It's that time of year again. Time for merry-making, holiday parties and fancy cocktails. This year, take your host or hostessing abilities up a notch with these creative cocktails, courtesy of expert Pittsburgh mixologists.
High-quality ingredients are the key to a delicious cocktail, said Tara Shinn, mixologist for Cioppino Seafood and Chop House and Premier Innovations Group. Shinn brings you cocktails sure to delight at your holiday parties this year.
Add 1.25 ounces Clique vodka, one ounce pumpkin puree, one ounce evaporated milk , .33 ounces simple syrup*, grated cinnamon (to taste) and grated nutmeg (to taste) to an ice-filled cocktail tin and shake very well until cold. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a star anise pod and whipped cream.
*To make simple syrup, dissolve one part sugar in one part hot water and let cool.
Add .25 ounces Clique vodka, 1.25 ounces clear crème de cacao and one ounce whipped cream to an ice-filled cocktail tin and shake until cold and frothy. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with shaved dark chocolate.
Muddle 1.25 ounces of Clique vodka and one slice of prickly pear in a cocktail tin, before shaking with ice. Double strain into a flute, using a standard strainer, as well as a fine mesh strainer underneath to ensure no seeds slip through. Slowly top with four ounces of sparkling wine.
About Tara Shinn
Tara Shinn grew up in the town of Milford in the Poconos and started bartending at the age of 18. She fell in love with mixology during an extended visit to Atlantic City and landed a bar management position that allowed her to explore her passion and learn from experts in the industry. She came back to Pittsburgh where she became the mixologist for Cioppino Seafood and Chop House as well as the director of mixology for Premier Innovations group, a Pittsburgh-based importing company that owns such labels as Clique vodka and Don Pantaleon tequila. Her signature is using fresh and unique ingredients and home-grown herbs in her cocktail recipes. She is working on a mixbook which will be available with the new release of Cique vodka's new website. "The mission of Premier's mixology department has always been to make mixology fun and easy for consumers. I can't wait to see the feedback we receive from the Mixbook in December. It has detailed instructions on how make flavored syrups and infusions that will really elevate the way consumers enjoy cocktails at home," said Tara Shinn.
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If you start out with a quality spirit — such as Wigle Whiskey's organic, locally grown products — you can't go wrong with your cocktails. Add in fresh ingredients to enhance the flavor of the spirit, and your guests will be begging for your recipes. Here are some recipes from Meredith Grelli, owner and mixologist at Wigle Whiskey, that are sure to keep the spirit of the season.
For this spin on eggnog, mix equal parts water and honey to make honey syrup. Add one part Wigle White wheat whiskey and one part cream or half and half. Mix and pour over ice.
Recipe for Ginever Fizz
1 oz Wigle's Ginever
.5 oz fresh lemon juice
.5 oz simple syrup
1 oz Perrier
Heat equal parts sugar and water to make .5 ounces of simple syrup. Add .5 ounces fresh lemon juice and one ounce of Wigle's Ginever and stir with ice. Pour over fresh ice and top with one ounce Perrier water.
About Meredith Grelli
During a trip to some vineyards in Canada, Meredith Grelli, her bother and parents got a spark of inspiration while touring vineyards and getting a close look at the wine-making lifestyle. They would turn their passion for whiskey into a local craft spirit company, but first they had to get some laws changed. Before Wigle whiskey opened, spirits companies were prohibited from having tasting rooms, although they were allowed for wineries and breweries. The restriction was finally lifted in March and Wigle opened its doors with two years of whiskey making (and legislation) under its belt. Wigle chose to have its business in Pittsburgh because of the areas rich history and importance during the Whiskey Rebellion. Wigle produces whiskey and a traditional prohibition Dutch-style gin from scratch using local organic grains. Wigle offers public tours and private tours by appointment. It also offers monthly cocktails classes in which Grelli and other local mixologists team up to create unique cocktails using Wigle's products.
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Jennifer Stockdale is a native of the greater Pittsburgh, PA area. She is a restaurant marketer and wine enthusiast and one of the hosts of the East Coast Wine Geeks Podcast. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.
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