Colorado Mixologist Serves Up New Book All About Drinks for Dessert | Westword

Colorado Mixologist Serves Up New Book With Recipes for Drinks That Double as Dessert

We tried out three recipes, including a bourbon-based peach cobbler libation and Explorer Cake, which is inspired by Antarctica.
Bryan Paiement's Liquid Dessert is a sweet find.
Bryan Paiement's Liquid Dessert is a sweet find. Teague Bohlen

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Bryan Paiement is a professional bartender and mixologist at the Cache restaurant at Ginger and Baker in Fort Collins. In his new book, Liquid Dessert: Cocktail Confections From Around the World, he poses a post-dining conundrum that most of us have struggled with: whether to indulge in a dessert...or one more drink. Paiement's answer is a confident Yes, please to both, at the same time.

The book is curiously divided into seven sections, one for each continent. (What does he do with Antarctica, you might ask? Stay tuned.) Although most of the book's recipes focus on North America and Europe, it's admittedly fascinating to see desserts-become-drinks from other parts of the world. The drinks cover not only a lot of geography, but also a wide spectrum of sweetness levels, from pumpkin pie to cannoli to Trifle, and Chocotorta to baklava to egg tarts. Whatever your sweet tooth craves, there's something in here to get it satisfied and tipsy.

We thought it would be fun to try out a few of the recipes, since "tasty" and "boozy" are two of our favorite adjectives. We selected three drinks to make at home, in part to prove it's possible, and also to review them in terms of flavor. In the interest of global friendship by way of deliciousness, we chose drinks from three different continents: North America, Africa and (just because it's cool and slightly ridiculous) Antarctica. Here are the three recipes we tried, along with our commentary on how it all went down:
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The Peach Cobbler from the book (left) and our version (right).
Red Lightning Books/Teague Bohlen
Peach Cobbler
We wanted to start with something a little familiar, a little fruity and a little seasonal — and what better to choose than the peach, as we near the end of Palisade peach season?

2 oz bourbon
1/4 peach (muddled)
1/4 oz brown sugar simple syrup
1/4 oz lemon juice
2 dashes cinnamon
Mint sprig and peach slice garnish

Muddle (smash up to infuse) the peach in a mixing glass with ice. Add all ingredients, shake well, and strain over crushed ice in a rocks glass. Garnish with a peach slice and a mint sprig.

Our version
We muddled just fine, but didn't bother with crushing the ice because we'd just made the brown sugar simple syrup from scratch (that recipe is in the book, too), and we were tired. We also wanted a drink. The cobbler was just as fruity and fresh as you might imagine, but the brown sugar and cinnamon give it a little hint of something from the oven.

Would we make it again?
Definitely during Palisade peach season — especially if we already had some brown sugar simple syrup on hand.
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The Seffa from the book (left) and our version (right).
Red Lightning Books/Teague Bohlen
Okay, enough with America. We wanted something a little more international, and the creamy smoothness of this cocktail sounded like a nice departure from the peach cobbler. In that, we were right. Seffa is a Moroccan celebration dish that combines noodles or couscous with a savory-sweet onion sauce, which is topped with sugar, cinnamon, raisins and ground almonds. This drink is crafted to carry the same flavor profile, sans onions.

2 oz amaretto
1 oz tawny port wine
2 oz almond milk
1/4 oz lemon juice
2 dashes cinnamon
Lemon twist (garnish)

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Shake well and strain; garnish with a thick lemon twist.

Our version
We couldn't find tawny port, so we used the old trick of adding brown sugar to red wine (we actually used the brown sugar simple syrup we made earlier — win-win!) to replicate the port sweetness. We're not sure that substitution really worked; our version was tasty, but it lacked complexity. One of us thought that raisins would have made it better, and honestly, if you take a drink of something and think, "Hmm...needs more raisins," then something has generally gone terribly wrong.

Would we make it again?
Probably only to round out a Moroccan meal at a party to honor the theme. And only if we actually had tawny port wine.
click to enlarge
The Explorer Cake from the book (left) and our version (right).
Red Lightning Books/Teague Bohlen
Explorer Cake
So, Antarctica. Sure, we're stretching a little to include this singular recipe from the desolate seventh continent made mostly of ice and the remnants of campsites from explorers and researchers. This drink owes its name to a 106-year-old fruitcake that was found in a building in Camp Adare, where Captain Robert Scott's doomed expedition of 1910-13 made camp. The fruitcake, still in its paper wrapper, is said to have still looked and smelled edible.


1 1/2 oz calvados
3/4 oz amaretto
1 oz black tea
3/4 oz brown sugar simple syrup
3/4 oz lemon juice
3/4 oz pineapple juice
1/2 oz tart cherry juice
2 dashes nutmeg
Candied pineapple and cherries garnish

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Shake well and strain into a goblet; garnish with a candied pineapple and cherries on a cocktail spear.

Our version

That brown sugar simple syrup was sure worth the time to make, and we got to discover calvados, which is essentially a brandy made from apple cider. We couldn't find candied pineapple and cherries this time of year, but since it was only a garnish, we went with those sugar-gumdrop fruit slices that are in every candy aisle, though no one ever seems to admit to eating them. The color made us wonder if we'd used too much black tea, but it didn't taste like we did. All in all, the drink tasted surprisingly like fruitcake.

Would we make it again?
Again, it tastes surprisingly like fruitcake. So, you know...nah. Anyone want some gumdrop fruit slices, though? They'll probably last 106 years, too.

Bryan Paiement's Liquid Dessert: Cocktail Confections From Around the World is available at book retailers now. For more information, visit
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