Monthly Archives: September 2010

What’s the Occasion?

Mmmm... Coffee, Coffee, Coffee....

My oh my, what a busy week we’ve all had!

Monday was National Chocolate Milk Day, Tuesday was Drink a Beer Day, Wednesday was a celebration of Coffee Day, and today is Hot Mulled Cider Day.

Phew! Minus the fact that I sorta switched Monday’s and Tuesday’s holidays (I HAD to throw back a few beers watching Da’ Burrs pull off that Monday Night Football victory over the Packers!), it goes without saying it’s been a thirst-quenching week.

Gregory over at A History of Drinking has been keeping an immaculate archive of our country’s many beverage related holidays, as well as finding excuses in history worthy of a toast.

This week alone, Greg found some great uses for Hiram Walker’s new 90-proof Cinnamon Schnapps, Original Cinn. First, there’s the Irish Coffee adaptation – The American Coffee #3. Then, there is his household favorite – the appropriately named “Jacked Up” Mulled Cider.

Grab those Irish coffee mugs, a bottle of Original Cinn, and give these recipes a try in your home!


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The Great Pumpkin Cocktail Contest

Back in May, Colleen Graham of Cocktails started a fantastic project on her site – a monthly cocktail contest that has the entire cocktail community involved. As we put a close on September, I found myself with a great opportunity to submit a cocktail recipe – one that I developed myself 🙂

Colleen allocated “Pumpkin” as the star of September. Here’s what she had to say on the subject:

The theme for the September, 2010 cocktail contest is pumpkin cocktails. Pumpkin is a flavor that drinkers look for every fall. You drink can use fresh pumpkin, pumpkin-flavored spirits, pie spice, or anything else pumpkin flavored.

If you have created a special pumpkin cocktail that you think could grab our panel’s attention, submit it. The winning drink will be featured in a spotlight on Cocktails in October and placed permanently in the cocktail collection.

Using inspiration from my favorite Starbucks beverage and a recipe available on the Hiram Walker website, I decided to give the Pumpkin Chai a revamp.

Test subjects for the Autumn in New England cocktail, each with different garnish, ready for anxious taste testers! From Left To Right: Dusted Cinnamon, Drizzled Chocolate Syrup, Cinnamon Rim (with an 'oops' drop of chocolate syrup!) Oh, and there's my elbow. Hi!

Full disclosure as always: Though they were not given me for this cocktail creation, the bottles of Hiram Walker Pumpkin Spice and ABSOLUT Vanilla were given to me from the Pernod-Ricard team. I also received a bottle of Voyant Chai Cream Liqueur as a sample after a meeting with the product developer and owner back in August. Full of spice and very tasty if you haven’t yet tried it.

I spent a few nights trying out different proportions & ingredients for a winning recipe, trying to keep the sweet pumpkin profile center stage with this strong plethora of added spices.  I finally settled on the following sweet Autumn treat:

Autumn in New England

  • 1 part Hiram Walker Pumpkin Spice Liqueur
  • 1 to 1 1/2 parts Voyant Chai Cream Liqueur
  • 1/2 part ABSOLUT Vanilla

Pour all ingredients together with ice in a mixing glass. Shake vigorously. Strain into a garnished martini glass.

Developing the perfect garnish was where my friends had the most fun participating with me (well, aside from the actual taste testing part…). As you can tell from the photo above, we had quite the collection of garnish options.

First was the dusting of cinnamon on top of the drink, which just ended up looking sloppy and ended up cutting all the flavor from the drink itself. We also tried drizzling syrup into the cocktail glassware, with much experimentation. Chocolate and caramel were both winning options among the masses. Lastly, I had the most fun with creating a cinnamon coated rim on the martini glass.  Yummm.

Up close and personal with my Autumn in New England cocktail

There were some more fantastic submissions for the September Pumpkin Contest on Cocktails. And – it’s still not too late to submit more recipes! You have until September 30th to enter your very own pumpkin creation.

Cheers for a (relatively) warm welcome to Autumn!


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The Big Apple’s Best Commuter Bars

Grand Central Station's main concourse (photo from

James Mulcahy is a mind reader.

For reals. New York’s all-around barfly wrote a piece special to Metromix earlier this month about some of the top commuter bars to crawl into while in the vicinity of the city’s many transit hubs: Grand Central Station, Penn Station and, yes, even Port Authority.

My locale in CT is just far enough that I still have to plan pretty ‘on-point’ to get into the city by a certain time but close enough that I can be under Manhattan’s big lights on any given day. As a somewhat frequent Metro-North commuter, I’ve come to learn the ins-and-outs of shuffling through Grand Central Station, but a light bulb clicked on when I read James’ story – I really haven’t explored the drinking scene near the stations! This clearly must be changed.

I’ll be doing a bunch of traveling in and out of New York over the next several weeks (both for work – more to come there! – and for pleasure) so I’m going to start a running list on this blog entry of the different bars I come across in my adventures.

In the interim of not having begun my commuter bar crawl, be sure to give James’ story a read. There are definitely a slew of options on there to lead me in the right direction along my imbibing adventure.



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Can we pair spirits and cocktails with dinner?

Should a cocktail accompany this Ricotta cheese stuffed ravioli? The discussion starts here! (Photo from Alan Moss at The Real Absinthe Blog)

I received an email earlier this week from Alan Moss, who writes about absinthe over at his site The Real Absinthe Blog. He was motivated to get in touch with me after reading about food and absinthe pairings from Pernod Absinthe’s bar crawl in Boston.

I wanted to share Alan’s comments because I’ve noticed of late that there seem to be differing viewpoints on the relationship between spirits and food at meal times.

Here is Alan’s input on the subject from an absinthe dinner in May over in Malaysia:

…We drank absinthe in 7 different ways to match the different courses, and they all went VERY well. We had La Clandestine (the “blanche” or white absinthe that Helen mentions (in the comments section of the bar crawl post)) with several courses, notably in the “Caipirinha” and Death in the Afternoon cocktails which were paired with ravioli and salmon dishes. We had a green absinthe with the oyster and chicken courses.

Good absinthe is very complex and does indeed work well with food.

Beer and wine traditionally seem to be the more obvious choices when choosing a mealtime beverage. Contrary to Alan’s thoughts, I’ve noticed people tend to be of the impression that the harsh alcohol content of spirits can be misguiding and hide the enhanced flavors of the food. These individuals I’ve spoken with will have a cocktail before dinner and then move to wine with their meal. As  for me? Well, I certainly don’t have the world’s most ‘developed’ palate; however, I’m happy to see the cocktail continue on throughout the evening.

Developing even further on this – are spirits simply served on the rocks an acceptable dinnertime drink? Is it just cocktails, with their syrups and acidic juices, being the problem child in this debate over mealtime beverages? There seem to be more and more opportunities arising to enjoy cocktails paired with gourmet meals, but are they truly balanced? Share with me your thoughts!


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The Dancing Scotsman

In preparation for my Rosh Hashanah festivities last week, I asked you readers to provide me with your recipe suggestions that accounted for our not-so ‘secret’ ingredient, honey.

Fred Yarm of Cocktail Slut came to my rescue with this recipe from Eastern Standard in Boston.  This cocktail, at the present time, is not on their cocktail menu online, but here is the honey recipe as Fred shares it:

The Dancing Scotsman:

  • 1 oz Blended Scotch (Fred notes that ES used Dewar’s)
  • 1 oz Lemon Juice
  • 1 oz Honey Syrup (I made mine at 2:1 water to honey)

Shake with ice and strain into a coupe. Fill with sparkling wine and garnish with a flamed lemon twist dropped in.

As you can tell from the photo, the barware I was using at my friend’s home wasn’t quite up to par to make this drink as beautiful as I’m sure it can be. If there is a lesson to be learned with this drink it is to double strain, as a result of some, let’s call it “pithy”, lemon juice. Whoops.  Technique aside, my friends all enjoyed this drink; even more so, I think we can call the cocktail a success at this particular celebration when I managed to get some of my gal pals to ask for seconds (ok, even thirds!) of a drink that they would never otherwise order off a menu. Why? Because it had scotch.

Impressed? So was I. Definitely give this one a try at your next celebration. Or, better yet, if you’re in the Boston area, pay a visit to Eastern Standard in the neighborhood of Fenway Park (ask for Jackson Cannon, of ES fame) and have the staff make you one of these for your night out.


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Happy New Year!

Relax, that Labor Day hangover of yours didn’t last all the way into December. It’s a different kind of new year we’re celebrating – the Jewish new year to be exact. And, just like most every other Jewish holiday, there is always food and drink in the mix!

To ring in the start of a new Hebrew calendar year, Jewish tradition has it that we eat apples dipped with honey, symbolic of the sweet year ahead.

I’m looking to change the game at this year’s celebratory dinner with a pair of cocktails riding on the apples and honey theme.

I think an Appletini Recipe will start us in the right direction…


Shake and strain into martini glass, garnish with an apple wedge

For me personally, I like to play with the garnish a bit more on this drink than a simple apple wedge. I think Stirring’s makes a real nice Apple Martini rimmer that is glamorous, yet effortless.

I’ve got the tart apple component down, and now I just need a sweet cocktail recipe calling for honey to complement this drink. Leave me your favorite recipe that utilizes honey in the comments section. If I think your recipe is all “the bees knees,” I’ll later come back and feature it in this post!


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Move outta the way, Earl!

If the hurricane decides to keep me stranded...well, I've got a Tidal Wave on my side with the help of Hiram Walker and Malibu.

Dear Earl,

I’ve got plans this weekend. Big travel plans. And it seems as if you want to get in the way of those said plans. Is it too much to ask that you cooperate with me for my flight leaving (very) early tomorrow morning?

I suppose I have a few thematically appropriate cocktails up my sleeve that I’ll ask my trusted airport bartender to serve in case your rain and blustery winds keep me stuck on the ground. There are the appropriate Tropical Sour and Tidal Wave recipes:

Tropical Sour
1 ¼ oz Malibu Tropical Banana
¾ oz Hiram Walker Sour Apple Schnapps
¾ oz Fresh Sour Mix

Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a lime corkscrew.

Tidal Wave
1 ½ parts Malibu Coconut
¾ parts Pineapple Juice
Splash of Hiram Walker Blue Curacao
Splash of Coconut Cream

Shake vigorously in a shaker and fine strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a piece of pineapple.

So even though I have some great tropical options to keep me company on the ground, I would very much like to reach my final destination tomorrow afternoon. Also, if you want to relay the message to Fiona in preparing for my return trip home… Your assistance in these matters would be most appreciated.

Sincerest Regards,

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Praise for the Kentucky Buck

Building on the apropos Summer State of Mind recipe featured yesterday,  I wanted to share a recipe that fittingly shares the same foundation for a crisp and refreshing summer drink. Fredo Ceraso of the blog Loungerati shares with us what he coins as “your last drink of summer” –  The Kentucky Buck.

The Kentucky Buck is the brainchild of Pernod Ricard brand ambassador and San Franciscan barman Erick Castro. I love that this drink builds on many of the components of the SSOM cocktail: there’s the base spirit, ripe seasonal fruit, acidity, and refreshing fizz. But Castro’s recipe calls for neither rum nor soda, but rather it provides a seamless transition to fall with both bourbon and ginger beer taking center stage.

The Kentucky Buck (By Erick Castro)

  • 2 oz Bulleit Bourbon
  • 3/4 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 3/4 oz Simple Syrup
  • 1 medium-sized ripe Strawberry
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • Ginger Beer

Place juice and strawberry into tin and muddle thoroughly. Add remaining ingredients into tin along with ice and shake vigorously. Strain over ice into a Collins glass and top with ginger beer. Garnish with finely-sliced strawberry and lemon wheel.

While I have yet to try this drink for myself at home (it’s been a crazy couple of days in SJ’s world), I do expect to give this cocktail a try before the holiday weekend rolls in. And I do anticipate it being a winner among my friends. Better yet, if you plan to be in the San Francisco area in the near future, you can grab this drink at Castro’s work establishment, Rickhouse: 246 Kearny Street, San Francisco, CA 94108.

Cheers! And thanks again to Fredo for sharing the recipe!

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