The Cakewalk: A Bottled Cocktail That's Perfect for Gift-Giving

Need a quick gift idea that comes from the heart? Skip the stale fruitcake (Aunt Ida already has enough to build a fort) and give a gift that keeps on giving, sip after sip.

A bottle of booze may sound like a lazy, last-minute gesture, but unlike too-itchy socks or an ugly sweater, it’s something your loved one will actually put to use. But don’t just settle for the usual hooch from the local liquor store. Instead, consider whipping up a tantalizing concoction that will both surprise and delight.

And if you don’t consider yourself to be a mixologist, don’t fret. One renowned bartender has a great recipe that’s simple and delicious. How’s that for a treat?

Pamela Wiznitzer of New York City's Seamstress has come up with the wonderfully delicious Cakewalk, also known as Aunt Ida’s soon-to-be favorite cocktail. It’s a tasty medley of homemade strawberry puree, sweet vanilla syrup, smooth-as-silk cognac, and a generous serving of Campari, the crimson Italian aperitif that’s bitter enough to balance out the drink’s sweetness. All you have to do is blend the ingredients, pour them in a fancy bottle of your choosing, and voila. Heck, it's a present you might be tempted to keep all to yourself.

Just kidding. It's best not to keep poor Ida (or anyone else, for that matter) waiting. Here’s how to make the luscious Cakewalk for any special occasion:


  • 1 ½ oz. Campari
  • 1 ½ oz. vanilla syrup
  • 1 oz. strawberry puree*
  • 1 ½ oz. lemon juice
  • 3 oz. cognac
  • 4 dashes orange bitters


Add all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake generously until well chilled. Funnel into cocktail bottle and enjoy with a side of panettone! Serves two. To make for a crowd, simply multiply components by six and serve into six individual bottles, or pour into a decorative punch bowl or pitcher.

*Strawberry Puree: In a blender, add 1 cup of strawberries and 2 tablespoons water. Blend and then fine strain into a container.