Friday, December 8, 2017

Cafe Royale

I really like the wake-up kick and rich brulee cognac flavor of the Cafe Royale! This drink requires the slightly risky step of flaming sugar cubes covered in brandy over a hot cup of coffee.

The coffee has to be pretty hot and you need to leave the cognac and sugar cubes balanced above the coffee on the rim of the mug so that the alcohol begins to evaporate. Wait about 2 minutes before igniting. It is pretty and rich and just makes you swoon!
  • 2 oz. brandy or cognac (D'usse cognac please)
  • 1 sugar cube (I used 3 small ones.)
  • 1 cup black coffee
  • half-and-half to taste
Pour coffee and cognac into a warm mug and balance a spoon over the coffee with sugar cubes soaked in cognac over it. Wait for the cognac to warm up, then ignite it and allow the sugar to melt. Drop the flaming cognac and sugar into the coffee and stir. Float half-and-half on top.

Mulled Wine

A tradition in the British Isles, a hot Mulled Wine is part of any Anglo holiday celebration. This drink is pretty much a hot punch with wine being the main ingredient, but port, brandy, and honey are there for sweetness and the selection of spices is there for flavoring.
  • 6 oz. dry red wine (Ravens Wood zinfandel used)
  • 1 oz. ruby port
  • 1 oz. brandy
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • grated nutmeg to taste
  • 3 cloves
  • lemon twist
Combine all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Warm, do not boil, while stirring and pour into a warm coffee mug. 

Canadian Pineapple

This is a strangely Christmas-like tropical drink. I guess it has to do with the whiskey being the spirit of America's cold north country, Canada.

Pineapple, like most tropical things, is also associated with the holiday celebrations that are marked by their excess--both in drinking and in consumption of distant and exotic things like fruits and spices. Do this any time of the year, but a smooth whiskey and pineapple drink seem especially decadent for a pool cocktail.
  • 2 oz. Canadian whiskey (Black Velvet Special Reserve used)
  • 1 tbsp. pineapple juice
  • 2 tsp. maraschino liqueur
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice
  • pineapple spear
Combine all ingredients except pineapple spear in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the pineapple spear. 


Glogg is a Swedish hot wine drink with lots of booze and tasty roasted snacks served in it. It differs from English mulled wines in having akavit in it, as well as port, and the raisins and nuts that are cooked in it are left in the mug to be eaten with a small spoon. 

This recipe is strong and meant to serve 10, but feel free to make an individual portion. One tricky thing about the large recipe is how to scorch a pound of sugar cubes over a steaming pot of potentially combustible liquor. It is logistically hard to do over such a large surface (using a mesh screen of some kind, the recipe says.) It is also dangerous, as lighting a bottle of high test akavit is likely to blow you right out of the kitchen and burn your house down. I'm not kidding!

Better and safer to put sugar cubes on spoons over individual servings. That way the fire is small in size and can be enjoyed by each person who gets a glass of Glogg.

  • 2 bottles of dry red wine
  • 1 bottle of brandy (cognac please)
  • 1 pint or 16 oz. akavit (also spelled aquavit)
  • 25 cloves
  • 20 crushed cardamom seeds
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 oz. dried orange peel
  • 2 cups blackened almonds
  • 2 cups of raisins 
  • 1 pound or 16 oz. of sugar cubes 

Braise almonds in a large kettle for several minutes and allow to cool Add all other ingredients with brandy being the last to prevent fire. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Using a mesh strainer over the kettle, spread the sugar cubes over the liquid and coat them with akavit. Ignite and let the sugar and allow it to melt into the kettle. Stir again and serve in heated mugs. (Alternatively, ignite several sugar cubes over each individual mug with a good helping of akavit.)


I really like this cocktail despite its being a minty cognac drink. The thing is, there's very little mint and a good bit more cognac in proportion than there is in the Stinger. It is well rounded, dry, and thick tasting without adding sugar. The mint is more of a cool suggestion of herbs rather than a candy cane. Do this one in winter when a good cognac drink is all that will do.
  • 2 oz. cognac (Remy Martin VSOP used)
  • 1 oz. dry vermouth
  • 2 tsp. maraschino liqueur
  • 2 tsp. white creme de menthe (peppermint schnapps used)
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Cafe Brulot

Brulot refers to a coffee cocktail served with liquor and certain spices. The term is French comes from Quebec. It also means a scathing (scorching?) report, and is used to describe a fire ship, a ship loaded with explosives and set on fire to be directed toward an enemy fleet.

It's very fitting when referring to this most fiery cocktail. The liquor, spices and sugar are set fire before being extinguished by coffee. The effect is a nice charred flavor imparted to the liquor and coffee, like burned spices.

It goes without saying that making a Brulot is dangerous. Hot liquor on a stove can combust at any time and it will spread quickly as evaporation is causing more alcohol vapor to leave the liquid and ignite. This is part of the fun, but part of the danger as well. Make this your first drink of the evening, just to be safe.

This recipe makes 6-8 servings:
  • 8 oz. cognac (Remy Martin 1738 used)
  • 2 oz. curacao
  • 32 oz. black coffee
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 12 cloves
  • 2 lemon peels
  • 2 orange peels
  • 4 sugar cubes (8 small cubes)
Combine cinnamon, cloves, fruit peels and sugar in a saucepan. Stir in cognac and curacao and warm on medium heat. Ignite the mixture and allow it to burn for several seconds, carefully stirring with a long spoon (bar spoon recommended). Slowly fill with coffee and stir while the flames are extinguished. 

Mulled Cider

This cider drink is the quintessential hot mulled cider cocktail. It is colonial and rich, with gold rum, cider and spices. While you can make it with any brown spirit and cider, there's something about the old world taste of rum that clinches it.

Interestingly enough, "gold rum" does not denote a particular category. It refers vaguely to the color of the rum, which may be lighter or darker depending on age and blending. To prove this point, Cruzan labels all their rums, light, gold and dark as simply aged rum. The color, not the label is the only visible difference between them and is a result of the blending decisions. In fact, gold rum is created by blending light and dark rums--but it also may contain caramel as a cheap way to achieve the color of an aged rum.

I blended Cruzan aged rum with the very dark Pampero Venezuelan rum. Both are aged and contain no added caramel. You can chose to blend yourself, or open a bottle of brownish (not-spiced) rum to go with your home-spiced cider.
  • 2 oz. gold (aged blended) rum
  • 6 oz. apple cider
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • cinnamon stick
  • grated nutmeg
  • lemon peel
Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan over medium heat. Stir occasionally until well heated but do not boil. Pour into a heated coffee mug.