Happy Hour: Royal 61

- 1 1/2 oz gin
- juice of half lime
- 1 oz creme de cassis
- 1 oz watermelon syrup*
- Champagne
- sugar for rimming (optional)

Mix all ingredients except in a cocktail shaker with ice. Strain into a chilled martini glass rimmed with sugar (optional). Top with Champagne.

Watermelon Syrup
To make watermelon syrup, mix 4 cups pureed seedless watermelon and 1 cup granulated sugar in a saucepan over medium heat and stir while bringing to a simmer. Adjust the heat to maintain a simmer. Stirring occasionally, simmer until the mixture has reduced by one half in volume and becomes syrupy. Remove from heat to cool and then place in a glass bowl or jar, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Keeps 5 days in the refrigerator. Makes 2 cups. (Watermelon syrup recipe and photo by National Watermelon Board, cocktail recipe by Yuri Kato)
{Source: Cocktail Times}

Happy Hour: Sage Lady

- 1 1/2 oz Absolut mango vodka
- 2 or 3 fresh sage leaves
- 3 cucumber slices
- 1 oz simple syrup
- 1/2 oz Cointreau
- Dash peach bitters

Muddle cucumber, simple syrup and sage. Shake with ice and fine strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a spanked sage leaf.
{Source: Cocktail Times}

DIY Yummie: Baked Banana

With Rum-Spiked Crème Fraîche
Wrapped in their skins with butter and brown sugar, bananas can be placed over dying coals to be ready for dessert when you are.

10 large firm bananas
1/4 pound unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup crème fraîche
2 tablespoons dark rum


1. With a sharp knife, slit the peel open on each banana. Carefully remove peel, reserving it.

2. Roll the bananas in the melted butter and then in the brown sugar. Return each banana to its peel.

3. Using lengths of kitchen string that have been soaked in water, tie each banana. Set aside.

4. In a small bowl, blend the crème fraîche with the rum. Set aside.

5. Grill the bananas over low coals, turning frequently, for 15 minutes, or until heated through.

6. Remove the strings and peels from the bananas and serve them on individual dessert plates with some of the crème fraîche on the side.

Source: Colin Cowie