Cocktail Advent 31: Holiday Sparkler


We made it! It’s the end of 2014 and, frankly, it couldn’t come soon enough.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there were a lot of good things that happened in 2014 and I don’t want to dismiss them but there were also a lot of sucky things that happened, friends we lost, and the struggles that went into making the good things happen. It’s been a rough year not just for me but for many of my friends and, well, we’re all hoping for a better time of things in 2015!

So with that in mind, I present to you the final cocktail in our Advent series…

Image via Ruffino Prosecco

Image via Ruffino Prosecco

Ruffino Holiday Sparkler

Gather together to celebrate tradition and the holiday season with the Ruffino Holiday Sparker. This cocktail includes autumn flavors of apple cider, cranberry, citrus and maple syrup, making it an easy-to-make, but still complex cocktail for your festive fete.

  • 3 oz. Ruffino Prosecco DOC
  • 3/4 oz. apple cider
  • 3/4 oz. cranberry juice
  • 1 tsp. maple syrup
  • Squeeze of 1 lemon wedge

Add ingredients directly to a mixing glass with ice and stir briefly.  Strain into a chilled champagne flute that has been rimmed w/ cinnamon sugar. Garnish with a mint leaf floating on top.

As we raise our glasses tonight and watch the ball drop, or otherwise count down the seconds until the new year begins, I wish you all well. I thank you for being a part of my 2014 (even the sucky parts) as it all combines to make us stronger and better for the future. May you have a brilliant 2015 and seize every moment of promise for the gift it is!


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

Cocktail Advent 27: Holiday Spice


Continuing our calendar of libations through to the end of the month, here’s one good for sipping along with friends in front of the fire or pairing with all those yummy leftovers.

Image via Basil Hayden

Image via Basil Hayden

Basil Hayden’s® Holiday Spice
(by Joaquín Simó)


  • 2 parts Basil Hayden’s® Bourbon
  • 3/4 parts Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 part Maple Syrup
  • 1/4 part Amaretto
  • 3 dashes Angostura® bitters


  1. Combine Basil Hayden¹s®, lemon juice, maple syrup, Amaretto and bitters in a mixing tin with ice and shake vigorously.
  2. Strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice.
  3. Grate a cinnamon stick over the top as garnish


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

Cocktail Advent 20: Almond Eggnog


I debated including this one, but decided to after all. First, because I didn’t have a true eggnog (I keep typing eggnot, which is probably telling) and, perhaps, still don’t. Second, because it’s good to let the non-dairy milks have a chance. Third, if you’re feeling a little overdone from the rest of this month’s cocktail suggestions, this might create a tiny oasis of dubious healthfulness.

Today’s recipe also contains absolutely no alcohol, so if you wanted this to be your breakfast for a last round of Christmas shopping, it’s a much better option than the high-octane options previously presented!

Image via USANA Health Sciences

Image via USANA Health Sciences

Almond Eggnog
(serves one…two if you feel like sharing, but you won’t)

  • 1 cup vanilla-flavored unsweetened almond milk
  • 3 tablespoons French Vanilla Nutrimeal
  • 1 tablespoon 100 percent pure maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup ice

Place all ingredients into a blender. Blend until smooth. Serve immediately. And enjoy staying healthy this season!

The meal replacement shake ingredient provides protein and fiber, and I would imagine your preferred version of it would be fine. (Nutrimeal, for what it’s worth, has several High-FODMAP ingredients so I won’t be giving it a try.) Leaving it out is a possibility, but probably would make the smoothie feel a bit thin.

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

AlcoHOLidays | National S’mores Day | One S’more For the Road



What’s the average lifespan of a s’more, you ask? Not very long I would think. Maybe just long enough for the melty marshmallow inside to cool down enough to prevent burning your tongue–because if you can’t taste the graham cracker-chocolate-marshmallow convergence what’s the point.

Popular at campouts and  bonfires, the earliest written record of a s’more is found in a 1927 Girl Scout camping manual. Since marshmallow sandwich cookies (like Mallomars and Moon Pies) were around 10 years earlier, it’s not much a leap to think that s’mores are a convenient take-off from those, right? But s’more “production” would have been a bit different in the early days as apparently the cylindrical puffs we now associate with mass-market marshmallows were not readily available until the extrusion process was perfected in 1948! They must have been more like the squares we see on Pinterest, made from scratch.

Frankly, I have no problem with either form.

August 10 is National S’mores Day and while I suppose you stoke a fire pit or grab a handy kitchen torch, inventive souls have been making them in the microwave or you can use my shortcut: marshmallow creme. But at least I made the graham crackers myself!

One S’more For the Road

1 1/2 oz Ginger Ale
1 1/4 oz Dark Chocolate Vodka (like Van Gogh)
3/4 oz Whipped Cream Vodka
1/4 oz Maple Syrup
Marshmallow Creme and crushed graham crackers for garnish

Prepare a cocktail glass by dip the outer rim of the glass in marshmallow creme and then rolling in graham cracker crumbs. Set aside.

Combine all liquid ingredients in a shaker half-filled with ice and shake until sufficiently cold. Strain into the prepared glass and top with a dollop of marshmallow creme. A sprinkle of cocoa powder would not go amiss.

There are plenty of s’mores-inspired cocktails out there, this is merely my take on a popular subject. I wanted something somewhat light and graham crackers are only a spice away from ginger snaps in my mind, which made ginger ale a perfect mixer. From making my own graham crackers I learned that much of the flavor comes from the molasses in the brown sugar as well as a healthy dose of vanilla–maple syrup fit that bill nicely. And while you could certainly use a regular marshmallow and even toast it if you had the means, I like the soft, floating island of creme on top of this drink and it made rimming the glass that much easier.

Whether you celebrate National S’mores Day in the traditional manner or with a cocktail version, consider offering s’more to your friends rather than keeping them all for yourself.


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).