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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
1 1/2 oz. Crystal Head Vodka
1/2 oz. vanilla liqueur
1 oz. apple cider
Dash of angostura bitters
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.”
1 oz. PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur
2 oz. vodka
1 oz. pink grapefruit juice
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.