Cocktail Advent 2: Cranberry Celebration


One good cranberry deserves another, yes?

Well, maybe not, but if you over-bought on the whole berries and are looking for something to do with them other than make garland, here’s an idea.

Image via Ketel One

Image via Ketel One


  • 1 ½ oz. Ketel One® Citroen
  • 1 tablespoon of cranberry reduction
  • ½ oz. fresh lemon juice
  • ½ oz. simple syrup
  • Club soda

Combine first four ingredients in a mixing glass. Vigorously shake with ice and pour contents into a rocks glass (fine strain over new ice if you prefer no chunks). Top with a splash of club soda. Garnish with a cranberry and mint sprig.

****To make a cranberry reduction, take a 12 oz. bag of cranberries, rinse and add 4 oz. of orange juice and 4 oz. of simple syrup. Bring it to a boil, and let simmer for 5-7 minutes. Stir occasionally while it is simmering. Place the reduction into the freezer for 30 minutes and allow the reduction to thicken.

I like that this one seems fairly low-alcohol (all depends on how much club soda you add, I suppose–that splash could be extended to a good pour without too much trouble) and a good possibility for sipping throughout an evening.

***This recipe was submitted by a representative of Ketel One®. I have no affiliation with them nor was I compensated for posting this recipe, not even with review samples. As always, we encourage responsible refreshment and the use of the Designated Driver. No drunken monkeys, please!***

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!***

A Tale of Two Vodkas: The Taste-Off

Tuesday Revews-Day

When it come to clear spirits, vodka is not my go-to. I enjoy a drink’s flavor, after all, and the hallmark of a good vodka is more-or-less the absence of flavor. (Not that good vodka tastes like nothing, it’s just subtle notes that you really have to taste for–most days I just don’t want to have to work that hard!) But as much as I like gin, a good vodka comes in handy when gin’s herbaceousness would be out of sync with the rest of a drink. Which is why I agreed to participate in tasting challenge Purity Vodka posed to self-proclaimed “world’s best tasting vodka,” Grey Goose.

Premium vodkas are distilled to within an inch of their cogeners; Purity Vodka is distilled 34 times (compared to a single column-distillation of Grey Goose). 34 sounds like excess–can you really taste the difference? Could I?

There was also a flash drive with some more information and the whole thing was tied up in a purple bow. I thought it was a wedding present, at first, it was so nicely presented. And we know I'm a sucker for good presentation.

There was also a flash drive with some more information and the whole thing was tied up in a purple bow. I thought it was a wedding present, at first, it was so nicely presented. And we know I’m a sucker for good presentation.

Purity sent me this really spiffy tasting kit with faux calla lilies and lined with a purple cloth, with two petite tasting glasses and an airline bottle of each Purity and Grey Goose vodkas. The Swedish-made Purity is obviously confident in their quality to send not only their own samples but that of the competitor as well. And while many people prefer their vodka ice-cold, Purity encourages this tasting be done at room temperature, so that’s what I did.

I started with the Grey Goose, and when you’re tasting spirits it’s important not to judge based on that first sip as the alcohol is interacting with whatever you last tasted. So wait until that second sip to make any decisions about whether you like it or not. What I noticed about the Grey Goose was that it had some definite hard edges, a slight burning at the back of my mouth, and a thin, angular mouth-feel.

Prepare to be tasted!

Prepare to be tasted!

The Purity, on the other hand, really impressed me with how smooth and round it feels in the mouth and while there’s a bit of tingle under my tongue, there’s no burn at the back of my mouth. I’m still not sold enough on either of them to switch my mixed-drink preferences to vodka, neat, but I can see the Purity vodka making for a better base spirit in many cocktails where you the flavors of the drink to flow easily around.

Granted, Grey Goose might still make for a bracing martini, but I’d use Purity over GG to make my layered cocktails in a heartbeat.

If it wasn’t obvious, I was sent the sample of Purity Vodka for the purpose of review. A while ago (the original event was last summer)–it got lost in the wedding shuffle, so my apologies for that. Nonetheless, all opinions expressed are my own as well as any factual errors there might be. We here at Scraps of Life encourage everyone to drink responsibly and never drink and drive.

Tuesday Reviews-Day | Vodka Distilled



I’ve found that when one is passionate about a subject and is, additionally, an avid reader, picking up a new book on the subject is akin to setting off on a great adventure.

At least, that’s what I used to think.

When I received a digital copy of Vodka Distilled: The Modern Mixologist on Vodka and Vodka Cocktails by Tony Abou-Ganim I was looking forward to really digging into it. Unfortunately, digging is what I felt like I was doing. The first 3 chapters are a bit of a slog, they read more like a 30-page term paper on the history and production of vodka–and suddenly I feel very sorry for mu high school English teacher and all those like her.

Thankfully, once the necessities were dispensed with, you could tell the rest of the book was the one the author really wanted to write. While there seemed to be a bit of confusion as to whether he was writing for the home enthusiast or the business-minded bartender when he discusses the cost benefits of fresh juices, etc. but the quotes and anecdotes that accompany the cocktail recipes and vodka profiles really make for enjoyable reading.

Though I do, as always, take exception to the habit of calling a Martini a cocktail if all it is is vodka stirred or shaken with some ice. That is not a cocktail, that is vodka on and off the rocks. Abou-Ganim does, at least, include the Vesper (that martini-like concoction popularized by Ian Fleming’s Bond in Casino Royale).

Not to downplay the writing any more than I already have–really, it becomes quite an enjoyable read after the aforementioned dry start–the real lasting strength of this book is in the gorgeous photography of Tim Turner. Each cocktail is beautiful captured and the author himself is quite charismatic in his shots.

Along with the cocktail recipes and vodka profiles that make up the bones of the book, there is a treatise on caviar as a companion to the clear, crisp spirit, along with detailed instructions on hosting a vodka tasting in your home.

Bottom line? Skip the first 3 chapters unless you, yourself, are writing a paper on vodka particulars and get straight to the good stuff. Study the vodka notes for the 50+ reviewed vodkas for your own edification and shopping notes and try out some of the recipes. But, by all means, don’t put it on the shelf. Leave this one out on your bar or coffee table open to admire the images within.


I received a copy of Vodka Distilled for purpose of review. All opinions expressed are my own.

AlcoHOLidays | Election Day | Political Party


Back when I was first in college (in the dim mists of the late 20th century), I was incredibly political and planning to become an event planner. I even went as far, for a Intro to Business project, as creating a business plan based on my company-to-be, aptly named Party Politics. I’ve volunteered on campaigns, participated in straw polls, attended election parties, and become thoroughly disillusioned with the entire process.

And that’s about all I’m going to say on the subject of politics as I blog about cocktails to be convivial, not combative.

Election Day, the Tuesday after the first Monday of November (so somewhere between the 2nd and the 8th), was chosen for its “sweet spot” location of just after harvest but just before the bad weather. And while some states consider it a civic holiday, most folks have to squeeze in their voting before or after work (unless they use the increasingly available early voting options). I remember one Election Day in particular, again in college, where our economics professor was so disgusted that only a few of us had voted (it was only 9 am, by the way) that he cancelled class so people could go vote.

Didn’t matter than many of us didn’t have cars and taking the bus wasn’t practical when you had a 10 am class to be back for, but whatever.

This was also the same professor that held up class for a tirade on Valentine’s Day, so take that for what you will.

At any rate, when I decided to create a drink based on politics and elections, I had to think of what spirits would best reflect the process.

Political Party

1 1/2 oz Vodka
3/4 oz Kahlua
1/2 oz Goldschlager
1/4 oz Galliano

Combine all ingredients over ice in a mixing glass and stir until well-chilled. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish patriotically (I  used a skewer of star fruit, blueberries, and raspberries).

With a bit of reflection I settled on vodka for the clean-as-a-whistle background you want to have as a candidate, Kahlua for the numerous cups of coffee those all-night strategy sessions can take, Goldschlager for the money that powers the campaigns, and Galliano for the bitterness of losing. After all, elections are the one area where they’ve yet to play the “everybody wins/there are no losers” card.

While this cocktail retains a certain sweetness (gotta lure you in somehow), it may not appeal to every palate. That’s okay… partisan politics isn’t to everyone’s taste.