Cocktail Advent 4: Winter’s Kiss


There’s generally no fence-sitting with gin: either you like it or you don’t. And if you don’t, you probably prefer vodka. Which is fine, I just prefer to taste my alcohol rather than not. So I’m a gin fan and often say it’s the best way to drink a tree. In honor of all those pine trees adorning so many homes this time of year, here’s a highly botanical bevvie to match!

Image via Bombay Sapphire

Image via Bombay Sapphire

“Winter’s Kiss”
–Created by Bombay Sapphire SF’s Most Imaginative Bartender Winner, Brian Means of Dirty Habit in SF

  • 1.5 oz. Bombay Sapphire Gin
  • .75 oz. fino sherry
  • .75 oz. Martini Rossi Bianco Vermouth
  • 3 dashes bitter truth celery bitters


Another pet peeve of these sorts of press releases that flood my Inbox before any given holiday? No instructions with the recipe! Sure, I know that a drink comprised of all alcohol, no mixers, is typically stirred to prevent clouding (and now do you, by the by), but you know what they say about assuming…

***This recipe was provided by a representative of Bombay Sapphire Gin. I am not affiliated with this brand nor was I 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.



So, this past week I actually completed the coursework and tests for my BAC: BarSmarts Advanced Certification and, having assured my mother than no, I am not planning to become a bartender (not that there’s anything wrong with that), I gotta admit: I learned some stuff!

Granted, I enrolled in the course for precisely that reason. When I started this Friday blog feature I thought I had a pretty decent grasp of the basics, only to find out how much I had absolutely no clue I didn’t know. And I still have quite a ways to go, but the BarSmarts Wired course started to fill in the gaping chasms in the cocktail portion of my brain (hmm… wonder what part that would be, actually, lol) and the empty spots on my home bar. The lists of even classic drinks that I still have to try as well as the bottles that must be added to my collection now that I know of their existence is long, very long.

One such nugget of information that truly surprised me was the existence and use of Sweet Vermouth. If vermouth rings a bell it’s probably in the context of the notions many have about just how little of it should be included in a Dry Martini (anywhere from a capful to rinse the ice to a nod in the bottle’s general direction). I will say here that I do not like the Dry Martini, I do not like it, Jenn I am. I do not like it with the vodka, I do not like it with the gin. I do not like them shaken nor stirred nor dirty with an olive served. I do not like the Dry Martini.

BUT! Did you know that in it’s original (late 1800s) form, not only was a martini composed of equal parts gin and vermouth it was made, of all things, with SWEET Vermouth. With a dash of orange bitters as well.

Original Martini

2 oz Gin
2 oz Sweet vermouth
dash of Orange bitters

Combine in a mixing glass with ice, shake well and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Rather than clear, this martini is actually a color somewhere between red and iced tea, the flavor is far more mellow and palatable (to me, at least) than those nasty ol’ Dry Martinis I’ve had in the past and this is totally thanks to the Vermouth.

Being a fortified wine, if you ever taste Vermouth straight (which is not something I’d tried before now) you can definitely detect the grape base beneath the varied aromatics. Strangely enough, the Sweet Vermouth reminded me of a beef stew sort of warmth and cozy feeling–a good example of the elusive umami (that fifth flavor or taste you may have heard of). Aside from the soup reminder, it’s also reminiscent of a tawny port which probably makes more sense than my first impression. Generally I sway towards the ruby and cherry ports, but the Vermouth was certainly tasty on it’s own and I can see why it was originally conceived as an aperitif.

More experiments with this new-to-me flavor-toy are forthcoming, I can assure you. After tracking down some Campari I plan to try out several other classic Sweet Vermouth cocktails, as well as play with the novel idea presented that sherries or ports could, in fact, be substituted for the vermouth in cocktails.

A side note: amusingly enough, as I composed this post, Pandora graced me with a track to fit the mood, as it were: Tanita Tikaram’s “Twist In My Sobriety