AlcoHOLidays | Halloween | Iced Pumpkin Spice


Okay, now, I don’t really have to explain Halloween, do I?

Unlike some of the more obscure holidays I know we’ll examine in this series, Halloween (Hallowe’en, All Hallow’s Eve, Samhain–pronounced sow-in, by the way) is one of the biggies celebrated in many countries and cultures. While we celebrate mostly with candy and costumes these days, some still see it as a mystical night where the veil between this world and the next grows tissue thin.

Fall has long-been my favorite season, so it’s no big surprise that Halloween is my favorite holiday. There’s just something about the nip in the air (sometimes we  have to really search for that nip, down here in Florida), a good bonfire or fire-pit, impending sweater weather, and winter squash starting to appear in the stores that makes me extra happy. Not to mention the fun of being able to go to work in silly costumes.

A certain national coffee shop has made many folks–even those not terribly fond of coffee–salivate like Pavlov’s dogs over the mere mention of a Pumpkin Spice latte. About the only thing that drink is missing is a good shot of something. It just so happened that I was browsing the fall/Halloween display in World Market in September and found the Torani Pumpkin Pie-Flavored Sauce, 12 oz. for $5.99.

For those not familiar, Torani is a pretty common brand of flavorings used in coffees and Italian sodas. While there are many recipes available all over the Web for similar syrups (which make it easy to make your own pumpkin-spice anything year-round), getting to try the real deal was a happy surprise. Not only have I made amazing pumpkin spice lattes at home with it, we’ve also used it on vanilla ice cream and it’s heavenly.

Iced Pumpkin Spice Cocktail

It doesn’t do half bad in today’s cocktail, either!

Iced Pumpkin Spice

1 1/2 oz Spiced Rum
1 oz Sweetened Condensed Milk
1/2 oz Pumpkin Pie-Flavored Sauce
Cinnamon Stick

Combine rum, condensed milk, and sauce over ice and shake until the nip in the glass matches the nip in the air–even if the latter is just wishful thinking. Strain into a  chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a cinnamon stick.

Novelty glass and mellowcreme pumpkin patch optional.

That’s How the Cookie Crumbles


Oatmeal Cookie CocktailOr, rather, shakes.

Okay, the O-cocktail in this series is another one I’ve been looking forward to getting just right. We first had it ages ago at a tapas-style restaurant. We’d gone there after a late movie and ate (and drank) at the bar. While we weren’t really looking for another full cocktail (we’d each had one a piece–moderation, remember?) the martini list was so tempting, so we asked for this one as a shot. Oh, it was divine, and we’ve worked on the right combination off and on since then.

I think we’ve finally got it right.

Oatmeal Cookie Martini

1.5 oz Irish Cream
1.5 oz Sweetened Condensed Milk
3/4 oz Buttershots
3/4 oz Vanilla Vodka
1/2 oz Goldschlager
garnish: cinnamon sugar, raisins

Combine all  liquid ingredients over ice and shake like a mixer creaming cold butter. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass that’s been rimmed with cinnamon sugar. Garnish with a spear of raisins, if that’s how you like your cookie.

There are many versions of this delectable treat floating around the web and I was astonished to see that several called for Jagermeister–not exactly what I like in my oatmeal cookie. One called for amaretto, which I thought was a nice touch, but so far I haven’t see any with vanilla vodka or condensed milk. What can I say, I have a cocktail ingredient type!

I know it’s a little early to be thinking about the big guy in the red suit, but I wonder if I left this out for him instead of regular cookies, would I find a little something extra in my stocking?

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?

MxMo LIX: Beer Cocktails and a Return of the Glazed Doughnut


Glazed Doughnut Cocktail and Props

Ever since I started cocktail-blogging I’ve meant to participate in the Mixology Monday meme but always remembered too late. This time I was smart and actually put it on my calendar as one of my to-dos for today.

It also helps that this MxMo theme, hosted by Frederic of Cocktail Virgin Slut is cocktails made with beer. If you followed my 50 Shots of America series you know that I’ve made quite a few beer cocktails over the last year and a bit, some tastier than others, but none better than the first one, in honor of North Carolina and the Krispy Kreme doughnut that began there.

The Glazed Doughnut

2 oz Honey Wheat beer*
1 oz Sweetened Condensed Milk
1/2 oz Butterscotch Schnapps
1/4 oz Vanilla Vodka

Combine over ice in a sturdy mixing glass and shake as if the fryer’s broken and the pre-church crowd is about to descend. Strain into 2 small cordial glasses (or 1 martini glass) and steel yourself for the oncoming rush.

Shortly after creating this cocktail I was at the rehearsal dinner for my brother’s wedding and explaining some of what I do to my beer-connoisseur of an aunt. When I said I’d made a fabulous cocktail out of beer the look on her face could not have been more disbelieving. Once I explained about the need for that yeasty flavor in certain drinks and the only good way of getting it being beer, even she agreed that it made sense and even sounded pretty doggone good! The fact that the original recipe for Krispy Kreme doughnuts is said to have been purchased from a pastry chef from New Orleans, and we’re from that area of Louisiana, well, let’s just say our love for those pillowy breakfast confections is no longer a mystery.

MxMo Logo
I’m happy to report that this cocktail still makes me do a little happy dance and is still the perfect remedy to a late-night doughnut craving when you can’t quite justify heading to the doughnut drive-thru in your pajamas.