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NYE Bourbon Cran-Peary Sparkler

Bourbon Cran-Peary Sparkler - perfect for New Year's Eve

New Year’s Eve presents the perfect opportunity to break out a little sparkling wine and create some festive cocktails. The folks at Serious Eats had the right idea and created a pretty tasty looking roundup of sparkly cocktails. Here at the Westervin’s, we decided to take their Sparkling Bourbon Pear cocktail and bump up the winter (it’s not that cold down here in Arkansas, so we need something to remind us it’s winter, right?) with some cranberries. Despite the maple syrup, which is added to the purée, this isn’t an overly sweet cocktail. The lemon and cranberry really give it a nice tang, which along with the champagne makes for an easy drinking sipper.

Bourbon Cran-Peary Sparkler - Westervin


A bubbly punch cocktail for New Year's Eve: The Bourbon Cran-Peary Sparkler from Westervin

ingredients for the Bourbon Cran-Peary Sparkler - a perfect NYE cocktail

For the Purée:

  • 2 bartlett pears, cored and sliced into eighths
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons fresh juice, from two lemons
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • Large handful of cranberries
  • 1 tsp clementine zest
  • 1/2 tsp grapefruit zest
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ginger, grated

For the Bourbon Cran-Peary Mixer:

  • 1 cup roasted pear puree
  • 2 cups WL Weller Special, or Bourbon of your choice
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup

To Serve:

  • 2oz Bourbon Cran-Peary Mixer
  • Ice
  • Sparkling wine
  • Cranberries and ground clove to garnish

roasted pears for the Bourbon Cran-Peary Sparkler Cocktail from Westerivn


Preheat oven to 400F.

Arrange sliced pears on parchment lined baking sheet.

Combine cranberries, 1oz water, citrus zest, and ginger in a small ramekin.

Place pears and cranberries in the oven and roast for 15-20 minutes, until the pears are a bit caramelized.

Allow to cool and then place in blender with 2.5oz of lemon juice and a dash of ground cloves. Purée well.

Combine 1 cup of purée with 2 cups of bourbon and 1/2 cup of maple syrup. This is your mixer.

To create your cocktail, fill a rocks glass with ice, add 2oz of your mixer, and fill with champagne. Garnish with cranberries and ground cloves.

Adapted from Serious Eats

The Bourbon Cran-Peary Sparkler Cocktail - Westervin

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Molasses Cookie Sour

Molasses Sour Cocktail - a holiday take on the whiskey sour

Planning on grabbing a bucket of eggnog to get you through all the holiday cheer?

That’s boring.

“Well, how about a peppermint martini?” you ask.

I’m offended you would even suggest that.

Let me help you out this season. If you follow my instructions for my Molasses Cookie Cocktail, you’ll not only impress your adult loved ones with an original drink that’s sweet yet sophisticated but also drown out all their nonsense with each bracing sip.

Molasses Sour Cocktail - whiskey sour with cinnamon, ginger, and holiday spices

But in all seriousness, we’ve actually got two yummy recipes for you that are fun to make around the holidays. One is a really versatile holiday spice simple syrup, and the other is a take on a whiskey sour utilizing said syrup that tastes like a molasses cookie. The syrup is a mix of classic baking spices and sorghum or molasses that’ll bring that dream of a white Christmas even closer to reality. While you can use the spiced syrup in any cocktail, we really like it in simpler classic cocktails, like an old fashioned or sour.

ingredients for a Molasses Sour Cocktail

Holiday Spice Syrup

  • 1 cup molasses or sorghum (we liked the flavor and nose of the Sorghum we had on hand best)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 cinnamon sticks, crushed up
  • 1″ knob of ginger, sliced
  • 20 whole cloves
  • 5 whole allspice berries
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 cardamom pod

Combine everything in a sauce pan on medium-high heat and bring to a simmer. Let it simmer for about 5 minutes, then remove from heat, cover, and let cool.

Once it’s cooled down, strain out the solid ingredients. Now you’ve got a holiday spice simple syrup.

Feel free to adjust this recipe to your own tastes. For instance, Sarah doesn’t like a strong ginger flavor, so I made one version omitting ginger. You could even create a separate ginger syrup that you mix in as needed on an individual cocktail basis.

So now you’ve got this syrup, but what are you supposed to do with it? Well, add it to any drink that needs a little dash of Christmas. Take any classic cocktail that calls for sugar, and give it a wallop of Christmas cheer. At Haus Westervin, we’re pretty fond of whiskey sours, which seemed like a perfect application for this syrup. We don’t always make whiskey sours up with egg whites, but it feels like the Christmas thing to do.

Molasses Cookie Sour

  • 2oz Old Weller Antique (or bourbon of your choice)
  • 1oz fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 oz holiday spice syrup
  • 1 egg white, optional

Dry shake all ingredients to get the egg white nice and foamy. Add ice, shake again, and strain into a coupe. Add a few drops of bitters (I used some chicory pecan bitters Sarah picked up for me on a trip to Nashville) and some freshly grated nutmeg and cinnamon. Top with a star anise for extra pizzazz.

Molasses Sour Cocktail - a citrusy, christmas cookie cocktail from Westervin


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The Supreme Cocktail {Westervin Blog}

You’re sitting at home in the evening, the sun readying itself to set. The crisp air of early fall is creeping in through your open windows. Perhaps you’re sitting with your significant other or a group of favorite friends. Perhaps you’re alone enjoying a moment of quiet. Your eyes rest somewhere in the distance, unfocused and still. You reach beside you to pick up a champagne saucer filled a new cocktail creation you decided to try tonight. Its balance of sweet and tart is complimented beautifully by it’s thick, smooth texture and bright, rosy hue. With each sip, your throat warms, then your chest and your arms, and you sink a little more into your chair with each exhale. This is the life. Bring on the season of changing leaves, cozy sweaters, and frequent celebrations!

The Supreme Cocktail - tart, sweet, and perfect for fall {Westervin Blog}

What is this elixir? It’s the Supreme. The citrus and grenadine really bring out the apple flavors of Applejack or Calvados making this a great beginning-of-fall cocktail:


1½ oz. Calvados
½ oz. fresh lemon juice
½ oz. orgeat
1 barspoon grenadine

shake and strain.

Recipe from Eric Johnson, Trou Normand, San Francisco via Imbibe Magazine

Note that we used Applejack since we didn’t have Calvados on hand. I preferred Laird’s bonded variety over their regular offering, but both were good. We also whipped up some homemade orgeat and grenadine, but you can use nice store-bought versions if you don’t have some spare hours to steep almonds in sugar. And if you can’t find, or don’t want to make orgeat, just make a Jack Rose, which is another one of our fall favorites.

Perfect for the transition to fall: The Supreme Cocktail {Westervin Blog}

What you'll need for The Supreme cocktail {Westervin Blog}

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The Coconaut

Westervin: The Coconaut


Sometimes, when winter feels relentless, you just need a tropical drink. Here’s our current favorite tiki cocktail. It’s really easy to make as long as you have a blender.

The Coconaut

8oz Coconut Cream

7oz Jamaican rum (we used Appleton)

2oz of fresh lime juice

Add all of that to a blender with ice, blend, and serve. It makes quite a bit, so we usually halve the recipe for two drinks.


In no time, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to a tropical isle. Also, check out that awesome coconut mug that Sarah got me for Christmas. If you’d like one of your own, have a look at retroplanet.com.

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Swig & Swill: Brewing Coffee

I’m a bit of a coffee tinkerer. I don’t like getting into too much of a routine with my brew. Switching between a Chemex and an Aeropress creates a lot of variety. Both yield different results, yet neither is necessarily better.

You can also get a lot of variety from just changing how you brew a pot of Chemex coffee, and even more so with the Aeropress. It’s fun to try different things yourself, but it’s also pretty helpful to see how others go about brewing. Enter: brewmethods.com. Brew Methods is a great resource for coffee brewing recipes for those who are always searching for the best or wanting to change it up.

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The Hippocrene

the hippocrene

I was recently lucky enough to be asked by the fine folks at the Poetry Foundation to whip up a fancy-pants cocktail to celebrate 100 years of Poetry magazine. The cocktail was to be called the Hippocrene after the mythological fountain created by Pegasus. After much experimentation and some very helpful taste-testers, I ended up with:

The Hippocrene


  • 1 1/4 ounces gin
  • 3/4 ounce ginger liqueur (domaine de canton)
  • 1/2 ounce fresh grapefruit juice
  • 1/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon mint tea (brewed at double strength) and chilled
  • 2 ounces dry, sparkling wine
  • Fresh basil, for garnish
  • Dash or two grapefruit bitters


Single glass preparation:

Combine all ingredients except sparkling wine, basil, and bitters (if using) in a mixing glass over ice. Stir and strain into a glass and top with remaining ingredients.

Punch preparation:

Combine all ingredients (in greater quantities) except sparkling wine, basil and bitters in an adequately sized serving bowl, along with some large blocks of ice. It’s best to let this mixture chill and dilute a little while before adding everything else, but if time is short, it could be refrigerated beforehand and water (sparkling or still) can be added along with the rest of the ingredients at service time. The basil should still be added directly to the glass, as it is the aroma and not necessarily the flavor that you’re after. It would also be nice to garnish the mixing bowl with some citrus slices, for color and a generally vigorous appearance.



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The Lone Ranger

The Lone Ranger: tequila, rosé, and lemon cocktail

We’ve finally been enjoying some bright, summery(ish) weather here in Chicago, and we found that the best way to celebrate is with a refreshing afternoon cocktail. Obv. If you’ve got a bit of a sweet tooth, you’ll love The Lone Ranger, which can really pack a sugary punch, depending on the the rosé, syrup levels, and garnishes you choose.

The Lone Ranger

1.5 oz Silver tequila

1 oz Lemon Juice

.5 oz Rich simple syrup (two parts sugar, one part water)

2 oz Brut rosé sparkling wine

Garnish: a few mint leaves and a cherry

Glass: collins

(from Liquor.com)

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Moonshine Cocktails

moonshine hillbilly arnold palmer cocktail

While we were in Gatlinburg on our Dollymoon, we stopped by the Ole Smoky Moonshine Holler to check out the distillery operation and sample some shine. Lemon Drop was one of our favorite flavored moonshines that we tried. If you mix it with iced tea you get a hillbilly Arnold Palmer, which seems like it’s about the perfect simple summer cocktail. We like to add about two shots of the lemon moonshine to a mason jar filled with ice and then fill the rest with tea and a lemon slice. Adding some mint is pretty tasty, too.

moonshine tropicália cocktail

Now if you can’t get to Gatlinburg to pick up some of the flavored Old Smoky Moonshine, you may still be able to find their original moonshine in your area. This stuff is made with 80% corn and comes out at 100 proof. While it definitely has an interesting flavor too it, I was surprised how much the aroma reminded me of Cachaça. I thought I’d try to adapt a recipe and see what happened.

Tropicália Moonshine Punch

1 good chunk of pineapple
3 sprigs of mint
1/2 oz basil lime syrup*
2oz Original Old Smoky Moonshine
1 dash orange bitters
1 dash grapefruit bitters
bottle of Limonata or lemon-lime soda

Add all the ingredients except soda to a mixing glass and muddle, add ice and shake. Strain into an ice filled highball glass and top with soda. Garnish with a lime wheel.

This recipe is a modified version of Primo Avenue Punch from Bitters, and I was pleasantly surprised how well it turned out. The flavor of the moonshine holds up to everything, and it really makes for a nice summer cocktail.

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Pegu Club Cocktail

The Pegu Club was a gentelman’s club for British officers in Burma, which was set up in the late 1800’s. The signature drink of the club is the now classic Pegu Club Cocktail, which for one reason or another I had never made. But with the weather heating up, it seemed like a good time to give it a go. If you’re a gin fan, I’d suggest you try it as well.

Pegu Club Cocktail

2 oz London Dry Gin

3/4 oz Orange Curaçao

1/2 oz fresh lime juice

1 dash Angostura

1 dash orange bitters

Combine all ingredients in a shaker. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a lime twist.

(from Bitters: A Spirited History)

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Seelbach Cocktail

With the Kentucky Derby just around the corner, it’s not too early to dust off your mint julep recipes to make sure they’ve still got it. What’s that? You’re afraid you’ll catch mint julep fatigue before the big day? Never fear. Just work the classic Seelbach cocktail into your derby repertoire. The Seelbach was created in 1917 at the famed Louisville hotel of the same name. If you happen to like manhattans and champagne more than mint, this may end up being your derby cocktail of choice.

  • 1 oz. bourbon
  • 1/2 oz. Cointreau
  • 7 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 7 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
  • Champagne

Add all ingredients except Champagne to a mixing glass filled with ice. Stir and strain into a coupe and top with chilled Champagne and a lemon peel.

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