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Most European children have their first taste of alcohol while sitting on their parents’ laps at the dinner table while sipping wine. (That’s how I picture things over there, anyway.) This wasn’t the case growing up in my Toronto household.

My parents have never been big drinkers, so the basement bar of my childhood home (it was the late 1970s/early ’80s) was usually only visited during weekend parties. Listening in from the top of the staircase while dressed in my PJs, I remember my brothers and I hearing the happy buzz of cocktail guests and clinking glasses grow louder as the parties wore on.

At the time I was deathly afraid of adults, so I would hide in the shadows, wondering when I would be old enough to have that much fun after dark. But every now and then, to my horror, we’d be spotted from the landing and would be waved down by tipsy family friends. And that’s when I would get to have my favourite childhood treat: Baileys Irish Cream on the rocks. (Not my own glass, but the last sips of party-goers’.)

Photo Blog Homemade Baileys Drink Cocktail

Seriously, could this stuff be any more delicious? All creamy and sweet with hints of chocolate, vanilla and caramel, it was the intriguing back burn that my six-year-old self couldn’t quite pinpoint yet especially loved. (I now realize it was the whiskey talking.)

Today, in an era that has seen the rebirth of field-to-table, nose-to-tail, the home-curing and canning movements, it only goes to reason that a great little recipe has been circulating around the Internet for a homespun take on Baileys. I’ve given the famous Irish Cream a tiny twist by making it Canadian via local spirits (in lieu of Irish whiskey).

So here it is, the secret to making the most delicious holiday tipple known to man. This recipe serves four, but take my advice and double it. After all, you never know how many children will be hanging out at the top of the staircase.

Homemade Canadian Cream

(serves 4)

1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup 2% milk
1 14-oz. can sweetened, condensed milk
1-2/3 cups Canadian whiskey (such as Gibson’s Canadian Club, Crown Royal, Wiser’s)
1 tsp instant espresso granules (or instant coffee powder)
2 tbsp chocolate syrup
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract (sounds weird, but it works)

Step 1: Whisk everything together in a large mixing bowl until frothy, then pour into a sealable bottle and store in the refrigerator for up to two months.

Don’t feel like making your own? Stick with the original Baileys and try out this winter warm-up:

Photo Blog Homemade Baileys Drink Cocktail

Baileys Hot Chocolate

10 oz. of milk
25 g of dark chocolate
1-1/2 oz. of Baileys Irish Cream

Step 1: Boil milk.

Step 2: Pour half the milk into a jug with dark chocolate.

Step 3: Leave to soften and whisk until smooth.

Step 4: Add Baileys and the rest of the milk. Whisk again. Pour in to two heatproof glasses and top with whipped cream and chocolate curls (optional).

For another Baileys cocktail recipe, try a Baileys Espresso Martini.

Photo credits:
1. Baileys Over Ice, Baileys
2. Baileys Hot Chocolate, Baileys

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