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Monday, December 31, 2012


1½ ounce orange vodka
½ ounce blue curacao orange liqueur
1 ounce champagne
Blue or red maraschino cherry juice for garnish

366 days after it started, my cocktail year comes to a close with a cocktail simply called WINTER. I've been enjoying the season of cold and snow this New Year's weekend, spending it on a skip trip, so it only made sense to try to capture it in a cocktail.

To make the WINTER cocktail, put orange vodka and blue curacao into a glass pitcher, add ice, and stir well. Strain the mixture into a champagne glass, top with champagne and a dash of cherry juice and enjoy. I couldn't find blue maraschino cherry juice, but it didn't really matter because the WINTER cocktail was a lovely blue color that the crowd I was with just loved. They said it reminded them of the waters of the Caribbean -- a great place to visit during the winter months. The taste of the cocktail on the other hand, did not go over so well with the crowd. I heard comments like, "It tastes like alcoholic Gatorade" and "A waste of good champagne."

But my experience has taught me that you can't always judge a cocktail by your first sip. After a while, the sweet, distinctive taste of the WINTER cocktail grew on me. It was like champagne had gone punk, adding a little orange flavor and bitterness to the mix, but getting more creative and fun along the way. Much like the season, by the end of WINTER, I didn't want another one right away, but I had fond memories and increased fortitude. Not to mention a good buzz.

When it comes to champagne cocktails, the best ones this year were the simple ones, with only one additional ingredient added. This is just one of the things I've learned after 366 days of cocktails. Before I move on to other life interests, here are some others.....

* Don't be afraid of brown liquor. When mixed with the right washes, it tastes great and won't give you a hangover.
* Sometimes you just need to add ice and let it melt before a cocktail tastes the way it should. Frank Sinatra always let his cocktails melt for eight minutes.
* Club soda is your best friend when a cocktail is too strong.
* It ain't easy to find a cocktail shaker that doesn't leak. I went through three of them this year. The last one was an expensive one from William & Sonoma. It leaked.
* The best flavored vodka is "cake."
* Campari and Southern Comfort are gross.
* Cocktails that use both beer and liquor are never good.
* Good garnish makes the drink.
* Layered cocktails are easy and fun. Forget using the back of a spoon, just pour real slowly.
* Cocktails start conversations.

I could go on. I've learned a lot this year about cocktails and about myself. It's been a great year of cocktails and I look forward to having my favorites again in 2013. May you have a healthy, happy and fun 2013 dear readers. As always....

Drink Up^
Cocktail Connie

Sunday, December 30, 2012


8 ounce hot chocolate
1 ounce white crème de cacao
1 ounce Chambord Raspberry Liqueur

There are a lot of things I love about winter and hot chocolate cocktails are at the top of the list. The RASPBERRY HOT CHOCOLATE cocktail that I had today after a beautiful day of skiing reaffirmed this for me. To make the wonderfully warm cocktail, simply put the ingredients listed above in a mug. Stir and top with whipped cream. Add cognac if you are looking for a warmth you can feel head to toe.

“Wow” was the usual reaction from friends who shared a RASPBERRY HOT CHOCOLATE cocktail with me tonight. The raspberry Chambord and chocolate crème de cacao made the ordinary hot chocolate rich and delightful. It reminded me of a chocolate lava cake that you order for dessert in a fancy restaurant. The kind that have the soft, warm middle that melts in your mouth and often comes with raspberries on the side. The RASPBERRY HOT CHOCOLATE cocktail would make as great a dessert as it did an après ski drink. As 2012 winds down, I suggest you wind down with one real soon.

Drink Up^
Cocktail Connie

Saturday, December 29, 2012


½ measure TUACA
½ measure blue curacao
½ measure Chambord
Club soda

Holiday Valley ski resort in New York got five inches of snow today. Me and my entourage of family and friends had a great day breaking in our ski legs and playing in the new snow. As the ski day winded down, we went to the Yodler lodge bar to visit Sweet Melissa, our favorite bartender. I asked for a cocktail and she was too busy to think of anything, so I used my extensive knowledge of the cocktail world to create what I call THE SNOWY DAY.

To make THE SNOWY DAY, put TUACA, an Italian vanilla-flavored liqueur; blue curacao, an orange-flavored liquor; and Chambord, a raspberry flavored liquor into a short cocktail glass that is half-filled with ice. Fill the rest of the glass up with club soda and stir. I choose those liquors because I knew they were all delicious on their own. How were they together? The answer is pretty good, but not fantastic. The SNOWY DAY was strong, sweet, and a touch fruity, though not enough so to make me entirely happy. If I was to create a cocktail like this again, I would skip the TUACA. It did nothing for the cocktail but add some bitterness. I did find out from Melissa the correct annunciation of TUACA though — rhymes with Star Wars’ Chewbacca. The best part of the SNOWY DAY was its pretty blue-green color. The cocktail not only allowed me to test my knowledge and stretch my creativity muscle, it also matched my new ski sweater.

Drink Up^
Cocktail Connie

Friday, December 28, 2012


1 measure sweet sherry
½ measure gin
½ measure dry vermouth
½ measure orange curacao
¼ measure cognac

Much like the steep and icy downhills that give me pause andconcern while skiing, the ingredients in the DOWNHILL cocktail gave me pauseand concern. Six types of alcohol? Well, it was now or never, and the fact thatwe arrived in Ellicottville, New York, for a New Years’ ski trip made it theperfect time to try it.

To make the DOWNHILL, put those extensive list ofingredients into a short cocktail glass that is half-filled with ice and stirwell. Garnish with a maraschino cherry if you have one — I didn’t. The DOWNHILLsurprised me. It tasted more like a cola than a Molotov cocktail. It had adistinctive, interesting flavor. It was sweet and the sherry made it creamy. Iused a high quality sherry and it made a big difference in the taste. Whoeverthought of the combination of liquids that is the DOWNHILL cocktail is onesmart woman (just an assumption.) It is one tasty combo. And true to the name,by the time I was finished, I was ready to tackle the downhill, ice and all.

Drink Up^
Cocktail Connie

Thursday, December 27, 2012


1 ½ measures cognac
¾ measure TUACA

TUACA is an Italian vanilla citrus liqueur and cognac isdouble-distilled brandy made with French grapes. Put them together in a tallglass filled with ice, stir, strain that mixture into a short cocktail glass,slice a lemon, squeeze it over the glass rim and into the glass, then plop itin. You have just made a LAKE COMO cocktail.

Lake Como is one of the most beautiful lakes in Italy. It’sa deep blue lake surrounded by mountains and home to the aristocrats of theworld since the Roman times. It contains art and culture, and George Clooney’sresidence. I can picture Mr. Clooney now, lounging on his expansive Italianmarble terrace sipping a LAKE COMO cocktail.

He would find that, muchlike the lake it is named after, the LAKE COMO cocktail is divine. Sure, with only two alcohols and nothing else, itis a strong cocktail to be sure. Hubby added ice to his and I kept squeezingsome lemon in. Both techniques helped to tone it down. The vanilla taste fromthe TUACA is subtle and when I have this again, I’ll add more of it. Still, itwas a smooth taste once you got past the first few harsh sips and Hubby nolonger needed to take Nyquil for his cold.

Drink Up^
Cocktail Connie

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


2 measures Kahlua
1 measure lemon juice
½ measure simple syrup

December 26th always puts me in a bit of a sour mood. After all the buildup, Christmas is done and my house is a mess. I spend the day cleaning and feeling bad about filling up the landfills. A KAHLUA SOUR fit my mood perfectly. To make it, I put the three ingredients listed above into a cocktail shaker, added ice, shook it well and strained the potion into a short cocktail glass that was half-filled with ice. I garnished with a slice of lemon.

So far this year, I’ve had a whiskey sour, an apple sour, a midori sour, and a pisco sour. I’ve liked them all and the KAHLUA SOUR is no exception. Kahlua is coffee flavored liqueur made in Veracruz, Mexico. It’s the result of a seven year process of aging a coffee bean and mixing it with distilled sugar cane. I was skeptical about mixing coffee flavor with sweet and sour, but it was a risk worth taking. I found the KAHLUA SOUR to be a great addition to the sour cocktails out there and one that shouldn’t be missed. The cocktail isn’t too strong, and the lemon taste is subtle. It’s a sweet and different way to enjoy coffee liquor. Other Kahlua options include mixing it with ginger ale, hot coffee, with lemon or lime zest, or just on the rocks.

Drink Up^
Cocktail Connie

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


4 fresh strawberries
1 ½ ounce vodka
2 tsp. superfine sugar
5 ounces pineapple juice
7-Up or other lemon-lime soda
Mint sprigs for garnish
(Makes two glasses)

When it comes to Christmas cocktails, I’ve found that there aren’t that many good ones. They are either made with champagne, which is more like a New Years cocktail to me, or with eggnog, and I’ve never liked that snotty-like stuff. I did manage to find three good ones though for my three days of holiday gatherings. The last one is today — Merry Christmas! — and it’s called the CHRISTMAS JONES.

The recipe for the CHRISTMAS JONES cocktail was created in 2006 for the release of the Bond Film Casino Royale. To make it, you’ll need a blender. Put the vodka, strawberries, sugar and pineapple juice into the blender and blend on high for minute (don’t add ice.) Pour the mixture into two highball glasses, top with 7-Up or other lemon-lime soda, add ice, and garnish with a sprig of mint.

Though its fruity taste made it seem more like a summertime cocktail than a Christmas one, the CHRISTMAS JONES was a delicious foamy treat. It would be a good cocktail for a Christmas in July party. The mint is a must for ambiance and at least a hint of Christmas. It’s not a heavy cocktail or as sweet as it sounds. It is a wonderful blend of fruit, vodka, and pop. Much like the snow that was falling as I enjoyed a wonderful Christmas, the CHRISTMAS JONES just drifted into my day and made it shiny and bright.

Drink Up^
Cocktail Connie