Announcing: Cocktail Advent!


You know what we haven’t had as much of around here* this year? Cocktails and other related spirits coverage.

There are reasons for that, some good, some meh, but since I maintain my tagline for this site is “Better living through creativity… and cocktails!” I think it’s high time we caught up on some of our drinking.

You know what’s also fun this time of year? Countdowns. Specifically Advent Calendars.

Now, Advent Calendars can be found in many sizes, shapes, fillings, and themes. But this one (which has, apparently, been making the rounds online for a year now) showed up on my Facebook feed a couple months ago:

image via (reverse image lookup isn't giving me any other sources, either)

image via (reverse image look-up isn’t giving me any other sources, either–if you know who originally uploaded this, please let me know!)

Now, unless you’re constantly entertaining, a bottle of wine a night for the next 24 days might be a 1-way ticket to cirrhosis-town, so I want to go on the record and say I am not encouraging you to drink copious amounts of alcohol this month.

However! If you find yourself in a celebratory mood on any given day, or are looking for some cocktail inspiration, that I am happy to help with, by passing along some of the tipples that land in my Inbox this time of year courtesy of various PR companies and their spirits clients. I generally just file them away and never look at them (seriously, I get a lot of press releases and requests for coverage, most that don’t fit what I’m doing here) but this year I thought I’d use them up.

So, every afternoon around 4pm EST (plenty of time to plan a detour to the local liquor store on the way home, should something catch your eye), starting today and lasting throughout the month, I’ll share one of those recipes, perhaps with some commentary, perhaps all on it’s own.


*And by “here” I obviously mean my various blog projects as the booze news used to have it’s own site and was plentiful in its alcohol goodness.

Cosmic Cocktails | Capricorn | The Social Climber


I’m sure you’ve heard the following phrase:

Behind every successful man, there’s a woman.

That woman in question was probably a Capricorn.

Social Climber Cocktail, part of the Cosmic Cocktails series at

Our tenth sign of the zodiac, Capricorn is the sign of ambition and drive and supreme focus. They are great in the board room not only because they thrive on power and position, but also because they have the amazing talent of remaining calm in a crisis.

They are posh, polished, and probably  planned it all that way–mental, emotional, or physical makeovers are just their style.

For a sign so focused on precision I kept coming back to the classics, The Manhattan, the Gin Martini, drinks that has an air of something elegant and timeless about them.

But then what would I do with my evening?

Instead, let’s slum a little with the up-and-coming Capricorn and see what sort of drink they inspire.

Oh, definitely something that speaks of yearning for the best in life, that just-barely-contained lust for power, and the willingness to do whatever. it. takes. to get there. To a Capricorn on the rise, the ends certainly justify the means. Some might suspect our sea-goat is a little over-eager but they’d be hard-pressed to pinpoint why they suspect it, because the Capricorn exudes an “I know” vibe that can leave the rest of us second-guessing.

Cap is shrewd, secretive when he thinks he’s got the inside track, but willing to coddle a former friend whose just made it big if they think they might be able to use them some how.

Yes, I do believe this side of Capricorn makes for a most interesting cocktail.

The Social Climber

2 oz Cognac
1 1/4 oz Peach Schnapps
1/2 oz Kahlua

Combine the three spirits in a mixing glass over ice and stir for precisely 15 seconds to sufficiently chill the alcohol without diluting it more than necessary. Strain into a chilled glass of ample volume and do not sully the drink with any thing even remotely resembling a maraschino cherry.

In my mind, our Capricorn-on-the-make will use the best  he can afford, even if he’s still acclimating to the taste. To help blend in he adds the schnapps, but even after a round with his new boss there’s still that bitter aftertaste of the 12 shots of espresso he downed that afternoon to make it through that last big project that he hopes will get him the promotion.

Reaching. Cloying. Desperate.

I think that says it all.


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.

Cosmic Cocktails | Virgo | Downtime


Virgos are the worker-bees of the zodiac, they have a need to be constantly busy, constantly doing, and often doing things for others. They are well-suited to the task-master positions of a Personal Assistant (the power behind the power, so to speak) and their perfectionist tendencies make them great managers, though they do have to watch for being overly critical of others while trying to get everyone under them up to their standards.

Downtime, Virgo Cocktail

Teacher’s pets in school, they’re just the sort to wreck the curve and be slightly less well-liked by their peers. The Virgo will very likely pass this off as jealousy, though, as the compliments of the teachers will bolster their spirits.

Got a problem? Go to a Virgo–they love to give advice and, unlike others, are actually pretty good at pin-pointing what, where, and how you went wrong and helping you fix it. They do it with candor and wit, though, so even the bad news goes down gently.

Unless, of course, you’ve found your way onto their bad side, in which case there is no preparing for the snark that will roll from their lips. And not just that, Virgos bring the guilt trip to new heights and you will feel it acutely when you’ve wronged them.

Of course, they’re also very self-critical and are constantly trying to improve themselves, not just others. Too much of this self-analysis can lead to hypochondria and have them dying of some trendy or obscure (extra points if it’s somehow both) disease every other week. Their natural predilection to stomach aches–when stressed or otherwise hyper-focused–gives them ample opportunity for worrying over medical maladies, so stress reduction and getting things out into the open (not their strong suit) is something every Virgo could use.


2 oz Ginger Beer
3/4 oz Frangelico
1/2 oz Cointreau

Combine ingredients over ice in a mixing glass and stir until thoroughly mixed and cool–no shaking, that would be far too disruptive, think chill thoughts. Strain into a fresh glass with a few cubes of fresh ice and garnish with some crystallized ginger.

Usually I base these drinks around the direct personality traits of a person, sign, or theme. Today’s cocktail is a slight departure, in that this is more a Virgoan antidote for their everyday life.

Ginger is a natural stomach-soother in it’s various forms. On our last cruise I brought along ginger pills as well as ginger candies with us just in case of seasickness (I don’t usually get it, but it never hurts to be safe). The ginger beer in this recipe isn’t alcoholic and it isn’t the same as ginger ale–it’s 100 times better than even our favorite, Vernor’s, ginger ale and the brand I buy (Bundaberg) has bits of the crushed ginger floating about in it, still.

The hazelnut liqueur represents the various nut-bearing trees this sign is associated with and the orange is just a nice complement to them both. The liqueurs also tone down the bite of the ginger beer which some people find objectionable (not me, of course, but some).

Written in the Stars


The Zodiac Cocktail

Destiny? Fate? An excuse for every human foible?

That, my friends, are just some of the things folks find when they gaze up at the night sky.

Me? I have perhaps more than the average interest in astrology but I take it, like most things, with a few grains of salt and a whole lot of common sense.

(And, no, we’re not salting this martini. I made one exception, that was more than enough!)

What we are, is closing out this lovely romp through flavored-martini land with an ode to the stars, planets, and who knows what else out there in the vastness of space.

The Zodiac

1 1/2 oz Cranberry Juice
1 oz Vodka
3/4 oz Blue Curacao
3/4 oz Pomegranate Liqueur

Combine all ingredients over ice and shake until it’s cold as the far reaches of space. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

No garnish is needed–the inky depths of this drink speak for themselves. While not harsh–I would never give you a harsh drink, balance is important–this AlphaTini will positively take your breath away. Wait, did I say take? I mean it will snatch it from you like you’ve just been sucked out of an airlock.

And just like that sudden decompression, this drink will knock you ass over teakettle if you’re not careful. Testing a new cocktail a week, in addition to the occasional recreational drink, I have a pretty decent tolerance for booze, right? One quarter of a Zodiac–3 signs, if you will–and I was already feeling the effects, even after just having supper.

But, then, not all horoscopes are gentle…

# # #

Well, then! This week’s post has finished yet another Friday series here at Sips & Shots. After a week or two’s break I will be back with a delve into the world of white wines (just like our Meet the Reds mini-series way back when) and then we’ll get started on our next series (by the way, today’s cocktail was a hint, can you guess what the next series will be?).

But before we go, I wanted to be sure to tell each and every one of you how much I appreciate you reading, whether at Sips & Shots or over at Circle of Food. For every comment I receive here, there or on Facebook I always get a little thrill. As a thank you, I’d like to offer you this free download–a custom cocktail perfect for Valentine’s Day, courtesy of my other venture, the Character Cocktail.

Would you mind sharing your email address in return?

[download file=”” title=”Loving Cup Recipe Card”]

(For those who read via RSS feed, you’ll need to go to the actual post to get the download)

(I’d never sell your information, I just want to be able to track the downloads and be able to send out cocktail-related emails when something big is on the horizon. Once you’ve entered your email address the page will refresh, just scroll down back to this area and you should see “Your download is ready” and a button with the name of the file on it.)

To view the pdf you will need Adobe Reader, you can download it for free here.