I guess it’s just the merriment of the season but for some reason people who over the course of the rest of the year can barely tie their shoelaces suddenly feel creative now.

The desire to be artsy-fartsy will pass, of course, until the annual challenge of how to costume for Mardi Gras, February 17, but in our current season we see all sorts of strange yeast-based baking concoctions, family newsletters filled with information that even the involved and embarrassed relatives are not interested in, and creative gift wrapping that is not complete nor does it not hide the contents of the gift.

Creativity seems to be a timed, Pavlovian response rather than a constant presence in many of our lives. And that’s okay as we accept the offering, smile, gush over the effort, and make a firm promise to re-gift at the earliest possible moment.

I am not trying to be a Grinch here, as I quite enjoy and appreciate every effort to create and please. And certainly in the areas of food preparation and cocktails, New Orleanians take a backseat to no one. What comes out of our kitchens or from behind our home-bars is nothing short of amazing and magical…for the most part.

I have no suggestions or pretense to assist you in making a better red velvet cake or the perfect beef wellington. You will have to look elsewhere to assure the desired outcome to such Holiday projects. But as for drinks, let’s plow forward with some new ideas, perhaps more easily accomplished than what you traditionally tackle.

Maybe you have not made use of gin as a base spirit in quite some time. Here’s a delightful change-of-pace for you.



  • 1 part Bombay Sapphire Gin
  • ¼ part Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice
  • Drizzle Sugar Syrup (Gomme)
  • Drizzle Crème de mure


  1. Shake first three ingredients vigorously with ice &Strain into glass filled with crushed ice. Slowly pour Crème de mure into the centre of the glass, allowing it to sink through the mix.
  2. Garnish with fresh blackberry
  3. Courtesy Bombay Sapphire Gin.



From the Hard Rock Café’s new cocktail program, let’s make use of that most festive of Holiday spirits, sparkling wine. In this case, Prosecco from Italy.  


Pomegranate Prosecco

  • 1 tbs.  Pomegranate Seeds
  • 1 oz.   Finest White Sangria Mix
  • 2 oz.   Prosecco Brut
  • 1         Rosemary Sprig


  1. Add Pomegranate Seeds and Sangria Mix into Champagne flute.
  2. Fill with good quality Prosecco.
  3. Garnish with rosemary sprig


Egg Nog is a class of beverages that everyone has just decided to follow the same darn recipe. We are usually good for one glass of the stuff annualy, and then that’s it. But it can be better than that. Here’s an example of a cross culture mix with excellent results.


Foggy Dew

  • 1 1/2 ounces Irish whiskey, preferably 12-year-old
  • 1 ounce Jamaican rum
  • 1 ounce Pedro Ximénez sherry
  • 1 1/2 ounces chilled half-and-half
  • (You may want to consider a high milk-fat ice cream as a substitute)
  • 1/2 ounce Vanilla Simple Syrup
  • 1 large egg
  • Ice
  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg, for garnish


  1. In a cocktail shaker, combine all of the ingredients except ice and the garnish and shake vigorously.
  2. Fill the shaker with ice and shake again.
  3. Strain into a chilled mug or fizz glass and garnish with the nutmeg.


Thanks to mixologist Jack McGarry and Food & Wine online.


Toddy cocktails for some reason have never made a big splash around here. Maybe it’s because we really don’t see long stretches of miserably cold and damp weather. But they are good and they are a reminder, at least for me, of my mother’s desire to cure some childhood ailment as I lay in bed completely stopped up and unable to breath well. They were the magic elixir that helped me recover. Or at the very least sleep well.

You don’t think she wanted to sedate me so I would quit whining about how miserable I felt, do you? No, I am certain that was not it. 


Kilbeggan Ginger Toddy


  1. In a pre-heated coffee mug, pour 1/3 of the water over the honey and stir to dissolve.
  2. Add all remaining ingredients and top with additional hot water.
  3. Dust with fresh ground cinnamon and serve with a festive stir stick.


Recipe Courtesy: Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey, About Food, about.com