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Where EAST meets the Northwest

MOJITO WITH MOXIE. Apples and spices say seasonal sipping to mixologist Jose Torrella, whos come up with a holiday mojito that uses cider and calvados to add a nuance of nol. (AP Photo/Larry Crowe)

From The Asian Reporter, V20, #30 (December 20, 2010), page 13 & 14.

Seasonal cocktails spice up the holidays

By Michelle Locke

For The Associated Press

Its December; time to get into the holiday spirit. Or spirits, as the case may be.

And should you need assistance, bartenders coast-to-coast are figuring out new ways to capture festive in a glass.

Apples and spices say seasonal sipping to mixologist Jose Torrella, whos come up with a holiday mojito that uses cider and calvados to add a nuance of nol.

The best cocktail presentation is like painting a portrait, says Torrella, barman at the Barclay Bar & Grill at the InterContinental New York Barclay. Bringing out a festive theme requires "spirits, cordials, fresh ingredients always juices, herbs, spices, vegetables, and fruits, he says. "Though multiple elements may seem confusing, in the end, the joy is in the simplicity from the abundance."

And dont forget the special glasses. A quick way to take a drink from ho-hum to holiday is to rim the glass with colored sugar.

Scott Beattie, bartender at Spoonbar in Healdsburg, California and author of Artisanal Cocktails, has a couple of holiday go-to items St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram, a rum liqueur, and angostura bitters. Take something like a simple hot toddy made of brandy, lemon juice, and honey or sugar, add a dash of bitters and stir with a cinnamon stick and voila!

John Cooper, developer of Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur, keeps his holiday drinks simple. He makes a drink called autumn spice that is equal parts ginger liqueur and apple cider with one-half part of lemon juice for sprightliness.

He introduced the liqueur in 2008 after spending a good deal of time experimenting with the ingredients, which include a maceration of fresh ginger to which aged cognac, honey, and other ingredients are added.

And if you need more inspiration you might take a page from Christmas champion Charles Dickens himself.

After Scrooges holiday mood goes from humbug to humdinger following a night spent with spirits, he celebrates by wishing his put-upon clerk, Bob Cratchit, a merry Christmas, promising him a raise and making plans for the two of them to discuss the Cratchit family future over a bowl of smoking bishop, a type of mulled wine made with oranges or lemons.

Thats an economic stimulus package to cheer about.

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Holiday Mojito

Start to finish: 40 minutes

(10 minutes active, plus cooling)

Servings: 4

For the calvados base:

1 cup apple cider

1/3 cup calvados

2 cinnamon sticks

2 star anise

1 apple, cut into chunks

For the mojitos:

20 fresh mint leaves

6 ounces (3/4 cup) light rum

4 ounces (1/2 cup) simple syrup

1/2 cup lime juice

Ice cubes

4 cinnamon sticks

4 sprigs fresh mint

To make the calvados base, in a small saucepan over low combine all ingredients. Heat for 30 minutes, then strain, discarding the solids, then set aside to cool.

To make the mojitos, place the mint leaves in a medium pitcher. Muddle until lightly bruised. Add the rum, simple syrup, and lime juice. Mix well. Add two cups of ice, then stir well. Serve in tall glasses rimmed with brown sugar, if desired. Garnish each with a cinnamon stick and mint sprig.

Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 238 calories (2 calories from fat, 1 percent of total calories); 0 g fat (0 g saturated, 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 28 g carbohydrate; 1 g protein; 2 g fiber; 11 mg sodium.

Recipe adapted from Jose Torrella at the Barclay Bar & Grill at the InterContinental New York Barclay.

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