Category Archives: Spice & Ice

See you in Portland?

Later this week, I’ll be headed to Portland, Oregon, for the annual International Association of Culinary Professionals conference.  I’m excited to be attending for a number of reasons:

1. Seeing in person friends I otherwise only get to see on Facebook, Twitter, e-mail…and meeting new people who enjoy talking about the food world in gloriously geeky detail, as I do.

2. For once, I’m not involved in presenting a panel….so this feels a little like a mini-vacation. It will be great to attend seminars and relax and fully immerse in listening to the presenters, rather than hoping feverishly that all my presenters and critical ingredients have arrived on time and in good condition. (there’s a story in there about AWOL ingredients and presenters in less-than-pristine condition, which I’ll save for another day.)

3. But yes, it’s still a business trip, and I’ll be signing copies of Spice & Ice at the IACP Culinary Book Fair.  I’ll be making drinks too, in case you needed extra inducement to stop by and say hello!

4. While I’m in town, I’ll also be on KATU’s Primetime TV show (that’s the ABC affiliate), talking about the book and demonstrating cocktails. And yes….unlike my last TV appearance, they WILL be cocktails, not mocktails!  (insert cheering sound effects here)

5.  Portland itself. This will be my first time there, and I’ve heard amazing things about the city’s vibrant food and beverage culture. I have a long (and growing!) list of bars, coffee houses, distilleries, and restaurants I’m looking forward to trying out.  And if you’ve got a place (or a drink!) to suggest, I’m all ears.

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Tad Carducci is making the world’s hottest cocktail!

I thought that might get your attention.  Yes, it’s true:  Tippling Brother Tad Carducci has officially embarked on a mission to create “the world’s hottest cocktail.” He’s still working on it, so he can’t (won’t?) tell me what’s in it yet, nor did he tell an Associated Press reporter working on a story about spicy cocktails, who I pointed in his direction. However, he did tell her that “it will contain six different chiles, from somewhat mild to incendiary,” and that would-be imbibers will need to sign a waiver before drinking.

But most important of all? It will still be balanced, flavorful, and tasty. Coming from a guy who likes to blow-torch chile sugar on top of a drink to spicy creme-brulee perfection, I look forward to the finished libation, which should be out in time for Cinco de Mayo (May 5 to all you gringos).  Are you brave enough to get in line to try the world’s spiciest cocktail?

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Spice & Ice virtual cocktail party: still partying on!

What can I say. I thought the Spice & Ice virtual cocktail party was really & truly over. I even wrote a party post-mortem. But no, some partyers are just sooo fabulous, they will only party on their own schedules. Think of this as the exclusive after-after-party, the one that you don’t hear about until 3 days after the event.  But oh, what  a time they had!

Click through to read the full account and and see the photos  – in particular, Selena @ Dizzy Fizz has some gorgeous snaps taken by Lush Life Productions.

Spicy Cucumber Margarita:  “The shakers were rattling all night–my friends, whether cocktail buffs or newbies, couldn’t get enough of the pale green rascals…Any fresh-ingredient bar should be offering this cocktail for this time of year–cool, fresh muddled cucumber paired with a slice of jalapeno, your sweetener of choice, lime juice, and your favorite agave spirit–it’s a simple-yet-invigorating drink that you can have all night.” –The Dizzy Fizz

Blackberry-Poblano Margarita:  “This is a super sipper for warm weather relaxation. I actually like my margaritas nice & limey, so in addition to the ingredients in Kara’s recipe below (excerpted from Spice & Ice), I added about ¼ of fresh lime juice. Delicious!” –Natalie Bovis-Nelsen, The Liquid Muse

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Afterparty: how we interact with cocktails

As I’m wrapping up the experiment called the “virtual cocktail party,” I’d also like to pause and 1) profusely thank everyone who took the time to participate and 2) look back at the myriad ways everyone interacted with the drinks – to me, the most interesting part of this event.

It was apparent from the get-go that people incorporate drinks into their lives in different ways. For The Busy Hedonist, his-and-hers drinks were a way to relax with the hubby after a long day, baby safely tucked in bed; for Charmian Christie, it was a bubbly toast for her sister’s engagement; and for Judy Bennett, the party crossed the line from “virtual” to “reality,” as she served up Produce Stand drinks to real-life guests at a party to celebrate the opening of the Portland Spa.

Others took delightfully cocktail-geeky joy in analyzing and deconstructing drinks (tweaking drinks, by the way, was encouraged, “based on your taste, ingredient availability, or simply because you know better”). Just look how Cocktail Hacker and Marleigh Riggins Miller drilled down on every ingredient, or Dr Bamboo’s complete transformation of the Dragonfire into the even more fiery “Drago Amaro.”

Still others showcased the visual aspect of drinks, proving that looks count toward our enjoyment.  Diva on a Diet created a sexy orange-peel garnish for the Fall Spice Cordial, and ended up with an absolutely stunning photo; ditto for Cocktail Hacker’s luscious round of blood orange floated atop a martini glass. And “Foodie Princess” Heather Jones added a salt-and-pepper rim to her Red Dawn glass, a zesty touch that left me thinking, “Now why didn’t I think of that?”

Seasonal ingredients also played a part – For a week, I found myself checking Twitter daily to follow Rachel Kuptz of Girly-Drinks as she chased down the first of the early-Spring fresh rhubarb. Would she be able to get her hands on some or not? In the end she did, and her result was the prettiest rhubarb-pink “girly drink” of them all.

Thank you again to our fabulous bloggers – and if you missed the party, here’s the full set of links:  click, sip, enjoy!

Spice & Ice Virtual Cocktail Party, part 1

Spice & Ice Virtual Cocktail Party, part 2

Spice & Ice Virtual Cocktail Party, part 3

Spice & Ice Virtual Cocktail Party, part 4


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Spice & Ice virtual cocktail party, part 4

Every party – including the virtual variety! – has a few late stragglers, those who arrive fashionably, even fabulously, late.  But I think you’ll agree these divas are worth the wait. Taetopia treats us to a particularly memorable blog entry written from the point of view of the drink, (Oh my. Every time I read this one, it gets a little bit funnier!)  while Big Night In author Domenica Marchetti shows us how to do cocktails at home, Oscar style. Welcome to the party, we’re so glad you’re here!

This is the final installment in the party, as a dynamic group of bloggers, cocktailians, food/drink writers, and authors make drinks from Spice & Ice and “bring it to the party” on their respective blogs, and mine. Please click through to read the full stories behind each drink, and thanks for joining the party!

Blackberry-Poblano Margarita:  “Kara, daaaahling, I’m so sorry I’m late. Yes, yes, I know the party started eons ago, but my dear Felix absolutely insisted I stop by the market to pick up some blackberries for my perfume. The scent drives him wild with passion, and you know I simply can not deny him anything…Your book party is a smashing success, my dear! I haven’t seen so many well-dressed peppers in one place since my cotillion.” –Taetopia

Red Dawn:  “The amount of harissa specified is 1/2 teaspoon, but in the headnote to her recipe, Kara throws down this glove: ‘Masochist alert: double the amount of harissa if you dare!’  Which, of course I did.  The full teaspoon turned out to be just the right amount for this jaded palate; in fact, I may even kick it up a little more next time. The drink was sharp, savory, and yet refreshing.” –Domenica Marchetti, author of Big Night In

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Spice & Ice virtual cocktail party, part 3

The party continues, as a dynamic group of bloggers, cocktailians, food/drink writers, and authors make drinks from Spice & Ice and “bring it to the party” on their respective blogs, and mine.  Once again, please click through to read the full stories behind each drink.

Some participants from the group took the “virtual cocktail party” even further….hosting real-life parties. Which I totally endorse. Take a look:

The Produce Stand:  “It went perfectly with all the freshly bronzed bodies running around. With fresh basil, cherry tomatoes, and lime, you get a mouthful of summer in every sip.” –Judy Bennett 

Blood Orange-Jalapeno Margarita:  “This is a recipe with a little leeway: Spicy/mellow, tart/sweet – play with it and see what works best for you.  The resulting drink had a robust but balanced mixture of flavors. I could feel the heat of the jalapeño, but even at extra-strength, it wasn’t overpowering and blended nicely with the bright, fresh taste of the citrus juice. It would make a great accompaniment to a meal – with the very first sip, I found myself craving Mexican food.” — Nora Maynard, The Kitchn

Sparkling Ginger Daisy:  “I made this zippy cocktail to start off a Friday night with two close friends, who both loved the mix of ginger and bubbles sparkling together.  It made an ordinary Friday night seem downright festive!” –Sweet Blog o’ Mine 

Spiced Iced Tea:  “I have read the book cover to cover and tried several recipes all of which are a hit in our house. Specifically what I love about them is that Kara has taken utmost care that the drinks taste like drinks and not science experiments! After all the joy of a cocktail is that it should be fun and satisfying and yet have a bit of a surprise in each sip and her drinks fall under that category.” –Monica Bhide, author of Modern Spice 

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Spice & Ice virtual cocktail party, part 2

The party continues, as a dynamic group of bloggers, cocktailians, food/drink writers, and authors make drinks from Spice & Ice and “bring it to the party” on their respective blogs, and mine.  Once again, please click through to read the full stories behind each drink.

This group of partyers has more cocktailian leanings than the last. In fact, very few were able to resist the temptation to tinker with the drink recipes –which is fine by me, and frankly, was encouraged!   The photos are a treat too, ranging from luscious to ethereal to downright hilarious (thanks for the drawing, Dr. Bamboo). Let’s see what they’ve brought to the party:

Blood Orange-Jalapeno Margarita:  “To summarize, the Blood Orange-Jalapeno Margarita is damn good.  You can tailor it to fit your heat tolerance and I think it would pair really well with a nice salty snack or some good southwestern food.  This is definitely a recipe I’ll be mixing up again.”  –Cocktail Hacker

Sparkling Ginger Daisy: “The original was good, but I was sure I could take it apart and pull together an all-new remix, so I set about doing just that… Light and refreshing, it is a straight-forward take on the daisy. Mine requires a bit more work, but I think making the two side-by-side is a fun experience—especially with a full bottle of sparkling wine to finish.” –Marleigh Riggins Miller, SLOSHED!

Rhubarb Cooler:  “I received a copy of Kara’s book last week and immediately found the recipe that I wanted to make: The Rhubarb Cooler. Turns out, rhubarb is ridicuously hard to find in the winter. Perhaps that’s why Kara placed this recipe in the “Spring” section of her book, but I was set on making a rhubarb cocktail.

Luckily, I found rhubarb yesterday and promptly set out to make the Rhubarb cooler this morning. I mean afternoon.” — GirlyDrinks

Dragonfire Cocktail/Drago Amaro:  “The first change I made was to swap in some Sriracha for the jalapeno. Documenting my love for Sriracha would require an entire post of its own…What I ended up with is shown below. You can drink it anytime, but given the provenance of its ingredients, it’s probably best enjoyed while watching a Fellini movie. In a Asian restaurant. With Salma Hayek.” –Dr. Bamboo

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Spice & Ice virtual cocktail party, part 1

Welcome to the party!

I’ve invited a dynamic group of bloggers, cocktailians, food/drink writers, and authors to make a drink from Spice & Ice and “bring it to the party” on their respective blogs, and mine.  Credit for this idea goes to Modern Spice author Monica Bhide, who held her own “virtual potluck” a few months back (and who will be one of the party guests here as well). 

Check back over the next couple of weeks as party-goers share their stories and photos. I’ve also encouraged everyone to tweak recipes as they see fit.  Meet the first group below — and I encourage you to click through to read the full posts on the individual sites — such wonderful stories!  So pour yourself a drink, and join the party…

Fall Spice Cordial:  “So, how does it taste? Intriguing and delightful! The acidity of the orange tempers the sweet caramel notes of the bourbon; and the hint of chipotle provides a rather addictive bit of warmth on the finish. Simply put, it makes you want to take another sip – and that’s the sure sign of a well-crafted cocktail. I loved it and you will too!” Diva on a Diet / Beach Eats    

Dragonfire Cocktail:  “For over a week I was surrounded by dragons. My neighborhood, on the edges of NYC’s Chinatown, was in the midst of Chinese New Year celebrations. …So it was only natural that for the virtual cocktail party I’d make the Dragonfire Cocktail. 

The verdict: Hot stuff, but not overly so. This is a potent drink, yet it was smooth to drink… I enjoyed the lingering taste of jalapeno, lime and orange. The copious amounts (for me) of tequila acted as a potent sleeping elixir. Even if a real dragon had passed by my window that night, I’m certain I wouldn’t have heard it.”  –The Busy Hedonist 

Sparkling Ginger Daisy:   “The drink is not-too-sweet, with a lovely bite. The unexpected pairing of gin and ginger works beautifully and the grenadine adds colour to an otherwise pale beverage. I’m not usually a champagne girl, but the added fizz is perfect in this cocktail. I can see Sparkling Ginger Daisies becoming a summertime drink I could like a little too much.”  - Charmian Christie

Red Dawn:  “This drink is not your mother’s Bloody Mary… The Red Dawn cocktail gives you the familiar flavor profile that you love in a Bloody Mary and it’s frightfully easy to make. One ingredient that pulls it all together is Harissa.  Harissa is a Moroccan chili paste whose components easily replace the traditional tabasco, lemon juice, worcestershire, and celery salt combination that is normally found in a Bloody Mary. 

But please do not take my word for it.  You’ve got to try this drink for yourself.”  –Heather Jones, Project Foodie


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A little news, and an invitation

I know, I’ve been awfully quiet over here for about a week or so. Lots going on behind the scenes, as usual.

First – I’m now blogging about wine over at Serious Eats. You can view my first two posts, on unusual white wine varietals, and the great wine bargain that is sherry.  No, I haven’t given up on the wonderful world of cocktails and spirits, but I’m viewing this as a great opportunity to learn more about wine.  Unfortunately, a weekly commitment to the Serious Grape column means I have a bit less time to blog over here.

Second – To show how much I have not given up on cockails, especially spicy ones, I’m organizing a virtual Spice & Ice cocktail party!  Keep an eye out for bloggers who will be making drinks from the book, and reporting back their experiences on their respective blogs, some with photos or videos. I have to credit my friend Monica Bhide with conceiving the idea of a “virtual potluck” to promote her fabulous Indian cookbook Modern Spice.  And this will have a few fun twists unique to the cocktail universe….

I already have quite a few cocktailians, food writers, authors, bloggers, and others involved in the event, but there are still some spots open.  If you’d like to get involved email me (Kara DOT Newman AT yahoo DOT com) - the more the merrier!

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Drink Recipe: “Hot Lips” Choco-Tini

Are you feeling the Valentine’s Day love? My favorite part of this drink is the garnish – a chocolate-dipped chile pepper!  Here’s the recipe, which is also a featured recipe on The Nest.  (P.S., for more V-day goodies, check out this NBC video segment on Valentine’s Day gift ideas, with Behind the Burner. Recognize that hot pink book cover?)

“Hot Lips” Choco-Tini


“Hot Lips” Choco-Tini

Yield: 1 drink

Adapted from “Spice & Ice – 60 tongue-tingling cocktails”

Break this one out for Valentine’s Day, or anytime you’re looking to please your favorite chocolate-lover. Forget chocolate-covered cherries – for a fine finish, serve the drink with a chocolate-dipped red chile pepper on the side!

1/2 red chile pepper, sliced

1 ounce Van Gogh Dutch Chocolate vodka

1 ounce Kahlua

1/2 ounce Luxardo Maraschino liqueur

Fresh cream


In a cocktail shaker, muddle the sliced chile pepper. Add the chocolate vodka, Kahlua, and Luxardo. Shake together with ice and strain into a small martini or pousse-café glass.

Gently pour cream over the back of a spoon to create a “float” on the top of the drink. Use a hand grater for a generous amount of chocolate shavings on the top of the drink.

 Optional garnish:

1 whole red chile pepper

1 oz. chocolate, melted

 Dip ¾ of chile pepper into melted chocolate. Set on wax paper and put in refrigerator until chocolate hardens. Cut a slit in the upper portion of the chile pepper so it will sit neatly on the rim of the glass.

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