27 February 2010

Weekend Cooking: Cocktail Time by Sandra Lee

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Although I'm not a big cocktail drinker (preferring wine or scotch), I have always been intrigued with Sandra Lee's cocktails. They are generally beautiful to look at and feature fruit flavors. Thus I was excited to get the chance to review her book Cocktail Time.

The subtitle says 218 Cocktails & Appetizer for the "Best Time of the Day." I didn't count the recipes, but the book is chockfull of great drinks and small foods for every time of the year.

In the opening pages, Sandra gives advice for stocking a bar--from glassware to mixers--and offers some tips for what types of food to serve.

The chapters are divided by month, which is a great way to organize this kind of book. Hot drinks for the winter months, lovely red drinks for February, and light and refreshing drinks for summertime. The index is very well organized so you'll always be able to find what you want.

One thing I particularly like about Cocktail Time is that Sandra offers several alcohol-free drinks that make fun and pretty alternatives for you, your guests, and your kids.

I made two of the drinks and found them easy to put together and delicious to sip. I picked the cocktails based on what kinds of spirits were already in our cabinet. The drinks are not inexpensive when you think about buying all the different mixers and liqueurs.

The finger and snack foods all follow Sandra Lee's "semi-homemade" style, which means they rely on spice mixtures and ready-made products. The foods look very appealing, but I generally cook from scratch. I made her Ginger-Garlic Shrimp (p. 40), basing my from-scratch version on her recipe. The shrimp were a hit, and I'll be making them again (if I can remember exactly what I did!).

Here are the two cocktails we tried and will be making again. Note that Cocktail Time suggests brand names, but I am listing generic ingredients.

Paradise Martini

Makes 1 drink

Ice cubes
1 ounce vodka
1 tablespoon cold water
½ ounce creme de cassis
½ ounce amaretto
1 lime wedge
Maraschino cherry

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the vodka, water, creme de cassis, and amaretto. Squeeze in the lime juice. Cover and shake vigorously. Strain into chilled glass Garnish with cherry.

Beth Fish Read's note: We left out the cherry.

California Lemon

Makes 1 drink

1¼ ounces gin
1 ounce lemon drop cocktail mixer
¼ ounce blood orange bitters
Ice cubes
1 lemon wedge

In a cocktail shaker, combine gin, mixer, and bitters. Add ice, cover and shake until very cold. Strain into a chilled glass. Garnish with lemon wedge.

Cocktail Time at Powell's
Cocktail Time at Amazon
These 3 links lead to affiliate programs.

Published by John Wiley & Sons / SL Books, 2009
ISBN-13: 9780470554876
YTS: 17
Source: Review copy (
see review policy)
Rating: B-


Pam 3/12/10, 8:50 AM  

Mmmm those do sound yummy! I'm not a big fan of fruity drinks but I might try those out. :O)

Sandy 3/12/10, 8:51 AM  

Cocktails? You got my attention! Sandra Lee is funny...she always has some sort of libation going on her show. My husband is the drink-maker in our house. He is amazing. He comes up with new stuff all the time, always very tasty and always strong!

Jayme 3/12/10, 8:52 AM  

I was wondering when Sandra Lee would come out with a cocktail book. Thanks for the review. I will defintely pick-up this book to take with to beach week this summer.

caite 3/12/10, 8:52 AM  

What?? No cherry??
I always thought Sandra seems like someone who enjoys a nice cocktail.
I am not a big cocktail drinker, or any sort of drinker for that matter. And if I drink, i tend toward a nice dark, strong beer, or like yourself maybe a single malt scotch. But I thing cocktails are very interesting.

bermudaonion 3/12/10, 8:53 AM  

We don't drink cocktails often, but do make them when we have friends over. These both look great! I love your picture, too - it makes me want to go to a warm beach right now!

Margot,  3/12/10, 8:53 AM  

We don't serve cocktails often either but it's nice to have a new recipe to try out on guests. The lemon drink appeals to me and I can imagine those with your garlic shrimp. M-m-m.

Bonnie 3/12/10, 8:54 AM  

These sound great. I don't have these ingredients around to try but they sound great for the summer. The lemon drink sounds very good. I wonder if the book has recipes for different martini's...I fell in love with the appletini this summer and have heard lemon drop martini's are fabulous.

Books 3/12/10, 8:54 AM  

Paradise Martini looks good! I love amaretto - anything with that in it appeals to me.

JoAnn 3/12/10, 8:56 AM  

We don't really serve cocktails, either, but we do like wine! That's the subject of my Weekend Cooking post today.

wordlily 3/12/10, 8:56 AM  

Her cocktails are always the most interesting part of her TV episodes, I think, based on the few I've seen.

Heather 3/12/10, 8:57 AM  

lately I have been enjoying cream based cocktails and really enjoying them. Will try some fruity ones when its much warmer. These sound nice.

Dana 3/12/10, 8:57 AM  

Oooh, the california lemon sounds delicious! This book sounds like an great source for drink recipes - I like that she includes non-alcoholic beverages as well!

Kim 3/12/10, 8:58 AM  

I can't drink anything with Tequila in it because of meds I am on--so that has ruled out my favorite, margaritas for several years. I really don't drink much at all because of the medication but that California Lemon sound yummy and might be one I try! I did just recently have a Long Island Iced Tea and I really enjoyed it--but talk about expensive to make--there are about 4 or 5 liquors in it. Thanks for sharing the recipe--it especially looks perfect for a hot summer evening....

Eva 3/12/10, 8:59 AM  

I'm not a huge cocktail person either, but this book sounds like fun!

Heather J 3/12/10, 8:59 AM  

This must be the post you were working on when you offered me a virtual cocktail on Twitter. :) These look delicious too!

S. Krishna 3/12/10, 9:00 AM  

While I do enjoy cocktails, I prefer to drink them when out and stick with beer and wine at home. Like you said, making cocktails can get expensive.

Nicolebo 3/12/10, 9:13 AM  

I cook from scratch as well. I serve a few cocktails at home which I have become known for. It's way too much for me to keep up with all the different mixers and such.

lynda 3/12/10, 9:14 AM  

I love cocktails...one of my favourites is a Sicilian Kiss: 1 measure Amaretto, 1 measure Southern Comfort over ice ;0)

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