While we were on the road in Dripping Springs, Texas, we had to stop and see the Deep Eddy Vodka Distillery. Cousin Jack Crouch and I ran into Jason Ducharme, the head distiller for Deep Eddy’s who leads the crazy research and development experiments to try to find the next “out of the box” thing. What an interesting guy!

While Jason is in charge of the day-to-day making of the vodkas, like the best-selling Lemon Vodka or my personal favorite the Red Ruby Grapefruit Vodka, he also gets to play a little with science experiments to see what he can dream up. He’s self-taught and loves his job!

Jason shared with us a taste of a concoction he was playing with, aging vodka in a coconut shell in the sun for a week. He also shared another concoction he was again in the back.

If you ever get to Dripping Springs, head on over to the Deep Eddy’s Distillery. Just be careful… their drinks are so yummy that you might not want to drive home.

The current flavors sold by Deep Eddy’s include original, peach, cranberry, lemon, ruby red, orange and sweet tea. They are all wonderful when mixed with a little soda water or Sprite. Here’s a couple of recipes from Deep Eddy’s website just in case you want to get fancier:

Peach Iced Tea

2 oz Deep Eddy Peach Vodka
Top with Unsweetened Ice Tea
Lemon Wedge

Amarillo By Morning

1.5 oz Deep Eddy Cranberry Vodka
.5 oz Lemon Juice
.5 oz Averna Amaro
.5 oz Honey Syrup
(Combine equal parts honey and warm water. Stir until mixed.)
Combine all ingredients into ice-filled cocktail shaker. Shake hard and strain into ice-filled rocks glass. Garnish with lemon twist.

Marfa Lights

2 oz Deep Eddy Original Vodka
3 oz Grapefruit Juice
1 oz Simple Syrup
.5 oz Fresh Lime Juice
Pinch of Salt
Grapefruit Wedge
Fill Collins glass with ice. Add first five ingredients to shaker tin with ice and give a quick two second shake to dilute and blend the salt. Strain over fresh ice and garnish with a wedge of grapefruit.

Sea Breeze

2 oz Deep Eddy Cranberry Vodka
4 oz Grapefruit Juice
Lime Wheel
Combine all ingredients and serve over ice. Garnish with a lime wheel.

I got inspired to create this drink by all of the sage in my garden and by cranberry season. I tried this Austin East Spiced Cider with it that was great. Add in Bacardi Gold Rum and BAM, there it is. The addition of the essential oils took it over the top. You will think you are drinking Thanksgiving with this drink.

4 ounces dry Cider beer

2 ounces gold rum

2 ounces of Cranberry Sage Simple Syrup (see below)

In a tall cocktail glass filled with ice, first pour in cider, then rum, then syrup. The cranberry will sink to the bottom, so drinking with a straw is nice. Garnish with fresh sage leaf.

Cranberry Sage Simple Syrup

1 tablespoon freeze-dried cranberries, ground

1 cup of water 2 cups of sugar

1 can whole-berry cranberry sauce

one large sprig of sage

5 drops Orange essential oil

4 drops Sage essential oil

In a medium saucepan bring to a boil the water, sugar, cranberry, and sage for three minutes, stirring once. Remove from heat, cover and set aside until room temperature. Pick out the sage. Drop in essential oils. If you plan to store this for later use, you may have to refresh the essential oils before using later, as they will dissipate over time.

On a cold day, nothing could beat my mother-in-law Sandy’s hot cocoa. The creamer gives it a thicker texture than expected. Sandy gave us a special jar with a handwritten message to hold the hot cocoa mix so we would have it on hand all of the time. Now, when we make a cup on a brisk day, it reminds me of how warm and caring Sandy was.

12 ounces instant nonfat dry milk

1 6-ounce jar powdered coffee creamer

2 cups powdered sugar

1 16-ounce can Nestle’s Quick

1 cup powdered cocoa

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Store in air tight containers.

To make hot cocoa: Add 3 tablespoons of mix to 1 cup of hot water. Stir to dissolve. Add marshmallows and enjoy.

A marshmallow seems to be one of those things that conjures up the most delicious memories from childhood. Yes, they are adorably delicious straight out of the bag — they add a crazy depth of sweet, yummy, sticky texture and flavor unparalleled by any other addition. Whether it be mixed with chocolate chips stuffed inside a banana over a campfire the classic s’mores around a cup of cocoa, at the end of the day marshmallows bring out the kid in all of us. I learned the following marshmallow recipe many years ago from an amazing pastry chef. This chef said “I’m gonna blow your mind and demystify a marshmallow”. While this recipe may seem tedious, I promise that practice will make you a rockstar who will never go back to the bagged version again. This recipe pairs well with Sandy’s Hot Cocoa too.

3 package unflavored gelatin

1 cup ice cold water

12 ounce granulated sugar

1 cup light corn syrup

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

¼ cup powdered sugar

¼ cup cornstarch

Nonstick spray

Place the gelatin into the bowl of a stand mixer along with half a cup of water. Stir using a small hand whisk or fork for about 30 seconds until the gelatin is incorporated. At this point attach the whisk attachment and get the mixer ready to turn on.

In a small saucepan combine the remaining water, sugar, corn syrup, and salt. On medium-high heat, cook for about 4-5 minutes covered. At the four-minute mark, uncover the saucepot, attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan, and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 238°F (between six and eight more minutes). Once the syrup reaches this temperature, immediately take it off the heat. Carryover cooking will occur from the time you take it off the stove to the mixing bowl will take it to around 240°F. (If the sugar mixture goes above 242°F your marshmallow fluff will no longer be smooth and velvety; it will be a sticky, stringy mess and you will have to start over.)

Turn the mixer on low containing the gelatin water. While the mixer is running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the mixing bowl from a height of about 6 to 8 inches above the mixer. (The height allows air to combine too.) Once you have added all of the syrup mixture, increase the speed of the mixer to high. Continue to whip until the sugar mixture becomes very thick and slightly warm to the touch (about 15 minutes). Add the vanilla during the last minute of mixing.

While the sugar mixture is whipping, combine the powdered sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Mix well to incorporate or sift together twice through. Lightly spray a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray, being careful not to over coat the pan. Add a tablespoon of the powdered sugar mixture and move around the pan to completely coat the bottom and sides. Use more, if needed, depending on how much spray you used. If there is any powdered sugar mixture left in the pan, return it back to the bowl.

At this point, your whipped sugar mixture should be slightly warm to the touch in the mixing bowl. Turn the mixer off and remove the bowl from the mixer. Spray a rubber spatula with cooking spray to keep the mixture from sticking to the spoon. Pour into the whipped sugar mixture into the prepared pan and use the sprayed spatula to smooth out the surface.

Lightly dust the marshmallow top with the powdered sugar mixture, just enough to place an even coat all over. Save the rest for later. At this point the marshmallows need to sit at room temperature for at least four hours or up to eight hours, but no longer. I like to use a pizza wheel as a knife. Lightly dust the wheel in the powdered sugar mixture to keep it from sticking. Cut the marshmallows into your preferred size pieces. Dust the cut pieces in the remaining powder sugar mixture to coat evenly. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks (if they last that long).

I got inspired to create this drink when we owned a coffee shop in Boulder Colorado. That year a certain large coffeehouse ran out of pumpkin spice syrup. My manager David, who was one of my former culinary students, said to me, “Dude we so got this!” We set out for the local grocery store and picked up a case of canned pumpkin and several jars of pumpkin pie spice. Little by little we kept adding and writing down everything and finally ended up with a 5-gallon bucket of a pumpkin pie latte base. Even when that coffee company got their pumpkin pie spice syrup back we still sold 5-7 gallons worth of pumpkin pie lattes and pumpkin chais almost every day during pumpkin season. I’ve continued to improve the recipe since then, including adding the essential oils.

Pumpkin Latte Base

1 cup milk or milk substitute

¼ cup canned pumpkin pie mix

3 packets Splenda or any non-sugar sweetener of your choice

½ teaspoon vanilla

10 drops Pumpkin Spice Essential Oil Blend (see below)

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Combine all ingredients in a pitcher using an immersion blender. Put in a jar with tight lid and refrigerate for about an hour before using. Shake well before each use. This will last about 10 days in the refrigerator if using a milk substitute.

To serve: Mix ¼ cup pumpkin latte base and ¼ cup milk or milk substitute and heat slightly in microwave. Add 2 shots of espresso.

For coffee, mix one cup coffee (I would make it strong) with one cup of pumpkin latte base. You can also make this with cold brew for a cold pumpkin spice latte.

Pumpkin Spice Essential Oil Blend

Note: When using essential oils for internal consumption, use only essential oils approved for such use. Many essential oils that you buy, especially ones on the lesser expensive side, will specifically tell you “not for internal consumption”. Don’t use these for internal consumption! Believe the label! There may be additives or adulterants (yes, even if the label says 100% essential oil) that wouldn’t be good to use internally. There are only a few brands out there that are FDA approved for using in cooking and they will say as much.

4 drops Cinnamon essential oil

2 drops Ginger essential oil

1 drop Clove essential oil

4 drops Cardamom essential oil

4 drops Nutmeg essential oil

3 ml MCT liquid unflavored oil.

Combine all ingredients and put in clean essential oil bottle with dropper cap on.


Blueberry Simple Syrup:

  • 1 ½ cups frozen wild Maine blueberries (I use Wyman’s of Maine brand.)
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • ½ cup of water

Combine blueberries, sugar, and water in saucepan. Bring to boil. Reduce heat. Simmer 20 minutes. Reduce total volume by 1/3.

Mix the Donkey:

  • 1 ounce of rum (I use Bacardi Gran Reserva Diez Extra Rare Gold Rum.)
  • 1 ounce blueberry simple syrup (above)
  • 1 drop lemon essential oil* (I used Young Living Lemon Essential Oil.)
  • 4 ounces pineapple cider (I used Austin East Ciders.)
  • Freeze-dried blueberries (I used 365 brand from Whole Foods.)

Combine blueberry syrup, lemon oil, and rum. Pour cider over ice and add blueberry rum mixture. Top with freeze-dried blueberries for garnish.

* Be sure to use essential oils that are labeled for internal consumption, like those from Young Living Essential Oils.

What are some of your favorite cocktails?


Cranberry Simple Syrup:

  • 1 bottle (12.5 ounce) bottle cranberry concentrate (I used Lakewood Organic brand.)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • Combine juice and sugar in saucepan. Bring to boil. Reduce heat. Simmer 10 minutes.

Mix the Elephanté:

  • 1 ounce rum (I used Bacardi Gran Reserva Diez Extra Rare Gold Rum.)
  • 1 ¼ ounce cranberry syrup
  • 1 drop orange essential oil* (I used Young Living Orange Essential Oil.)
  • 4 ounces blood orange cider (I used Austin East Ciders brand.)
  • Freeze-dried cranberries (I used Karen’s Naturals brand.)

Add cranberry syrup, orange oil, and rum to shaker cup and stir well to mix. In 12 ounce cocktail glass filled ¾ full with ice, add orange cider then pour cranberry rum mixture over top. Garnish with a few freeze-dried cranberries.

* Be sure to use essential oils that are labeled for internal consumption, like those from Young Living Essential Oils.

What are some of your favorite cocktails?