Arts and Entertainment | Miscellaneous

In the Bubble: Spiced wine and fig cocktails—November’s best picks

Don’t feel like leaving the comfort of your bed or walking any farther than Ferris this weekend? Here are some suggestions to spice up your Saturday and Sunday that won’t break your wallet.

Drink Recipe Roundup:

With notes of cloves and cinnamon in the spiced wine, and the rich combination of roasted figs and bourbon, these full-bodied cocktails are a perfect complement to the distinctly chillier November weather.

Spiced Wine

From Saveur


One 750 ml bottle medium-bodied red wine, such as Zweigelt

1⁄2 cup sugar

8 whole cloves

4 lemon wedges

Four 4-inch sticks cinnamon


  1. Bring ingredients to a boil, stirring occasionally, in a four-quart saucepan, and remove from heat. Discard cloves.

  2. Ladle wine into four glasses and garnish each with one of the cinnamon sticks and one lemon wedge. Serve hot.

Roasted Balsamic Fig Cocktail

From Serious Eats


For the fig puree:
12 ripe figs, halved
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

For the cocktail:
1 heaping teaspoon fig puree
11⁄2 ounces bourbon
1/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 ounce maple syrup
Dash of orange bitters


  • 1. To make the fig puree: Preheat oven to 350°F. Place the figs in a 9-by-9-inch metal baking pan and pour the balsamic vinegar over top. Bake for 12 minutes, stirring twice to prevent burning. Remove the figs from the oven and let cool slightly, about 10 minutes.

  • 2. Pour the figs and remaining liquid into the blender and puree until fully blended. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.

  • 3. To make the cocktail: Fill cocktail shaker with ice. Add fig puree, bourbon, lemon juice, maple syrup, and orange bitters. Shake for 15 seconds, then strain into a cocktail glass.

Recipe of the week:

Chard and White Bean Stew

From Smitten Kitchen


1 pound Swiss chard (can also swap kale, spinach, or another green), ribs and stems removed and cleaned

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup (5¼ ounces) chopped carrots

1 cup (5 ounces) chopped celery

1 cup (4¼ ounces) chopped shallots, about four medium

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 cup dry white wine

Two 15-ounce cans (about 3¾ cups) white beans, drained and rinsed

2 cups (or more to taste) vegetable broth

1 cup pureed tomatoes (from a can, a carton, or your jarred summer supply)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 fresh thyme sprigs

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar


  1. Bring medium pot of salted water to boil. Cook chard or any heavier green–no need to precook baby spinach–for one minute, then drain and squeeze out as much extra water as possible. Coarsely chop chard.

2. Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add carrots, celery, shallots, and garlic, and sauté for 15 minutes. The original recipe warns not to brown them, but this is a matter of preference. Stir in wine, scraping up any vegetables that have stuck to the pot, and cook until the volume has reduced by three-fourths. Add beans, broth, tomatoes, a few pinches of salt, freshly ground black pepper, thyme, and the bay leaf and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 20 minutes. Add chard and cook for five more minutes. Remove thyme and bay leaf. Add more broth if you’d like a thinner stew, and adjust salt and pepper to taste.

3. Serve as is, drizzled with sherry vinegar, or ladled over a thick piece of toasted country bread or baguette that has been rubbed lightly with half a clove of garlic. Top with a poached egg and a few drops of sherry vinegar and/or some grated cheese.

Netflix pick of the week:

Léon: The Professional (1994)

This crime thriller, written and directed by Luc Besson, tells the story of professional hitman Leone “Léon” Montana (Jean Reno), who lives a solitary life in New York’s Little Italy with his houseplant. He lives in the same building as 12-year-old Mathilda (Natalie Portman), a precocious chain-smoker forced to grow up too quickly in a dysfunctional and abusive family. Mathilda’s father, who had been storing cocaine for some corrupt Drug Enforcement Administration agents, is murdered by the violent and drug-addicted Norman Stansfield (Gary Oldman) after cutting the cocaine in order to keep some for himself. Stansfield goes on a bender, killing the rest of Mathilda’s family while she is out buying groceries. When she returns, Léon takes her in. She persuades him to teach her all the skills she needs to avenge the death of her four-year-old brother. Besson’s film is a rare combination of visually striking and heartfelt, with Portman bringing impressive finesse to her debut role, matching the intensity of Reno and Oldman to make a somewhat violent film surprisingly poignant.


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