AlcoHOLidays | Maple Syrup Saturday | Maple Break

the Maple Break cocktail

the Maple Break cocktail

Consider this my apology to maple syrup.

Why would I need to apologize to maple syrup? Well, the truth of the matter is that I’ve never really been all that fond of it. So when I was going over my list of holidays this coming week–and there were plenty to choose from*–it would have been perfectly in character for  me to skip over Maple Syrup Saturday (March 23,2013) and move onto something more to my personal taste.

And yet choose it I did, because I’ve come to respect maple syrup, even if it’s still not my favorite flavor.

You see, back in November I had to give up my beloved honey and agave nectars as part of going Low-FODMAP. I haven’t stooped so low as to add it to my tea over granulated sugar, but when I came down with a horrible sore throat the other week I did consider it. Briefly.

No, I’ve come to appreciate maple sugar not just for it’s glucose to fructose ratio but for its ability to flavor soups and other savory fare that honey or agave would have otherwise done. When mixed with other ingredients its harsh, bitter edges are blunted, making it much more palatable than on its own. In fact, when I was contemplating today’s cocktail I was struck by how much maple syrup reminds me of coffee liqueur.

Between coffee and maple syrup on it’s own, I was definitely thinking in the realm of breakfast, so it wasn’t much of a stretch to throw a little orange in there, too!

Maple Break

1.5 oz Orange Juice
1 oz Cachaça
3/4 oz Maple Syrup
1/4 oz Cointreau

Combine all ingredients over ice in the bottom of a mixing glass. Shake until you’re nice and wide awake, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass of your choice. Garnish with a strip of orange zest or two.

I chose the Brazilian rum mostly to be different, but the subtlety of the spirit really does this particular cocktail justice. It’s sweet, as you would expect, but not overly strong. You do, however, get the essence of the maple syrup in both the nose and the finished flavor of the cocktail. I think this would be an amazing brunch cocktail to serve alongside the usual Mimosa and Bloody Mary.

Throughout New England, now that it’s spring as the sap has begun to rise, maples will be tapped for the rich, sweet syrup that so many love. I may not consider myself in the ‘love’ column just yet, but with a cocktail like this I’m getting there.



*Coming up this week, just to name a few, are Passover (3/25-4/2), the Hindu New Year (3/22), and Greek Independence Day (3/25).

AlcoHOLidays | Brazilian Independence Day | The Samba


Greetings and Salutations! Welcome to our next cocktail series, aptly titled AlcoHOLidays.

See what I did there? Of course you do! After all, you’re incredibly intelligent (I mean, you must be, you read this blog!) and it’s too early to be that far into your cups already, right?

So for this series we’ll be taking a look at holidays from all over, looking into the history a bit for each, and then sharing a drink recipe in honor of the most festive occasion. And if we manage to learn a little something in the process, expand our celebratory horizons if you will, then so be it!


First up on our calendar–this is just so convenient, I tell ya–is Brazilian Independence Day, today, September 7, and today we get a two-for: I’ll be reviewing a new-to-me sparkling wine (from Brazil, natch) and making a cocktail with it, too.

Independence from What?

Or, should I say, who?

Way back in 1500, Portuguese explorers landed on the coast of what is now Brazil and claimed it for their own. Which, you know, probably didn’t go over all that well with the many indigenous tribes already there, but exploration is not for the faint of heart. Or the overly polite. At least not when expansion is the plan.

The Samba, made with Carnaval Sparkling Moscato, in honor of Brazilian Independence Day

After some political machinations in the interest of Brazil becoming it’s own country (no longer part of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil, and the Algarves), in 1822 Prince Pedro was named Emperor Pedro I–breaking with the monarchy, but not too much. Dad (King João VI) wasn’t too pleased by this, as is to be expected, and the Independence wars continued through November 1823.

Even still, Independence Day is celebrated on September 7th as that is when Pedro reportedly declared

Hail to the independence, to freedom and to the separation of Brazil.
For my blood, my honor, my God, I swear to give Brazil freedom.
Independence or death!

And We’ll Drink to That!

Like we needed an excuse…

Today’s cocktail comes to us courtesy of Carnaval Brazilian Sparkling Wine.

The Samba

2 Strawberries, hulled (or 1 oz strawberry puree)
1/2 oz Simple Syrup
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1 oz Cachaςa*
2 oz Carnaval Sparkling Moscato
Strawberries for garnish

Muddle the strawberries in a mixing glass with the simple syrup and lemon juice. Add in ice and cachaÏ‚a, and shake until you’ve got the rhythm down. Stir in the Sparkling Moscato just until chilled and then strain into a champagne flute. Garnish with a spare strawberry.

*CachaÏ‚a is rum, but distinctly Brazilian. While all rum is made from sugar cane, Caribbean rums are made from what’s leftover after the sugar production process. CachaÏ‚a, on the other hand, is the only rum made from fresh sugar cane juice, giving it a decidedly different profile from it’s rummy brethren.

First let’s talk about the Carnaval Sparkling Moscato on it’s own. It comes in both red and white, with the red more a pink–how appropriate that we were just doing rosés last month, right? We opened the red for this cocktail and it’s light, fruity nose matches quite well with it’s soft pink color. Having been tricked before, though, I was trying not to expect any particular flavor from the wine before tasting it and was rewarded with a lightly sweet, fruity sparkling wine. I have no complaints about this wine and think it would make a wonderful celebratory tipple on it’s own.

But in this drink, what do I think? My first thought was strawberry daiquiri–but better. The cachaÏ‚a over the usual rum gives it a somewhat brighter flavor and, along with that little bit of lemon juice, keeps the drink from being syrupy sweet. I used the muddled strawberry method and really like that it turned a very light pink and had a few tiny bits of berry floating around on the bubbles even after being strained. This is something we’d definitely make again.

And what will we be celebrating next week? You’ll just have to come back and find out!



I was provided samples of Carnaval Sparkling Moscato for purposes of review. All opinions are my own. Historical information on Brazilian Independence Day was paraphrased from the wikipedia entry on the subject.