Cocktail Advent 14: Yuletide Martini


As we approach the middle of the month you’re either one of two things: rolling along the waves of holiday cheer or in need of a bit of a pick-me-up. For the latter, the cinnamon syrup in this next cocktail might be just the eye-opener you need!

Image via Bombay Sapphire Gin

Image via Bombay Sapphire Gin

‘Yuletide Martini’
– Created by Bombay Sapphire Denver’s Most Imaginative Bartender Winner, Tacy Rowland of Bol in Denver.

  •  2 oz Bombay Sapphire
  • 2 tsp Cranberry Sauce
  • .25 oz dry curaçao
  • .25 oz cinnamon syrup
  • 1 dash five spice bitters (Bar Keep)

“The Martini was called ‘the only American invention as perfect as the sonnet’ by H.L. Menken. and, although the classic recipe involves only gin and vermouth, in the American spirit of invention, the cocktail can be experimented with to no end. In light of the holidays, The Yuletide Martini takes inspiration from some of the brighter flavors of the holidays, and incorporates cranberry, orange and spices to evoke the feeling of holiday spirit. E.B. White called the martini the ‘elixir of quietude,’ and this martini is meant to be just that: a quiet moment to be found in the hectic rush of the holiday season. Cheers.”

As this one has a couple of non-spirit ingredients, I would suggest shaking over stirring, especially to get the cranberry sauce really mixed in well. You might also want to double-strain this one for maximum clarity.

***This recipe was provided by a representative of Bombay Sapphire Gin. I am not affiliated with this brand nor was compensated to post this recipe, not even with review samples. As always, we encourage responsible refreshment and the use of the Designated Driver. No drunken monkeys, please!***

Miss Mangotini, I Presume


You know that old friend, the one you were so close to back in the day but then there was that falling out and while you might be civil to one another you certainly don’t go seeking out her company? We all have one whether you call her your ex-bestie or your flat-out-frenemy, those skeletons exist somewhere in your closet.

That’s me and this next drink.

Oh, we were a fabulous combo when I first encountered her on a work trip ‘lo those many years ago. I went to the ends of the earth (or at least the Internet) to find out just the right ingredients and ratio and proudly showed her off all over town while our friendship burned hot and bright.

But then New Year’s Eve happened.

Now, really, it wasn’t Miss Mangotini’s fault, per se. I mean, it’s not like she forced me to consume quite so much that night (but, man, is she tasty!). It’s not like she was the one that decided a refill-run before the stores closed in order to make another pitcher was necessary (no, that was the rest of the party). And it’s not like she kept refilling herself when I wasn’t paying attention (no, in truth, that was another “friend” being “helpful”).

But it was her that I had that, uh, falling-out with the next morning and started off that year as green as my shirt.

That said, after a while you start to wonder how that old friend has been and if there’s a chance you could be friends again. If you could let bygones be bygones. Maybe even introduce her to a new friend that might just be perfect for her?


3 oz Mango Nectar
1 oz Vanilla Vodka
1/2 oz Cointreau
1/8 oz Vermouth

Combine everything over ice and shake some sense into the mix. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Make two and make some friends.

This drink was possibly my first foray into mixology. I’m fairly sure it was one of the first ones I tried so many versions of just to find the right one. And, for future reference, if you see one that references Snapple* as an ingredient? Run. Run fast.

Back then I hadn’t even met the wonder that in vanilla vodka, much less the rest of the new members of the home bar club. (In fact, I was still using the dreaded Triple Sec back then!) So I thought this reunion would be a perfect time to play match-maker and see what happened. The original drink wasn’t bad–I wasn’t far off the mark however many years ago I made it. But with the vanilla vodka and Cointreau? Amazing. Fabulous. And so very smooth.

Now that M and I have made up (we’re on a first-initial basis again, as you can see), I’m happy to report she’ll be welcome at the bar any time she wants to show up. In moderation, of course.

*I have nothing against Snapple, it just makes for a very weak cocktail, far removed from the lusciousness of using juice or nectar.

It’s Very Easy in the Keys


Key Lime Pie MartiniA couple years ago, at my now-sister-in-law’s graduation dinner and engagement, I ordered a delightful cocktail: the Key Lime Pie. It was dessert in a glass.

And ever since then I’ve wanted to recreate it.

This is a prime opportunity, don’t you think?

Key Lime Pie martinis are quite common and I easily found 7 recipes within half a page of Google results. There was a unanimous agreement that vanilla vodka is the perfect base for this cocktail (and who am I to argue in the face of vanilla vodka?) but from there the ingredients diverged quite a bit. Some added pineapple juice to the line, some used juice while others used lime liqueur. One added a splash of Frangelico while others added Cointreau. And one? One included triple sec. If you’ve read this blog for any length of time you know I wouldn’t even bother with a recipe that included triple sec, these days.

But of the recipes I found that I did try, something was missing. They just weren’t pie-y enough. Frankly, it all came down to one ingredient common in the pie but not in these recipes. Most of them used heavy cream, some used half and half. And my past experience combining dairy and alcohol were not pretty, those these held up better than expected. Still, even with the addition of sugar syrup or other liqueurs, regular cream wasn’t cutting it.

Ultimate Key Lime Pie Martini

2 oz Vanilla Vodka
2 oz Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 1/2 oz Ke Ke Beach Key Lime Cream Liqueur
1/2 oz Lime Juice
Crushed Graham Crackers for rimming

Combine the vodka, condensed milk, key lime liqueur and juice over ice and shake to the rhythm of a steel drum band on speed. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass rimmed with crushed graham crackers. Drink and chill. Or chill and drink, your choice.

I ended up trying out 3 of the found recipes and 2 of my own. That was a lot of alcohol to be tested, folks. But hey, somebody’s got to do it! And we do enjoy our work here at Sips & Shots.

The sweetened condensed milk was, as I suspected it would be, the key to a smooth, scrumptious cocktail that echoed the original dessert so much better than the thinner cream. (And when did you ever think you’d be hearing someone call heavy cream too thin?!)

The only downside to this cocktail is the color. Because of the Ke Ke Beach it has a greenish tint. And a good key lime pie will never be green. Seriously, you should run from it if it’s green. But because the Ke Ke Beach does such a good job of getting the key lime flavor across, we’ll forgive it the green tinge just this once.

What dessert would you like to see in cocktail form?

Have I Got a Dill For You!


As promised, this week in Alphatinis is a savory sipper perfect for hot summer days.


Pickled Puppy Martini

Pickled Puppy

I knew, when I (loosely) planned out this series, that D would have something to do with dill. A dill cocktail practically cries out for gin–it all but hops over and into the bottle just to be closer to the already herbalicious spirit. So a dill-infused gin it would be but then! Then I remembered this really nice cucumber-mint mojito with cucumber-infused gin I had once at Bonefish (whose cocktail menu I’ve found lacking in the past) so I decided to throw cucumber into the mix.

Infusing liquor is a fairly simple process: put your fruits or veggies or herbs* into a seal-able glass container, cover with base alcohol of choice and let sit until ready. It does, however, take time. I’m glad I started the infusion 5 days before it was time to try out the cocktail. In about 2 days the dill had made it’s mark but it took the other 3 for the cucumbers to really join the party and mellow the whole mix out. (For the curious I used half a cucumber, sliced, and one very fluffy sprig of dill to about 8 oz of dry gin.)

But what would I pair this very interesting gin with? I didn’t want to go too sweet, obviously, but I didn’t want it to be like drinking pickle juice, either!

Thinking about the gin drinks I enjoy–gin & tonic, gin & cranberry, gin & grapefruit–oh, wait, a twist on a Greyhound might be just the thing. And I happened to have a bottle of Pamplemousse rose Perrier on the shelf as well as pink grapefruit juice. Sold!

Pickled Puppy

2 oz Cucumber-Dill Gin
1 1/4 oz Pink Grapefruit-flavored Sparkling Water
splash of Pink Grapefruit Juice
garnish: cucumber, dill

Combine gin, water and juice over ice in a mixing glass and stir like a dog chasing his tail. Once thoroughly chilled, strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish.

I used a long strip of fresh cucumber threaded with dill and a bamboo skewer as a garnish but you could also use some of the cucumber rounds from the infusion. Keep in mind, though, that those cucumbers will be super-potent.

This cocktail turned out so well, my take on the more traditional Greyhound, that I’m keeping the infused gin on hand to make more this weekend–it’s a fabulous, low-impact summer cooler.


*Yes, I know you can infuse with proteins, too, but I just don’t see the point. Fat-washing doesn’t really appeal to me.

No clue, yet, what our e-themed cocktail will be. Guess we’ll all be surprised next week!

Episode 9: I Need a Drink


Whether it’s celebrating the new year, starting off the 12th Night celebration or congratulating yourself for getting the mammoth end-of-year to-do list, done, a drink with a kick can do wonders. After all, what we call cordials and liqueurs were once known as restoratives!

As I rambled mentioned on the show, one of my many sites is Sips & Shots, where I create a new cocktail a week and post about other beverage interests from time to time. And if my voice sounds a little rough on the recording, all I can say is it’s a good thing I recorded when I did as I woke up with practically no voice at all the next day!

Now, what you’re really here for, the music:

Pumpkin Pie–Russell Wolff
Alcohol–O Sweet Static
In the Bar Tonight–Dakota
Crazy When She Drinks–Lee Rocker
Sipping Tea–The Gentlemen Callers
Cold Beer–Jeff Ronay
Glass of Wine–The New Autonomous Folksingers
Wine of Her Lips–Billy Bourbon
Vodka Kosovo–On Wave
Martini Time–AirFerg
Ginned Up–John Hughes
Gin & Tonic–Sammy Barker
The Old Black Rum–Great Big Sea
The Saltee Tango–Stoat
Only the Tequila Talking (feat. John Popper)–Lisa Bouchelle
Sweet Tequila–Brain Buckit
Whiskey Time–The Whiskey River Band
Nancy Whisky–Murder the Stout
Drinking Like a Fiddler–Dust Rhinos

And that’s us for another month. Please, everyone, if you do imbibe, don’t be a drunken monkey–use a designated drive, take a cab, or drink at home and do so in moderation.

Fun’s better if you can remember it the next day!