Spice up your cocktails with seasonal ingredients
As the temperature drops, sunshine and margaritas become a fleeting memory but that doesn’t mean the fun has to end. After all, nothing beats a cozy blanket and a stiff cocktail on a freezing night. Shane Beehan, experienced bartender, cocktail competition champ and brand ambassador for Nova Scotia Spirit Co. has a few ideas to spice up your cocktails when it comes to seasonal sipping.
Rum & Eggnog
“In winter, you tend to go towards things that are a bit more richer and robust that satisfy you in those different ways,” says Beehan about this classic east coast favourite. “It’s a tradition really, and making your own eggnog from scratch is super simple.”
2 1/2 cup cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp sugar
Maple syrup* (optional)
Beat the eggs then add them along with the cream, vanilla extract and your rum of choice to a cocktail shaker and shake like crazy (or use a blender)—and don’t worry, as long as there’s alcohol in your concoction you don’t have to worry about salmonella from raw eggs.
*Beehan suggests using smokey infused maple syrup to add a spicy kick.
The penicillin is an easy to make at home modern classic that’s sure to put some fire in your belly. “What’s great about it is you can do warm drinks with that like a hot toddy style or you can also do cold drinks. Those ingredients are so versatile you can do hot or cold,” says Beehan.
2/3 cup honey
1 piece ginger, thinly sliced
8 oz scotch
6 oz lemon juice
Add everything to a cocktail shaker and voila.
Beehan plays off the ingredients in The Penicillin for one of his personal favourite cocktails right now involving mixing gin, ginger, lemon juice and bitters. “You shake it up and it’s delightful,” he says.
Vegan Hot Chocolate
But what about those heavy cream drinks? Beehan’s got you covered. He hasn’t forgotten about those of us who enjoy a nice creamy drink without the lactose. “Dark chocolate itself is essentially vegan, so you can melt down some dark chocolate with your milk of choice, I do prefer coconut milk,” says Beehan, adding that creme de cacao is great for creamy hot drinks. There are also vegan cream-based liqueurs, like almond milk Baileys called Baileys Almande. “You can spice it up. Cinnamon and chocolate are a great combination, and whenever I’m using that I alway add a cinnamon stick. It adds a nice depth of flavour.”
1 cup coconut milk, unsweetened
1 tbsp cocoa powder, unsweetened
1 1/2 tbsp dairy-free semi-sweet chocolate (or dark chocolate chips or a bar, chopped)
1 tbsp raw sugar (or 1/2 packet powdered stevia per mug)
8 oz Baileys Almande
Place milk, cocoa powder and sugar in a small saucepan. Heat over medium/medium-low heat, whisking frequently, until warm (but not boiling). Add chocolate and whisk constantly until the chocolate melts and distributes evenly into the milk. Take off heat, stir in the Baileys and serve immediately.
“Rum and mulled wine is an incredible combination,” Beehan says. Mulled wine or spiced wine, usually made with red wine and mulling spices like cinnamon and cloves is a deliciously cozy beverage served hot or warm.
1/2 bottle fruity red wine
2 oz dark rum
2 Star anise
1 orange or lemon peel
1 tsp sugar
Add wine, rum, star anise, citrus peels, sugar and cinnamon sticks to a large saucepan. Stir briefly to combine. Cook the on medium-high heat until it just barely reaches a simmer. Avoid letting it bubble — you don’t want to boil off the alcohol. Reduce heat to low, cover, and let the wine simmer for at least 15 minutes or up to 3 hours. Using a fine mesh strainer, remove and discard the peels, cinnamon and star anise. Give the mulled wine a taste, and stir in extra sweetener if needed. Serve warm in heatproof mugs, topped with your favourite garnishes.
But whether you’re feeling like something sweet or something stiff, right now is a good time to experiment at home. “At the end of the day, during the winter months you’re inside a lot more so you can spend time exploring ingredients,” Beehan states. So start exploring – you might invent something new.