AlcoHOLidays | Labor Day | Cruzan Slowpoke Shandy



And just like that, we’ll close the book on another summer.

That’s right, another 3-day-weekend is upon us, the last of the season, and the fall and winter holidays are right around the corner. Football has started back up, school is back in session for many, and soon the weather will turn cooler with a decided nip in the air. (At least we can hope on that last one!)

I knew Labor Day (celebrated on the first Monday of September) was worker-related, but I didn’t know much more than that, I’m ashamed to say. For others in a similar fog, here’s the rundown.

It started in the 1880s after a member of one of the large Unions (there’s debate on whether it was the CLU or the AFL) may or may not have observed a similar worker’s festival in Canada. Oregon started the trend, first celebrating Labor Day in 1887, but it wasn’t until after the Pullman Strike in 1894 that it became a Congressionally-mandated Federal holiday.

I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed a Labor Day parade, have you? Apparently the parade celebrating labor and trade unions was one of the major components of the original holiday, those these days it seems like barbecues and sales at the mall are the main “celebrations” of the day. I’ve attended conventions and camp-outs on this weekend in the past, but I’m looking forward to time spent at home this year. (I’d love to say I’ll be relaxing, but I have a feeling I’ll still manage to be busy!)

In honor of summer’s last hurrah, here’s a cocktail that uses the spirit of summer (rum) along with beer, lemon, and ginger for a slightly sweet yet perky finish. A shandy is shorthand for a beer cocktail, usually including a carbonated beverage of some sort; there’s none in here but if you really wanted to add a touch of authenticity, a good ginger beer could nicely substitute for the ginger syrup (but I wouldn’t go so weak as a ginger ale, and I’d use more of it, too).

Cruzan® Slowpoke Shandy

2 oz Cruzan® Single Barrel Rum
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/4 oz Ginger Syrup*
Wheat Beer to fill

Combine rum, lime and ginger syrup in a pint glass and slowly pour half of the beer into the glass. Add a few ice cubes and finish pouring the beer.

* Make a 2:1 simple syrup (2 parts sugar to 1 part water) with grated fresh ginger in the mix. Strain before using.

(recipe courtesy of Cruzan Rum)


And with that, something else is coming to a close: this is the last official post in the AlcoHOLidays series. We started last year with Brazilian Independence Day on September 7th, so we’ve covered a full year of holidays of all sorts! In a couple of weeks I’ll be starting a new “Meet the Wines” series, this time I think we’ll go for a bit of the bubbly (which should take us through mid-October or so). After that I’ll be taking a bit of an extended leave while I go off and get married and then do some shuffling up of my blogs once I get back. And I think I’m done with the weekly themed series for now, I want to go a little more free-form for a while.

Don’t worry, I’ll be sure to leave a trail of breadcrumbs–I certainly don’t intend to leave you guys off the guest list 😉


AlcoHOLidays | National Rum Day | Cruzan Pineapple Passion


Cruzan_Pineapple Passion

In honor of National Rum Day (August 16) I am delighted to share a recipe courtesy of Cruzan Rum, folks who have been so nice as to share with us several of their tasty libations this summer! (It’s also quite convenient as I am both up to my eyes in wedding projects and in the midst of a prolonged Internet outage right now.)

What could be more tropically-minded than drinking something fruity from a pineapple, hmm? Not much, especially if you happen to have a little umbrella to put in there as well.

Cruzan® Pineapple Passion:
2 parts Cruzan® Passion Fruit Rum
2 parts Pineapple Juice
1 part Lime Juice
1/2 part Honey Syrup
2 Pineapple Chunks
Fresh grated Cinnamon


Combine all ingredients in a blender with 1 cup of ice and blend for 20 seconds. Pour into a cored pineapple and garnish with fresh mint.

Note: Slice the top of the pineapple off a half-inch from the top. Core the inside of the pineapple. Don’t have a pineapple corer handy? Core your pineapple with an ice cream scoop! Make sure you don’t scoop all the way to the skin or your pineapple will leak.

We may be a bit more than a month away from Talk Like a Pirate Day (September 19), but I don’t think anyone would find it amiss if you donned an eye patch, the nearest copy of your favorite Pirates of the Caribbean movie franchise, and kicked back with a rum cocktail. Just remember to have a designated skipper to keep you between the navigational buoys.


AlcoHOLidays | National S’mores Day | One S’more For the Road



What’s the average lifespan of a s’more, you ask? Not very long I would think. Maybe just long enough for the melty marshmallow inside to cool down enough to prevent burning your tongue–because if you can’t taste the graham cracker-chocolate-marshmallow convergence what’s the point.

Popular at campouts and  bonfires, the earliest written record of a s’more is found in a 1927 Girl Scout camping manual. Since marshmallow sandwich cookies (like Mallomars and Moon Pies) were around 10 years earlier, it’s not much a leap to think that s’mores are a convenient take-off from those, right? But s’more “production” would have been a bit different in the early days as apparently the cylindrical puffs we now associate with mass-market marshmallows were not readily available until the extrusion process was perfected in 1948! They must have been more like the squares we see on Pinterest, made from scratch.

Frankly, I have no problem with either form.

August 10 is National S’mores Day and while I suppose you stoke a fire pit or grab a handy kitchen torch, inventive souls have been making them in the microwave or you can use my shortcut: marshmallow creme. But at least I made the graham crackers myself!

One S’more For the Road

1 1/2 oz Ginger Ale
1 1/4 oz Dark Chocolate Vodka (like Van Gogh)
3/4 oz Whipped Cream Vodka
1/4 oz Maple Syrup
Marshmallow Creme and crushed graham crackers for garnish

Prepare a cocktail glass by dip the outer rim of the glass in marshmallow creme and then rolling in graham cracker crumbs. Set aside.

Combine all liquid ingredients in a shaker half-filled with ice and shake until sufficiently cold. Strain into the prepared glass and top with a dollop of marshmallow creme. A sprinkle of cocoa powder would not go amiss.

There are plenty of s’mores-inspired cocktails out there, this is merely my take on a popular subject. I wanted something somewhat light and graham crackers are only a spice away from ginger snaps in my mind, which made ginger ale a perfect mixer. From making my own graham crackers I learned that much of the flavor comes from the molasses in the brown sugar as well as a healthy dose of vanilla–maple syrup fit that bill nicely. And while you could certainly use a regular marshmallow and even toast it if you had the means, I like the soft, floating island of creme on top of this drink and it made rimming the glass that much easier.

Whether you celebrate National S’mores Day in the traditional manner or with a cocktail version, consider offering s’more to your friends rather than keeping them all for yourself.


AlcoHOLidays | National Mustard Day | Pretzel Dip



To presume that National Mustard Day was a promotional effort instigated by one of the many mustard producers (or Big Mustard?) wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility but, as near as I can tell, it wouldn’t be true, either! Apparently National Mustard Day, celebrated on the first Saturday of August, is the product of the National Mustard Museum, currently located in Middleston, Wisconsin, and houses over 5,500 mustards and various mustard memorabilia.

Barry Levenson founded the Mustard Museum while he was still the Assistant Attorney General of Wisconsin and 6 years later changed careers to run the museum full time. The Mustard Museum was been the sponsor of National Mustard Day since 1991.

Now, mustard can be sweet. My favorite used to be this raspberry honey mustard I first had at a wine tasting. Just amazing! Of course, just your usual run of the mill honey mustard is pretty tasty, too, but these days I gravitate more towards Dijon and Creole mustards, the grainier the better. Mustard is part of the holy trinity of my mom’s ham glaze (brown sugar, orange juice, and the aforementioned mustard), pretzels and hotdogs would be lost without it, and the powdered variety is wonderful to cook with (then again, so is the prepared variety).

So the challenge was to create a cocktail based on this “King of Condiments.”

Pretzel Dip

2 oz London Dry Gin
1 oz Beer
1/2 oz (or 1 Tbsp) Dijon Mustard

Combine ingredients over ice and shake until nice and frothy. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a mini gherkin or kosher dill pickle, whichever you best prefer.

You could even go more elaborate with your garnish and skewer a cocktail wiener or some deli meat with an olive. Or, hey, if you’ve got some pretzel bread handy, go for it!

I don’t think I have to point out that this is not a sweet cocktail. This is very much along the lines of a dirty martini with the added boost of the emulsifying property of the mustard. The mustard and gin go so well together than I’m seriously considering using gin instead of vinegar in my next vinaigrette, and the beer gives the cocktail a bright finish–though the exact tone will change depending on what beer you have on hand.

AlcoHOLidays | Raspberry Cake Day | Raspberry Bubbles



Who comes up with these holidays? In this case it was probably someone on the Berry Board (I’m sure such a thing exists) but whatever, I’m not complaining, because not only is a good raspberry cake a thing of beauty, so is a good raspberry cocktail!

The thing about raspberry-flavored anything is that it’s all too easy for the yumminess of raspberry to go overboard and plunge straight into ick-ville. And the worst offender is possible raspberry liqueur. So today’s challenge was make a drink with raspberry liqueur, in honor of July 19th’s National Raspberry Cake Day, that avoided the overabundance of raspberry.

Now it just so happened that I also happened to have a surfeit of sparkling wine handy from another cocktail project, so it seemed like a good idea to try the raspberry take on the Kir Royale, but give it a cakey twist.

Because what makes a better cake than berries? Almonds!

Raspberry Bubbles

1/2 oz Raspberry Liqueur
1/4 oz Almond Liqueur
3-4 oz Sparkling Wine
3 Raspberries for garnish

Combine liquers in the bottom of a Champagne flute and top with chilled sparkling wine. Give a little stir with a swizzle stick and dunk a few raspberries in for good measure.

The goal was to balance out the overly-sweet tendency of the raspberry with the equally bossy almond and then smooth the whole thing out with a good dose of prosecco. Did I succeed? Why yes, yes I did, and with the hint of almond it really does taste a bit like a wedding cake with raspberry filling.

Cheers and cake!