Category Archives: fall/winter cocktails

Dark ‘n’ Stormy

It was a dark and stormy night….Ms. S&C was busy preparing sweet potato skins (with bacon, marshmallows and molasses) for a friend’s annual Halloween bash. She kept watching the clock. The dish was looking good, but there was still a lot to do. And, what about a cocktail? There was no time! No time for simple syrups. No time for punches. She couldn’t show up empty-handed. She’s Ms. S&C! She didn’t want to disappoint. She spotted an almost-full bottle of Gosling’s Black Seal Rum in her cabinet (leftover from last year’s holiday party eggnog). She wondered if she could use it for something. What about the Dark ‘n’ Stormy? Yes, it is a Bermudan cocktail, but it has a spooky name…

goslingsrumSurprisingly, Ms. S&C has never tried a Dark ‘n’ Stormy before (rum is usually not her first choice of spirit). But, she’s heard good things. Read good things. And, she’s seen it on plenty a cocktail menu.

reedsgingerbeerThe zesty combination of the sweet rum and spicy ginger brew (only use the good stuff), and the easy breezy preparation — the Dark ‘n’ Stormy will undoubtedly have a regular spot in Ms. S&C’s cocktail rotation. Not to mention, it is great drink for any time of the year — a Bermuda bash or a Halloweeen fest — the ingredients are always available. And they’re always tasty.

Dark ‘n’ Stormy
serves two

Ingredients:

  • 4 oz. Gosling’s Black Seal Rum
  • Bottle of Ginger Beer (Ms. S&C prefers Reed’s Extra Ginger Brew)
  • Lime wedge

Directions:

Fill a collins glass with ice. Add 2 oz. rum. Top with half of a bottle of ginger beer. Garnish with lime wedge. Repeat.

posted by Ms. S&C

Getting Spoooooky

Ghosts, ghouls and goblins bring with them a host of exciting cocktail possibilities to usher in the spookiest of holidays. And with Halloween falling on a Saturday this year, those opportunities for celebrating are all the more plentiful.

Here are Miss Mojito’s thoughts on some festive cocktails that might help get you in the Halloween spirit.

  • Go Orange and Black: Mix orange curacao liqueur, white rum and lime; garnish with a licorice stick
  • Go Creepy: Take a nod from Yumsugar.com and mix up a terrifying batch of Eyeball Highballs.
  • Go Spooky: Mix espresso, orange vodka and coffee liqueur for a brooding, macabre and delicious martini.

Shoe-wise, I think something equally black and broodIMG_0894ing is in order. Luckily, I came across these fantastic sandals at Nine West. The hardware toughens up the feminine shape. I’ve been eyeing this particular pair for a while now and am delighted to add them to my collection!

Posted by Miss Mojito.

Cake and punch

The fun thing about going to a one year old’s birthday party is the party turns out to be one that’s really more for adults. Ms. S&C recently had the pleasure honor of fixing a punch for an adorable lad’s first birthday party. Said adorable lad also happens to be Miss Mojito’s nephew! While the pomegranate champagne punch was a crowd pleaser, the real hit of the party was this incredible rainbow-colored cake baked by the lad’s superstar mom, LC. LC tells me the rainbow cake was inspired by a number of blogs and recipe sites (Google rainbow cake and you’ll get oodles of results). But her cake and icing recipe came from Restaurant Eve’s Birthday Cake. Clever mom that she is, LC implemented the rainbow layering and colored coconut for the topping, rather than using plain old sprinkles.

bday-cakeSpectacular rainbow colored birthday cake

For the punch: when asked to help make a cocktail for the party, I wanted something equally colorful and festive. Since we were serving a large crowd of 20-30 people, I knew that punch was the only practical option. I found a pomegranate rum punch recipe from Bon Appetit on Epicurious. I’ve always been a fan of pomegranate juice – the color and tartness make it a perfect mixer for cocktails. Not to mention all the health benefits. But, I’m not so much a fan of rum (which could be good in a fall/winter version), so I subbed champagne and white wine, and made a few other tweaks. The result was a bright, cheerful, and sparkling beverage that parents, and friends and family of parents, can enjoy.

pom-champagne-punchPomegranate champagne punch with lime and mint

Pomegranate Champagne Punch

Ingredients:

  • Simple syrup
  • 5 bottles chilled brut Champagne
  • 2 bottles chilled white wine (Ms. S&C uses sauvignon blanc)
  • 1 cup triple sec
  • 3 cups pomegranate juice,  (Ms. S&C prefers POM Wonderful)
  • 4 limes, thinly sliced
  • Simple syrup, to taste
  • Pomegranate seeds (optional)
  • Fresh mint for garnish (optional)
  • 1 ice block

Directions:

For the simple syrup: bring 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup sugar to boil in small saucepan, stirring until sugar dissolves. Simmer 5 minutes. Cool syrup completely. Note: adding lime slices is always an option to infuse the syrup.

Combine Champagne, white wine, triple sec and pomegranate juice in punch bowl. Add syrup to sweeten to taste. Mix in lime slices, and pomegranate seeds. Add ice block to bowl. Garnish with mint.

posted by Ms. S&C

Citrus Juicing and Ice Chipping

I recently tried out two new tools that are sure to enhance the cocktail concoction experience.

I gave the Black & Decker Citrus Juicer to my dad for Christmas in 2008, after spending over half an hour one evening juicing lemons and limes for his family-sized batch of whiskey sours. I decided to invest in this small, affordable home juicer as a present for dad (and to give my poor hands a break). It’s small enough not to take up too much room in my parents’ limited cabinet space.

We finally whipped it out one Sunday to make a batch of the much-lauded whiskey sours. I must admit, even thdscn09052ough I was the one who bought the juicer in the first place, I was still skeptical that it would produce results good enough to convince me to forgo my hand juicer.

For a $15 purchase, the results were pretty stellar. The way it works is this: you fit the citrus over one of the two plastic reamers (a larger one for oranges & grapefruit, a smaller one for lemons & limes). When you press down, the reamer automatically spins, extracting the juice into the awaiting container. Seconds later, you have a bone-dry citrus rind in one hand and a cup full of juice in the other (up to 34 ounces worth). This particular model also has different settings for no pulp, medium pulp and pulp-a-plenty. Brilliant!

dscn0908The other tool I tried out that might deserve a place on your cocktail cart is the manual ice grinder. It’s basically a plastic container with a sharp metal mouth through which you feed your ice cubes. Depending upon the direction you turn the crank, the result is large ice chips or fine ice slush. Though you have to definitely exert some strong arm power to properly chip the ice, the results are worth the effort for those times when ice cubes are just too inelegant and bulky.

I think the best way to make use of these two finds is a mid-winter cocktail that celebrates them both. The Salty Dog is just the ticket: squeeze your own grapefruit juice, chip your own ice, them mix them both together with some gin and serve in a salted-rim glass.

The Salty Dog
serves one

  • 4-5 oz. fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice
  • 2 oz gin
  • Salt
  • Chipped ice

Chill your cocktail glass in the freezer for 10-15 minutes before preparing the drink. Pour salt (a couple spoonfuls should be plenty) on a square of parchment paper. Dip and roll the edge of the chilled glass in salt. (If the salt has trouble sticking to the glass, try rubbing the glass with a wedge of lime, first.). Pour gin and juice in glass; fill with ice and stir to mix.

Posted by Miss Mojito

Sipping Sours

All this recession business has me in a bit of a sour mood. And you know what they say: when life gives you lemons, make a whiskey sour! Or a pisco, midori or rum sour, as the case may be.

Winter is the perfect time to delve into this citrus-friendly group of cocktails, with the abundant availability AND relative affordability of oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruit in your grocery store. Let’s start with the classic.

The whiskey sour has become a tried and true winter favorite in Miss M’s household. Ina Garten provides a great basic recipe in her book, Barefoot Contessa at Home. This is apparently her favorite cocktail to offer guests (she likes to serve it along side a green herb dip, a recipe that I’ll be trying out on some friends to accompany my tonic tasting this weekend – more on that later!). I like this version because it relies on both lemon and lime juice. In a pinch, I’ve subbed some organic, bottled lime juice for the fresh when I was lacking limes and loving laziness.

Barefoot Contessa’s Fresh Whiskey Sourbarefootcontessa
Serves 4

• 3/4 cup whiskey (recommended: Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey)
• 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (4 lemons)
• 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (4 limes)
• 2/3 cup sugar syrup
• Ice cubes
• Maraschino cherries

Combine the whiskey, lemon juice, lime juice, and syrup. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice and pour in the drink mix 2/3 full. Shake for 15 seconds and pour into glasses. Add a maraschino cherry and serve ice cold.

My proclivity for whiskey sours goes a long way back. In fact, we used to make big batches for tailgates in college, using cheap bourbon and frozen lemonade concentrate with delightful results. Still, I’m ready to branch out from this traditional choice. The Meyer Lemon Sour has me the most excited. According to my Food Lover’s Companion, the Meyer lemon could best be described as a cross between an orange and a lemon. Our food history lesson for the day tells us that the Meyer lemon is “named after F.N. Meyer who in 1908 imported it into the United States from China, where it’s been grown for centuries.” They’re characterized by a sweeter and less acidic juice than regular lemons. If I can’t put my hands on some Meyer lemons, I’m thinking a 50/50 mix of lemons and oranges might do the trick nicely. I found this recipe over on the Food Network, where it’s attributed to Mr. Bobby Flay.

Meyer Lemon Sour
Serves 6

• 12 ounces whiskey (recommended: Jim Beam)
• 9 ounces Meyer Lemon Sweet and Sour Mix, recipe follows
• 1/4 cup sugar
• 6 slices Meyer lemon
• 6 maraschino cherries

Shake the first 3 ingredients vigorously in a cocktail shaker or in a large container with a lid. Pour into glasses over ice. Garnish with slices of Meyer lemon and maraschino cherries.

Meyer Lemon Sweet and Sour Mix
4 cups Meyer lemon juice
1 cup simple syrup
2 egg whites
Pinch salt

Combine all the ingredients.

A brief bit of Internet research quickly expanded my limited sour knowledge. Apparently the sour category applies to any drink that combines liquor, lemon or lime juice and a sweetener. So it doesn’t have to actually have the word sour in its title—margaritas and sidecars also belong to this family. Why not add a sour to your winter cocktail family today?!

Posted by Miss Mojito

Too much of a good thing

Isn’t too much of a good thing what New Year’s Eve is all about?  When Ms. S&C likes something, she kinda gets all consumed by it.  Take Duffy’s Rockferry album for instance.  Once she got it for her b-day, it was in heavy rotation on her Ipod for weeks.  Everyday on the metro, she would listen to the whole album beginning to end (she’s usually a shuffle kind-of a girl).  Now that the Duffy newness has worn off, she’s moved on to T.I’s Whatever You Like.  Damn, that song is catchy.  And, let me tell you — it made the metro ride to work today at least bearable.  The first day back after the holidays is the pits.  Absolute. Pits.

Ms. S&C’s obsession fascination with punch has lasted a lot longer (yes, it made the 2008 Year in Review list).  When given the opportunity to make a holiday cocktail for LKO’s New Year’s Eve party, she could not resist.  Taking cues from the autumn spiced punch and LC’s champagne punch, we came up with this delicious Shoes & Cocktails exclusive — a sparkling cherry punch! This drink’s bright, festive color make it a perfect holiday cocktail.  It was a splendid way to start off the night!

angelas-nye-punch-003

After recently trying a Ritz Cocktail with maraschino liqueur, I knew I wanted to use cherry liquor in something, so I replaced the apricot brandy from the champagne punch.  And, I feel like if you are going to go through the trouble of making simple syrup yourself, you might as well infuse it with something.  I made this simple syrup with cranberries mainly because I had a leftover bag of them in the freezer, but also because I wanted something with the deep red color (I thought more cherries in the syrup may be an overload on cherry flavor).  The frozen cherries were a delicious little surprise at the bottom of the cup, and they helped keep the punch cold.

Sparkling Cherry Punch

Ingredients:

  • 4 bottles of champagne
  • 2 bottles of white wine (I used Sauvignon Blanc)
  • 8 oz. cranberry infused simple syrup (see ingredients and directions below)
  • 8 oz. cherry brandy
  • 1 bag of frozen pitted cherries

Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a punch bowl.  Stir.  Easy schmeasy!

Simple Syrup Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 bag frozen cranberries

Simple Syrup Directions:
It is recommended that you make the simple syrup a day in advance to maximize the cranberry flavor.  Combine water, sugar, and cranberries in a saucepan.  Bring to boil, reduce heat.  Cover and simmer 10 minutes.  Cover and chill for 12-24 hours.  Strain bits of cranberry from the syrup.

S&C wants to know: What fun, festive drinks did you have to ring in the new year?  Share your NYE drinks below!

Holiday party cocktails

Break out the punch bowls!  S&C has two great holiday drinks for you.  Our friends LC and CA hosted their annual gift exchange party over the weekend.  LC served the delicious champagne punch she makes every year.  I think it is a family recipe.  It is bubbly and festive and everybody loves it.  If you don’t make it for the Christmas holiday, it would be perfect for a New Year’s Eve bash.

LC’s Family Punch

champagne_punch

Ingredients:

  • 2 bottles of champagne
  • 1 bottle of white wine
  • 8 oz. apricot brandy
  • 8 oz. triple sec
  • 1 liter club soda

Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a punch bowl.  Add block of ice.  For less potency, half the amounts of brandy and triple sec.  (As the night goes on and you continue to refill the punch bowl, halving is not a bad idea.)

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After attending the Holiday Cocktails seminar, I was inspired to make homemade eggnog for LC’s party.  Eggnog is quite easy, as long as you have an electric mixer.  And by mixing the ingredients one by one, it ensures that they are well blended.  This recipe is an adaptation of several I’ve seen.  I didn’t add cognac or brandy (a spirit found in most recipes), mostly because I didn’t want it to be too boozy.  I also added more vanilla extract and spices to make it more indulgent and dessert-like.  I think the final product was a perfect accompaniment to chocolate pound cake and the other fine desserts served at the party.  It is also a fine substitute for cream and sugar in your coffee.

Eggnog

Ingredients:

  • Dozen eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon clove
  • 2 teaspoons nutmeg, plus extra for garnish
  • 4 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 5 cups milk
  • 2 cups dark rum (I used Gosling’s Black Seal)

Directions:
In a large bowl, beat the eggs until frothy.  Add sugar, continue beating.  Add vanilla, clove, nutmeg, continue beating.  Add heavy cream, little at a time, continue beating.  Add milk, little at a time, continue beating.  Chill for 1-2 hours.  Before serving, add rum and mix well.  Garnish with nutmeg.  For less indulgence, substitute some of the heavy cream with milk.

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S&C Wishes You Happy Holidays and Best in 2009!

Halloween part II–pumpkins galore

Your Halloween drinks continue with beer, and specifically Pumpkin Ales!

We like pumpkin beers over here at S&C.  It’s like the fall season in a bottle.  They are typically mild, with an equal balance of bitterness and malt.  Some are made with actual pumpkins and some are made with flavors and spices akin to a pumpkin pie, such as nutmeg, clove, cinnamon, all spice.  The Beer Advocate says despite the incredible time consumption, the best ales use real pumpkin.  And, the folks over at Drink Craft Beer have rated their top ten faves.  S&C has had a few on the list, and we don’t think you can go wrong with the ones mentioned below.

So, if you don’t have time to whip up the Autumn Spiced Punch or the Corpse Reviver, No. 2, before the trick-or-treaters arrive, pick up a six pack!

  • Harvest Moon Pumpkin Ale – Coors Brewing Company
    Medium body with hints pumpkin.  Easy to drink. Good choice for those that don’t typically drink “dark” beers.
  • Post Road Pumpkin Ale – Brooklyn Brewery
    Malt, hops, pumpkin, spices – it has it all.  This brewery does no wrong.

Not pictured, but also a very good beer — Punkin’ Ale, from our friends over at Dogfish Head.  It is a good beer when you’re heading into a cooler season.

Halloween part I–reviving a corpse

Your Halloween Cocktails are here!

After drinking Lillet during my NYC bar hop, I picked up a bottle at Whole Foods.  Then, I ran across the Corpse Reviver, No. 2 recipe – just in time for Halloween.  Other than a fitting name, the cocktail itself has no association with the holiday.

Lillet is a wine, blended with a secret recipe of herbs and fruits.  It pairs perfectly with citrus.  So, the combination of the sweet orange liqueur with the sour lemon juice is scary good.  You can hardly taste the gin, and the dash of Pernod gives a hint of star anise flavoring that really makes the cocktail.  Don’t let the unusual spirits discourage you, this is a very good cocktail.  My new book, The Savoy Cocktail Book, has a funny quote which reads, “Four of these taken in swift succession will unrevive the corpse again.”  Trick or treat!

Corpse Reviver, No. 2
(makes about two cocktails)

  • 1 part Gin
  • 1 part Lillet
  • 1 part Cointreau (or another orange liqueur)
  • 1 part Lemon Juice
  • Dash Absinthe (or Pernod)

Combine all ingredients and shake well with ice.  Strain into chilled cocktail glass.  Garnish with lemon peel.

Happy valley

S&C went tailgating over the weekend.  Headed to State College, PA,  to see friends JD and Bob, and see Penn State take on clobber Michigan.  It was super-fun being in a college town, and one that is crazy about football.  Tailgating is, of course, awesome.  S&C really likes hanging out with friends during the day, eating, and drinking.  Not to mention, the fall foliage was gorgeous up there.

To celebrate the festivities, we prepared an autumnal punch, recipe courtesy of Ms. RB, our friend out of Texas.  This punch is very mellow, so it is definitely appropriate for an afternoon of drinking.  If you’re planning a Halloween party, or attending some other fall-related shindig, serve this punch.  It is a winner.

Autumn Spiced Punch
Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 12 cinnamon sticks, broken
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 4 cups cold apple juice
  • 1 12 oz can apricot nectar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 bottles white wine, preferably Sauvignon Blanc

Directions:
In a saucepan combine water, sugar, cinnamon sticks and cloves.  Bring to boil, reduce heat.  Cover and simmer 10 minutes.  Cover and chill for 12-24 hours.  Strain spices from syrup.  Combine syrup with fruit juices.  Pour into punch bowl (or plastic pitcher, if you’re tailgating) and add wine.

And, in case you’re interested, our tailgating menu included: chicken wings, pork barbeque, coleslaw, and baked beans.  Perfect for the back of a pick-up truck.

After the game, we headed to The Tavern Restaurant, a town favorite, and famous for a drink called the “Original Sin.”  The Original Sin recipe is top-secret, but apparently is 50% alcohol (including brandy), mixed with club soda, a secret fruity mixture (definitely includes maraschino in some form), and topped off with champagne.  It reminds you of a spiked punch you may have had in high school.  If you’re there, you have to try it.

Thanks for the great weekend State College friends!  Reserve a tailgating spot for us next year – we’ll be there, ready to party Nittany Lions style.