MxMo LXXXIII: Preserves | Strawberry Shot-Cake



This month’s Mixology Monday, hosted by Craig of A World of Drinks, is Preserves.

Even though fresh-everything is the clarion call of cocktail enthusiasts today, back when cocktails were fresh and new, themselves, it wasn’t necessarily feasible to have fresh everything at the tip of your barspoon. Sure, that makes the cake for seasonal cocktails, but let’s face it–we’ve all had a craving for something at the absolute worst time for it, so why would imbibers be any different?

In the spirit of those bygone days, the idea was to use an ingredient that had been preserved by drying, canning, freezing, syrup-ing, candying or any other preservation method you like and make a cocktail with it.

My inspiration actually came from an episode of Extreme Cheapskates that I watched sometime last year (thank you, Netflix, for preserving–hah!–all kinds of weird and wooly goodness for those of us who are otherwise eschewing cable). In one episode, the gentleman being profiled actually had a great idea for using up the dregs of the jelly jar: add oil and vinegar and whatever else you like to the jar, give it a good shake, and suddenly you have a vinaigrette for your salad for pennies of what a fancy bottled version would run you.

Well, if you can do it with salad dressing, why not do it with a cocktail?!

Making King Cakes a few weeks ago used up almost a full jar of Welch’s Natural Strawberry preserves, leaving just the right amount of dregs for a cocktail (I’d estimate, for the sake of repeating the cocktail later, about 2 Tbsp or 1 oz of jam clinging to the sides of the jar). And when life gives you strawberries, you make shortcake!


Strawberry Shot-Cake

2 Tbsp Strawberry Preserves
1 oz Whipped Cream Vodka
1/4 oz Butterscotch Schnapps
2 oz Coconut Milk

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass half-full of ice. Or skip the Boston shaker and add the ingredient to your almost-empty jelly jar along with a couple handfuls of ice. Either way, shake until the last dregs of  jam have released from the sides of the jar and the mixture is a nice pink color. Strain (you may have to get creative depending on the size of the mouth on your jar) into a cocktail glass.

An ounce and a quarter may not seem like a lot of alcohol, but I maintain that it is a well-balanced drink, very smooth, and one you could sip after supper without being hit over the head with a sledgehammer the moment you rise from your seat. If you’re just not convinced it’s enough, though, a barspoon of strawberry vodka floats nicely on the top of this drink.

There are hints of daiquiri here–if you were to blend it instead of shake it I think it would do quite well in that form–and the coconut milk (use the full-fat canned variety, not coconut cream or the diluted coconut milk in the shelf-stable cartons) gives it a hint of a pina colada, as well.


AlcoHOLidays | National S’mores Day | One S’more For the Road



What’s the average lifespan of a s’more, you ask? Not very long I would think. Maybe just long enough for the melty marshmallow inside to cool down enough to prevent burning your tongue–because if you can’t taste the graham cracker-chocolate-marshmallow convergence what’s the point.

Popular at campouts and  bonfires, the earliest written record of a s’more is found in a 1927 Girl Scout camping manual. Since marshmallow sandwich cookies (like Mallomars and Moon Pies) were around 10 years earlier, it’s not much a leap to think that s’mores are a convenient take-off from those, right? But s’more “production” would have been a bit different in the early days as apparently the cylindrical puffs we now associate with mass-market marshmallows were not readily available until the extrusion process was perfected in 1948! They must have been more like the squares we see on Pinterest, made from scratch.

Frankly, I have no problem with either form.

August 10 is National S’mores Day and while I suppose you stoke a fire pit or grab a handy kitchen torch, inventive souls have been making them in the microwave or you can use my shortcut: marshmallow creme. But at least I made the graham crackers myself!

One S’more For the Road

1 1/2 oz Ginger Ale
1 1/4 oz Dark Chocolate Vodka (like Van Gogh)
3/4 oz Whipped Cream Vodka
1/4 oz Maple Syrup
Marshmallow Creme and crushed graham crackers for garnish

Prepare a cocktail glass by dip the outer rim of the glass in marshmallow creme and then rolling in graham cracker crumbs. Set aside.

Combine all liquid ingredients in a shaker half-filled with ice and shake until sufficiently cold. Strain into the prepared glass and top with a dollop of marshmallow creme. A sprinkle of cocoa powder would not go amiss.

There are plenty of s’mores-inspired cocktails out there, this is merely my take on a popular subject. I wanted something somewhat light and graham crackers are only a spice away from ginger snaps in my mind, which made ginger ale a perfect mixer. From making my own graham crackers I learned that much of the flavor comes from the molasses in the brown sugar as well as a healthy dose of vanilla–maple syrup fit that bill nicely. And while you could certainly use a regular marshmallow and even toast it if you had the means, I like the soft, floating island of creme on top of this drink and it made rimming the glass that much easier.

Whether you celebrate National S’mores Day in the traditional manner or with a cocktail version, consider offering s’more to your friends rather than keeping them all for yourself.


AlcoHOLidays | Birthday Special | Pineapple Birthday Cake

Pineapple Birthday Cake cocktail | Colorful party decorations courtesy of Oriental Trading Company

Pineapple Birthday Cake cocktail | Colorful party decorations courtesy of Oriental Trading Company

Okay, okay, while not a holiday in the strictest sense, birthdays are very important points in our lives and everyone has one (whether they choose to celebrate it or not). Since my birthday is next week I thought it would be a good idea to celebrate with a festive cocktail reminiscent of a decadent birthday cake with a fruity filling.

Pineapple Birthday Cake

2 oz Whipped Cream Vodka
1 oz Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz Butterscotch Schnapps
1/4 oz Amaretto

Combine all ingredients into a cocktail shaker half-filled with ice and shake to get the party started. Strain into the chilled cocktail glass of your choice and enjoy!

While this cocktail is similar to the Right Side Up (my take on the Pineapple Upside Down Cake Martini), the amaretto adds that hint of almond-flavored buttercream icing that is so incredibly delicious on birthday cakes that it’s tough to separate the two in my mind. For a purer “icing” flavor you could skip the pineapple and go with club soda or even just go straight alcohol if you were more interested in a high-test birthday cake shot.


AlcoHOLidays | Peach Cobbler Day | Early Summer Peach


Early Summer Peach cocktail for Peach Cobbler Day, April 13On the south side of my town there’s a butcher shop cum lunch counter that features different entrees each day of the week. It is a haven to southern comfort foods and on Fridays we used to go there to pickup meatloaf and mashed potatoes with cornbread and okra (or greens) for lunch. Used to because it was very rich and easily enough for two meals if you could restrain yourself.

We weren’t very good at restraint.

You had to go early–if you waited too much past noon to swing by they might be out of meatloaf for the day and you’d have to settle for fried chicken or some such. And if you were really lucky they’d have some containers of peach cobbler still.

We used to say that it was so rich it might kill you, but at least you’d die with a smile on your face.

Let me just revel in the memory of it for a moment, okay?

Since peaches are naturally high in fructose (which makes them high-FODMAP) and the doughy topping is, of course, full of wheat (another high-FODMAP ingredient), the peach cobbler from Early’s Kitchen is not something I’m likely to be savoring again any time soon. But in the spirit of Peach Cobbler Day, April 13, I thought I’d concoct a spirited version of the delectable summertime dessert instead.

Early Summer Peach

1 oz Whipped Cream Vodka
1 oz Pineapple Juce
3/4 oz Peach Schnapps
1/2 oz Cranberry Juice
1/4 oz Butterscotch Schnapps

Combine all ingredients over ice and stir until combined. Not too vigorously, think of it like a lazy summer Sunday afternoon and you’ll get it juuust right. Serve over ice in a low-ball or old fashioned glass.

I could have used peach nectar, true, but the point wasn’t to emulate biting into a ripe peach, it was to inspire the flavor of dipping into a gooey, sticky-sweet bowl of peach cobbler, maybe with a little ice cream on top. That’s what this combination does, quite handily. True, I added the bit of cranberry juice primarily for color, but the little bit of tartness doesn’t go amiss, either.

Whether you celebrate with the real thing or a cocktail version, celebrate something this weekend, okay?


AlcoHOLidays | National Lemon Cupcake Day | Lemon Cupcake Martini


Lemon Tree loaded down with fruit

Lemon tree very pretty
And the lemon flower is sweet
But the fruit of the poor lemon
Is impossible to eat

—chorus from Lemon Tree, as sung by Peter, Paul, & Mary

Of course there are plenty of people who love the tart pucker-power of fresh lemons. There are probably just as many, though, that enjoy this yellow citrus in sweeter ways, like lemon curd or, in honor of the December 15th “holiday”, lemon cupcakes.

Lemon Cupcake Martini

This is totally one of those made-up holidays–not by me, but by someone who shouted loud enough at some point to make it onto a variety of daily holiday sites. And, hey, why not? Now, you might think it’s odd to have a lemon-related in the middle of December, but as my neighbor’s tree up there exhibits, now is the time for lemons galore. [Seriously, that tree is totally out of control–my friend said on Sunday she feels like she needs to click it to harvest (Farmville joke).] You could also look at it as a palate cleanser sort of holiday before the peppermints and eggnogs totally take over the rest of the month.

Either way, in honor of National* Lemon Cupcake Day, I have tried to distill the essence of a heavenly lemon cupcake into liquid form. It’s good now, and it’s probably just as tasty in the heat of summer when a plain ol’ lemonade just isn’t gonna cut it.

Lemon Cupcake Martini

1 1/2 oz Whipped Cream Vodka
1 oz Limoncello
3/4 oz Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz Butterscotch Schnapps

Combine all ingredients in a shaker glass half-full of ice and shake until cold and frothy. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish at will.

Now, I opted to go with a small sprig of mint floating on the top of the cocktail. After making basil chicken last night, a sprig of basil would also lend a lovely scent to the presentation along with the pop of color. You can, of course, go with a lemon twist but it’s sort of dull, don’t you think? Unless you decide to candy some lemon peel and let a looooong strip hang in a curl off the side of the glass. Now that would be festive.

The pineapple juice could be omitted, I suppose, but it makes for a slightly more balanced drink. Even with it the drink is very potent, so sip it slowly and savor it or you’ll find yourself under the table instead of dancing upon it.

Not that lemon cupcakes inspire table-dancing. Necessarily.



*Fun fact time, while there are federal holidays and observances, there’s really no such thing as a true “national” holiday as each state has dominion over its holiday calendar. National this-or-that Day just sounds better, so that’s what people call them.