Spice 94 Valentine Fizz

St. Valentine’s Day is another of those holidays which seems nearly impossible to celebrate without drinking alcoholic beverages.

However, it is a “required” holiday for those of us in relationships, so you can’t just stay home. If you are non-drinker you do need something in your hands, and it would be nice if it wasn’t club soda with lime.

I thought I might try to rectify the situation by presenting a festive and delicious cocktail for non-drinkers to enjoy.

Spice 94 Valentine Fizz
1 1/2 oz Seedlip Spice 94*
3/4 oz Knudsen Just Sour Cherry Juice (or other unsweetened cherry juice)
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1/4 oz Aquafaba**
1 Teaspoon Finely ground washed raw sugar (or to taste)***

Shake with ice and strain into an 8oz fizz glass. Top up with soda and garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.

*Seedlip Spice 94 is a flavored and distilled non-alcoholic mixer which will soon be introduced to the US markets along with its brother, Seedlip Garden. Seedlip Spice 94 is the bark, spice, and citrus forward expression. The aroma is very similar to Angostura bitters. The Seedlip company sent me samples in the hopes that I might help promote the brand for its impending release.

**”Aquafaba” is the trendy name for the liquid produced while cooking chick peas aka garbanzo beans. It creates a foam and texture similar to egg whites when added to cocktails, and, since it is made from legumes, is completely vegan & vegetarian (unless you cook your garbanzo beans with ham hocks.) The easiest way to get it is to buy a can of low sodium, organic chick peas and reserve the liquid. Do note that a small portion of the population of the world is, in fact, legitimately allergic to fava and garbanzo beans, so any use must be noted on your menus.

***Yeah, I still refuse to use refined sugar and I haven’t quite gotten to the point in restarting my drink making career where I am bothering to keep sugar syrup around. The easiest way to make super-fine sugar from washed raw or demarara sugar is just to put it in a coffee grinder, spice grinder, or blender and pulverize until it is super-fine. It will clump if it’s humid, but you could add a silica gel packet to the container.

Pok Pok Som Toddy

Pok Pok Som Toddy.

1 Cup Echinacea tea, brewed.
1 Cup Cloudy Apple Juice or Cider (non-alcoholic).
1 Tablespoon Pok Pok Som Honey drinking vinegar (or to taste).

Serve warm, garnish with a squeezed lemon wedge.

I’ve been struggling with a cold/flu virus this week. Coincidentally, an internet contact sent me some Pok Pok Drinking Vinegars based on my recent explorations of non-alcoholic beverages.

Pok Pok Som full strength drinking vinegar is a sweet and tart fruit and vinegar based concentrate that makes a refreshing all natural soda alternative or a unique cocktail mixer. Drinking vinegar for health reasons is an age-old practice in many cultures around the world including here in the USA, dating back to colonial times when “shrubs” were a common tonic. While Pok Pok does not make any claims as to the health benefits of this product, it is a delicious and refreshing drink with a nice tartness coming from the vinegar and concentrated flavors of fruit and aromatics. These vinegars can be served with soda water as a soft drink and at full strength as a mixer in cocktails.

The honey drinking vinegar has a very strong honey flavor and strong sweet-tart character, making it perfect for a toddy.

This is the tastiest therapeutic beverage I’ve come up with!

Feeling better already, just thinking about having another one later today.

Nut Nog

The other night Mrs. Flannestad and I were visiting Old Bus Tavern and bartender Rachel Leiderman was excited to have us try something she was working on, a spiced nut milk.

We tried it and were blown away. Both Mrs. Flannestad and I were of the opinion, “Why would you drink gross, gloppy, egg nog, when you could instead drink delicious spicy nut milk?”

So I sent Rachel a note a couple days later and asked her to let me come in and watch her make it. Rachel got her starting place from a recipe on Bon Appetit: Basic Nut Milk and added some tweaks inspired by local Nut Milk Purveyors Living Apothecary.

Rachel is still working on the process and deciding whether she will make it for the bar menu, but stop by and ask her for it. If she doesn’t have Nut Milk made, she can always make something else tasty, alcoholic or not.

(Since “Spiced Nut Milk” sounds like something you squeeze out of a grumpy old walnut tree, so I am making an executive decision to call this beverage “Nut Nog”. Get it?)


1 Cup Nuts (Rachel used a blend of almonds, pecans, and pumpkin seeds)

4 tsp Agave Nectar
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
2 TBSP Rolled Oats
3 dates, chopped
2 TBSP Fresh Ginger, peeled and chopped
2 TBSP Fresh Tumeric, peeled and chopped (wear rubber gloves when cleaning and chopping, will stain your hands.)
1 tsp Cinnamon, ground
1 tsp Cloves, ground
1 tsp Allspice, ground
4 Cups Hot Water

Equipment: Blender (preferably Vitamix or similar), Fine Strainer, Nut Bag.

Step 1. Soak Your Nuts.
Cover the nuts with water by 2 inches and leave to soak overnight. Drain nuts and rinse.
Step 2. Grind Your Nuts.
Add nuts and remaining dry ingredients to bowl of blender (preferably high powered, as in VitaMix or similar). Begin grinding ingredients and pour in hot water as you go. When you can no longer see nut pieces, stop grinding.
Step 3. Squeeze Your Nuts.
Pour mixture through fine strainer, and press to extract as much liquid as possible. Remove nut and spice solids and compost or feed to your livestock (Mmmm, tasty, spiced ham!). If you don’t mind it a bit gritty, you can stop here. Otherwise, line strainer with nut milk bag and strain liquid again. Allow to drain, this will take a while. Squeeze solids nut milk bag to extract as much liquid as possible.
Step 4. Enjoy Your Nut Nog.
Serve warm or cold, garnished with freshly grated nutmeg. Makes about 3 cups. Refrigerated, it will keep for several days.