Cocktails & Spirits

Morton's Sparkling Sleigh Ride Crashes & Burns

Miami is quickly developing its own cocktail culture. There are bar chefs at the W South Beach (Elad Zvi and Gabriel Orta from Bar Lab), Mercadito Midtown (Paul Tanguay and Paul Carducci from Tippling Bros.) Club 50 at the Viceroy (David Ortiz and Julio Cabrera from Alambiq) and many others. Our local mixologists are establishing tippling traditions sure (and soon) to rival other cities like New York, Las Vegas and Chicago.

Unfortunately, not all ideas have positive outcomes. One failure is Morton's "Sparling Sleigh Ride." Corporate mixologist and certified sommelier Sara Fasolino simply got this one wrong.

We were originally drawn to this cocktail because of the unique spirits it employs. Luxardo is an Italian, high-end, family-owned company that has distilled Marasca cherry-based spirits, a.k.a. the original Maraschino, since 1821 and Tuaca is another Italian, vanilla-citrus liqueur that has roots dating back to the Florentine Medici family over 500 years ago. It was intriguing to say the least.

What happened? The addition of a low-grade, demi-sec, sweet-style of prosecco, was introduced and as well as cranberry juice from concentrate. These days, cocktail trends tout high-quality ingredients and fresh fruit juices or purees; brands like Lunetta and Oceanspray miss on both counts. It seems contradictory to even use these items when the spirits themselves have so much heritage and character.

The resulting libation is cloyingly sweet. It makes you wonder if the cocktail was ever released to a tasting panel prior to its debut, especially since Morton's is a large corporation, or if this was the creation of some sales guy trying to make quotas. Either way, the drink is ill conceived and misses the mark entirely. In a neighborhood with such strong beverage programs, a touch of market research and competitive analysis would have done this cocktail good.

Below is the recipe for the cocktail...Are any of the local mixologists up for a recipe re-dux? Short Order challenges you to a "Sparkling Sleigh Ride" Throw-Down.

Sparkling Sleigh Ride
  • ¾ oz Luxardo Maraschino Cherry Liqueur
  • ¾ oz Tuaca
  • 1 oz Cranberry Juice
  • Lunetta Prosecco
  • Mint Leaf

Pour Luxardo, Tuaca and Cranberry Juice into Champagne Flute. Top with Prosecco. Garnish with a fresh mint sprig...easy, right?

The Sparkling Sleigh Ride is $14.50 and will be available starting on Thanksgiving all the way through New Year's Eve for those who want to go out and enjoy it at Morton's. It is available at all four Morton's locations: Miami, Coral Gables, North Miami Beach, and Miami Beach.

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Aniece Meinhold