorporate. Pour the batter into the bundt pan and place in the oven to bake for about 40-45 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for 15 minutes before flipping the cake onto a baking rack and turning it right side up. Cut into slices and serve with the sour cream whipped topping.

Sour Cream Whipped Topping:
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream (chilled)
1/4 cup sour cream

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add the heavy whipping cream and whip until medium peaks form. Add sour cream and gently fold to incorporate. Tip: Store cake wrapped in plastic wrap after serving. Cake will be good for 4-5 days.

We did not have a bunt cake pan so made this in a normal 9 x 12 inch baking pan and cut it into squares. This cake is heavy so a normal frosting would be too much. You, like us, may never have used sour cream in a whipped topping before but this one came out wonderful. It is not overly sweet, which tastes wonderful along with the peppery chocolate of the cake.

A Rose Story cocktail pairs nicely with the cake for pleasant dessert.

A Rose Story
Created by Hendrick’s Gin Ambassador Erik Andersson
2 parts Hendrick’s Gin
1 part rose petal jam
1/2 part lemon juice
1/2 part sugar syrup
1 part cranberry juice
1 part egg white

Double shake and pour into a champagne glass. Garnish with rose petals, a spray of orange bitters, and rose waters before serving.

Are you staying in to watch movies from the couch? This Valentine Popcorn Mix is just the thing.

Valentine Popcorn MixValentine Popcorn Mix
Courtesy of ReadySetEat
4 cups crispy corn cereal squares (If you use a mix of plain and chocolate, then just coat the plain ones as noted below and leave the chocolate as they are from the box.)
1 cup premier white morsels
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
8 drops red food coloring
1 bag (76.3 g) microwave popcorn
2 cups tiny pretzel twists, broken into pieces
1/2 cup peanut butter
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Line shallow baking pan with parchment paper. Place cereal in large bowl and set aside. Place morsels and oil in small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high 30 seconds; stir. Microwave on high 30 seconds more or until softened; stir until completely melted. You can also melt the morsels in a pan on the stove by putting them in a small pan, then set it into a larger pan which is half filled with water. Heat on medium until morsels are melted.

Add food coloring to the melted morsels and stir until blended. Spoon mixture over cereal; then stir until well coated. Spread cereal mixture on pan, separating pieces. Refrigerate 5 minutes or until firm. Meanwhile, prepare popcorn according to package directions. Remove all unpopped kernels. Combine popped corn and pretzel pieces in an extra-large bowl. Place peanut butter in small microwave-safe bowl; microwave on high 30 seconds or until melted. Drizzle peanut butter over popcorn mixture; then toss to coat. Place confectioner’s sugar in large resealable food storage bag. Add popcorn mixture and shake to coat. Place popcorn mixture and coated cereal in large serving bowl. Add cranberries; toss gently to combine. Store leftovers in tightly sealed container.Montelobos’ Amigos Con Derechos

The perfect cocktail companion for the popcorn is the Montelobos’ Amigos Con Derechos (Spanish for ‘friends with benefits’).

Montelobos’ Amigos Con Derechos
1 ½ parts Montelobos mezcal
¾ part Cynar
¼ part St. Germain
2 dashes grapefruit bitters

Stir in a mixing glass with ice. Strain and serve up in a Nick & Nora glass. Garnish with grapefruit zest.

Review: Fruli Strawberry Beer

As Valentine’s Day approaches, strawberry beer is an unlikely addition to any well-planned romantic dinner. Fruli, brewed in Melle, Belgum at the 300 year old Huyge brewery, is a lovely witbier with strawberries added.  Fruli lends itself beautifully to what the Valentine’s meal is supposed to be: a prelude to the rest of the evening.

The initial nose is strawberry (thank God) with a hint of clove and orange. The first taste is pure summer strawberry, which lingers very nicely, with no bitterness at all. As the strawberry taste dissipates, orange pops up and remains just for another moment as a slightly spicy finish takes its place without being overbearing or coy. On the finish, my first thought was that this would pair amazingly well with any type or style of chocolate; another plus for Valentine’s Day. Fruli’s flavor profile also lends itself nicely to beer cocktails and could easily be used to make any other morning-after cocktail that has lambic or witbier as a base.

All told, this is a very drinkable, approachable fruit beer that drinks like a session beer. Light and moderate drinkers can enjoy several of these over the course of a Valentine’s Day dinner and still be set for the rest of the evening’s activities.

4% abv.

A / $13 per 4-pack / friuli.be

How about a cocktail recipe using Fruli?

The Morning After for 2
12 oz Fruli
8 oz orange juice
2 oz Godiva liqueur
2 chocolate covered strawberries

Mix Godiva and orange juice together in shaker. Pour into 12 oz tall glass. Split beer between two glasses. Top with Godiva mixture. Garnish with chocolate covered strawberry or chocolate shavings on rim.

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