Amateur Cocktail Gal has a birthday coming up. She’s invited some friends over for dinner to help celebrate. Two immediately good things have come about in response to that – the house is cleaner now than at any point since we moved back in last year, and a new drink is needed. The latest issue of Imbibe hit the mailbox last week. It is the holiday issue with a nice collection of drink recipes. One in particular caught my eye – the Spiced Pear Daiquiri. As constructed in their article, the drink is made up of rum, lime juice, pear juice and a spiced sugar syrup. I deconstructed it a bit to get the components more in line with the techniques I prefer. The apple infused vodka and cherry syrup from October were impressive, at least I was amazed at how well they turned out. Seemed reasonable to make a pear and spice infused rum as the base:

Pear Spice Rum

  • 75 cl of silver rum

    Spices used

  • 3 ripe pears peeled, cored and diced
  • 10 allspice berries crushed
  • 1 nutmeg crushed
  • 2 cinnamon sticks, crushed
  • 6 or so cloves

Infuse for a week and strain.

Starting point

I’ve noticed as I’ve made the various syrups and infusions that you can get different flavor profiles from you ingredients depending on how you extract the flavors. This was pretty obvious with a honeysuckle flower infusions I tried over the summer. The alcohol infusion had a strikingly more vegetal quality than the sugar syrup infusion. In working with the pears it made sense to flavor the sugar syrup in addition to the spirit to try and capture all the fruit has to offer-

Pear syrup

  • 3 pears, peeled,cored and diced
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • small amount of lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine

Mix and simmer for 45 – 60 minutes. Strain and bottle.

This makes around 300 ml of syrup. The wine gives a discernible positive difference over water. If you ue wine, you want one without oak flavor and good acidity. I’ve used whites from the Loire Valley in France (Vouvray and Samur) and most recently a $3 bottle of Wal Mart’s house brand Oak Leaf Pinot Grigio/Chenin Blanc. The Oak Leaf is 80% Chenin making it acidic enough to work well here.  Time for a drink-

The ACG Spiced Pear Daiquiri

  • 2 oz Spice Pear Rum
  • 3/4 oz pear syrup
  • 1/2 to 3/4 oz lime juice

Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Nice. Prep for the party is now down to just squeezing a few limes. I could go as far as mixing up 8 – 12 drinks before hand. When the guests arrive, I’d measure out a serving, shake and serve.


This one has been making the rounds on various sites as Halloween approaches. Best discussion is here.  The same picture that is offered with each posting looks great. I had to try it out. The basic idea is to pipe Bailey’s Irish Cream into acidified vodka to form a coagulated brain-looking mass, then drizzle that with grenadine for a blood effect. Sounds great and seems easy enough. Picked up some Bailey’s on the way home tonight. Someone suggested that I try and come up with a virgin shot for kids. Got some whipping cream and half-and-half  for that.

The recipes floating around use Rose’s Lime juice for the acidity. The recipe uses only a small amount of Rose’s.  I tried it in rum with both 1:3 and 1:2 Rose’s to rum. Both coagulated the Bailey’s but the coagulum sank to the bottom of the glass in each case. Not terrible, but not as advertised. I have some bright red cherry syrup made a few days ago. It falls to the bottom of the glass as well and made a good show when mixed with the brain matter. The final drink (pictured) was made with some of the Apple Vodka started earlier this week. The cream and cherry syrup made a great, apple pie and ice cream tasting drink. You just have to get past the lump in the bottom.

I then tried a mix of Rose’s and Welch’s white grape juice. The mixture was actually pretty good by itself. The Bailey’s worked and it floated, I suspect due to the high sugar content of sugar in the juice and the resultant higher specific gravity. Not a drink for the kids though. Unfortunately, the cream and half and half only formed a thin layer of coagulated  solids on the top of the juice mixture. Same result when I used 1% milk and skim milk.  I’m going to try one more after mixing some egg white with the cream to see if that works. One other idea was to pipe yogurt into the juice and see if it held together. If all else fails I’ll drop a gummy eyeball into their drinks and call it at that.

This is my first time playing with Bailey’s. There must be something in it – proteinacious? – that coagulates in the acid. I remember reading that the product was a breakthrough because of it’s ability to keep the cream from separating in the bottle. Creative food chemistry I suppose.

So that all wasn’t lost, an ounce of Bailey’s was added to my evening coffee to make a good night cap.

Cherry Syrup

  • 24 oz frozen sweet cherries (2-12 oz packages of Dole)
  • 2 lbs sugar
  • juice of a lemon
  • small amount of water

Mix the cherries and sugar together in a bowl large enough to hold them. Let sit in the refrigerator overnight.  Stir occasionally. Add the lemon juice. Transfer to a pot and simmer for 15 minutes. It will boil over easily. Add a little water as needed to dissolve all the sugar. Strain out the solids and bottle. It should keep for quite some time in the fridge. Add a little vodka if you want to be safe. This made enough to fill one wine bottle and about half of a split.

I’ve tried this as a substitute for simple syrup in daiquiris and the Cynar/Gin sour. It really is quite good. The cherry flavor is present without overpowering.

I’ve collected several recipes for large batch egg nog. To keep it relevant, I’ve favored recipes from our region (southeast US). The first comes from Charleston Receipts, the Charleston Junior League cookbook from 1950 that is a store of 19th century (and earlier recipes):

Charleston Eggnog 

  • 1 pint rye whiskey
  • 1 quart heavy cream
  • 10 egg whites
  • 10 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar

Cream sugar and egg yolks thoroughly. Add whiskey slowly, stirring constantly, the cream (unwhipped), then the stiffly beaten egg whites. 20-25 servings.  – Mrs. Gammel Waring (Annie Gammell)

From the Fine Art of Mixing Drinks, David Embury offers this recipe that includes fruit brandy:

Batimore Egg Nog 

  • 12  Eggs
  • 1   pound Sugar
  • 1   pint Cognac
  • 1/2  pint Jamaica Rum
  • 1/2  pint Peach Brandy
  • 3   pints Milk
  • 1   pint Cream 

Beat yolks to a foam, add the liquor slowly, then the sugar, stirring constantly. Then add the milk and cream and, finally, fold in the stiffly beaten whites.

The last one to consider comes from the latest issue of Mountain Express a local weekly. Hanna Rachel Raskin has an article about the use of eggs in cocktails. That forms a good jumping off point to include this gem:

Appalachian Egg Nog

Kathy Dingus, a sixth-generation mountaineer, received this recipe from her father. 

  • 18 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups bourbon, spiced rum or Captain Applejack
  • 1/2 cup brandy
  • 6 cups milk
  • 1 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream

In a large bowl, with mixer at low speed, beat egg yolks with sugar, reserving whites. With mixer at high speed, beat mixture until thick and lemon-colored (about 15 minutes), frequently scraping bowl. Carefully beat in the spirits, one tablespoon at a time to keep mixture from curdling. Cover and chill.

20 minutes before serving-

In a chilled 5-quart punch bowl, stir together yolk mixture, milk and nutmeg. In a large bowl, beat egg whites with mixer until soft peaks form. In small bowl, using same beaters, beat cream with mixer at high speed until stiff peaks form. With wire whisk, gently fold egg whites and cream into yolk mixture until just blended. Serve.


It’s getting quite around here. Time to move on to part 3-

 Too much egg nog 

I don’t have s strong past with Egg Nog. Growing up, I remember the premade stuff in a milk cartons showing up in our refrigerator around Christmas some years. In high school I had a part-time job cleaning a law firms’s office. I remember bourbon bottles and some of those egg nog cartons turning up every year for their office party. The idea of milk, liquor and eggs mixed together struck my adolescent mind as very unappealing.


In my current stage, it seems almost natural to have some around. It’s my kids – they like it. Maybe because it’s a change from milk, maybe it taste like melted ice cream. We’re on our third quart. They ask for it around the holidays. I guess that makes it a tradition, which is nice. You’ll find low fat, organic and lactose-free version out there when you shop. Getting to the grown up version is pretty easy with the cartons. Southern Comfort offered this recipe in one of their throw away drink guides from the 1960s:


New Orelans Egg Nog

  • 1 quart dairy egg nog
  • ½ pint Southern Comfort 

Pour chilled ingredients in a punch bowl. Beat mixture, dust with nutmeg. Serves 10.


This is a durable recipe – it is still offered on their website 40 years on from my source (new graphic). Deductive math yields: 4 oz egg nog to 1 oz liquor for an individual serving. Easy enough for when after the kids are in bed. Oh yeah, if you look carefully at the top picture, you’ll see Southern Comfort brand non-alcoholic egg nog.  I think the recipe is on that too. They must know their market which makes me think a lot of people are making “New Orleans Eggnog.”


The premade items are certainly convenient. You might be less than happy looking through the ingredient list though. They all include milk, sweetener and eggs. Sealtest adds several items to increase the density of their nog – whey powder, guar gum and carrageenan– plus a bit of artificial flavoring and color. Southern Comfort’s is similar. The sweetener for these is corn syrup. Lactaid keeps the base to natural products but includes a touch artificial flavoring. That’s become our house brand.


This blog goes heavily toward the traditional with the thinking that if something has been around a long time, it must be good. Do a little digging on egg nog and you’ll find that it’s been around for a long time. The best source I found on the history of the drink is here. (That site also includes a few recipes). Egg nog seems to have taken it’s present form in England in the early 1800s, evolving from early egg based drinks called Possets and Flips. It was made in large batches that always included spirits.


Charleston Receipts gives a pre-cursor recipe for Flip, offered here for the history buff:

  • 4 jiggers whiskey
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 4 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 quart rich milk
  • nutmeg to taste 

Beat yolks, sugar and seasoning together. Add milk and whiskey. Shake well with crushed ice, strain and serve in stemmed glasses with a dash of nutmeg on top.


We’re all about doing it ourselves here. My usual sources for recipes gave a tremendous number of them. Web searching brought up even more. The basic recipe includes milk, egg, sugar and spirit with some added spices. You could broadly divide recipes into those for large batches and those for single drinks. I’ll turn one more time to David Embury’s Fine Art of Mixing Drinks for help with breaking down the techniques for making the drink.


Basic techniques include:

  • Separating the eggs.
  • Mixing the yolks with sugar and spirit
  • Adding the dairy – milk, cream or both
  • Beating the whites separately, before folding into the base.

Variation comes in

  • the selection of spirts, whether that is one or several
  • the decision to add spirit or sugar first to the whipped yolks. Different textures are derived from each method
  • the amount of sugar used, generally 1 to 2 pounds per dozen eggs
  • the selection of dairy, generally 2 quarts (64 oz) per dozen egg.  More fat will increase the creamy texture
  • the decision to whip any cream that might be included
  • The decision to age the final mix or serve immediately.

There is a possibility of Salmonella contamination when using fresh eggs. Salmonella is killed by ethanol, but to play it safe, pasturizng the eggs before hand is worth considering. With a themometer handy, bring you eggs in a pot of water to 140-150 degrees and hold for 3 to 5 minutes.


Now, with all that background and a Lactaid Egg Nog spiked with homemade Spiced Rum in hand, we’ll dive into recipes on the next post.


Lazy Man’s Eggnog

Amateur Cocktail Guy got caught a little exposed last night. Several times a month work intrudes into the cocktail hour. We tea-total those nights and always make sure I can get away if called. A combination of last minute events put me in a bind and I had to call the Amateur Cocktail Friends for some help. Always gracious, they came through without flinching. I owe them a big one, so I went to work in the ACG test kitchen.

Not everything that passes these lips makes it to these pages. Last weeks I stirred up a recipe from the latest issue of Imbibe. They offered a collection of cocktail recipes for holiday parties. One caught my eye – a mix of Bourbon and Cherry Herring. I’ve been a little taken with Cherry Heering after I spent some time in Atlanta this summer tracking down a bottle. I’ve enjoyed it in Blood and Sands, and wanted to try some other drinks that included it. I mixed one up last week and enjoyed it – slowly, over an hour or so.

It’s a liquor drink with no added juice or syrups. Stir it with ice to dilute and chill it a bit, then sip. It’s not bad. Tim Stookey of The Presidio Social Club in San Fransisco developed the drink. He calls it “And to All a Good Night…” In the article he indicates that he wanted “spiciness” in the drink. He nailed it. I think it works great as an aperitif.

As I was trying to figure out how to thank the friends, it struck me that this drink could be mixed up ahead in bigger batches and poured as needed. A little math indicated that a quadruple recipe would fill a 375 ml bottle. My ABC stop today was to pick up a bottle of Maker’s Mark. It cleaned up nicely. Next, I mixed 6 oz Bourbon with 3 oz each Cherry Heering and Tequila. Bitters were added, then back into the bottle. I got a little crafty with Photoshop and turned out new labels.

I’ll deliver in the morning, fingers crossed that they’ll enjoy it-

Last night’s Cranberry Vodka drinks were so good, we decided to pass out some as gifts this Christmas. A quick shopping list was assembled and then trips to Greenlife Grocery for more organic cranberries and oranges and the ABC store for vodka. I’ve been using Smirnoff 80 proof for most of my infusions. It’s not the cheapest stuff, but also not the most expensive. I had always bought this in 75 cl bottles ($14 in NC). It never dawned on me to price it in the bigger bottles. Surprise, surprise – about $8.15 for 75 cl if you buy the 1.75 liter bottle. Two of those came home with me. As I mentioned in the last post, the similarity of Sloe Gin to Cranberry infused vodka struck me. A Cranberry infused gin seemed worth trying. For this I splurged a bit. Plymouth is on sale for $20 a bottle so I brought one home. I’m sure Gordon’s or Booker’s would have done well ($8 and $13 respectively), but for test purposes a comparison of Plymouth Sloe to Plymouth Cranberry seemed better. Cranberry Gin

The berries were rinsed and picked over several times to remove bruised or spoiled fruit. As I mentioned in the first Cranberry post, un-popped berries seemed to add nothing to the vodka, so this go round all the berries were popped. I did this in 12 oz  lots, simmering over medium heat for 4 to 5 minutes. Each batch was allowed to a cool a few minutes before going into the infusion jar. Next, I added the zest from three oranges to each 12 oz cranberry batch. My Microplane grater was indispensable for this step.

The first picture is a single batch (gin) just after the spirit was added.

Our plan was for three bottles worth of vodka. Fortunately, I have a very large jar salvaged during a previous recycling run that will hold a gallon. It was pressed into service again (it was the home for the spiced rum infusion). Perfect size for three bottles worth of vodka and fruit.

You can see that the gin has already taken on some of the red color. The bottles in the back are from the first batch. I’m trying to filter out some of the sediment. With the current batch, I’m going to try for a three week infusion before straining.

Cranberry / Orange Infused Vodka

  • 75 cl 80 proof vodka
  • 12 oz fresh cranberries
  • zest of 3 oranges

Wash and pick over cranberries discarding any damaged fruit. Simmer cranberries with a little water over medium heat until most of the berries have popped, about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and pop any remaining whole berries. Let cool, then add to infusion vessel. Add orange zest and then vodka. Let stand 2 to 4 weeks, stirring daily. Pop any berries that float up. Strain and bottle when flavor reaches your preference, around 2 to 4 weeks.

That is the final recipe.

The gin is a one-off test. Another thought would be to use silver rum. Then you could give Daiquiris and any other rum drinks a festive, bright red cranberry tinge.

Great break the last few days. We had some family in town for Thanksgiving. Nice full court meal at lunch and some postprandial laying about the rest of the day. With the kids off playing and some good tunes on the stereo, the evening seemed like a good time to shake up a few drinks. The Cranberry Vodka was pressed into service for what turned out to be two good drinks. The vodka has a brilliant red color that is striking on it’s own. There is a strong cranberry flavor and nice faint bouquet of orange from the zest. First up, the Crantini (couldn’t resist) a vodka sour made with our cranberry infused vodka. The proportions follow David Embury’s magic ratio. A dash of maraschino in the second round added a note of complexity. Both keepers.


ACG Crantini

(ie Cranberry Sour)

  • 2 oz Cranberry-orange infused vodka
  • 1/2 oz lemon juice
  • 1/4 oz 3:1 simple syrup
  • dash or two  of Maraschino (optional)

Shake and strain. If you left out the maraschino and added a dash of orange bitters or Cointreau you’d have something approaching a Cosmo.

The similarity of this vodka to Sloe Gin was not lost on me.

Cranberry Chaplin

  • 30 cc Cranberry Vodka
  • 30 cc Apricot Brandy
  • 20 cc Lime Juice

Shake and strain

I made a Charlie Chaplin for my house guest along with the Cranberry version. The Cranberry was drier and more refreshing.

All of these fruit flavored items were too much for the Amateur Cocktail Sibling who wanted gin with “just a little something in it.” He professes an allergy to Vermouth (pine nuts??) so out came the Grand Marnier for a French Kiss. This from the Cocktail Database. Three parts gin, one part Grand Marnier, stirred. Not bad, but I had another Cranberry Chaplin.

Next up: a Cranssis – a Vodka Cassis with our homebrew.

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