10 Holiday Cocktail Recipes from Top Mixologists

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Retailers aren't the only ones with a lot at stake during the holidays. About one-third of all spirits sales are rung up during the last two months of the year, according to the industry's trade group, the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States. Although office parties are getting downsized --or eliminated-- this year, people will still gather and celebrate the holidays with family and friends. We asked some of the nation's top bartenders for their suggestions  on  what to serve at holid

Retailers aren't the only ones with a lot at stake during the holidays. About one-third of all spirits sales are rung up during the last two months of the year, according to the industry's trade group, the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States.

Although office parties are getting downsized --or eliminated-- this year, people will still gather and celebrate the holidays with family and friends. We asked some of the nation's top bartenders for their suggestions  on  what to serve at holiday celebrations.

By Christina Cheddar Berk
Posted 20 Nov 2009

The East Ender
Gaz Regan, This is a serious drink, says Regan. It’s not “one of your typical egg-y, milky, fruity-style drinks that Granny has ‘just one’ of every twelve months.”“The piney qualities of the intense juniper in the Beefeater, though, brings the holiday spirit to mind, and the Angostura bitters, laden with cinnamon, nutmeg, and lots of other so-called ‘Christmas spices,’ makes the cocktail sing Joy to the World!  A capella, of course,” he adds.90 ml (3 oz) Beefeater London Dry gin30 ml (1 oz) swee
Photo: Gaz Regan

Gaz Regan, Ardent Spirits

This is a serious drink, says Regan. "It’s not “one of your typical egg-y, milky, fruity-style drinks that Granny has ‘just one’ of every twelve months. The piney qualities of the intense juniper in the Beefeater, though, brings the holiday spirit to mind, and the Angostura bitters, laden with cinnamon, nutmeg, and lots of other so-called ‘Christmas spices,’ makes the cocktail sing Joy to the World!  A capella, of course,” he adds.

Recipe:
90 ml (3 oz) Beefeater London Dry gin
30 ml (1 oz) sweet vermouth
5 dashes Angostura bitters
Stir over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Adapted from The Bartender’s Gin Compendium

Caribbean Stinger
Merino taps into his heritage with this cocktail. “My family makes a Ponche Navideno (Christmas Punch) which usually consists of rum, spices, Mexican local fruits such as nanches, tejocotes, cana and Mexican canela as well as panela (jaggery sugar) and juices,” he said. The mixture, which is left to macerate overnight, can also be made with tequila. In Merino’s take on the traditional punch, the bitterness of the beer contrasts with the complex notes from the honey.1 1/2 oz Chairman's Reserve Ru
Photo: Peter Pioppo

Junior Merino, The Liquid Chef 

Merino taps into his heritage with this cocktail. “My family makes a Ponche Navideno (Christmas Punch) which usually consists of rum, spices, Mexican local fruits such as nanches, tejocotes, cana and Mexican canela as well as panela (jaggery sugar) and juices,” he said. The mixture, which is left to macerate overnight, can also be made with tequila. In Merino’s take on the traditional punch, the bitterness of the beer contrasts with the complex notes of honey.

Recipe:
1 1/2 oz Chairman's Reserve Rum
3/4 oz buckwheat honey
3/4 oz fresh lime juice
1/2 oz fresh pink grapefruit juice
1/2 oz Cherry Heering
1 1/2 oz Poter Beer

Put all the ingredients, except the beer,  in a shaker. The beer needs to be poured directly into a tall glass. Then add ice to the shaker, shake and pour into the glass. Merino suggests you rim the glass with his pasilla-cinnamon salt.

Aunt Dort’s Mulled Wine
When the weather turns frosty outside nothing warms the bones like a hot drink. Abou Ganim serves up two drinks made for chilly temperatures. Recipe:12 oz  Leblon Cachaca2 - 750 ml bottles of full bodied red wine2 peels each of a whole orange and lemon2 cups brewed, chilled Lemon Zinger Herbal tea2 cups granulated sugar12 cloves2-3 cinnamon sticks2 cardamom pods4-5 allspice berries, crushedIn a large saucepan heat tea, fruit peels and spices. Bring to a boil and add sugar, stir until completely
Photo Courtesy of Leblon Cachaca

Tony Abou-Ganim, The Modern Mixologist

When the weather turns frosty outside nothing warms the bones like a hot drink. Abou Ganim serves up two drinks made for chilly temperatures.

Recipe:
12 oz  Leblon Cachaca
2 - 750 ml bottles of full bodied red wine
2 peels each of a whole orange and lemon
2 cups brewed, chilled Lemon Zinger Herbal tea
2 cups granulated sugar
12 cloves
2-3 cinnamon sticks
2 cardamom pods
4-5 allspice berries, crushed

In a large saucepan heat tea, fruit peels and spices. Bring to a boil and add sugar, stir until completely dissolved. Reduce heat and add Leblon and wine. Simmer mixture for 20 minutes (do not boil). Serve in heated mugs.

Hot Buttered Rum
Hot butter rum drinks date back as far as George Washington’s time. The drink is perfect for larger gatherings as the batter can be made in quantity ahead of time. Batter:1 lb light brown sugar½ lb unsalted butter (softened)2 teaspoons ground cinnamon2 teaspoons ground nutmeg½ teaspoon ground allspice2 teaspoons vanilla extractIn a mixing bowl beat together softened butter, brown sugar, vanilla extract and spices until well combined. Refrigerate in an airtight reusable container for up to a mont
Photo: John Uher Studios

Tony Abou-Ganim, The Modern Mixologist

Hot butter rum drinks date back as far as George Washington’s time. The drink is perfect for larger gatherings as the batter can be made in quantity ahead of time.

Batter:
1 lb light brown sugar
½ lb unsalted butter (softened)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground allspice
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In a mixing bowl, beat together softened butter, brown sugar, vanilla extract and spices until well combined. Refrigerate in an airtight reusable container for up to a month, or place in your freezer until ready to use.

Then, in a pre-heated coffee mug, combine 2 heaping tablespoons batter with 1 ½ oz. Mount Gay Rum. Top with boiling water and stir well to mix. Serve with a spoon.

Somerset Sidecar
“My mother used to put bowls of fruit and nuts out around the house at Christmas time, when I was a child,” said Carducci.  “This memory inspired me to create this very simple and flavorful cocktail.”1.5 oz. Laird’s 12 year old apple brandy.75 oz . Grand Marnier.75 oz. fresh lemon.5 oz . hazelnut liqueurHazelnut sugar rimPut all liquid ingredients in a mixing tin and shake vigorously.  Strain into chilled cocktail glass rimmed with hazelnut sugar.To make hazelnut sugar- Grind one cup of whole ha
Photo: Paul Whicheloe

Tad Carducci, Pluckemin Inn, Bedminster, New Jersey

Carducci says, “My mother used to put bowls of fruit and nuts out around the house at Christmas time, when I was a child.  This memory inspired me to create this very simple and flavorful cocktail.”

Recipe:
1.5 oz. Laird’s 12 year old apple brandy
.75 oz . Grand Marnier
.75 oz. fresh lemon
.50 oz . hazelnut liqueur
Hazelnut sugar rim

Put all liquid ingredients in a mixing tin and shake vigorously.  Strain into chilled cocktail glass rimmed with hazelnut sugar.

To make hazelnut sugar- Grind one cup of whole hazelnuts in a spice grinder or blender.  Add one cup of granulated sugar and pulse until the consistency is uniform.  Store in an airtight container for up to a week.

Skulled Holiday Cider
This cocktail is inspired by the clear, clean and crisp Canadian nights that were part of Akroyd’s roots. It also is blended with the traditional holiday flavor of cider. 1 1/2 oz. Crystal Head Vodka1/2 oz. vanilla liqueur1 oz. apple ciderDash of angostura bittersGinger AleAdd all ingredients to a highball glass filled with ice in the order given.  Give a quick stir. Garnish with an apple slice on the rim or inside of the glass.
Photo: John Uher Studios

Dan Akroyd, Actor and Creator of Crystal Head Vodka

This cocktail is inspired by the clear, clean and crisp Canadian nights that were part of Akroyd’s roots. It also is blended with the traditional holiday flavor of cider.

Recipe:
1 1/2 oz. Crystal Head Vodka
1/2 oz. vanilla liqueur
1 oz. apple cider
Dash of angostura bitters
Ginger Ale

Add all ingredients to a highball glass filled with ice in the order given.  Give a quick stir. Garnish with an apple slice on the rim or inside of the glass.

The Snow-Bumble Tini
1 oz  Absolut Vanilla½ oz of Jameson Irish Whiskey½ oz of Rumplemintz½ oz of Kahlua French Vanilla½ oz of Butterscotch1 oz Half/Half Cream½ teaspoon of SugarGarnish with whipped topping, ground cinnamon & cinnamon stick. Be sure to place the garnish of whipped topping into the glass first. Then, after the ingredients are shaken, pour into the martini glass around the whipped topping so it floats to the top.
Photo & Info: Joel Martin

Joel Martin, Los Molcajetes, Fort Worth, Texas

Make this cocktail and watch your guests look as excited as a child opening up gifts on Christmas Day, Martin says. The name comes from a holiday movie classic, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

Recipe:
1 oz  Absolut Vanilla
½ oz of Jameson Irish Whiskey
½ oz of Rumplemintz
½ oz of Kahlua French Vanilla
½ oz of Butterscotch
1 oz Half & Half Cream
½ teaspoon of Sugar

Garnish with whipped topping, ground cinnamon & cinnamon stick. Be sure to place the garnish of whipped topping into the glass first. Then, after the ingredients are shaken, pour into the martini glass around the whipped topping so it floats to the top.

Champagne Cocktail
Holiday bubbles are always in fashion throughout the holiday season, says DeGroff. He traces this recipe back to 1862 when it first appeared in the "Bon Vivant’s Companion."ChampagneAngostura bitters soaked sugar cubePlace a small sugar cube in the bottom of a champagne glass. Add two dashes of Angostura Bitters and fill the glass with champagne.  This drink is sometimes garnished with a lemon peel and can be fortified with a small float of cognac.
Photo: David Kressler

Dale DeGroff, Author The Essential Cocktail

Holiday bubbles are always in fashion throughout the holiday season, says DeGroff. He traces this recipe back to 1862 when it first appeared in the "Bon Vivant’s Companion."

Recipe:
Champagne
Angostura bitters soaked sugar cube

Place a small sugar cube in the bottom of a champagne glass. Add two dashes of Angostura Bitters and fill the glass with champagne.  This drink is sometimes garnished with a lemon peel and can be fortified with a small float of cognac.

General Harrison’s Egg Nog
For those who think it isn’t the holidays unless there’s Egg Nog, there is this recipe from DeGroff. This recipe is adapted from the 1862 guide How to Mix Drinks.“This eggnog - based on apple cider instead of cream and fortified with our American heritage whiskey, bourbon - is lighter and easier to prepare than standard eggnog. It can also be prepared as a non-alcoholic holiday treat for all the family,” DeGroff says.½ teaspoons sugar1 fresh egg4 ounces fresh cider1 1/2 ounces bourbon Assemble t
Photo: David Kressler

Dale DeGroff, Author, The Essential Cocktail

For those who think it isn’t the holidays unless there’s Egg Nog, there is this recipe from DeGroff. This recipe is adapted from the 1862 guide How to Mix Drinks.

“This eggnog - based on apple cider instead of cream and fortified with our American heritage whiskey, bourbon - is lighter and easier to prepare than standard eggnog. It can also be prepared as a non-alcoholic holiday treat for all the family,” DeGroff says.

Recipe:
½ teaspoons sugar
1 fresh egg
4 ounces fresh cider
1 1/2 ounces bourbon

Assemble the ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake very well with ice to completely emulsify the egg. Strain over into a large goblet.

Blushing Lady
The Blushing Lady is a great holiday bar addition, says Tutera. “The freshness of the winter grapefruit brings the pomegranate note to the front of this cocktail.”1 oz. PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur2 oz. vodka1 oz. pink grapefruit juiceLemon wedgeCourse sugar for garnishRub a wedge a lemon around the rim of a martini glass and dip the glass into a plate of coarse sugar. Set it aside. Pour the remaining ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and strain into the garnished martini glass.
Photo: Heaven Hill Distilleries

David Tutera, Celebrity Wedding Planner

The Blushing Lady is a great holiday bar addition.  Tutera says, “The freshness of the winter grapefruit brings the pomegranate note to the front of this cocktail.”

Recipe:
1 oz. PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur
2 oz. vodka
1 oz. pink grapefruit juice
Lemon wedge
Coarse sugar for garnish

Rub a lemon wedge around the rim of a martini glass and dip it into a plate of coarse sugar. Set it aside. Pour the remaining ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and strain into the garnished martini glass.

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