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.