The unusual yet happy couple – French fries and wine pairing

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With all the hype on Instagram and food websites, everyone is going crazy with how creative one can get with french fries. Decorated with everything from chili to ice cream – yep, ice cream! How about them paired with wine? Whether you plan on trying this or not, you’re definitely curious. (I see you!) (*wink) – Let ‘s see if I can get you to indulge in this unique and yummy pairing.

Classic French Fries + Champagne – The high acidity and bubbles in Champagne, compliment the salt and fat in regular french fries, making it a carby-goodness.

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Chili Cheese Fries + Tinto Finto – This Spain based wine mellows the spice on the chili fries cheese fries,  giving you a “hot and sweet thang goin'” in your mouth. AND, don’t worry about the cheese messing anything up with this pairing, it adds to it perfectly.

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Cheese Fries + California Chardonnay – Now, if you want just cheese fries, this would pair well with a California Chardonnay. This is where sweet and richness collide.

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Animal Style Fries + Verdejo – This pairing was hard, because there is so much shit on these fries (laughs) – Much like this style of fry, I just wanted to throw the towel in and say, “Anything goes!”. BUT, I thought and tasted, and thought some more, and I FINALLY got it. Verdejo. The tangy citrus plays off of the secret sauce, while the acidity is high enough to refresh your mouth, making you crave more.

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Sweet Potato Fries + White Bordeaux – Let’s throw in a healthy choice, shall we? These fries have an earthy taste, so the White Bordeaux will add a nutmeg, cinnamon, toasty taste, giving them a little “ooomph!”.

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Poutine Fries + Dry Riesling – These fries are very, heavy. So make sure you are pretty hungry before you order these little pieces of heaven. The sour citrus and fruit, helps cut through the heavyness of the gravy, still tasting amazing but lightening the “load” a bit (laughs).

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This is a bonus for you guys! Because everyone loves TOTS…

Tater Tots + Dry Riesling – Again, with the Dry Riesling! Riesling is know for it’s naturally high acidity, making it a perfect pairing for salty, greasy tater tots (laughs) – I mean that in a good way, I promise!

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Note: I was going to pair waffle, truffle and garlic fries as well but got bored with them Lol if you need a recommendation, get a hold of me 🙂 All wines listed here are available for purchase at your local Total Wine & More retail store as well as online! XO 

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Wine and ginger? Oh yeah!

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Ohhh, Winter! Yes, the winter weather is taking over and WOOOOO it’s effin’ cold! But let’s face it, with all this rain, fog and snow, doesn’t a nice red wine sound delish?! Sure does! Whether it be Merlot (my fave), Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon – Just to name a few, it all sounds great and the weather is perfect for it. Reds are most popular during the cold weather because they’re comforting and warming. The texture in red wine is heavier and more filling than a white wine, which are more popular in the summer time, although it’s perfectly fine to enjoy both wines during any weather. I like to open one of my fave bottles of red and pair it with pickled ginger. Even with my knowledge on food & wine pairing being abundant – I had never heard of this before. Until one night…Ah, yes, that one night Lol tis’ was a ‘happy accident’. I love snacking on pickled ginger by itself, I’ll go and buy a few bottles from my fave Japanese grocery store and “that’s all she wrote”, anyway, on this particular night, I picked up a bottle of Blackstone Merlot, poured myself a glass, as well as a side of ginger in a small plate and began texting my friends on my phone as I looked for a good movie to watch. I wasn’t planning on mixing the two, I wanted to eat the ginger first, wash it down with my glass of water, then, enjoy my Merlot. Well. without realizing it, I ate some ginger and sipped my Merlot right after, and let me tell ya – “YES!” – I was beside myself with utter goodness and my taste buds were ‘dancin’ like they’ve never danced before (laughs). Red wine can be bitter and very sour, the ginger even that out and adds a sweetness to it, it gives the perfect sweet & sour effect. So now, here we go, loves. My top 3 wines you can pair with pickled ginger.

Note: All of these wines are reasonably priced and can be found at any wine store like Total Wine & More and World Market. I usually get my pickled ginger from my fave little Japanese store in Henderson, Las Vegas called Japan Creek Market or any store that sells international foods, and of course online.

1. Blackstone Merlot

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2. Barefoot Pinot Noir

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3. Raymond Merlot

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Pickled Ginger

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4 quick & easy holiday hot toddy recipes

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With the winter weather getting colder something hot and yummy sounds perfect, right? Sure does! Especially an adult beverage. So throw on those jammin’ jammies, put on your fave holiday movie and grab a blankie – I’m going to tell you how to make the perfect holiday hot toddy.

Coconut Chai Toddy –  Hot water, 1 chai tea bag, 3/4 coconut milk, 1 tbsp coconut sugar, 2 oz dark rum, add a dash of cinnamon and we’re good!

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Caramel Apple Toddy –  Hot water, 1/2 cup apple cider, 1/4 cup bourbon, 1 1/2 cup caramel vodka, 1 container cool whip, garnish with two cinnamon sticks and enjoy!

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Cranberry Toddy – Hot water, 2 oz whiskey, 4 oz cranberry juice, 1 tsp lemon juice, 1/2 tbsp honey, drop in a lemon slice and have fun!

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Classic Toddy – Hot water, 1/2 oz rum or whiskey, 2 tsp lemon juice,  2 tsp honey, 2 cloves, 1/2 cinnamon stick, 2 lemon slices, regular tea bag (optional)

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Make sure the water is hot enough to mix in all the ingredients. Hot Toddy’s are generally very easy to make and are a lot of fun to experiment with  – the different liqueurs used for making a toddy are endless as well as the fruit, tea and spices. So have fun with it! Hosting a Toddy Party is a great way to come up with new recipes, or a Girl’s Night, or even when you’re home and just want something to do (which was my case) Lol Toddy’s are also good when you’re feeling “under the weather” or just want to relax during the cold snaps outside. Happy Holidays, loves 😉

Bring in the Summer with a Pasta Salad

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Spring is already here and Summer is approaching and there’s nothing like a Pasta Salad with a bottle of wine to add to those long, peaceful, hot, Summer nights. I’m going to include some of my fave salads, along with their wine pairings.  These are light, easy to make and deeeeelish!

Roasted Asparagus and Tomato Penne Salad with Goat Cheese

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Ingredients

2 cups uncooked penne or mostaccioli (tube-shaped pasta)
12 asparagus spears
12 cherry tomatoes
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
3/8 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided
1 tablespoon minced shallots
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon dried herbes de Provence
1 1/2 teaspoons honey
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved
2 cups baby arugula
1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled goat cheese

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 400°.

2. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain and set aside.

3. Place asparagus and tomatoes on a jelly-roll pan. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil; sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Toss gently to coat; arrange asparagus and tomato mixture in a single layer. Bake at 400° for 6 minutes or until asparagus is crisp-tender. Remove asparagus from pan. Place pan back in oven, and bake tomatoes an additional 4 minutes. Remove tomatoes from pan; let asparagus and tomatoes stand 10 minutes. Cut asparagus into 1-inch lengths; halve tomatoes.

4. Combine shallots and the next 4 ingredients (through honey) in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Gradually add remaining 3 tablespoons oil, stirring constantly with a whisk. Stir in remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.

5. Place pasta, asparagus, tomato, olives, and arugula in a large bowl; toss. Drizzle juice mixture over pasta mixture; toss. Sprinkle with cheese.

You can serve this dish right away or cover and chill for 2 hours for a cold pasta salad. Wine Pairing: A white wine would go great with this salad. For instance, Sauvignon Blanc or a Chardonnay.

 

Rontini, Summer Squash, and Prosciutto Salad with Rosemary Dressing

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Ingredients

3 cups uncooked rotini (corkscrew pasta; about 8 ounces)
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped yellow squash
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped zucchini
4 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, chopped
3 tablespoons chopped red onion
2 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon extravirgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary

Preparation

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Add squash and zucchini during the last minute of cooking. Drain pasta mixture; rinse under cold water.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add prosciutto; cook 5 minutes or until crisp, stirring frequently.

Combine the pasta mixture, prosciutto, onion, and cheese in a large bowl; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Combine white balsamic vinegar, olive oil, Dijon mustard, and rosemary in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add vinegar mixture to pasta mixture, tossing gently to coat.

Add the zucchini and squash to the pasta during the last minute of cooking. Wine Pairing: Fruity wines go great with this salad, for instance: Moscato or Zinfandel.

 

Spinach Pasta Salad

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Ingredients

1/2 cup mini farfalle
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups baby spinach
1/4 cup chopped red onion

Preparation

1. Cook mini farfalle according to package directions. Drain. Rinse with cold water; drain.

2. Combine olive oil and next 5 ingredients in a large bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Add garlic vinaigrette, spinach, and onion to pasta.

This one is also good when topped with Salmon or grilled Chicken. Wine Pairing: Without Salmon or Chicken, a white wine like, Pouilly-Fume, Muscadet would go well. If you were to add Salmon or Chicken, definitely Chardonnay.

6 Restaurants in 6 Cities

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When it comes to hitting the town for a night out. It shouldn’t be too hard. Say, you wanna grab a bite, or chill, and have a couple of drinks to start the night off. Well, I’m going to give you a list of my favorite cities and a couple of cozy but fun places to relax at.

Las Vegas  –  Located inside of the ARIA Resort & Casino. Sage Restaurant offers a very dark, intimate atmosphere. Definitely, the right place to go for a casual night out. Choose from a tasting menu or a two, three, or four course menu options.

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L.A. – Located in the heart of Beverly Hills, ll Cielo Restaurant has a romantic garden setting, complete with “fairy lights”. This place is perfect for a romantic night out. Enjoy lovely dishes, such as the Pesto Pasta, Filet Mignon with garlic mashed potatoes, Tomato Soup and so much more. And do not, forget the desert menu – Just WOW!

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Seattle – Located inside of the Mayflower Hotel, Oliver’s Lounge offers a fabulous 20’s-40’s era style décor, as you relax. Facing 4th Avenue in Downtown Seattle. This cocktail lounge is perfect for one of those afternoons or nights, when you want to have a quiet drink with your girls. Complete with free snacks during their Happy Hour.

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Manhattan – Located in East Village. Enjoy Happy Hour at the Mermaid Oyster Bar. This upscale-casual seafood spot has a cape-cod vibe and is known for it’s cheap oysters and lobster sliders. Enjoy a variety of (always fresh) seafood – This place tends to fill up fast, so make sure you get there early!

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Chicago – With a lovely view of Michigan Avenue. Spiaggia is an upscale Italian restaurant known for it’s amazing food and extensive Wine List.  Sit back, and relax, as cuisine, wine and service all come together for a really special evening. Browse their Tasting Menu as you choose from 7 or 14 courses – each menu offers just the right amount of food.

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Miami – Located inside of Biscayne Inn, Blue Collar Restaurant offers comfort-food faves from the cuban sandwich to the shrimp mac & cheese…the key lime pie is “out of this world!” – This cozy food is turned up a notch, along with it’s 70’s inspired dector and lively atmosphere.. Sit inside or outside as you enjoy your food.

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Dining In Style

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Looking and feeling your best is a big part of everyone’s day.  I LOVE looking stylish when I hit the city. I’m going to share with you some fashion picks, perfect for dining out day or night! Winter style! Let’s start with Austin, Texas. When I visit Austin. I think “Steakhouse”, so I must dress cozy, because I’m gonna be a meat & potatoes girl tonight! Pairing an over-sized sweater with leggings and Toms are a great way to go. It’s stylish and comfortable enough to “eat your heart out”.

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Chicago. Chi-town is famous for their food and is best known for their pizza, hot dogs and italian beef.  It can get pretty cold there, so we’ll need to bundle up. Leggings or skinny pants, paired with any tee, a chunky scarf and beanie will do. Topping it off with cute parka. Adding a cute sweater or light jacket underneath wll bring out this winter gem while inside.

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San Francisco. San Fran – is as famous for it’s restaurants and food trends as it is for it’s gorgeous scenery.  Seafood in the bay area is most popular. Dungeness Crab, clam chowder, bay shrimp and crusty sourdough bred — Ohhh my!  This gorgeous city can be a “wet one”, so, I’m going to go with a cute, simple mini dress, paired with opaque tights (or leggings) and duck boots. Splish splash through the streets in these boots.

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Miami. Ooooooh Mama! It’s actually, pretty warm over there this time of year, when it’s cold every where else!  This sexy city is known for many different cultures and food. Of course, the ridiculously authentic Cuban Sammich, as well as the Chicharron (pork, pork, pork) is where it’s at! And being that the weather is so gorg, I’d go with cute shorts and a solid colored top, paired with, cute strappy heels and a sequined bag.

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Seattle. I feel  SOOO romantic, every time I visit this city! Wild blackberries are most common in Seattle, a lot of restaurants incorporate them in to recipes. And, not just deserts, also, salmon, oysters, mussels and fish & chips. Much like San Francisco, Seattle also has cold, wet winter weather. I’m going to go with, dark denim skinny jeans,  flannel shirt, short ankle bootie and a beanie cap hat. You can also layer it with a fur or quilted vest for more warmth.

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Los Angeles. Much like all of the above, L.A, has everything. From the Ramen places, to Thai food (My Fave!), to the iconic pastrami sammich. Los Angles, is like a “horn of plenty”, when it comes to a variety of food. And the nightspots there are where it’s at. Let’s go with “party wear”. Sequined skirts are a hit when “painting the town red”. A solid colored off the shoulder top or a chunky sweater pairs perfectly with a sequined skirt and pumps.

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Last, but certainly not least…Brooklyn.  This city is my “happy place” and best known for, pizza, cheesecake, bagels and of course, hot dogs.  When walking this beautiful city, I’m going to go with Hipster style. Pairing tights or thigh highs with denim shorts, a chunky sweater and a cue pair of lace up ankle booties are perfect. You could even add a beanie or scarf, depending on the weather.

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Party Nuts & Beer – Oh My!

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Pairing beverages & food can be a bit tricky – Especially when you want to get the best taste of out the two. Often over looked but interesting. I’m going to tell you what party Nuts pair well with Beer. Honestly, I never knew these two COULD be paired. I just thought “Ehh nuts, ok”, something to nosh on, while I drink – taking them for granted, until I can get a hold of REAL food. HAHA! This is what I’ve come up with. Candied Walnuts pair well with a rich Stout, like Black Hawk Stout or Brown Ales.  These two together will have a smokey taste. Next up, salted peanuts, these will pair well with a lower alcohol level of IPA beer, like, India’s Pale Ale. These two together help cut through the salt and refresh the palette without over-powering each other. Hefeweizens and Lager Ales, will go great with garlic or chipotle almonds. Porter, candied pecans and Amber Ale, cinnamon pecans. All of these pairings, surprised me with their unique flavors. And were a huge hit, at the last “Girl’s Night” at my house. Pair em’ & see what you come up with…I’m looking forward to exploring this more =)

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Holiday Movie Pairings With Cocktails

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The holidays are here. On top of putting up a tree, or Hanukkah decorations, family gatherings and binge watching Christmas movie marathons, as if there were a quiz after the credits. Before you become a “couch potato” and attempt to watch 17 of the 24 hours of “A Christmas Story”, consider these movies and the cocktails I’ve paried them with to add a little spice to your routine this year.

Let’s start off with the movie ELF, starring Will Ferrell. This movie is about Buddy (Will Ferrell) being accidently transported to the North Pole as a toddler and raised to adulthood among Santa’s elves.  This is one of my favorite holiday movies and I’m going to suggest you pair this with a cocktail called “Seasons Greetings”, which is:

4 to 5 ounces of Egg Nog (pre-packaged or freshly made)

1 ounce of Meukow Vanilla Cognac

½ ounce of Belle de Brilliet Pear Cognac

Rim the glass with sugar, steam the eggnog, Add Meukow Vanilla Cognac and Belle de Brilliet Pear Cognac to the glass and mix it in with the egg nog, top it off with whipped cream, garnish with an orange zest and fresh nutmeg and there ya go!

Next up, Bad Santa, starring Billy Bob Thornton. Willie T. Stokes (Billy Bob Thornton) and his partner (Tony Cox) reunite once a year for a holiday con. Posing as a mall Santa and his elf, they rip off shopping outlets on Christmas Eve. This movie is hilarious, with or without a cocktail, however, having one, will make for an even better time while watching this movie. I’m pairing this dark comedy with a drink called a  “Bad Santa”, which is:

4 to 5 ounces of Egg Nog

2 ounces of Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey

Steam the egg nog, rim a glass with a mix of cinnamon and sugar. Add Fireball Whiskey  and egg nog, mix together, top it off with whipped cream and dash of cinnamon, enjoy!

Last but not least, I’m going to throw a Horror film in to tha mix! I’m a huge Horror fan, so, I had to! HAHA! This movie is called Jack Frost, it’s really, more funny than scary. Starring, Scott MacDonald as “Jack Frost”, this movie takes places in the fictional town of Snowmonton. This killer snow man (Yes, I know LOL) goes on a bloody rampage throughout the town, a week before Christmas. He somehow manages to stay frozen and not melt while going in to houses and different places to kill – I’m tellin’ you guys, funny! We’re going to pair this cult classic with a cocktail called “You’re Nerdy Hot”, which is:

4 to 5 ounces of Hot Chocolate

1 ounce of Whipped Cream flavored Vodka

½ ounce of Goldschlager

Rim the glass with sugar. Steam your favorite Hot Chocolate. Mix together the Hot Chocolate, Whipped Cream flavored Vodka and Goldschlager, top it off with whipped cream, a dash of cinnamon and a pinch of chocolate sprinkles and there ya have it! I hope you’ll enjoy these as much as I have. Till’ next time XO

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Mezzo Bistro

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With the cold weather and in some parts, snow. I think of lots of wine! Las Vegas has a lot to offer in the “World of Wine” and one of my favorite local places to visit is Mezzo Bistro. Mezzo Bistro is a cozy, modern restaurant & bar, serving pizza, pasta and other italian dishes, along with an extensive wine list. Mezzo Bistro is located in North Las Vegas, just a short drive from the strip. Located inside of a quaint strip mall. Mezzo’s ambiance alone is worth the visit, the restaurant is perfect for a romantic night out, a “Girl’s Night” or ANY night. The restaurant is dimly lit inside, and a bit dark, they also have a cute little outside patio, perfect for brunch or a hot summer night, the food is hearty and is served in a timely manner. The staff is friendly and seating is more than plentiful. I started out with the Artisan Meat and Cheese Platter. This dish includes, an assortment of imported meat, cheeses and fruit. I paired that with a Clos Du Val 08’ Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa. Which was divine! When I was ready for dinner, I choose the Chicken Piccata with Angel Hair Pasta. This included, chicken, capers and lemons, in a white wine butter sauce, on a bed of angel hair. Talk about comfort food! The portions are huge (so be sure to bring your appetite!). I wrapped up my night with desert – I chose Chocolate Mousse Cake. Which speaks for itself! I’m grinning over here as I write this! On top the of the fabulous food and abundant wine list. Mezzo also offers live jazz music weekly happy hour and holiday specials. This place is a “must visit” when in Vegas! I will absolutely be back.

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Your fave Holiday Deserts, paired with “Happy Juice!”

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Hello, October! With that being said, Autumn is upon us, as is Winter weather. The first thing I thing that comes to mind, is, “Sweeeeeet Yummies!” – Sugaaaaaaaa! Let’s try pairing that with booze! Starting off with Pumpkin Pie. with this pie it is best to go even sweeter. Imagine that! There are many desert martinis that would work well, my faves are, the White Chocolatini and the Chocolatini, you can also go with a Vanilla mixed Latte drink (Coffee with a kick). They all play off of the spice from the Pumpkin Pie and will make a great match, and, if none of these are workin’ for ya. You can always just do a shot of Vanilla flavored vodka! Lol works well in a pinch. Next up, Pecan Pie. This was a little tricky…but, Tennessee Whiskey goes great with this one. The combination of pecans and smokey, sweet bourbon compliment each other quite well. And you can do a shot of this, as well (wink) – Moving on, to, Cookies! Everything goes with cookies! And assuming you are going with the classic Chocolate Chip cookie, Maker’s Mark Bourbon pairs well.  Last but not least, what’s a “Holiday Blog” without Eggnog? Eggnog, also pairs well with the “brown stuff”, Rum, Brandy or Bourbon. Captain Morgan, Korbel Brandy or Evan Williams Bourbon. Just to name a few. These liquors are all reasonably priced and can be found at any Wine & Spirits store or Supermarket. Happy Holidays, Lovelies!

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