Whiskey Alexander

When it comes to dessert, I’d much rather have a glass of wine with a bit of cheese than a piece of cake.  If I’m feeling fancy, we might even make cocktails instead.  You know I love whiskey and whiskey-based cocktails and this is one of my favourites.  It’s a variation on a Brandy Alexander, made with whiskey, crème de cacao, vanilla, cream and nutmeg.  I love to entertain with this recipe.  It’s wintery and sweet, and with a touch of nutmeg, perfect for the holidays or just dessert on a Friday night.  Choose a good quality whiskey, but one that’s not too expensive.  I like to use a local whiskey from Leopold Bros, but if that’s not available, Tullamore D.E.W.  – a subtle and smooth Irish whiskey (for only about $30 USD a bottle) – is a great alternative. Continue reading “Whiskey Alexander”

Strawberry-Balsamic Shrub Cocktail

A cocktail is a little like a blank slate, an empty canvas.  At least it is to me.  A base spirit on which you can write whatever story you would like.  There are so many possibilities with which to fill all that blank space, and sometimes I don’t even have to think about it – a gin and tonic, a dirty martini, an old-fashioned are all on repeat.  But some days I want to break from the mold, create something unusual, write something that’s never been written before.  And that’s when I sometimes suffer from what could be akin to writer’s block (“cocktail block”??).   Continue reading “Strawberry-Balsamic Shrub Cocktail”

Calvados Martini

Normandy is famous for many of the world’s most delicious delicacies: Camembert, apples, oysters, and the most luscious cream and butter, cidre and of course, Calvados -the apple brandy that has been distilled there for over five centuries.  Calvados, in a way, is made like a fine perfume, with producers meticulously combining upwards of 200 different varieties of apples ranging from sweet to tart to bittersweet and bitter into their eau de vie.  In one appellation, pears are also used in the formula.  Bitter and tart apples must make up the majority of the composition (70%), while the remainder is comprised Continue reading “Calvados Martini”

On being Irish, sort of, and Irish Coffee

I spent my life believing I was Irish.  My grandmother’s family immigrated from Ireland and the proof hung proudly in a frame on the wall in her brother’s living room – County Cork to New York, New York; 1922.  I stood looking at it once, this yellowing paper in a frame – finding it incredibly strange that something like a government issued form would be considered a work of art.  But, to our family, it was.  It was proof of how far they had come, and a reminder to never forget where their roots were planted.  It’s a conflict that perhaps all immigrant families feel, this pull of two different lands, two different homes.  Continue reading “On being Irish, sort of, and Irish Coffee”

Banana Bread Hot Buttered Rum

We’ve spent the last few days in the picturesque little town of Dillon, which is quaintly nestled between the larger ski resorts high in the Colorado Rocky Mountains.  It isn’t itself a ski town, though, its claim to fame is the sapphire lake on the shores of which it is built.  Lake Dillon is absolutely beautiful, filling the deep valley between two snow-covered mountain peaks.  The town is built on the north side of the lake with many little houses, log cabins and a few hotels actually lying below the dam in the arms of the mountainside.  As we drove across Continue reading “Banana Bread Hot Buttered Rum”

White Christmas

Today, I sat down to finalize the Christmas menu before going to the market.  “Simplicity” is the name of the game this year, so the menu looks something like this:  The star of the dinner table will be a very traditional American baked ham with a maple glaze and spiced orchard fruits like apples and pears.  The ham will be accompanied by a few of my French favorites like potato gratin with hickory-smoked gruyere, Brussels sprouts lardons (Ina Garten’s recipe, and my kids’ favourite way to eat them!) and, of course, crispy sourdough bread.  For dessert, I will make the Bûche de Noël from my last blog post. Continue reading “White Christmas”

Clementine Bourbon Sour

Whiskey is winter’s drink.   Of course, when it comes to the six base spirits (rum, tequila, vodka, gin, brandy and whiskey) there really aren’t any seasonal rules to follow.  But if there were, they might look something like this: light spirits like vodka or tequila, which are best mixed with fresh fruit and juices and served ice-cold, were made for the summertime.  They’re easy and free, flitting along with the cocktail trends that change year after year.  Similarly, the spicy sweetness of rum seems most appropriate when autumn arrives.  It’s rich and versatile and I use it just as frequently in my cakes and cookies as I do in cocktails.  However, whisky is different and that’s what makes it “winter’s drink.”  It is a timeless rule-breaker in an arrogant and cavalier sort of way.  It neither flirts with trends nor lends itself well to baking.  In other words, whisky doesn’t give a shit.   Continue reading “Clementine Bourbon Sour”

Rum Apple Cider Punch

Everyone has a rum story.  Mine starts back when I was 18… but perhaps it’s not the best way to introduce a rum cocktail…?  You don’t mind, do you?  I married my first husband on the day after I graduated from high school.  His name was Isaac and he was barely 20.  I wish I could say we were high school sweethearts, but no, we met in a smoky pool hall.  Of course, in the US you can’t legally drink until you’re 21.  The irony of being allowed to make a such a life-changing decision without being able to think on it with a drink!  We did what any responsible 18 and 20 year olds would do; we decided to spend our honeymoon in a place where we could legally have a drink to celebrate – island hopping through the Caribbean. Continue reading “Rum Apple Cider Punch”

French 75

I’ve talked a lot about our Friday cocktail tradition.  If you follow me on Instagram then you know it’s somewhat of an institution and nearly every week I post the recipe for whatever we happen to be drinking at the time.  I have my old standbys, my favorites like a gin and tonic with lime or a wet martini with three olives.  I’m picky when it comes to cocktails.  I don’t like anything too fruity or sweet; anything that can be garnished with an umbrella is automatically out.  For me, the point of a cocktail is to highlight the flavors in each of the individual spirits.  Maybe that’s why I’m drawn to gin – there are so many different flavor complexities.  In time I’ll share the recipes for all my favourites here, but today I want to talk about the French 75, which I think is one of the classiest of the classic cocktails… Continue reading “French 75”

Vanilla-Ginger Mojito

This drink makes me think of the saying, “They go together like _____ & _____!”  Of course, you get to fill in the blanks with just about anything – everyone has their favorite combinations.  They go together like bacon and eggs!  Like salt and pepper!  Like copy and paste… or peanut butter and jelly… or Fred and Ginger…  Speaking of Ginger, I have a new combination to add to that list! Continue reading “Vanilla-Ginger Mojito”