mint julep recipe

Mint Julep Recipe for the Month of May

When the month of May comes around, cocktail enthusiasts think about Mint Juleps and of course, The Kentucky Derby. Have you ever thought about putting a unique spin on the normal Mint Julep? What about a Basil Mint Julep?

Here’s the recipe:

Basil Mint Julep cocktail
2oz Bacardi 8
1/2 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz honey
1 tsp Chiffonade basil
1 tsp basil seeds soaked in lemon juice
Shake, strain, garnish with piece of honeycomb and basil & mint leaf
Of course, you’ll want to make sure you have the best glasses to enjoy your Mint Julep, no matter how you prepare it.


The Booze / Burn-off Effect

With the holidays just around the corner, many are vigilant to change behaviors in order to ward off weight gain. Some of the protocols we are told is not to “snack” at office parties of holiday get-togethers. Instead, eat a healthy meal beforehand so you won’t be tempted by the goodies later. But what about booze?

Even though many may not be heavy drinkers, drinking is a social thing. While you may be good about avoiding the calorie laden cheese dip or carb heavy chips, don’t make the mistake of giving yourself permission to indulge in an extra glass of wine. Did you know that could easily add 100 calories to your daily intake? Beer and sugary cocktails are even higher.

And, during the holidays it isn’t just one or two parties we find ourselves committed to, it is more like five or six. Don’t let the hard work you’ve done all year in maintaining your weight go out the window when the holidays arrive. As an incentive, check out this handy chart that explains how much of a workout is necessary to burn the calories from various alcoholic beverages. Happy Holidays!

booze burn off

source unknown

how tequila is made

You’ve Come A Long Way Tequila: A Tasting Guide

No longer relagated to frat houses and twenty-something cheap margaritas, Tequila has come into its own. The quality of tequilas out there is quite good. Want to make sure you are getting a quality Tequila? Read on to learn the four different ways Tequila is categorized.

the four kinds of tequila

First let’s discuss the process of tequila making. Extracted from the blue agave plant, the liquid must be distilled twice: The first tequila that comes out of the copper distilling pots is called ordinario. Tequila at this stage cannot be consumed. When redistilled, it contains 55% alcohol by volume (ABV), and is called blanco. In order to cut down on the alcohol content, often times producers will add water.

Here’s a look at the four different kinds of Tequila and what foods you can pair them with:

Blanco: This is the result after tequila goes through the second distilling process. In Spanish, “blanco” means “white” and this tequila is a clear color as you might expect. The tequila should have citrus, honey and a floral taste.  Use this kind of tequila in your margarita and pair with ceviche.

Reposado:  Tequila that is aged in oak barrels between 2 months and a year is called resposado. Its color is a light golden to a full copper color. You should definitely be smelling and tasting the oak. Pair this style of tequila with items that you might pair a Chardonnay with (which is also aged in oak barrels). Such items might be chicken or fish.

Añejo: Oaked for one to three years. This one pours deep amber, like whisky. As you might expect there is a huge amount of oak present in this tequila. It pairs quite nicely with chocolate, especially a spicy chocolate or sea salt chocolate.  I could also see this pairing nicely with a dish made with mole sauce.

Extra añejo: At $300 a bottle and up, these are quite pricey because they are aged for at leasts three years , but often longer than that. The exquisite taste should be savored and sipped.  Make sure to share it with someone you love.




Whiskey Pairing Dinner

Whiskey dinner

You’ve heard of wine dinners and even beer dinners, but have you ever heard of a Whiskey dinner? I mean, this is strong stuff. Does it really go well with food? Well yes, indeed it does, with the right menu.

There were 2 whiskeys per course. Whew – that’s a lot. Now, I am not a whiskey aficianado, but I left having learned a lot. Besides the chef explaining how he came up with the menu, reps from the whiskey brands were there to answer any questions.

Irish Whiskey
The first written record of whiskey dates back to 1405. In the last 20 years, Irish Whiskey has been the fastest growing spirit in the world. When it is distilled in copper pots it gives the whiskey a more oily feel as opposed to steel stills. Redbreast is one of the only brands to be 100 percent pot still.

Domestic Whiskey
While we know Kentucky for whiskey (more commonly referred to as Bourbon) there are some fascinating distilleries in places like Georgia (Doc Holliday Rye) and Colorado (Breckenridge Bourbon Whiskey) which is one of the highest rated in the world. Part of what makes this whiskey outstanding is the elevation – 9600 ft. The lack of oxygen means the whiskey seeps into the wood in the casks even more rendering it more flavorful.

Kentucky Whiskey

Kentucky Whiskey
Kentucky whiskey is nothing to sneeze at though. While other whiskeys were 40 – 43 percent alcohol these were well above – one even at 55 percent. As a rule, no additives are allowed and any bourbon aged less than 4 years must note the age on the bottle.

International Whisky
Whisky without the “e”? That’s how whiskies from regions other than Ireland and the US differentiate themselves. These had a less sweet taste and were more and the Scottish Dalwhinnie had more of a nutty finish.

Whiskey bottle

Some of the dishes we had:
Whiskey Cured Salmon

whiskey cured salmon at cobb cinebistro

Whiskey Basted Ribeye
ribeye cobb cinebistro

Valentine’s Day In: Cocktails and Fondue

Venturing out on Valentine’s Day is for amateurs. Those who choose to do so, do at their own peril. Often times service is sloppy or rushed and you certainly don’t get the best efforts from the chef. If you choose to stay in, like my sweetie and I do, here are some options for food and drink for the ultimate aphrodisiac.
If you’re celebrating with that special someone this Valentine’s Day, make it one to remember by snuggling together with a delicious fondue. Below are two options—an elegant Pale Ale Cheese or a decadent Chocolate Rum Fondue.  Original Culinary Spirits, the first line of spirits created specifically for cooking. And to pair with the fondue, we also have some romantic cocktails to help set the mood!

Ale-Infused Cheese Fondue

Serves 4

Cheese Sauce
8 oz. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
8 oz. shredded Swiss cheese
2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, halved
1 ½ cups Rave Review! ™Original Culinary Hops™
1 dash hot pepper sauce

For Dipping
Bread and cooked meat, cut into pieces

Combine cheddar cheese, Swiss cheese, flour, salt, and black pepper in a bowl. Rub cut side of garlic clove around bottom and sides of fondue pot. Pour Culinary Hops into fondue pot and slowly bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, about 5 minutes. Gradually add cheese while stirring, until cheese is melted and blended (for about 10 to 15 minutes).   Add hot pepper sauce and stir. Serve with bread or meat pieces.

Chocolate Rum Fondue

Serves 6-8

Chocolate Rum Sauce
½ cup heavy cream
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
4 oz. semisweet chocolate
2 tsp. Rave Review!™ Original Culinary Rum™
⅛ tsp. grated orange zest

For Dipping
1 pint fresh strawberries, washed, dried and hulled
1 pint fresh raspberries
2 bananas, peeled, cut into 2 to 2 ½ -inch slices
12 oz. thick, salted pretzels
4 oz. dried apricots
6 oz. roasted, salted almonds

In a medium saucepan over low heat, bring the cream, sugar, cinnamon and butter to a rolling boil. Remove from the heat, add the chocolate and stir until the chocolate melts.  Add the Culinary Rum and stir in the orange zest before serving. Arrange dipping food on a platter. Serve with warm chocolate rum sauce.

Karamel Kiss

1 oz. Sobieski Karamel Vodka
½ oz. crème de cocoa dark
¾ oz.  rum
½ oz. whipped cream
½ oz. vanilla syrup
Chocolate syrup
Caramel syrup
Swirl chocolate and caramel syrup in a martini glass. In a shaker with ice, add Sobieski Karamel Vodka, crème de Cocoa dark, whipped cream, rum and vanilla syrup. Shake vigorously and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a cocoa sprinkle.

CAMUS Passion

1 ½ oz. CAMUS VS Elegance Cognac
¾ oz. sweetened condensed milk
¾ oz. passion fruit concentrate
Combine all ingredients with ice in a shaker and shake. Strain into a coupe glass and garnish with an edible flower.

Cupid’s Arrow

1 oz. Lucid Absinthe
1 oz. raspberry liqueur
1 oz. lemonade or sour mix
2 oz. ginger ale
1 lemon wedge for garnish
Fill a shaker with ice and add raspberry liqueur, Lucid Absinthe and lemonade. Shake vigorously. Pour into a glass and top with ginger ale.  Add a lemon wedge and serve.

Halloween Cupcakes and Cocktails

Halloween Cupcakes

October 29th, 2012 Malika

Black Cat Cupcakes

1 1/4 cup Oreo cookie crumbs
18 1/4 oz reduced fat chocolate cake mix   
24 pieces Halloween Oreo cookies
16 oz reduced fat milk chocolate frosting
black string licorice
jelly beans
semisweet chocolate chips

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Prepare 24 – 2 1/2″ muffin cups with cooking spray and flour; set aside.
  • Prepare cake mix according to package directions; stir in cookie crumbs.
  • Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups. Bake for 25 minutes.
  • Remove from pans; cool on wire rack.
  • Frost cupcakes with remaining frosting.
  • Decorate each cupcake with 2 jelly beans as eyes and 6 licorice pieces as whiskers. Cut and Oreo in half and use them as ears.
  • Place 3″ piece licorice string on back half of each cupcake for tail.

Servings: 24

Source – Spooky Fun Halloween Recipes


Halloween Cocktails

Wicked Witch Apple Punch

1 750 ml bottle SKYY Infusions Passion Fruit
1 750 ml bottle Sparkling Apple Cider
1 64 oz. bottle Cranberry Juice Cocktail
1 Liter Ginger Ale
2 cups Pineapple Juice
Red Apple Slices

Combine all ingredients in a large black witch’s cauldron with ice and
stir. Garnish with large slices of red apple floating on top and dry ice.


2 oz. Citrus Vodka
1 oz. Mango Nectar or Juice
0.5 oz. Orange Juice
0.5 oz. Fresh Sour*

Combine all of the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake
vigorously and pour into a goblet glass and garnish with a slice of orange
and a mint leaf laid flat on top.
*Combine 0.25 oz fresh lime juice and 0.75 oz simple syrup.

Vampire’s Elixir

1.5 oz. Raspberry Vodka
.75 oz. White Chocolate Liqueur
1 oz. Half and Half
Strawberry Syrup

Dress strawberry syrup on the inside and rim of a chilled martini glass.
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously and
strain into martini glass. Garnish with vampire teeth.

Limoncello: Homemade Holiday Gift

As the summer is winding down, the last thing most of us are thinking about is the holiday season, right? It’s still hot outside, so why would we? While you may not want to be out and about shopping for those on your list, now is a good time to think about making a homemade gift for those special people on your shopping list. And Limoncello is a great homemade gift.

10 Lemons
1 Liter Vodka
3 Cups sugar
4 Cups water


  1. Zest the lemons, and place zest into a large glass bottle or jar. Pour in vodka. Cover loosely and let infuse for one week at room temperature.
  2. After one week, combine sugar and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. DO NOT STIR. Boil for 15 minutes. Allow syrup to cool to room temperature.
  3. Stir vodka mixture into syrup. Strain into glass bottles, and seal each bottle with a cork. Let mixture age for 40 days at room temperature preferably in a dark spot.
  4. Place bottled liqueur into the freezer. When icy cold, serve in chilled vodka glasses or shot glasses.


You can buy fancy bottles for your Limoncello to impress your gift recipients. Limoncello is a terrific gift not only because it is made by you, but makes for a pretty presentation and is a unique gift that your friends and family probably wouldn’t purchase on their own.


father's day gift guide

Father’s Day: Bar and Kitchen Gifts

Father’s Day is just around the corner. It is June 17th, in fact. If you have a dad that is interested in coffee, beer, or cocktails then we’ve got some gifts we highly recommend. So take a look at some of these suggestions and order soon, so your gift arrives in time for Father’s Day.

Craft beer has come on the scene in a huge way. No longer are we limited to the boring domestic brews, but some really creative types of beers are available right now. So, does your dad love Pilsners, IPA’s, wheat beers? Perhaps he likes them all. The perfect gift for him is the Spiegelau beer set. It comes in a group of four glasses, perfect for every type of beer. If you know what his favorite brew is, stop by your local growler store and pick up some for him.

Maybe your dad is more of a cocktail drinker. No problem. We’ve got you covered there too. Check out these amazing martini glasses, that just makes us think of Madmen. Or how about this Bossa Nova Double Old Fashioned glass? There’s a full line of cocktail glasses available from Culinary Outfitters – view them all here.

Not only has there been a renaissance where beer is concerned, but coffee has had it’s own renaissance lately. Rather than pay the exorbitant fees at coffee shops, people are starting to do more home brewing. Check out the incredible line of coffee makers available.

In a hurry? Did you know we’ll even gift wrap the gift for you? Just tell us the message you’d like written in the card and we’ll handle that for you as well.

Show dad how thoughtful you can be and get him something he can use for years to come. Remember Father’s Day is Sunday, June 17, so don’t wait another minute putting off buying dad a terrific gift.

jameson and bushmills

St. Patrick’s Day: Jameson or Bushmills?

When it comes to Irish Whisky, enthusiasts are as divided. A brief look into the history of these two whiskeys, shows it may have to something with religion. Bushmills gets its name from the town it hails from, and is a mostly Protestant area. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Jameson is distilled in Cork and then bottled in Dublin, a mostly Catholic region. There’s long been a rivalry between devoted supporters of each whiskey as to which is the better of the two, mostly based on religion of all things.

This debate over which whiskey is better, goes back hundreds of years to when the distilleries first began production. Bushmills was started in 1608 by King James. Jameson was founded more than a century and a half later in 1780 by John Jameson. But the distilleries have changed hands many times since and are now both owned by large international companies. Bushmills is owned by Diageo and Jameson by Pernod-Ricard.

Rather than choosing whiskey on religion, it may be a far better idea to choose based on taste preference. Bushmills is slightly lighter and sweeter. It has more of a citrus flavor with hints of honey. Jameson, on the other hand, is darker and a bit more complex. Expect to taste and overall floral notes with hints of wood.

James Joyce Cocktail (source:
Makes 2 drinks

3 ounces Irish whiskey
1 1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
1 1/2 ounce triple sec
1 ounce fresh lime juice

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker over ice. Shake and strain into a cocktail

A bottle of either one of these Irish Whiskey’s, Jameson or Bushmills, costs about $20. Whatever your whiskey of choice is, we say raise a glass this St. Patrick’s Day and enjoy the festivities!


Cocktail Trends for 2013

What’s new in cocktails for 2013? Here’s our list for trends in cocktails this year to lookout for. If you are entertaining at home that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on any of the fun action of these new cocktail trends. All you need is a handful of fresh, new cocktail recipes and some fancy barware to serve up these tasty cocktails to your guests.

Meat Markets
Expect to see more meat at bars. While the bacon trend (cocktails infused with bacon) seemed to remain somewhat popular, expect to see more cocktails served up to pair with charcuterie plates and the like. When hosting at home serve up a nice selection of meats with your guests.

Low Buzz
Barhopping is popular with people of all ages enjoying nice cocktails in a variety of environments. Since barhopping is enjoyed, who wants to get sloshed after only a couple of drinks? So the latest trend are low alcohol cocktails or mocktails that can be savored without the quick buzz. Think unique drinks from our European friends like like top-quality French vermouths, Spanish sherries, and Italian amaros. If you aren’t sure where to start, a quick internet search will lead you to a good selection of mocktails.

Tap That
Bar goers have grown weary of waiting inordinate amounts of time for a tasty cocktail. To address this, many bars are putting popular mixed drinks on tap. Some also bottle these drinks then pour them over ice for guests. Customers get their drinks quickly and bartenders can serve others more quickly. At home, if you are making a complicated drink, it’s a terrific idea to make ahead of time, so you can enjoy your guests’ company rather than slaving away in the kitchen.

Locally Produced Spirits
There’s a huge trend to buy locally sourced. It started with food. Then beer. Just like locally produced brews soared to popularity over the last several years, we’ll see a surge in locally produced spirits as well. Check with you local liquor store to find locally produced spirits.

Savor the Flavor
Expect to see the advent of floral flavors as well as flavors that develop as the drink sits. herbs and spices that release their flavors as they sit in the cocktail to custom ice that imparts more flavor as it melts. The best way to find some good recipes is to head to a more upscale bar in your city and chat up the bartender and they may be very happy to share their cocktail concoction with you that you can recreate at home for guests.

Have the perfect cocktail is all about taste preference and of course the right glass to serve it in. Find plenty of barware, wine and beer glasses at Culinary Outfitters.