Winter Warmer Cocktail


As the days are getting colder and the nights downright freezing, I wanted to create a drink that cut through the temperatures and warmed people up from the inside. It needed a whiskey base which I paired with our in-your-face Ginger Simple Syrup (you can find all our Simple Syrup recipes here) and added some tartness with lemon juice. I then rounded it out with heavy touch of Absinthe.

Although my goal was to make a strong, whiskey dominated drink, it doesn’t come off that way at all. In fact, the drink is amazingly smooth. I give some of the credit to my whisky of choice, Buffalo Trace, but also to the offsetting taste of the ginger and lemon. The Absinthe just adds complexity and, while a little heavy-handed in the drink, works well.

Winter Warmer Cocktail Recipe

Rocks Glass

      • 2-1/2 oz Bourbon (I used Buffalo Trace)
      • 1/2 oz Ginger Simple Syrup
      • 1/2 oz Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice
      • 1/4 oz Absinthe

Combine all ingredients in a shaker and shake until cold. Serve straight up in a rocks glass.

Consumatorium Reviews: Cuban Cocktail Adventures

Floridita Bartender - Cuban CocktailsWhen most of us think of Cuba, we have a romantic mental image made up of scenes from the 1950s, perhaps including Al Pacino visiting on the eve of the revolution (Godfather reference). A place full of nightclubs, casinos and, of course, bars where cantineros (Cuban bartenders) threw Cuban cocktails between mixing glasses and poured from multiple bottles of rum at a time into big blenders.

Fast forward to 2016 and such scenes are very rare. Most Cubans have no money, so the only people who get to enjoy cocktails at bars are those from other countries and, until recently, this did not include the biggest cocktail consumers of the world – Americans.

For the most part, Cuban drinks are very sweet and fairly light when it comes to alcohol content. Rum is the prime ingredient in most drinks, as you’d suspect, but it’s not clear if this is because the visitors with money expect rum drinks, or because rum is native and, therefore, cheaper. The sweetness comes from cane sugar, not so much from juice. Sugar is a huge part of the Cuban diet and that extends to cocktails.

There is a long history of mixing unique cocktails in Cuba that predates the wave of American tourists who arrived in the middle of the last century. And, these drinks were not all rum drinks. Bartender’s manuals from the 1920s and 1930s show extensive use of vermouth, bitters and gin. Fruit was used extensively, as you’d imagine, but often just the skin of the fruit rather than the juice to keep the drinks on the dry or even tart side. In our experience in Cuba, this variety of drink is, unfortunately, no longer widely appreciated. Again, this can simply be because the tourists with money are not there for the cuban cocktail heritage, but are more interested in what they think Cuban drinks should be.

Outside of Havana, there are few bars that sell much more than beer. Once in a while, a Mojito, Daiquiri or Caipirinha (using rum instead of Cachaca), can be found. Each made with little more than rum and lime juice.

Paladar BartenderSeveral paladars (family run restaurants, not to be confused with the much more prevalent state run establishments) we visited also had good bars, mostly with limited menus. They tended to serve house specialties – sweet, rum-based drinks. Mojitos and Daiquiris can be found almost everywhere. In fact, Mojitos are so popular among the tourists that there is a black market in mint – seriously. One farmer told us that they have to guard their mint crop because thieves will steal it and sell it to restaurants for tourist’s Mojitos.

As you’d imagine, inside Havana, there are more bars. Still, almost all aimed at tourists. The Floridita, which proclaims to be the cradle of the daiquiri and has a bust of Hemingway at what was, apparently, his favorite seat in the establishment (it seems that Hemingway drank at most bars in Havana . . . according to the proprietors of the bars anyway), seemed to be the gathering spot for foreign cocktail consumers. We had both a “classic daiquiri” there, as well as a Floridita. While the experience was fun, neither drink was too impressive.

Floridita - Outside

Floridita - Inside

We had a better experience at the Hotel Nacional de Cuba. Built in the 1930s and THE hotel in Havana prior to the revolution, it has a beautiful bar and a signature drink, the Hotel Nacional, of course. This one was quite good. A bit of what you’d expect in the Caribbean, juicy, while not overwhelming the rum. We’ve made it frequently since the return from our visit.

Hotel Nacional de Cuba - Outside

Hotel Nacional Cocktail Recipe

Shaker - Consumatorium Coupe - Consumatorium
  • 1 oz Light Rum (I used Tall Ship White Rum)
  • 1 oz Gold Rum (I used Havana Club which I brought back from Cuba)
  • 1/2 oz Apricot Liqueur (I used Rothman & Winter Orchard Apricot)
  • 1 oz Pineapple Juice
  • 1/2 oz Lime Juice
  • Lime Wheel for Garnish

Shake all ingredients over ice until very cold. Strain into a coupe and float the lime wedge on top.

Hotel Nacional - BarWhile we’d recommend the Floridita and Hotel Nacional as bar stops if you visit Havana, keep your cocktail expectations in check. Hopefully, as the economy improves through increased tourism, more of Cuba’s mixology glory will reemerge.

Cinco de Mayo Tequila Primer


Want to show off your extensive knowledge of tequila to all your drinking buddies on Cinco de Mayo? As always, we're here to help. Check out the infographic below while you sit back and enjoy a glass of Extra Añejo Tequila (100% blue agave only!). … [Continue reading]

Consumatorium Reviews: Craft Bars in Budapest, Hungary

Smoked Cocktail

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Consumatorium Reviews: Craft Bars in Scottsdale, Arizona

Virtù - Scottsdale

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Making Your Own Grenadine

Grenadine Containers

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Windhorst Bar, Berlin, Germany

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Fig-Infused Bourbon

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Guest Post from a Pro: Strong International Specialty Spirits

A glass of wine is nice, and nothing beats an ice cold beer, but for those times when you'd like to celebrate with something a little stronger, consider some of these unique, potent liquors to create a cocktail you won't soon forget. That is, as long … [Continue reading]