Thursday, January 12, 2023

Winter Cocktails Trio


Winter Mule

Sometimes you want a refreshingly light and juicy cocktail with crushed ice even when it is cold outside. Sometimes a cocktail in pretty Mule mugs is also a must. That's where this recipe hits the spot. 

Simple Times Mixers makes a cranberry apple cider mule mix that is perfect for winter sipping (and making non-alcoholic cocktails as well.) The recipe on the back recommends using whiskey or rum, which is nice, but I also enjoy the taste of Laird's Applejack 86 since this is going for apple flavors as well. 

The only downside to using this Simple Times product and spirit alone is that the ginger flavor is very understated, while apple and cranberry are in the foreground. I miss a spicy ginger mule taste, so I augmented the recipe further with my own ginger-infused brandy. You can use King's Ginger or a  ginger brandy from one of the economy flavored brandy producers like Jacquin's. It is best if it is a brand-based flavor to give the drink a nice gingersnap taste. 

  • 1 1/2  oz. Laird's Applejack 86 or apple brandy
  • 1 oz. ginger brandy
  • 3 oz. Simple Times Mixers apple cranberry mule

Shake all ingredients and strain into a chilled mule mug full of crushed ice. Stir with stir straws and add more crushed ice. (This will get a nice frost on the outside of the mugs.) Garnish with a lime slice and serve with two stir straws.


Highland Cream Cocktail--Scotch and sherry are excellent mixing companions. Whether it is McCallan 12 and a bone-dry fino or a blend and cream sherry, there is a range of sweetness you can control with the addition of sherry. Scotch is often finished in sherry casks, oloroso and PX make for some of the richest flavors we have come to appreciate in scotch. This cocktail does that with a bourbon finished scotch and an especially rich sherry: Lustau East India Solera.

Bourbon finished scotches like Speyburn Bradan Orach are becoming more popular because bourbon barrels can only be used once for bourbon. Scotch has no such rule, and Scottish distillers are snapping up these American oak barrels to finish their beautifully dry and oaky tasting whisky. But I still miss the sherry finish of some of the oldest scotches--you pay a premium for it. Nowadays, the price of a sherry cask finished scotch is between ten and fifty dollars more than a bourbon finished scotch. That's the beauty of adding that sherry flavor back to the whiskey yourself. Round it all out with Aztec and aromatic bitters and a Luxardo cherry, and you have an especially rich treat for winter sipping.

  • 1 1/2 oz. bourbon finished scotch like Speyburn Bradan Orach
  • 1 oz. Lustau East India Solera sherry
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
  • 3 dashes Fee Brothers Aztec bitters
  • Luxardo cherry garnish
Combine liquid ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a Luxardo cherry.


Agave Old Fashioned

It's not whiskey or tequila, but Mt. Defiance anejo agave spirit is somewhere in between. It has loads of vanilla and oak and not much bitterness at all. That's what makes it an excellent ingredient in an Old Fashioned. 

For this cocktail, I used simple syrup and not agave syrup, which might sound a bit like a mistake. Trust me, agave syrup is way sweeter and thicker. It's fine for citrus drinks where the sweetness is cut with acid, but it makes Old Fashioneds taste like rock candy. 

Outside the classic recipe, I used a squeeze of a lime zest rubbed on the rim and a flamed orange peel dropped into the glass. In addition to Angostura bitters, I used one dash of Fee Brothers Aztec bitters for a cinnamon and cocoa note appropriate for the holidays. Cheers!

  • 2 oz. Mt. Defiance anejo agave spirit
  • 1/2 oz. simple syrup
  • 3 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 1 dash Fee Brothers Aztec bitters
  • lime peel zest
  • orange peel flamed as garnish

Combine liquid ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into an Old Fashioned glass over a large ice cube. Twist lime peel over the glass and rub it around the rim before discarding. Flame orange peel over the glass and drop it in as a garnish. 


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