Tag Archives: MxMo

Mixology Monday: Spice — Cranberry Spice Sidecar

Cranberry Spice Sidecar

This month, Mixology Monday is hosted by Craig of Tiki Drink & Indigo Firmaments. The theme this time around is Spice.

I use spices and herbs often in cocktails, so this theme gave me a chance to explore variations in my favorite recipes. My first thought was a cranberry variation on the Blackberry Gin Daisy from this summer — a winter version of a late summer drink.

I love a gin hot toddy with lemon and a stick of cinnamon, and that was my other inspiration. Cinnamon works with cranberries; cinnamon works with gin; lemon works with all of them. Let’s bring them together for a party.

For cranberry syrup, I put 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water, and 2 cups fresh cranberries in a pot, along with about a half stick of cinnamon and 6 or so whole cloves. (Next time I might add even more spices, and maybe some dried orange peel too.) Simmered 4 minutes, let cool until just about room temp. (Here they are simmering and cooling.) Strained with finest available strainer.

First drink: a cranberry variation on the gin daisy. It turned out to be much too tart. Cranberries are not, in fact, berries. Eat one and you’ll discover how not berry they are. So the syrup was sweet but not so sweet as grenadine, nor as sweet as the blackberry syrup I made this summer. Additional sweetness was in order.

Obvious choice: Cointreau. it’s delicious in everything, and its orange flavor works beautifully with both cranberries and warm spices.

Cranberry Spice Daisy

2 oz gin (Plymouth)
1 oz cranberry spice syrup
.5 oz lemon juice
.25 oz Cointreau

Shake with ice. Strain into cocktail glass, top with spritzer. Garnish with three fresh cranberries.

This was good, but the balance of sweet and tart seemed delicate. Hard to manage, too tricky for my taste.

Knowing how nicely brandy plays with Cointreau and orange, I tried a different tack.

Cranberry Sidecar

2 oz cognac or brandy (Courvoisier in this case)
1 oz cranberry spice syrup
.5 oz lemon juice
.25 oz Cointreau

Shake with ice. Strain into cocktail glass. Garnish with three fresh cranberries.

This was a much better drink.The cognac blended easily with the various flavors, and everything ended up warm and welcoming (yet nicely chilled by the ice). The spices are subtle, but there’s enough of them to change what might otherwise be a fruity beverage into something more special.

I still think a little spritz of seltzer isn’t out of place, to lighten the drink.

Important note: If you’re the type who likes to munch on your garnish, take care with these drinks. Even after they’ve soaked in booze for a while, fresh cranberries are tart little things.

Thanks to Craig for hosting MxMo this month and choosing such a terrific theme. Please check out his site for a full wrap up of creative drink ideas.


(Photo credit: Cranberry Spice Sidecar, originally uploaded by cynthiacloskey.)

MxMo XXXII: Guilty Pleasures — Lynchburg Lemonade

It’s Mixology Monday again, hosted this time by my Gold Coast buddy Stevi Deter. Our theme this month is “Guilty Pleasures.”

It’s tempting in these neo-Puritanical times to list all alcoholic beverages under such a category, but Stevi has something particular in mind:

…in the world of cocktail bloggery, we are often pronouncing certain drinks, categories of drinks, and even an entire base spirit to be the sign of a poorly educated drinker’s palate. There seems to be no room for comfort cocktails.

October’s Mixology Monday will be a tribute to our guilty pleasures. Write about that one cocktail that, no matter how many times you’re told it’s no good for you, is the one near and dear to your heart. Feel free to celebrate your drink in all its pre-mix glory. Or try to dress it up, show us that when made right, it’s a worthy drink, we’ve just misjudged it.

For me, this was an easy one. I started out my drinking life in the days of wine coolers and other predecessors to the alco-pop trends. I’ve since abandoned Bartles & James and the like, but I still find myself turning to one such option again and again: the Jack Daniels line of coolers.

The reason is simple: They’re both tasty and easy. You can bring a four-pack to a picnic with the beer-and-wine crowd without having to lug around a cocktail mixing kit.

More importantly, outdoor music venues like the dreaded Starlake Amphitheatre typically have Jack Daniels booths. In these booths, they’ll often up the fun quotient by spiking one’s cooler with an extra shot of JD. That’s a service I appreciate, especially when I’m surrounded by crowds of stifling humanity.

My preferred JD cooler is the Lynchburg Lemonade, which is basically an extra-sweet Jack Daniels sour with a bit of fizz. 

If it weren’t for MxMo, I’d not bother to mix up Lynchburg Lemonade at home — after all, the convenience is most of the value. But in the spirit of community and as an experiment, I thought it might be interesting to see whether there was an alternative worthy of making from scratch.

Most recipes you find for Lynchburg Lemonade employ both sour mix and lemon-lime soda, but that combo is silly. If you have sour mix and seltzer, and maybe an extra bit of sugar or simple syrup, why in the world would you need Sprite or 7Up? Get that high-fructose corn syrup out of here.

I added a bit of fresh lime and a little extra lemon to replace the Sprite, and doubled the sugar. Real lemon-lime soda would be even sweeter, so if you’re looking for authentic flavor go for 3 total teaspoons or more of sugar. Me, I like it a little tart.

The recipes also include Triple Sec. I substituted in Cointreau, because I like it more. And in tribute to that extra punch of Jack Daniels available at the outdoor music venue booths, I added a bonus splash of booze at the end.

Improved Lynchburg Lemonade

1 oz Jack Daniels whiskey
1 oz Cointreau
1 oz fresh lemon juice
0.5 oz fresh lime juice
2 ts sugar (or more to taste)
additional 0.5 oz Jack Daniels

Fill pint glass with ice. Shake first 5 ingredients with ice in cocktail shaker. Pour into prepared glass; top with seltzer. Top with 0.5 oz JD and lemon wedge and serve.

Mix up a glass of this, put on a bootlegged recording of your favorite jam band, and suddenly it’s summer right in your living room. Get your muddy feet off my blanket.

Thanks again to Stevi Deter for hosting — check out her site, “Two at the Most.” Also visit the official Mixology Monday site in the next day or so for a peek into the comfort cocktails of booze bloggers everywhere.

Mixology Monday: Midori Melon Margarita

Midori Margarita

Midori Margarita, originally uploaded by cynthiacloskey.

It’s Mixology Monday, and this month’s host is Anna at Morsels and Musings. Our theme is fruit liqueurs, interpreted for this as "a sweet alcoholic beverage infused with fruits or fruit flavours."

My immediate first thought for this theme was the bottle of Midori that has been languishing in my liquor cabinet. I do not like this stuff. It’s like candy, and not in a good way. Would it be possible to make a melon-flavored drink that tasted good?

The answer is a qualified ‘yes.’

Midori Melon Margarita

1 part Midori
2 parts tequila
1 part Triple Sec
1 part fresh lime juice

Shake with ice, strain, serve up or over ice; or blend and serve.

This recipe is slightly modified from the one in the little booklet that came with the Midori. I reduced the lime juice a little so the Midori could stand out a bit more — otherwise it was overwhelmed by the tequila and other flavors. In my version, there’s just a bit more melon flavor, a bit of late summer sweetness any time of the year.

It might not be the first thing I’d order, but I wouldn’t turn it down either.

Find more fruity, boozy treats from other Mixology Monday friends at Morsels and Musings’s summary, to be posted tomorrow or Wednesday. Cheers!

MxMo: Limit One, Irish Sazerac

An Irish Sazerac

This has been my most difficult Mixology Monday yet.

The theme is "Limit: One," set by this month’s host, Kaiser Penguin.


  • Consume and write about your favorite, strongest drink. You know, the one that that is delightful, complex, and will leave you wanting to stay home from work the next day. It should contain at least 3oz of 80-proof spirit or have less than 1/2oz of non-spiritness.
  • When you finish your post, please email me or post a comment with your link. I will include it in a round-up on Tuesday if I’ve recovered from trying as many of your drinks as I can.
  • Include a link in your post to Kaiser Penguin so those who haven’t heard of Mx Monday can join in.


  • Include a photo of your deadly potion; I plan to blatantly rip off Gabriel’s format from when he hosted, as it was just wonderful. So make sure to include a picture, unless you want a screen-shot of your blog text.
  • Include the Mixology Monday logo along with your post!

We love MxMo for its variations — or at least I do — but how to make the most of a focus on overindulgence?

{Editorial note: Due to the nature of this post, I will not be able to keep to my usual spelling and grammar standards. I will be eternally grateful if youl will overlook such errors here.}

My preferred strong drink, if the setting and bartending and my situation allows, is a Sazerac. (Have I spelled the name of this drink wrong for years? Yes. I’m OK with that. Thank you for your flexibility.) This is a classic drink, but one I  came to enjoy only while outside of Pennsylvania. It’s native to Louisiana but known many places, and the joy of it is its simplicity:


1 1/2 oz. Bourbon (in this case, Old Overholt Rye)
1/2 tsp. Pernod
3 dashes Peychaud Bitters
twist Lemon
2 tsp. Sugar Syrup

Coat rocks glass with Pernod. In shaker (no ice) mix Bourbon, sugar syrup and Bitters. Shake and pour into glass. Add lemon twist.

For this occasion, because I’d already written about the Sazerac, I thought I’d experiment with using an Irish whiskey in place of the rye. The Irish Whiskey I have is Power’s, and it’s mellow and sweet with just a trace of smoke. It’s not an easy fit to a Sazerac. I confess I went through many variations before I realized the simple answer was to reduce the amount of sugar in the basic recipe.

Here’s how to do it (and fit the Limit: One critiera):

Irish Sazerac

3 oz Powers whiskey
1/2 tsp. Pernod or absinthe
4 dashes Peychaud Bitters
1/2 tsp. Sugar Syrup

Coat rocks glass with Pernod or absinthe. In shaker (no ice) mix whiskey, sugar syrup and Bitters. Shake and pour into glass.

Note that the alcohol is doubled but the other ingredients are not. This is on purpose. Power’s is sweet from the start, and when I tried the drink as a straight substitution it was ridiculous. Halving the sugar helped. I tried adding Angostura bitters (bad idea), adding other bitter elements (no good), and finally realized that just reducing the sweetness solved the trouble.

Please check in with the Kaiser Penguin for the latest updates in the MxMo entries this month. Cheers!