In the coming weeks we will embark on the annual passage of tradition, feasting, and familial tolerance. Hollywood will deliver treacly bromides, Madison Avenue will assault us with gaudy cliched pitches, and the Democrats will lecture us on the proper way to lecture our loved ones.
All of this will carry a mixture of merriment and mordant reaction to compulsory activity. And all of this, of course, will be aided by the copious application of social lubricants. So allow me to lend advisory potable listings to ease you through the tinsel-draped festivities. Look at me as your celebratory dipsologist of the season. I have melded and altered a few traditional cocktail recipes that both hold tradition and bring contemporary satisfaction.
I compiled a selection of mixes that reflect the season, bring some smile-provoking reflections of the holiday, or at the least provide needed elixirs to salve those common tension-filled events. Plan ahead and with a little preparation, even in times of high traffic party scenarios, you can whip most of these in short order and join in the revelry shortly. And of course, feel free to alter portions to suit your desire.
TWISTS ON THE STANDARDS
These are new interpretations on standards or wholly new potables.
BOURBON CIDER Of course the better your bourbon here the better the drink. But don’t aim too high. You won’t pollute that high octane single batch here.
2 shots Bourbon
3oz Apple Cider Syrup
Juice from 1/4 lemon
Orange peel strips for zest
— You’ll make the cider syrup ahead (use brown sugar for better character) Mix in a rocks tumbler, sink the orange peels, and repeat as necessary.
CRum COCKTAIL — Using some of the basic flavors of the holiday with a variation on the liquor you get a decently new blend that goes down a little too easy — by design.
1 Shot Morgan Cannon Blast
2oz Cranberry juice
2oz Ginger Beer
— Stir the ingredients (to preserve some carbonation) with ice until very cold. Strain into martini glass rimmed with raw sugar.
EGG NOG — We are always compelled to drink it, even when we don’t like. Well NOW you’ll like it. They key is warming the caramel so it blends, and then adding the ice after.
4oz Vanilla Egg Nog
1 shot Amber Rum
1 Tsp warmed caramel
— Blend the Nog and Rum together in cocktail glass. Drizzle the caramel while stirring, until well blended. Add ice. Grate fresh cinnamon over the top.
HOLIDAY MULE — With the popularity of Moscow Mules this is a new departure, while keeping the drink standards in place.
1-1/2 Shots Bourbon
11/2 Shot Ginger Liqueur
2 oz Cranberry juice
Fresh squeezed lime juice
—Place all ingredients but the ginger beer in a shaker to blend. Pour into copper mule cup. Splash ginger beer on top, garnish with mint sprig.
THE GROUP MIXES
For larger gatherings these would be made in batch amounts to adjust, based on the numbers.
HOLIDAY SANGRIA – Replacing a clear soda with ginger and incorporating seasonal ingredients transforms this party staple. This is a batch mix for carafes or mixing pitchers. Making hours earlier or the night before is optimum
2 bottles red wine
1 Bottle Ginger Ale
1 Cup simple Syrup
1 Tsp cinnamon
Juice of 2-4 Oranges
— In your serving vessel add syrup, cinnamon, and OJ and stir to mix well. Add the Ginger Ale. Add in quartered orange slices, apple slices, and cinnamon sticks.
HOT TODDY – This seasonal cold weather staple can be a fairly straightforward, if not bland, affair. This delivers a more complex remedy. The measurement will vary based on amounts served.
Sauce Pan of Water
2 cinnamon sticks (or more as needed)
Fresh Ground Nutmeg
Shot Fireball Whiskey
1/2 shot Toffee Liqueur
— In saucepan bring water to a low simmer. Add cinnamon sticks and ground nutmeg and allow to simmer 15 minutes. Add honey and squeeze lemon juice. In Irish coffee glass pour in Fireball and Toffee liqueur. Pour in mixture. Optional: top with whipped cream to melt as a foam.
While some may scoff at these kinds of stunt cocktails they can be crowd pleasers. If you can put a smile on the ladies’ then it was worth the effort.
GINGERBREAD MARTINI — I attended a party where these were made. While not my preference they were popular enough that I was pressed into duty to help make more.
1 Shot Vanilla Vodka
1 shot Bailey’s
1/2 shot Kahlua
— Shake ingredients with ice. Strain into a martini glass rimmed with graham cracker crumbs.
JACK FROST — Considering this is a variant on a tropical classic clearly this one is made purely on the appearance. But coconut lovers will rejoice.
1 cup Pineapple Juice
1 Shot White Rum
½ shot Blue Curacao
Cream of Coconut (adjust for taste)
— In a blender with ice add ingredients and blend to smooth. Pour into glasses rimmed with flaked coconut. (With smaller group can replace ice with vanilla or coconut ice cream)