[ All That Glitters ~ Effervescent Libations With More Glimmer than Gold ] ~ from HerbCo Company
[ Make Your Festive Gatherings Shine ] ~ from Herbco
The old adage tells us that all that glitters isn’t gold. But the opposite is also true – all that is gold does not always glitter. Think of an antique store or your grandmother’s attic. The most precious of items are often more like rusty gold, but the memories attached to them make them sparkle nonetheless.

In keeping with that sentiment, we’ve put together a few simple effervescent libations to help make your festive gatherings shine this holiday season. No need for top shelf spirits or an orchard of fancy fruit. Just a few budget-friendly ingredients and you’re ready to chill with friends and family while the Yule log roars. Brace yourself…icy conditions ahead!

[ All That Glitters ~ Ice Ice Baby ] ~ from HerbCo

cocktail components

The first essential element to a successful cocktail is alcohol. Like perfumes and quiche, the art of cocktail creation is in the laying of the foundation and building upon it, with roughly two jiggers of the choice of spirit or spirits providing the base note of the drink, enhanced with middle and top notes in the form of syrups, fruits, etc. As a general rule, be generous with the booze and light with the accompaniments, or you risk ending up with a drink that’s too sweet or sour that no attempt at adjustment can save.

The second most important part of a cocktail is ice. Ice serves a dual purpose in a cocktail—first and foremost to chill the concoction, and secondly to permit respectable dilution. Although there is usually one or two party-goers that insist that a lot of ice equates to “not getting their money’s worth” of liquor, resist the temptation to ask if they want ice in their drink (the exception being wine). It’s not necessary to pack each glass with enough ice to sink the Titanic, but too little ice and it will melt too fast and dilute the drink too much. You’ve got it right when the ice just peeks over the alcohol line in the glass (or shaker).


[ All That Glitters ~ Science and Soda Pop ] ~ from HerbCo

the story of soda

Depending on where you are in the United States, you probably refer to certain carbonated drinks as soda, or as “pop,” or simply as a soft drink, although the latter technically applies to any beverage void of dairy or alcohol, like iced tea. Soda pop, as it is also called, might conjure images of a frosty glass served with a burger and fries at the local “greasy spoon,” but the first naturally carbonated drink was made from mineral water and sold as soda water by street vendors in England in the late 13th century. Some producers infused these early club sodas (aka soda waters) with bitter herbs like dandelion and burdock or sweet birch bark and sarsaparilla, while others produced them with honey and lemon. The man-made carbonated soda that we know today was accidently invented in the mid-1700s by Joseph Priestly, the same guy who discovered oxygen and photosynthesis.

Ginger ale is one of the most popular carbonated sodas and is commonly used to make mixed cocktails. This celebrated beverage started out as ginger beer first made in Yorkshire, England and later lightened into ginger ale in Ireland in 1851 using carbon dioxide to provide the fizz. A more recent adaptation, known as Belfast Style Ginger Ale, was the invention of John McLaughlin, a Canadian pharmacist. After a few years of refining his formula, McLaughlin introduced the world to Canada Dry Pale Dry Ginger Ale in 1907. Also known as “The Champagne of Ginger Ales," McLaughlin’s soda was a real boon to Americans during prohibition because its spicy aroma helped to disguise illegal spirits.

fresh ginger

[ All That Glitters ~ Bond and Booze ] ~ from HerbCo

shake or stir?

James Bond may have topped the list of fictional characters in the spy genre in the 1960s, but his insistence that his martinis be “shaken, not stirred” was a dead giveaway that neither he nor Ian Fleming, his creator, knew much about bartending. Cocktails that contain mostly spirits, also known as aromatic cocktails, such as the Old Fashioned, the Manhattan, and the classic Martini, are stirred, not shaken. All spirits possess similar densities, so an easy stir is sufficient to get them to handshake. Stirring also preserves the drink’s clarity. And get this: shaking a drink composed entirely of spirits can reduce its proof by nearly half.

In contrast, sour cocktails, or those that contain ingredients other than alcohol, should be mixed in a shaker and, depending on the specific additions, strained into a cocktail glass. Shaking creates air bubbles, which invite ingredients of varying densities to merge. Aeration also improves texture and, in some cases, produces a desired creamy or frothy effect. As a rule of thumb, shake dinks that combine alcohol with coffee, cream, ice cream, egg or fruit juice. Of course, if a recipe directs you to dump all the ingredients in a blender, there won’t be any guesswork on your part.

to shake or not?

[ All That Glitters ~ Perfect Herb Pairing ] ~ from HerbCo

perfect herb pairing

Certain herbs and spices lend flavor and a creative twist to a cocktail, when paired well with its ingredients. There’s no hard and fast rule about this, but certain herbs and spices seem to work better in aromatic drinks and others in sweet or sour. Here’s a simple guideline to follow:

– This is the universal herb when it comes to cocktail creation. The fresh leaves go well with practically anything.

– Freshly grated or crystalized, ginger works well in fruit-based drinks and those with warm spices.

– Use sprigs of fresh rosemary as stirrers in cocktails that contain citrus.

– Works best in gin or vodka-based drinks; pairs well with strawberries, peaches and melon.

– Partner fresh cilantro leaves with tequila.

– A nice companion to scotch, whiskey and may be infused in gin or vodka.

ginger ale

homemade ginger ale
Perfect for children and for mixing adult beverages, this classic beverage is so simple to make you’ll wonder why you ever purchased it from a store. The flavor is much nicer too – clean, mellow and smooth.

beet cocktail

can't beet this cocktail
This refreshing cocktail features fresh beet, apple and ginger, topped off with tequila and a dash of chipotle.

berry gin fizz

berry gin fizz
This recipe makes 10 tumblers, but if your gathering is smaller just refrigerate the fruit puree for later use and adjust the amounts for the remaining ingredients accordingly.

strawberry basil cocktail

strawberry basil cocktail
This refreshing drink combines basil and strawberries with a touch of balsamic sweetness from agave nectar.