What better way to start of 2023 than with one of the easiest cozy cocktails around?? The Caribou is a French-Canadian cocktail that takes just a few ingredients and like…5 seconds to mix together. No special tools or techniques. Immediate sippin’ gratification.
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In super gross news, the name originates from a drink consisting of caribou blood and whisky that Canadian colonial-era hunters and loggers drank to help survive harsh northern winters. BLECH.
Honestly I’m glad I didn’t know about the background before I made this drink, because…as you can see, the port really does give it a blood-like color and…just no. But I’m telling you, don’t let that put you off!
My coworker, Branda, found this in one of her historic cocktail books and posted about it on the IG…I was immediately intrigued, and had to try it myself. Obvs there’s no blood in this. (I felt like I needed to state that for the record.)
The Caribou is SO quick and easy to throw together. Generally it’s a 3-to-1 ratio of red wine or port and rye whiskey, with a bit of maple syrup added for sweetness, though I’ve seen a few versions that flip-flop that. Most recipes use red wine, but I am a huge fan of port so I generally go that route.
Personally I love a simple Amarena cherry garnish (a twist of orange peel wouldn’t go amiss as well). Alternatively, you could go for more of a mulled wine vibe and garnish with a cinnamon stick and sprig of rosemary.
It can also be scaled up into a great batch cocktail (in that case I’d use red wine and throw in a few whole cloves and cinnamon sticks in that case).
To make yourself a Caribou cocktail, simply pour the port (or red wine), rye whiskey, and maple syrup over ice. Stir to combine, and then strain into a rocks glass with more ice. If you’re lazy, you can just make it directly in the glass.
The biggest “x factor” here is the amount of maple syrup you need. If you’re using port, you will not need much, just literally a splash. If you’re using a dry red wine, you’ll probably need more but it will depend on your own palate.
Start with a little, stir in, taste, and decide if you want more…you can always add more, but you can’t remove.
I’m obsessed with Amarena cherries, so threw a few of those on as garnish. This is the perfect fall or winter cocktail, a great sip when it’s cold out.
You’ll fall in love with this port and rye whiskey cocktail…including with how easy it is!
Other cozy cocktails you’ll love:
- Bourbon Milk Punch Cocktail
- Orange Amaretto White Russian Cocktail
- Rye Port Manhattan Cocktail
- “43 Flip”: Creamy Whiskey Cocktail with Licor 43
- Warm Spiked Apple Cider with Port & Cranberries (low ABV)
- Spiced Pear Bourbon Cocktail
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- 3 ounces of port or dry red wine
- 1 ounce of rye whiskey
- A splash of maple syrup (you'll need a bit more if you use dry red wine)
- Optional: Amarena or bourbon cherries for garnish; an orange twist would be good too
- Stir the ingredients together in a mixing glass filled with ice, then strain into a rocks glass over ice.
- Alternatively, you can mix it together directly in your rocks glass.
The amount of maple syrup will depend on your palate, and also whether you're using port or regular red wine. Use just a tiny bit at first, stir and taste, and adjust as desired.
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