#5 Cold Brew! Old Fashioned/Cold Brewed Cocoa

As you know, cold brew is trending hot right now so I thought it high time to post about this burgeoning trend so that you can all give it a try. I chose to put this together as an episode of Cocktail/Mocktail. For those of you who haven't tried it, cold brewed coffee is like 1000 times better than iced coffee, so even if you don't want to make it yourself, try it on nitro at your favorite hipster coffee shop.

It is hella easy to make yourself though, so I recommend giving it a shot. Coarsely grind up about 4 ounces of coffee, and put it in any vessel that will hold 32 ounces of water. Let it sit for a day in the fridge and bam - cold brew. You can experiment with weaker/stronger brews, or leaving it at room temperature to steep, but that should be obvious. Enjoy neat, or get wild and crazy like the guys at Onyx Coffee Lab and make a cold brew old fashioned:

4 oz cold brewed coffee

1/2 tsp vanilla simple syrup

2 dashes favorite bitters (chocolate if you got 'em)

No garnish, be a man today

Cold Brew Coffee


While riding the bleeding edge of the cold brew trend wave, I found a great way for the kids to start their hipster training early - by cold-brewing some roasted cacao beans. Nothing is more hipster than taking raw, organic ingredients that do not taste good by themselves (try raw cacao nibs  - don't believe the hype, they are awful) and turning them into something only marginally better that you can then obsess over until it becomes something truly noteworthy. Full disclosure, I'm at the "only marginally better" stage of this journey. 

I successfully roasted some raw cacao nibs, ground them up and made some cold brew for B. It was actually quite easy to drink chilled on its own. Nothing like sweet hot cocoa or chocolate milk, but rather light, nutty, a little tangy all the while being faintly reminiscent of chocolate. The next time I served it, I mixed with about a half-ounce of cream, and it was quite good. I used the same process as the coffee when I brewed it, though I had added roasting step for the nibs. If you can find raw beans, go for it. I found raw nibs on Amazon, and just roasted at 300 in my toaster oven for about 10 mins (you will smell it when it is ready). No controls, no science, just enthusiasm. 

This is what Cold Brew Cacao looks like

This is what Cold Brew Cacao looks like

I had a ton of fun with this, and I can see how, with more time and dedication to the process the cold brewed cacao could be phenomenal, even a rival to coffee. So, I present it here as encouragement for you to try it out. Throw some against the wall and see what sticks!

#4 Brandy Alexander/Hot Chocolate

Ok campers, time for a little cold weather edition of Cocktail/Mocktail. For the adults, I want to bring back a classic recipe that has been unaccountably swept to the wayside by the pounding waves of cocktail evolution. The Brandy Alexander is a delicious, decadent treat that checks the box for sophistication while delivering that inner glow that is the hallmark of a great winter warmer. 

Brandy Alexander

Brandy Alexander

2 oz brandy

1 oz heavy cream

1 oz creme de cacao*

Combine all ingredients together in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously, strain into a martini glass or coupe and garnish with freshly grated nutmeg. 

*Note: The only creme de cacao worth your hard-earned dollars is made by Tempus Fugit Spirits. If you can't find it, buy a little sampler of whatever is on hand at your liquor store so you can understand what the cocktail is all about; if you like, hunt for that real bottle. 

For the kids we have the perennial favorite, hot chocolate. Now this hardly warrants its own post, except for the fact that Hot Chocolate is so much better when you make it from scratch. Sadly, my own son does not agree with me, so obviously I have some convincing to do. Here he is voting  me off the island in favor of Ovaltine (another holiday classic).

I can't believe he picked Ovaltine!

I can't believe he picked Ovaltine!

No matter what your personal favorite version of this treat is, we an all agree that it is always better with marshmallows. Here's how to do it right:

Hot Chocolate (serves 2)

12 ounces milk

2 tsp cocoa powder

1.5 tbsp sugar

1 dash vanilla extract

1 dash salt

Heat about 3 ounces of the milk in a small saucepan, add all other ingredients. Stir vigorously off heat until a thick, pasty liquid forms. Doing this will allow you to mix in the rest of the milk without forming lumps of unmixed cocoa. Now add the remaining milk and whisk occasionally as you bring to desired temperature. Serve in small mugs with marshmallows. 

Hot Chocolate and marshmallows

#3 Root and Branch/Sweet Seedling (Shrub Soda)

This recipe set comes courtesy of the fine folks at The Hudson Standard. Not only are they making some of the finest bitters and shrubs on the market today, but they're doing it with locally sourced ingredients that come from the venerable Hudson Valley itself. The focal point of each recipe is a wonderfully elegant Pear Honey Ginger shrub. 

Shrubs are classified as a sweetened combination of fruit, spice and vinegar that make tart, delicious cocktail syrups. Shrubs have historic roots wherever fruit was fermented into vinegar, and they entered American History during the colonial era when vinegar was used to preserve freshly harvested fruit. Enjoy these tangy, fruit-forward syrups as an ingredient in fine cocktails, or poured over ice with club soda. 


Root and Branch

1 3/4 oz old tom gin

3/4 oz Hudson Standard Pear Honey Ginger Shrub

1/4 oz dry vermouth

2 dashes orange bitters

Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously, strain into a Nick and Nora glass. Garnish with lemon twist. 

The Sweet Seedling (Shrub Soda)

1 1/2 oz Hudson Standard Pear Honey Ginger Shrub

8 oz sparkling water

1 dash aromatic bitters

Build drink in toddler-safe (a.k.a plastic) glass filled with ice. Stir briefly, garnish with a speared candied ginger, and serve with bendy straw. 

Pear Honey Ginger Shrub Soda

#2 Apple Frost/Frost Biter

Fall brings brisk, windy afternoons, shorter days, and most importantly fresh apple cider. Get the freshest, least processed jug that you can from your local farm stand and enjoy the King of fall beverages. The best part about apple cider? It's versatility. Great on its own for kids and adults, use it in pancakes and muffins for a subtle apple flavor or ferment it for your own house-made hard cider. In this edition of cocktail/mocktail I'm covering two essential drinks to take away the autumn chills that feature apple cider. The first is a delicious fall treat for the adults - a recipe courtesy of Drew Levinson:

Apple Frost Cocktail;


Apple Frost

1 oz bourbon

1/2 oz pear brandy

2 oz apple cider

1 oz fresh lemon juice

1/2 oz falernum

Shake all ingredients together in a cocktail shaker. Double-strain into a rocks glass rimmed with cinnamon sugar. Garnish with lemon wheel.

Our mocktail is a great one to enjoy making with your kids. They can help prepare the spices, and waiting for it to finish steeping teaches patience (it also gives you enough time to mix up that Apple Frost):

Frost Biter (mulled cider)

4 cups apple cider

1/2 stick cinammon

5 allspice berries

1 small piece of nutmeg

1 piece of star anise pod

1 tsp dried orange peel (or fresh)

Put spices in small muslin bag or tea infuser. Heat cider in a small pot, simmer with spices for 20 mins. Enjoy mulled cider in mugs with a cinnamon stick.

adding spices to mulled cider
mulled apple cider

#1: Gin Rickey/Ginger Mickey

Let's begin with the Gin Rickey, a classic cocktail staple that every guy should have in his repertoire. The ingredients are simple, the prep is straightforward, and you don't have to be a gin lover to appreciate the nuances of this refreshing citrusy treat. It's great after mowing the lawn on a hot summer day, or for a light mid-afternoon restorative after putting the kids down for a nap. 

The Gin Rickey 

2 oz gin 

1 oz lime juice

1/2 oz simple syrup

club soda

Add first three ingredients to cocktail shaker with ice, shake briefly to combine; pour into collins glass with large ice cubes and top with club soda. 

Parents: Gin Rickey with Prairie Organic Gin

Parents: Gin Rickey with Prairie Organic Gin


The Ginger Mickey

1 oz lime juice

1 oz simple syrup

1/tsp grated ginger 

club soda

Combine first 3 ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice, shake vigorously. Strain into small cup, top with club soda. Serve with bendy straw and lime wedge.