Craft beer paved the way, and cocktails soon followed. The robust beverages started gaining popularity a number of years ago and the trend doesn’t show signs of stopping. Forbes took notice, and pointed out that the James Beard Foundation’s annual awards now include a category for the most impressive bar programs. The story went on to say that many mixologists look to local produce to create concoctions, but classics remain popular among patrons as well. Even some chain restaurants are getting in on the movement.
As much fun as it is to sip a cocktail during the evening hours, incorporating the flavors of your favorite drink into a sweet treat might be even more delicious. Try out one of these six recipes at your next get-together for a party no one will forget. When dessert is this much fun, it really will be a happy hour.
1. Zesty Gin and Tonic Sorbet
When the weather’s steamy, a chilly treat makes the perfect end to a meal. This sophisticated sorbet from Yuppiechef.com takes a classic drink and gives it a frozen twist. With just 5 ingredients, it’s also a complete cinch to make.
In addition to adding a unique flavor to the dessert, gin will help this sorbet stay scoopable straight out of the freezer. Alcohol has a higher freezing point than water, so this spun treat will never reach the rock-hard consistency of some frozen treats. That means it’s ready whenever you are.
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 limes, zested and juiced
- 2½ cups tonic water
- ½ cup gin
Directions: In a small saucepan, make a simple syrup by bringing water and sugar to a boil. Let sugar dissolve, remove from heat. Add lime zest and juice. Let cool.
Stir in tonic water and gin. Strain liquid through fine mesh strainer and chill until cold. Pour liquid into ice cream maker, and process according to machine’s directions. Store sorbet in an airtight container in the freezer. Serve.
2. Irish Coffee Pudding
Warming up with a coffee drink is great for the winter months, but it just doesn’t seem to have the same appeal once the calendar makes it past March. Enjoy all the flavors of the boozy beverage without breaking into a sweat by making this dreamy pudding from Sprinkle Bakes. Just thicken some cream and sugar with a little bit of cornstarch over the stove. Add espresso powder, a splash of whiskey, then chill the pudding in cups. A whipped cream topping completes the look.
While this simple dessert makes a great treat for lazy weekends, it’s also a real stunner for parties. Serve the pudding in mugs for a cute presentation that will also clue in your guests. And top with chocolate curls for an even prettier garnish.
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder, plus more
- 3 tablespoons Irish whiskey
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
Directions: Whisk cornstarch, sugar, and salt together in a medium saucepan. Gradually whisk in 2 cups heavy cream. Bring mixture to a bubble over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until thickened. Remove from heat, and whisk in espresso powder and whiskey. Divide pudding evenly among dessert glasses. Press plastic wrap directly onto surface of puddings, to prevent skin forming, and chill for 2 hours.
In a medium bowl, whip remaining cream with an electric mixer on medium speed. Gradually add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. Increase speed to high, and whip until stiff peaks form. Dollop whipped cream on top of each. Sprinkle tops with a pinch of espresso powder, if desired. Serve.
3. Margarita Pie with a Pretzel Crust
Some people love margaritas for the clean, lime flavor. For others, the salt rim is what makes the cocktail so irresistible. Food.com’s cool and creamy margarita pie is definitely for the salt lovers. The crust is made from crushed pretzels, which holds a zesty filling. Just mix together sweetened condensed milk, lime juice, orange liqueur, and tequila, then fold in some whipped cream, and pour the mixture into the crust. We like this pie garnished with extra whipped cream and a little bit of grated lime zest.
- ½ cup butter, melted
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1¼ cups crushed pretzels
- 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
- ⅓ cup lime juice
- 1 tablespoon tequila
- 1 tablespoon orange liqueur
- 4 drops green food coloring, optional
- 1 cup whipped cream, plus more
Directions: Combine butter, sugar, and pretzel pieces until moistened. Press into a greased 9-inch pie pan.
Combine condensed milk, lime juice, tequila, orange liqueur, and food coloring, if using. Fold in whipped cream. Pour into crust and freeze 4 hours. Serve, topping with additional whipped cream.
4. Frozen Dark and Stormy Soufflés
Legally, a Dark ‘n’ Stormy consists of 2 ounces of Gosling’s Black Seal Rum and about 4 ounces of ginger beer. As it turns out, the drink is trademarked by the rum producer. Any variation on the formula above means the name has to change. “Dark and Stormy” might not have the same ring to it, but the flavor of any dark rum mixed into a little ginger beer rarely disappoints. Turn the cocktail into a frozen dessert with this recipe from Johnny Iuzzini and Wes Martin’s Sugar Rush: Master Tips, Techniques, and Recipes for Sweet Baking, featured on Epicurious. Be sure to start this recipe well in advance, because the soufflés need to freeze overnight.
- 5 large egg whites
- 1⅔ cups sugar, divided
- Pinch of cream of tartar
- 1¾ cups heavy cream
- 6 tablespoons dark rum
- 6 tablespoons strained fresh ginger juice
- Zest of 2 limes
- ¼ cup fresh lime juice
Directions: Cut six (3-by-22-inch) strips of parchment paper. Wrap six (6-ounce) ramekins tightly with strips to create a collar. Secure with tape. Set aside on a small baking sheet. Put egg whites, 2 tablespoons sugar, and cream of tartar into bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and set to low speed.
Add remaining sugar to a small saucepan with 2 tablespoons of water. Stir with clean finger to moisten sugar. Wipe down sides of pan with a clean, moistened finger, and place saucepan over medium heat. When sugar is dissolved and starts to bubble, wash down sides with a clean pastry brush dipped in cold water to dissolve any sugar crystals along sides of pan.
When boiling, increase mixer speed to medium. Continue to cook sugar until it reaches 250 degrees Fahrenheit on a candy thermometer, about 10 minutes. Increase mixer speed to medium-high, allowing whites to become fluffy and shiny, but still soft. With mixer running, pour hot sugar syrup in a slow, steady stream into egg whites along side of mixer, taking care to avoid edge of whisk. Increase mixer speed to high and whip for 6 to 8 minutes, until meringue is cool to the touch.
In another large mixing bowl, whip cream with a whisk, until cream holds stiff peaks. In a separate bowl, whisk rum, ginger juice, and lime zest, and juice. Once whites are cooled, fold mixture into whites just to combine.
Add one-third of whites to whipped cream, and fold until streaky. Add another third, and fold again. Add remaining whites, and fold just to combine. No streaks should remain. Fill each prepared mold to the top. Freeze soufflés overnight.
Remove collars and clean sides of molds with a damp towel. Let stand at room temperature 15 minutes. Serve.
5. White Russian Cupcakes with Vodka Buttercream Icing
Many people were introduced to this creamy cocktail for the first time while watching The Big Lebowski. The beverage is halfway to dessert as is, and this cupcake recipe from Christina’s Cucina takes it all the way with spectacular results. Start out by creaming some butter and sugar, then add eggs, dry ingredients, some coffee liquor, and a bit of vodka. Once the cupcakes are baked, pipe on some vodka buttercream to finish them off. Don’t let the cute look fool you, this is definitely a dessert for the adults.
- 1¾ cups sugar
- 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup buttermilk, room temperature
- ½ cup vodka
- ½ cup coffee liqueur
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 4 large eggs, divided, room temperature
- ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- ¼ cup vodka
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Milk, to thin
Directions: Line muffin pan with paper liners. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.
In bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, cream the butter and sugar on low speed for 2 minutes. Increase speed to high and beat until light and fluffy, about 8 minutes, scraping bowl as necessary. Add 2 of the eggs, one at a time. Blend to combine. Add half of flour mixture and mix, scraping sides with spatula.
Add half of buttermilk and mix well, then add another egg, and blend to combine. Add remaining buttermilk, egg, vanilla, vodka, liqueur, and remaining flour mixture. Mix to blend, scraping with a spatula, as needed.
Fill cupcake liners halfway full, and bake 25 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.
Beat all frosting ingredients in a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment until smooth. Add milk, as necessary, to reach desired consisntency. When cupcakes are cool, pipe or spread icing on top. Serve.
6. Mint Julep Bars
While the Mint Julep gets plenty of attention during the Kentucky Derby, it doesn’t seem to have the mass appeal of other classic cocktails. The Girl in the Little Red Kitchen’s buttery bar cookies might change that, though. The treats get a double dose of mint and a hint of boozy kick from some bourbon syrup. After a taste of these baked goods, any other cookie bar will just seem boring.
- ¾ cup sugar
- ¼ cup mint leaves
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter, frozen, grated
- ¼ cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons bourbon
- ¼ cup powdered sugar
- ½ teaspoon peppermint extract
- 1 tablespoon cream
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line an 8-by-8-inch pan with parchment paper. Place sugar and mint in a medium bowl and crush mint into sugar using a pestle or cocktail muddler, until sugar has consistency of wet sand. Remove any larger pieces of mint or stem.
Add flour, salt, and grated butter. Combine until it just comes together, and transfer to prepared pan. Press down into an even layer. Bake for 25 minutes, until edges are lightly golden.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, dissolve sugar and water. Stir in bourbon, and let cook 30 seconds. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Prick crust with a fork all over, then use a pastry brush to brush top with bourbon syrup. Repeat until all syrup is absorbed. Let bars cool, then cut into squares.
In a small bowl, whisk powdered sugar, extract, and cream. Thin with additional cream, if necessary. Drizzle glaze over bars, then let stand 10 minutes. Serve.