Friday, December 1, 2017

Holiday Gift Guide 2017

1. Love & Victory Cocktail Pins. I swear these have shown up on every cocktail gift guide I've seen this year, but how could they not? They are so freaking adorable. The perfect stocking stuffer! $12 each or $80 for the full set of 8.

2. Gold Cheers Foil Hang Tags. So much classier than just sticking a bow on that bottle of wine or booze you're bringing over. These have plenty of space to write a little message, and will work for any time of year. $9.95 for a pack of 10.

3. Wintersmiths Ice Chest. I think this is what I'll be asking Santa for this year. There are several clear ice systems on the market at lots of different price points, but it seems like Wintersmiths is the undisputed best. Give the cocktail perfectionist in your life this ice chest that makes four clear cubes or spheres, or preorder the new Phantom, which should ship in July. $120 with one shape tray, $160 with both.

4. Dash Bitters Tonic Syrup Kit. This new kit from Dash Bitters, makers of some great DIY bitters kits, allows you to craft your own tonic syrup at home for the perfect G&T. The kit comes with everything you need, including pre-measured ingredients and a bottle and label for the finished product. They sent me one this week and I can't wait to use it! Kits like this are a great way to ease into making your own bitters and mixers. $35.

5. Absolute Elyx Deluxe Martini Gift Set. Absolute Elyx vodka, which single-handedly brought the copper pineapple mug into vogue, makes all kinds of cool copper barware (I'm looking at you, cute little gnome). This martini gift set is so unbelievably gorgeous that I audibly gasped when I saw it. If you're in the market for a truly luxurious gift, look no further. $299.

6. Wilkinson Scalloped Julep Strainer. This beautiful julep strainer designed by David Wondrich is inspired by classic barware. $26.99.

7. Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva Rum. If you don't think of rum as a spirit to sip on its own, this one will change your mind. Its rich, sweet flavor will convince the staunchest whiskey drinker to branch out. It's also excellent in cocktails. ~$30 for 750 ml.

8. Aromatic Bitter Sugar Cubes. These sugar cubes from Vena's Fizz House in Portland, Maine are perfect for Old Fashioneds, Sazeracs, Champagne Cocktails, and just about anything else you can think of. $8 for a 2 oz. jar.

9. Seedlip Distilled Non-Alcoholic Spirits. Since I spent the majority of this year not drinking alcohol, I had to include something on this list for the teetotalers. Billed as "what to drink when you're not drinking," Seedlip is bringing the craft of spirits to the world of mocktails. If you know someone who is reluctantly leaving the gin out of their tonic, a bottle of Seedlip is the perfect gift to make them feel like they're drinking craft cocktails again. It's available in two varieties, Garden 108 and Spice 94. $45 for 750 ml.

10. Sugarfina Bourbon Bears. A great, cheeky stocking stuffer for a whiskey lover. Sugarfina has a whole line of boozy gummies, including champagne and rosé, stout and lager, and even Casamigos Margarita and Paloma flavors. $8.50 for a small cube or $45 for a 2.5 lb bag.

Check out previous gift guides here.

Happy Holidays! Cheers!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017



We are currently in my absolute favorite time of year. The holidays are just so joyful. There are so many happy events and opportunities to get together with friends and family. It's not yet bitterly cold, but the temperature is low enough to turn on the heat and snuggle up under a blanket. Preferably with a whiskey cocktail.

The one thing I don't like about this time of year is how short the days are. It seemed bad enough as fall began, but then Daylight Savings Time ended. We "fall back" and suddenly it's getting dark at 4 pm! This makes it supremely inconvenient to get good cocktail photos. I like to shoot with natural light, but I'm not usually going to have a drink in the mid-afternoon. I end up having to just set things aside for later. My husband has gotten used to coming home and taking a peek in the fridge to check whether anything I made earlier that day is waiting to be consumed.


It was with this annual disgruntlement in mind that I picked the Fallback out of Regarding Cocktails. In addition to the appropriate name, it's made with Applejack and Amaro Nonino, a couple of my favorite fall ingredients. They lend flavors of apple, spice, vanilla, and brown sugar to rye and sweet vermouth. The Nonino and a couple of dashes of Peychaud's give the drink just the right amount of bitterness. It's utterly perfect for the fall.

And it still tastes just fine if you have to throw it in the fridge until cocktail hour.

History: The Fallback was created by Sasha Petraske for John Dory Oyster Bar in New York City.


1 oz. rye whiskey
1 oz. Applejack or apple brandy
1/2 oz. sweet vermouth (Carpano Antica recommended)
1/2 oz. Amaro Nonino
2 dashes Peychaud's bitters

Build the drink in a rocks glass beginning with the bitters. Add one large cube of ice and stir until the drink is chilled. Garnish with an orange twist.

Recipe adapted from Regarding Cocktails.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Spiced Cranberry Margarita

Spiced Cranberry Margarita

It's Thanksgiving! What do you have planned this year? Since we'll be in Boston far away from family (and their annual epic array of Thanksgiving casseroles) we're going to have a small dinner with a few friends. It will be our first time really hosting a Thanksgiving dinner, and I'm going to have to seriously rein in my ambitions of elaborate table settings and bountiful homemade dishes - I've got a two-month-old, after all. But we'll definitely try to tackle a few Thanksgiving classics like green bean casserole (from scratch, of course!) and stuffing.

And since my husband has dreams of cooking the turkey sous vide, that might be all we're eating. I'd better make sure there are drinks.

Spiced Cranberry Margarita

Since it's Thanksgiving, you've basically got to put some cranberry in your cocktails. Cranberries make a great addition to an Old Fashioned, Moscow Mule, or Julep. Not only do they add some fabulous flavor but they're also pretty gorgeous. Snag a few from your cranberry sauce recipe to add to your drinks. Or throw in the cranberry sauce itself!

Now, when you think of Thanksgiving cocktails, your first thought probably isn't "margaritas!" But I think this is a fresh and seasonally-appropriate take on an otherwise summery cocktail. Tart cranberries are honestly perfect in a margarita, and including some autumn spices and an aged tequila makes for a cocktail that would be right at home on your Thanksgiving table. Or at least perfect for pre-dinner drinks.

Spiced Cranberry Margarita

Spiced Cranberry Margarita

1 1/2 oz. tequila reposado
1 oz. triple sec
3/4 oz. lime juice
1/2 oz. spiced cranberry syrup*

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake until chilled. Strain into a rocks glass filled with ice and garnish with sugared cranberries.

*You can make the sugared cranberry garnish and the spiced cranberry syrup together. Combine 1/4 cup water and 1/4 cup sugar and simmer to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat and stir in 1/2 cup cranberries, 1 cinnamon stick, 8 cloves, and 2 star anise. Let sit for 10 minutes. Strain, reserving both the cranberries and the syrup. Arrange half of the cranberries on parchment paper on a wire cooling rack and let sit for one hour; these will be your sugared cranberries. Return the rest of the cranberries and the spices to the pot with the syrup and muddle. Let sit for another 10-20 minutes and strain again, discarding the solids. Once an hour has passed, pour 1/4 cup sugar onto a plate and roll the remaining cranberries in it to coat.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Bottle Buy: Amarula


Even though my bar has grown quite a bit over the last few months, it's been a while since I properly introduced a new bottle. I'm particularly excited to introduce Amarula today because of a wonderful campaign they are running right now - keep reading for details!

A friend of mine who has spent a lot of time in Africa introduced me to Amarula several years ago. I fell instantly in love. It's a rich, silky cream liqueur that puts Bailey's to shame with its complex flavors and just the right amount of sweetness. If you think you don't like creamy dessert liqueurs, give Amarula a try before you give up.

Amarula is made from the fruit of the marula tree. This bright yellow fruit has a unique flavor described as a "citrus tang and a creamy, nutty taste." It only grows in sub-Saharan Africa and cannot be cultivated. The fruit is hand-harvested from wild trees to make the liqueur. The marula pulp is fermented, distilled, and aged in French oak barrels for two years. After this, cream is added to give Amarula its silky texture. The resulting liqueur has a rich and nutty flavor with hints of citrus and coconut. It's definitely sweet, but not tooth-achingly so, making it versatile enough to use in cocktails but also perfect to sip on its own.


Marula fruit is a favorite food for elephants. When the fruits are in season, elephants will travel for miles to find trees with ripe fruit. Amarula has long been dedicated to the conservation of these incredible animals, and this fall they have launched the "Don't Let Them Disappear" campaign to raise awareness and support elephant conservation. Until the end of the year, Amarula will donate $1 of every bottle sold to WildlifeDIRECT to support their efforts to save the African elephant. So now there's even more reason to try a bottle of Amarula! You may even find one without the elephant on its label, an illustration of the danger of elephants disappearing within our lifetime.


Price: $24
Alcohol Content: 17%
Popular Cocktails: Often served on the rocks or with coffee

Savannah Sunrise

For a cream liqueur, Amarula is surprisingly versatile. It works well with tropical flavors like banana, coconut, and rum as well as with dessert flavors like vanilla, chocolate, and coffee. I decided to play with this a bit in my first Amarula cocktail, the Savannah Sunrise: Amarula, dark rum, and Giffard Banane du Bresil (a banana liqueur) served over coffee ice cubes. The rum and Banane du Bresil bring out the more citrusy, tropical notes in the Amarula, but as the coffee ice cubes melt, they change the character of the drink and emphasize the sweetness of the liqueur and the caramel and vanilla notes from the aging process.

Elephant Ice Cubes

Plus, I made the coffee ice in these adorable elephant-shaped ice cube molds that Amarula sent me. It just doesn't get any cuter.

Savannah Sunrise

Savannah Sunrise

1 1/2 oz. Amarula
1 1/2 oz. dark rum
3/4 oz. Giffard Banane du Bresil
Coffee ice cubes

Combine Amarula, rum, and Banane du Bresil in a mixing glass with ice and stir briefly until chilled. Strain into a rocks glass over the coffee ice cubes.

Amarula Milkshake

You basically can't work with something as decadent as Amarula and not make a dessert drink. It's absolutely heavenly served over vanilla ice cream, so it seemed pretty clear that a boozy milkshake was the way to go. A little bourbon goes great with the vanilla and adds some depth and caramel flavor. It's so ridiculously good.

Amarula Milkshake

I garnished the milkshake with whipped cream and edible gold leaf, because why not?

Amarula Milkshake

Amarula Milkshake

2 scoops vanilla ice cream
1 oz. Amarula
1/2 oz. bourbon

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into a glass and top with whipped cream.

Props and liqueur supplied by Amarula; copper straws and strainer from Viski.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Teenage Riot

Teenage Riot

A couple of weeks after Luke was born, my parents came up to Boston to help us out. We instituted a pretty regular cocktail hour in the evenings - much needed after a day of dealing with a crying baby. My Dad loves Manhattans and Boulevardiers, so I started suggesting some other cocktails for them to try. Before long, a definite theme emerged - we were working our way through all my recipes with gin or whiskey, vermouth, and an amaro. We made Little Italys, Black Manhattans, Negronis, and Montenegronis. The Lucien Gaudin slipped in. I wish there was a general name for this formula, because this combination - specifically with bourbon and sweet vermouth - is definitely my favorite sort of cocktail.

Eventually I thought we ought to switch it up a bit, and I suggested the Teenage Riot. I first heard of this cocktail when the folks at Tipple & Nosh posted their riff on the recipe on Instagram. I didn't have the Cynar 70 and Madeira to make their version, but the original sounded right up my alley - my favorite whiskey/vermouth/amaro combo with some Amontillado sherry and orange bitters to boot.

Sure enough, I loved this drink. It has a beautiful citrus aroma. When you sip, you first get the bite of the rye, then the rich fruity, nutty flavor of the sherry and the Cynar, which stretches into a bitterness at the end. It would be interesting with sweet vermouth, but using dry keeps it lighter and balances things out. It's a beautifully crafted cocktail, and it's going on my list of favorites.

Teenage Riot

History: The Teenage Riot comes from Tonia Guffey of Dram, Flatiron Lounge, and Lani Kai in New York City. She presumably named it after the song by Sonic Youth.

Teenage Riot

1 1/2 oz. rye whiskey
1 1/2 oz. Cynar
1/2 oz. dry vermouth
1/2 oz. Amontillado sherry
2 dashes orange bitters

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir until chilled. Strain into a coupe and garnish with a lemon twist.

Recipe from Gaz Regan's 2011 Annual Manual for Bartenders via Cocktail Virgin Slut.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

D-Day Rum Sazerac (+ Baby News!)

D-Day Rum Sazerac

Guess what? I had a baby! My son Luke was born at the end of September, and my husband and I have been busy figuring out this whole "parenting" thing for the last month. It's absolutely amazing. I was never a baby person, and I'm totally in love with this little guy. Everyone talks about how hard it is to care for a newborn - and it is hard! - but I wasn't expecting how much fun it is too. Although I think he was set to easy mode for the first two weeks, and recently decided we were ready for him to ramp things up... for the past few days, there's definitely been a lot more crying and a lot less sleeping. On both our parts.

Nonetheless, I'm so excited to get back to making, drinking, and posting cocktails! I know I mentioned my pregnancy a lot, but I promise I won't be constantly talking about Luke and posting baby pictures. We're all here for the cocktail recipes.

Oh, all right. If you insist. Just this once.


I had a few people ask what my first drink was going to be after I had the baby, and I honestly didn't have one picked out. But the D-Day Sazerac was pretty high on my list. I tried it for the first time before I got pregnant and made it for some guests during the pregnancy. Everyone was raving about it, and I have to say I felt a bit bummed out sipping my club soda. I'm pretty thrilled to be drinking one at last.

This recipe switches up the traditional Sazerac by replacing the rye with Jamaican rum (the original recipe calls for Smith & Cross Navy Strength; I used Appleton Estate Reserve Blend) and sweetening the cocktail with Steen's Cane Syrup, a thick, dark, unrefined syrup that is a classic southern ingredient. If you can't get your hands on some, Demerara syrup or molasses is a fine substitute here. I like making mine with another Louisiana product, Cocktail & Sons Spiced Demerara Syrup. The fruity, funky flavor of the rum blends perfectly with the Herbsaint and bitters. It makes me want to try rum in lieu of whiskey more often.

D-Day Rum Sazerac

History: The D-Day Sazerac was created by Scotty Dagenhart at the Green Goddess in New Orleans. His inspiration for the drink is pretty cool: at one point, the bar was unable to get any of their usual rye whiskey, and this reminded Dagenhart of how the Hurricane was created during World War II when bars in New Orleans couldn't get their hands on whiskey but had plenty of rum. As the menu says, "We invented this to imagine New Orleans captured by German U-boats, leaving us without any rye whiskey to make our hometown Sazeracs." Dagenhart presumably chose D-Day for the cocktail's moniker because of the D-Day Museum (now the National World War II Museum) in New Orleans.

In the words of cocktail writer Michael Dietsch, "If that's wartime austerity, bring on the goddamn war."

D-Day Rum Sazerac

D-Day Rum Sazerac

2 oz. Smith & Cross Navy Strength Rum (I used Appleton Estate Reserve Blend)
1/4 oz. Steen's Cane Syrup (I used Cocktail & Sons Spiced Demerara Syrup)
1 dash Angostura bitters
1 dash Peychaud's bitters
Herbsaint rinse

Combine rum, syrup, and bitters in a mixing glass with ice and stir until chilled. Rinse an Old Fashioned glass with Herbsaint and strain in the cocktail. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Recipe adapted from The Nola Defender.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Recipe Round-Up: Mocktails

Well guys, this is it. Baby boy still hasn't flipped, so I'm going in for a C-section on Friday. That's just three days from now. I've never been so excited and terrified all at once! Surprisingly (considering the whole cut-you-open-while-you're-awake aspect of the situation), I'm really looking forward to it. I can't wait to meet this little guy and start this new phase of my life. And I can't wait to not be pregnant anymore! Overall I think I had a pretty easy pregnancy, but I can't say it went by quickly. And this belly is getting out of control!

While I definitely missed cocktails over the last nine months, I had a lot of fun getting creative with non-alcoholic recipes. For my last post, I thought I'd do a quick roundup of ten of my favorites. See the full list of mocktails here!

Wishful Thinking

1. Wishful Thinking. The first mocktail I posted, this one is simple but really delicious. Lime juice and lavender syrup dress up the usual ginger beer, and a dash of cardamom bitters provides the finishing touch.

Juniper & Tonic

2. Juniper & Tonic. Mixing tonic water with lime juice and a juniper syrup totally cured my G&T craving. Throw in some edible flowers and you have a beautiful summer sipper!

Just Beet It

3. Just Beet It. My only foray into the wide world of homemade shrubs during the pregnancy, this vibrant recipe pairs beet shrub with tarragon and tonic water. It was a definite favorite!

Chamomile Pear Sour

4. Chamomile Pear Sour. Using aquafaba, a vegan substitute for egg whites, allowed me to make a sour with a lovely layer of foam on top, just like the real thing. This would be a good non-alcoholic option to impress a real cocktail lover!

Spicy Sandia

5. Spicy Sandia. While this mixture of watermelon, lime, and jalapeño is basically screaming for a couple shots of tequila, it's a positively delicious recipe on its own - perfect for outdoor summer sipping.

Toasted Coconut Iced Chai

6. Toasted Coconut Iced Chai. This one isn't pretending to be a cocktail, and it doesn't have to. It's a sweet, delicious treat for when you want to drink something just a bit more decadent.

Consolation Prize

7. Consolation Prize. This is the only recipe on the list that I didn't come up with - it's from Smitten Kitchen, one of my all-time favorite food blogs. It's basically a cross between a piña colada and a mojito - absolutely dreamy.

Golden Orchard

8. Golden Orchard. Fennel, turmeric, and sparkling apple cider might seem like unusual ingredients in a drink, but they work perfectly in this sparkling mocktail.

Old Cuban

9. Old Cuban. A true "mocktail," this recipe emulates one of my favorite cocktails with the use of non-alcoholic sparkling wine and several dashes of Angostura bitters. It was probably the closest I felt to the real thing for nine months!

Green Monster

10. Green Monster. Cucumber and black pepper is a match made in heaven - seriously, you've got to try it, preferably with some Hendricks. But failing that, green tea is a fabulous substitute.

In addition to these recipes, I discovered lots of interesting non-alcoholic products aimed at the teetotaler, including Element Shrub & Club, Seedlip Non-Alcoholic Spirits, and Fre Wines. It's nice to see so many options on the market and on bar menus. There are a lot of reasons someone might not be drinking, and it's great to not feel left out!

Well, I'll probably take a bit of a hiatus from posting for the next few weeks, but check my Instagram and Twitter for baby updates and - who are we kidding? - pictures of my first few post-pregnancy cocktails. Cheers!