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One of the best gifts you can give someone interested in cocktails is booze. You don't even have to break the bank (although you might reconsider picking from the bottom shelf) because it doesn't have to be the rarest or the most expensive item in the shop. Pick a decent base spirit and you really can't go wrong. For example, there's no such thing as having too much gin for classic cocktails, and who would turn away a nice bottle of whiskey or rum? Certainly not me, so if you want a no-brainer gift idea that will be used and appreciated, look no further. The problem with this approach is that a bottle of alcohol may not be the most personal or creative gift idea. It will work as a last resort, but you can do better!

If a bottle of booze is the baseline, or the

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Drink of the Week: Boston Bog

I have always wanted to make fresh cranberry juice, and you can find plenty of good recipes online that seem simple enough. Most of them describe putting cranberries through a blender or food processor, adding water, sometimes cooking them, sometimes letting the purée rest for some period, then straining the result. Then, it’s just a matter of adding sugar which helps bring that astringent flavor under control and counteracts the bitterness. The benefit is that you can add as little or as much sweetener as you like. The steps are straightforward enough, and I might try it some day, but for a single cocktail there had to be a shortcut.

The obvious solution is to simply muddle a handful of cranberries in your mixing glass and build the balance of flavor using other cocktail ingredients. That's what Misty Kalfoken of Drink, Boston does in her Boston Bog. This cocktail

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Drink Of The Week: Angostura

The Great Minnesota Get-together It's that time of the year again when Minnesotans make their annual trip to the State Fair. It sounds so old fashioned, but if you live in the Twin Cities, you already know that folks around here take it very seriously. It's not all pigs and agriculture, although they have that too. I tend to keep my distance from anything that smells like a barn, but it's either that or the deep fat fryers. Everyone seems to enjoy something different at the Fair, and some of us just look forward to all of the food. Old habits die hard. For instance, every year, I make my way to Sweet Martha's Cookies where I buy a bucket and walk it over to the "all the milk you can drink" stand. And every year, someone in the crowd says, "Whoa, what a great idea—chocolate chip cookies and

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Drink of the Week: Gin Gin Mule

One of the ways I like to keep momentum going at Summit Sips is to post a different cocktail recipe every week. If you follow this site via RSS feeds, Twitter or Facebook, that's probably why you are here now. I don't know if everyone out there appreciates it or not, but I also like to build upon the knowledge and ingredients I have described in previous posts. This is especially handy when I can refer back to something homemade. This week, I am featuring the Gin Gin Mule, a delightful cocktail for summer created by Audrey Saunders of Pegu Club in New York. My version of the recipe is translated to make use of homemade ginger syrup. You might be surprised how easy it is to make your own fresh sodas with fruit juice and syrups, and ginger beer is a perfect example. So, if you still haven't Click here and take a bigger gulp of this article. . .

Drink of the Week: Sleepy Head

Here's another fantastic ginger cocktail, but not a new one. It's the Sleepy Head, and it dates back at least as far as 1930 when it appears in Harry Craddock's The Savoy Cocktail Book. If you are a fan of the Moscow Mule, or if you tried the Mamie Taylor, I think this cocktail has them both beat. However, the early version is a bit simpler than what we have here. The adjustments are subtle, but I think the cocktail is better for it

The first change results in a stronger boost of orange flavor. The basis for this updated comes from Jeff Hollinger of the Absinthe Brasserie in San Francisco. While Craddock's book calls for just an orange peel, Hollinger keeps the garnish but takes the flavor a step further by

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Drink Of The Week: Mamie Taylor

This week we feature a highball that is virtually unknown by most people, yet it is the foundation upon which many popular drinks are based. Our drink of the week is the Mamie Taylor, a Scotch cocktail with lime and ginger beer. According to Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails by Ted “Doctor Cocktail” Haigh, the Mamie Taylor was named after a Broadway singer and appeared around the turn of the last century, but within a few years it fell completely out of fashion. In 1900, it was the most popular cocktail of it's day, and more than a century later, few people have ever heard of it—or Miss Taylor for that matter. Yet this drink has led to many variations that we do remember.

Mamie Taylor 2 oz Scotch Whisky .75 oz lime juice 1 oz ginger syrup 3 oz soda (to top)

Add the Scotch, fresh

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Drink of the Week: El Diablo

Continuing our series of scary Halloween cocktails, we have the El Diablo, our Drink of the Week. I am not going to get into a lot of history for this drink, because, frankly, I don't know much about it except that it was created by Trader Vic. If you know more, please post a comment or two.

What I will tell you is that it's a tequila cocktail that is surprisingly refreshing for its name, and although most recipes call for it to be made with ginger beer (and there's no reason you can't still use it), my recipe is going to make use of ginger syrup which I find far more versatile. You want the ginger to stand out, so quality is key here. Lucifer forbid, please don't use a run-of-the-mill ginger ale in your Diablo!

El Diablo 2 oz silver tequila .75 oz lemon juice .75

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