Spanish Eggnog

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As I have mentioned my best friend Jenny lives in Madrid. I am the luckiest girl in the world to have her as a best friend. Sometimes I am awake with a random question at 4 am and she is always there with a thoughtful answer. And then again at 6:30 pm I will have another question and she responds within seconds. I am always amazed how she works such long hours. If I was with her I would need a glass of Spanish Eggnog; a little caffeine, protein and rum just to keep up.

  • 8 egg yolks lightly beaten
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 15 roasted coffee beans
  • 1 vanilla bean pod
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • ½ cup Ron Zacapa Centenario rum
  • ½ cup St George Spirits Firelit Coffee liqueur
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ ground cardamom

Lightly beat all egg yolks. Combine egg yolks, milk, sugar, cinnamon stick and coffee beans. Cook about ten minutes stirring continuously until the liquid is able to coat a metal spoon. Place saucepan in a bowl of ice water for two minutes. Discard cinnamon stick. Remove vanilla bean and carefully take out vanilla bean seeds. Put seeds back into the milk mixture. Pour into a pitcher. Add Zacapa, Firelit Coffee liqueur, nutmeg and cardamom. Stir. Chill for twenty-four hours in the refrigerator.

Delightfully Sensual

  • 1.5 oz Pierre Ferrand Ambre Cognac
  • .5 oz Fonseca Port Bin 27
  • ½ oz clover honey syrup
  • ½ oz aged balsamic vinegar
  • 1 oz cantaloupe juice

I know what you are thinking, “ Really?! Balsamic vinegar in a cocktail?” Let me go over the tasting notes:

  • Pierre Ferrand Ambre Cognac – Think apricots and figs lightly drizzled with sweet honey and a touch of orange citrus.
  • Fonseca Port Bin 27 – With the first sip ripe plum, and array of dark berries with a peppery finish explode in your mouth.
  • Balsamic vinegar amplifies the plum and fig notes while sweet, juicy cantaloupe and clover honey take away any lingering bite.

I was on a friend’s porch in Napa having this cocktail and looking over the valley. It was delightful.

George Bailey

While walking the dog this weekend, I was surprised to see the amount of people who were busy putting up Christmas trees. It takes me a while after Thanksgiving to get into the Christmas mood. So when I got home, I snuggled down to my favorite holiday movie ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ and this cocktail.

Barolo Chianto is one of my most loved digestifs because it is laced with cinnamon, iris flowers and vanilla. Leopold’s gin has a wonderful array of botanicals that suggest cardamom and coriander. Cherry Heering’s dark cherry notes balances out each spice and endures every sip.

  • 1.5 oz Leopold’s American Small Batch Gin
  • 1 oz Barolo Chinato
  • .5 oz Cherry Heering
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters

Combine all ingredients in a beaker with ice. Stir well. Fine strain into a chilled martini glass.

Noel

Some of my girl friends are on the gluten-free, dairy free diet and have sworn off eggnog for the season so this cocktail is for them. One of my closest friends was thrilled when she found that out and with a big sip proclaimed,“a little Noel cocktail.” So I am naming it Noel.

  • 6 oz Almond Eggnog
  • 1.5 oz Woodford Reserve

Add one and a half ounces Woodford Reserve to a Bodum glass. Fill the rest of the glass up with Almond Eggnog. Stir well. Garnish with cinnamon.

Almond Egg Nog

  • 6 extra-large egg yolks
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1½ cups almond milk
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 20 ounces coconut milk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

In a small bowl beat egg yolks and sugar until thickened. Set aside. Heat almond milk with the cinnamon stick in a small saucepan stirring frequently for about ten minutes or until the liquid has reduced by a third.

Pour almond milk into egg mixture very slowing while whisking egg mixture so the eggs don’t scramble.

Return mixture to the saucepan, stirring just until the mixture begins to boil a little bit and thicken.

Mix in vanilla, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Pour into an airtight container and refrigerate for an hour before serving.

You’re My Sweet Potato Pie

I always make sweet potatoes, topped with candied pecans and mini marshmellows for Thanksgiving. This lushy version is just as tasty.

  • 2 oz Bulleit Rye
  • 3/4 oz Benedictine
  • Two heaping tablespoons sweet potato puree
  • 2 Dashes Pecan Biters or The Bitter Truth Jerry Thomas Bitters
  • Maple infused whipped cream, a flamed marshmallow, sprinkling of cinnamon

Add all ingredients into a warm glass. Add 2-3 oucnces boiling water, stir well, top with cream, cinnamon and flamed marshmallow.

Sweet Potato Syrup

  • For every sweet potato
  • ¼ cinnamon
  • ¼ nutmeg
  • 1.5 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sorghum syrup

The Feast

I have spent all weekend testing turkey recipes for Thanksgiving. There are plenty of leftovers so if you come over, please come on an empty stomach. Since turkey with cranberry sauce is one of my favorite parts of the whole dinner, I made this little cocktail to go with it. Cheers!

  • 2.5 oz. Wild Turkey Bourbon
  • 1 oz. Cranberry Syrup
  • 2-3 dashes Angostura

Add all ingredients in a beaker with ice. Stir well. Fine strain into a rocks glass over an ice block. Garnish with cranberries and an orange peel.

Cranberry Syrup

  •    1 cup cranberry preserves
  •    1 cup fresh squeezed blood orange juice
  •    Leaves from three springs of mint
  • 1/4 tsp. fresh minced peeled ginger

Combine all ingredients over medium heat. Let simmer ten minutes. Fine strain into an airtight container.

Double Standard

  • 2 oz Tanqueray No. 10
  • 1 oz Averna Amaro
  • 1 oz Spiced Beet Maple Syrup
  • Ginger Beer
  • Lemon

Combine all ingredients in a beaker. Stir. Fine strain into a Collins glass filled with ice. Top with soda. Stir again. Garnish with a lemon wedge.

Spiced Beet Maple Syrup

  • Two medium sized beets – peeled and cut into slices, then fourths
  • 1 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • Pinch cayenne pepper

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan with a cup of water. Let simmer for four hours, adding more water when necessary. Pour into a blender and liquify. Fine strain into an airtight container.

The maple and brown sugar doesn’t leave a sweet sugary taste at all. The syrup relieves some of the earthy notes in beets and adds a bit of complexity.

Red Orchid

I run five miles a day so I drink a lot of water. Last week I started freezing almond water in ice cube trays and using the ice to flavor my water. Today I used it in a cocktail.

  • 1 oz Ron Zacapa Centenario 23
  • 1 oz Cointreau
  • 1 oz Sorel Hibiscus Liqueur
  • ½ Grapefruit juice
  • 2-3 dashes The Bitter Truth Jerry Thomas Bitters
  • Almond Ice

Combine all ingredients in a beaker with ice. Stir. Fine strain over a block of almond ice. Enjoy.

Hermés

I recently had dinner at The French Laundry, Thomas Keller’s famous restaurant in Napa.  It was such a treat. When dessert time rolled around I declined. I am not usually a dessert person; I am more of a savory girl. My friend obliged and ordered a orange-pistachio cake.  By the time it was served, my friend had stepped outside to take a phone call. The cake looked delicious, so reached my arm across the table and took a small bite. What an incredible combination, orange, apricot, and pistachio. It was good, but I knew what would make it even better. I ordered a shot of tequila reposado and slowly poured it over the top of the cake, allowing it to soak in. Now it was perfect.  By the time my friend returned I had a very sheepish smile and the little cake was almost gone.

  •             1.5 oz Fortaleza Reposado
  •               ¾ oz Apricot brandy
  •              1/4 oz Cointreau Liqueur
  •              1/4 oz Pistachio Orgeat
  •             2 dashes Regans orange bitters

Combine all ingredients in a shaker. Shake well. Fine strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with a candied orange peel.

Apricot Brandy

  • One cup sugar
  • Two tablespoons orange bloom honey
  • Three cups brandy
  • Two pounds dried apricots

Combine honey and sugar with 1 ½ cups water in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Combine honey and apricots with brandy in an airtight container. Store in a cool place for three to eight weeks.

I choose orange blossom honey for this brandy because it compliments the apricot so well. You get more of a bright, orange jam note compared then some of the other over sweetened syrupy apricot brandy’s that you can buy.