I’m about to knock your stockings off with a donkey kick to the palate with my Holiday Mule.
Do you know what a pomander is? It’s when you take an orange and shove cloves in its skin in a decorative way. We used to make them when I was a kid. Very aromatic. This was my inspiration for this beverage.
Here’s what you need:
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup whole cloves
Combine water, sugar, and cloves in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer for 20 minutes. While that’s cooking, use a vegetable peeler to take the outer skin off the orange.
At the end of the 20 minutes, add the orange peel to the saucepan and remove from heat. Allow to steep and cool. Reserve a peel or two for garnish. Strain the solids out of the syrup once cool.
Fill your mule glass with ice. A traditional mule is copper with a handle. I found this ridiculously cute one at Pier One Imports.
To the ice add:
1 1/2 ounces vodka
1 ounce cooled clove-orange syrup
1 ounce fresh orange juice (if not using fresh, reduce to 1/2 ounce)
2 ounces ginger beer**
3 ounces club soda
dash of orange bitters
**ginger beer has no alcohol. Make this kid and Designated Driver friendly by simply eliminating the vodka.
Swirl with a spoon to get everything happily married. Toss a reserved orange peel on top and chug-a-lug from that sweet copper mug!
I’m certain this will become one of your holiday staples.
This is an oldie but a goodie, friends. The classic ice wreath.
Now if you’re like me, you have sweet memories of cut glass punchbowls and ladies stirring concoctions of sherbet, 7-Up, pineapple juice and other sweet delights into it and watching the foam rise. Family parties, showers, holidays… A punch bowl was a staple. Granted you get a thimbleful of liquid in the dainty cups, but when it’s loaded with the calories of a traditional Southern style punch, perhaps that isn’t a negative.
Earlier I told you about a crisp Autumn cocktail with cranberries and cinnamon syrup. I made this beverage in a large quantity (just make all the ounces into cups…) in my vintage cut glass punch bowl and it was a hit.
Now if you know anything about me by now, you know half-assed is not an option. So I crowned the punch with a shining ice wreath. And it really did look like a crown.
Put a bundt pan in the freezer for a couple of hours. Make sure it’s flat/level.
Add about a cup of cranberries to the bottom. Add about a half cup of lemon Perrier mixed with 2 tablespoons of cinnamon syrup (see Vaccinium recipe). This shouldn’t cover the berries. Cranberries float; that’s how they are harvested. You only want to glue the berries down with the liquid mixture as it freezes.
Once that layer is frozen solid, add grapefruit juice to cover the berries and then some.
Allow that to freeze solid.
Slice and de-seed a lemon (thin slices). Leaving the mold in the freezer, adhere the slices into the broad side sections of the pan. The slices will freeze on contact like a tongue to flagpole.
Allow that to all freeze solid.
Mix about a cup of grapefruit juice, a cup of cranberry juice, a little cinnamon syrup and some lemon seltzer so you have enough liquid to almost cover the lemons. It should all be cold. Pour it into the mold.
Peek at it occasionally. When it starts to get good and slushy, poke a cinnamon stick into the narrower divots at the edge so that they will be visible.
Allow to freeze solid.
When you’re ready to serve the punch, run the bundt pan carefully under hot water. Don’t allow the water to come into contact with the ice ring. It should slide out quite easily. Add your crowning touch to the punch. You may put either side up; the one side will have red glistening cranberries, the other a crown of cinnamon sticks. You can’t go wrong.
I hope you wow your guests with this relatively simple show stopper.
Yeah, I know. You’re thinking, “What in the hell has he titled this beverage?” Vaccinium is the term for a species of low bushes that yield the delicious, tart cranberry. And you know what a vaccination is. Consider this cocktail a vaccination from your loud mouth brother-in-law or cousin that’s coming to Thanksgiving dinner and going to talk politics and conspiracy theories all day. Just simply look at your spouse or significant other, or perhaps a worldly child relative, and say, “Babes, I need another VAV.” See, an acronym there.
In all seriousness, though, this bad boy is not too sweet and really tasty. I auditioned it before a room of sophisticates and got the thumbs up.
Here’s what you need:
Cranberry syrup – in a small saucepan, combine 1 cup cranberries with 1 cup orange juice. Bring to a boil and simmer till all the berries pop. Take a potato masher and smash ’em good. Run the mixture through a wire strainer, dispensing with the leftover solids. Tah dah, cranberry syrup.
Cinnamon syrup – in a small saucepan ( I know, you want to hit me with a small saucepan because this is already too much work), combine 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water. Add 5 cinnamon sticks that you’ve broken up a bit with a meat tenderizer or a rolling pin. Bring to a boil. Simmer ten minutes and then let steep and cool. Strain the cinnamon sticks out. Tah dah, cinnamon syrup.
Lillet (pronounced li-lay, a French aperitif wine, relatively easy to find)
Perrier lemon flavor
Fresh cranberries for garnish
In a shaker or jar or whatever, combine 1 oz cranberry syrup, 1 oz cinnamon syrup, 1 oz Lillet, and 2 oz of Vodka. Swirl it around. Pour into a rocks glass over ice. It better be square ice. You know I don’t like misshapen ice cubes. Top with Lemon Perrier. Toss in 3 cranberries. Voila!
This is the PERFECT beverage to serve at your cocktail parties or family gatherings this time of year. I mean, one sip and your leaves might change color. I don’t know what exactly that means; use your imagination.
Summer makes me want to drink margaritas. There – I’ve said it. Sometimes (oftentimes) margaritas, especially in New York City, are teeth-hurtingly-sweet calorie bombs made with low-tier tequila. Let’s eradicate that from our vernacular. Beyond that, let’s see if we can’t re-vamp the STRAWBERRY margarita, the even more maligned sibling of the regular margarita, a sorority girl special, a bridesmaid’s best Becky.
Today the Gentleman Caller is serving you a Strawberry Marga-tini with no risk of making you have flashbacks from your pledge period.
Here’s what you need:
martini glass, in the freezer
2 oz of decent reposado tequila (the kind that looks like tea)
1 oz triple sec
2 oz strawberry nectar
juice of half a lime
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp citric acid
In a bowl or shallow plate combine citric acid and salt.
This is creating a reminiscent thing for me. In Alvin, TX where I grew up there are a lot of Mexicans. They always used to eat this weird salt/limon stuff in little packets. I was given one in 2nd grade and I was hooked.
Do you remember these things? Anyway, back on task.
Cut the lime. Rim the glass with lime juice, then with the salt/citric acid mixture.
Put ice in the shaker. Add all the remaining ingredients: lime juice, strawberry nectar, tequila, triple sec. Shake it shake it shake it! (see video!)
I had my best girl, Kelly Felthouse, over for brunch yesterday morning and we had a delicious balsamic pineapple salad (see recipe). I was about to start putting away the leftover and she said, “You could make this into a cocktail. Like a mojito!” Genius.
So we did. Here are the results.
What you need (for 2 cocktails):
1 cup (scant) leftover balsamic pineapple salad
5 sprigs fresh mint
2 tablespoons white sugar
4 oz Malfy Italian gin
2 oz limoncello
square ice cubes
Put 2 tablespoons of sugar in a shallow bowl or plate. Take 2 rocks glasses: dip rim in the pink liquid from the leftover salad, then roll the rim in sugar.
Go pick some mint.
In a jar or pyrex or sturdy glass, add the leftover rim sugar to the leftover salad. Add the mint sprigs.
Muddle away. Get it all good and macerated. Add the gin and limoncello. Dole over ice into the sugar-rimmed glasses.
Top with seltzer and give it a stir.
Cheers! A perfect summer cocktail. When I was naming this, I had to give a nod to my KelKel. In Trip of Love, Kelly sang the Lover’s Concerto after meeting my character. So I present to you THE LOVER’S MOJITO!
Cheers to friends – the new ones and the old. And to you for reading. Till next time.