Let’s Break Out The Booze and Have a Ball…

By Phillip D. Johnson

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As we enter the last days of 2013, we all have something to celebrate. If you have had a very good year (especially on the financial front), more power to you. If your year has been less than perfect, then you really need a good party and high hopes for 2014. If, like Queen Elizabeth II in 1992, you have had an annus horribilis, a terrible year; then you really need to have a party to celebrate the hopefully brighter future. The cocktail drink and winter season recipes below came courtesy from many sources but they all have one thing in common: You are likely to fall in love with them and add them your party drink arsenal. Whether it’s a party of one, a family gathering, cocktails with friends or a year-end celebration in a professional setting, there’s something here for everyone. Salud.

The book, Aphrodisiacs, with a Twist! by Mark Sexauer, is designed for both home and professional bartenders, foodies, cocktail enthusiasts, couples, entertainers and theme parties. Fruits, vegetables, spices and herbs that are historical aphrodisiacs are used in making nearly 100 original “craft” style cocktail recipes that are creatively approachable to home bartenders while keeping the attention of the professionals. Recipes by Mark Sexauer

Rompope (i.e. Mexican Eggnog)

There are hundreds, if not thousands of recipes and variations for Rompope in books and on the internet.  In Mexico you will see flavored versions usually with almonds, cinnamon or strawberries.  I’m not a big fan of most variations of Rompope because I love the basic recipe at its foundation so much.  The recipe is simple (if you don’t count the hard shaking involved) and offers a familiar flavor profile to eggnog that people will instantly be thinking of as they close their eyes and savor the taste.” – Mark Sexauer

  • 1 1/2 ounces brandy
  • 3/4 ounces agave syrup
  • 1/4 ounces smoky mezcal (optional, but super worth it)
  • 1 whole egg
  • 3 ounces whole milk
  • dash pure vanilla extract
  • dash almond extract
  • pinch of powdered cinnamon
  • top angostura bitters swirl, as garnish

PREP: Combine all ingredients into a mixing glass, add ice and shake very VERY hard to emulsify the egg.  Strain into a glass of your choice (double old fashioned and small wine glasses work well) and top with angostura bitters using a straw to swirl a design.

Preparation Notes: If you are making this drink as a single recipe, which is how it reads (although easily multiplied) there is a bit of showmanship here with the use of the whole egg.  There are still a large number of people who are not familiar (grossed out) with the use of whole eggs in drinks yet are eager to eat raw cookie dough?  Trust me, not only are you 100% safe but it will open you up to many more amazing whole egg and egg white cocktails.

Mulled Wine (i.e. Spiced Wine)

“Few things get people in a positive mood for the long cold winter months like mulled wine.  Most commonly called spiced wine here in the United States or sometimes glühwein in German speaking countries it is a great addition to any winter menu or holiday party.”

Mulled wine in its many forms through time was created, like vermouth, because wine went bad much faster before refrigeration and vacuum sealed wine corks.  Adding spices and herbs to wine was common even well into the 20th century.  There are countless recipes available and even pre-packaged “mulling spices” you can buy at most grocery stores.  Of course there is no way around it but the best spiced wines are made from scratch.”

I have used the recipe below for many years with people begging for the recipe after parties.  I like to use brown sugar in place of cane sugar; I feel a hint of molasses makes this recipe even more iconic for the holidays.  I also use a Syrah (Shiraz) for my base wine because even though it is a dry wine, as most reds are, Syrah’s are medium in tannins, medium in acidity, have rich full aromas of dark plums and ripe fruit all of which are perfect for mulled wine.

The use of whole milk instead of cream lightens the drink without comprising the idea or general flavor.  In fact, I am happy to drink a number of these in one sitting as they are much lighter then they read on paper. The mezcal is optional but gives this drink more depth. – Mark Sexaeur

Mulled Wine

  • 1 bottle syrah (I used a big syrah with notes of plums)
  • 1 cup brown sugar (how come you taste so good….)
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • Zest and juice of one orange
  • Zest and juice of one lemon
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 8 whole peppercorns
  • 8 whole allspice
  • 3 small cinnamon sticks
  • 1 Tablespoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 Tablespoon honey

PREP: Pour the entire bottle of wine in a large pot with a lid over medium-low heat.  Put cinnamon, cloves, peppercorns, and allspice into a pan over medium-high heat and roast until a strong aroma is apparent.  Some popping is normal but do not burn.  After roasting the spices put them into the pot with the wine.  Combine the remaining ingredients and turn heat to low and simmer covered for one hour.  Remove from heat and let cool for 10-20 minutes to finish infusing spices into wine.  Strain and pour wine into a sealable container.  It is much better if you refrigerate overnight if you have the time to let the flavors infuse completely but either way make sure to serve warm, it’s not so good cold?

Preparation Notes: Do not boil the wine, it will tasted oxidized!  Taste often, especially if you are deviating from the recipe.  The longer the spices sit, the stronger they will infuse into your wine which can be good or bad depending on the spice and be especially careful with cloves as they are very potent.

When serving, I find that using a soup warmer, crock pot or even a cleaned out coffee pot works well to keep the wine warm throughout the night.

Variation: Mexican Spiced Wine: You can spin the base recipe above, like any recipe, a number of ways.  One fun way is make a Mexican Spiced Wine substituting some of the ingredients with others for a different flavor profile.  For example I used tequila instead of brandy as the fortifier.  Agave instead of brown sugar, mostly, and adding spices like cumin.  The flavor profile is not extremely different then the above recipe but it shows that if you get creative you can come up with your own unique spiced wine to fit any purpose, theme or meal.

Mexican Spiced Wine

  • 1 bottle malbec (a big one with spiciness)
  • ½ cup amber agave syrup
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup reposado tequila
  • Zest and juice of one orange
  • Zest and juice of one lemon
  • Zest and juice of two medium limes
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 8 whole peppercorns
  • 8 whole allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon whole cumin
  • 2 small cinnamon sticks
  • 1 Tablespoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon almond extract

Follow the same preparation as the mulled wine recipe.

If you haven’t heard the buzz, premium spirits and wine company Pernod Ricard recently launched a new,

experimental brand of vodka called, ODDKA by WyborowaODDKA Vodka has six distinct flavors (Apple Pie, Electricity, Fresh Cut Grass, Salty Caramel Popcorn, Wasabi and Original) that will be sure to excite, delight, and spark an ODD conversation. ODDKA Vodka has created these recipes with the unique and “odd” individual in mind. With flavors like  these, your cocktail bar is sure to spark a fun festive conversation.

Last & First

Last & First

Last & First

  • 50 ml / 2 Oz ODDKA Apple Pie
  • 30 ml /1 Oz Fresh lemon juice
  • 20 ml / 3/4 Oz Simple Syrup
  • 40 ml / 1 1/2 Oz Fresh pineapple juice
  • 3 Raspberries
  • 3 Blackberries

PREP: Pour all ingredients and ice into a shaker. Shake and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a fresh berry. Continue reading

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Give A Gift That Gives Back This Holiday Season

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United Way Worldwide and its partners are offering alternative holiday gift ideas and other great ways to give back this holiday season to help improve lives and make communities stronger all year long. As the largest privately funded nonprofit in the world, United Way works to create a better life for all people by focusing on education, income and health. Examples include:

#GivingTuesday: United Way is encouraging partners, supporters and its network of 1,800 United Ways around the world to give back – not just money, but time and influence as well.

Microsoft Corporation employees are selling the 2013 Discover | photographers@Microsoft book of photography for $50 plus shipping. Purchases can me made online or at certain locations. Microsoft donates all sales to United Way—including a company match on employee book purchases and employee volunteer hours to create the book. To date, Microsoft has raised more than $200,000 for United Way through book sales.

American Express: When you buy this Special Edition United Way Gift Card between 10/1/2013 and 9/30/2014, we will donate 100% of the Gift Card fee to United Way to help the common good through education, income, and health programs.

GE: At the online GE Appliance Outlet Store, GE donates 2% of the product purchase price to United Way.

Amazon recently launched AmazonSmile where customers can shop on Amazon and donate 0.5% of the price of eligible items to over one million charitable organizations—including United Way.

Kellogg Company has a consumer loyalty program, Kellogg’s Family Rewards™ www.Kelloggsfamilyrewards.com – customers collect points from products they purchase and then redeem points online—including the option to donate to United Way.

Target: For the 23rd consecutive year, Target stores across the country will donate more than 7,000 holiday trees to United Way as part of the Target Share-a-Tree program. Trees will be distributed to families in need as well as partners such as shelters, community centers and childcare programs.

U.S. Bank gives consumers $1 for trying U.S. Bank Bill Pay when they donate $1 to one of four selected charities, including United Way. U.S. Bank matches up to $50,000 annually in Bill Pay Giving donations.

According to the 2012 Cone Holiday Trend Tracker, nearly three-quarters (71%) of consumers expect companies to support causes during the holidays; 75% of consumers say they feel better about companies that support holiday causes; and 71% indicate they would choose a gift that supports a cause over one that does not.

You can give, advocate and volunteer to make your community a better place; just visit www.unitedway.org, follow @UnitedWay or check out www.Facebook.com/UnitedWay.

 

SHOP MACYS.COM FOR THE BEST CYBER MONDAY DEALS ONLINE

Beginning with a preview on Sunday, December 1, customers can shop the most spectacular deals on thousands of items to kick off the online holiday shopping season

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Macy’s is kicking off the biggest online shopping holiday of the year with spectacular specials on hundreds of items for him, her and the home online at www.macys.com and in select stores nationwide. With a preview beginning Sunday, Dec. 1, customers will find amazing deals on popular gifts including designer fashions and accessories, beauty items, electronics, home décor and more. Macy’s will offer free shipping for any online purchase of $75 or more, beginning Sunday, Dec. 1 through Cyber Monday, Dec. 2 (promo code CYBER, offer excludes furniture, mattresses and rugs).

Customers can shop www.macys.com this Cyber Monday for holiday specials including:

30 percent off select impulse denim

50 percent off select impulse dresses, sweaters and tops

40 percent off fashion boots from Vince Camuto, Nine West, I.N.C. and more

50 percent off select gloves and cashmere scarves from Charter Club and more

50 percent off select coats from Kenneth Cole, Calvin Klein, DKNY and London Fog

50-60 percent off select sweaters from Tasso Elba, Club Room and more

50 percent off tech gloves

60 percent off coats for girls, boys and infants

60-70 percent off comforters from Hotel Collection, Calvin Klein and more

$149 sterling silver ring; your choice of black diamond stackable ring (1/2 ct. t.w.) or white diamond stackable ring (1/2 ct. t.w.)

Select macys.com Cyber Monday deals will be available online and in-store starting Sunday, Dec. 1, 2013 through Monday, Dec. 2. Visit www.macys.com for more information on special store hours, in-store deals and online sales to find the best value and savings this holiday season.

Bath & Body Works Black Deals

This holiday season, give the ones you love something special from America’s favorite fragrance company. Bath & Body Works has seasonal-scented AND luxury fragrances and body care, warm and cozy candles, festive hand soaps and more – something for everyone on your shopping list!

For your friend who’s full of holiday cheer – these fragrances bring favorite seasonal memories to life, capturing the smell of baked holiday treats, the cozy roar of a fire or the sparkling dusting of a first snow. They’ve gathered all 3 steps of their most popular fragrance in the Holiday Traditions Collection in this easy-to-wrap, fun-to-give Gift Set. Includes super lathering Shower Gel, skin-loving Body Lotion & Fine Fragrance Mist, which comes unassembled so you can bundle, wrap & give with love. Set includes Signature Collection Shower Gel (10 fl. oz.) Body Lotion (10 fl. oz.) and Fine Fragrance Mist (8 fl. oz.) & Gift Wrap. The Signature Collection Daily Trio ($26.50) features holiday classics like Vanilla Bean Noel, Winter Candy Apple and Twisted Peppermint, or try all NEW Merry Marshmallow Kiss or NEW Cranberry Twinkle delectable scents.

For the hopeless romantic in your life, why not give her a little glamour and romance? An alluring gift that includes the NEW Forever Midnight—Bath & Body Work’s latest prestige fragrance—is just what she needs. Indulge her with luxurious body care essentials like scented body wash and lush lotion, as well as the beautiful and sophisticated eau de parfum (Eau de Parfum ($45), Fine Fragrance Mist ($22.50), Shimmer Mist ($22.50), Body Lotion ($20.50), Body Cream ($20.50) and Shower Gel ($18.50)).

What kind of holiday season would it be without the soft glow of a warm candle – and only the best from Bath & Body Works, of course. Made using the highest concentration of fragrance oils and a wax that melts consistently and evenly, these candles radiate enough fragrance to fill an entire room and they look beautiful too! Whether you’re looking for a sweet candy apple scent, the crisp air scent of fresh balsam or ripe, red cranberries dusted with fresh snow, these festive scents will fill your home with love and happiness this holiday season (Candles range from $12.50-$20.00)

BBW Black Friday VIP bag

The holidays also bring parties and gatherings, so for your hostess with the most-ess, say “thanks” and “happy holidays” with Bath & Body Works luxury hand soaps ($14.50). The rich, conditioning Olive Oil formula helps nourish and soften skin and the decanter bottle adds a perfect touch of décor for those entertaining in their homes this holiday season.

Last but not least, everyone loves a great BLACK FRIDAY DEAL. Bath & Body Works is offering an exclusive limited edition VIP tote bag with your purchase of $40, over $100 value for just $20! The tote includes seven of the brand’s best-selling products including the newest must-have fragrances of the season.

(RED) Brings Together The World’s Biggest DJs + Pop Artists To Release DANCE (RED) SAVE LIVES2 On iTunes Out Now

100% OF PROCEEDS WILL GO TO THE GLOBAL FUND TO FIGHT AIDS, TUBERCULOSIS AND MALARIA IN COUNTRIES AROUND THE WORLD

AVAILABLE NOW at iTunes.com/DanceRED

ALBUM TO KICK-OFF THIS YEAR’S WORLD AIDS DAY CELEBRATIONS TOGETHER WITH CALVIN HARRIS, AVICII, KATY PERRY, SWEDISH HOUSE MAFIA, ROBIN THICKE, TIESTO, DEADMAU5 AND MORE

"(RED) Brings Together The World's Biggest DJs Pop Artists To Release Dance (Red) Save Lives2 On iTunes Out Now Album To Kick-Off This Year's World Aids Day Celebrations Together With Calvin Harris, Avicii, Katy Perry, Swedish House Mafia, Robin Thicke, Tiesto, Deadmau5 And More.

“(RED) Brings Together The World’s Biggest DJs Pop Artists To Release Dance (Red) Save Lives2 On iTunes Out Now Album To Kick-Off This Year’s World Aids Day Celebrations Together With Calvin Harris, Avicii, Katy Perry, Swedish House Mafia, Robin Thicke, Tiesto, Deadmau5 And More.



Following the global success of the 2012 DANCE (RED) SAVE LIVES MUSIC COMPILATION – which topped the iTunes dance charts at #1 in 33 countries – (RED) together with today’s hottest electronic and pop artists, today release DANCE (RED) SAVE LIVES(2). Produced in partnership with Capitol Music Group’s Priority Records, DANCE (RED) SAVE LIVES(2)is available now exclusively on iTunes, where it immediately debuted at #1 on the Dance Chart: iTunes.com/danceRED.

The ultimate soundtrack to this year’s WORLD AIDS DAY WEEKEND CELEBRATIONS, the DANCE (RED) SAVE LIVES(2) compilation features new remixes of some of the biggest names in pop and electronic music such as ROBIN THICKE, KATY PERRY, TIESTO, CALVIN HARRIS & ELLIE GOULDING, MARTIN SOLVEIG and MAJOR LAZER, as well as original collaborations from BAAUER & RL GRIME, DEADMAU5 & ERIC PRYDZ and DADA LIFE & JOSH WINK. The album costs $9.99 and ALL proceeds from the sales of DANCE (RED) SAVE LIVES(2)go to the GLOBAL FUND TO FIGHT AIDS.

Beginning on November 30 in Sydney, Australia where (RED) will be renewing its partnership with Stereosonic Festival, DANCE (RED) SAVE LIVES(2)will kick off the annual dance party taking place across the 2013 WORLD AIDS DAY WEEKEND. Sets by many of the biggest names in dance music, including CALVIN HARRIS, DAVID GUETTA, ARMIN VAN BUUREN, SEBASTIAN INGROSSO, AXWELL and more will be live-streamed on VICE’s electronic music and culture channel – THUMP, bringing fans an unforgettable live global music experience. Continue reading

Maserati Ghibli on Stage in Los Angeles at the Start of the “Opposite of Ordinary” Era

North American Debut for the Quattroporte Ermenegildo Zegna Limited Edition Concept

Maserati Ghibli

Maserati Ghibli

Maserati celebrates the North American roll out of the all-new Ghibli at the Los Angeles International Auto show, following the highly successful worldwide launch of the Quattroporte in January. Also making its North American debut is the exclusive Quattroporte Ermenegildo Zegna Limited Edition concept featuring a unique color scheme, special mirror polished rims on tone and an elegant interior upholstered in fabrics made in cooperation with the prestigious Italian fashion house.

The complete Ghibli range graces Maserati’s all new display, and simultaneously begins deliveries to the vastly expanding Maserati retail network. The four-seat GranTurismo MC, first unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in March, also takes its bow in North America. All models will bridge Maserati towards the real challenge within the next few years in terms of product range expansion, production volumes, commercial and marketing strategy.

As Maserati embarks on its 100 years of car crafting in 2014, one very important promise that keeps popping up in discussion for the next 100 years: that we will forever reject, forever deny, forever revolt to the uniformity of car making: we will always be the absolute opposite of ordinary.

Maserati chose to unveil its new brand look and marketing communication in Los Angeles because this modern, trend-setting ever-changing, and artistic city inspires Maserati. It inspires us to continue to be the absolute opposite of ordinary. While some automobiles are inspired by basic geometry, our cars are simply … inspired.

And while the fully new Maserati stand is an artistic interpretation of our brand image and its future, this art also stems from us tackling modern world efficiencies, technologies and quality manufacturing, head on.

North American Roll Out For Ghibli

The all-new Ghibli marks a turning point in Maserati’s history; for the first time ever Maserati presents simultaneously two four-door sedan models.

The Ghibli’s design emphasizes its more dynamic driving characteristics and expresses an altogether more aggressive personality while still maintaining clear links with the larger Quattroporte. The outline of the body gives this four-door sedan a coupe-like appearance, and the sinuous grill and headlights hint at feline aggression. The grill takes its inspiration from the current GranTurismo but traces its origins back to the classic A6 GCS of the 1950s.

The Ghibli also maintains Maserati’s distinctive C-pillar, which delivers much of the car’s coupe-like stance and carries the classic trident logo, carrying on a tradition dating back to 1963.

The side profile is dominated by a swage line that runs from the traditional Maserati air intakes behind the front wheels and finishes at the rear lights.

Inside, the Ghibli sets itself apart from the Quattroporte. Its unique dashboard design perfectly matches its sportier and more youthful character without losing any of the luxury expected from Maserati. The Ghibli nevertheless succeeds in combining its sporty nature with the typical spaciousness of an executive model.

The design of the Ghibli is based on a far sportier concept than the larger Quattroporte. The car offers a choice of two 3.0 liter V6 twin turbo gasoline engines, coupled to an automatic eight-speed transmission with either rear wheel drive or Q4 all-wheel-drive.

The more powerful of these V6 units is installed in the Ghibli S: this develops 404 SAE HP at 5,500 rpm and delivers 406 lb-ft of torque from only 1,750 rpm. This unit is found on the Ghibli S Q4 with all-wheel-drive.

Maserati Ghibli S Q4

Maserati Ghibli S Q4

The Ghibli S Q4 with all-wheel-drive accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in just 4.7 seconds, while the S version with rear wheel drive takes just 0.2 seconds more. The Ghibli S Q4 has an indicated top speed of 175 mph.

Thanks to an impressive 345 HP of power and 369 lb-ft of torque, the Ghibli’s second 3.0 litre V6 turbo gasoline engine option also delivers 0 to 60 mph acceleration in just 5.5 seconds. Both engine options are equipped with parallel turbochargers and have been developed by Maserati Powertrain in collaboration with Ferrari Powertrain: both are produced by Ferrari in Maranello. Continue reading

The Infiniti Q30 Concept Makes North American Debut

THE INFINITI Q30 CONCEPT, the next step in Infiniti’s strategy to expand into new premium segments, made its North American debut at the 2013 Los Angeles International Auto Show. It will be on display at the Infiniti booth at the show, which runs through December 1, 2013 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Infiniti Q30 Concept Makes North American Debut.  (PRNewsFoto/Infiniti)

Infiniti Q30 Concept Makes North American Debut. (PRNewsFoto/Infiniti)

The sleek, seductive Q30 CONCEPT is the design vision for a compact Infiniti vehicle with a contemporary, individualized character for a new generation of premium customers. The compact premium segment is forecast for significant growth with the entry of young-minded affluent customers.

“The Infiniti Q30 Concept is highly predictive of a new head-turning premium compact that we will launch in early 2015,” said MICHAEL BARTSCH, VICE-PRESIDENT, INFINITI AMERICAS. “It is the perfect addition to our current portfolio of advanced sports sedans and coupes, luxury performance crossovers and full-size SUVs.”

The Q30 Concept has a compact footprint geared to the global trend of younger customers entering the premium sector in search of a product that suits their urban lifestyle,” added Bartsch. “The concept’s vision is to be the alternative to the practicality and conformity in the compact car segment.

The Q30 Concept shares key Infiniti design cues with the new 2014 Infiniti Q50, while charting even more adventurous design language and sculpting. It also incorporates dramatic design cues from visionary Infiniti concept vehicles – Essence, Etherea and Emerg-e.

The shape of the Infiniti Q30 Concept deliberately challenges convention – fusing the dynamic design and sportiness of a coupe, the roominess of a hatchback and the higher stance and visual presence of a crossover. Infiniti designers were given the freedom to explore seductive alternatives to traditional premium automobile brands.

The result is a very modern design with a sleek silhouette, dynamic character and artistically sculpted, individualistic interior design. It features a dramatic exterior shape, particularly the body sides, which include bold sections, deep undercuts and intersecting lines. Continue reading