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IMG_3379Like most people, I’m one for getting as much bang for your buck as possible when it comes to cocktails. I’ll pass on the weak sauce, thank you. But for family gatherings this time of year, it’s crucial to maintain a steady buzz throughout the festivities without reaching that embarrassing, overly argumentative and klutzy state. One solution? The shim. I had never heard of shims before reading this month’s Mixology Monday announcement post but fortunately this month’s host, Dinah Sanders of Bibulo.us, has literally written the book on the subject. To summarize her announcement post for all you shim newbies — like myself — these lower-proof concoctions contain no more than a half ounce of strong spirits, or any booze with a 40% or higher ABV. I’m intrigued by this “More Drink, Less Drunk” idea of Sanders, although where there’s a will (and nothing better to do on a frigid Sunday), there most certainly is a way. After a few of these, I was hesitant to put myself in the “less drunk” category. The holidays have come early, folks.IMG_3378
This drink is as seasonal as it gets. The cinnamon and ginger liqueur added just the right amount of spice to the honey notes of the mead, and a bit of bitterness. I was tempted to squeeze in a bit of lemon juice, but with the right cider, the apples provide plenty of tartness and crispness to balance everything out. I used Red Jacket Orchard’s cold-pressed, 100% fruit variety which is fresh-tasting and not overly saccharine.

IMG_3388Spiced Apple Shim – makes one cocktail

2 cinnamon sticks (1 for infusing mead, 1 for garnish)

1 1/2 ounces spiced mead

1/2 ounce VSOP Calvados apple brandy

3/4 ounce Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur

2 ounces apple cider (the 100% fruit stuff, not the sugary fake stuff!)

Heat mead and one cinnamon stick in a small saucepan over medium heat. I warmed up enough mead for several drinks; for two drinks you’d need to heat at least 1/2 cup (or 4 ounces) because some of the liquid will cook off. Bring it to the a boil, then turn the heat down and let simmer for 20-30 minutes. Remove cinnamon sticks from mead and remove mead from heat. Let cool completely.

Combine the spiced mead, Calvados, ginger liquer and apple cider in a glass. Give it a stir and garnish with cinnamon stick — or you can kill two birds with one stone and stir with the cinnamon! How festive. Now that the temperatures have officially dropped, I enjoyed this drink at room temperature but you could throw a few ice cubes in — or heat the whole thing up — if the mood strikes.

Thanks to Dinah for hosting this month and to Fred at cocktail virgin slut for keeping the MxMo party alive. Cheers all!