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12 Days of Cocktails: Day 10

Posted on Thursday, Dec. 22, 2016



One of the things that has delighted me the most about running Sunday School has been the ability to present cocktails that I’m almost certain the students have never experienced before.  I like to tell the students that we always try to have one cocktail on the menu that scares the BLEEP out of them. Sometimes there is a resounding oooh and ahh when a cocktail works, and sometimes we split the class in half.  But the point is we’re pushing ourselves to try new things, and that is awesome!  So for today’s cocktail I present to you what may seem to be an odd pairing but I promise you it’s a game changer. Sometimes I will taste something and think why haven’t I ever thought to do this before? This is how I feel about gin and chocolate. Yes, I’ll say it again: gin and chocolate. They’re basically soulmates! Now, I will say that this isn’t an across-the-board pairing. I wouldn’t recommend pairing a sharp London dry gin with chocolate. Think of it like grilled cheese and soup. Grilled cheese wouldn’t work with every kind of soup. For this pairing to work, stick to American style gins that are less juniper forward like Watershed Four Peel Gin  or Old Tom style gins that have a hint of sweetness. Watershed Bourbon Barrel Aged gin is aged in old bourbon barrels for one year, so it has just a hint of sweetness. For today’s recipes, I bring to you a gin brownie recipe with a dark Nocino frosting. Nocino is a liqueur that Watershed puts out once a year that is made with Ohio black walnuts, clove, cinnamon, vanilla and orange peel. It is awesome in baked goods. I’m still a beginning baker so I try to bake only if there is booze involved. It’s good to have a consolation prize in case something should go terribly awry…like any time I try to make caramel. Caramel and I have major beef. I digress. 

For the cocktail recipe today, I bring you a spiced hot chocolate spiked with Bourbon Barrel Aged Gin.  Gin and hot chocolate is the holiday gift we never knew we wanted but won’t be able to live without. This is a great show stopper cocktail for a holiday get together. Your guests will wonder what they’ve been doing with their hot cocoa before they sipped on the version you’re serving them. 


Glassware: mug

Garnish: whipped cream or marshmallows

1 ½ oz Watershed Bourbon Barrel Aged Gin

4 oz spiced hot chocolate


8 Cups milk

½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 ½ cups mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

½ tsp ground cardamom

1 tsp pumpkin spice

Pinch of salt

Peel of one orange

In large pot over medium heat add milk, orange peel.  Bring milk up to a gentle simmer, making sure to stir occasionally so that it doesn’t burn on the bottom.  When milk is at a gentle boil, use a slotted spoon and scoop out orange peel. Add cocoa powder and whisk until dissolved, then add chocolate chips.  Continue to whisk mixture until all the chocolate chips have melted and then add spices, then whisk until everything is incoporated. Lower the heat and pour into thermos and serve. 


1/2 cup butter

1 cup white sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder plus 1 tsp

1/2 cup all-purpose flour plus 1 TBSP flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

¼ tsp ground cinnamon

2 tbsp Watershed Bourbon Barrel Aged Gin                                                      


3 tablespoons butter, softened

4 tablespoons unsweetened dark cocoa powder

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

¼ tsp of ground caradamom

Zest of one orange


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour an 8-inch square pan. In a large saucepan, melt 1/2 cup butter. Remove from heat, and stir in sugar, eggs, and 1 teaspoon vanilla and gin. Beat in cocoa, flour, salt, and baking powder. Spread batter into prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Do not overcook. 

To Make Frosting: Combine all ingredients and stir until smooth. Frost brownies while they are still warm.

So, I know you’re still doubting me but I promise this will be a new holiday memory you won’t soon forget! Oh and don’t worry, you don’t have to get ME anything for Christmas, unless you want to share some gin brownies and hot cocoa with me! Cheers to trying new things! 

Your neighborhood bar geek,

Catherine Manabat