Getting what you want.

The title may not sound like a typical cocktail related blog post. It can apply to more than just ordering cocktails. In life, we like to get exactly what we want. But aren’t there times when being demanding and getting exactly what you want ends up being very unfulfilling?

I know when I go out to a bar or restaurant and order a cocktail, I have certain expectations about what I’m going to get.

I have assessed the establishment, perused the drink menu, judged the liquor selection behind the bar, given the bartender working the once over and then decided what to order.

I know I have to be flexible about what I expect depending on where I am. This flexibility in getting what I want saves me from being disappointed when ordering a drink.

If I see a wall of flavored vodka, a lonely bottle of Bacardi rum and a few random bourbons and whiskeys, chances are I’ll play it safe and just order a Jameson on the rocks. It’s a safe sipper for me and usually stocked behind the bar. I would not order a complicated drink or even a gin martini. The result just would not be satisfactory.

Some bars make delicious variations of classic cocktails. Like at a local bar near me, they make a fantastic Maple Syrup Old Fashioned. I tried several other cocktails on their menu before hitting upon this one and now it’s a favorite.

If I’m at a chain restaurant and the drink menu consists of brightly colored, sugar filled  margaritas served in fish bowls, I’ll probably just order a beer.

If I see local spirits or locally sourced ingredients featured on a drink menu, I’ll order that cocktail. It’s something I may never get to taste again. While on vacation in Hawaii, a bar we visited featured a Frozen Coconut Mojito. It had locally grown coconuts, fresh mint and a Hawaiian rum that they infused with coconut. This was once of the best frozen drinks I’ve ever tasted.

The same can’t be said for the Blue Hawaii pictured next to the Frozen Coconut Mojito. It was sugary and very disappointing.

When I’m sitting at a well stocked bar with unusual liquor choices, a bartender who is attentive and may even suggest a favorite off the menu then I’ll be adventurous. Chances are I’ll be pleasantly surprised by the cocktail set in front of me.

The one thing that I never do is dictate step by step instructions for how I want a cocktail made. It comes across as pretentious and rude.

Recently on social media, a discussion was started by a person who had a business card printed with an exact drink recipe he likes. He hands this card to bartenders when ordering. He does not bother trying to explain what he wants because as he stated, “they’ll just screw it up or come back and ask again.”

This guy must be hated by so many bars and bartenders. I understand that he is spending his hard earned money on a cocktail and likes what he likes but seriously it just seems so…… I’m not even sure what word to use…..jerky seems the kindest word to use.

The bar may not stock the exact brands he’s requesting. The bartender may be able to make an awesome riff on the cocktail he likes.

Or here’s a novel idea, try something new and save your favorite drink for when you’re at home with all the ingredients you need and can make it yourself.

While I understand being particular, I think there’s too many outstanding cocktails to always drink the same exact thing. As with life, it pays to mix it up a bit and try something new.

We all think we know what we want, but sometimes when presented with an alternate choice, we realize the thing we thought we wanted, was not it at all. Wow – that’s a pretty complicated theory just for a drink choice. But it’s true and it applies to life also. So throw away that dopey card and get crazy!

My favorite drink is the Mai Tai.  I specifically like the version Trader Vic invented in 1944. Do I order this when out? Not usually, I’d be disappointed nine times out of ten. The only place where I’m consistently satisfied with their Mai Tai is at The Mai Kai in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. It is a landmark Polynesian restaurant and bar in business since 1956. The bartenders there know what they’re doing and don’t need me handing them a little card to tell them how to make anything.

I order a Mai Tai many times when I see one on a menu elsewhere. I like to see how other bartenders put their twist on this iconic cocktail. Sometimes I’ll even ask for a specific rum in the cocktail if I see it sitting on the shelf. But I’ve never given exact instructions on how I want it made.

I’ve drank some horrific Mai Tai’s and some surprisingly awesome Mai Tai’s. That’s all part of the fun. So loosen up, and order a cocktail.

Everyday Exotic Cocktails wishes you a very Merry Christmas!

Wishing all my readers a very happy and exotic holiday!

Looking back on 2017, I have so many happy memories and milestones. I couldn’t have done it without the support of my readers.


Everyday Exotic Cocktails is a labor of love. I’ve worked hard to present you with exotic, easy to make cocktails. I’m thrilled to share my tips, tricks and recipes for all the great cocktails I create.

I love connecting with readers who want to entertain at home and make delicious, craft quality cocktails using ingredients easily found in their local grocery and liquor stores.

I try to limit the ingredients to six or less. I’ve read cocktail recipes for years and got tired of thinking that looks like an awesome cocktail but I need three different weird liqueurs, syrups, bitters, etc. that can only be ordered from an expensive speciality website.

I have so many recipes, new books and new events to share in 2018. See you next year and remember to be exotic everyday!

Best Wishes,

The ultimate holiday cocktail is not Egg Nog, it’s Coquito

Need a break from busy holiday preparations? Looking for a nice strong cocktail to get you through a holiday party? Want to celebrate the holidays with something tropical?

I live in Florida, so the last question is one posed to me many times by friends and readers of my column. But I’m sure my frozen friends up north have the same tropical cravings when there’s two feet of snow on the ground.

Coquito is the answer to your holiday cocktail dreams. It originates from Puerto Rico and is traditionally served anytime from Thanksgiving until mid-January. Coquito literally translates to ‘little coconut.’ And a little taste of coconut is exactly what you’ll get in this yummy but potent drink.

People make comparisons between Egg Nog and Coquito. I think Coquito is very different from the same old nog we’ve been drinking for years.

Coquito is served cold and frothy. It contains coconut milk and rum among other ingredients. These two main flavors, along with the cold temperature it is served at, make it perfect for a warm Florida holiday.

I like to premix several bottles of Coquito to serve at parties. Then I don’t have to be behind the bar mixing drinks all night. I set up a cute little self serve bar and leave my guests to fill their glasses and garnish the drink themselves.

There are so many different recipes for Coquito. Some use raw eggs, much like traditional egg nog. I’ve chosen to share a version that does not use raw egg. It’s still delicious and easy to make.

So let’s sip some Coquito and have a happy exotic holiday!

Everyday Exotic Coquito

1 12 oz. can evaporated milk
1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 14 oz. can coconut milk
1 15 oz. can coconut cream
3 cups silver Puerto Rican Rum
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground clove
1/4 teaspoon allspice

Mix all in a large container, mixing and shaking well. Decant into empty 750 ml liquor bottles and place in the fridge for at least two hours before serving. Shake bottle well just before serving.

A beautifully simple cocktail

The island of Martinique is still in hurricane recovery mode from Hurricane Maria which ravaged the island back in September. Rhum Agricole is produced solely in Martinique. In honor of this beautiful island, I committed to making ‘Ti Punch as much as possible.

‘Ti Punch is Martinique’s national drink and a huge part of their daily social life. It is served in cafes and bars all over the island. Everyone has their own method of enjoying it.  The ingredients are served separately table side and the drinker is left to create the drink themselves. Some like more lime, less sugar. Others enjoy a touch more sugar and a heavier pour on the rum. Don’t we all love a heavier pour on the rum?

It is a beautifully simple cocktail using just a few ingredients. You could compare it in preparation to an Old Fashioned and in a glass, it closely resembles a daiquiri. However, tastewise it is neither.

A ‘Ti Punch cocktail’s strength is the floral, funky, earthiness of its sugar cane taste. Rhum Agricole is made from fresh sugar cane juice while other types of rum are made mostly from molasses. Along with the second ingredient in this cocktail, Sirrop de Cane – which translates to sugar cane juice, the mighty cane is definitely the star of this drink.

I don’t always have an easy time finding Sirrop de Cane locally so I substitute other types of sugar products. I’ve used raw sugar, raw liquid sugar, Hawaiian sugar and for the recipe I’m sharing today, I used a vanilla simple syrup.

While not a traditional ‘Ti Punch, ‘Ti Punch avec vanille, is still simple and delightful. I love the vanilla flavor that melds with the grassy almost sweet notes of the Rhum Agricole. Don’t be afraid, it’s not too much sweetness, the lime juice adds tartness and the squeezed lime wedges add a touch of sour to the glass.

‘Ti Punch is also traditionally stirred using a swizzle stick or Le Bois LéLé. Fear not if you don’t have one, you can just stir it with a lowly bar spoon or even a teaspoon.

A ‘Ti Punch must be made with Rhum Agricole, no other type of rum is acceptable.

Rhum Agricoles are widely available at most liquor stores in varying price levels. Sample as many as you can,  each has a unique often funky flavor. It took me a while to find my favorite and of course it was one of the more expensive choices. But I think it’s totally worth it.

‘Ti Punch avec Vanille

Ti’ Punch avec Vanille

2 wedges of lime
3/4 oz. vanilla simple syrup
2 oz. Rhum Agricole

Add ice to a rocks glass. Squeeze the two lime wedges into the glass and drop the used wedges into the glass. Add the simple syrup and rum. Stir briefly with a swizzle stick. Garnish with a vanilla bean. Enjoy and remember to be exotic everyday!

Berry Bourbon Cooler

When entertaining, are you looking for a brightly colored cocktail to dazzle your guests? Would you like to achieve that without using something full of artificial color and ingredients?

If you’ve ever read the ingredient list on a bottle of Grenadine, the first item listed will invariably be the dreaded high fructose corn syrup, followed by water then several chemicals and dyes. Lastly it will say artificial flavors.

This chemical concoction should taste tart and sweet but mostly tastes synthetic. Some cocktail lovers use a mixture of a popular pomegranate juice mixed with a simple syrup to make their own version of Grenadine.

I wanted a tart & sweet syrup that I could make from scratch. I started with fresh strawberries. They pair well with just about every type of spirit. They also match well with a variety of herbs. I came up with a Summer Strawberry Basil Liqueur that can be used in the Bourbon cocktail recipe below or added to wine, club soda, sangria or even a margarita. In a margarita you can substitute this liqueur for the triple sec.

The more I tasted this liqueur, the more ideas I came up with of cocktails it could be added to; mojito, Tom Collins, even that 1990’s favorite the Cosmo. Best of all, this syrup is made using five ingredients.

Summer Strawberry Basil Liqueur

8 oz. Fresh Strawberries
1 1/2 Cups Vodka
4 Basil Leaves
1 Cup Water
1 Cup Pure Florida Cane Sugar

First, cut the strawberries into halves and remove the stems. Add the berries and the fresh basil leaves into a sealable glass jar. Pour in one and a half cups of Vodka and seal the jar. Give it a good shake.
Let the mixture steep for two days at room temperature and out of direct sunlight. At the end of the two days, your strawberries should be almost white. Strain the liquid into a clean measuring cup using a fine mesh strainer. Set this liquid aside.
In a pot, heat one cup water and one cup sugar on medium heat and bring to a boil for five minutes. Remove the sugar syrup from the heat and let cool.
Once the syrup is cool combine it with your strained strawberry liquid. Seal this liqueur in a glass bottle and shake well to fully mix. Let it rest for a day in the fridge before serving. Keep refrigerated between uses and it will last for up to a month.

Now your have this beautiful Strawberry Liqueur and need a cocktail to utilize it in. Bourbon is the perfect match.

Berry Bourbon Cooler

2 Tablespoons Pure Florida Cane Sugar
5 Fresh Raspberries
4 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
3 oz. Bourbon
1 oz. Strawberry Basil Liqueur
1 oz. Lemon Juice

Muddle the sugar, raspberries and bitters in the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Add the bourbon, liqueur and lemon juice. Add a generous helping of ice to the shaker and shake vigorously. Strain into a rocks glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with mint, fresh raspberries and lemon peel.

Your guests will be ravished by the color but stunned when they taste all the fresh ingredients you’ve used. Cheers to drinking better!

Spiced & Spiked Vanilla Frappé

There are times when a trip to your local coffee house just won’t cut it. Maybe you’re craving a coffee drink and an alcoholic cocktail at the same time. Your local coffee house can’t accommodate you with both. What to do?

Make your own yummy coffee cocktail at home. It can be done easily in the comfort of your own kitchen. Heck, you can even make it in your pajamas!

Everyday Exotic Spiced and Spiked Vanilla Frappé

2 oz. Vodka
2 oz. cold milk
3/4 cup vanilla ice cream
1/4 teaspoon allspice
2 oz. cold brew coffee
whipped cream/additional ice cream
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
gingerbread cookie

Add vodka, cold milk, ice cream and allspice into a blender. Pulse until blended and pour into a tall glass. Top with two ounces of coffee. Top with an additional scoop of vanilla ice cream and whipped cream. Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg and a gingerbread cookie.

Three Berry Moscow Mule

My latest recipe is a variation of the classic Moscow Mule. I love ginger beer and Fever-Tree is my absolute favorite. I love the glass bottles and the spicy ginger zing. I used to buy other brands of ginger beer in two liter bottles but they always went flat before I used them up. I threw away more ginger beer than I used. Once my local grocery store started carrying Fever-Tree that was all I bought.

My other advice is to make sure you use fresh squeezed lime juice. Don’t try to spike my cocktail with what is in those little plastic lime bottles. It’s full of adulterated chemicals, I don’t want that in my food or my cocktails. I always keep limes in my fridge. If they don’t get used quickly then I squeeze them and freeze them in ice cube trays. Once the cubes are frozen, I transfer them to a freezer bag and keep on hand to use in cooking.

Vodka is not my favorite liquor. I rarely use it in cocktails with the exception of a Cosmo (we’ll get into the awesomeness of the cosmo in another post, but it was and still is one of my favorite things to drink.) I don’t buy super expensive vodka. I have found several great mid priced choices that have a clean flavor and are under twenty-five dollars a bottle.

So we’ve covered all three ingredients in a traditional Moscow Mule. I’ve added frozen berries to my variation. I buy a frozen three berry mix of strawberry, blackberry and raspberry that my local grocery store carries in the freezer case.

Three Berry Moscow Mule

2 oz. vodka
1 oz. lime juice
2 tablespoons frozen mixed berries
4 oz. ginger beer

Muddle berries in a cocktail shaker and set aside. Fill a mug three quarters full with crushed ice. Add vodka, lime juice, muddled berries and ginger beer to mug. Stir with a bar spoon. Garnish with a three berry sword, lime slice and mint.


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Talk Like a Pirate Day

Don’t feel like talking like a pirate today? Me either, I have no aptitude for talking like a pirate. I know the key phrases; arrrgg matey, shiver me timbers, walk the plank but my ability ends there.

While I’m not a pirate expert, I do know a little bit about rum and pirates loved their rum. While sailing the open seas, clean drinkable water was always in short supply. Pirate’s drank more rum than water. Pirates were also susceptible to a vitamin c deficiency  due to a lack of availability to citrus fruit in their diet. This resulted in many cases of scurvy while on long voyages looking for ships to plunder or treasure to bury.

From this convoluted reasoning, I’ve come up with an original recipe called Scurvy Prevention to honor Talk Like a Pirate Day. The cocktail is a wonderful mix of white rum, orange juice, pineapple juice, a touch of falernum and topped with overproof rum. I’d like to think if a pirate did order a cocktail this might be one he’d like.

So drink rum cocktails, it fights scurvy and boosts morale.

Scurvy Prevention

2 oz. white rum
1 oz. overproof rum
3/4 oz. orange juice
1/2 oz. pineapple juice
1/2 oz. vanilla simple syrup
1/2 oz. falernum

Combine all ingredients except the overproof rum in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well and strain into an ice filled glass. Top with a float of overproof rum. Garnish with an orange peel and mint sprig.

Gin and Tonic, simple end of summer sipper

It’s the start of the Labor Day holiday weekend. Growing up in the northeast, this holiday signaled the end of summer. Now that I live in Florida, I know summer does not end in early September but in my reminiscing mind it does end this weekend.

All summer long I’ve mixed up some fabulous cocktails; the Paloma, frozen daiquiris, margaritas, gin shandies, Mai Tais and a host of others. My mixing arms are worn out. I want to make something this weekend that requires minimal work and delivers maximum flavor. The classic gin and tonic meets these requirements.

I’m a long time gin lover, even before it was cool to like gin. Now gin is in fashion again and distillers are making some awesome gins with very unique flavor profiles.

A refreshing classic, the gin and tonic, at The Hele Lau Home Bar

Citrus based gins are one of my very favorites. Brooklyn Gin is one of my all time favorites. It is still a juniper based gin but has added citrus peels to give it a crisp, sweet citrus burst. They boast hand peeled and hand cracked juniper berries. While this may seem a bit pretentious and maybe a touch too cool for me, the end result is a superior product. You can check out their website at

Another of my favorite gins is St. Augustine New World Gin. Distilled in St. Augustine, Florida. The citrus flavor is dominant but there are fascinating spice notes. The distillery offers free tours and they have an attached restaurant, the Ice Plant Bar with amazing food choices to pair with your cocktail. Check out their website

Today, my gin of choice is Boodles. It’s a proper British gin and has a herbal mellow flavor.  This gin was the liquor of choice for my favorite literary character, Travis McGee of the Travis McGee series written my John D. MacDonald. He lives on a house boat in Ft.Lauderdale and romances many a lovely lady on his boat named the Busted Flush. He preferred Boodles on the rocks.

Another ingredient I like to utilize for a G&T is Original Strong Tonic made by Strong Tonic, LLC   Their syrup blends the traditional tonic flavor with a sweet zing using all natural ingredients. It truly takes your G&T to another level. Their website lists some great recipes to try out on a day when I’m feeling more ambitious.

Lazy days call for lazy cocktails and this weekend, I’ve decided the G&T will be my end of summer cocktail. Enjoy and be exotic everyday!

Respect the frozen daiquiri

It’s summer, it’s hot. What do you want to drink? A small, four ounce daiquiri strained into a champagne coupe with no ice or twenty ounces of frozen yumminess poured into a hollowed out pineapple?

Not a hard question.

The frozen daiquiri is perhaps the most refreshing summer cocktail you can sip. Whether poolside, beachfront or land-locked this cocktail sets the scene perfectly.

The frozen daiquiri rarely gets the high esteem it should garner. The lack of respect is largely due to the high number of bad itinerations of frozen daiquiris out in the universe. Every sad chain restraurant has a long list of them and your local bar may even have a huge machine churning a horrible powder mix, sugary daiquiri.

Making a proper frozen daiquiri is easy and it doesn’t have to have half a pound of sugar in it. Measuring your ice is a key step. The ice/liquor ratio is super important. The following recipe is my go-to basic recipe. I may riff with different syrups or add some frozen fruit from this basic recipe.

Everyday Exotic Frozen Daiquiri (Serves 2)

1 oz. fresh squeezed lime juice
1 1/2 oz. simple syrup (1:1 ratio)
4 oz. silver rum
10-12 ounces of ice

Combine all ingredients into a blender. Blend on the smoothie or ice crush setting until you get a smooth consistency. Pour into mug or glass with handle.

***Wonder why I advise using a mug/glass with handle? So your drink won’t melt too fast while you hold it and your hand won’t get cold!