Cocktail Advent 11: Gingerbread Crunch


I was craving gingerbread just the other day, pondering how one would make a gingerbread syrup, perhaps, to add to their morning coffee. I’ll let you know if I actually give it a whirl. Until then, here’s a beverage more suited to winding down the day than beginning it!

Image via Kilbeggan

Image via Kilbeggan

Kilbeggan® Gingerbread Crunch
Recipe by Gillian Boyle of Fade Street Social in Dublin, Ireland.    

• 1 3/4 parts Kilbeggan® Irish Whiskey
• 1 3/4 parts Freshly Pressed Apple Juice
• 2/3 part Cinnamon Syrup
• 1/3 part Lemon Juice
• 1/4 part Brown Sugar Syrup

For Cocktail:
Add all ingredients into a cocktail shaker. Shake and double strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish rim with crushed gingerbread biscuit and brown sugar.
For Garnish:
Place gingerbread cookies/biscuits in a bag and use a rolling pin to crush. When fine, add brown sugar into mix.

Yup, that outta ’bout do it, don’t you think?

***This recipe was submitted by a representative of Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey. While I was not compensated for this post, I have reviewed Kilbeggan in the past. As always, we encourage responsible refreshment and the use of the Designated Driver. No drunken monkeys, please!***

Cocktail Advent 8: Spiced Apple Brew


Sure, this recipe was actually sent to me for a Halloween promotion, but a good apple cider(ish) drink can carry you through the entire winter season in fine form and I think this one would work well cold, as presented, or sans ice and on the warm side.

Image via Basil Hayden

Image via Basil Hayden

Basil Hayden’s® Spiced Apple Brew
Created by Thomas Waugh (New York, NY)


  • 1 ½ parts Basil Hayden’s® Bourbon
  • 1 ½ parts cool Lapsang Souchong Black Tea
  • 1 part Apple Juice
  • ½ part Lemon Juice
  • ½ part Simple Syrup
  • 1 dash Angostura® Bitters
  • 1 slice of Ginger
  • 1 Apple
  • 2-3 sprigs of Mint


1. Muddle small slice of fresh ginger in a cocktail shaker.
2. Add Basil Hayden’s® Bourbon, black tea, apple juice, lemon juice, simple syrup and bitters over ice and shake.
3. Strain into a tall highball glass over fresh ice.
4. Garnish with a fan of apple slices and mint sprigs.

***This recipe was submitted by a representative of Basil Hayden. I am not affiliated with the brand nor was I compensated for this post, not even with review samples. As always, we encourage responsible refreshment and the use of the Designated Driver. No drunk monkeys, please!***

AlcoHOLidays | Memorial Day | Kilbeggan Waterwheel



***This post has been sponsored by Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey; a sample was received in consideration for Tuesday’s review as well as today’s recipe share. Other than that, no further compensation has been received and the opinions expressed below are entirely that of the author. No further affiliation with Kilbeggan Distillery is being claimed. And now with that out of the way…***

Memorial Day. Unofficial start to summer. Reason for barbecues and pool parties across the nation. Last 3-day-weekend until Labor Day. Excuse for car lots to piggy-back yet another tent sale with the waving of the red, white, and blue.

‘Oh, yeah, and military stuff, too.’

At least that’s what it appears to mean to most.

Starting after the Civil War, Decoration Day has a fuzzy beginning with several cities claiming first rights–though decorating soldiers’ graves goes back farther than our War Between the States–on both the North and South sides of history. The dates observed were varied, as well, with May 30th being the common date in the North and, gradually, the rest of the country. It wasn’t until that 1967 act that normalized a bunch of holidays into their nearest Mondays, creating those beloved 3-day weekends, that Memorial Day shifted from May 30th to the last Monday in May (though it took a few years to be put into practice).

Granted, if you’ve never lost a friend or family member while they served in the Armed Forces, chances are this holiday might have less personal significance to you, but as a nation it’s a time when we attempt to honor those who died in service and a sense of nationalism overall. For some, this means visiting a relative’s grave and placing a flag or flowers thereupon. Others volunteer to beautify all service-member graves, relatives or not, as a show of thanks for their sacrifice. While others might be more inclined to reminisce with those nearest, some solemnly, others more in the style of an Irish wake.

Or at least that’s how I’m going to segue into today’s cocktail, contributed by Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey.

Kilbeggan Waterwheel
Recipe By Darren McGettigan, resident mixologist at Bar Beoga of the Menlo Park Hotel

1 1/4 ounces Kilbeggan® Irish Whiskey
2 1/2 ounces Pressed Apple Juice
1 1/4 ounces Pressed Pineapple Juice
6 Fresh Blueberries
1 Dash of Cherry Bitters
1 Bar Spoon of White Sugar
additional blueberries for garnish

In a Boston shaker, add blueberries and sugar, muddle hard. Fill the shaker with ice, and add all other ingredients. Shake well, and double strain into a tall glass filled with ice. Garnish with blueberries on a cocktail pick.

I can easily see this multiplied in a frosty pitcher to serve to your barbecue guests both on Memorial Day as well as the rest of your summer events. I’d skip the straining, obviously, and leave the bits of blueberries to float around for color, or freeze some blueberries to use as “ice cubes” to keep the drinks cool without further diluting it.

However you choose to observe this national holiday, please remember to do so responsibly and to use a designated driver or call a cab rather than risk some other sort of memorial being required. If you catch my drift.


AlcoHOLidays | Winter Solstice | Yuletide Cheer


Yuletide Cheer cocktail for the Winter SolsticeProviding the world hasn’t ended–or isn’t in the process thereof–I thought I’d stray from the culturally expected norm of Christmas and delve a little into the natural change of seasons that happens this time of year at the Winter Solstice.

The shortest day of the year, this time marks the official beginning of winter even as the days begin to lengthen towards spring once again. These lengthening days support the idea among ancient cultures (and their modern-day adherents) that the sun god is reborn at the solstice and continues to grow until mid-year when they days start to shorten, again. Of course, it’s not a reach to see why Christian leaders back in the day thought this time would also be appropriate to celebrate the birth of another son.

The Yule Log (yule coming from the Norse word for wheel and the idea that the seasons turn in a circle throughout the year) pops up in holiday decorations, still, and lends inspiration for the delicious Buche de Noel dessert; both of which carry on the traditions of the early fire and feasting festival.

For today’s cocktail I wanted something that was both sweet and a little smoky. This is what I came up with:

Yuletide Cheer

2 oz Apple Juice
3/4 oz Tuaca
1/2 oz Ruby Port
cinnamon stick for garnish

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail glass over ice and shake until nice and frosty. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a cinnamon swizzle stick.

A simple drink for a busy season, the port lends the desired smoky quality without being as strong as, say, a scotch would and pairs nicely with the citrus and caramel of the Tuaca. Apple juice makes for a nice base for these two spirits and, with it comprising slightly more than half the drink, keeps the drink from being so high-octane that you’ll regret it in the morning.

The best of holiday wishes to you all.


AlcoHOLidays | Hanukkah | Light One Cocktail


When it comes to honoring other culture’s holy days with something as potentially flippant as a cocktail tribute, you have to walk a fine line between humor and reverence. So I’m going to apologize now for the very bad pun I’m about to make.

Light One Cocktail Hanukkah beverage

Most people know that Hanukkah is the Jewish celebration of the night when they had only enough oil for 1 night and yet it lasted a full 8. It is that, as well as the celebration of the re-dedication of the Temple of Jerusalem (which had been previously desecrated on the orders of Antiochus IV) after a several years of war. Because of that miracle, oil plays a significant part of the Hanukkah rituals and explains why the popular foods of the holiday are fried.

Oily (or unctuous) is not something we generally look for in cocktails. There is a way to merge the two; it’s a process called fat-washing (yes, it’s a gross name) and often includes bacon or other fatty meats. Somehow I didn’t think that bacon-bourbon would be… kosher for this festival.

Instead, I’m going to lead with wine.

The story of Judith is another told during this holiday (which, in 2012, starts at sunset on Saturday, December 8*), and one I was not aware of before now. Judith was a widow in a town beset by an Assyrian general and his troops and they were running out of options. She concocted a plan to “surrender” to this general (Holofernes), ply him with salty cheese to make him thirsty, and then get him drunk on wine. When he was out cold she cut off his head. His troops were a bit lost without their leader and the town was saved.

This is also where dairy foods–everything from the sour cream on the fried latkes to the cheese filling in the blintzes–comes into play in the Hanukkah celebration.

Growing up, one of our unofficial holiday traditions was to watch Peter, Paul, and Mary’s “A Holiday Celebration” on PBS (frequently as part of their annual pledge drive). I was always most impressed by the songs I hadn’t heard before, namely the Hanukkah songs (some, like Light One Candle, written by Paul Yarrow). They remain some of my holiday favorites.

To that end, I offer you

Light One Cocktail

1.5 oz Red Table Wine
1.5 oz Apple Juice
1 oz + 1 barspoon Honey Bourbon, divided
kitchen match or long-handled lighter

Combine the wine (check for Kosher or Pareve on the label if your guests are observant), juice, and single ounce of bourbon in a mixing glass with just a few ice cubes and stir until combined but not super-cold. Pour into a cocktail glass that has NOT been chilled. Hold the barspoon of bourbon over the cocktail glass and light it. Once you’ve been suitably impressed, carefully extinguish the flaming by dunking the flaming spirits into the drink.

Turning the lights off just before you flame it makes for a nice touch.

So we have the wine for Judith, the apple juice for another common accompaniment to latkes (applesauce), and the honey bourbon for the honey-dipped loukoumades that also make appearances at some Hanukkah celebrations.

I’ve never flamed a drink before tonight. To tell the truth, I was always a bit afraid to. Even though it’s a fairly common bar trick it’s not something I was too keen to play with. Still, it seemed appropriate, so we went for it. I’d read about a Russian custom** of dipping a piece of sugar into spirits, lighting them in a spoon and then dousing them in one’s tea once the holiday songs were sung; it seemed a somewhat safer way to approach the flaming drink idea.

Alas, the sugar cube method wouldn’t cooperate with this drink, and since the overall alcohol isn’t of a high enough proof to flame on its own, the barspoon of bourbon serves our purpose admirably.

What we do end up with, though, is a slightly sweet wine that will complement, I think, a plate of latkes admirably.


*yes, I know the calendars say the 9th, Jewish days start at sunset whereas the Gregorian calendar’s start at midnight