Leveling up a Christmas ale? Is that possible? Yes, yes it is. You can pick up the Bourbon Barrel Aged version, or, whip up a Twisted Christmas Ale, or, do both. This is a fun beer-cocktail I've enjoyed every season since discovering it - and it's so simple!
A word to the wise - this makes an already decently potent beer even more potent, so please drink and serve responsibly. Life Ride and 1073 asking that you don’t drive - not saying don’t drink - just don’t drink and drive. Call a cab, Uber, Lyft or public transportation and get home safely. Life Ride is supported by Budweiser, House of LaRose, Kisling Nestico and Reddick, NECA , IBEW Local 106 and Parta. So please - have a ton of fun, but please, be safe.
Twisted Christmas Ale
Cinnamon mixed with Demerara Sugar (for the rim)
Pour a little Kahlúa on a plate and the Cinnamon sugar on another to rim the glass. Pour in 1-2 oz of Kahlúa, then slowly pour in the ale, (if you pour the beer at an angle hitting only the glass you’ll have little to no foam). Give it a light stir, and enjoy!
Homemade is better - well, in most things that is. I'm talking about homemade cordials and liqueurs. One of the things I love about making my own is that I can control the alcohol, sugar levels as well as flavoring. Plus it's crazy easy! For example - many liqueurs call for vanilla, and I'm in love with Ronald Reginald's Melipone Mexican Vanilla, which I swear by and use for anything that calls for vanilla. Bonus: it pairs beautifully with coffee for those in love with Kahlua.
In most cases, making your own flavored liqueurs is a lot less expensive, unless your focus is on high alcohol percentages, which you totally can do. I'm guessing it depends on what you plan to use it for - sipping straight? Get the higher quality. The brand names you get in the store usually have lower percentages, not to mention they are often mixed into cocktails with alcohol that do have a higher percentage. That said, you do you boo. I'm not here to judge.
Every year, I stock my crisper drawer with GLBC's Christmas Ale, (yes, I'm one of those people - if that's your pet peeve, I do save the other crisper drawer for actual vegetables), and for years would also stock my liquor cabinet with Kahlua to make a taste beer cocktail which I call the Twisted Christmas Ale.... Then one year when the budget was tight, I did what I always do when that happens; I make it myself. Then, I learned really fast that mine had way more flavor and generally tasted better than what I was buying. Below, I've gathered a few favorites to make - they do make great little gifts - just be sure to keep some for yourself!
2-3 c Freshly Brewed Strong, Hot Coffee
2-3 c Rum
2-4 c Sugar
1-2 T Vanilla Extract, or a Vanilla Bean, cut lengthwise.
Mix sugar and coffee together; if using vanilla bean, add while the coffee is still hot - it will release more flavor. Let the mix cool and add rum and vanilla extract (if using instead of vanilla bean). Vanilla extract can lose flavor with heat. Taste-test and adjust any ingredients if needed. Store in a cool place for 3 or 4 weeks, (if you can wait that long). If using a vanilla bean, leave it in the mixture for how ever many weeks you can wait to enjoy.
2 c Water
2 c Sugar
1/2 c Brown Sugar
2 c Vodka
2 T Almond Extract
1 T Vanilla Extract
In a pan, combine water and sugars, dissolve sugars and bring to a boil, then remove from heat and allow to cool. Once cooled, add vodka and extracts. Store in a cool dark place.
Raspberry (or Blackberry) Liqueur
3 c Vodka
2 c Fresh (or Frozen) Raspberries or Blackberries
2 c Sugar
1 Vanilla Bean (cut lengthwise and divided) or, 1 T Vanilla Extract.
Add vanilla bean, (or extract divided equally), berries and sugar (divided equally) between 2 quart jars, then fill jars with vodka. Shake to combine and to help dissolve sugar. Place in the fridge, and shake a couple of times a day for at least a week.
There's nothing quite like the flavor of bourbon, nor is anything like a perfectly cooked steak, so it's no wonder some culinary genius put them together. I have been cooking steak since I was a teen - fun fact - my very first job was at the back of a country store that was also a butcher shop, and even now, I'll step back into my apron to help out at Barb & Patty's here and there.
How does a bourbon peppercorn sauce sound? This simple pan sauce is just so easy and comes together quickly, and of course pairs beautifully with a bourbon cocktail or a bourbon barrel aged red wine or even stout.
Bourbon Peppercorn Steak Sauce
2 Peeled and Smashed Garlic Cloves
1/2 c Bourbon
1 c Cream
Freshly Ground (or cracked) Pepper (to taste)
While your steaks rest, in the same pan used for searing steaks, re-heat the pan if it has cooled, add a little butter if needed (you most likely won't need to as the fat from the steaks should be plenty). Toss in garlic cloves, (for stronger garlic flavor, feel free to mince one of the garlic cloves to keep in the sauce as opposed to removing them at the end), and cook until toasted and flavors released, then carefully pour in bourbon to deglaze the pan - do not pour from the bottle, especially if you have gas stove as it could start a fire - pour the bourbon from a measuring cup. It will splatter, so if you have a splatter guard, you'll want to use it. Continue to deglaze the pan, stirring the bits left from the steak into the bourbon. When the bourbon cooks down by 1/3 to half, slowly pour in cream and stir to combine, add pepper (cracked or ground). The amount is up to you - I like to use quite a bit of coarsely ground pepper, but that might be too much for some and not enough for others, so personalize it to your taste. Remove and discard smashed garlic. Simmer until the sauce is the desired thickness. Drizzle over steaks and get ready for a festival of flavors!
* If you are grilling steaks - you can still whip the sauce up easily, add a pat of butter (and a drizzle of olive oil to keep the butter from burning) to sear the garlic. Add an 1/8 of a up of beef or vegetable stock along with the bourbon to add the depth of flavor.
This weekend most of us will celebrate Halloween!! The height of the most wonderful time of the year is finally here!! Whether you're having over a couple of friends or a crowd this weekend, here's a few tips and tricks to get your cocktails looking dark and scary. And I'm not even asking for any candy!
Make it GROSS! (EW!)
The easiest way to make Halloween cocktails scary is to make the drink itself appear gross. There are so many options! Bloody Brain Shooters, Zombie Brain Shots and of course the Brain Hemorrhage Shooter. Add extra red to any drink for a bloody effect by using corn syrup tinted with red food coloring, (or strawberry syrup, but it will be thinner than the corn syrup), on the inside of the glass, or as a rim for the glass - you've got to let some of it run down the sides for a true blood effect. You can also use grenadine and red sugar to rim a glass, and if your recipe calls for grenadine, put it into a syringe with the drink as the cocktail stirrer. To make eyeball garnishes, use canned lychees and add a half blueberry to the center with a dab of red gel food coloring. For extra ews, hold it all together with a skewer. An eyeball garnish for a bloody mary, use a radish, add a stuffed, (or a plain), green olive to the center. Make ice cubes with candy spiders and bugs in the center and use gummy worms too. Also, you can decorate a highball or beer glass with gauze for a mummy koozie.
To blacken cocktails, you can use activated charcoal, however, it settles at the bottom of the glass and might even interfere with some medications according to The Spruce Eats. They suggest a basic food coloring formula or even using black rice to create black vodka.
Sparkle & Shine!!
Make it GLOW!
For glow in the dark cocktails, the key ingredient doesn't go in your drink - it's making sure you have black lights. You can enhance the effects and guarantee that glow by using any energy drink containing vitamin B, Mountain Dew, tonic water, or tonic water ice cubes or any of the list of ingredients that ThoughCo suggests. They also mention the type of glass/cup you use, and though they suggest using a glow stick as a cocktail server, I wouldn't - it would be really bad if it leaked.
The trick to bubbling, foggy potion cocktails is of course dry ice. Just be careful handling it, (like, don't handle it ever - always use a utensil with it). For individual drinks - you don't need much at all. Check out the video below for safety tips. Here are a few places that sell dry ice.
Our cocktail honors Friday the 13th and Halloween, we’re not going to have another one of these in October until 2028… so, I went dark - literally - with the Blackberry Death cocktail
Sugarcane actually dates back to ancient times, with the earliest discovery of sugarcane through Alexander the Great as he made his way through Asia and Africa. Fast forward to the discovery of Barbados, and its perfect climate for sugarcane, they started fermenting sugarcane's by-product molasses - but it didn’t exactly taste great… In the mid 1600’s they called it “kill devil.” It was also an answer to the colonists of New England’s desire for alcohol - they had tried to make alcohol from pretty much everything around them with little success and rum came to the rescue. The taste improved greatly by the early 1700's and we’ve been enjoying it's gloriousness since. Rum was actually the drink of choice of the founding fathers' and our new country's drink of choice.
As for Chambord, it technically launched in the 1980’s - that said, it’s based on a French recipe from the 1600’s from the Chateau Chambord - and was reportedly enjoyed by royalty, specifically, King Louis the XIV, but let’s not focus on what ended up happening to him…
2 oz Dark Rum
1 1/2 oz Chambord
1 1/2 oz Blackberry Juice (or Pomegranate)
2 Dashes of Bitters
Add Rum, Chambord, Juice and bitters to a shaker with ice; shake until well chilled and strain into a glass over ice. Top with Club Soda and enjoy - preferably away from mirrors or under ladders…