Cocktail Advent 12: Devoted Nutcracker


Here’s a concoction that just might have you dancing in your nightgown. It’s okay, we won’t tell.

Image via Devotion Vodka

Image via Devotion Vodka

Devoted Nut Cracker

  • 1.5 oz. Devotion Vodka
  • 1 oz. Amaretto
  • 1 oz. Frangelico
  • 1 oz. Crème de Cocoa

Pour all ingredients into a martini shaker filled with ice. Shake and strain mixture into a martini glass garnished with cocoa powder on the rim.

Anything that combines Amaretto and Frangelico already has me pretty well on its side–those are two of my favorite sweet liqueurs. In fact, this reminds me quite a bit of my Candy Bar shot. Although, since this is 100% alcohol, I’d suggest stirring it over shaking it.

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

AlcoHOLidays | St Patrick’s Day | Sweet Irish Coffee


jwalker_sweetirishcoffeeOn St Patrick’s Day, everybody has a touch of the Irish in them!

Granted, the day has devolved (in many areas, including my own college-anchored town) into an excuse to drink watered-down, green-tinted beer for a ridiculously long time. It’ll be interesting to see if that is at all curbed by March 17 falling on a Sunday this year, but I have my doubts.

As most folks know, St Patrick is credited with bringing Christianity to the pagan Irish. Though we think of green as the natural color for St Patrick’s Day, originally the color most associated with him was blue. But (probably) because the story goes he used a shamrock to teach the idea of the trinity, so more and more people took to wearing shamrocks on his feast day, and it just sort of took off from there.

While beer, especially Guinness, is a more common drink for St Paddy’s Day (and, yes, it is spelled with d’s, not t’s, in deference to the Irish spelling of Pádraig), Irish whiskey is pretty popular, too.

One of the most excellent ways to drink Irish whiskey (if you don’t fancy it straight), is in the popular after dinner treat: Irish Coffee.

To see an really impressive way to make Irish Coffee en masse, check out this video courtesy of Concannon Irish Whiskey:

(Direct link for the feed readers: How to Make Irish Coffee)

Some  recipes for Irish Coffee I’ve seen call for only the whiskey and the coffee–no sugar, no cream. That just makes me shudder. In fact, after making one like that (but with the sugar cubes) it was still too bitter for my liking. I like my coffee flavored and sweet, with or without the alcohol, so here’s my take on this classic.

Sweet Irish Coffee

3 Sugar Cubes
4 oz Coffee, brewed strong
1 oz Irish Whiskey
1/2 oz Chocolate Liqueur
1 spoonful Vanilla Ice Cream

Prepare your Irish Coffee glass by filling it with hot water as the coffee brews. When the coffee is ready, pour out the water and add the sugar cubes and coffee to the mug, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Stir in the Irish whiskey and chocolate liqueur and top with a spoonful of ice cream.

Our local ice cream shop serves an affogato–a shot of espresso poured over a scoop of their sweet cream ice cream–which served as a partial inspiration for today’s twist on an old stand-by. Whipping heavy cream isn’t particularly difficult, but I had some lactose-free Breyers vanilla in the freezer, so I thought I’d give it a try as a substitute. For the whiskey I used Concannon Irish Whiskey (that I reviewed on Tuesday) and for the chocolate liqueur I, of course, used Godiva. The resulting drink is still a strong Irish Coffee but with a sweeter edge making it perfect for after a meal.

I had to search my local Cost Plus World Market to find where they’d hidden the Irish Coffee glasses, and the smallest I could find actually hold 8 oz, but we’ll just let that slide, right? The reason for pre-warming the glass is two-fold. First, just like chilling a glass for a cold drink, it helps the drink maintain its temperature. Second, coffee is very hot and while most coffee mugs can stand it, some of your more delicate glassware is not as tough and adding hot coffee to cold glass could lead to some bad breaks.

If you do choose to go out to your favorite watering hole this Sunday, make sure you have a designated driver or the number of a cab company handy. A DUI would sure put a damper on your day!


AlcoHOLidays | Girl Scout Cookie Week | Coconut Dream



Oh, yes, it’s that time again. If you haven’t been accosted coming out of your local supermarket I’m sure someone on your friend’s list has posted, shared, or otherwise reminded you that, indeed, it is Cookie Time once again.

According to my sources, the official Girl Scout Cookie Week is March 10-16, 2013.

What started out as a single-troop bake sale (I’m sorry, service project) of sugar cookies, in 1917, has continued unabated (except during WWII when they had to sell calendars, instead, due to the scarcity of ingredients) into the high point of the cookie-loving population.

Of course, not everyone always loves the mighty Girl Scout cookie. I seem to recall a dust-up in recent years over their use of palm oil (it’s lack of sustainability and the fact that it destroys orangutan habitats), and then there’s the whole question of whether it’s good for a service group to sell cookies to a nation that is largely overweight. According to their website, though, they’ve embraced a more sustainable practice around palm oil.

Still, the Girl Scout Cookie has many more fans than detractors, and everyone has their favorites. While Thin Mints are undoubtedly the best value for the sheer number of cookies you get, my favorite was always the Samoas (aka Caramel deLites), even if you did only get 16 cookies in a box. And don’t get me started on how quickly a quart of Edy’s Samoas ice cream would be gone.

That was in the good ‘ol days, though. Before I had to give up things like wheat and certain sugars and, yeah, all that stuff. Sure, I could still eat them if I was willing to risk the consequences, but I also admit that they stopped being as good as I remembered several years ago and haven’t bought any for at least 2 years.

But what I can do is try to recreate that delicious flavor in cocktail form, and that might actually be even better in the long run!

Coconut Dream

1 1/2 oz Coconut Water
1 oz Coconut Rum
1 oz Chocolate Liqueur
1/2 oz Tuaca
1/4 oz Butterscotch Schnapps

Combine all ingredients over ice and shake or stir until well-mixed and chilled, whichever way you choose. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass (you can drizzle it with chocolate syrup if you want the extra oomph) and sip content in the idea that you can have this year round–no need to stockpile those green boxes.

Usually I’d shake a cocktail like this, one with a mix of alcoholic and non-alcoholic ingredients, but I have a staggering head cold right now and the idea of shaking anything is just not high on my list. Stirring worked out fine, so I suppose we could consider the shaken version Samoa-style, and stirred the Caramel deLite-style. Either way it’ll be delicious. While plenty of similar recipes use coconut milk, I opted for coconut water as it gives flavor without too much bulk. And I bet this would be fabulous blended with a couple scoops of ice cream.

Whether you enjoy your cookies baked or in cocktail form…


AlcoHOLidays | National Battery Day | High Voltage


jwalker_highvoltagecocktailGot your history caps on? Today’s cocktail comes with a real charge!

Unlike the seemingly arbitrary assignment of some holidays (yes, PB&J Day, I’m looking at you), National Battery Day makes perfect sense as it falls on February 18th, the birthday of Alessandro Volta, the inventor of the battery.

Volta (from whom we get the word volt–the measure of electrical potential) was a physicist born in Como Italy, who discovered the gas methane in 1778 as well as created what he called a voltaic pile in 1800–an electrochemical cell or, in other words, a battery. With some acidic or brined cloth between them, the stacked zinc and copper get to zapping, and we get electricity. He also had another version called, appropriately enough, the Crown of Cups.

High Voltage

3/4 oz. Pepper Vodka
1/2 oz. Chocolate Liqueur
a couple pieces Crystallized Ginger
2 1/2 oz. Ginger Beer

In the bottom of a mixing glass, muddle the crystallized ginger with the vodka and chocolate liqueur until the ginger is broken up. Fill the mixing glass 3/4 full with ice, top with ginger beer and shake until nice and frothy. Strain into a prepared cocktail glass and garnish with a bit more of the crystallized ginger and a red chili.

When brainstorming this drink for a few days leading up to my own experiments, I was thinking of flavors that would instantly communicate a bit of a zap to the tongue: ginger and chili. Well, turns out, when I did the research, both ginger and chili powder natural sources of copper in the diet, and dark chocolate gives us copper as well as zinc*. Obviously the distillation process has probably done away with the actual health benefits of this drink, but it’s the thought that counts, right?

As for particulars, for the vodka I used Absolut Peppar, the chocolate was–of course–Godiva, and the ginger beer Bundaberg. If you must use ginger ale, at least use something with some bite to it or make up a small batch of ginger sugar syrup (small because the ginger zing fades away quickly) and add it to your own seltzer water to taste.

So if you need something to zap you into action, why not raise your glass to Count Volta (so honored by Napoleon in 1801) and get to your good times quick like a bunny.

Sips & Shots: come for the cocktails, stay for the history lessons. Or not.



*For the love of all that’s good and right, please do not take your nutritional guidelines from a cocktail article, m’kay? If you think you need additional zinc, copper, or anything else that your body may be lacking, please see a doctor not a bartender.

Cosmic Cocktails | Taurus | Creature Comforts


Creature Comforts Cocktail

With the exception of having a green thumb (I’ve killed rosemary, folks, and that’s one of the easiest plants to grow, or so I’ve been told), I am pretty much the quintessential Taurean. Both the good and the not-so-good.

Methodical, creative, loyal and proper, I have had my moments of greed, possessiveness, control-freakishness and, above all, stubbornness, though as the years go by I’m getting better about those last ones. I’m still not all that great with change, though, unless it was my idea to begin with or I’ve had time, privately, to react (aka freak out) and review the situation.

But this isn’t just about *me*, the preening bull has to be reminded from time to time…

An excellent example is Ferdinand the Bull, that old Disney cartoon about the bull that would rather sit under his favorite tree and smell the flowers rather than be all rough and menacing with the bullfighters. Until we get a bee sting in an uncomfortable spot, yup, that about sums up the typical Bull.

Lovers of comfort, those born under a Taurus sun are often very hospitable, generous to those we love, and willing to splurge on the finer things. It’s that love of the creature comforts that can sometimes lead to excess, and that can lead to sloth and gluttony, but an enlightened Taurean can resist the siren song for long enough to keep some sort of equilibrium. After all, a dessert is even better after a fabulous day of exertion, right?!

In the spirit of such hospitality and indulgence, today’s cocktail serves two.

Creature Comforts

3 oz Whipped Cream-flavored Vodka
2 1/2 oz Godiva Liqueur
1 1/2 oz Kahlua
1 oz Spiced Sugar Syrup
splash Rosewater
garnish of sugar crystals, chocolate whipped cream, and edible gold leaf

Rim 2 cocktail glasses with sugar crystals and set aside. In a shaker over ice combine all of the liquid ingredients and shake until nice and icy cold. Strain into the prepared cocktail glasses, top with some whipped cream and a few flakes of edible gold. Share with a friend.

What’s the perfect gift for a (female) Taurus? Roses, chocolates and something sparkly. Could I be putting in my own birthday request? (*ahem* 17 days away *ahem*) Maaaaaybe.

You have heard the phrase ‘subtle as a bull in a china shop,’ yes?