Cooking Up Cocktails


Crock-Pot Mulled Wine
OK, call it a slow cooker if “Crock-Pot” sounds too trashy, but this is one of the best, easiest ways to keep a party flowing (not to mention, your house will smell like Who-ville after the Grinch’s heart expansion).

1 1⁄2 liters red wine (something with a full body, like Texas’ own Llana Estacado cabernet)
2 lemons, segmented
2 oranges, segmented
8 cloves
1⁄4-1⁄2 tsp. fresh nutmeg
1 oz. cognac
1 cup white sugar (optional)
4 cups citrus tea
4 large cinnamon sticks
Brew the tea, let it cool, and add it to the Crock-Pot (I added about 4 cups). Next, add the lemons and oranges, followed by the wine. Add the cognac. Add sugar, if desired. Finally, add the cinnamon sticks and cloves. Warm in the crock-Pot until the wine is ready to serve (generally a few hours). Take care to avoid letting the mixture boil, unless you want to forever be known as the inept host who ruined the holiday party.

“The Mazatlan” Tequila Manhattan
From Paula herself, one of our favorite recipes that elevates the traditional Manhattan:

1 1⁄2 oz. anejo tequila
1 oz. red (sweet) vermouth (preferably Noilly Prat or dolin) 1⁄2 oz. Paula’s Texas Orange
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Serve stirred (not shaken!) with ice and strained into a cocktail glass

Texican Mistletoe
1 1⁄2 oz. tequila (Reposado, if possible)
1 oz. lime juice
1⁄2 oz. blood orange bitters
1⁄2 oz. agave nectar
10 fresh cranberries
3 basil leaves
Muddle cranberries with blood orange bitters in a shaker glass. Slap basil leaves to release their essential oils and add the rest of the ingredients. Add ice and shake vigorously. Pour into a rocks glass with a half rim of salt, if desired.
The Five Star Martini
1⁄2 oz. stirrings blood orange bitters 1⁄2 oz. agave nectar
1 1⁄2 oz. vodka
10 fresh cranberries
Muddle cranberries with agave nectar. Add the rest of the ingredients with ice and shake. Strain into a chilled cocktail (martini) glass. Garnish with orange zest.
The Tailgate
1 1⁄2 oz. vodka
1⁄2 oz. Paula’s Texas Orange 1⁄2 oz. egg white
1⁄2 oz. blood orange bitters 1 oz. orange juice
Shake all ingredients with ice and pour into a tall glass. Top with club soda.

Birds Barbershop Brew by Owl Tree Roasting
Ready for bed and your guests aren’t catching on? Bring up the lights and brew a pot of strong coffee like Bird’s Barbershop Brew. Appropriately arousing, the flavors of chocolate and whispers of Mexican spices will help keep ‘em awake on the long journey home, whether it be behind the wheel or slouched over in the back of a taxi.
Mozzarella Rolls
By The Mozzarella Company
in need of fine-tasting finger foods to keep your revelers’ bellies full? dallas’ Mozzarella company has you covered. Spun jelly roll–style and layered with an array of flavors ranging from sundried tomato to prosciutto to jalapeno chile, slices of these smart little pinwheels are finger foods to brag about. Available at central Market, Eatzi’s, Whole Foods Market, the houston dairy Maids, and other retailers across the state.
Find out more at

New York Apples
Apples are a culinary nonnegotiable for the fall and winter seasons. do we bob for onions? No. do our mouths water over a hot, fresh celery crisp? No. And while the old salsa commercial stands true for salsa (This stuff’s made in New York city? Get a rope!), these gems from upstate New York that tumble into particular produce departments will motivate you to throw down the rope and pick up a basket. Our favorite? The cold, crunchy, bigger-than-a- baby’s-head honeycrisp apple wins hands down. Bake ‘em into your holiday staple, or just serve them sliced, fresh from a bath in a solution of lemon juice and filtered water. Available at your grocery store. if they’re not, find a new one.

Austinuts-Honey Baked Pecans
There are nuts aplenty in the capital city, but this is a food article, not a political piece. For nuts (and other goodies) that will actually brighten your evening (and keep your drinking guests’ bellies full), the folks at Austinuts produce a panoply of party treats—including addictively tasty honey-baked pecans. Available in stores throughout north and central Texas, or order online at