Tag Archives: Cocktails

Chocolate Ice Cubes

Chocolate Ice Cubes
These cubes are GREAT with Kahlua or Irish Crème. Another variation is to let the mixture cool a bit then add a teaspoon of crushed candy cane to each ice cube cavity before pouring the chocolate mixture into them.
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  1. 1 cup Milk
  2. 1 Tbsp. Dark Cocoa
  3. 1 Tbsp. Granulated Sugar
  4. ¾ cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
  1. Mix together the milk, cocoa and sugar and bring to a scald in a microwave oven.
  2. Remove the hot milk mixture from the oven and add chocolate chips, stirring until they are completely dissolved.
  3. Pour into ice cube trays.
Nino Salvaggio https://www.ninosalvaggio.com/

Strawberry Yogurt Ice Cubes

Strawberry Yogurt Ice Cubes
Substitute these cubes in place of regular water ice cubes for a more flavorful smoothie. As an additional option, you can add the puree of one ripe banana.
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  1. 1 cup Vanilla Yogurt
  2. 1 cup Strawberry Puree
  3. 1 Tbsp. Honey or Granulated Sugar (Optional)
  1. Mix all ingredients together and freeze in ice cube trays.
Nino Salvaggio https://www.ninosalvaggio.com/

Very Cherry Ice Cubes

Very Cherry Ice Cubes
These decorative ice cubes are a festive addition to any drink, but they’re especially beautiful in beverages that are clear enough to show off the embedded cherries.
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  1. 1 cup Hot Water
  2. ¼ cup Tart Cherry Juice Concentrate
  3. ¼ cup Granulated Sugar
  4. 1 dozen Sweet Cherries, with Stems
  1. Stir together water, cherry juice concentrate and sugar until thoroughly dissolved.
  2. Place a single cherry in each ice cube compartment (stem up) and pour in cherry mixture to cover then freeze.
Nino Salvaggio https://www.ninosalvaggio.com/

Halloween Cocktails

Having a spooky party this Halloween and don’t know what to serve? Here are a few creepy cocktails that will have your guests screaming with delight!

Blood Shot: Ghoulish and deliciously creamy, this white drink becomes twisted by allowing the strawberry syrup to run along the sides of the glass, leaving a bloody trail.

2 oz Strawberry Stoli

1 oz White Crème de Cocoa

2 scoops vanilla ice cream

Hershey’s Strawberry Syrup

Start with a clean, dry Burgundy-style wine glass. Dip a drink stirrer in the strawberry syrup and make squiggles on the sides of the glass. Allow this to dry.  Blend the rest of the ingredients together and fill the wine glass. Garnish with a candy eyeball.


Secret Potion: The perfect shade of chartreuse, this potion is fruity and lightly sweet but looks super chic in a martini glass.

2 oz pineapple juice

1 ½ oz vanilla vodka

1 oz fresh lime juice

½ oz  Midori

½ oz fresh lemon juice

½ oz simple syrup

Cauldron Crisp: This drink combines the kick of ginger beer and the sweetness of apples for a wicked cocktail.

2 oz ginger beer

2 oz Evan Williams Apple Orchard

1 oz vodka

Fill a shaker with the vodka and apple liquor, and shake until the drink is ice cold. Pour over ice and top with ginger beer.  Garnish with a thin slice of honey crisp apple.

Ms. Yvette: Who done it? Colonel Mustard with the candle stick? Mrs. Peacock with the revolver? Nope, it was Ms. Yvette with the poison.  Crème Yvette is a berry-based floral liqueur that has not been on the market since the 1900s. It is unique and refined, with an eerily violet color.

1.5 oz Hendrick’s Gin

1 oz Crème Yvette

2 oz homemade lemonade

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. I love testing out new, fun cocktails on my guests each year. Try these out at your Halloween party!


  • Jennifer Laurie

Tips for Entertaining–What to Serve From Your Bar

Early in my career, I had excellent guidance from some real pros. It was their confidence and ease with people that made me strive to become the Sommelier I am today. When it comes to big events in people’s lives, I try to be the most painless part of the process. At the holidays, with all the running around to do, the quicker and easier things go, the better. That’s why I’ve created a Party Planning Beverage Cheat Sheet. We’ll lay out all the most popular Beer, Wine, and Spirits, and explain how to decide how much to buy.

Essentials for the Bar

Here we will give three spirits: one Ultra Premium, one Premium, and one Standard, along with three common cocktails they can be used to make.


The most popular spirit by far due to its mixability and clean flavor

Grey Goose – Le Fizz
Absolut – Grey Hound
Smirnoff – Bloody Mary


Though not as popular as it used to be, gin is crisp, refreshing, and makes killer cocktails.

Hendricks – Jimi Grape
Tanqueray – French 75
Gordon’s – Gin and Tonic


Classically distilled from sugar cane, rum is a touch sweeter than vodka. You can find it in light, golden, dark, and spiced. We recommend having light and spiced on your bar.

Cruzan Aged Light – Classic Daiquiri
Captain Morgan’s Spiced – Captain’s Nest
Castillo LightCuba Libre


Tequila is optional for the bar. However, the Margarita is the most popular drink across America.

Patron Anejo – Elegant Flower
Jose Cuervo Gold – Classic Magarita
Sauza Blanco – Cinnamon Tamarind Margarita


It is always good to have a good-quality scotch on the bar.

Lagavulin – Neat or on the rocks
Glenmorangie – Neat or on the rocks
Dewar’s – Dewar’s and Ginger


With richer flavors, whiskeys are great on the rocks or mixed.

Eagle Rare Bourbon – On the rocks
Jameson Irish Whisky – Jameson Almond Old Fashioned
Canadian Club – Manhattan

In addition to these spirits, you will want a couple of liqueurs for mixing or for after dinner. Cream liquers, such as Baileys, are good to have, as is an orange liqueur, such as Cointreau or Triple Sec. Other mixers that are important are club soda, cranberry juice, tonic water, orange juice, and cola.

Here are two fun and festive cocktails I like to make for the holidays-

When it comes to measurements, the basic 750-ml bottle contains about 40 1-ounce shots, four 4-ounce glasses of wine, and seven 3-ounce glasses of Champagne. Generally, each party guest will consume one beverage per hour, whether it is one bottle of beer, a glass of wine, or a cocktail. Multiplying the number of guest by the length of the party will help you figure how many bottles of spirits, wine, or beer you will need for your party. McManis or Raymond Cabernet Sauvignon and Kendall Jackson or Angeline Chardonnay are very easy-drinking, enjoyable, and popular wine choices. I generally recommend having a generic beer like Labatt Blue Light for a party, but make sure you grab a couple of popular craft beers like Bell’s Two Hearted IPA or Detroit Brewing Company’s Saunders Chocolate Stout to add variety.

Well, there you have it–my tried-and-true guidelines for perfect parties. Always take into account that you know your guests better than I do. If they are drinkers, bump up the number of drinks per hour. Also, make sure you don’t run out of ice! The more, the better!


– Jennifer Laurie

The Skinny on Skinnygirl Cocktails

If you perused our aisles today, you would see one word that repeats again and again: Skinny. We’ve got Skinny Pop Popcorn, Skinny Cow ice cream, Firefly Skinny Sweet Tea Vodka, and even Skinny Water!

Skinny is the new buzzword, and no one knows it better than Real Housewife Bethenny Frankel. She has built an empire on the word, and it’s still growing! Just this past week she brought in White Peach Margarita and Skinny Mini Margarita 4 packs*.

So who exactly is Bethenny, and why should we care about her Skinny products? Bethenny Frankel started her reality TV career as the runner up on The Apprentice: Martha Stewart. The producers liked her so much they slotted her as a cast member on the hit reality TV series The Real Housewives of New York. On the show, she was able to show off her culinary skills as a natural foods caterer. She got her credentials from the Natural Gourmet Culinary Institute, and as the show progressed, she and her eating habits became wildly popular.

In episodes, Bethenny was shown ordering what she called a “Skinny Girl Margarita.” This low-cal cocktail was a stripped-down version of a classic margarita, without all the sugar. The drink caught on, and a woman who was slated for 15 minutes of TV fame turned her favorite libation into the seedling for an entire line of Skinnygirl products.

Skinnygirl Cocktail Review

Daily, I get asked how they taste, and last night I sat down and tried all of the Skinnygirl Cocktails*. Here are my findings:

Skinnygirl Cocktails Review

? Skinnygirl Margarita $13.95 – Tart and tangy the way a margarita should be, but if you are used to Jose Cuervo, you may be in for a bit of a shock. You have to keep in mind that this drink is only 37 calories for 1.5 oz, so the sweetness is cut way back. It takes a little getting used to, but it’s definitely a great alternative to the blood-sugar-spiking, bright-green, premade jug margarita.

Skinnygirl White Cranberry Cosmo $14.99 – By far the favorite of our group, the White Cranberry Cosmo is light and refreshing–perfect for a hot day by the pool.  The white cranberry flavor is elegant and not as heavy as your standard cranberry Cosmo. There’s also the bonus that it’s clear, so you don’t have to worry about stains.

Skinnygirl Pina Colada $14.99 – “A guilt-free vacation with every sip,” Bethenny says. Sure, it tastes like a vacation; you know the part when you get Hawaiian Tropic suntan lotion in your mouth? I’m not saying it’s bad. However, it does have an intense coconut flavor that doesn’t make up for the creamy smoothness of the real thing. If you are in a pinch and watching calories, it will do.

Skinnygirl White Peach Margarita $13.95 – The newest “girl” was my favorite of the night. Very fragrant, sweet and a little tart, just like a ripe peach. A little hint of lime counterbalances the sweetness of the peach just right.

All of the cocktails average about 35 calories per 1.5 fluid oz, and except for the margarita, all are clear in color. I can see why these have become some of my bestselling liquor items! All of the ingredients to make your own skinny margarita can be found in our stores, from the fresh limes and blue agave silver tequila to the calorie-reducing agave syrup. The Skinnygirl Cocktails are as simple as the bottles say–just open and serve, but I do recommend lots of crushed ice.

Skinnygirl review

Have you tried any of the Skinnygirl cocktails?  What do you think?

*Sorry, Skinnygirl Cocktails are only available at our Troy & Clinton Township locations.

Summer Cocktail Recipes

summer drinks ninos pin

As the summer heats up, my thirst for interesting and unique cocktails increases. Don’t get me wrong, I love my summertime wines, but my husband has a keen knack for mixing up some terrific libations. The best is when I bring home some of Nino’s freshest produce and let him work his magic. Year round we play with citrus, but right now we have fresh melons, pineapple, berries and stone fruits like peaches and nectarines. And with “the Cocktail Revolution” at hand, we can’t just focus on the fruit! Peppers, cucumbers, basil and thyme are all found in cocktails in the trendiest hotspots around Detroit. Just last week, I had an “exhilaratingly” spicy drink made with house-made Ghost pepper syrup at The Oakland in Ferndale! The produce section, for the at-home mixologist, is a sea of colorful splashes of flavor, just waiting to be imbibed.

Here are some of my favorite summer cocktails:

The Artless Watermelon Mojito Recipe

Artless Watermelon Mojito Recipe

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen me post a picture of this. It is a simple and refreshing cocktail that came out of what I had available: white rum, watermelon, mint, and limes.

  • 2 oz. Cruzan White Rum
  • 1 oz. Passoa Passion Fruit Liqueur
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • 1 ½ cups cubed watermelon
  • 4 leaves mint
  • 1 cup ice

Put all ingredients into a blender and blend till smooth.

The Original Mai Tai Recipe

Created by “Trader” Vic Bergeron in 1944, the Mai Tai has almost as many variations as there are islands in the sea. A thousand pretenders (and an entire national craze) have come and gone, but the original is still the best. Despite its complex flavors, it’s a cinch to make.

  • 1 oz. fresh squeezed lime juice
  • ½ oz. orange Curacao
  • ¼ oz. orgeat syrup
  • ¼ oz. sugar syrup
  • 1 oz. Meyer’s dark Jamaican rum
  • 1 oz. Appleton Estate V/X rum

Combine the ingredients in a shaker with a generous helping of crushed ice, shake, and pour unstrained into a double old-fashioned glass. Drop the spent lime shell into the drink, where it will float like a tiny island. Garnish with a sprig of mint and a slice of pineapple on the rim.

EXR and Ginger Recipe

The Bitter Truth is a German company specializing in bitters and long forgotten liqueurs. The EXR is a Krauter Liqueur, that is a little like coke syrup with a bitter twist on the finish. If you’ve ever had Amaro or Jagermeister, it’s a little like that. But when mixed with Canada Dry Ginger Ale, lime juice and orange zest, it becomes bright and refreshing!

  • 2 oz. EXR Krauter Liqueur
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • 3 oz. Canada Dry Ginger Ale (Sorry, Vernor’s is too sweet for this one.)
  • 1 tbsp. orange zest

Pour all ingredients over ice in a tall collins glass and stir.

The Beautiful Red Bell Recipe

If you’re feeling adventurous, why not try drinking a few peppers? Created at the popular Kansas City, Missouri cocktail haven Manifesto, the Beautiful Red Bell is an unusual new drink that’s rapidly gaining a following. Here’s what you’ll need to try your own.

  • 1/3 of a red bell pepper, sliced into 2-inch strips
  • 5 basil leaves
  • ½ lime, juiced
  • 1 ½ oz. gin
  • 1 tsp. agave nectar

Combine the pepper, basil, and lime juice in a shaker, then muddle thoroughly. The goal is to completely mash the pepper. There should be no “crunch” left. Add the gin, a generous amount of ice, and shake vigorously. Strain into a martini glass.


Coconut Basil Slimlet Recipe

Based off the classic Gimlet that comprised of  vodka and Rose’s Lime Cordial, this adds a tropical yet skinny twist.

  • 2 oz. Skinnygirl Island Coconut Vodka
  • 1 oz. fresh lime juice
  • 2 sprigs of fresh basil
  • 1 tbsp. agave syrup

Muddle agave syrup, 4 leaves basil, and lime juice in a cocktail shaker. Add Skinnygirl Island Coconut Vodka and ice. Shake vigorously and strain over ice into a rocks glass. Garnish with additional basil.

Once you get the hang of these drinks, I suggest finding new recipes in some of Metro Detroit’s best bars. I highly recommend The Sugar House in Detroit and The Oakland in Ferndale. These bartenders, or mixologists if you prefer, are a cut above, using handmade bitters and syrups that make their cocktails stratospherically good! An additional bonus? There is outdoor seating at both establishments.