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Summertime Aperol Flip

Summertime Aperol Flip

I’ve never been much of an expert in “mixology”, but when I saw this cocktail recipe posted by Cook’s Illustrated’s Editor-in-Chief Dan Souza for an Aperol Flip, I was determined to master it. I was already a fan of Aperol, the brightly colored Italian aperitif that features hints of rhubarb, bitter herbs and burnt orange, and is the star ingredient of their famous summertime Aperol Spritz. “The Flip” was less familiar to me.

A flip is a class of mixed drinks, which uses an egg in the list of ingredients. According to Wikipedia, “the first bar guide to feature a flip was Jerry Thomas's 1862 How to Mix Drinks; or, The Bon-Vivant's Companion. In this work, Thomas declares that, ‘The essential in flips of all sorts is to produce the smoothness by repeated pouring back and forward between two vessels and beating up the eggs well in the first instance the sweetening and spices according to taste."

This is an impressive cocktail to serve friends this spring and summer. Egg whites freeze well, so I store them whenever I have leftovers. For the greatest flexibility, pour each white into separate compartments of an ice cube tray. Freeze until solid and then transfer the egg white cubes to a freezer-safe container or zip-top bag. That way you’ll be able to reach for the exact amount you need. The frozen egg in this recipe creates a smooth creamy topping that forms as the drink separates in the glass after vigorously shaking. (While the instance of salmonella in raw egg whites is low, if you are at all concerned feel free to use pasteurized eggs)

Download Summertime Aperol Flip recipe

1½ fluid ounces (3 tablespoons) gin

1 frozen egg white cube (about 1 ounce) *a fresh egg white will work as well

¾ fluid ounce (4 teaspoons) lemon juice

½ fluid ounce (1 tablespoon) Aperol

2 teaspoons granulated sugar

3 dashes orange bitters

1 pinch kosher salt

1 cup ice cubes

  1. Combine gin, egg white, lemon juice, Aperol, sugar, bitters, and salt in cocktail shaker and vigorously shake until egg white has melted and drink is very foamy, 60 to 90 seconds.
  2. Add ice to cocktail shaker and vigorously shake for 30 seconds. Strain into chilled coupe or rocks glass and serve.


Best Spanish Sangria

Spanish Sangria1


I generally don’t care for Sangria, except for when I’m in Spain - it just seems to taste better there. Sangria makes a perfect summer drink when entertaining, because you can make large batches ahead of time. This recipe is based on one I received during my stay at Le Meridien Barcelona (click here for Le Meridien Barcelona) from the General Manager, Gonzalo Duarte Silva. They served his sangria during a wonderful cooking event which I attended at the hotel called "Paella Atelier" where their chef Eugeni Cortés demonstrated how to prepare a traditional paella. The recipe below is very similar but I've added a few "enhancements". Choose an inexpensive Spanish Rioja, I like to use Campo Viejo Rioja Crianza, but a fruity Merlot will work as well. Be sure to allow time for the flavors to blend, it really does get better as it sits. 

Download The Best Spanish Sangria recipe

4 large juice oranges, washed; two orange sliced; remaining oranges juiced

2 large lemons, washed and sliced

½ cup granulated Superfine sugar

½ cup Cointreau or Triple Sec

½ cup brandy

1 apple, sliced thin

1 small handful of red grapes

2 bottles inexpensive Spanish red wine, chilled

1 liter bottle of seltzer or Orange soda (like Orangina)

1. Add sliced oranges, lemons, and sugar to large container; mash gently with wooden spoon until fruit releases some juice, but is not totally crushed, and sugar dissolves, about 1 minute. Stir in orange juice, Triple Sec, brandy, apple slices, grapes, and wine; cover and refrigerate for at least 2, and up to 8 hours. When ready to serve stir in seltzer (or orange soda) and serve with ice and fruit.

Sangria fruit wine

Holiday Margarita Punch

Christmas Margarita Cocktail 

Holiday Margarita Punch

Serves about 24

This is a fast and easy make ahead cocktail that tastes great and can be made in large batches. When I first saw the recipe I was a little skeptical, but it was a big hit at a recent party. It’s not overly sweet and reminds me of the Margaritas that you find in Mexico.  I dipped the glasses in some red sugar crystals but traditional salt is fine too.

Download Holiday Margarita Punch recipe

2 (12-ounce) cans frozen limeade, thawed

4 ounces frozen concentrated orange juice (½ cup), thawed

¼ - ½ cup freshly squeezed lime juice (3-4 large limes)

1 liter 100 percent agave tequila, chilled

8 cups cold water

½ cup Triple Sec

Place all the ingredients in a large pitcher or container (at least 1-gallon capacity) and stir to evenly combine. Cover and refrigerate until chilled. Stir before serving.

Best Mega Mint Mojitos


Mojitos make a great summer cocktail – refreshing citrus and mint hit the spot on a hot summer day. I always have a ton of mint growing in pots (it spreads like crazy), and this is a perfect way to use it up. The best version involves a little advance prep and there are no shortcuts for a delicious, authentic Mojito. It’s important to muddle the mint to release its full flavor, and I like to use mint infused simple syrup to further intensify the flavor. Many recipes call for lots of mint in the glass, but I find it makes it messy to drink, just a sprig for garnish is all that’s needed.

Download Best Mega Mint Mojito recipe


15 mint leaves, plus 1 mint sprig for garnish

½ ounce fresh lime juice

½ ounce Mint Simple Syrup (recipe below)


2 ½ ounces light rum

1 ounce chilled club soda

Sliced limes


1. In a cocktail shaker, muddle the mint leaves with the lime juice and Mint Syrup. Add ice and the rum, shake well and strain into an ice-filled highball glass. Top with the club soda and garnish with the mint sprig and a slice of lime.


Minted Simple Syrup

1 ½ cups packed fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped

1 cup sugar

1 cup water


1. In a saucepan bring sugar, water and mint to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Simmer syrup, undisturbed, 2 minutes. Pour syrup through a fine sieve, pressing hard on solids, and cool. Syrup keeps, covered and chilled, 2 weeks.

Muddle mint


Best Holiday Mulled Wine (or Glögg, Glühwein, Svařák)


For some reason I have found myself in Scandinavian and Eastern European countries during the winter months and although the weather can be a bit frigid, the experience has always been memorable.  Recent visits to Amsterdam, Berlin, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Helsinki, and Prague proved not only beautiful to see around the holidays, but each city also offered its own version of a warm libation to combat the cold temperatures – mulled wine. If you find yourself in just about any European destination in December you are bound to come across a local version of their mulled wine. Whether it’s Glühwein (in Netherlands and Germany), Glögg (in Scandinavia), or Svařák (Czech) this spiced wine concoction with warm your body and spirit. While the basis of mulled wine is pretty much the same, each region has a slightly different take on the recipe. The Swedes add raisins and almonds, as well as more sugar than most and usually a healthy dose of extra alcohol like Aquavit or vodka. In Germany, you´ll find a lighter, less sweet version – theirs has less sugar than Glögg and more spices like nutmeg, clove and cinnamon. This is a great drink to make at home for parties and fill your house with a most comforting winter spice aroma - perfect for the holidays. (Note: if you want to include almonds and raisins, just add them after you strain the wine and let it stand for 10 minutes – ladle a few nuts and raisins into each cup when serving - Swedish style!).


3 cinnamon sticks (3 inches each)

10 whole cloves

10 whole black peppercorns

1 teaspoon allspice berries

1 star anise (optional)

2 bottles red wine, medium- or full-bodied

2 cups apple cider (optional)

4 strips orange zest removed with vegetable peeler, each strip about 2 inches long by 1/2 inch wide, cleaned of any white pith

1 inch piece fresh gingerroot, thinly sliced

¼ cup honey

¼ cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons granulated sugar (if needed, to taste)

2 – 4 tablespoons brandy

(1/3 cup raisin and 1/3 cup whole blanched almonds, optional, see note above)

1. Toast cinnamon sticks, cloves, peppercorns, and allspice (and anise if using) in medium heavy-bottomed nonreactive saucepan over medium-high heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add wine, cider, orange zest, gingerroot, honey, and 1/4 cup sugar; cover partially and bring to simmer, stirring occasionally to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat to low and simmer 1 hour until wine is infused; do not boil.

2. Strain wine through fine-mesh strainer; return wine to saucepan and discard spices. Stir 2 tablespoons brandy into wine; taste and add up to 2 tablespoons more sugar and 2 tablespoons more brandy, if desired. Ladle wine into small mugs; serve immediately. (It is best served immediately after mulling but will keep fairly hot off heat, covered, for about 30 minutes. Leftover mulled wine can be reheated in the microwave or in a saucepan on the stovetop.)

I'll Take A Manhattan - My Favorite Cocktail

Manhattan 2a 

If you’ve never had a Manhattan, you may be missing out on one of the great cocktails, a truly sophisticated drink that lives up to its name. I suppose the Martini is the most popular and famous of the two, but I prefer the warm, smooth, interesting flavors of a traditional Manhattan. Of course, not all Manhattan’s are the same - every bartender (mixologist) seems to have his/her own version. At the risk of sounding a bit pretentious, it’s worth specifying a few things when ordering. Try to request a Rye whiskey rather than Bourbon, it’s the original and frankly tastes better - a few favorites include:  Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye (if you can find it), Russell’s Reserve, Knob Creek Rye, Hudson Manhattan Rye, Bulleit Rye, or Rittenhouse. The rest of the recipe is simple –sweet vermouth, a splash of bitters, and a cherry; but make sure they stir, not shake your drink, otherwise you will wind up being served a cloudy, foamy cocktail. This silky smooth libation should be a clear amber color, and perfectly chilled. Manhattans have a wonderful warming effect which makes them ideal for the fall and winter months and around the holidays. It’s an easy cocktail to make at home and since there are only a few components, it’s essential to use the best of each ingredient. Here’s my favorite version – Cheers!

Download The Best Manhattan recipe 

2 1/2 ounces Rye Whiskey

1 ounce Vya (or Carpano Antica) sweet vermouth

2-3 dashes Peychaud's (or Angostura) Bitters

1 Luxardo Marasca Cherry

1 twist orange peel

1. Combine whiskey, the sweet vermouth, and bitters with 3-4 ice cubes in a mixing glass.

2. Stir gently, don't bruise the spirits and cloud the drink, for about 90 seconds.

3. Place the cherry in a chilled cocktail glass. Rub the cut edge of the orange peel over the rim of the glass. Strain the whiskey mixture over the cherry.

4. Sip slowly and enjoy!

Vya Sweet Vermouth 1
Peychauds_bitters_lg1 Luxardo cherries2

Spiced Mulled Apple Cider

Mulled cider 

Spiced Mulled Cider


This warm and comforting drink is great on a cold day. 

Download Spiced Mulled Cider


Makes about 2 quarts


1 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces (Use a meat mallet or heavy saucepan to break  into several pieces.)

½ teaspoon whole coriander seeds  

½ teaspoon allspice berries

¼ teaspoon black peppercorns  

¼ teaspoon whole cloves  

2 quarts apple cider  

4 strips orange zest (each about 2 inches long) 

1 - 3 tablespoons light brown sugar or dark brown sugar (to taste) 



Toast spices in large saucepan over medium heat, shaking pan occasionally, until fragrant, 1 to 3 minutes. Add cider, orange zest, and sugar and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes, using wide, shallow spoon to skim away foam that rises to surface. Pour cider through fine-mesh strainer lined with coffee filter and discard spices and orange zest. Serve. (Mulled cider can be refrigerated in airtight container for up to one week. Reheat before serving.)


Refreshing Cucumber Mint Water

Cucumber Mint Water 5

This is a refreshing thirst quenching recipe from one of my favorite healthy chefs, Ellie Krieger. Flavored waters are the rage these days and make a great alternative to sugary soft drinks. Feel free to substitute agave for the sugar, just stir it in with the lemon juice.

Download Refreshing Cucumber Mint Water recipe

1/4 cup lightly packed fresh mint leaves

2 Tbs. granulated sugar, optional

1 cup boiling water

1 medium English cucumber (about 1 lb.), peeled, seed core removed, and cut into chunks (2 1/2 cups)

2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

Cold water as required

1. Put the mint leaves and sugar in a small pot and crush the leaves with a wooden spoon. Pour in the boiling water and stir until the sugar dissolves. Cover and set aside to steep and cool for 15 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in a blender, purée the cucumber with 2 cups cold water. Strain the cucumber liquid and mint liquid through a fine strainer into a large bowl; discard the solids. Pour the liquid into a large pitcher. Add the lemon juice and 4 cups cold water; stir to combine. Serve over ice with lemon and cucumber slices and some sprigs of mint.


The Best Margaritas with Fresh Lime


The real secret to a great Margarita is choosing the best tequila, so save these for special occasions with just a few friends. Start this recipe the day before your party – it’s worth it. The longer the zest and juice mixture is allowed to steep, the more developed the citrus flavors in the finished margaritas - the full 24 hours is best, although the margaritas will still be great if the mixture is steeped only for the minimum 4 hours.


  Download The World’s Fresh Lime Best Margaritas


4 teaspoons grated lime zest 

1/2 cup lime juice from 2 to 3 medium limes

4 teaspoons grated lemon zest 

1/2 cup lemon juice from 2 to 3 medium lemons

1/4 cup superfine sugar 

 pinch table salt 

2 cups crushed ice 

1 cup 100 percent agave tequila , such as Don Julio Reposado Tequila

¼ cup Grand Marnier

¼ cup Triple Sec


1.    Combine lime zest and juice, lemon zest and juice, sugar, and salt in large liquid measuring cup; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until flavors meld,  24 hours.

2.    Divide 1 cup crushed ice between 4 or 6 margarita or double old-fashioned glasses. Strain juice mixture into 1-quart pitcher or cocktail shaker. Add tequila, Grand Marnier, and Triple Sec, and remaining crushed ice; stir or shake until thoroughly combined and chilled, 20 to 60 seconds. Strain into ice-filled glasses; serve immediately.