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Spirited Conversations: Cocktails to combat stressful situations

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                                A Toast and Bananas cocktail by Chandra Lucariello.


    A Toast and Bananas cocktail by Chandra Lucariello.

As each new announcement about COVID-19 is released, we can’t help but feel the stress, and the uncertainty that comes with it increases from the inside out. I could suggest ways to combat anxiety, like taking up yoga or picking up some chamomile tea or lavender essential oils. But I’ll stick to what I know: Here are a couple of cocktails with Zen-like benefits to keep you steady through all of COVID’s hills and valleys.

CACAO, the raw ingredient in chocolate, contains phenylethylamine, a compound associated with elevated mood and higher energy levels. This Scotch whiskey-based Boulevardier uses Campari infused with raw cacao nibs, which round out the bitter Italian aperitivo and give it extra depth and richness. It’s a perfect sipping cocktail best enjoyed after dinner, with its bitter edge aiding in digestion and maybe even a good night’s sleep. I like to use a scotch with a cognac finish — its honeyed note gives the cocktail a rich roundness.


  • 1-1/4 ounces Scotch whiskey (such as Glenlivet 14 Cognac Cask Selection)
  • 3/4 ounces cacao- infused Campari Aperitivo liqueur (see note)
  • 1 ounce sweet vermouth

Combine ingredients in mixing glass. Fill with ice, stir and strain over large ice cube.

>> Garnish: Dark chocolate salt on rim (2 parts grated dark chocolate and 1 part sea salt)

>> NOTE: To make cacao-infused Campari, combine 2 tablespoons raw cacao nibs to 8 ounces Campari; let infuse 24 hours. Strain. Shelf stable.

THAT humble banana sitting on your kitchen counter could also be a stress reducer! Bananas contain an amino acid called tryptophan, which the human body converts into serotonin, a chemical that balances mood and helps to regulate sleep patterns. Banana- infused whiskey is a super-popular cocktail trend. Use yours to whip up a tasty cocktail, or enjoy it by itself.


  • 2 ounces banana infused whiskey (see note)
  • 1/2 ounce cream sherry
  • 1/4 ounce peat-forward whiskey (like Lagavulin or Laphroaig)
  • 1/4 ounce orange- based cognac (like Grand Marnier or Ferrand Dry Curacao)
  • 3 dashes chocolate bitters
  • 2 dashes angostura bitters

Combine ingredients in mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into bucket glass over large ice cube.

>> Garnish: Banana slices on bar pick

>> NOTE: To make banana-infused whiskey, place 6 ripe bananas, peeled and sliced, into 1 liter whiskey (I prefer Jameson Caskmates IPA Edition). Let infuse in a cool, dark place 2 to 3 days, tasting after second day. Strain through cheesecloth; keep at room temperature.

Nutritional information unavailable.

Chandra Lucariello is director of mixology for Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits of Hawaii. Her column runs on the fourth week of the month. The liquors and liqueurs used in these recipes are widely available from Oahu liquor stores and some supermarkets.

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