Cocktail Corner: Grandma Tommie’s Apple Pie Liqueur

Cutler courtesy photo

Ian Cutler, courtesy photo

A spirited toast to all things alcoholic! by Leslie Dinaberg

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I’m sure some super-organized hosts already have their menus color coded and the ink is dry on their calligraphy place cards. To those people I say, “thanks for making the rest of us look bad” … and to the rest of us I say: “forget struggling over the crust:  Grandma Tommie’s Apple Pie Liqueur is the best apple pie you’ve ever had in your life!”

I’m not kidding!

I was hooked from the first sip of this spicy, cinnamon-tastic, delicious liqueur from Cutler’s Artisan Spirits (the tasting room and distillery is at 137 Anacapa St., Suite D, in the heart of Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone). Seriously, it’s even better than dessert, and I don’t say that very often.

Cutler's Artisan Spirits: Grandma Tommie's Apple Pie LiqueurAs Ian Cutler explained when I visited the tasting room a while back, the flavor was inspired by his Grandma Tommie’s Apple Pie recipe (which had to have been out-of-this-world yummy). He starts with Cutler’s ultra premium extra smooth 7 times distilled Vodka, and adds fresh apple juice, certified organic whole vanilla beans, certified organic cinnamon and other spices to mimic that perfect fresh baked apple pie taste.

Taste it at Cutlers’ Artisan Spirits, then mosey a few doors down to Les Marchands Wine Bar & Merchant (131 Anacapa St., Suite B) to buy a bottle (or two)  to take home and get into the spirit and “prepare” for Thanksgiving.

(Click here for an additional list of local places to purchase Grandma Tommie’s Apple Pie Liqueur, as well as the fine establishments where Cutler cocktails are served.)


Click here for more cocktail corner columns.

Originally published in Santa Barbara SEASONS Magazine on November 8, 2013.

Leslie Dinaberg

Leslie Dinaberg

When she’s not busy working as the editor of Santa Barbara SEASONS, Cocktail Corner author Leslie Dinaberg writes magazine articles, newspaper columns and grocery lists. When it comes to cocktails, Leslie considers herself a “goal-oriented drinker.”

Counting my blessings, gobble by gobble

Friends ThanksgivingOther than the day the clocks “fall back” and I get an extra hour of sleep, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Thanksgiving is always reliably stuffed with good will, relatively little religious baggage, and predictably tasty food-except for that one year at my ex-Uncle’s house, where there were no mashed potatoes. NO mashed potatoes. The lack of mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving wasn’t the only factor leading to his “ex-Uncle” status, but that would have been more than enough for me.

Thanksgiving is also the national celebration of a guilt-free day without dieting. Sure, I sat in the Weight Watchers meeting and nodded my head with false enthusiasm when they talked about fat free pumpkin pie and guiltless gravy, but come Thursday those horrors will be completely erased from memory. Thanksgiving is a great time to take stock of your life, and be honest about your priorities. One of mine is real gravy. So I’ve got a lot to be grateful for, not the least of which is that I won’t be the one cooking on Thursday-and there will be mashed potatoes.

When I count my blessings, living near my family-and actually wanting to spend time with them-tops the list. Not only will I have to travel a mere seven minutes to attend our annual Thanksgiving gathering, but my husband, son, parents, mother-in-law, sister, various sisters- and brothers-in-laws, aunts, uncles, nieces and assorted friends who invariably show up to dinner are almost guaranteed to do something that will make writing my next column a snap.

Who says you have to survive a tragedy to find your writerly inspiration? I’ve been truly blessed with a wealth of comedic material in the form of my family and friends. And I’m thankful that, through trial and error, they’ve still found a way to love me, despite my shameless exploitation of their foibles for my own personal amusement and slight financial gain.

Though my friends may occasionally (okay often) inspire “bank account envy” and “real estate envy,” they never inspire “job envy,” thanks to my wonderful employers, they allow me to write for a living in a way that’s fun, intellectually stimulating, creative, and flexible enough to allow me to hang out with my son every day after school.

Speaking of school, I’m very grateful for the patience of my son’s teachers. Sure, I find his fascination with fake accents and made-up figures charming, but there’s a genetic payoff for me. That his teachers keep nodding their heads and smiling, day after day, fills me with wonder and gratitude.

Along with the big things-love, family, friends, health, work, and a wonderful support system-I’ve got a lot of little things to be grateful for this year. Unlimited long distance minutes, so I can talk to my best friend Jacqueline; my laptop computer and free wireless Internet at Cafe Zoma, so I can work during soccer practice; the treadclimber machines at my gym; those gracious 8 a.m. drivers who let me merge with traffic (you ungracious drivers know who you are); and of course, I’m especially thankful that it’s chocolate catalog season. Though I’ve never actually ordered anything from Hickory Farms, their food porn catalog has kept me company through many a long winter’s night.

The other advantage of daylight savings time is that I am getting to sleep a little bit earlier these days, which I’m grateful for. This brings me to my most favorite thing about my most favorite holiday-it’s the only day of the year that nobody asks if you’re sick or pregnant when you go to take a nap.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Share your blessings with Leslie at email. For more columns visit Originally published in the Santa Barbara Daily Sound on November 18, 2011.

Gratitude Minus Platitudes

Thank You Computer Key by Stuart Miles,

Thank You Computer Key by Stuart Miles,

“Being grateful may be the spiritual equivalent of Prozac,” according to Dr. Robert Emmons. I couldn’t agree more, which why I’m grateful that it’s almost Thanksgiving time.

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays, right up there on the list with National Chocolate Day and the day the clocks “fall back” and we get an extra hour of sleep.

Any day stuffed full of food, family, friends and football is a good day in my book.

But I’ve counted my blessings in this column a few times and realized they don’t really change all that much from year to year, which is a good thing. I am eternally grateful for all of the wonderful people and gifts in my life, but this Thanksgiving I decided to see what some other people are grateful for.

By other people I mean some really famous people–and some not–whose quotes about gratitude might make you smile a little brighter as you toast the turkey this Thanksgiving.

Like Ricky Gervais I am grateful for pajamas, which are certainly handy to squeeze into once you’ve unzipped your pants after a hearty Thanksgiving meal. He says, “I’ve started wearing pajamas out, because they’re more comfortable than trousers. I started out with jeans, then went to sweatpants about ten years ago. Now it’s just pajamas. I’ve gone whole hog. I wore them to the White House.”

“I am grateful that there is life out there for someone who isn’t a scholar,” says Jamie Lee Curtis. “I wear my combined 760 SAT scores like a medal around my neck that ANYONE can make it despite being a round, square, gay, alcoholic, liberal, pampered peg in the proverbial square hole of what is the norm.” Of course having two movie star parents doesn’t hurt, but I get where she’s coming from and am happy to offer a holiday cheer to misfits everywhere.

“Though I am grateful for the blessings of wealth, it hasn’t changed who I am. My feet are still on the ground. I’m just wearing better shoes,” says Oprah Winfrey, who admitted her shoe addiction to a live TV audience but regrettably still hasn’t invited me into her walk-in (and probably bigger than my whole house) closet.

“I figure if I have my health, can pay the rent and I have my friends, I can call it ‘content,'” says one of my favorite actresses, Lauren Bacall, who is still smoldering at 86.

And finally, some wise words from the Buddha: “Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let’s all be thankful.”

Cheers to that and have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

When Leslie’s not counting her blessings, gobble by gobble, she can be reached at For more columns visit Originally appeared in the Santa Barbara Daily Sound on November 19, 2010.