July 22 • 10:10 AM

Learn to be a 'Great Pretender'

AAA offers 'safe' alternative to entertain guests and usher in the New Year

January 02, 2008
Remember playing "let's pretend" when you were a kid?

The fun game of imagination where all things were possible and temporarily real?

As with many of the joyous forays of childhood, what was mind-expanding as a kid morphs into something less than desirable when we grow up. People point out "pretenders" in a most unflattering way. Some boomers may even remember singer/songwriter Jackson Browne's mournful homage to pretenders everywhere— "The Pretender—who started out so young and strong, only to surrender."

Well, sometimes pretending is perfectly okay even for grownups. Every now and then it's just fine to pretend that everything's okay even when it's really not. And sometimes it's desirable to pretend in order for things to remain perfectly okay—like when it comes to partying on New Year's Eve.

In an effort to keep the roads safe and holiday parties from turning into heated brawls, AAA of Michigan puts together an annual party guide called 'The Great Pretenders.'

Designed to give hosts and hostesses an alternative to standard party fare that includes alcoholic beverages, the guide offers a wide variety of exotic and not-so-exotic drink recipes that are sure to please everyone's palate.

Many of the recipes are straight from AAA diamond-rated restaurants and hotels across the Midwest—including The Ritz-Carlton in Dearborn and Mackinac Island's Grand Hotel.

Whether it's a New Year's Eve party or a New Year's Day brunch, the list ranges from spicy to smooth and calls for ingredients that are easily found on local grocers' shelves.

For those who choose to consume alcohol on New Year's Eve or New Year's Day, AAA offers the following interesting reminders and stats that serve as good reminders when it comes to keeping things in check.

Alcohol and You

The most important factors determining how quickly a person will reach a point where he or she should not drive are the rate of alcohol intake, gender, weight and recent food intake. Females absorb alcohol at a faster rate than males. It will usually take more drinks for a person who weighs 200 pounds to reach a specific blood alcohol content [BAC] level than a person who weighs 150 pounds. Having a full stomach can slow the rate at which alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream by as much as one-third.Many people have the misconception that when they cease drinking their BAC immediately begins to decrease. Not true. It takes 20 to 40 minutes for alcohol from a drink to be absorbed into the body.*

Did You Know?

•Your judgment is the first important driving ability affected by alcohol and it is affected by even one drink.

•The penalties for drunk driving are stiffer than ever. Thirty-nine states have laws that allow police to take away an intoxicated driver's license on the spot.

•Two of every five Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related crash at some time in their lives.

•Every three hours, someone under age 21 dies in an alcohol-related crash.*

Try something new!

In light of the foregoing, it just might be the right time to remember how much fun it can be to play "let's pretend" at an adult party. Following are some easy to make holiday drink recipes that will help you and your guests celebrate responsibly in a safe way.

*Reprinted with permission from AAA Michigan

Spiced Peach Punch

Compliments of


46 oz Peach nectar

20 oz Orange juice

1/2 cup Brown sugar

3 (3-in) Cinnamon sticks

1/2 tsp Cloves

2 tbsp Lime juice


Combine peach nectar, orange juice and brown sugar in a large saucepan. Tie cinnamon and cloves in a small cheesecloth bag. Drop into saucepan. Heat slowly, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves. Simmer 10 minutes. Stir in lime juice. Serve in hot mugs. Serves 8.

Cinnamon Cheer

Submitted by David Murphy –

Assistant Food & Beverage Director

The Ritz-Carlton, Dearborn MI


1 1/2 oz Cranberry juice

1 1/2 oz Apple juice

1 1/2 oz Pineapple juice

1 1/2 oz Lemonade

1 1/2 oz Hot water

1 Cinnamon stick


Mix all liquids in a tall glass. Garnish with cinnamon stick. Serve warm. Makes 1 serving.

Chocolate Apple Cider

Submitted by The Immigrant Restaurant

and Winery, Kohler WI


4 cups Fresh apple cider

4 tsp Mélange du Chamonix tea

1 oz Hazelnut-flavored syrup

4 Cinnamon sticks

4 Lemon twists


In a stainless steel saucepan bring the apple cider almost to a boil. Remove from the heat, add the tea and place tight fitting lid on immediately. Time for exactly 4 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh strainer. Stir in the hazelnut-flavored syrup. Garnish with a lemon twist and a cinnamon stick. Serve very hot in an Irish coffee cup. Makes 4 servings.

Amber Cider Punch

Compliments of


1/2 cup Sugar

1/2 tsp Cinnamon

1/2 tsp Allspice

1/2 tsp Nutmeg

2 cups Apple cider

6 oz Frozen orange juice concentrate

2 cups Ginger ale


Mix sugar and spices. Stir in cider and heat until sugar dissolves. Add frozen concentrate and stir until melted. Chill. Add ginger ale and serve over ice in glasses with small orange wedges or with orange slices studded with whole cloves in a punch bowl. Makes 5 cups.

Peppermint Mocha

Compliments of


2 tsp Sugar

2 tbsp Milk

4 tbsp Vanilla ice cream

2 tbsp Peppermint candies

2 tbsp Chocolate syrup


Add all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into a cocktail glass, add straw, and serve.

Mint and Fruit Smoothie

Compliments of


1/4 cup Red seedless grapes - frozen

1/4 cup Unsweetened applesauce

1 tbsp Fresh lime juice

3 Frozen strawberries

1 cup Cubed pineapple

3 Fresh mint leaves


Place frozen grapes, applesauce and lime juice into a blender. Puree until smooth. Add frozen strawberries, cubed pineapple and mint leaves. Pulse a few times until the strawberries and pineapple are in small bits.

Caramel Apple Cider

Submitted by Pat Mueller Traditions Inn, Columbus NE


8 oz Apple cider

1 oz Savannah cinnamon mix

1 oz Caramel syrup

Whipped cream


Caramel syrup


Pour cider, cinnamon mix and caramel syrup together in a saucepan and heat through. Pour into a mug. Top with whipped cream and either a sprinkle of cinnamon or a drizzle of caramel syrup. Serve hot.

Drinking Chocolate

Compliments of


2 oz Heavy Cream

6-8 oz Milk

1 Cinnamon stick

1 Vanilla bean

2 oz Finely chopped dark chocolate

1 1/2 oz Fresh whipped cream


Heat the cream and milk with the cinnamon and vanilla bean (split lengthwise) very slowly for 15-20 minutes. (If you don't have any beans add 1-2 tsp of vanilla after heating). Remove the bean and cinnamon. Add the chocolate. Mix until fully melted. Serve topped with some very dense fresh whipped cream. Serve in coffee mug. Serves 1-2.

Spanish Chocolate

Compliments of


2 cups Milk

2 oz Sweet chocolate

1/2 tsp Cinnamon

2 Beaten egg yolks


Stir the milk with the chocolate and the cinnamon over low heat until the chocolate dissolves. Add the eggs and beat the mixture until it becomes thick, taking care not to boil. Serve in coffee mug.

Citrus Cream

Compliments of


2 oz Fresh orange juice

1 oz Fresh grapefruit juice

1/2 oz Simple syrup

1/2 oz Grenadine syrup

1 oz Heavy cream


Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a goblet.

Piña Colada Punch

Compliments of


46 oz Chilled pineapple juice

15 oz Coconut cream

1 tbsp Coconut syrup

1 tbsp Cinnamon

2 liters Chilled pineapple soda

1 pint Vanilla ice cream


Blend pineapple juice, coconut cream, coconut syrup and cinnamon in a blender until creamy. Add mixture to a punch bowl. Add ice cream and nearly completely dissolve. Add pineapple soda, an ice ring and thin orange slices.

Boris' Good Night Cup

Compliments of


1 1/2 oz Pineapple juice

1 1/2 oz Papaya juice

3/4 oz Cream

2 - 3 dashes Banana syrup

1/2 Banana


Combine ingredients with crushed ice in a blender. Strain into a large highball glass, and serve.

Bloody Shame

Compliments of


3 oz V8® vegetable juice

2-3 drops Tabasco® sauce

1 pinch Salt

1 pinch Pepper

1 Celery stalk


Pour V8 into an old-fashioned glass, add Tabasco sauce and stir with a celery stalk. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve.

Horse's Neck

Submitted by The Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island MI


8 oz Ginger ale

Splash Grenadine

Orange peel



Fill a soda glass with ice cubes. Add ginger ale and grenadine. To make an orange peel, cut both ends off an orange. Using a spoon, remove the fruit center of the orange, and then slowly cut the peel into one long strip. Garnish with orange peel.

Ginger Acai Sparkler

Submitted by Tasha Putterbaugh

Joseph Decuis, Roanoke IN


1 tsp Sweet ginger puree

3 oz Acai (tropical berry nectar)

1 oz Carrot juice

Splash Sparkling water


Mix all ingredients together and serve in a chilled champagne flute or martini glass.

Southern Ginger

Compliments of


5 oz Dry ginger ale

1 Mint sprig

1/2 oz Sugar syrup

1/2 oz Lemon juice


Crush the mint gently in a highball glass. Fill with broken ice, add remaining ingredients and mix gently. Add straws and serve.

The All-Nighter

Submitted by David Chubb Ameristar Casino,

Council Bluffs, IA


2 shots Espresso

10 oz Hot chocolate

1 shot Vanilla coffee flavoring

1 shot Mint coffee flavoring

Whipped cream


Mint leaf


Mix all ingredients in a large mug. Top with whipped cream. Garnish with ground cinnamon and a mint leaf.

Cafe Vienna

Compliments of


1/2 cup Instant coffee

2/3 cup Sugar

2/3 cup Nonfat dry milk

1/2 tsp Cinnamon


Stir ingredients together. Process in a blender until powdered. Use 2 teaspoons to one cup of hot water. Makes about 1 1/2 cups mix.

Caffe Di Cioccolata

Compliments of


1/4 cup Instant espresso

1/4 cup Instant cocoa

2 cups Boiling water

Whipped cream

Orange peel


Combine coffee and cocoa. Add boiling water and stir to dissolve. Pour into demitasse cups. Garnish each serving with whipped cream and shredded orange peel. Serves 6 to 7.

Cafe Con Miel

Compliments of


2 cups Prepared coffee

1/2 cup Milk

4 tbsp Honey

1/8 tsp Cinnamon

1 Nutmeg seed

1 dash Vanilla


Heat ingredients in a saucepan, but do not boil. Stir well to combine. Serve as a light dessert.

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