Cocktail Advent 1: The Cosmopolitan Pilgrim


To start off our Cocktail Advent, here’s a recipe that uses up a Thanksgiving leftover: cranberry sauce!

Now, it might sound odd, sure, but if you’ve ever used a syrup or preserve in your cocktail this isn’t all that different. Made your own cranberry sauce with, say, some orange zest and cinnamon? It could totally work! So will the canned/jarred stuff, just give it a whirl!

The Cosmopolitan Pilgrim

In a shaker combine:

  • 1.5 parts American Harvest
  • 2 scoops of leftover cranberry sauce
  • 3/4 parts fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 part orange liqueur

Add ice and shake well, strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a lime wedge.

This recipe was sent in by a representative of American Harvest, which is a vodka distilled in Idaho and certified organic. Never tried it, so can’t speak to how good it is or how it compares to others. Have you tried it? Let me know what you think!

I have an issue with cocktail authors who use “parts” along with some other nebulous measurement (in this case “scoops”), leaving the entire recipe up to anyone’s guess as to how much of anything to use! I would suggest a part is an ounce, and I’d suggest a barspoon or teaspoon as the scoop measurement.

And if I have to tell you to use Cointreau over something like Triple Sec you need to read more of my cocktail archives!


***I have absolutely no affiliation with American Harvest Organic Spirit and was not compensated for posting this recipe, not even with samples for review. As always, we support responsible refreshment and the use of the Designated Driver. No drunk monkeys, please!***

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).

AlcoHOLidays | National Margarita Day | The Choco-Rita


The Choco-Rita Cocktail

The history of the margarita is hotly debated. Sometime in the 1930s or 40s someone concocted it, but whether it was a Texas socialite or one of the two south-of-the-border bartenders that claim the honor, it remains a wonderful drink for warm days.

The basic margarita consists of tequila–usually silver, though I prefer gold, lime juice, and orange liqueur. Do not–I repeat, do not–let me catch you using sour mix or triple sec in a margarita; that’s just rude. If you want a sweeter margarita to pair with the salted rim, add a bit of sugar syrup to your shaker but leave the sour mix on the shelf. And you know how I feel about triple sec. Just don’t go there.

In case you haven’t caught on, today, February 22nd, is National Margarita Day and we’re very happy to celebrate that here at Casa de Sips!

Of course, as much as I love a good, classic, Margarita on the rocks with salt, paired with some rich and spicy Mexican food, I also like to mix things up a bit and play with the classics.

Which is why I’m offering you this alternative to the classic:

The Choco-Rita

1 oz Orange Juice
3/4 oz Anejo Tequila
3/4 oz Chocolate Vodka
1/4 oz Orange Liqueur
cocoa powder and/or crushed cacao nibs for garnish

Rim a shallow cocktail glass (margarita-style or coupe) with cocoa powder or some crushed cacao nibs. Combine all ingredients in a shaker glass half full of ice. Shake until frosty and strain into the prepared glass. Sprinkle with remaining cacao nibs if you used them.

This cocktail is a meeting between a traditional margarita and those chocolate oranges you see at the holidays, the ones you get to smash on the table to break into segments.  As usual in one of my cocktails, neither the orange, nor the chocolate, nor that unmistakable tequila flavor overpower any of the other ingredients. Instead, each sip is a little different and your tongue will pick up hints of the chocolate and orange midst the warmth of the tequila.

You can use a blanco or silver tequila if you insist, but I do encourage you to try a golden tequila for that added depth of flavor. For my version of this I used Partida Anejo Tequila, Van Gogh Rich Dark Chocolate Vodka (which I’ll be sharing more about next Tuesday), and–of course!–Cointreau liqueur. In a pinch you could use a premium unflavored vodka and a bit of chocolate liqueur, but it won’t quite be the same.

It’s Friday and National Margarita Day, what are you drinking tonight?

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).

Cosmic Cocktails | Leo | The Mane Event


Who just walked into the room–regal, grand, with a gravitational pull second only to the sun?

The Mane Event cocktail

It’s your friendly neighborhood Leo, most likely.

I’ve known many Leos over the years and, as shallow as it may seem, most of them can be easily spotted by their attention to their hair. It doesn’t always resemble the mane of a lion (though it can), but their hair will be one of the first things you notice about them.

The second fire sign, they have a bright, outgoing personality that exudes confidence, even if they don’t always feel it. Definitely great at the bluff or the fake-it-til-you-make-it when necessary. Generally friendly, the lion can be aloof until you pass their tests, but when you do they will be a generous friend, willing to give you the shirt off their back–or at least one like it–if they think you need it. In fact, like a lioness caring for her cubs, she might smother you with her generosity.

Of course, a cat can be fickle, as many a feline caretaker can attest, and wants attention when he wants it and not a moment before or after. Leos have the ability to want everyone’s full attention while simultaneously unable to keep their focus on any one thing, themselves. They are fabulous at organizing and can easily keep everyone in line with their charm.

The Mane Event

2 oz Mango Nectar
1 oz Cointreau
.5 oz Peach Schnapps
.5 oz Grenadine

Combine mango, Cointreau and Schnapps in a shaker over ice and shake, throwing in some fancy spins and shakes to entertain your guests, then strain into a fancy cocktail glass. Pour the grenadine over the back of a bar spoon and let it settle in the bottom of the glass. Admire your handy-work and sip proudly.

The two-tone look of this drink pairs the hue of fire with the rays of the sun. It’s a somewhat tropical drink, nice for cooling off in the summer heat of Leo’s July to August reign.  You can stir the very center just a little to get the grenadine to mix in a bit before drinking or drink the layers as settled, either way it’s a very tasty drink.