52 weeks, 52 new cocktail recipes. That’s the goal and challenge I set for myself several weeks ago for my big project this year, 52 Weeks of Cocktails. It began being about the drinks, challenging myself with a new project that would push me out of my comfort zone, learning some new skills and drinks along the way. But after adding a human element, I quickly came to realize that this was really all about the relationships and stories that would come from it. Several weeks later and I find myself inspired and challenged in ways I didn’t expect.

“It’s kind of like Comedians Getting Coffee meets mixology,” my friend told me, who helped come up with the original idea of 52 Weeks of Cocktails. The gist: Over the next year, I’ll meet 52 different people, buy them a cocktail, and simply asking them, “What’s your story?” While every cocktail has a story, of even more importance is that every person has a story. And it’s a story that’s only been written in part, and that is constantly evolving. In that way then, perhaps this is more like Comedians Getting Coffee meets Humans of New York.

Following each meet-up, I’m then taking the person’s story and interests, and creating a cocktail recipe for them. I photograph our meet-up, come up with a cocktail, take photos of it, and then send the recipe and photos to them.

While just a few weeks in, I can confidently say that 52 Weeks of Cocktails is one of most inspiring, rewarding things I’ve ever undertaken. The people I’ve met and stories I’ve heard have left an indelible mark, leaving me challenged and inspired.

52 Weeks of Cocktails

The first person I met with, Hannah, I had actually first met in person just prior at my holiday party. She was formerly a painter at Walt Disney World before her and her husband recently moved across the country to begin new lives and jobs on the West Coast. You guys, a painter for Disney! I want to ask my high school guidance counselor why she didn’t tell me that that was a career choice. Though I’m sure her response will have something to do about me getting a C-minus in high school art.

Others I’ve met have included the daughter of a Vietnamese refugee (who had left 1980s Vietnam by boat) and the people behind new Reno coffee pop-up concept, Vertical Coffee Roasters, who are working directly with the Guatemalan farmers whose coffee they’re serving. As in, the coffee they are roasting and then making and selling comes directly from the Guatemala farms they’ve worked on.

Each person has been so eager to share their stories, and with such transparency and depth that you won’t find from your everyday happy hour, get-together, or coffee date. And with each meet-up, I’ve left as a better person than the person I arrived as.

But now to the actual cocktails themselves. Following each meet-up, I come home and create a cocktail that draws upon their experiences, story, and interests. With Hannah, for example, it only seemed appropriate to make her a Disney-themed cocktail. After discovering that her favorite thing to eat or drink from Disney World was this Poison Apple Mug sundae, a rare treat served in small quantities around Halloween, I knew I had to recreate a cocktail version of it. After meeting David and Becky from Vertical, I obviously had to create a coffee-inspired cocktail, which involved getting my hands on one of the only coffee-infused rums you can find in America, produced by Brinley Gold Shipwreck.

Chapel tavern cocktail bar in Reno

You can find both of those cocktail recipes below. Meanwhile, if you’re interested in meeting up, shoot me an email at spencer@whiskeytangoglobetrot.com, sharing a little bit about yourself, why this is of interest to you, and your social media profiles. I’d just like to know a little bit about you, and make sure you’re not Freddy Krueger. I’ve gotten some amazing emails, so get creative. Otherwise, you can find out more info and NFAQs (Not Frequently Asked Questions) about 52 Weeks of Cocktails here: whiskeytangoglobetrot.com/cocktail-chronicles-52-weeks-cocktails.

Cocktail Recipes

Hot Apple Pie Mug

The rare Disney Halloween treat, the Poison Apple Mug, is essentially an apple pie sundae consisting of vanilla ice cream, apple pie filling, whipped cream, and caramel drizzle. Delicious, right? Well this raises the ante, turning that Disney ice cream treat into a cocktail treat. 

  • 8 oz. semi-sweet apple cider
  • 2 oz. pineapple rum (You can also use your favorite aged rum, but Plantation Pineapple is one of my current favorite rums)
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 2 bar spoons brown sugar
  • Cinnamon stick
  • 2 cloves
  • Apple slice
  • Caramel syrup
  • Whipped cream

To make it, I added everything but the whipped cream and caramel to a saucepan and heated on low (stirring a few times). For the whipped cream, I just followed your token recipe for making homemade whipped cream, but added a shot or two of apple liqueur, and set it aside while the saucepan was heating. Or you can just use store-bought whipped cream. After about 10 minutes, I poured all of the ingredients from the saucepan into a heat-resistant mug and topped with whipped cream and caramel drizzle, garnishing with a cinnamon stick & apple.

Hot apple pie cocktail recipe

White Caribbean

  • 2 oz. Brinley Gold Shipwreck Coffee RumCoffee rum cocktail
  • .75 oz. Amaretto
  • .5 oz. heavy cream
  • Grated nutmeg to garnish

This is delicious, even if you don’t drink coffee. As the name presumes, it’s comparable in color and name to a White Russian. For the main spirit, I used Brinley Gold Shipwreck Coffee Rum, which is a really smooth, subtle coffee rum that has a nice toffee and butterscotch flavor to it. To make the White Caribbean, add the rum, Amaretto, and heavy cream to a cocktail shaker with ice, and shake. Strain into a glass and sprinkle with grated nutmeg. Since Amaretto can be sweet, you may adjust the quantity by a quarter-ounce.

 What are your favorite cocktail recipes?