Category Archives: holidays

Try this cranberry-ish holiday cocktail

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It’s fun to experiment for special occasions, and I couldn’t resist this charming holiday-colored version of the martini. The Bombay Sapphire version of gin – made with juniper berries from Tuscany forgodssakes – gives it an extra depth of flavor. Hope you have a fabulous Thanksgiving.drink Yuletide martini

Yuletide Martini

  •  2 oz Bombay Sapphire
  • 2 tsp Cranberry Sauce
  • .25 oz dry curaçao
  • .25 oz cinnamon syrup
  • 1 dash five spice bitters (Bar Keep)

“The Martini was called ‘the only American invention as perfect as the sonnet’ by H.L. Menken. and, although the classic recipe involves only gin and vermouth, in the American spirit of invention, the cocktail can be experimented with to no end. In light of the holidays, The Yuletide Martini takes inspiration from some of the brighter flavors of the holidays, and incorporates cranberry, orange and spices to evoke the feeling of holiday spirit. E.B. White called the martini the ‘elixir of quietude,’ and this martini is meant to be just that: a quiet moment to be found in the hectic rush of the holiday season. Cheers.” – Created by Bombay Sapphire Denver’s Most Imaginative Bartender Winner, Tacy Rowland of Bol in Denver.

Hmm. Is this right? My plate never looks this skimpy at Thanksgiving.
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New holiday drink tradition

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The drink is called Good Memories. I made it last night and can see just why they gave it that name. I also got a kick out of my friends trying to guess what was in this delicious ice-cream-and-liquor delight – it’s a fooler. The combination of ingredients is so unusual and the flavor so unique, I’m guessing even a professional bartender might have trouble figuring it out. I can tell you I will be offering this to guests all this season as my new alternative-to-eggnog holiday drink tradition. Thank you, Bombay Sapphire!

You need several liquors, but don’t think they’ll go to waste. You might even want to make an occasional one of these just to treat yourself. Recipe below.

GOOD MEMORIES

  • 1.75 oz  Bombay Sapphire Gin (aromatic, sightly sweeter-than-regular Bombay gin – check out their gorgeous distillery)

    Make Good Memories this holiday season
    Make Good Memories this holiday season
  • 1 oz spiced rum (I used Capt Morgan’s 1671 blend)
  • 1 scoop Hazelnut ice cream (if you use Ben & Jerry’s Hazed & Confused you’ll end up with a bunch of tiny chocolate pieces in the bottom of the glass – not the end of the world, but smoother is nicer; next time I’ll try Talenti Hazelnut Gelato)
  • 0.5 oz  cherry brandy (I used Kirschwasser)
  • a dash of Jerry Thomas bitters (I left this out because I couldn’t find it, but if you can, it will make the drink even more aromatic and mysteriously flavorful)
  • Cinnamon

Method: Put the first four ingredients into a shaker or a big pitcher. Then either shake or blend with a stick blender ’til it’s creamy and smooth. No need to add ice. The ice cream will melt into the drink, chilling it out perfectly. Pour into either stemmed wine glasses or small cups with handles – you don’t want the warmth of your hand thinning the drink too much. Then stir in a dash of Bitters  and grate or sprinkle some cinnamon on top.

Now go make some good memories this holiday.

“It’s a delicious martini-style cocktail perfect for Christmas, with hazelnut notes and cloves, all surrounded with cinnamon aroma, cherries, and vanilla from the rum. It’s a cold blend that has a floral body from the Bombay Sapphire Gin, that warms you up in the cold. It is also perfect for a summery Christmas on a fantastic tropical island. Enjoy responsibly! Salute!”Created by Bombay Sapphire NY’s Most Imaginative Bartender Winner, Vincenzo Cangemi of Ovest Pizzoteca & Bar in NYC.

And here’s the next one I’ll be featuring. Stay tuned!

The Yuletide Martini (with cranberry sauce!)
The Yuletide Martini (with cranberry sauce!)

 

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Cool tips n tricks for Halloween at home – plus a dozen Chicago Halloween parties

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Nadia G tells it like it is for Halloween parties
Nadia G tells it like it is for Halloween parties

Nadia G., the popular Food Network show host, was writing comedy at an early age, has moved up fast in the world of TV and happily offers her own take on how to “do” Halloween right. Following are her top party ideas and Halloween recipes that will make your party the hot spot Halloween favorite.

  1. Try decorating your buffet with genuine old stuff – like broken dolls you find at a thrift store. Headless,  armless, blackened eyes, whatever.
  2. Present your party spread on a bloodstained tablecloth! Get your hands on a white sheet and have some gruesome fun staining it with theatrical blood handprints and splatters!
  3. Lighting is everything, so replace your crummy lightbulbs with red ones, and light lots of black candles to create a spooky (and sexy) ambiance.
  4. Fill a surgical glove with water and freeze, use this creepy
    Nadia's "severed hand" looks great in a Witches Brew cocktail punch
    Nadia’s “severed hand” looks great in a Witches Brew cocktail punch – See recipe below

    “severed hand” to cool your punch bowl!

  5. Stay away from generic “scary” props like cheesy spiderwebs.
    Try: blood red roses, mice, pictures of Phil Spector… Use your imagination!
  6. Finished planning your party and playlist? Try making some  of Nadia’s coffin-shaped grilled cheese sandwiches for the buffet. And then check out all her other Spooky Recipes!

Find out more about celebrity chef Nadia G.

And here’s where to buy cool Halloween costumes.

Jack-o-lantern
Jack-o-lantern (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

BUT, if you’re just not in the mood to throw your own bash, here are a few tips for outside Halloween fun in Chicago:

  • From pub crawls to boat cruises or just regular Halloween parties at bars, check out EventBrite’s listing.
  • Consider the masks-mandatory (you can buy one at the door) upscale Halloween bash going on at the just-opened River North SHAY nightclub, 222 W. Ontario.
  • Bar Takito, 201 N. Morgan St. (at Lake) in the West Loop celebrates Halloween. Special $5 menu including $5 margaritas and food items will be available to any guest wearing a costume on Friday, October 31 and Saturday, November 1. Try their Sangre Del Toro (or “Blood of the Bull”) cocktail.
  • Newport Bar & Grill, 1344 W. Newport in Lakeview, hosts a Halloween costume party Friday October 31. A $500 cash prize for the “Best Group Costume” – $200 cash for “Best Individual Costume”. The bar will feature a live DJ all night long and offer $4 Craft Drafts, $4 Fireball shots, $5 Three Olive cocktails and $5 Bacardi bombs. An optional $20 package will be available from 9 p.m. – 12 a.m.
  • Masked Halloween wine tasting –  Taste eight different varietals and wine a prize for guessing the most correct. WineBar at Plum Market, Inside Plum Market Old Town, 1233 N. Wells St.
  • Quartino Ristorante & Wine Bar, 626 N. State St., is putting on its traditional Halloween Wine Bash on Thursday, October 30, 7 to 9 pm. $25 gets you a selection of beer, wine and delicious Italian-with-the-Quartino-touch fare, along with music and (of course) a Halloween costume contest!
  • Bar on Buena, 910 W. Buena, EVIL TWIN DEVIL’S NIGHT EVIL COSTUME BASH on Thursday, October 30th (Devil’s Night!). 7pm – til ?? – a night of frightening flicks, macabre music, spooky spirits. Prizes for the most evil costumes include VIP Blackhawks tickets, BOB Gift Certificates, Beer Swag and more.
  • Chicago Q, 1160 N. Dearborn St., an upscale barbeque place with a gorgeous wood-paneled bar, gets in the Halloween spirit, this October 31 with the Spooky q Potion cocktail ($12 – Bourbon, Cinnamon Simple Syrup and Apple Cider served on the rocks with a gummy worm garnish).
  • Plymouth Restaurant & Bar, 327 S. Plymouth Court,  on Friday, October 31, serves up a complimentary buffet full of Swamp Dip and Cheesy Freddy Fingers. Wash it down with Blue Moon pints for $4.00 and Pama Pomegranate Martinis for $5.00, and The Scary Night drink special for $5.00. Costumes encouraged.

*Spooky Halloween cocktails include Witches Brew punch:

Witches Brew

  • 4 oz. Once Upon a Vine® Fairest Chardonnay
  • 2 oz. Pear nectar
  • 1 oz. Lime juice
  • .5 oz. Simple syrup
  • 3 Sprigs of thyme

Directions: Shake ingredients in a cocktail shaker and strain into a chilled glass.

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