Experimenting with Signature Cocktails

When I was asked quite a few months ago to be the Maid of Honor at my best friend’s wedding, I just could not be more .. well, honored.  We have had lots of fun looking for dresses, flowers, decorations and much more, but I must say one of the tastiest jobs as the Maid of Honor has been helping my dear friend and her future husband to choose a signature cocktail to serve at their wedding reception!  Now, we must admit, these two drink recipes are more fitting for the winter, but as Erin and Jim’s wedding will be at the end of November and we know you appreciate a good cocktail any time of the year, we thought we would tell you about the winners.

Armed with rum, triple sec, vanilla cognac, pears and many more ingredients Erin and Jim showed up on our doorstep ready to get to work and test our their picks for a signature cocktail.  I believe somewhere between the door knock and the shakers coming out at least one of us quoted “it’s a dirty job, but someone’s gotta do it!”

If you want to see more about our day of sampling winter cocktails, check out Art Without Pretense, where Erin shares her thoughts of the day and talks about our process of recipe testing and taking photos for this very post.

Pear Vanilla Sparkler

After making each drink, two went straight to the top.  The first, was a pear vanilla sparkler made by muddling ripe pears into a mixture of lemon juice, vanilla cognac (Navan), light rum and a bit of honey syrup for a touch of sweetness then finished with some champagne.  This, was my favorite, the aroma was incredible … in fact, I would go as far to say that the aroma from that drink should be considered for perfumes, candles and any other possible fragrance used by or around me!  The taste was just as lovely, slightly sweet from the vanilla and honey, but leveled out with a nice punch of rum and sparkle from the champagne.  While this one was quite the hit, trying to imagine a bartender making these for over 100 guests at a wedding was a little difficult, so it won’t actually be at the wedding … however, it may make an appearance at a pre-wedding festivity or two and will certainly be enjoyed in our condo this winter!

Winter Rum Punch

The real winner of the day, was a winter punch packed with apple cider, lemon juice, maple syrup, orange liqueur and light rum.  It definitely looked the part, can be made in advance and was absolutely delicious!  We served it cold, but I would imagine a warmed version of this would be divine.

Pear Vanilla Sparkler

1/4 of a ripe pear, cut into pieces
1/2 ounce honey syrup
1/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
1/2 ounce Navan (vanilla cognac)
1/2 ounce light rum
2 ounces sparkling wine

In the bottom of a shaker, muddle the pear, honey syrup, and lemon juice. Add the Navan, rum and stir briefly with ice. Strain into a chilled champagne flute or martini glass and finish with Champagne. Garnish with a couple slices of pear.

Winter Rum Punch

2 parts light rum
1 part apple cider
1 part orange liqueur
1/2 part maple syrup
1/2 part fresh lemon juice

Combine ingredients in a shaker or punch bowl (if preparing a large batch). Serve over ice or shake with ice and add to high ball glasses. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.

Recipes as seen on Theknot.com

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14 comments… Leave a Comment
  • Joanne November 26, 2014, 2:58 pm

    We used real maple syrup.

  • Joanne November 26, 2014, 2:36 pm

    Hi Steph, Sorry the punch was too strong. Next time, try adding more apple cider.

  • Philip November 26, 2014, 12:28 pm

    I am looking to make this recipe today as it sounds perfect but I have some questions…

    What orange liqueur did you use?

    What type of maple syrup did you use?


    • Joanne November 26, 2014, 2:16 pm

      I believe we used Grand Marnier. For the maple syrup, we use real syrup. Usually we have a bottle from Trader Joe’s in our fridge.

  • Stephanie November 24, 2014, 6:06 pm

    Because I found the Winter Rum punch to be too strong for my taste and the orange liquor to be a bit overbearing I made a few modifications.

    I used a shot glass as a measure of volume:

    2 parts apple cider
    1 part 40% rum, I used 10cane rum which is between light/dark, but either or would work. Spiced rum would even work well.
    1/2 part “maple” syrup
    1/2 part fresh lemon juice
    1 part fresh squeezed orange juice
    *Topped it off with a handful of ice and a Cinnamon stick to garnish. Delish and affordable 🙂

    Thank you for your recipe though! I am not a craft drink maker so without it I wouldn’t have been able to make it and modify it to my taste 🙂 -Steph

  • Adam November 25, 2013, 3:40 pm

    Here’s how to make honey syrup (it is basically simple syrup made with honey instead of sugar). In a small saucepan add equal parts of honey and water, bring to a simmer until the honey has melted into the water then allow to cool. If you’d prefer, try just using honey — you might want to add a little then taste before adding more.

  • Jennifer Marston Cox December 5, 2010, 1:13 am

    I attended this wedding and this punch was the best! I can not wait to re-create at home! Thanks!

  • Stay-At-Home-Chef November 26, 2010, 1:10 pm

    Wow these cocktails look amazing! Will be whipping up a batch of each this weekend to enjoy with friends…thanks for sharing the recipes.

  • Trudy ~ veggie num num July 20, 2010, 8:26 pm

    Heading out on a winter weekend escape with friends soon and the Rum punch sounds absolutely perfect for an evening by the fire.. thank you for sharing.

    • inspiredtaste July 21, 2010, 8:03 am

      Trudy: Wow, we are right in the middle of summer here, a cool winter day with a fireplace sounds lovely right about now 🙂

      Enjoy that punch … if you get a chance, try it warmed.


  • Peter July 20, 2010, 10:10 am

    Wow that’s quite a difference between Benedictine and orange liqueur in the punch. Did you try both versions because they aren’t interchangable at all. Drinks sound great though.

    • inspiredtaste July 20, 2010, 3:37 pm

      Hi Peter,

      We actually only tried this with orange liqueur, not Benedictine. This recipe was found on theknot.com by my friend (she is the one getting married).

      You have a great point, they really are not similar in flavor – our only thought is that they were assuming by “orange liqueur” one would use Grand Marnier, which has a cognac base, Benedictine also has a cognac base. Even so, they are still, as you pointed out, very different flavors. Benedictine is sweet, herb-y and spicy in flavor with notes of vanilla, cardamom, cloves and nutmeg.

      Considering that the recipe was for a winter cocktail, we actually believe both would work very well, but generate slightly different tastes in the end, but we have not tried the recipe with Benedictine yet, so we will have to update you when we do 🙂

      Thanks for the comment!

  • Kristen July 20, 2010, 8:55 am

    Wow – that does sound like a great job for a maid of honor. Pretty rough 🙂
    I can’t wait to try these!

  • Erin July 19, 2010, 9:28 am

    The pictures look great guys! Makes me want to brew up a batch of the pear sparklers right now…but I’ll wait for a more acceptable drinking time!


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