Holiday Cocktails: Pour a glass of holiday cheer

Published: Tuesday, December 04, 2012 @ 12:00 AM
Updated: Tuesday, December 04, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

If you’re hosting a get-together, it makes sense to stock up on beer and wine, but the best hosts give their nice guests a little something special in their glasses. Something festive. Something memorable.

You could hire a bartender to create a signature drink for your event. Or, you could just use one of ours, by proxy: We pried the secret recipes out of the capable hands of bartenders at four area restaurants and bars. You’ll have to mix the drinks yourselves, but your guests just might swear they were professionally poured.

Warm your party up with The Pub’s Pumpkin Hot Buttered Rum or cool it down with the Oakwood Club’s very own Santa’s Sleigh, a combo of brandy, amaretto, eggnog and ice cream. Make your guests feel like a kid again with a S’mores Martini from Vue Ultra Lounge or let them feel sophisticated while sipping the Taste Chocolate Martini, which has just a hint of coffee in it.

Special thanks to the elves, er, bartenders, at The Pub in Beavercreek, the Oakwood Club in Oakwood, Vue Ultra Lounge in Dayton, and Taste Creative Cuisine in Trotwood, all of whom shared their favorite holiday drink recipes with us.

A seasonal favorite, this cocktail creates a drinkable pumpkin pie.

-          2 tablespoons pumpkin batter mix (see below)

-          6 ounces boiling water

-          1 ½ ounces Sailor Jerry rum

-          Whipped cream

Put batter in coffee mug and add boiling water. Stir until well incorporated. Add rum and stir again. Garnish with whipped cream.

Pumpkin Batter Mix:

-          ½ lb. butter (unsalted) softened

-          1 lb. light brown sugar

-          2 teaspoons cinnamon

-          2 teaspoons nutmeg

-          2 teaspoons vanilla extract

-          ½ teaspoons allspice

-          15 ounce can of pure pumpkin puree (unspiced)

Put ingredients into mixing bowl and whisk until well incorporated. You can refrigerate for later use.

The peppermint schnapps adds a nice peppy kick to this drink.

-          ½ ounce Three Olives vanilla vodka

-          1 ounce dark creme de cacao

-          ½ ounce Tres Leches cream liqueur

-          ½ ounce peppermint schnapps

-          ¾ ounce half and half

-          Hershey’s chocolate syrup

Use the Hershey’s chocolate syrup to create swirls along the bowl of martini glass. Combine the rest of the ingredients in an iced mixing tin. Shake and strain into martini glass.

For this drink, honey liqueur is pressed with fresh blueberries and lime and topped with sparkling champagne and cranberries. If you prefer sparkling wine, Secco Italian Bubbles or Mumm Napa are good choices.

-          2 ounces Barenjager honey liqueur

-          4 ounces Brut Champagne/sparkling wine

-          Fresh blueberries and cranberries

-          Lime cut in wedges

Refrigerate champagne glasses and champagne. Fill a cocktail shaker with half a cup of blueberries, 2 lime wedges and Barenjager honey liqueur. Using a muddler (or the back of a large spoon) smash all the ingredients together. Top with 1 cup of ice, shake well and strain into chilled champagne glass. Top prepared mixture with champagne and garnish with fresh cranberries.

A classic childhood treat reimagined for grown-ups.

-          2 ounces Three Olives s’mores vodka

-          .5 ounces creme de cocoa light

-          .5 ounces Kahlua creme liqueur

-          Hershey’s chocolate syrup

-          Graham cracker crumbs

-          Fresh marshmallows to toast

Refrigerate martini glasses an hour in advance. Using two small plates, coat one with chocolate syrup and fill the other with graham cracker crumbs. Roll the rim of a chilled martini glass in the chocolate syrup and then dip in the graham cracker crumbs. (Can do several ahead of time and store in a freezer until ready to serve.) Fill a cocktail shaker with one cup of ice. Add Three Olives s’mores vodka, creme de cocoa light and Kahlua creme. Shake well and pour into prepared martini glass. Spear marshmallows with toothpicks or long skewers cut in half. Toast marshmallows over flame (or use culinary torch) and garnish cocktail.

Bartender Corky Kissell makes this drink using either frozen pomegranate seeds from Trader Joe’s or fresh ones from Kroger.

-          2 ounces cranberry vodka

-          2 ounces pomegranate vodka

-          1 ounce cranberry juice

-          1 ounce Cointreau orange liqueur

-          Lime juice from ¼ of a lime

Add cranberry juice, Cointreau and the fresh lime juice to the equal parts cranberry and pomegranate vodka. Shake and strain into glass. Garnish with fresh lime and pomegranate seeds.

Make this sweet drink extra special by adding “snow,” known to cake decorators as white sparkling sugar, to the rim of the glass.

-          1 ounce brandy

-          1 ounce eggnog

-          1 ounce amaretto

-          Generous scoop of vanilla ice cream

-          Nutmeg

-          Wilton white sparkling sugar

Blend the vanilla ice cream with eggnog, brandy and amaretto. Serve in a sugar ”snow”-rimmed glass and garnish with nutmeg. You could also add a cinnamon stick.

Taste first created this drink for a guest wanting a dessert, coffee or a cocktail to end her night and meal. The sweetness of Godiva and the hint of coffee from the Café Patron make it a great nightcap.

-          1 ounce 360 chocolate vodka

-          1 ounce Godiva chocolate liqueur

-          .5 ounce Bailey’s Irish cream

-          .5 ounce Café Patron

-          .5 ounce Stoli vanilla vodka

-          chocolate syrup

Spiral chocolate sauce in chilled martini glass. Mix all ingredients in ice-filled cocktail shaker. Shake well to mix. Strain and pour into prepared martini glass. (Variation: A splash of peppermint liqueur can add a hint of the holidays.)

This cocktail is named after a French 75 mm gun in early 1900s Paris. This version puts a modern twist on a vintage cocktail and can be served as an aperitif or between courses.

-          1.5 ounce Hendricks gin

-          1.5 ounce Moet & Chandon Nectar Imperial Rose’ Champagne

-          .5 ounce orange simple syrup

-          .5 ounce sour mix

Fill cocktail shaker with ice. Add all ingredients except champagne and shake vigorously. Add champagne. Give it three shakes and then strain into chilled champagne flute.

5 things you should know about Ramadan, Islam’s holy month of fasting

Published: Thursday, May 25, 2017 @ 8:00 AM

Muslims around the globe are gearing up for the holy month of Ramadan, which begins this weekend.

Throughout the holiday, observers fast from sunrise to sunset and partake in nightly feasts.

» RELATED: Muslims in America, by the numbers

Here are five things to know about Islam’s sacred month:

What is Ramadan?

Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, is the holy month of fasting, spiritual reflection and prayer for Muslims.

It is believed to be the month in which the Prophet Muhammad revealed the holy book — Quran — to Muslims.

The word “Ramadan” itself is taken from the Arabic word, “ramad,” an adjective describing something scorchingly dry or intensely heated by the sun.

» RELATED: Mahershala Ali makes history as first Muslim to win an Academy Award 

When is Ramadan?

The Islamic calendar is based on the moon’s cycle and not the sun’s (what the Western world uses), so the dates vary year to year.

By the Gregorian solar calendar, Ramadan is 10 to 12 days earlier every year.

In 2017, Ramadan is expected to start on May 27 and last through June 24.

Last year, the first day of Ramadan was June 6, 2016.

To determine when exactly the holy month will begin, Muslim-majority countries look to local moon sighters, according to Al Jazeera.

The lunar months last between 29 and 30 days, depending on the sighting of the moon on the 29th night of each month. If the moon is not visible, the month will last 30 days.

» RELATED: 5 inspiring quotes from iconic Muslim women to celebrate #MuslimWomensDay 

What do Muslims do during Ramadan and why?

Ramadan is known as the holy month of fasting, with Muslims abstaining from eating and drinking from sunrise to sunset.

Fasting during the holiday is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, along with the daily prayer, declaration of faith, charity and performing the Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

Last year, according to Al Jazeera, fasting hours around the globe ranged between 11 and 22 hours and in the US, 16 to 18 hours.

The fast is intended to remind Muslims of the suffering of those less fortunate and bring believers closer to God (Allah, in Arabic). 

During the month, Muslims also abstain from habits such as smoking, caffeine, sex, and gossip; this is seen as a way to both physically and spiritually purify oneself while practicing self-restraint.

Here’s what a day of fasting during Ramadan is like:

  • Muslims have a predawn meal called the “suhoor.”
  • Then, they fast all day until sunset.
  • At sunset, Muslims break their fast with a sip of water and some dates, the way they believe the Prophet Muhammad broke his fast more than a thousand years ago.
  • After sunset prayers, they gather at event halls, mosques or at home with family and friends in a large feast called “iftar."

» RELATED: Photos of famous Muslim Americans

How is the end of Ramadan celebrated?

Toward the end of the month, Muslims celebrate Laylat al-Qadr or “the Night of Power/Destiny” — a day observers believe Allah sent the Angel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad to reveal the Quran’s first verses.

On this night, which falls on one of the last 10 nights of Ramadan, Muslims practice intense worship as they pray for answers and seek forgiveness for any sins.

To mark the end of Ramadan, determined by the sighting of the moon on the 29th, a 3-day celebration called Eid al-Fitr brings families and friends together in early morning prayers followed by picnics, feasts and fun.

Does every Muslim fast during Ramadan?

According to most interpreters of the Quran, children, the elderly, the ill, pregnant women, women who are nursing or menstruating, and travelers are exempt from fasting.

Some interpreters also consider intense hunger and thirst as well as compulsion (someone threatening another to do something) exceptions.

But as an entirety, whether Muslims fast or not often depends on their ethnicity and country.

Many Muslims in Muslim-majority countries, for example, observe the monthlong fast during Ramadan, according to 2012 data from the Pew Research Center.

In fact, in Saudi Arabia, Muslims and non-Muslims can be fined or jailed for eating in public during the day, according to the Associated Press.

But in the United States and in Europe, many Muslims are accepting of non-observers.


How not to celebrate Cinco de Mayo

Published: Tuesday, May 02, 2017 @ 11:28 AM

Cinco de Mayo is Friday, and before everyone gets ready for happy hours and parties, it helps to go in with a plan.

>> Read more trending stories

There are plenty of ways to celebrate the day, which commemorates Mexico’s victory over France in the Battle of Puebla on May 5 1862, during the French-Mexican war.

Make sure you do not do any of the following:

Dress up in sombreros and fake mustaches

There is no need to "dress up" for this day, but if you do, do not wear a sombrero, mariachi suit, serape, fake mustache or anything of the sort if you are not a member of that culture. Those things have historical and cultural significance, and donning them just for a day caricatures and stereotypes people. That's not fun.

Go out and get drunk

There is nothing wrong with drinking in moderation and doing it socially, but responsibility is key. What is the use in celebrating a day if you get sick or can't remember it?

Make English words Spanish by adding an "o" on the end

Not only does it not make any sense, but by doing this, it makes fun of another language and turns it into a joke. The same goes for plays on the holiday name, so no parties or themes like "Cinco de Drinko."

You can make a margarita cupcake or a fun cocktail, or have dinner at a family-owned Mexican restaurant. There are plenty of ways to celebrate Cinco de Mayo without doing any of the three above.

Woman turns son's hospital bed into giant Easter basket

Published: Tuesday, April 18, 2017 @ 5:14 PM

Marine2844/Getty Images/iStockphoto

A woman turned her son’s hospital bed at Wolfson Children’s Hospital in Jacksonville, Florida, into a giant Easter basket, and social media loved it.

>> Read more trending news

The hospital posted the image on its Facebook page on Monday. Within 24 hours, the post has nearly 2,000 likes and nearly 400 shares.
“The lengths great parents will go to for their precious children,” one commenter wrote. 

The family is showing support for the post and have commented that they hope this becomes a trend for patients at the hospital every Easter.

Why is it called Good Friday and what’s so good about it?

Published: Friday, April 14, 2017 @ 12:14 PM

Pictured is a mosaic of Jesus Christ inside Messina Cathedral on the Piazza del Duomo in Messina, Sicily.
Eye Ubiquitous/UIG via Getty Images

Christians believe Jesus was mocked publicly and crucified on a solemn Friday two thousand years ago. Today, the calamitous day is celebrated as Good Friday.

But what’s so good about that?

>> Read more trending news

One answer is that at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion, “good” may have referred to “holy” in Old English, a linguistic theory supported by many language experts.

According to Slate, the Oxford English Dictionary notes the Wednesday before Easter was once called “Good Wednesday.” Today, it’s more commonly known as Holy Wednesday.

And Anatoly Liberman, a University of Minnesota professor who studies the origins of English words, told Slate if we consider the alternative names for Good Friday, such as “Sacred Friday” (romance languages) or “Passion Friday” (Russian), this theory makes a lot of sense.

Another possible reason for its moniker — a theory supported by both linguists and historical evidence — refers to the holiday’s ties to Easter Sunday, which celebrates the resurrection of Christ.

Because Jesus couldn’t have been resurrected without dying, the day of his death is, in a sense, “good.”

“That terrible Friday has been called Good Friday because it led to the Resurrection of Jesus and his victory over death and sin and the celebration of Easter, the very pinnacle of Christian celebrations,” the Huffington Post reported.

A third answer, some believe, is that the “good” in Good Friday was derived from "God” or “God’s Friday” — the way the term “goodbye” comes from a contraction of the phrase “God Be With You.”

Still, not everyone refers to this day as Good Friday. For example, 

The Catholic Encyclopedia mentions that, in the Greek Church, the holiday is known as "the Holy and Great Friday." In German, it's referred to as "Sorrowful Friday."

And as aforementioned, “Sacred Friday” and “Passion Friday” are also used.

In addition, because the holiday is also commemorated with a long fast, Good Friday was also referred to as “Long Friday” by the Anglo-Saxons.