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Sugar + Spice COCKTAIL plus AmEx Gift Card GIVEAWAY

Just in time for New Year's (and the colder weather that follows), I've concocted this sweet and spicy drink with a wintery kick. Inspired by my friends at Sierra Mist Natural (did you see the two Sierra Mist holiday cocktails featured earlier this month?) this "Sugar and Spice Cocktail" has the bite of bourbon, a spicy dash of bitters, and Sierra Mist's 100%-natural-no-artificial-ingredients bubbles.

The recipe is below, along with a chance to win a nice little mixology set plus an AmEx gift card!

Sugar + Spice Cocktail

You will need:
1 part bourbon
1 part Sierra Mist Natural
3 drops Angostura bitters (or to taste)

Gently stir all ingredients in a rocks glass, either neat or over one large ice cube. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.

But of course, cocktails do not make themselves. You need the tools of the trade, such as those found in a Sierra Mist Natural gift pack: a shaker, garnishing sugars, 4 cocktail glasses, and a $50 American Express gift card to buy the bourbon, bitters, and anything else that strikes your fancy. Want to win? Here's how to enter..


Leave a comment below telling me about your favorite cocktail (or mocktail).

For additional entries:
1) Like Sierra Mist on Facebook, and tell them Second City Soiree sent you (but either tag the Second City Soiree FB page, or come back here and tell me you left a comment on Sierra Mist's page, so I can count your vote). You can even share your favorite cocktail on their "Mixology" tab, if the spirit (haha) moves you.
2) Tweet "Winning a @sierramist gift pack from @SecndCitySoiree would be a great way to ring in 2012!  -> http://su.pr/2cY3mr"

Contest closes at 8pm CST, Tuesday, January 3

The contest is now closed. Winners will be announced tomorrow via Twitter and Facebook.

Good luck!

This is a sponsored post, but as always, the opinions are strictly my own.


Silver SPARKLE Tabletop for NEW YEAR'S

Just like trying to get into a hot new club or venturing out for a huge parade, going out on New Year's Eve sounds more fun than it actually is. If you've ever been out on the 31st, you know exactly why it's called "Amateur Night". Bars are packed, restaurants are all full, trains are like sardine cans, and forget about trying to get a cab!

Still, we party-lovers can't resist commemorating the flip of the calendar. How about having a lovely dinner at home, instead? Dress your table in silver and sparkle and ring in the new year without having to shimmy your way through a crowd. This tabletop features the same Mikasa Italian Countryside pattern from my Rough Luxe Thanksgiving and Whimsical Christmas tables. Everything else is from Tablescapes here in Chicago, and is available for rent. Happy New Year!


Five STYLISH gifts for MEN

This selection was curated by Matt Solyst, a writer for my fashion/humor site, You Know You Love Fashion. Matt is an aspiring writer of TV, film and fiction, and you can follow him on Twitter @OldPastureLane.

Tis the season to be gifting, and the gifts of holidays past haunt us around every corner. Finding the perfect holiday gift for your better half seems like the running of the bulls: there will be confusion, chaos, and sometime during it you will say, "Why am I doing this to myself?" Stop running around and take the helpful hand of a handsome Spaniard  – we are here to help. Ole!


Irish Coin Cufflinks
by Erin Gallagher, $150

Jen says: "They also have cufflinks made from old CTA tokens. Now we know where they all went!"


Deja-View Boot
by Kenneth Cole New York, $198

From the Kenneth Cole site: "The simple shape stays cool with an exposed zipper, while the textured sole guarantees you'll always be on firm footing."



Adicolor Airline Bag
by Adidas, currently on sale for $56

Matt says: "I carry a man purse to work, and I’m O.K. with that. Where else am I going to put my iPhone, glasses case, backup contacts lenses, keys, Netflix movie to return, chap stick, Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, business card holder, and gum?"



Ginger Twins Tie
by Bird Dog Bay, $75

Jen says: "My husband owns several BDB ties and loves their whimsical patterns. Great quality, too.



Marbled Leather Credit Card Holder
by Jack Spade, $95

From the Jack Spade site: "The Marbled Leather collection is inspired by marble paper lined antique books."


Two fizzy holiday COCKTAILS (with MOCKTAIL options)

From Sierra Mist come two festive cocktails, sure to add zing to your holiday parties! If you're avoiding artificial ingredients - as I am - rest your troubled head with the knowledge that Sierra Mist is made with real sugar, no artificial ingredients, 100% natural flavorings.

I made the two below for a recent party, and while I think I prefer "Meet Me at the Mist-letoe" for the holidays, one of my guests pointed out that "Frost Bite" would be prefect for a holiday-in-the-tropics theme, what with the orange and coconut flavors. Good point.

Visit Sierra Mist's Facebook page for more recipe ideas, and watch for the second post in this series, coming next week (there's a giveaway...)

Frost Bite

• 3 oz. Sierra Mist Natural
• 1 oz. Blue Curacao (substitute 2 oz white grape juice for mocktail)
• 1 oz. Coconut Vodka (substitute 1 oz lime juice for mocktail)
• Fresh mint
• 1 oz. Pineapple juice
• Fresh blueberries for garnish

In a shaker filled with ice, mix coconut vodka (or lime juice) and pineapple juice. Add blue curacao (or white grape juice), fresh mint and blueberries. Shake, strain, and top with Sierra Mist Natural. Garnish with fresh blueberries.


Meet Me At The Mist-letoe...Martini

• 2 oz. Sierra Mist Natural
• 1 ½ oz. Raspberry Vodka (substitute Raspberry juice for mocktail)
• 3 Leaves fresh basil
• ½ oz. Fresh lime juice
• 1 oz. Blueberry juice

In a glass, muddle two basil leaves and lime juice, then add to shaker filled with ice. Add raspberry vodka (or juice) and blueberry juice to the shaker; shake and strain. Top with Sierra Mist Natural and garnish with a basil leaf.


This is a sponsored post, but as ever, opinions are strictly my own.


Small Space Tip: Use nature's refrigerator

Just a quick reminder for all those living in a small space. To make the most of your set-up, sometimes you have to think out of the apartment...

...and onto the back porch or balcony!

Of course, there are much prettier ways to do it (I'm fairly certain this is the work of a resourceful young man not too concerned with aesthetics), and you don't even need to have snow. Keeping drinks outside - just on the other side of the door - is something to consider when you think you're short on space.

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