Cranberry Dip and Aperol Spritz: How to Get the Party Started on Thanksgiving

Let’s get the party started this Thanksgiving with an appetizer and cocktail pairing!

Alright my friends, let’s be honest…when it comes to preparing for Thanksgiving Day, appetizers and pre-dinner drinks are pretty low on the priority list. I’m usually in the kitchen as early as 9:00 am and am not thinking about entertaining soon-to-be-arriving guests. My mind is on much more important things like stuffing and sweet potatoes.

But having a game plan for an appetizer is life-saving, and I’ve got you covered this year with a yummy dip AND a cocktail to pair with it!

I recently discovered this simple cranberry-orange relish which is the easiest, least-filling-but-still-appetizing dip perfect for turkey day, and it will satisfy all the dinner guests looking to munch on something while waiting for the main meal (at my house that would definitely be my husband). You can mix it up a day ahead (and seriously, why wouldn’t you?) and finish it up in minutes before serving.

Cranberry-Orange Relish

  •  1 (16 oz) bag of fresh cranberries, rinsed

  • 1 jalapeno, minced

  • 3 green onions, white and green parts finely chopped

  • 1 handful cilantro

  • 2 tsp orange zest

  • 1 Tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • `1/2 Cup sugar

  • 1 (8 oz) package light cream cheese (optional)

  • pita chips or crackers


  1. Place the cranberries, green onions, cilantro, orange zest, and orange juice into a food processor. Process and pulse until finely integrated.

  2. Transfer to a bowl and mix in salt and sugar. Refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight (make this the day ahead of time to ease up your turkey-day schedule!)

  3. When ready to serve, spread cream cheese along a bowl or plate. Top with the relish and serve with crackers/chips.

The Pairing

Anytime company comes over, it’s a party in my book. And its not a party unless drinks are being offered! This year I’m keeping it simple and pairing the Cranberry-Orange relish with Aperol Spritz cocktails. If you’re unfamiliar, Aperol is a aperitivo, meaning it is generally drank prior to a meal to wake up your taste buds. We need that on Thanksgiving!

Aperol has a slightly bitter, tart cherry and orange flavor profile but is sweetened up in this cocktail thanks to the addition of Prosecco and club soda. Its very easy to make so you can keep your attention in the kitchen (or hey…just show your guests how to make them and they can do it themselves!).

Aperol Spritz

  • 1 parts Aperol

  • 1 part Prosecco

  • splash of club soda

  • Orange wheel for garnish


  1. Place orange wheel at the bottom of a wine glass. fill with equal parts Aperol and Prosecco (about 2 ounces each if you must measure). Add just a splash of club soda

  2. Top with ice cube and enjoy!

Note: Any sparkling wine will work with this cocktail, although Prosecco is traditional. I like to use Cava as a budget alternative.

Note: This drink is totally customizable to each drinker’s liking. Too bitter? Add more Prosecco. Too bland? Add more Aperol. if anyone isn’t a fan of aperol, skip it altogether and pour them a glass of Prosecco. Boom. Done.

Christmas Gifts for the Home Bartender

It’s finally time to get all your loved ones presents (and maybe a few for yourself!)! If you’ve got someone on your list that likes cocktails, is a home bartender, or maybe is wanting to become one, today’s post will give you some perfect gift ideas for them. There are many ridiculous products out there that are just not needed and I know you don’t want to buy yet another gift for someone that will collect dust in the corner or end up in the garage sale pile. So fear not! Here are 5 gift ideas for the home bartender:


I have a huge library of cocktail books and will gladly accept more. If your gift recipient is a cocktail lover, they will definitely appreciate a new book to read as well. For the new enthusiast, consider buying an “all around” cocktail book with good recipes (my favorite is the first one listed below!). For the expert, buy them a specialty book on one specific interest they have like gin or tiki drinks. Here are some suggestions from my library:

  1. The Ultimate Bar Book. Every bar should have this book/great for newbies (Mittie Hellmich)

  2. Liquid Vacation: 77 refreshing tropical drinks from Frankie’s Tiki Room in Las Vegas

  3. The Spirit of Gin: A Stirring Miscellany of the New Gin Revival

  4. Sherry: A Modern Guide to the World's Best Kept Secret

  5. The Old Fashioned: The Story of the World's First Classic Cocktail, with Recipes and Lore

Bar Utensils

If your gift recipient is a seasoned home bartender, they may already have most of the bar utensils they need; but for someone new to the scene, proper bar utensils are absolutely essential for getting started. Here’s what I can’t live without in order of most important to least important (but all are still important lol):

  1. Boston Shaker. Don’t waste your time with fancy cocktail shakers! Every single one that I’ve purchased in the past has leaked! Every. Single. One. This is the one I use. 

  2. Jiggers: used to measure ingredients for cocktails. Here’s what I’ve bought. 

  3. Strainer

  4. Mixing Spoon

  5. Fruit Peeler

  6. Grater

  7. Muddler

  8. Fun cocktail picks. My latest purchase.


Everyone will appreciate good glassware! But don’t be thinking that I’m telling you to buy your recipient a tacky martini glass that says “cocktail time!” or whatever. I’ve accumulated many 1-glass presents over the years and most of them were donated immediately to the thrift shop. I’m talking about gifting a nice set of glassware which can get expensive, but will most definitely be appreciated. Just try to find out what your loved one needs so that you don’t buy them something they already have:

  1. Martini Glass Set

  2. Low Ball/Old Fashioned Glass Set

  3. Hi Ball Glass Set

  4. Coupe Glass Set

  5. Whiskey Glass Set

  6. Decanters (even better if you fill it with booze!)

Bar Cart

This one may be reserved for big budgets, but if you’re looking for a statement piece for your home bartender, get them a bar cart! I got mine at an antique store but new ones are also an option, like these: AmazonWest Elm


Finally, don’t forget that your home bartender will appreciate a good bottle of booze...after all, that’s why they are into home bartending! Find what type of spirit they need or like most, and get them a good bottle (with a little research you can find fun options, or just ask me!). For instance, my husband likes scotch. Last year I got him Aberlour because it was something new for him to try and something he probably wouldn’t have purchased himself. If your recipient is looking to just grow their collection, find some fun bitters to give them. Last idea--find a fun cocktail recipe you think they’d like, then buy all the ingredients to make that cocktail. If you feel like spoiling this lucky gift recipient, buy them the utensils and bar cart to go along with the cocktail!

Happy shopping and leave a comment below if you have any questions! 


How to Make Hot Buttered Rum

Confession: This blog post is not new. Well, the pictures are, but the original post was written in 2014 when I was a new blogger...and incredibly frustrated with my photography skills. I wanted to share this recipe with y'all again since it is my Christmas cocktail staple, but the original blog post was just too cute to revise. So if you've been along this blogging journey with me for a few years now, hopefully you can appreciate the nostalgia of what you're about to read as much as I do. Just a couple things are different now...Andrew and I are of course married, we live in our new (old) house with a REAL fireplace, and we no longer have to dream about snow...this time of year we get plenty of it in our new hometown of Reno. Enjoy the post, and enjoy your hot buttered rum.

Get this easy, warming, festive hot buttered rum into your belly right now! Recipe for hot buttered rum on

Hot Butt Rum, Hot Butt Rum, na-na-na-na na-na-na-na Hot Butt Rum.

That is the tune that Andrew sings every time he makes me Hot Buttered Rum, replacing the lyrics of "Hot Cross Buns". He actually does this quite frequently, replacing lyrics to songs, especially around Christmas time. His favorite one (and secretly mine too) is replacing "kids jingle-belling and Dani Grams yelling" during the "most wonderful time of the year" song.  I gotta love our relationship. :)

Here in Las Vegas, we have to force ourselves into the holidays spirit. For those of us used to crappy, cold weather and dreary days around Christmas time, its difficult even after 10 years to adjust to the endless sunny days, palm trees, cacti, and warm daytime temperatures of the desert.

Get this easy, warming, festive hot buttered rum into your belly right now! Recipe for hot buttered rum on

Despite having gotten our Christmas tree in t-shirts this year, our holiday season has been merry and bright thanks to one seasonally special drink: hot buttered rum. An irresistible cocktail with a funny name, this has been Andrew’s and my favorite holiday drink for the last few years. This is the go-to holiday concoction if you’re looking for something sweet and warming but don’t want the heaviness you’d get from creamy drinks like eggnog or baileys.

Get this easy, warming, festive hot buttered rum into your belly right now! Recipe for hot buttered rum on

No matter how hot it may still be outside, a glass of hot buttered rum makes me want to snuggle in front of the (dvd) fireplace with the illusion that its snowy and cold out. And it’s a great one for your holiday guests—who doesn’t like butter, and who doesn’t like rum? You may get the occasional friend or family member who will look at you when you offer one with the look on their face like “butter in a cocktail??” You may even be thinking that right now. But trust me, this cocktail will be the hit while you’re decorating, while you’re eating cookies, while you’re opening presents…the opportunities are endless!

 Merry Christmas! I hope this cocktail enhances all the cheer in your home for the holidays!

Hot Buttered Rum Recipe

Author: Dani (

Total time: 5 mins

Serves: 1


  • 1/2 Cup unsalted butter, softened (1 stick)
  • 2 Cups light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
  • 1 pinch salt
  • dark rum (we often use spiced!)
  • hot water


  1. With an electric mixer, blend butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and salt together in a medium bowl. Place in a sealable container and put in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  2. For each cocktail you make, spoon 1 Tablespoon of the butter mixture into a small mug. Top with 2-3 oz of dark rum, then fill the rest of the mug with hot water. Mix the contents of the mug together with a spoon or small whisk.
  3. Keep the butter mixture in the fridge and use whenever you are in the mood for another hot buttered rum! (Makes about 12 drinks total)
Get this easy, warming, festive hot buttered rum into your belly right now! Recipe for hot buttered rum on