There comes a time in every woman’s life when she must admit that her favorite childhood Christmas cocktail (yeah, yeah — I said it) is just too damn sweet. For me, that moment came when Natalie Migliarini of Beautiful Booze told me she was interested in making my Nuts & Berries recipe for her own blog.
Naturally, I was thrilled. But then I panicked. Yes, it’s a dessert cocktail — one that I only ever bust out a few times around the holidays. But it’s SO sweet. Is that what I want Natalie’s fans to think of my drinks? No. The answer is no. No fucking way. Want to know the real me? Dump a bunch of bitters in a glass of rye and I’m one happy camper. But Natalie’s whole thing is beautiful drinks (like, it’s her full-time job!), and it really is a pretty drink. This was the picture I posted of it last year that caught her attention:
Instead of tossing out the whole idea, or trying to come up with something new (because who the hell has time for that??), I decided to just improve upon the original recipe. My family has always made the Nuts & Berries cocktail with Baileys Irish Cream, Frangelico hazelnut liqueur, and Chambord raspberry liqueur. Last year, I tried it with the Buffalo Trace cream liqueur, which is delicious, but even sweeter than Baileys if you can believe it. This year, I decided to add a bitter component, and I’m so glad I did.
After trying a few different options in various shades of red and brown, the clear winner (which was my first idea) was amaro. Of course, I got the idea because I had a new bottle of J. Rieger Co’s Caffè Amaro looking all pretty (and of course, already half empty) on my bar.
Now, I must admit, this is not your typical amaro because it’s made with coffee (it’s basically a bitter coffee liqueur) and I knew the flavors would work wonderfully with the whiskey cream, hazelnut, and raspberry notes in the other ingredients. Don’t worry if you haven’t hopped on the Caffé Amaro train yet, though; Montenegro and other amaros have the same balancing effect on the drink, though I do like to add a little dash of Angostura bitters if I go that route. I even tested a few versions with different amaros and probably gave myself diabetes just to be sure you could make this at home. You’re welcome. That said, if you can get your hands on a bottle of the J. Rieger Co. Caffè Amaro, DO IT. You won’t be sorry. (I also really like it with whiskey on the rocks for a nice after-dinner drink.)
So you’re probably wondering: Is this drink still super sweet? Yes! It’s a dessert drink. It’s supposed to be! Like I said last year, it’s sweet, but not in a nasty way, and creamy, but also not in a nasty way. Oh, and it’s five [and a half!] ounces of straight-up liqueurs.
NUTS & BERRIES 2.0
2 ounces Baileys Irish Cream
2 ounces Frangelico hazelnut liqueur
1 ounce Chambord raspberry liqueur
½ ounce J. Rieger Co. Caffé Amaro*
*Or other amaro + optional dash of Angostura bitters
Add the ingredients to a cocktail shaker or mason jar with a handful of ice. Shake well, and strain into a chilled glass, on or off the rocks, depending on your preference (I prefer a coupe — it fancy!).
Like what you see? Follow me on Instagram!
Did you know I’m a super famous J. Crew model? I’m kidding! OF COURSE (seriously, though, did I have you fooled for half a second at least?) But, for real, I am hosting a Boozy Bungalow Happy Hour at The Plaza J. Crew this Saturday, December 1, from 4 to 6 pm. And if you’re in Kansas City, you should totally come. Not just because they’re going to be serving my Vanilla Old Fashioned:
But also because these high-waisted Curvy Toothpick Jeans are PERFECTION. And you’re going to want to try them on since I can almost guarantee you’re going to need a smaller size than you think you do. I’m not going to say they’re vanity sized, but the size I’m wearing starts with a “2” instead of a “3.”
Oh, and I’ll be there sporting this super-soft cashmere sweater (and fun earrings you’re supposed to see in my picture but you don’t because I’m actually a terrible model).
Plus, we’ll be giving away one of these adorable Old Fashioned t-shirts! So you better show up if you want a chance to win!
Obviously, she is a much better model than I am. I need to work on my sexy open-mouth pose.
Like what you see? Follow me on Instagram!
I know I say this every year (okay, this is only the second year of this blog, or even the first if you don’t count the previous incarnation) but how is it almost Thanksgiving already?! I’m not complaining, except Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday (save for the genocide and oppression and all), and in my fantasy life, I get to spend the entire month of November making spiced syrups and hand turkeys while wearing $300 off-white chunky sweaters and taking pictures of my tan ankle booties among a pile of brightly-colored leaves (for Instagram, duh).
Alas, my life is not that cozy or hygge or aspirational or whatever. Most days, I’m working too much and lint-rolling dog hair off my cleanest gray sweatshirt while simultaneously smothering my face in Vaseline so my skin doesn’t dry up and fall off. And I’m pretty sure my yard is an actual mud pit. But you know what? I haven’t completely given up on life, not even my fantasy one, and I somehow managed to make not one, but TWO spiced syrups this week. The first was a chai cider syrup for my wreath event at Boulevard, and the second was a spiced pomegranate syrup.
To be honest, a spiced pomegranate syrup wouldn’t be the first thing I’d think to make for a cocktail, since whiskey, citrus, and ginger are my default ingredients. But when Mean Mule Distilling Co. reached out asking if I wanted to partner on a Thanksgiving cocktail, I knew I wanted to do something different. Mean Mule is a Silver American Agave Spirit made in my hometown of Kansas City, MO, and while it’s similar in taste to a really great tequila, it’s not tequila because it’s not produced in Mexico. But hey, it’s not trying to be tequila. Just like I’m not trying to be an Instagram girl in a chunky white sweater (seriously, I’d spill something on it within 20 minutes of leaving the house).
Anyway, this stuff is good. Really good (you can even drink it neat without making that horrible guttural hissing sound one makes when booze stings). Mean Mule imports 100% blue agave from a farm in Mexico that sustainably grows and processes their own plants, then it’s distilled in a handmade still here in Kansas City. I’m probably bordering on cocktail nerd shit here, but all you really need to know is that this stuff is quality. And just based on the email exchanges I’ve had with the dudes that make it, I’m gonna say it’s made with love. (How’s that for some Instagram girl #goodvibesonly? You’re welcome. Happy Thanksgiving. Hashtag blessed.)
So back to the drink: I very rarely see drinks with an agave spirit base that don’t feature citrus, but I wanted to go a different direction for Thanksgiving. And because I genuinely like the taste of it on its own (even just a lil’ nip at room temperature — of which I’ve had more than a few, FOR RESEARCH) I love that the cinnamon, anise, and clove in the spiced pomegranate syrup really enhance the warm flavor of the Mean Mule — as opposed to masking it.
The syrup itself is really easy to make — and will make your house smell AH-mazing for hours — but it does take a while, so plan to include it in your Thanksgiving prep. Even though I de-seeded a pomegranate for this photo (TOTAL LIES! I made Kyle do it) you don’t actually have to. But pomegranates are really good, and they’re in season right now, so you should. You know, while you’re waiting three hours for your spiced pomegranate syrup/edible air freshener to simmer.
Spiced Pomegranate Syrup
Don’t use some old-ass cinnamon sticks you found in the back of your pantry. Hell, you shouldn’t use any old-ass spices, ever, but especially for this syrup. If you don’t get a strong kick of cinnamon when you take a whiff, get some new ones.Yield: 3.5-ish cups
48 ounces pomegranate juice
8 cinnamon sticks
4 star anise
1 tablespoon whole cloves
¾ cup agave syrup
Add the pomegranate juice to a medium pot over high heat. When it reaches a boil, reduce the heat to low and add the cinnamon sticks, star anise, and cloves. Let it simmer until it reduces by half (about 90 minutes). Add the agave syrup, stir well, and let it simmer for another 30 minutes. Turn off the heat an let it cool for about an hour before straining. Store it in a jar or airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks.
1.5 ounces Mean Mule Silver American Agave Spirit
1 ounce spiced pomegranate syrup (above)
½ ounce orange liqueur
Add the ingredients to a mixing glass with a handful of ice. Stir and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with star anise and/or a fresh sprig of rosemary if you’re fancy (or nasty, because that’s more fun than fancy).
TIP: To wake up both the color and scent of the rosemary, run it under warm water for 10-15 seconds.
For a variation on this drink, give the ingredients a stir and top it off with some ice and club soda. Or just put a little bit of the syrup into a generous pour of Mean Mule on the rocks. It’s all good.
This post is in partnership with Mean Mule — which I’d totally drink even if they weren’t paying me to, because it’s really that tasty.
Like what you see? Follow me on Instagram!
Forget that headline. I kid. Thanksgiving has always been great. I mean, except the whole violently taking land from native people thing. Oh, and then there was last year when we were all still in shock and weeping on the reg due to the election results (which, by the way, I am still in shock and weeping somewhat regularly over that shit). But other than those few very minor mishaps, it’s a fabulous fucking holiday! There’s no religion, no gifts I have to pretend to like, and we get to eat ALL THE FOOD. But we all know food is way less fun without drinks to go along with it, hence my signature Thanksgiving cocktail, The Old Sage.
Now, thanks to a certain caffeinated beverage, made wildly popular by a certain Seattle-based coffee chain, pumpkin spice is widely considered the flavor of Thanksgiving. But for those of us who appreciate the holiday for its more savory and substantial offerings, we know that sage is the true taste — and scent — of the season.
The Old Sage has a hint and scent of sage, thanks to a super-easy sage simple syrup that gets mixed with Old Overholt Rye Whiskey, lemon juice, and Peychaud’s Bitters — which very subtly mimics some of the spices associated with the holiday.
It’s good. Like, get-Grandma-fucking-wasted-on-Thanksgiving good. I’m even going to go out on a limb and say it’s the best Thanksgiving cocktail in the world. In fact, it may be the only Thanksgiving cocktail in the world, but that’s probably not true at all.
Anyway, you can make the syrup at any point now. It will keep in the fridge and you’re going to have enough to do next week.
THE OLD SAGE
2 ounces Old Overholt Rye Whiskey
2 ounces lemon juice
1 ½ ounces sage simple syrup
3 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
Lemon slice for garnish
Sage leaf or sprig for garnish
To make the sage simple syrup, combine 1 cup white granulated sugar, 1 cup water, and ½ cup of loosely-packed fresh sage leaves in a saucepan over high heat. Mix well, and as soon as the mixture reaches a boil, remove from the heat and let it cool to room temperature. Strain out the sage leaves and store the syrup in a bottle or jar in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
To assemble the cocktail, add the Old Overholt, lemon juice, sage simple syrup, and bitters to a cocktail shaker or wide-mouth mason jar with ice. Shake the shit out of it, then strain into a double rocks glass filled with a handful of ice cubes or one large cube. Garnish with the lemon and sage, and enjoy!
It will probably not surprise you to learn that at my house, the alcohol flows freely on Thanksgiving. And when I say freely, I mean that shit sometimes runneth over into the food. In this case, it’s my micro-famous Grand Marnier cranberry sauce. (It’s appeared on the Internet a few times. That qualifies as micro-famous, right?)
For this super-simple recipe, fresh cranberries, sugar, and a touch of lime get a generous shot of Grand Marnier, an orange-flavored cognac liqueur. The sweetness and slight acidity of the Grand Marnier — which is added toward the end so it doesn’t completely cook out — is the perfect complement for tart cranberries.
It doesn’t get more fucking festive than that, now does it?
Grand Marnier Cranberry Sauce
Yield: About 1 Pint
12 ounces fresh cranberries
¼ cup water
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon lime juice
½ cup Grand Marnier
Add the cranberries, water, and sugar to a saucepan over medium heat, stir, and let it cook until the cranberries are soft, and bright-red foam has formed, about 15 minutes. Mash the cranberries with a wooden spoon (which will be stained red forever, fucking deal with it), reduce the heat to low, then add the lime juice and Grand Marnier. Mix well and let it simmer until it has reduced to a sauce-like texture, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the lime zest.
This Grand Marnier cranberry sauce can be made ahead of time, stored in a mason jar with a lid (or similar sized air-tight container), and refrigerated for a week or two, so make that shit well ahead of time so it’s one fucking less thing you have to worry about when you’re rushing around the day before Thanksgiving. Also, you can plop it right out of the jar into a log just like you can with the cans so don’t you worry about that.
Like what you see? Follow me on Instagram!