All posts by dennisfhahn

Mandarin Sky

The Mandarin Sky is a great winter cocktail since blood oranges are in season. And yes, you must use FRESH blood oranges—not the bottled juice. Please read the Viva la Cocktail Welcome page so you understand my thoughts on this. It’s a little more work, but you’ll enjoy your drinks more.

This cocktail is a little tart based on the recipe below, but I think the balance is just right. You can always add a little more simple syrup if you like your drinks a little sweeter.

Mandarin Sky
2 oz Absolut Mandarin vodka
1/2 oz Cointreau
1/2 oz fresh lime juice
1 oz fresh blood orange juice
1/2 oz simple syrup

Fill a shaker with ice. Add the vodka, Cointreau, juices and simple syrup. Cap the shaker and shake vigorously for 15-20 seconds. Strain into a 10 oz chilled martini glass and garnish with a quarter slice of blood orange.

Tip: If you are making this drink for a group, it is a good idea to juice your oranges ahead of time and store it in the fridge. I use a Cuisinart electric juicer which saves a lot of hand work.

mandarin sky vodka cocktail

How to muddle

Muddling is an important technique in cocktail making. The idea is to use a muddling stick to extract juice or essential oils from fruit and herbs.

When muddling, lightly push on the ingredients (such as fruit and herbs) in the bottom of a mixing glass with a flat-bottomed muddling stick until the juice is extracted. You don’t want to kill it or you’ll get a lot of bitter taste. Once your ingredients are combined, you typically add ice and the remaining liquid ingredients prior to shaking your cocktail.

A muddling stick or muddler is often shaped like a baseball bat and is commonly made of wood. You will also find muddlers made of metal or plastic with teeth on the bottom. Use the kind with teeth carefully as people tend to over-muddle with these and end up with a bitter drink.

Smoky Sunset

This cocktail was created to address two common questions:

  1. What other kind of cocktail can you create with tequila besides a margarita?
  2. What can you make with añejo tequila?

If you don’t know, añejo is the darker tequila that is aged in an oak barrel. The amber color and flavor is picked up from the oak, and the oxidation that takes place contributes to the unique bouquet and taste.

Adding grilled pineapple and fresh sage plays nicely off of the smoky quality of the añejo tequila.

Smoky Sunset
2 + 1/2 oz Don Julio Añejo Tequila
1/2 oz agave nectar
2 chunks fresh, grilled pineapple
4 fresh sage leaves

Gently muddle 2, one-inch chunks of fresh grilled pineapple with 3 fresh sage leaves in the bottom of a shaker. Add the tequila, agave nectar and ice. Cap the shaker and shake vigorously for 15-20 seconds. Double strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a wedge of grilled pineapple and a fresh sage leaf.

Tip – You can grill the pineapple garnishes up to a day ahead of time and store them in the fridge until you are ready to use them. You can also substitute any 100% agave añejo tequila.

smoky sunset anjeo tequila cocktail

Homemade Egg Nog

Most people love the idea of enjoying a stiff egg nog cocktail over the holidays, but most egg nog is terrible. That’s because the stuff in stores is thick and full of preservatives.

I have come across an amazing homemade egg nog recipe that’s wonderfully silky smooth – and more importantly very easy to make. I have been enjoying this recipe from one of my favorite mixologists, Jeffrey Morgenthaler, every holiday over the years.

Homemade Egg Nog
2 large eggs
3 oz (by volume) granulated sugar
1/2 tsp freshly-grated nutmeg*
2 oz brandy
2 oz spiced rum
6 oz whole milk
4 oz heavy cream

Beat eggs in blender for one minute on medium speed. Slowly add sugar and blend for one additional minute. With blender still running, add nutmeg, brandy, rum, milk and cream until combined. Chill thoroughly to allow flavors to combine and serve in chilled wine glasses or champagne coupes, grating additional nutmeg on top immediately before serving.

*I prefer to substitute the nutmeg with 1/2 oz of Allspice Dram, also known as Pimento Dram. It is an allspice flavored liqueur originally made in Jamaica and gives the drink that extra holiday kick.

homemade egg nog cocktail

The Kitchenette

This cocktail is long overdue. I created this drink in honor of my friend Chris, who has been a big supporter of my efforts with Viva la Cocktail. She lives just north of San Francisco, so I wanted to create something that would be fitting of her California lifestyle. I turned to organic vodka and fresh herbs and started to work around that. I also wanted to create a cocktail that was fitting of her personality—something sophisticated but not too formal. With some trial and error, The Kitchenette was born.

The name comes from her passion for good food and drink, which was embodied in her website called Kitchenette. It was an online magazine dedicated to “celebrating experiences of the palate.”

While this cocktail does not include everything but the kitchen sink, I did want to add some subtle complexity to the drink. I turned to Bols Genever, which is a unique gin from the pre-prohibition era that has been brought back by Bols.

The Kitchenette
2 oz Square One organic vodka
1/2 oz Bols Genever
1/2 oz simple syrup
1/2 fresh lime
4 fresh basil leaves

Cut 1/2 lime into 3 wedges. Muddle limes with 3 basil leaves in shaker. Fill shaker with ice. Add the vodka, Genever and simple syrup. Cap the shaker and shake vigorously for 15-20 seconds. Double strain into a 6 oz chilled martini glass. Garnish with a fresh basil leaf.

the kitchenette organic vodka cocktail