GSN Alert: January 31st – National Brandy Alexander Day

brandy-alexander-290x290Sure, we’ve all had at least one Brandy Alexander in our lifetimes.  But rarely does anyone wonder who the eponymous Alexander was.  My good friend Gary ‘gaz” Regan wrote about the origins of this dessert-like concotion a few years ago.  Here’s what he discovered.

“One of the earliest known printed recipes for the Alexander can be found in Hugo Ensslin’s 1916 Recipes for Mixed Drinks. The cocktail, according to historian Barry Popik, was likely born at Rector’s, New York’s premier pre-Prohibition lobster palace. The bartender there, a certain Troy Alexander, created his eponymous concoction in order to serve a white drink at a dinner celebrating Phoebe Snow.

Phoebe Snow, I should explain, was a fictitious character used in an advertising campaign for the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad. The company wanted to get the message across that it powered its locomotives with anthracite, a clean-burning variety of coal. The ads emphasized this by showing Ms. Snow traveling while wearing a snow-white dress.

Getting back to the Brandy Alexander, I should note that it was first known as the Alexander #2. Want to know the secret to making the drink? Go heavy on the brandy and light on the sweet stuff. My recipe is a decent jumping-off point; you can play with it to make it your own. Try the original gin-based Alexander, too.  It’s a mighty fine drink.”

Here’s gaz’s recipe:

Brandy Alexander
2 oz Cognac or other fine aged brandy
1 oz Dark crème de cacao
1 oz Cream
Garnish: Freshly grated nutmeg
Glass: Cocktail

Add all the ingredients to a cocktail shaker and fill with ice. Shake, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.

GSN Alert: January 25th – National Irish Coffee Day

imagesAlthough different variations of coffee cocktails pre-date the now-classic Irish coffee by at least 100 years, the original Irish coffee was according to sources invented and named by Joe Sheridan, a head chef at Foynes, County Limerick but originally from Castlederg, County Tyrone. Foynes’ port was the precursor to Shannon International Airport in the west of Ireland. The coffee was conceived after a group of American passengers disembarked from a Pan Am flying boat on a miserable winter evening in the 1940s. Sheridan added whiskey to the coffee to warm the passengers. After the passengers asked if they were being served Brazilian coffee, Sheridan told them it was “Irish coffee”.

Stanton Delaplane, a travel writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, brought Irish coffee to the United States after drinking it at Shannon Airport, when he worked with the Buena Vista Cafe in San Francisco to start serving it on November 10, 1952, and worked with the bar owners Jack Koeppler and George Freeberg to recreate the Irish method for floating the cream on top of the coffee, sampling the drink one night until he nearly passed out. The group also sought help from the city’s then mayor, George Christopher, who owned a dairy and suggested that cream aged at least 48 hours would be more apt to float. Delaplane popularized the drink by mentioning it frequently in his travel column, which was widely read throughout America.  (Wikipedia)

Irish Coffee
In Irish Coffee Glass, place a teaspoon and fill with boiling water for five seconds. In this pre-warmed glass, put one teaspoon of brown sugar and 2 ounces of Irish Whiskey. Fill the glass with 4 ounces really hot, strong black coffee. Stir well to melt all the sugar. Then carefully pour 1.5 ounces of lightly whipped cream over the back of a spoon so that it floats on top of the coffee. Do not stir after adding the cream, as the true flavour is obtained by drinking the hot coffee and Irish Whiskey through the cream.

GSN Alert: January 17th – National Hot Buttered Rum Day

cocktail_spirit_hot_buttered_rumIn honor of National Hot Buttered Rum Day, Good Spirits News is happy to share a selection of videos by the Small Screen Network.  Filmed in the Seattle area, these videos feature our friends Robert “Drinkboy” Hess, Kathy Casey and Kacy Fitch from the Zig Zag Cafe making their versions of this iconic winter cocktail.  Cheers!~

GSN Alert: January 11th – National Hot Toddy Day

Today is National Hot Toddy Day!  A perfect day for it, since it’s only 15 degrees in Central New York at the moment.  The GSN desk was sent a few recipes to share with our readers.  Enjoy!

image001DRAMBUIE® Rusty Apple Toddy
In a coffee mug, add:
3 parts heated Apple Cider
1 part DRAMBUIE® Scotch Liqueur
Juice from one-quarter Lemon wedge

image002Stir briefly. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.

Hot Tully
1 oz Tullamore Dew
1/2 oz simple syrup
1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
3 oz hot water

First warm a mug with hot water, then discard and combine ingredients above.  Stir before serving.
Options: Add fresh ginger for a bit of a bite, or infuse the simple syrup with fun flavors such as cinnamon and orange, or apple and ginger.

image003Milagro Hot Toddy
1.5 parts Milagro Anejo Tequila
1 part Agave Nectar
4 Cloves
1 Cinnamon Stick
1 Whole Anise Star
4 parts Boiling Water
1 Lemon Wheel
Optional: Whipped cream

GSN Alert: National Mocktail Week January 13-19, 2019

A new trend is taking shape in bars and at home– toasting in 2019 will not only be done with cocktails alone but with a mocktail–yes, a non-alcoholic drink. The number of Americans choosing not to drink alcohol but still socializing and enjoying going out for a meal and a drink is on the rise. To keep up with this trend, the need for better and more Mocktails to be served on the menu is being called for by consumers young and old.

In 2019 America will be celebrating the first National Mocktail Week. Taking place, the second full week of January 13-19, the week recognizes the growing desire by a number of Americans, mindful of alcohol consumption to seek alternatives to traditional drinks.

National Mocktail Week supports and celebrates the decision to drink non-alcoholic cocktails and encourages friends and family to do the same. The movement is spearheaded by Founder Marnie Rae. 15 years ago, Marnie got sober and it didn’t take long for her to realize that fun, delicious, grown-up cocktails were not an option in most of the hospitality world. Marnie founded National Mocktail Week as just one aspect of her movement to make Mocktails a standard on the drink menu.

The word mocktail comes from crushing together “mock” and “cocktail” together. What bartenders, and home enthusiasts are appreciating about mocktails is they get to experiment with ingredients that are typically off-limits for drinks.

A Mocktail is a non-alcoholic cocktail which can consist of a wide range of ingredients like fruit juices, drinking vinegars, tea-based syrups and homemade bitters or shrub, herbs and spices, soda and other elements. And while the trend may seem new, some favorite mocktails are not. The Shirley Temple and Roy Rogers have been around for decades, but primarily associated for those under the legal drinking age.

Photo credit: Effie Gurmeza

Here is a Mocktail recipe perfect to serve anytime.

Classic Bubbly
1 ½ cups pomegranate juice
1 cup frozen raspberries
4 tbsp. vanilla bean paste
5 drops lemon extract
5 drops orange extract
2 pomegranates worth of pips

In a large saucepan, add all ingredients but the pom seed. Bring to light simmer over medium low heat. Simmer for approximately 25 minutes. Let cool.
Blend well in a blender to incorporate all ingredients. Add soda/sparkling water to taste. Garnish with pom seeds!

Everyone is encouraged to choose a mocktail over a cocktail. Celebrate National Mocktail Week and show support needed to continue a healthy lifestyle. Better yet, give a new Mocktail a try!

For more information visit and join her at,, #SoberNotBoring, Use  #NationalMocktailWeek to share recipes and experience the best that Mocktails have to offer!

GSN Alert: January 1st – National Bloody Mary Day

Illustration by Alberto Vargas from Playboy magazine, March 1967

Illustration by Alberto Vargas from Playboy magazine, March 1967

What to kill that dull ache in your head after a night of too much Champagne?  What to eat on a queasy stomach?  How about the best of both worlds?  A drinkable foodstuff?  Enter January 1st’s national libation, the Bloody Mary (or if you prefer The Red Snapper).  Rather than going into the history behind the drink, although quite fascinating, instead today I will provide you with some of the original recipes as first published in the 40’s and 50’s and let you pick one that seems appealing.

Red Snapper – Cocktail Guide and Ladies Companion by Crosby Gaiges 1941
2oz tomato juice
2oz vodka
½ teaspoon Worcestershire
1 pinch of salt
1 pinch of cayenne pepper
1 dash of lemon juice
Salt, pepper and red pepper to taste
Shake well and serve in a Delmonico glass

Bloody Mary – Stork Club Bar Book by Lucius Beebe 1946
3oz Vodka
6oz Tomato Juice
2 Dashes of Angostura bitters
Juice of half a lemon
Shake together with ice or mix in Waring mixer and serve cold in highball glass

Bloody Bloody Mary – Bottoms Up! by Ted Saucier 1951
1½ oz Vodka
3oz Tomato
½ tsp Worcestershire sauce
Juice of ½ lemon
Dash celery salt
Shake and serve in an Old Fashioned glass over a lump of ice, garnish with a mint sprig

Bloody Mary – Esquire’s Drink Book by Frederic Birmingham 1956
8oz Tomato Juice
3oz Vodka
Juice of two lemons
White of one egg
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
2 celery leaves
4 dashes of Worcestershire sauce

GSN Alert: December 31st – National Champagne Day

Dom Perignon

Dom Perignon

It’s no surprise that National Champagne Day is on New Year’s Eve.  But, how did it come to be associated with the holiday? 

Originally, Champagne wines were “still” or non-carbonated.  Barreled and usually consumed within a year, the yeasts lay dormant during the winter months.  However, with increased production, more wine meant sitting longer in barrels as the seasons warmed thereby reactivating the yeast.  If you know about fermentation, you know that yeast produces carbon dioxide.  So, these long-barreled wines gradually gained a sparkling, bubbly quality.

The man on the left (Dom Perignon) was the person responsible for a few important milestones in the history of Champagne.  First, he started bottling these wines instead of leaving them in barrels.  He also came up with a way to cork the bottle and secure it with heavy string.  King Louis XV eventually decreed that all Champagne had to be bottled, and other French wines had to remain in barrels.

With the novel effervescence, Champagne caught on in a big way in Europe and eventually the world.  At first it was out of reach of the middle and lower classes simply due to price.  Many bottles were broken, exploded or leaked, so that it was often merely good luck that bottles arrived safe and sound in shops around the globe.  This drove the price up.  The noble wealthy being habitual partiers, of course bought plenty of Champagne for their private functions.  By the time of the industrial revolution however, the nouveau riche wanted their share of the fun and began buying bottles for special occasions; weddings, anniversaries and of course, New Year’s Eve.

Today, almost anyone can buy a bottle of sparkling wine, many good ones are made in California, Spain and Italy.  But, to taste true Champagne, you must buy it from France.  Expect to pay in the low to mid three figures for a Vintage Champagne, or pick up a non-vintage bottle for under $40. Cheers!