Cocktail Advent 2: Cranberry Celebration


One good cranberry deserves another, yes?

Well, maybe not, but if you over-bought on the whole berries and are looking for something to do with them other than make garland, here’s an idea.

Image via Ketel One

Image via Ketel One


  • 1 ½ oz. Ketel One® Citroen
  • 1 tablespoon of cranberry reduction
  • ½ oz. fresh lemon juice
  • ½ oz. simple syrup
  • Club soda

Combine first four ingredients in a mixing glass. Vigorously shake with ice and pour contents into a rocks glass (fine strain over new ice if you prefer no chunks). Top with a splash of club soda. Garnish with a cranberry and mint sprig.

****To make a cranberry reduction, take a 12 oz. bag of cranberries, rinse and add 4 oz. of orange juice and 4 oz. of simple syrup. Bring it to a boil, and let simmer for 5-7 minutes. Stir occasionally while it is simmering. Place the reduction into the freezer for 30 minutes and allow the reduction to thicken.

I like that this one seems fairly low-alcohol (all depends on how much club soda you add, I suppose–that splash could be extended to a good pour without too much trouble) and a good possibility for sipping throughout an evening.

***This recipe was submitted by a representative of Ketel One®. I have no affiliation with them 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!***

Cosmic Cocktails | Aquarius | The Bleeding Heart


As we wind down our trip through the cocktail cosmos, we come to our next-t0-last sign: Aquarius.

The Bleeding Heart, Aquarian Cocktail

Symbolized by the water-bearer, Aquarians often find themselves happiest when helping others–both in face-to-face, person-to-person encounters as well as large-scale humanitarian efforts that benefit many. They also tend to be incredibly idealistic, but with follow-through: eschewing businesses that employ third-world factory labor, for instance, or even those without corporate recycling programs. With this idealism can come a rigidity, though, that we wouldn’t normally expect in an air sign.

What is in line with their air-sign brethren is the propensity to do their own thing, society be damned. Often ahead of the curve, if you find an Aquarian you click with on something, watch them! They will spot trends and spout truths yet to be proven and be off on the next thing by the time it catches on. But you have to be quick, our Aqua slips down that stream of consciousness and keeps moving right along.

Loyal friends, once you’re in sync with an Aqua you can count on them for life. They are often strikingly handsome, though not always in a conventional sense, and often so likable, even if you don’t agree with anything they say. “New Age” medicine is much more their speed, when ill, than the more Westernized “there’s a pill for that” theory, even to following not-exactly-legal sorts or regimens.

Now, if you happen to be born between January 21st and February 18th and do not recognize yourself in the above, have no fear. Probably the most over-riding feature of Aquarius is their different-ness. Not just from all the other signs, but within the sign, from member to member. It’s not even a matter of being outwardly quirky, sometimes the individuality is more subtle, in a can’t-quite-put-my-finger-on-it way.

The Bleeding Heart

2 oz Vodka
1 1/4 oz Banana Liqueur (like 99 Bananas)
1/4 oz Creme de Menthe (clear)
2 oz Club Soda
1/8 oz Grenadine

Combine vodka and the liqueurs in a mixing glass over ice and shake until icy. Stir in the club soda, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Pour the grenadine (preferably homemade or locally-sourced) over the back of a bar spoon or add with an eye-dropper. Swirl just before ready to drink.

I mean bleeding heart in the best possible sense, of course, but you probably already figured that out.

Making your own grenadine is not tough at all (equal parts pomegranate juice and sugar, cook until sugar dissolves and the mixture reduces by half–simmer slow or you’ll end up with more of a brown mixture–and a splash of orange flower water to finish) and worth it, especially if you like Shirley Temples and other non-cocktails.

This drink might sound a little bananas, but it’s bracing, gets straight to the point, and is definitely ahead of it’s time. Strong-willed, too.


Cosmic Cocktails | Libra | Tip the Scales


Tip the Scales cocktail, part of the Cosmic Cocktail series on Sips & ShotsOr, rather, don’t–your local Libra wouldn’t like that very much.

It’s no surprise that with a set of scales as a symbol, Libra is the Sun sign of balance. Equity. Justice.

When you consider that Libra is also our second air sign (the first was Gemini), you will not be surprised that we have another not-to-be-tied down sign going on here, specifically in the manner of decisions. Whereas Gemini loathe being tied down to anything, Librans are indecisive in everything BUT love–they fall hard, fast, and often and might be a little too eager to rush into permanent relationships. I think this is just another sign of their balance.

Either that, or it means having a permanent tie-breaker around.

Other names I considered for this week’s drink? The Fence-Sitter or Switzerland.

Not that Librans are neutral, they just are so very good at seeing both sides that they cannot ever pick one. So while they make great mediators, they can be lousy decision makers. Final answer? Not in this lifetime!

The thing about Libra, though, is while in anyone else this constant waffling might be tiresome or outright maddening, Librans also happen to be sweet and charming, and so very easy going, that those around them are willing to overlook what could be considered a major character defect is brushed away. People want to help the Libran make a decision, the Libran, in turn, showing their gratitude in any number of generous ways. This is also beneficial as your typical Libra does not like to be alone.

Tip the Scales

1 oz Dry Gin
1 oz Apple Juice
1/2 oz Blue Curacao
1/2 oz Club Soda

Combine all ingredients over ice in a mixing glass and shake–no, stir–well, it’s really up to you, there’s nothing that says you have to shake it but if you do, make sure to evenly distribute the shakes over each shoulder to keep from over-exerting one side of your body. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

For this cocktail I’ve made super-sure (to the edge of OCD) to keep the balance just right. I mean, I’m always striving for a well-balanced cocktail but this one takes the cake! There’s equal measure of spirits and mixers, equal measures of clear liquids versus colors, equal of sweet versus savory/neutral flavors and, just for a bit of added fun, we’ve got the comparing of apples and oranges!

Granted, it’s not all rosy and light in Libra-ville. The need for affection and company can bring out a social-climbing streak, and their frequent changes of mind can have them seeming rather hypocritical. (Wait, can you really change a mind that was never made up in the first place?) And that seeing-both-sides habit can stretch out a decision until it’s too late to be made–or someone else made it for them. But as long as it was a fair decision, they won’t quibble too much.

50 Shots of America–New Mexico


Because for the 47th state, OLD Mexico just wouldn’t do… (mostly because of it’s being a separate country and all…)


With a Smarty Spice Cocktailname like New Mexico, it’s not dangerous to assume that the Land of Enchantment once belonged to Mexico. Inhabited early on by the Navajo and Pueblo Indians (and others), it was 16th century Spanish explorer searching for riches to rival Mexico’s Aztec treasures who named the territory, a name that would stick with it as it became a state on January 6, 1912.

Fast forward to the war years and the state’s wide open spaces made it an ideal testing ground for things like the first atomic bomb and mining crude oil and natural gas. But it’s not all bombs and bunkers; New Mexico has a thriving arts scene reflecting local and international influences.

Smarty Spice

1 slice Jalapeño Pepper
1/4 wedge Lime
splash Club Soda
1 1/4 oz Silver Tequila
1/4 oz Blue Curacao

Muddle the pepper (remove the the seeds and membrane if you want to tone down the spiciness a touch), lime and club soda in the bottom of a mixing glass until the lime is well juiced. Fill the glass with ice, add in the tequila and curacao and shake like a maraca! Strain into a chilled cordial glass enjoy.

Between it’s low population density and high percentage of military and aeronautical careers, New Mexico has the highest concentration of PhD-holders than any other state. One New Mexican City, Hatch, is known as the Green Chile Capital of the World. And, seeing as they share a name and a section of border with Mexico, tequila just seemed the most fitting base. The curacao, though, is mostly for color–it comes pretty close to the state stone’s turquoise hue.

Now, just one word of caution: if you suddenly start seeing UFOs, check to see how many Smarty Spice’s you’ve had before calling the papers; chances are the more you drink, the less smart even the smartest of us become.

50 Shots of America–Utah

Mo-Rita Cocktail

Mo-Rita Cocktail

One man’s desert is another man’s oasis.

Did you know that Utah remained a Mexican territory until the end of the Mexican war? Fur trappers liked it well enough but Spain just wasn’t interested in such a desolate area. The Mormons, on the other hand and under the leadership of Brigham Young, found it a great place to settle down to practice their religion without the resistance or interference they’d encountered elsewhere.

Of course, it didn’t remain so simple and idyllic. When it came time to join the Union their original application was rejected! It was that whole pesky plural marriage thing that proved the sticky wicket. So, when they petitioned again, the state constitution contained a clause banning polygamy, and they were accepted as the 45th state on January 4, 1896.

Anyone who has ever scrapbooked has probably bought something by ProvoCraft–the Mormon practice of journaling and memory-keeping launched what is now one of the largest sectors in the craft industry.

Now, there’s more to Utah than Mormonism, but for most folks it’s probably the first thing we think of. It may not be a dry state (they’re an alcohol beverage control state, actually) but it’s been a while since we’ve done a mock-tail so this seemed like as good a reason as any!


1 barspoon Lime Gelatin
1 barspoon Lime Juice
1 barspoon Lemon Juice
1 oz Simple Syrup
1.5 oz Club Soda

Combine the gelatin powder, juices and simple syrup over ice in a mixing glass. Shake with vigor and stir in the club soda until chilled. Rim a cordial glass with salt and add 2 ice cubes for a Mo-Rita on the rocks. Strain the cocktail into the prepared glass.

A virgin margarita is actually a tricky thing to pull off. Once I tried it with the bottled mix and Sprite and it tasted like a caffeine-free Mountain Dew. And not in a good way. In a lot of virgin-able drinks the flavor is coming from something other than the alcohol, which is why soda can be substituted without too much trouble or the alcohol left out entirely (in the case of a frozen daiquiri that turns into a smoothie). Margaritas, though, get the majority of their flavor from the tequila and triple sec–the sour mix (or, preferably, simple sugar and lime juice) is just there to keep it from being a glorified tequila shot.

So, for this mocktail, we concentrated on the sweet vs. salty aspect of the margarita and the drink itself? Very sweet. Almost too sweet. I blame the gelatin, in part, but when I read that Jell-o was the official snack food of Utah I had to toss some in for good measure. Alternately, you could mix the powdered gelatin with the salt for the rim instead of using it in the drink itself!