Elevating a cheesy cocktail to something delicious

Party like it’s 1976….yes please.

During the 1970’s, for the first time since perhaps the end of prohibition, a growing social scene was centered around famous nightclubs and a new type of place called discos. They were chic, exciting places to go. Pretty colors, exotic flavors and obscure liquors prevailed in the cocktails served.

Upon reviewing several cocktail guides from the 1970’s, I found the following trends; Apricot flavored anything was good with any type of liquor, Asian themed cocktail names were plentiful, Dubonnet and Galliano were staples in any bar, Creme de anything was used repeatedly.

Could these trends which seem as weird as loving harvest gold and avocado green kitchens ever come back? Yes, of course.

Disco cocktails are back and are better than ever.


I found this trend hard to embrace. My recollection of the seventies are as skewed because I was just a child. But I remember my parents heading out to a nightclub in polyester disco shirts and tiered ruffle dresses, it seemed very glamorous.

I searched for stereotypical 1970’s cocktails and then figured out how to upgrade them for today’s world. I tried to use fresh ingredients and no bottled mixes or artificial flavors. There were many drinks that were screaming for an upgrade to 2016; the Harvey Wallbanger, Long Island Iced Tea, Pink Lady, Golden Cadillac and the list could go on and on.

I chose to upgrade the Grasshopper and Tequila Sunrise. I did not deviate from the original recipes. I just made sure I used fresh ingredients.

For the Grasshopper, I made both the Creme de Menthe and the Creme de Cacao myself. They’re actually very simple to make.

For the Creme de Menthe, I took twelve ounces of Vodka and poured it into a large mouthed glass jar with a lid. I added mint leaves to it and let it steep for three days. Then I strained it and added ten ounces of  mint simple syrup to it.

The simple syrup is easily made heating one cup of Florida Cane Sugar with one cup of water over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Add some mint leaves to the simple syrup and let it cool before adding it to your mint infused vodka. 

If you want a bright green color, you can add a couple drops of green vegetable based food coloring drops.

The Creme de Cacao is made in a similar manner. You take twelve ounces of vodka and grate three ounces of pure cacao (or use cacao nibs) into it. Use a large mouth glass jar with a lid. Add a vanilla bean and let all the ingredients steep for a week. Strain the mixture through a coffee filter and mix with ten ounces of simple syrup.

By using Florida cane sugar, fresh mint, pure cacao and vanilla bean both liqueurs have a super fresh taste and the individual flavors really shine through. I also bought my orange juice freshly bottled from a local grove, the flavor is much more intense.

For the Tequila Sunrise, I used an Añejo Tequila. This is tequila that has been aged for one year. It darkens the tequila to an amber color and produces a smoother, richer and more complex taste.

I also used my homemade grenadine recipe found in my Everyday Exotic Cocktails; Florida Edition currently available for sale on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Everyday-Exotic-Cocktails-Florida-cocktails/dp/1974619079/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1532612962&sr=8-1&keywords=everyday+exotic+cocktails or my new book Everyday Exotic Cocktails; Country Chic Edition https://www.amazon.com/Everyday-Exotic-Cocktails-Country-Chic/dp/1985022982/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1532612962&sr=8-3&keywords=everyday+exotic+cocktails


So put your velour robe on, do the hustle with your better half and party like it’s 1976!


1 oz. Fresh Cream
1 oz. Creme de Menthe
1 oz. Creme de Cacao

Add all three ingredients into an ice filled cocktail shaker. Shake well and strain into a chilled glass. A martini or cocktail glass works best. Garnish with mint leaf and grated cacao.


Tequila Sunrise

2 oz. Añejo Tequila
Fresh Florida Orange Juice
2 Dashes Grenadine

Pour tequila into ice filled highball glass. Top with Orange Juice and stir. Add Grenadine and let it settle to bottom of the glass, do not stir again. Garnish with an orange slice.

Let’s Set Up A Vacation Bar!

Going on vacation does not always mean staying in a swank hotel with a fabulous bar in the lobby. Many times a vacation means staying in condo, house or apartment.

If you find yourself staying someplace other than a hotel but still want quality cocktails during your stay, a little preplanning will be necessary. I recently stayed in a vacation condo and found a way to make a variety of great, fresh cocktails to enjoy.

In my preplanning phase, I decided on four different cocktails that I would make while vacationing. The cocktails all shared some key ingredients to make my shopping easier.

I also wanted to keep it within a reasonable budget. I choose four different drinks using two types of rum but you can choose any type of liquor and make it work also.

I created a shopping list of ingredients I would need to purchase. Each recipe contained items that would be easily obtained at the local grocery store. I tried to incorporate as much fresh fruit as possible.

I printed my shopping list, a recipe sheet and even made a cute little menu for my traveling companion to ‘order’ cocktails from while we lounged away the day by the pool relaxing. The menu was a fun touch that made every cocktail seem special.

I knew the condo I was headed to had no barware. I had to bring the tools I wanted to use. I kept things to a minimum as I had to fit it in my luggage.

I decided I could get by with a cocktail shaker, strainer, lime squeezer, muddler and jigger.

Once we arrived at the condo, I headed out to the liquor store and grocery store to procure all my items.

I bought mid-priced rums at the liquor store that I knew had good flavor and quality. If you’re not sure what constitutes a good brand when buying liquor, stick with a choice in a glass bottle and somewhere in the middle shelf space.

At the grocery store, I obtained the ingredients on my list; limes, cream of coconut, a fresh coconut, bitters, pineapple juice, fresh mint and sugar to make simple syrup.

I also bought two bags of ice because I knew the small ice-maker in our vacation condo would not be able to keep up with demand once I started mixing cocktails.

Back at the condo, I boiled a cup of water, added a cup of sugar, stirred it until dissolved and set it aside to cool. Simple syrup is actually really simple to make!

Within two hours of landing, my vacation home bar was set up and ready to serve. I handed my homemade menu to my traveling companion and took my first cocktail order.

I’m happy to share a few recipes from my lovely vacation cocktail menu. They are simple and easy to make where ever you find your self in the world.

Frozen Coconut Lime Daiquiri (serves 2-4)
8 oz. cream of coconut
2 oz. fresh squeezed lime juice
4 oz. coconut rum
20 oz. ice

Add all ingredients into a blender. Set on high and blend for 25-30 seconds or until well blended. Pour into glasses or a Thai Coconut, garnish with toasted coconut flakes and a lime wheel. Enjoy.



Planter’s Punch
3 oz. dark rum
3/4 oz. fresh squeezed lime juice
1 oz. simple syrup
3 dashes Angostura bitters

Combine all ingredients into a cocktail shaker then add ice. Shake well and strain into an ice filled rocks glass. Garnish with a lime wedge and mint.


Vacation Punch
2 oz. coconut rum
1/2 oz. simple syrup
1 oz. lime juice
3 oz. pineapple juice

Add all ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice. Add ice and shake well. Pour unstrained into a glass. Garnish with mint. Top with 1/2 ounce of dark rum if desired.