Archive | Holidays and Celebrations

Recipes for cocktails and mocktails for specific holidays and celebrations

A Pumpkin Martini for Fall

Pumpkin Martini at HeathGlen

Pumpkin Martini at HeathGlen

Well, the “frost is on the punkin” so we harvested all of our pumpkins and squash last week.  While pumpkin pies and squash & sausage dishes are great, there is no better way to celebrate the pumpkin harvest than with a Pumpkin Martini.

Pumpkin Shrub Syrup for the Martini:

Fall Shrub Syrups

Fall Shrub Syrups

We used several of the Cinderella pumpkins to make a fall pumpkin shrub syrup in the kitchen.  If you want to make your own, just heat together equal parts of  cooked pumpkin, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar and your favorite pumpkin spices.  If using whole spices, bring the mixture to a quick boil and then turn off the heat, cover and let the spices infuse for 1/2 hour up to several hours.

If you don’t want to bother, you can order the pumpkin shrub syrup from us at HeathGlen.  It is not listed yet at the online store on the website so you will have to email me at if you want to order some.  It should be on the website by December (we’re in the middle of an upgrade).

Recipe for the Pumpkin Martini:

  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges
  • maple sugar for rimming glass
  • 2 oz. bourbon
  • 1 1/2 oz pumpkin shrub syrup
  • 1/2 oz vanilla liqueur
  • 2 dashes orange bitters

Rim the glass with a lemon wedge and dip the rimmed glass into maple sugar.  Into a shaker full of ice, add the bourbon, the pumpkin shrub, the vanilla liqueur and the bitters.  Shake until chilled (about 10 seconds), and strain into the maple-sugar-rimmed glass.

Here is a short “how-to” video for the drink, with a guest reading of the James Whitcomb Riley poem, “When the Frost is on the Punkin”.   Enjoy them both!


Beer Cocktails with Apple Shrub Syrup – Gameday!

Beer Cocktails with Apple Shrub Syrup

Beer Cocktails with Apple Shrub Syrup

Even non-fans of  football enjoy the trappings around gamedays, i.e., beer, dips and finger foods.  So, to up the pleasure of  non-fans in our house on Monday nights (me), I put the season’s apple harvest and the soda stream to work.  Results:  a beer cocktail made with Apple Shrub Syrup, great beer, a dash of orange bitters and topped with bubbling carbonated water.  It was a winner.  Too bad for the Hub that the Bears weren’t winners also!

Apple Shrub Syrup:

I make and sell shrub syrups at Heathglen, but they are fairly easy to make if you have fresh fruit and some time.  For the apple syrup I extracted the juice from the apples first.

Extracting Juice:

While cold shrubbing (extracting the juice by letting the fruit sit overnight in sugar and then straining before adding vinegar) works well with fruit like strawberries or peaches, I don’t like to use the cold shrubbing method on apples.  The resulting strained syrup is too sweet and too thick for my taste.  I have a stainless steel steam juicer from Finland (called a Mehu Liisa) that I use to extract the juice.  It’s somewhat expensive, but you could steam your apples in a double boiler if you’re just making a small batch and then strain.  With apples, you could also put them through an apple press.  If you go the apple press route however, make sure and pasteurize you apple shrub in the end by bringing it up to 160 degrees for a short time.  This article from the University of Georgia has some good information on extracting juice from apples and when and why to pasteurize.

Sugar and Vinegar Ratios:

A shrub syrup is basically extracted juice, sugar and vinegar.  The ratios of these 3 ingredients vary greatly depending on whose recipe you use and your own taste.  The most common ratio of  shrub ingredients is 1:1:1.  That is 1 cup extracted juice to 1 cup sugar to 1 cup vinegar.  Of course the type of sugar and the type of vinegar you use will add nuance to your shrub.

For our apple shrub from Heathglen I used organic Haralred apples from our farm, pure cane sugar mixed with maple syrup, and apple cider vinegar.  The ratios I used were 4 cups extracted apple juice to 2 1/4 cups sweetener (a blend of maple syrup and pure cane sugar, to 3 cups apple cider vinegar. (***Note: the apple shrub syrup is not yet listed on the website, but you can get it by emailing me at or visiting one of the farmers’ markets we do in the fall and winter)

If you are making a small batch, you’ll just need to experiment.  The recipe is very forgiving and can easily be adjusted.  Just remember, the vinegar will mellow after it sits with the apple syrup for a while so the first taste while cooking will be more pungent than the final product.

Hot Shrubbing method:

Once you’ve extracted the apple juice you need to add the sugar and vinegar.  Pour the juice into a pot and add the sugar.  Heat the mix slowly to dissolve the sugar.  You do not need to boil the syrup mixture, just simmer it enough to dissolve the sugar.  After the sugar is dissolved you can turn off the heat and add the vinegar, cover and let the syrup sit for several days to several weeks.  I personally like to heat the mixture to about 165 degrees before covering to evaporate some of the volatile elements of the vinegar.  I think it mellows the syrup, but it certainly isn’t necessary.  Remember however, that if you extract the juice through the apple press, it should be brought up to 160 degrees for 5 minutes or so to pasteurize.


Beer Cocktail with Apple Shrub Syrup & Orange Bitters:


  • 1 1/2 oz. Apple Shrub Syrup
  • 10 oz. beer of your choice
  • 2-3 dashes orange bitters
  • 2 oz carbonated water

In a tall glass, add all of the ingredients and stir gently with a long bar spoon.  Make sure all ingredients are really cold for the best drink.

Here’s a short “how-to” video on making the drink:


If you like these how-to videos, please subscribe to our You-Tube channel here.

Watermelon Limoncello Mojitos for Ferragosto

Watermelon-Limoncello Mojito

Watermelon-Limoncello Mojito

Ferragosto is an Italian national holiday where the Italians escape the dog days of August and take a rest from the labor of the harvest season.  It is a family holiday rivaled only by Christmas, and many Italians head for the beach for a week of relaxation, friends and good food.  With respect to food and drink, it appears that watermelon often plays a starring role.  At HeathGlen Farm, we thought a pitcher of  watermelon Limoncello mojitos for Ferragosto was an appropriate crowd-pleaser, and oh-so-easy to make ahead of time.

A (little) History of Ferragosto:

The Italian festival called Ferragosto is celebrated on 15th August which dates back originally to the Romans.  Ferragosto was later incorporated into the Catholic faith, and then tweaked even later by Fascism and today is a relevant part of  popular Italian culture.

The ancient Roman Ferragosto was linked to the Consualia, effectively incorporating August festivities in Italy which celebrated the harvest to provide a suitable period of rest, necessary after the hard labour of the previous weeks.

The Catholic Church then added a celebration of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (the elevation of her sinless soul and incorruptible body into Heaven), to the Ferragosto holiday.

Ferragosto’s Connection to Fascism

Somewhere around the second half of the 1920s, the Fascist leisure organizations set up the “People’s Trains of Ferragosto” where the train fares were discounted enough that it gave less well-off social classes an opportunity to travel.  It was during these “people’s trips” that the majority of Italian families had, for the first time, the chance to reach seaside and mountain resorts, as well as see art in Italian cities.  The discounted offer was limited to 13, 14 and 15 of August, and consisted of  two options: the “One-Day Trip”, within a radius of 50 to 100 kilometers or the “Three-Day Trip” within a radius of about 100–200 kilometers.

Ferragosto Today

Today, Ferragosto is still honored, primarily as a feast day and a holiday to escape the heat.  Most Italians take at least a short holiday, if not the whole month of August, and head to the beach or the mountains for family time and parties.  Food and drink is, of course central to the festivities, with huge meals, even in the hottest temperatures, central to the festivities.

My research did not uncover any particular dish that was traditionally associated with Ferragosto.  All of the available photography however, included watermelon, so that is what I went with for our Ferragosto celebration.  Apparently restaurants in Southern California celebrate the holiday with a full Porcetta roast.  Sounds like a plan for next year’s celebration.

Pitcher Watermelon Limoncello Mojitos Recipe:

Prep for Watermelon Limoncello Mojitos

Prep for Watermelon Limoncello Mojitos


  • 1 6-8 lb. watermelon, to get 3 cups strained juice
  • 1/3 cup fresh mint
  • 1/2 cup rum
  • 1/2 cup ginger lime syrup, or simple syrup of your choice
  • 1/4 cup Limoncello
  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
  • melon balls and fresh mint for garnish


  1.  Cut the watermelon into large slices, saving the end piece to make melon balls.  Lay the slices flat on the cutting board and cut off the rind.  Using the melon baller, scoop out enough melon balls to allow two as a garnish per each drink you will serve.  Cut up the remaining melon slices into large chunks that will fit into the blender or food processor.
  2. Pack a 1/3 measuring cup with fresh mint and add the mint and enough melon chunks to fill the blender.  Blend into a puree (it does not take long).
  3. Strain the watermelon-mint mixture into a bowl or large measuring cup until you have 3 cups.  Keep blending more melon chunks and mint and straining until you have 3 cups.  You can puree the entire melon and reserve some out for mocktails for the non-drinkers also.
  4. Add to a pitcher:  3 cups of the melon-mint mixture, the rum, ginger lime syrup, and Limoncello.  Cover with plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for 2 hours or overnight.
  5. Remove melon mixture from refrigerator and stir in the fresh lime juice.  Pour mixture into a tall glass of ice and garnish with melon balls and a mint leaf.



Retro Tiki on the Balcony: Mai Tai and Ham Balls

Retro Mai tai (upgraded)

Retro Mai tai (upgraded)

In the spirit of “Throwback Thursday” I thought I’d have some fun with retro Tiki food and drink.  Waikiki Ham Balls (with a pineapple glaze!) was a hot appetizer in the 60’s tiki scene, and I’ve accompanied the ham balls with a tropical rum drink sporting an umbrella, of course.  Have to admit, I was leery of the idea of “ham balls”, but surprise, surprise.  They were actually great (I did upgrade them a bit however), and after devouring them I turned to my 60’s styled husband and said, “Why did these ever go out of popularity??”

A (little) Bit on Tiki Culture:

The Men behind Tiki:

Ernest Beaumont-Gantt (who later changed his name to Donn Beach), had spent some time traveling the South Pacific and in 1934 decided to create a bar and restaurant in Hollywood that featured some of the exotic scenes he enjoyed on his travels.  The “Don the Beachcomber” bar was full of Polynesian kitsch, including flaming torches, rattan furniture and flower leis and his drink menu focused on “exotic” rum punches.

Don the Beachcomber is usually given credit for bringing the tropical drink genre to popularity.  Most of his signature drinks included rum, flavored syrups, fresh fruit juices, and the ubiquitous umbrella.  Howard Hughes and many of the hollywood stars hung out at Don the Beachcombers from the 40’s to the 60’s.  It was quite the place to be seen as I understand it.

Another man, Victor Bergeron, so liked Donn’s Polynesian themed ideas and therefore opened his own tiki restaurant (Trader Vics) in Oakland three years later.  Trader Vics was wildly popular in the Bay Area and eventually became a worldwide chain.

The Feud:

Of course the popularity of these two similarly themed restaurants resulted in a feud.  Apparently it was a long drawn-out feud centered around exactly “who” invented the Mai tai.  The Mai tai is considered to be the quintessential tiki cocktail and bragging rights were an important business draw.  I can’t verify which was the true inventor, but I’m going to side with Don the Beachcomber.  You’ve go to give credit to a guy who actually changed his name to fit his passion!

Today’s Tiki:

It wasn’t until I decided to do a tiki drink for Throwback Thursday, that I realized there is a revival of the Tiki culture.  Tiki-themed parties and events have sprung up all across America (but mostly Southern California).  Pinterest is full of ideas for tiki parties and large annual Tiki events take place every year in California, Florida and New York.  There are even a range of online communities for “tikiphiles”, one of the biggest which is Tiki Central message boards.   Who knew?

The Renovated Mai Tai:

The original Mai tai drink recipe has been tweeked throughout the years, resulting in what most think of as a very sweet rum drink with pineapple juice.  I have tweeked it again and removed some of the sweetness and added more lime flavor.

As far as I can tell, this is the “original” recipe:

Prep for Tiki Mai Tai

Prep for Tiki Mai Tai


  • 2 oz. aged rum
  • 3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice, juiced lime half reserved
  • 1/2 ounce orange curaçao
  • 1/4 ounce rock candy syrup
  • 1/4 ounce orgeat
  • 1 cup crushed ice
  • 1 mint sprig, for garnish

Upgraded version of the Mai Tai for today’s tastes:

  • 1 oz. Meyers rum (dark rum)
  • 1 oz. light rum (I used Cruzan)
  • 1 oz. coconut water
  • 1 oz. pineapple juice
  • 1 1/2 oz.  ginger lime syrup   (you can use any other simple syrup here)
  • 1 1/2 oz. fresh lime juice (or 2 lime wedges squeezed into shaker)
  • 2 dashes bitters
  • 3 drops orange blossom water (or orgeat syrup)
  • stick of sugar cane or lime wedges for garnish


Combine all ingredients except garnishes in a cocktail shaker with ice, shake vigorously, and strain the entire contents into a tall glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with the sugar cane stick (and umbrella) or with pineapple slices or lime wedges.

Recipe for Ham Balls with a Pineapple Glaze:

Retro Ham Balls with Pineapple Glaze

Retro Ham Balls with Pineapple Glaze

Ingredients for Meatballs:

  • 1 1/2 lb. ham, chopped into cubes
  • 3/4 lb. ground pork
  • 1/3 cup onion, minced
  • 1 cup panko
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1 Tbsp. heavy cream
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Ingredients for Glaze:

  • 1 cup crushed pineapple
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp dry mustard
  • 1/4 cup lime jelly
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp corn starch mixed with 2 Tbsp cold water


  • Ham Balls Prep

    Ham Balls Prep

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees

  • Process ham and ground pork in a food processor over low speed until coarsely ground (do not puree).  Place meat mixture in large bowl with the rest of the meatball ingredients and mix well with hands or sturdy spoon to combine.  Use hands to form meatballs approximately 2-inches in diameter.
  • Arrange meatballs in baking dish and place in the oven without glaze for 20 minutes.
  • While the meatballs are cooking make the glaze by mixing all of the glaze ingredients except the corn starch in a small pot over a medium-high burner.  Bring to a boil.  Whisk in the corn starch/water solution and simmer at a low boil 1-2 minutes.
  • Meatball mixture in food processor

    Meatball mixture in food processor

    Pour the glaze over the meatballs, coating them well.  Continue to cook at 350, basting with the glaze every 20 minutes.  Meatballs should be done after 1 hour total cooking time.  If you want to test internal temperature it should read around 165 degrees.

  • This recipe would be easy to adapt to a crock pot for party appetizers.
  • If you want to get really retro, serve each meatball inside of a pineapple ring.


Ham Balls with Pineapple Glaze

Ham Balls with Pineapple Glaze




Tips for making the Perfect Sangria for a Balcony Party

Testing Cherry Sangria and White Sangria

Testing Cherry Sangria and White Sangria

City dwellers may be strapped for outdoor space, but if you have access to a balcony you can create one of those wonderful movie scenes where suggestive conversations take place leaning over the balcony rail with a cocktail in hand.  Or not.  You can also just relax with friends without the subtle, suggestive innuendos.  Sangria is the perfect pitcher to have ready for your balcony get-togethers.  I’ve included a recipe for a white (blanco) sangria as well as a cherry sangria with red wine. There are dozens of great sangria recipes.  These two are my favorites.

Eight Tips for Making Great Sangrias

  • Soak the fruit for a whole day in Rum, Triple Sec, Brandy or some other spirit. It makes a difference to really get the fruit infused into the wine. If you are in a rush you can microwave the fruit and liquor for 30 seconds but it’s a shabby second to letting it slowly infuse.
  • Many recipes include a variety of fruits (like peaches or strawberries).  The classic Spanish sangria only includes citrus and if you want to be true to the form, stick with citrus.
  • Fill the glass with ice first and then use a pitcher that has a strainer on the spout. If you use a regular pitcher you’ll keep filling everyone’s glass with large chunks of fruit or ice.
  • Slice the fruit or cut into large wedges.  Don’t chop or mince the fruit.  It doesn’t look attractive in the pitcher, and it won’t infuse into the wine in the same way.
  • Use inexpensive wines.  The fruit and sugar will mask any of the subtle flavors an expensive wine.
  • If the sangria is too sweet, add some more wine (a dry wine like merlot or cabernet).  You can also add some lemon juice.
  • If the sangria is too sour, add a can of orange soda pop or lemon-lime soda
  • If the sangria is too “winey”, add some flavorings.  Examples might include:  cinnamon sticks, fruit flavored rum, ginger ale, tawny port, orange liqueur (like triple sec), or fruit syrups.

Recipe for White Sangria (Blanco)

Sangria ingredients

Sangria ingredients (strawberries optional)


  • 2 (750 ml) bottles dry white wine (i.e., Sauvignon Blanc)
  • 1/2 cup orange liqueur (Triple Sec, Cointreau, Grand Marnier)
  • 1/4 cup brandy (or amber rum)
  • 1/2 cup flavored syrup (I used Vanilla Mint syrup from HeathGlen, aka Moroccan Mint)
  • 2 oranges, thinly sliced
  • 2 limes, thinly sliced
  • 2 lemons, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
  • 2 cups of something carbonated or sparkling (i.e., lemon-lime soda, sparkling water, sparkling wine like Prosecco)


Combine all ingredients, except for the fresh mint and the lemon-lime soda, in a large container.  Cover and chill 4 hours. Stir in lemon-lime soft drink and mint just before serving. Serve over ice, if desired.

Recipe for Red Sangria with Bing Cherry Jam:


  • 2 bottles red wine with cherry undertones (I used Mirassou Sunset Red @ $8.99 each)
  • 1/2 cup orange liqueur (triple sec)
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 1/2 cup flavored syrup (I used Smoked Cherry)
  • 1/2 cup Bing Cherry jam or syrup
  • 2 oranges, thinly sliced
  • 2 limes, thinly sliced
  • 2 lemons, thinly sliced
  • fresh mint to garnish


Combine all ingredients except mint in a large container.  Cover and chill for at least 1 hour and up to 24.

Pre-party Sangria Toast

Pre-party Sangria Toast

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