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Recipes & Entertaining Ideas

Filtering by Tag: Cocktails

The G&A Martini

Marc J. Sievers

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No doubt you have spent many evenings enjoying an Aperol Spritz al fresco (or at your favorite hotel bar!).  I know I have!  But have you ever considered Aperol as the star of a martini?  My G&A Martini brings together the bright, citrus flavor of Aperol, the herbaceous layers of The Botanist gin and with the wonderful fizz of champagne to make for a refreshingly chic take on the most classic of cocktails.  If you are looking for something new to greet your guests with at your next party, you can serve the G&A Martini alongside my Puff Pastry Pinwheels sprinkled with a bit of Gruyère cheese.  For a larger crowd, take a page from the European entertaining playbook and present each drink over ice in small bistro glasses!  Cheers!

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Ingredients (serves 6) 

  • Gin – 6 ounces, Botanist recommended

  • Aperol – 9 ounces

  • Triple Sec – 3 ounces, Cointreau recommended

  • Orange Juice – 3 ounces, freshly squeezed

  • Champagne – (1) 750ml bottle, chilled

  • Rosemary – 6 sprigs, for garnish, fresh

  • Orange Slices – 6, for garnish

Directions

  1.  In a tall pitcher, stir together the gin, Aperol, triple sec and orange juice.  Set aside.

  2.  Fill a large cocktail shaker half full with ice.  Pour enough of the drink mixture into the shaker to almost fill it.  Shake the cocktail for a full 30 seconds and strain into martini glasses.

  3.  Top each martini with 4 ounces of chilled champagne.  Garnish each glass with a sprig of rosemary and fresh orange slice.  Serve cold.

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Cognac Hot Chocolate

Marc J. Sievers

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If you’re like me, you get to a point when you just need a moment during the winter months where you can just sit back and feel cozy. I love bundling up and watching snow fall (especially at the beach!), but sometimes, I need a little escape from the cold. I decided that now would be the perfect time for a luxe, chocolaty pick-me-up to relax and recharge.

My Cognac Hot Chocolate is a rich, layered and complex version of traditional hot chocolate, but with a little kick, courtesy of the addition of cognac.  Far from the hot chocolate of your childhood, this treat is sophisticated and worthy of a few quiet moments to sit, enjoy and stay warm indoors. Cheers!

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Ingredients (serves 6)

  • Whole Milk – 3 cups

  • Half-and-Half – 2 cups

  • Milk Chocolate – 5 ounces, rough chopped

  • Dark Chocolate – 8 ounces, 72% cacao, rough chopped

  • Cocoa Powder – ¼ cup, unsweetened, Pernigotti recommended

  • Cinnamon – ¼ teaspoon

  • Fleur de Sel – ¼ teaspoon

  • Dark Brown Sugar – 2 tablespoons, lightly packed

  • Vanilla – 1 ½ teaspoons, pure extract

  • Salted Caramel Sauce – 4 tablespoons, favorite store-bought brand

  • Cognac – 1 cup, Rémy Martin 1738 recommended

  • Cinnamon Sticks – for stirrers and garnish (if desired)

 Directions 

  1. In a large saucepan set over medium heat, add the milk and half-and-half.  Heat to just below the simmering point. 

  2. Remove the pan from the heat and add all of the remaining ingredients, except the cinnamon sticks. 

  3. Using a whisk, vigorously whisk the mixture until it is smooth and the chocolate is completely melted. 

  4. Gently reheat over medium heat, ladle into mugs and garnish with a cinnamon stick, a bit of frothed milk or whipped cream (if desired).

Tip: You can prepare the hot chocolate up to five days in advance and store it in an airtight container with a piece of plastic wrap pressed against the top of the hot chocolate and set in the refrigerator.  The plastic wrap will help prevent a skin from forming on the top of the hot chocolate.

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The “Fluffy Henderson” Cosmopolitan

Marc J. Sievers

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While a certain show made the “Cosmo” the libation of the early 2000s, it should be in everyone’s repertoire as a classic cocktail perfect for any celebration. I amped up the festive factor with a delicious rim of confectioner’s sugar that adds a layer of delicate sweetness. Not only is it easy to make at home (everything goes into a shaker!), it requires just a few simple but really good ingredients. Check out my video below to watch me re-create this iconic cocktail and hear the hilarious story of how it got its name!

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The “Fluffy Henderson” Cosmopolitan

Ingredients (Makes 1 cocktail, expand as needed)

  • Confectioners Sugar – ¼ cup

  • Lime Juice – ¾ ounces, freshly squeezed, plus more for rimming glass

  • Triple Sec – ¾ ounce, Cointreau recommended

  • Vodka - 2 ounces

  • Cranberry Juice – ¼ ounce

Directions

  1. Pour the confectioner’s sugar onto a small plate.  On another small plate, pour just enough lime juice to coat the bottom of the plate.  Place the rim of a martini glass into the lime juice then directly into the confectioner’s sugar, gently rolling it to cover the rim. 

  2. Place the coated rim onto a piece of parchment paper and allow dry for 20 minutes. 

  3. Next, fill a shaker with ice and add the lime juice, Triple Sec, vodka, and cranberry juice.   

  4. Shake for 30-60 seconds.

  5. Strain the cocktail into the prepared martini glass and serve immediately.

Idea: I love making big batches of these for a party!  You can rim glasses up to 3 hours in advance and allow to dry.  Fill a glass pitcher with the cocktail ingredients and let it sit in the refrigerator.  Then when a guest needs a cocktail, simply fill a shaker with ice, fill the shaker, shake, and serve.  Making cocktails at home has never been so easy!

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Festive & Fabulous Last-Minute Holiday Ideas

Marc J. Sievers

I love the last few days leading up to Christmas, there is a frenetic buzz in the air, everything seems to smell like peppermint and cloves, and the decorations on the streets and in the windows are like no other time of year!  I was asked by WGN Chicago for my top tips on some last-minute holiday ideas and I think I came up with a few you are going to absolutely love - and best of all you can find everything at your local grocery store!  Below is the clip for you to watch and hopefully get inspired to some festive cheer to your home this time of year!  Here are the recipes for my Cointreau Chocolate Ganache and Cointreau Winter Cider.  Sending love, hugs, and well wishes from my home to yours - Happy Holidays! 

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Watch: The Perfect Cocktail Party Pair

Marc J. Sievers

Hotel and restaurant bars can be a fabulous source of inspiration for entertaining at home.  And entertaining for two shouldn't be any less glamorous than for 10!  My Fried Blue Cheese Olives were inspired by a former menu staple at RL in Chicago, and fond memories of the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel in Boston helped me to create a simplified update on classic Amaretto Sour Martinis.  These are the perfect pair for a cocktail party just for two!  You can find both recipes in my cookbook Table for Two!

Truth be told, I love making cocktails at home but prefer not to be bothered with having to measure out a long list of ingredients and garnish with little drops and drizzles of things - I get bored way too fast for that!  My Amaretto Sour Martinis are so simple to make and can be made ahead of time and kept in a glass pitcher until you are ready to shake them over ice and serve them perfectly chilled.  

My Fried Blue Cheese Olives are almost as simple as the martinis and truly have that WOW! factor.  These are my go-to when I want to serve something warm with drinks.  You can't make them ahead of time, but they cook so quickly that you can make them just before your guest arrives - and then watch their face light up with excitement for such a delicious and perfect pairing!  

Series 5, Episode 2: The Perfect Cocktail Party Pair


Amaretto Sour Martinis 

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • Amaretto – 6 ounces (Disaronno® recommended)

  • Lime Juice – 2 ounces, freshly squeezed

  • Lemon Juice – 2 ounces, freshly squeezed

  • Honey – 1 tablespoon

  • Maraschino Cherries – for garnish

Directions

  1. In a cocktail shaker, combine the amaretto, lime juice, lemon juice, honey, and a handful of ice. Shake until very cold, about 60 seconds (it is longer than you realize, but worth the work-out).

  2. Pour evenly into each martini glass.

  3. Serve immediately.


Fried Blue Cheese Olives

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • Canola Oil – 1½ cups

  • Egg – 1 extra-large, lightly beaten

  • Dried Breadcrumbs – ½ cup, plain

  • Blue Cheese Olives – 16, patted dry, at room temperature

Directions

  1. In a small sauce pan set over high heat, add the oil. Line a plate with a layer of paper towels. Set aside.

  2. Place the lightly beaten egg in a small, shallow bowl. In an additional small bowl, add the bread crumbs.

  3. Roll each olive through the egg, then through the breadcrumbs to evenly coat. Coat all of the olives and set aside together.

  4. Once the oil has reached 350 degrees F (use a candy thermometer to be accurate), and working in small batches, gently place the olives in the hot oil. Once golden brown, remove the olives with a small slotted spoon and place on the plate prepared with paper towel to drain.

  5. Allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.

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Warm Winter Glühwein

Marc J. Sievers

My Warm Winter Glühwein - Inspired by a recent trip to Berlin, Germany for a grand tour of the Christmas markets! Napkins: Britten Couture Home. Cup & Saucer: Cassandra's Kitchen.

In early December I had the pleasure of traveling to Berlin, Germany with my dear friend Jennifer to celebrate her milestone birthday!  Like me, she is a lover of all things Christmas, and the trip was on her bucket list of places to travel.  The plan was to stay in the center of Berlin and spend a week visiting museums, restaurants, and of course the Weihnachtsmarkts (Christmas markets) that are situated all throughout Berlin!

A favorite (and very stylish!) market was WeihnachtsZauber at the Gendarmenmarkt.  This is one of the most popular Christmas markets in Berlin during the festive Christmas season. Framed by the Französischer Dom, the Konzerthaus, and the Deutscher Dom, a small tent city with more than 1,000 strings of light appears like magic each year in this centrally-located square that house artisans selling handmade ornaments, candles, gifts, and casual food stalls.  Besides the many wintry delights at the market stalls, Michelin-starred chefs offer their haute cuisine in heated tents.  This market was so enchanting, we went twice! 

All of the markets, bars, and restaurants offer different variations of warm Glühwein—based on either red or white wines (I like to use a Cotes du Rhone or Chardonnay) infused with dried spices, honey, and orange peel, which is served warm and typically with a shot of liqueur like amaretto, brandy, or dark rum.   After being outside wandering the streets of Berlin this is a very much welcomed drink to help warm your hands and your tummy!

My Warm Winter Glühwein uses a white wine base and infused with aromatics that add incredible flavor and fabulous notes of the wintry holidays.  I love having a pot of this on the stove as company arrives—it is a fabulous drink to serve as a welcome, but also makes the house smell so wonderful!

From my kitchen to yours – Happy Holidays!


Warm Winter Glühwein

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • Orange – outer peel of 1 orange

  • Cloves – 15 whole cloves

  • White Wine – 1 bottle (750 ml), Chardonnay, dry variety recommended

  • Honey – 4 tablespoons

  • Star Anise – 4 whole pods

  • Ginger – 2 pieces, fresh, 1-inch each, peeled, thinly sliced

  • Cinnamon Sticks – 3

  • Sparkling Water – 1½ cups

  • Dark Rum – 4 tablespoons

  • Orange Liqueur – 2 tablespoons

Directions

  1. Start by inserting the whole cloves into the pieces of orange peels.

  2. Next, in a medium sauce pan set over medium heat, add the wine, honey, star anise, ginger, cinnamon sticks, and the orange peels dotted with cloves. Allow to come to a simmer, reduce the heat to low, cover and barely simmer for 30 minutes.

  3. Using a slotted spoon, remove all of the dried spices and orange peels. Set aside to use as garnishes.

  4. Lastly, stir in the sparkling water, dark rum, and orange liqueur. Gently reheat and serve warm.

Tip: I found that adding in sparkling water at the end gave this warm cocktail a slightly effervescent finish and lighter texture.

Idea: You can also make this in advance by following steps 1,2, and 3.  If you plan to serve it later that day, just leave it to cool on the stove top.  Before serving, gently reheat over medium heat, and add the sparkling water, rum, and orange liqueur.  If you want to make it and store it, allow it to cool completely, transfer it into a container, and refrigerate for up to 1 week.  Before serving, gently reheat over medium heat, and add the sparkling water, rum, and orange liqueur.

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Watch: Sparkling Raspberry Sorbet

Marc J. Sievers

It is no secret I love to entertain at home!  From menu planning, to setting the table, or spending time in my kitchen, I will find any excuse to throw a soirée!  While I certainly have a few tricks up my sleeve to ensure my guests are always having a fabulous time, my #1 tip is to never make everything yourself.  I like to choose two or three different dishes to prepare, then rely on favorite store-bought brands, bakeries, and gourmet markets to round out my menu.  It’s the simplest way to ensure that I have fun at my own parties!

They say the dessert is what people always remember from any party.  A really good dessert is always something I like to pay special attention to.  Whether I am making it myself or heading to one of my neighborhood bakeries, I make sure to always have something that will WOW! everyone – myself included!  That is exactly what my Sparking Raspberry Sorbet will do at your next party—it will bring that perfect WOW! factor.  This particular dessert relies on simple components; really good Champagne, really good store-bought Raspberry Sorbet, and the most flavorful homemade Four Berry Sauce.

Besides being a perfectly elegant dessert for any occasion, it is one of the easiest desserts to assemble.  Once you make the Four Berry Sauce (which uses frozen berries and can be stored in the refrigerator), it all comes together in just a few minutes!  I love to serve this in a small coupe, small bowl, or even in a martini glass.  Bottoms (and spoons!) up!


Four Berry Sauce

Ingredients (makes 1 ½ cups)

  • Frozen Berry Medley – 1 pound (raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, & blueberries)

  • Raspberry Preserves – 2 tablespoons

  • Raspberry Liqueur – 1 tablespoon, Chambord preferred

  • Lemon Zest – 1 teaspoon

Directions

  1. In a small saucepan set over medium heat, add the frozen berries, preserves, liqueur, and lemon zest.

  2. Cook for 10-15 minutes, until the berries have released their juices and are very tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.

  3. Place a fine mesh sieve over a glass bowl. Transfer the mixture into the sieve.

  4. Using the back of a wooden spoon press the mixture through the sieve.

  5. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled.

To Serve: Layer this luscious berry sauce in a small coupe with a single scoop of raspberry sorbet and ¼ cup of very dry, chilled Champagne.  It is a perfect dessert for a grown-up celebration, very elegant presentation, and just an all around fabulous surprise for your guests.  

Tip: If you don’t have raspberry preserves, you can substitute strawberry, blueberry, or blackberry.  The pectin in the preserves is what will thicken the berry sauce slightly.

Order a signed copy of my cookbook Entertaining with Love!

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Mulled Wine

Marc J. Sievers

Every year Ryan and I attend the Christkindlemarket in Chicago which is inspired by the Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg, Germany.  The Christkindlmarket Chicago brings cherished German and European traditions, with international flair and local charm, to Chicago.  One of my favorite things to get every time I go is something called Glühwein or mulled wine usually made with red wine along with various mulling spices.  It is typically served hot and is a traditional drink during colder months.  Think of it like the European cousin of Sangria.

My version of Mulled Wine gets it's depth of flavor from a good Cabernet Sauvignon, spiced apple cider, peppercorns, and other aromatics!  You can allow the wine to sit on the stove at the lowest heat keeping it warm throughout your party and guests can serve themselves.  Of course, this can be made days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.  When you are ready to serve, gently re-heat over a low flame, then toast to good health!

This recipe is part of “An Autumnal Feast!  A Collection of Recipes from Watermarc – Art & Appetite”.  Explore the other recipes in this series:

Happy cooking!


Mulled Wine

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • Spiced Apple Cider – 4 cups

  • Cabernet Sauvignon – 1 bottle (750ml)

  • Honey – ½ cup

  • Black Peppercorns – 25, whole

  • Cinnamon Sticks – 4

  • Cloves – 8, whole

  • Star Anise – 3, whole

  • Orange – 1 large, juiced

  • Orange Peel – For garnish

Directions

  1. Start by cutting two pieces of cheesecloth into 8×8-inch squares and layer them to make a single sachet.

  2. In the center of the cheesecloth place the orange peels, cloves, star anise, peppercorns, and cinnamon sticks. Pull the four corners of the doubled-up cheese cloth together and tie tightly with kitchen string to form a sachet.

  3. Next, combine the cider, orange juice, honey, and wine in a heavy-bottomed pot or large sauce pan). Add the sachet, and bring to a low boil. Then, lower the heat to a simmer, allowing the wine to mull for at least 20 minutes before serving.

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Pomegranate Cosmopolitans

Marc J. Sievers

When I think of making cocktails at home I get instantly overwhelmed with the amount of ingredients many specialty cocktails have.  I want to make drinks at home in under 3 minutes, and with less than 5 ingredients – like my Pomegranate Cosmopolitans!

 These fabulous libations are both a tiny bit tart and slightly sweet, a perfect combination for pre-dinner cocktails, or just a lazy Sunday afternoon at home.  The addition of Prosecco to top off each cocktail adds a bit of a bubbly-tingle, and makes them seem even more celebratory! 

 Cheers everyone!


Pomegranate Cosmopolitans

 Ingredients (makes two 10-ounce cocktails)

  • Pomegranate Juice – ½ cup

  • Triple Sec – ¼ cup

  • Vodka – ¾ cup

  • Lime – 1, juiced

  • Prosecco – 4 tablespoons, chilled, divided

Directions

  1. Start by combining the pomegranate juice, triple sec, vodka, and lime juice in a cocktail shaker.

  2. Fill with ice and shake for 30 to 45 seconds until nicely chilled.

  3. Pour into 2 martini glasses and top off each cocktail with 2 tablespoons of Prosecco.

Tip: You can make a big pitcher of these cosmos in advance and then keep it in the refrigerator.  Shake each cocktail over ice as needed – and remember to top of each cocktail with Prosecco!

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Rosé Sangria with Peaches & Rosemary

Marc J. Sievers

My recipe for Rosé Sangria with Peaches & Rosemary has been brought to life with vibrant watercolor by my friend and artist Linda Marie Clark. This recipe and watercolor was part of the Watermarc – Art & Appetite special edition Summer Series 2014.

As the temperature rises in Chicago (and I hope where you are, too!), my desire to sip summer cocktails is in full swing!  To me, a summer cocktail, in this case my Rosé Sangria with Peaches & Rosemary, is refreshingly light with a sweet and savory love affair.  It is a drink filled with fresh sweet peaches and spicy rosemary that come together and marry-nate in a perfectly blush-colored wine.  You can serve either by the glass for yourself as you take a bubble bath to cool off and relax, or make ahead of time for a humid summer’s evening cookout where only a crisp chilled cocktail will do. 

Best of all – you get drunken’ peaches to eat, with a little extra zing, or serve them over cold ice cream for dessert.  Even the rosemary can be used in a white wine cream sauce over simple egg fettucine noodles for a light supper.

As the summer really heats up, have this recipe on standby so you are always ready with a fabulous summer sipper!  


Rosé Sangria with Peaches & Rosemary

Ingredients (serves 4-6)

  • Rosé – (1) 750ml bottle

  • Triple Sec – ½ cup

  • Italian Sparkling Wine – (1) 750 ml bottle, chilled

  • Honey – 1 tablespoon

  • Ultrafine Sugar – 1 tablespoon

  • Peaches – 4, pitted, cut into 8 wedges

  • Rosemary – (6) 4-inch sprigs, fresh

Directions

  1. Pour the Rosé and Triple Sec into a large glass pitcher.

  2. Add the honey and sugar. Stir until completely dissolved.

  3. Next add the peaches and rosemary. Chill for 3 hours.

  4. Before serving, add the entire bottle of chilled sparkling wine to the pitcher. Serve immediately.

Tip: For a “milder” libation, simply switch out the sparkling wine for an unflavored sparkling water. 

Idea: Have fun with different fruit and fresh herb combination: Orange & rosemary, strawberry & basil, lemon & thyme. 

A little something extra: Sangria is typically a chilled drink served in Spain and Portugal during the summer months – consisting of wine, fruit, a brandy or liqueur, and sweetener.  The honey used in this recipe adds a subtle sweetness without making it “sugary”.  Red, white, and rosé wines can be used in recipes – each variety offering unique flavors and richness. 

Order a signed copy of my cookbook Entertaining with Love!


My recipe for Rosé Sangria with Peaches & Rosemary has been brought to life with vibrant watercolor by my friend and artist Linda Marie Clark. This recipe and watercolor was part of the Watermarc – Art & Appetite special edition Summer Series 2014.


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Roasted Garlic & Mascarpone Spread

Marc J. Sievers

Whenever I am having guests over for drinks or dinner, I always like to start off the soiree with a canapé or hors d’oeurve that will pair perfectly with wine, champagne and mixed drinks. My recipe for Roasted Garlic and Mascarpone Spread is everyone’s “new favorite”! After the garlic has been roasted, it takes on a sweeter flavor and the mascarpone adds the perfect amount of creaminess and tang. Not only is this perfect to serve at a party, it’s also fabulous as a spread on sandwiches or as part of a picnic! Enjoy!

Sweet and savory, this simple hors d’oeuvres will set the tone for a sophisticated soirée!


Roasted Garlic & Mascarpone Spread

Ingredients (serves 8)

  • Garlic – 12 heads, medium size

  • Olive Oil – ⅓ cup

  • Mascarpone – ¾ cup, room temperature

  • Sea Salt – 1 teaspoon

  • Black Pepper – 1 teaspoon, freshly cracked

  • Balsamic Vinegar – 1 cup

  • Sugar – 1 tablespoon

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 410 degrees F.

  2. Start by cutting ½ inch off the top of each head of garlic.

  3. Place each head of garlic in the well of a muffin pan. Drizzle evenly with olive oil, making sure to rub the olive oil into the tops of the garlic cloves.

  4. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes.

  5. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan set over medium heat, combine the balsamic vinegar and sugar. Allow to come to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer, and reduce to ½ cup. About 15 minutes. Set aside.

  6. Remove the garlic from the oven and allow to cool for 20 minutes.

  7. Next, in a medium bowl, combine the mascarpone, salt and pepper.

  8. Using your fingers, squeeze each clove of garlic out of its skin and into the mascarpone mixture.

  9. Gently mash the garlic with a fork and incorporate into the mascarpone mixture.

  10. Spread desired amount onto thin slices of baguette or crackers, drizzle with balsamic reduction and arrange on a serving platter.

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