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Sparkling Wine and Champagne Cocktails for Your New Year’s Eve Party

new year's eve bubbly cocktails

I believe in saying goodbye to the year with a bubbly beverage. If you wish to serve something else then a straight glass of Champagne, consider these 5 sparkling wine cocktails for your celebrations.

classic champagne cocktail
photo credits: 101 Champagne Cocktails book by Kim Haasarud – visit Epicurious for the Classic Champagne cocktail recipe

Negroni Sbagliato
photo credits: Negroni sbagliato recipe at

new year's eve bubbly cocktails
photo credits: Prosecco-Berry Sparkler recipe at Rachel Ray| Pink Fizz recipe by Lotte Duncan via Food Network

champagne punch
photo credits: Champagne Punch recipe at Martha Stewart

Lastly, there is the Watermelon and Mint Collins that I shared last August.

They all seem tasty. I will have a hard time making a selection. Which one would you prefer to drink on New Year’s Eve?


Celebrate London 2012 with Girlie Gin Cocktails

girlie gin cocktails

girlie gin cocktails
photos: Maxime Juneau for At Home with Kim Vallee

Add style to your closing ceremony get together by serving a bronze, silver and gold metal cocktails. Or be the judge and pick one as your signature drink.

The recipes are from Bombay ambassador, the master mixologist Raj Nagra who made the cocktails for me at the Bombay Sapphire event in Montreal two weeks ago. I already shared the recipe for the Bronze medal cocktail. Now, it is time to share the silver and the gold medal cocktail recipes.

Silver medal: Watermelon and Mint Collins

  • 2 parts (60 ml) Bombay Sapphire
  • 4 Chunks of ripe watermelon chunks
  • 8 mint leaves
  • 1 part fresh lemon juice
  • 1 part simple syrup
  • 2 parts (60 ml) Processo

Glass: Wine glass

Method: Muddle, mint and sugar in your shaker. Add other ingredients and shake with ice. Pour in wine glass and top with the Processo.
Garnish: Long mint tip

Gold medal: Citrus Splash

  • 1 heaped tsp Citrus marmalade
  • 1 part Spiced syrup
  • 1 part Fresh lemon juice
  • 2 parts Bombay Sapphire
  • Fresh Sage
  • 1 Egg white
  • Nutmeg

Glass: Cocktail coup

Method: Shake all ingredients (except nutmeg). Shake again with ice. Strain into cocktail couple.
Garnish: Fresh nutmeg and grapefruit wheel

All three drinks were delicious. If I have to pick a favorite it would be the Watermelon and Mint Collins. To my surprise, I was delighted when I took a sip by the Citrus Splash; I was unsure that I would like it when I saw some of the ingredients. But I did!!! The ingredients remind me of a late late brunch.

Are you planning something special for the Olympics closing ceremony?


Blueberry and Basil Collins

blueberry basil collins

blueberry basil collins
photo: Maxime Juneau for At Home with Kim Vallee

Last week was the annual Bombay Sapphire event that I like to attend. I am in love with this year formula because it enables me to get unique content. For the occasion, the new Bombay ambassador, the master mixologist Raj Nagra, made three summer cocktails that fit my own taste. Any of those could become a signature drink for my outdoor parties.

I am sharing today the easiest one of the three. It is a girlie twist on the classic Collins. I love the color! The swizzle stick looks like a piece of jewelry. I was kind of hoping that I found a set inside our gift box. To be fair, the gift box was nice and I will be proud to serve drinks in the tumbler glasses that they gave us.

Blueberry & Basil Collins recipe

  • 2 parts (60 ml) Bombay Sapphire
  • 8 Blueberries
  • 4 basil leaves
  • 1 part (30 ml) Fresh lemon juice or the Juice of one lemon
  • 1 part (30 ml) Simple syrup
  • Soda water

Glass: Highball

Method: Muddle blue berries and simple syrup. Add Bombay, basil and lemon juice. Shake with ice and strain over ice. Top with soda water and stir gently.
Garnish: Blueberries on a swizzle stick

I will try to share the two other recipes before the weekend shortly.


Refreshing Summer Cocktails with 3 Ingredients

summer cocktails with 3 ingredients or less

I am always on the look out for tasty summer drinks. The New Times asked mixologists to share a summer cocktail with 3 ingredients or less. Garnishes, sugar, seltzer and simple syrup do not count. Merlin Griffiths, the global ambassador for Bombay Sapphire, told me at a media event that it is best to make a sweeter simple syrup (meaning 2 parts sugar per part of water). You simply put less into your drinks.

I am looking forward to try the Sumo Collins, the Campari Collins, and Guadalajara Sour. Go to The New Times to get 12 easy to make summer cocktails.

In Search for the Perfect Campari Sour

Campari is synonym with summer for me. Therefore, I was sad that The New York Times did not published their version of the Campari Sour. I browsed across the Internet and I found several versions. I even found on the Web site of Campari two recipes. I decided to try my own. Once I mastered it, I will share it with you.

+ Summer Cocktails Made Simpler from The New York Times – photos: Andrew Scrivani
+ Campari sour photo: Yana Paskova for The New York Times


A Sapphire French Highball Paired with Speakeasy Clams

kim is making drinks with merlin griffiths

kim is making drinks with merlin griffiths

The Bombay Sapphire media event gave us the occasion to learn new cocktail recipes. They collaborated with a local chef to pair each cocktail with an appetizer. This year, Eric Gonzales of Auberge Saint-Gabriel was the invited chef in Montreal. I learned several cooking tips from Eric. His food was delicious. I shared his recipes so you can try it at home while sipping your drink.

Merlin Griffiths showed us how to make his modern take on the classic French 75 cocktail. The addition of pear nectar adds a rich, fresh flavor that helps to combat the acidity of the lemon and champagne. I helped Merlin prepared the Sapphire French Highball at the Bombay Sapphire media event. We put it on tape. The images aren’t great due to the lights from the windows but Merlin gives good insights.

Sapphire French Highball Recipe

sapphire French Highball drink


  • 1 oz Bombay Sapphire
  • 0.5 oz Lemon juice
  • 0.5 oz Simple syrup – 2 parts sugar & 1 part boiling water; stir until dissolved and chill
  • 1 oz Pear nectar/juice
  • Top with Champagne or Sparkling Wine
  • Garnish: lemon twist and edible gold flakes

Add the gin, lemon juice, simple syrup and pear nectar to a highball glass. Stir. Fill the glass with cracked ice (lightly smash some ice cubes). Top slowly with champagne and stir once more. Garnish with a long “shoestring” lemon twist and edible gold flakes for pizzazz.

If you do not find it at your local grocery store, know that edible gold flakes are available at Indian food stores.

Cooking with Gin

eric gonzales is cooking with gin

If you wish to cook with the Bombay Sapphire gin, Chef Eric Gonzales thinks that it seafood and gin are a perfect combination. You can go with scallops, urchin or mussels. For the event, Eric cooked us a tasty clam recipe.

Speakeasy Clam Recipe

Speakeasy Clams :: recipe by chef eric gonzales

Serves 1 dozen clams

Canned clams were a favorite during the prohibition era. You have to remember that there were no fridge at the time; so canned food was more popular. This recipe is a spin on “Classic Clams Casino”, a dish that was served in the popular restaurants and supper clubs in the 1920’s. The use of toasted crushed almonds in this recipe highlights the almond botanicals featured in Bombay Sapphire gin.


  • 50 cl Olive oil
  • 60 g Shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 Clove garlic
  • 10 cl Bombay Sapphire gin
  • 2 small sticks of Liquorice (or fennel) – Liquorice sticks can be bought at the drugstore.
  • 2 springs of Fresh thyme
  • Zest of one lemon
  • Sea salt, freshly ground pepper

Heat olive oil in a saucepan. Add pepper (to taste), clams and deglaze with a drizzle of  gin. Add lemon zest, thyme, liquorice, salt and pepper. Cover and cook over low heat for 5 minutes. Uncover, remove the clams and leave to cool. Remove clams from their shells. Reduce the juices by half.

Clam and crab topping


  • 125 g Snow crab meat
  • 35 g chopped Italian parsley
  • 20 g finely chopped fresh basil
  • 35 g melted Butter
  • 50 g shredded Parmesan
  • 60 g Breadcrumbs
  • 40 g crushed, roasted almonds
  • Zest and juice of one lemon to taste

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan. Sauté the shallots until soft, deglaze with the gin, reduce by half. Add the clams after cutting them in half, the crab meat, herbs, parmesan and season with lemon juice, lemon zest, salt and pepper.

Mix the almonds, breadcrumbs and melted butter together. Preheat the oven to 375º F, place the clam shelves on a cookie sheet, garnish with the clam and crab mixture, top with breadcrumbs and bake for 5 minutes.

Remove from the oven and enjoy.

I shared more photos on my Facebook page. Come to see our Bombay Sapphire Media Event 2011 album.

bombay sapphire media event 2011


Cold and Cough Tea Tins at DavidsTea

davidstea cold and cough tea tins

davidstea cold and cough tea tins

I can’t tell you if it makes you feel better since I did not catch a cold this winter, but I like the concept behind the Cold and Cough Collection at DavidsTea. The cute packaging grabbed my attention.

Cold 911 contains sinus-clearing eucalyptus and juniper berries, plus you get a dose of vitamin C with the orange peel and orange oil. It could make a thoughtful gift to a friend or colleague who is sick.

At the heart of Throat Soother are lemongrass, lemon myrtle and lemon balm, which are known for their antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and/or antiviral superpowers. They are combined with marshmallow root, slippery elm and stevia leaf to create a sweet, hot, healing, lemony tea that coats and soothes your throat. That would be an option instead of my warm milk with honey.

+ Cold 911 tin by DavidsTea $14.50 CAD
+ Throat Soother tin by DavidsTea $14.50 CAD


Dairy and Sugar Free Eggnog Recipe and More

Eggnog recipe

Eggnog recipe

Whether you choose to add rum or not, eggnog is a classic beverage best accompanied with a fire, a blanket and a holiday movie. Heat it up to greet guests as they come in from the cold or serve it with brunch on Christmas day.

To ensure even those with dietary restrictions can enjoy this once-a-year rich and creamy treat, pass on the carton you’ll find at the corner store and try this dairy and sugar-free version, adapted from Alton Brown’s recipe by Domestifluff.

Eggnog recipe

Inspired by Domestifluff’s recipe, I collected a few other egg nog alternatives. Check them out in the sourcing section. The common substitute for heavy cream, milk and eggs seems to be coconut and almond milks. They add flavor, but reduce the calories – so you can still enjoy a Christmas cookie alongside your cup.
+ Dairy and Sugar Free Eggnog recipe from Domestifluff
+ Eggnog recipe from Alton Brown
+ Vegan Eggnog recipe from Post Punk Kitchen
+ Almond Milk Eggnog recipe from All Day I Dream About Food


Cranberry Sparkler: 5 Variations from Tokyo Terrace

Cranberry sparkler recipes

Cranberry sparkler recipes

Cranberry juice is an easy way to give a cocktail festive flavour and colour. It pairs well with vodka, gin or tequila. You can also substitute cranberry for orange juice in a brunch-standard mimosa – just top it with champagne or sparkling wine, like Prosecco. For a non-alcoholic version, try sparkling mineral water or ginger ale.

Providing simple syrups made with fresh herbs and citrus fruits to mix with the cranberry sparkler, as shown on Tokyo Terrace, is a creative way to offer several drink options, especially if your bar budget is limited. Since the cranberry sparkler is a simple combination that doesn’t require complicated techniques or additional bar tools, you could even set up a tasting station so guests can sample all of the flavors available.

To garnish the drinks, be sure to provide citrus slices, sprigs of herbs and frozen cranberries: use them in place of ice to keep drinks cool or pretty up a punch bowl.

+ Cranberry sparkler simple syrup recipes from Tokyo Terrace

Three Spicy Hot Chocolate Recipes

spiced hot chocolate by martha stewart

spicy hot chocolate recipe by radishes and rhubarb

I enjoy the taste of a hot chocolate after a day of ski or to drink instead of dessert on a cold winter night. I always melt chocolate pieces and use warm milk to prepare mine. Adding spices enhances the flavor. I found you three recipes online that you can make to your guests during the Holiday season.

Radishes and Rhubarb shared a hot chocolate spiced with cayenne, nutmeg and cinnamon. Her recipe uses a mix of dark chocolate pieces and premium cacao powder.

spiced hot chocolate by martha stewart

Martha Stewart proposed a Mexican Hot Chocolate and a Spiced Hot Dark Chocolate on her sites. If spices are not your thing, give a try to an Earl Grey Hot Chocolate.

Creative Drink Presentation

ingenious cookie cutters :: cookie that hangs on a cup

Pay attention to how you will serve your hot chocolate. I like the idea of a cookie hanging on your cup. You could do it with special cookie cutter or for a breath-taking version, bake your own gingerbread house cookie.

gingerbread house perched on a cup

+ Ingenious Cookie Cutter Set, choice of a star or a heart £10 at Cox & Cox


Jamie Oliver’s Christmas Spirit Cocktail

christmas spirit cocktail recipe by Jamie Oliver

christmas spirit cocktail recipe by Jamie Oliver

You know by now that I believe it is a must to prepare a signature drink to greet your guests. I found a recipe from Jamie Oliver that requires no bar tools.  It is easy to remember how to make it since Jamie’s Christmas spirit cocktail contains only 2 ingredients: iced cold tequila and pomegranate seeds.

Jamie suggests to not swallow the iced cold tequila until you’ve crunched the pomegranate seeds because they add a real burst of fragrance and flavor in your mouth. Remember the ice shooter glasses I made two years ago for my husband’s birthday party, they would add a special touch here.

+ Jamie Oliver’s Christmas spirit cocktail recipe
+ photo by David Loftus


Drinking Shochu and the Japanese Ice Ball Machine

a glass of shochu in japan

a glass of shochu in japan

Shochu used to be a second level spirit in Japan. Over the last decade, it emerges as a hip drink and they are now many premium shochu brands available across Japan.

Many things differenciate shochu from sake. First, shochu is a distilled spirit where sake is a brewed rice wine. Shochu is most commonly distilled from barley, sweet potatoes, or rice. The taste of sake is more fruity while shuchu is more nutty or earthy. Shochu typically contains 25% alcohol by volume.

One part of its appeal comes from its low calories. A typical 2-ounce serving of shochu is only 35 calories, which is may less than the 85 calories from sake or the 120 calories from vodka. Shochu is typically served on the rocks or mixed with tea or fruit juice.

japanese ice ball machine

I had mine on the rocks but not your typical ice cubes. It was pour on an ice ball. The Japanese invented the ice ball machine to water less their drinks. Part of the appeal for me was to hear the crisp sound that it produces as you pour the alcohol over it on an old-fashioned glass. It’s customary in Japan restaurants to bring the big bottle of shochu or sake at the table where the waiter will pour your drink.

I invite you to share the sound experience of the ice ball with a small video I filmed at a hip restaurant in Tokyo. As you will see, I did not practice my text.

You can buy an ice machine online but it is a true luxury (over $1,000). Beware of the 30 mm ice ball machine as it produces mini balls, which is not the idea.

+ Ice Ball Machine 55 mm $1,072 USD up to $1,782 for the 80 mm ice ball machine