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I live next to one of the most amazing parks.  I walk out my front door and I’m in 120 acre wooded off leash dog heaven.  It’s where I dust off the cooties of the work day, find peace, and my sanity.  Coe and I spend a great deal of time in this park, day and night.  In the three Decembers I’ve lived in Memphis, I have given back to this awesome park by volunteering at Starry Nights, a drive through holiday light display.  Some nights have been cold, raining, warm, and stormy, but it has always been great fun.

I’ve met some incredible people in my volunteering time and when I had the opportunity to share an idea with the park, they listened.  I’m sure it helped that I made cocktails for our first two meetings.  One of the things I’ve found in my move is that there is a gaping hole in the activities available for 30-50 year olds.  I know the kind of things I like to do and I just haven’t been finding it here.  As a result, I’ve made my own.

If this hadn’t already been on calendar, I might have been inclined to bail, since still recovering from the flu.  We had worked so hard to promote this event and get folks interested, I was making this happen.  Thanks goodness for my lovely assistant and the awesome folks at the park.

At our kickoff event, we had 20 enthusiastic people, one really yummy cocktail four ways, and a creative Valentine painting project.  I talked to folks about bitters and how they enhance and highlight different flavors in a cocktail.  They got to taste the different bitters and customize their cocktails.  While they sipped, they painted, glued, and glittered.  I think I can safely say this event was a success and I am delighted and giddy for the next ones.

We are going to do this monthly, with each month’s drinks selected for the season or event of the month.  In the upcoming months we will be doing Irish whiskey, mint julep, and sangria.  So many yummy ideas are swirling in my brain… what to concoct next?

Wondering what we made?  Here’s our cocktail: Mambo til Morning

Mambo til Morning
1 ounce tequila
1 ounce fresh expresso or cold brewed coffee
½ ounce heavy cream or ¾ ounce half & half
1 ounce cream de cacao
2 dashes chile tincture or bitters

Tools: shaker, jigger, strainer
Glass: coupe or cocktail glass
Garnish: mint leaf

Combine the ingredients in your cocktail shaker, fill with ice and shake briskly.
Strain into a coupe.
Slap fresh mint leaf in the palm of your hand and float on cocktail

Chile Tincture
Fill a small jar with stemmed hot chili peppers and cover with high proof vodka. Let sit soak for three days, shaking at least once per day, then strain. You can use a combination of any type of chili peppers such as habaneros, jalapenos, arbol, or Thai chiles.

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