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Elder Rose

Yesterday, we had a bit of fun with our post like we did last year. Today we set aside the pranks to feature two St. Paul destinations related to an original impromptu cocktail. The first is a fantastic little shop on Grand Avenue called Golden Fig, one of the Twin Cities' top prepared fancy food shops. We use their their Vanilla Rose Syrup as inspiration for a cocktail based on a classic sour formula with a few twists. But, of course, we can't really take credit for the recipe which leads us to our second St. Paul destination, Meritage. In addition to a delicious menu and great happy hour specials, Meritage calls itself "a little slice of Paris" and happens to be host to some of the best craft cocktails in downtown St. Paul. We were treated to this recipe by Rob Jones, the

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Pumpkin Spiced Cocktail

A few weeks ago, I received an email from a reader seeking ideas for a pumpkin cocktail. Kim Reynick, a friend of my brother's who lives in San Francisco, was putting together a cocktail menu for an upcoming event and wanted to feature a pumpkin drink for guests. After exchanging a few emails discussing some options, she came up with a recipe that I wanted to share with everyone.

Inventing a cocktail completely from scratch can be a challenge, especially when there are specific constraints. Often, time is your biggest enemy, preventing you from testing long infusions or obtaining hard-to-find ingredients. Other times it's the guests themselves that pose the greatest challenge. You could create something mind-blowing and unique, but it has to have crowd-appeal if it's going to be a success at an event. If boozy flavor profiles, bitter aperitifs and esoteric liqueurs might alienate your guests, you would

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Infusion confusion? Not at all!

One of the easiest and most rewarding techniques to personalize your liquor cabinet is to do an infusion. Unless you have been living in a dry county for the past 15 years or you just don't get out much, you have probably seen the multitude of flavored spirits grow to a bewildering selection. Specifically, many vodka distillers have used flavors to diversify their product offerings and to dominate shelf space. However, some of the best infusions are those you make yourself.

Vodka as a starting point Vodka, by definition, is a neutral spirit. That means it is supposed to be flavorless. Some folks argue that all vodka taste the same while others maintain that differences—sometimes dramatic—can contribute flavor characteristics and affect smoothness. In any case, vodka makes a great starting point for customization because it will remain neutral, allowing your fruit, spices or whatever you are using to be the

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