Starbucks Is Giving Away Free Espresso for the Holidays

Fresh off a holiday Fruitcake Frappuccino offering, Starbucks has announced a free drink program straight into 2017. Starting today, the Seattle coffee giant will be giving away free tall espresso beverages at 100 random locations, revealed daily in the “10 Days of Cheer” campaign. The promotion will take place between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. each day and last until January 2, 2017 (no promotion on 12/25).

Interested parties can find out which locations are offering free drinks by visiting starbuckscheer.com.

Starbucks Debuts the Limited Holiday Fruitcake Frappuccino

Usually you walk into Starbucks around the holidays and order something with pumpkin spice, peppermint or gingerbread in it. Now the company will introduce fruitcake in the form of a seasonal beverage. Beginning today and running through the weekend, the Fruitcake Frappuccino will be a drink inspired by the colorful candied fruits, nuts, and spices of its namesake and will be available for purchase in the United States and Canada.

The concoction starts with a Hazelnut Crème Frappuccino base and has dried fruit, cinnamon, whipped cream, caramel and a dash of matcha added to it.

Turn a Pumpkin Into the Perfect Drink Cooler for Your Halloween Party

If you’re hosting a Halloween party, you’re probably going to have a few pumpkins around, for carving or decoration. Turn a couple into tabletop coolers that keep drinks chilled and fit your spooky decor.

You’ll have better results with uncarved pumpkins, because you can choose the right size and shape for a cooler, but if you only have already-carved jack-o’-lanterns on hand, they’ll work, too. Pick pumpkins that are wide and have a flat bottom. Cut the top off so you can fit plenty of drinks through the opening. If you’re using a jack-o’-lantern, cut the hole in the top a little wider than it already is. Scrape out the pumpkin guts and let it dry out a little.

When you’re ready to prep the pumpkin to hold drinks, put a bowl inside, or line with aluminum foil, to catch the melting ice and keep too much condensation from collecting on the outside. Fill with ice, leaving enough room for drinks. As a precaution against condensation, you may want to put a plastic placemat or towel under the pumpkin.

‘Hangover-Free’ Alcohol Gives You The Buzz Without The Headache

Imagine being able to imbibe without the fear of a headache, nausea or even liver damage. Would you get drunk more often?

You may soon have the opportunity to find out, thanks to a new type of synthetic alcohol developed by neuropsychopharmacologist David Nutt, professor at Imperial College. The substance, called “alcosynth,” can mimic the boozy effects of being drunk, but doesn’t cause a hangover, reports The Independent.

“We know a lot about the brain science of alcohol; it’s become very well understood in the last 30 years,” said Nutt. “So we know where the good effects of alcohol are mediated in the brain, and can mimic them. And by not touching the bad areas, we don’t have the bad effects.”

Alcosynth also has a built-in limit on the level of drunkenness that it stimulates, so it could have the added benefit of encouraging people to consume fewer drinks overall. The effects of drinking alcosynth cap out at around four or five drinks, and consuming more than that won’t increase your buzz.

For this reason, Nutt claims that his concoction could offer a healthier alternative to alcohol. But even if alcosynth reduces the number of drinks people consume overall, it’s unclear what impact having a hangover-free alternative would have on public drunkenness. It could very well encourage more people to drink more often, which could increase health risks associated with impairment. For instance, it could increase incidents of drunk driving.

Even so, Nutt expects alcosynth to fully replace alcohol by 2050, which seems like a long way off for such a promising product. But delays are to be expected due to clinical trials that must be performed for what is essentially a new drug. Even if alcosynth does get approved in timely fashion, people may not be so quick to give up their taste for alcohol. Seasoned scotch drinkers, oenophiliacs, and beer connoisseurs might be slow to give up on their alcoholic beverage of choice, even with the hangover potential. There are aesthetic and culinary hurdles for alcosynth to overcome before it represents a true viable alternative to alcohol.

Of the two versions of alcosynth currently in development, one is tasteless and the other has a bitter flavor. Apparently, the substances work especially well in a mojito or a Tom Collins. Maybe, though, a new generation of cocktails will be inspired by the flavors of hangover-free alcohol alternatives.

Thirsty Thursday: Bonefish Grill’s Strawberry Rosé Martini Recipe

Love wine, but feel like a cocktail? Over 200 types of cocktail recipes include wine and Bonefish Grill debuted this new handcrafted martini perfect for summer sipping. The light and refreshing Strawberry Rosé Martini is made with the fresh flavors of Belleruche Rosé & St. Germain Elderflower and perfected with a bright ruby-red hue. The cocktail features the best of both worlds with a perfect mix of rosé and a cocktail, topped off with fresh berries.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle your favorite Rosé
  • 1 oz St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
  • ¾ oz fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • ¾ oz simple syrup
  • 3 each Whole Strawberries
  • 1-2 each Blackberries, as needed
  • 2-3 each Raspberries, as needed

Instructions:

  • In a martini shaker, or pint glass, drop in 3 whole strawberries that are de-stemmed.
  • Add a blackberry or two for a darker, more savory flavor.
  • Add raspberries for a brighter, slightly sweeter martini.
  • Then add simple syrup to your pint glass.
  • Muddle your fresh fruit and simple syrup until puree-like.
  • Add ice to the top of your glass and top with Rose, St. Germain liqueur, fresh squeezed lemon juice.
  • Shake thoroughly until martini is icy cold.
  • Strain through a fine mesh strainer in to a martini glass.
  • Garnish with your fresh berries.

Notes:

  • At Bonefish Grill, we add both raspberry and blackberry for a beautiful color and a sweet and savory cocktail, but the strawberries are still the most prominent fruit flavor.
  • Straining through a fine mesh strainer removes all the seeds so that when you are sipping you taste all the flavor of fruit but no seeds.
  • We use M. Chapoutier’s Belleruche Rosé for this cocktail. It’s a beautiful, but slightly dry Rose, that’s flavor is perfect for mixing in a cocktail.
  • Add a little fun or flavor to your party, by freezing fresh fruit in to large ice cubes and use those for garnish instead of fresh fruit on the side of the glass. It’s easy to do, and keeps your martini ice cold until the very last sip.

The Only Mexican Beers You Should Be Drinking on Cinco de Mayo

Like many readily available American beers, a lot of the Mexican beers you come across offer little in the way of flavor. We’re not saying partying with a few Coronas is going to make for a bad Cinco de Mayo, but there are some other options out there that deliver at least a little more in the way of taste.

Here are five we recommend.

  • Bohemia – Link
  • Negra Modelo – Link
  • León – Link
  • Dos Equis Amber Lager – Link
  • Indio – Link

Craft Beers of Mexico

  • Minerva Imperial Tequila Ale – Link
  • Los Muertos Immortal Beloved – Link
  • Ensenada Horchata Obscura Porter – Link
  • Calavera Mexican Imperial Stout – Link
  • Cucapa Green Card – Link
  • Propaganda American Pale Ale – Link

Before You Order Up Today… Here’s Everything You Need To Know About The Margarita

The margarita is one of those cocktails whose popularity has been its downfall. At its core, it’s a respectable cocktail deserving of a place among the greats despite its relative youth. However, over the years the recipe has been reproduced, watered down and bastardized beyond the point of recognition with lesser ingredients being added for expediency and economics. (I’m looking at you, sour mix and triple sec.)

Similar to other popular cocktails, the history of the margarita is a tangle of tall tales and false claims. Let’s take a look at some of the most prevalent ones.

A daisy by any other name

The Daisy was a common, one-size-fits-all Prohibition-era cocktail combining a base spirit, juice, a sweetener and soda water. It’s suggested that smugglers running booze over the border with Mexico experimented with a tequila daisy one night, calling it a margarita, which is Spanish for daisy.

Fussy customer

Jump ahead to Tijuana circa 1938 and you’ll find Carlos “Danny” Herrera, who allegedly created the margarita at his restaurant, Rancho La Gloria, to accommodate guest Marjorie King, who was allergic to all alcohol except tequila. Using the original tequila shot (served with salt and a lime) as inspiration, Herrera recreated those flavors in a cocktail glass. Such innovation is worth remembering the next time those of us in the hospitality industry are asked to accommodate those food allergies we so often grumble about.

Diplomatic ties

Another legend places its creation at Hussong’s Cantina in Ensenada, Mexico, in 1941. The inventor here is bartender Don Carlos Orozco, who whipped up the cocktail one day for Margarita Henkel, the daughter of the then German ambassador.

Making it official

If you’re looking for an official origin, the Mexican news service Notimex credits Francisco “Pancho” Morales with its creation at Tommy’s Place Bar in El Paso-Juárez in 1942.

Sames’ claims

This tale kind of smacks of one-percenter entitlement. Margarita Sames was a Dallas socialite who claimed to have invented the margarita, which she humbly named after herself, for guests at a Christmas party at her Acapulco home in 1948. According to the story, guest and hotel magnate Tommy Hilton liked it so much he added it to bar menus at his properties. Despite this story gaining some traction thanks to being featured in Esquire magazine in 1953, it appears Sames actually claimed an existing recipe as her own. By 1948, the margarita was already known in bars around Mexico. Stateside, the first American importer of Jose Cuervo tequila had been advertising the cocktail using the tagline, “Margarita: it’s more than a girl’s name,” since 1945. Nice try, Marge.

Hold the brandy

Yet another story puts it in Galveston, Texas, in 1948 at the Balinese Room where barman Santos Cruz made the cocktail for singer Peggy (Margaret) Lee, who purportedly requested a variation on the sidecar using tequila instead of brandy.

Meanwhile, the frozen margarita, which is to the original cocktail what the Wendy’s Frosty is to ice cream, didn’t arrive on the scene until 1971, when Dallas, Texas, restaurateur Mariano Martinez decided to dump some tequila into an old soft serve machine — presumably after consuming too much tequila.

Margarita Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 oz. silver tequila
  • 1 oz. Cointreau*
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. agave nectar (optional)**
  • Kosher salt

Directions:

  1. Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake for 20 seconds. Strain over fresh ice or straight up into a salt-rimmed margarita glass (if available). Alternatively, serve it over ice in a tumbler, or up in cocktail or coupe glass. Garnish with a lime.
  2. Yes, Cointreau is pricier than generic triple sec, but the results are far superior.The addition of agave nectar — and omission of triple sec/Cointreau — technically makes it a Tommy’s Margarita (after the San Francisco Mexican restaurant of the same name). It’s strictly a matter of taste. Personally, I like to split the difference: reduce the Cointreau by half and add the agave.

A few words regarding sour mix: The pre-made ingredient almost ubiquitous in margaritas these days; it’s a common and, honestly not terrible, shortcut used by bars and restaurants. A quality house-made sour mix actually can be quite good.

5 Highly-Rated Wines That Are Perfect for Valentine’s Day

So, you want to impress your valentine with a fancy bottle of wine, but you’re not sure where to start. The thought of sifting through the countless bottles of wine at your local liquor store seems like a daunting task. Plus, what do you look for? You can ask a clerk, but they can only help you if you have an idea of what you’re looking for. Luckily for you, we’ve amassed a list of the 12 perfect wines for Valentine’s Day. Each has a rating of at least 90 from Wine Spectator and range in price from $45 to $195.

Au Paradise Cabernet Sauvignon

From Peter Michael Winery, in Napa Valley, Au Paradise is Wine Spectator’s best wine of 2015. This well-balanced cabernet sauvignon has flavors of cherries, berries and the perfect amount of acidity to tannins. Rating: 96

Il Poggione Brunello di Montalcino

This Tuscan wine is rich and full of strong flavors including: cherries, plums, tobacco and licorice. It’s an extremely balanced wine and a great value for $85. Rating: 95

Evening Land Pinot Noir Eola-Amity Hills, Seven Springs Vineyard, La Source

Well known for their fertile soil, Oregon’s Evening Land brings us this 2012 vintage Pinot Noir. This wine comes from an area in Seven Springs Vineyard referred to as La Source. The flavors are smooth and rich with hints of berries, spices and plums. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better rated wine at such a low price. Rating: 98

Bodegas Aalto Ribera del Duero

This red wine is from Aalto Bodegas y Viñedos in Valladolid, Spain. The flavors are strong and rich with berries, chocolate and licorice being the most prevalent. Rating: 94

Rattlesnake Ridge Petite Syrah

This Syrah comes from Turley Wine Cellars in California. This wine starts with flavors of spicy pepper and cinnamon spices and finishes with tart raspberries and blackberries. Rating: 95

Thirsty Thursday: Sparkling Apple Cider Sangria

You’ll love this winter favorite: Sparkling Apple Cider Sangria!

Ingredients

  • 1 750 ml bottle (standard) champagne or prosecco
  • 2 1/2 cups apple cider
  • 1 cup club soda
  • 1/2 cup Disaronno
  • 2 apples, sliced
  • cinnamon sticks, for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a large pitcher, combine the champagne (or prosecco), apple cider, club soda, and Disaronna (you can sub in a ginger brandy if you prefer, but I love the amaretto).
  2. Stir until mixed and add in sliced apples.
  3. Pour and garnish with a cinnamon stick.

Tea Just Gained Major Ground In The ‘Tea Vs. Coffee’ Debate

We recently reported on 2016 being the year of healthy everything — cherries, horseradish, cheese, milk, chocolate… bacon isn’t healthy, but it’s also maybe not as unhealthy as we thought. Even coffee now has potential to improve the strength of your heart (yeah, science!).

With studies diving deeper and deeper into the foods we love, it’s no surprise that we’re just now learning the health benefits of the second most popular beverage on the planet. A recent study posted in the US National Library of Medicine shows that tea saponin — a glycoside compound extracted from tea seeds — reduces obesity-associated neuro-degeneration, shows general anti-obesity effects, and even showed an improvement in cognitive function.

The study was done on healthy and obese mice alike and basically shows that previously untapped elements of tea plants can make you healthier and smarter.

Suck it coffee, tea is back in the ring.