AlcoHOLidays | Pina Colada Day | Van-Pina Colada



When I was very young and we lived with my grandmother, one of the many things I remember about her house was the wet bar in the living room. Tucked away to the right of the televisions and closed off by some bi-fold doors, I just thought (still think) it was one of the neatest things. And some nights my aunt would mix-up some pina coladas for the family and I would get my own (before the rum was added, of course) in a cute little glass that sort of looked like a miniature of those old fashioned sundae glasses.

So you can imagine that pina coladas have a special place in my cocktail-loving heart (or should I say liver?).

Strangely enough, I don’t make them very often. I’m not a huge fan of blender drinks in general and I almost never have Coco Lopez (the coconut cream necessary for a good pina colada). But for Pina Colada Day (July 10) I will certainly make an exception.

What turns me off of most blender drinks, though, is the little shards of crushed and blended ice. Seldom are they truly smooth enough to be pleasant and the brightness of the melting ice sometimes interferes with the taste of the frozen drink itself. The better the blender, I’m betting, the lesser this problem, but I wondered if there was something I could use instead of just plain crushed ice.

Of course there was.

Van-Pina Colada

3.5 oz Pineapple Juice
2 oz Coconut Cream
1.75 oz Aged Light Rum
1.5 cups Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Combine the juice, cream, and rum in a blender and puree until smooth and combined. Add the ice cream and blend until smooth. If you want a thicker colada, add more ice cream.

Pina Coladas usually call for white rum but I find white rums brassy and harsh in so many cases so I took advantage of my new-found love of Aged Light Rum (like the Cruzan I review last week) and used that instead. The ice cream I used was Breyers Vanilla Bean (Lactose Free) and the result is a rich, creamy, colada-cum-milkshake that gives me the flavor I was looking for without the unpleasant texture despite having a less than top-of-the-line blender (mine was actually a thrift store purchase many years ago for all of $5).

Adding more of any one mixer would usually dilute the flavors of the drink too much, but I think with the flavor enhancing properties of vanilla in the ice cream, you could safely increase the ice cream by quite a bit to stretch this drink to several servings.


Review & Recipes | Van Gogh Rich Dark Chocolate Vodka

Rich Dark Chocolate Vodka and 2 of its progency

Rich Dark Chocolate Vodka and 2 of its progency

One good review deserves another, doncha think?

At least it does when the product—in this case Van Gogh Rich Dark Chocolate Vodka—is as tasty as it looks and sounds.

First the basics: Van Gogh Rich Dark Chocolate Vodka definitely lives up to it’s name. It’s not a super-sweet milk chocolate flavor, you’re definitely getting serious cacao, here, and while the edges of such intense chocolate are there, it’s not as harsh as dark chocolate can be. I also found this flavor to be smoother than the PB&J vodka I sampled two weeks ago—just a rounder mouth feel overall.

That said, this is a liquor, not a liqueur, so it’s not as unctuous or rich as you would get from, say, a Godiva chocolate liqueur.

They sent along some suggested recipes to try and, after the PB&J Frappe last time, I was all about the Banana Parfait this time.

Van Gogh Chocolate Banana Parfait
Created by The Cocktail Guru, Jonathan Pogash

2 oz Van Gogh Rich Dark Chocolate Vodka
2 scoops Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
1 cup Milk
1 Banana

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into a parfait glass and garish with whipped cream, cocoa powder, and sliced bananas.

As you can see, I went with one of my red wine goblets instead of a parfait glass—there’s just something so awesome about a wine goblet filled with smoothie that I can hardly put it into words. I also opted for some vodka-spiked chocolate whipped cream I had on the bar. It was a nice contrast though it weighed the top of the “parfait” down so much it started to overflow even the bounty of my glass.

Outtake: the overflowing parfait cocktail--delicious and messy!

Outtake: the overflowing parfait cocktail–delicious and messy!

Comparing the two, I still side with the PB&J Frappe, but this was still an excellent dessert smoothie. I’d say it could easily serve two; I did share a bit with Todd but I admit, I downed most of this one on my own.

Too much? All things in moderation, folks, even moderation!

Milky Way Martini

2 oz Van Gogh Rich Dark Chocolate Vodka
1 oz Butterscotch Schnapps
½ oz Van Gogh Vanilla Vodka

Combine all ingredients into a shaker with ice. Shake vigorously and pour into a chilled martini glass.

This is a lot like the candy bar shots we would make with chocolate liqueur back in the day, but as a martini it’s a bit… lacking? Generally speaking you stir cocktails comprised of all alcoholic ingredients, so I did stir this one per the usual custom (I’m such a recipe rebel, right?). Once I tasted it, though, it needed something, something like milk, so I’d suggest you add 1-1 ½ oz cold milk to the ingredients and then, yes, shake it to your hearts delight and you’ll likely be much happier with the end result.

Y’all know I’m a sucker for good packaging and the Van Gogh bottles are gorgeous works of functional art, so extra points for that. All in all I enjoyed the Rich Dark Chocolate Vodka and look forward to playing with it in future recipes.


I was provided a bottle of Van Gogh Rich Dark Chocolate Vodka for the purpose of review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Summertime Ice Cream Treat: Magnum Ice Cream Bars


It’s Memorial Day weekend and the unofficial beginning of summer–what better time to break out the ice cream makers, scoops, dishes and toppings.

But wait, maybe you’re pressed for time or just not into complicated frozen desserts. So you head to the ice cream section of your local grocery store and maybe, just maybe, you see something different that catches your eye.

Magnum Double Chocolate Ice Cream BarsMagnum ice cream bars have recently hit the American market and the premium perks don’t end at the snazzy packaging. These bars feature vanilla bean or chocolate ice creams dipped in rich Belgian chocolate. Some (like the Magnum Almond) come studded with nuts while others (Magnum Double Chocolate and Magnum Double Caramel) feature sauces in between the ice cream and chocolate.

But how do they taste?

I was offered a coupon for a free box of Magnum ice cream bars and went, first, for the Double Chocolate–how can you go wrong with more chocolate?

What we have here, folks, is chocolate ice cream with a thin coating of chocolate on it, a layer of chocolate syrup/sauce and the outer layer of Belgian milk chocolate. Being a bookkeeper I can tell you that that’s 4 chocolates, not 2, but I guess Quadruple Chocolate doesn’t roll off the tongue the way Double Chocolate does, so we’ll let that slide.

A cross-section of a Magnum Double Chocolate ice cream barAt first bite I was loving the chocolate upon chocolate flavors but, as Todd pointed out (yes, I shared), it was almost chocolate overload the further you got into it. I also found out that my co-tester is not a big fan of chocolate ice cream (3.5 years together and there’s still new things to learn!), but even so he liked them okay.

With that in mind, though, I picked up two more flavors on this week’s shopping trip: Magnum Classic and Magnum Double Caramel.

In the Classic variety, the Belgian chocolate really gets a chance to shine compared to the vanilla bean ice cream–which was pretty tasty itself–and tastes really luxurious. I’ve had richer ice creams before, but they were usually small batch chef-made varieties, so take what you will from that.

The Double Caramel, however, left us a little wanting. The caramel was lost in the shuffle of chocolate and vanilla bean and what you did get it of it was sharp and unpleasant instead of rich and creamy. Of the three versions we’ve tried I think we’ll be sticking to the Classic.

Aside from the ice cream bars themselves, packaging can either add to or take away from the experience. (Prime example? Apple products–hello pretty!) In this case Magnum does a great job at enhancing their product. Working for a printing company for 15+ years I tend to notice finishing details and know there’s a reason for most boxes having square corners: they’re natural, easy and cheap. Rounded edges require die cutting and specialty folding set-ups–that’s a step many manufacturers aren’t going to take.

The bars, themselves, are wrapped in printed gold foil sleeves; another step up from the waxed paper in most ice cream bars. Usually I find gold packaging tacky, but Magnum hits a nice balance between garish and classy. Even the sticks are branded and are a little different from your average popsicle-stick.

At 3.28 for a package of three they’re not that expensive ($1.09ish per bar) but they’re not the value that some other brands offer. It’s nice for a treat or to satisfy a craving, but I don’t think it’s destined to become a freezer staple for our home.


As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I received a coupon for one box of Magnum ice cream bars. All opinions and observations are my own.