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!***

A Little Taste of the Crescent City


New Orleans Praline cocktail
It’s been a busy week here at Money Creek: 2 cocktails and 3 bottles of wine busy! But it was while creating one of my Character Cocktails for an upcoming product launch (they’re not just for people, you know) that I was struck with inspiration for this week’s Alphatini cocktial, the letter N.

And a good thing I did because I was drawing a pretty big blank, facing the second half of our alphabetical series. But inspiration was found and now I can’t see how I would have missed it.

For this one we’re going to take a little field trip to my favorite city in the USA: New Orleans. Not the city of my birth (though only an hour away) I always get this thrill of excitement when I see those wrought-iron balconies, narrow streets and iconic signs. The go-cups and Marie Laveau’s don’t hurt either. And it’s been far too many years since I’ve made it back to play tourist visit.

New Orleans isn’t short on flavors to savor, either: there’s the seafood delicacies, the spicy sauces, Cajun this, Creole that, and then there’s the desserts. It’s one of these desserts that became our mission to recreate: the Praline.

Pecans surrounded by a creamy, melt-in-your mouth candy. And candy? Is time consuming to make (not to mention dangerous: molten sugar and a better chance that the humidity will prevent it from setting properly). This cocktail? Gets the job done with a lot less trouble.

New Orleans Praline

1 oz Vanilla Vodka
1/2 oz Frangelico
1/4 oz Butterschnapps
1 1/2 oz Cream Soda

Combine vodka and the liqueurs over ice and shake with a touch of the zydeco in your soul. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass while adding the cream soda.

There’s not a readily available pecan liqueur that I’m aware of, so we went with the smooth hazelnut liqueur instead. If you prefer, you could use amaretto but you might also need to add more vodka and soda to balance the stronger flavor of the almond liqueur. Either way you’ll end up with a rich, creamy, decadent cocktail that contains the essence of a praline without all the work.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forest


When contemplating this week’s letter, the first thing to come to mind was Frangelico–the wonderful hazelnut liqueur that comes in a bottle shaped like a Franciscan monk, complete with a rope belt. But a single ingredient a cocktail does not make.

So while supper simmers I have to ponder what else to put with the nutty Friar. Oooh, Friar? As in, perhaps, Friar Tuck? As in Robin Hood? This calls for some serious research via my DVD library. And I’m not talking about the Kevin Costner version, either. My favorite Robin Hood is the animated one from 1973.

But how was this going to turn from cartoon into cocktail?

Sherwood Forest Cocktail

Well, we already had the Friar covered, so I’m leaning sweet. Vanilla Vodka for the lovely Maid Marian gives us a good base for our cocktail, and puts the love-interest front and center. Somewhere along my wandering pondering I decided on blue curacao but I can’t remember for who or why, though the hazelnut-orange combination makes me want to keep it. Let’s just say it’s for Little John, voiced by Phil Harris who also voices Baloo the bear in the Jungle Book. Baloo, B-lue. Close enough for me!

But, oh, we’ve got three great alcohols, here, what ever are we going to combine them with? You know I need a non-hooch mixer to balance these heavy hitters and we still haven’t paired up Robin Hood yet…

I’ve got it!

Sherwood Forest

1 1/4 oz Vanilla Vodka
3/4 oz Frangelico
1/2 oz Blue Curacao
3 oz Ginger Beer

Combine vodka and both liqueurs over ice and shake like the “safety’s on ol’ Betsy.” Strain into a chilled martini glass and top with ginger beer, letting the carbonation stir things up for you.

The finished drink is a bright green/teal color. If that doesn’t appeal to you, feel free to substitute Cointreau for the blue curacao, but not triple sec–it’d be too bossy. (A cherry speared with a little wooden arrow would make a fantastic garnish, don’t you think? Fresh out of both, I went with an classic-style cocktail glass that’s actually from the Walt Disney Signature collection.)

So, how did I get from Robin Hood to ginger beer? Well, in the animated version Robin Hood is a fox, foxes are red and this is an English tale. Across the pond redheads are called gingers, ergo ginger beer! Yes, I suppose you could substitute ginger ale for the ginger beer but the flavor will be weaker unless you’ve got easy access to some artisanal  ginger ale micro”brew” or something. Seriously, go for the real thing or you might have to call it the Sheriff Nottingham (a wolf in fox’s clothing).

50 Shots of America–Oregon

The Oregon Trail

The Oregon Trail

For the longest time I thought Oregon was more inland… somewhere more in the Idaho area, for some reason. I just couldn’t imagine it on the coast. At least I didn’t think it was an island, right?

What I *was* fairly sure of was that lots of people traveled to Oregon in the wagoneering days of the mid-1800s (back when you could die from a broken arm–way to scare kids, folks!). This knowledge came from the old computer game The Oregon Trail where you had to safely get your family from point A to point B in 200 or so days with very little money (even by the standards of the time) and a whole passel of children who liked to wander off as well as being accident-prone.

I got a refresher on this game when I found it on my cell phone. It’s been updated somewhat–more activities requiring coordination rather than just guess-work problem solving skills, but it’s still the same game I remember playing during “College for Kids” (gifted program in elementary school: one day a week we’d go to a college campus and get to take special, fun classes, like programming the triangular “turtle” of an Apple IIc to make pretty pictures on the screen).

But I digress.

Despite my earlier misconceptions, Oregon is actually on the West Coast of the US and became our 33rd state on February 14, 1859. Man, can you imagine the other states’ reactions?

“You gave Oregon statehood for Valentine’s Day, what did you get me? A lousy tax break? Harumph!”

But I digress. Again.

Let’s just get to the drink, shall we?

The Oregon Trail

1/2 oz Hazelnut Liqueur
1/2 oz Apple Brandy
1 oz Cola

Combine alcohols over ice and shake briskly. Pour in the cola and swirl to chill before straining the finished drink into a chilled cocktail glass.

Turns out, in addition to having lots of breweries and wineries and growing tons of hops, potatoes, apples and pears, Oregon is big in the hazelnut world–90+% of the countries hazelnuts right in the Pacific NW! Go Oregon! So, of course, I’m thinking ‘hello, Frangelico,’ and Applejack hasn’t been used in a while. The soda ensures that tasty caramel color, which I would imagine was what that trail looked like much of the time (though probably not as tasty as this drink!). Your first sip might remind you a bit of a rich root beer float, with just a kick from the apple brandy.


Did you know that today, October 1, is  National Sake Day?

I’ve got some pear sake on the bar and decided to give it a go in the Oregon Trail, in place of the Applejack. It’s not bad! Compared the the original, it’s a bit smoother (according to my helper-taster, Todd) with an almost unctuous mouth-feel. There’s the little tang of sake at the end, making it a somewhat complex taste but definitely satisfying.

If you’re feeling a little cross-cultural, why not give it a try and tell me what you think?

50 Shots of America–Mississippi

Muddy Magnolia Shot

Muddy Magnolia

Entering the Union on December 12, 1817, Mississippi became the 20th state to sign on the dotted line.

Thinking of the Magnolia State brings to mind images of plantation homes, cotton fields and the eponymous river. So very strong before the Civil War, top 5 as far as wealth is concerned, it has not fared so well in the century-plus that followed. There were issues, there were changes that didn’t want to be made and when they were made it was at a snail’s pace.

Let’s just leave it at that and move on to some high points and, of course, the cocktail.

Lots of great music came out of the Mississippi Delta–Elvis was born in Tupelo, Jimmy Buffet lived in Mobile for a while… just lots of good music and influence of various sounds around the country.

Other things that started in Mississippi? Root Beer (Biloxi, 1898), lung & heart transplants (U Miss Medical Center, 1963 & ’64, respectively), Rayon fabric (Hazelhurst), the origins of Memorial Day (Columbus, 1866) and Borden’s Condensed Milk (Liberty).

Oh, yeah, you know where this is going!

the Muddy Magnolia

1 oz Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 oz Chocolate Liqueur
1/2 oz Hazelnut Liqueur
1/2 oz White Chocolate Irish Cream

Combine condensed milk and the chocolate and hazelnut liqueurs over ice in a shaker. Shake like a rushing river and strain into a chilled cordial glass. Float the Irish Cream over the back of a bar spoon and, if you want to gild the lily, shake or shave a little cocoa over the top.

I wanted to call this the Mississippi Mud because that’s sorta what I based the recipe on, that ooey-gooey dessert. But there are numerous drink recipes with that name already so I figured we’d go the magnolia route but also pay respect to the past that Mississippi has–both the good and the bad. Silver tarnishes, magnolias might get a little muddy, but the important thing is that they are still the same inside.

Todd’s comments on the drink: very smooth, the warmth hits the back of your throat in a nice way, very nice. And that was on the first sip! Of mine, actually. This drink he actually wanted one of his own 🙂