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Taste This! Try A Delicious, Spirit Free Cherry Vanilla Sparkling Cocktail!



Dry January doesn’t have to be a drag! This delicious Cherry Vanilla mixer is full of flavor and free of alcohol.

The fresh taste of Dry Sparkling soda is perfect for mixing and creating a cocktail (I’m not a fan of the word mocktail) that’s spirit free.

Take a look!



Get Hit With A Minty Snowball!



One sip of this eye-catching cocktail and you won’t mind sipping a little faster! Served in a ball of ice on a stainless martini glass, it’s a chillingly delicious white chocolate liqueur with a crisp touch of mint vodka. Almond milk gives it a smooth, creamy finish.

Sometimes, what you put your drink IN is as important as what you put IN your drink. In the case of these snowball cocktails, you really can’t get much more wow factor than this!

A note: make your first attempt at these ice balls a few days ahead of your party so you’re sure you’ve got it down. They’ll stay in the freezer until you need them. Try a practice drink a couple days before so you’re confident!


Ice Balls: (make these in advance) Small balloons (ones that, when filled with water, would be roughly five inches around. Directions below.)

(Common sense caution: please note that people with an allergy to latex should not consume drinks that have come into contact with some types of balloons. Always make sure to ask your guests if they have any allergies to latex if you serve this coctkail.)

Stainless Steel Martini glasses for serving (and freezing the ice balls)

A Funnel for pouring the pre-mixed drink into the ice ball.


White Chocolate Liqueur (I used Godiva)

Peppermint Vodka (I used Smirnoff. If you can’t find peppermint vodka you can use peppermint Schnapps)

Vanilla Flavored Almond Milk

Rosemary, as a garnish

A colorful straw. (I like a red and white striped one to remind folks that it’s minty holiday peppermint stick goodness!

WHAT YOU DO: A DAY OR MORE IN ADVANCE: A few days before you plan to serve, clear some space in your freezer. You’ll want enough room to freeze your water balloon right on top of a martini glass in the freezer.

FILL your balloons with water until they are four inches around. (They will expand as they freeze.)

PLACE each balloon on its own martini glass and set in the freezer. (You can always do one or two at a time if you can’t do them all at once.)

WAIT at least three hours… Then carefully check the condition of the ice forming in the balloons every hour or so. Depending on your freezer, its temperature, and the amount of water in the balloons, the timing can really vary. The tops of the balloons generally don’t freeze as fast, so as the bottoms and sides start to solidify you’ll actually be able to press against the top and feel the inside to see how thick the ice is. You want the ice ball sides to be at least 1/2 inch thick, so they don’t crack and melt immediately after you pour in your drink. It took my balloons SIX HOURS to reach this point. At this stage, your balloons will feel solid on the outside, but have visible liquid on the inside.

WHEN THE BALLOONS REACH the point where the ice is about 1/2 inch thick, carefully cut the top of the balloon so you can empty out remaining water, leaving a hollow ice ball. (If the top of your balloon ice is slightly frozen over, (as some of mine were) use a metal drink stirrer or tip of a utensil to lightly tap a hole into it. (Heating the tip of the stirrer if necessary.) The balloons are now formed to the shape of the martini glass on the bottom, so you can pull them off the glass if you need the space.

PUT THE BALLOON ICE BALLS back in the freezer. They will have gotten slightly wet and the insides can refreeze, now hollow, and be ready for when your guests arrive. (I have even left the balloons still on them, tips cut off but the rest remaining – just to protect them until the very last minute.)



If you haven’t already, remove the balloon, place the ice ball back onto your martini glass. (OPTIONAL: To emphasize a snowball effect, you can put a ‘bed’ of shredded coconut onto the glass too.) Keep the ice ball in the freezer until the last minute.

In a shaker or glass, combine:

2 ounces White Chocolate Liqueur

1 ounce peppermint vodka

6 ounces vanilla flavored almond milk

Stir the above ingredients, then gently funnel your drink into the ice ball. (THE COOLER THIS DRINK IS BEFORE YOU PUT IT INTO THE ICE BALL THE BETTER – IT PREVENTS CRACKING!) Garnish with a sprig of rosemary and serve with a straw. (You may need to cut the straw shorter so it stays put!)


Note: you’d be surprised to see how long an ice ball will last – your guest may get another round out of one ball – but keep in mind that they don’t last forever and shouldn’t be left unattended if you’re worried about melting liquids. That said, everyone who gets one is pretty well aware of how ice works! They’ll be sure to drink it right up!



For more cocktails, pop culture and more, follow @BrianBalthazar on twitter!

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Snackist Creates Snack and Cocktail Pairings In The Food Network Kitchen! Now You Can Cook Along.



POP Goes The Week’s Brian Balthazar is part of the all new Food Network Kitchen App! Cook LIVE alongside Brian as he makes get party food and the drinks that go perfectly with them!

Hey everyone! I’m so excited for this – I was thrilled to be a part of the new app, which is an all new way to cook with your favorite chefs and cooking experts. In the app, you can get the recipe and ingredients and recipe in advance, check the live class schedule, then cook at the very same time as your instructor!

I was fortunate enough to be invited to do a live snack and cocktail pairing, which you can still watch – and cook along with me! Trust me, these all start out as live, which means anything can happen! (I have an adventure with the broiler in one of them!)

Download the app here.

For my recipes, I made a pulled pork toast with queso, sour cream radishes and green onions, along with a smoky mezcal paloma.

Pulled Pork Toasts with Sour Cream, Queso, Radishes and Green onions, garnished with cilantro. The recipe is literally those ingredients stacked onto baguette slices!

In another class, I make lavender honey that gets drizzled right on top of baked brie with herbs, then use that same lavender honey for my own interpretation of a “Bees Knees” cocktail that I call a “Bees Knees Breeze.” I came up with the variation because the original recipe, simply gin, honey and lemon was just TOO strong for me and I found myself always getting plastered!

Check out the gallery of what I made, all available on the FNK app!

I hope you can check them out, AND all your favorite instructors like Bobby Flay, Giada de Laurentiis and Ree Drummond!


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Mingle Mashup: Mocktails Add Some Extra Freshness To Popsicles



Mocktails are having a moment that will endure. These low calorie, fresh options from Mingle were so good I decided to bring that same tastiness to popsicles. The results are flavorful, refreshing and more subtle than the ones you buy in the store.

One of the biggest trends you’ll notice in the coming months is that more alternatives to alcoholic drinks are coming, and Mingle is one ahead of the curve. They were created by Laura Taylor, who decided to quit drinking a few years ago, and found there weren’t great non alcoholic options out there. (BTW – have you noticed how people sometimes react when you say you’re not having a drink?  Sometimes the LITERALLY react with HORROR!) She created the brand Mingle Sparkling Mocktails to have the same look and feel of a premium drink mixer. They’re delicious, and in fact, they can be mixed with liquor if you’re feeling the vibe. But they look right at home behind the bar.

For a long weekend at the cabin, I decided to take two of my favorite, light flavors, and serve up homemade popsicles that deliver more nuance than just pouring in your typical store bought fruit punch.

Making the MingleSicles wasn’t rocket science. You know the drill. You just need a popsicle mold. To add a little something extra to the Cucumber Melon Mojito Sicle, (which is one of my favorites, BTW) I added some chopped mint to the mold, which does float down, but provides a nice dash of freshness at the end! Keep in mind these flavorful pops are light – almost spa-like, and half the calories of a typical popsicle. Less than 20.

Mingle Mocktails are available in stores and on Amazon – a 750 mil bottle currently goes for 9.99.

The flavors use natural juices and no corn syrup, and each flavor incorporates an element and ingredient that raises it above just buying soda. Nice to have at an event or party where you want something that looks more crafted than buying a two liter bottle of soda and leaving people to their own devices, each of them are delicious alone but would pair well with vodka. (Although I’m thinking the blood orange elderflower might make a nice autumnal drink with a little scotch in there!)

Happy mingling!

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