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Holiday Gift Ideas

Every couple of years we run through a list of holiday gift ideas for the mixologist in your life. We have tried more tools and cocktail related products than anyone we know, so we think we have a good grasp of what works and what doesn't. It's safe to say that over the years we have collected some things that we really like—often "trading up" to better tools than we had before—and a we own a bunch of stuff we never touch. Here is a nice list of our favorite gift ideas. Some of them are special, some work better than anything we have tried, and others represent good values. We have also linked to these items for adding to your shopping cart.

Tools: Shaker Tins, Stirring Glasses, Spoons and Strainers Anyone wanting to make cocktails at home will eventually need a few essential tools. Depending on their interest, they

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Raspberry Cocktails

Columbia Cocktail

There are so many ways to use fruit in cocktails. Muddling fresh produce may be the easiest, but you can also freeze it for use off-season. More traditional options include preserving fruit as jams, syrups, shrubs or even liqueurs. We've been busy this summer with all of nature's bounty, and we'll be sharing some of our exploits in the coming months. Today, let's talk about raspberry syrup.

Making a syrup from raspberries is easy enough. The simplest recipe follows a basic formula of one part fruit juice with one part sugar. However, we wanted to take an approach that may seem a little unorthodox. According to the Jerry Thomas Bartenders Guide first published in 1862, it's better to add another step to the process. Fermenting the fruit juice for several days through natural processes (including the unrestricted

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St. Stephen's Sour

We're all about refreshing summer drinks these days—the easier to make them the better. Most of the time that means tall, simple cocktails without many ingredients. Warmer weather usually pushes us toward refreshing citrus and carbonation as opposed to spirit-driven sippers, but we'd be kidding ourselves if we didn't admit that exceptions do exist. For instance, we can't stop enjoying a strong Mint Julep, nor resist the temptation of more complicated drinks like the Mai Tai. These never fall out of rotation for us, but this month's Imbibe Magazine (July/August 2014 issue) has a great selection of recipes that we probably need to add to our repertoire. One of them stood out as both refreshing and easy to make while still retaining a some complexity and interest. It was

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Lion's Tail and Allspice Liqueur

During the cooler months of winter it seems like everyone is interested in baking spices. Cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and allspice are seasonal favorites. Micro breweries start to churn out winterfest beer selections and cocktail bars start infusing spirits. Winter drinks are great—who doesn't love a warm toddy or a Hot Buttered Rum to help block that chill in the air? It's easy to get into the spirit of such flavors by selecting certain ingredients and recipes that use them. Liqueurs like Becherovka and Drambuie are good options because they bring a spiced element to cocktails, but today, we will take a look at Pimento Dram, also known as allspice liqueur.

One of the forgotten recipes that appears in Ted Haigh's Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails is a drink called the Lion's Tail. It's a wonderful classic that features this resurrected

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Briar Patch

There are so many creative ways to sweeten a cocktail beyond using simple syrup. We have posted recipes over the years that make use of agave nectar, honey, liqueurs, and even jam. We love the idea of using fruit preserves as a way to add flavor, color and sugar. Jamie Boudreau's Breakfast Collins is a great example, and today we'd like to share another. This is called the Briar Patch cocktail and it was created by Portland's Jeffrey Morgenthaler of Clyde Common. It appears in the book, The American Cocktail which features 50 recipes from craft bartenders across the country.

The basic concept is similar to Boudreau's recipe, taking a sour formula and using jam as a sweetener. Where Jamie's Breakfast Collins subs rum for the base spirit in a classic Tom Collins, the Briar Patch sticks with

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Raspberry Shrub

The concept of balancing sweet with sour in cocktails has been around for a very long time. Most of us associate lemons and limes with the acid side of that formula, but there are more ways than citrus to add sour to beverages. One solution common in the culinary world is vinegar. Coupled with fruit and sugar, this is known as a gastrique, but in liquid culture we call it a shrub.

Shrubs or drinking vinegars may not sound like a good idea to many people. We think this negativity probably comes from the idea that when a wine turns bad, it transforms into vinegar, and you don't want to be sipping bad wine! And yet, nobody has a problem using it to make salad dressing. The truth is, shrubs have been an important part of drinking history since the 15th century. And although the origins may be traced back

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Drink of the Week: Eeyore's Requiem

When we first saw the ingredients for this cocktail at The Violet Hour in Chicago, we couldn't bring ourselves to order it. It seemed just too over-the-top with bitter ingredients. That was our first mistake. When the recipe appeared in Beta Cocktails, a book we recently mentioned in conjunction with the Art of Choke, we thought it might be time to check it out, but we never had the right combination of ingredients—most notably, we didn't have a Blanc vermouth. That was our second mistake. Today, we finally corrected both situations by picking up a bottle of Dolin Blanc and using it to construct one of the most interesting and surprising results we have tasted in a very long time.

Eeyore's Requiem is another recipe we have collected by Toby "Alchemist" Maloney, one of the

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