As fun should infuse the very air we breathe this time of year, it’s a good time to get extra creative with cocktails. Certain flavors have entered the seasonal signifier canon, but exploration shouldn’t stop there. The following cocktails, from some of our favorite spots, take each sip to the next level. There’s plenty of classic holiday flavors like baked apple, maple syrup and peppermint, but there’s also campfire whiskey, some black tea and even lush cherry. Consume responsibly, of course, but don’t be afraid to tackle a complicated, crazy recipe—whether it’s a party punch or something just for you.
Beneath The Snow
From the Michelin-starred restaurant Piora, and master bartender Shinya Yamao, comes Beneath the Snow. Vodka plays the base spirit, but Calvados and apple juice add a powerful fresh fruit edge. It’s the Earl Grey tea that unifies the entire cocktail, lending some bitter nuance.
1 oz. Snow Leopard Vodka
1.5 oz. homemade apple juice
.66 oz. Busnel Calvados
.66 oz. Earl Grey tea
.66 oz. Maple syrup
.5 oz. hand-squeezed lemon juice
2 sliced apples for garnish
Apples and Oranges
Opened this year, The Garret East has drawn acclaim for some of their wild and intelligent mixed drinks. The Apples and Oranges, an epic batch punch, delivers on all of the above. Apple brandy, Jamaican rum and campfire whiskey all play the roll of base spirits. Everything else just complements the balance of sweet and smokey. For a one-of-a-kind garnish, the drink is topped with two cracked-open cans of Harpoon cider.
2 oz. Laird’s Apple Brandy
2 oz. Smith & Cross Jamaican Rum
1 oz. High West campfire whiskey
2 oz. Geijor Glogg
2 oz. fresh lemon juice
1 oz. smoked maple syrup
2 oz. cold black tea
2 cans Harpoon Cider
Pour two ounces of Smith & Cross on the five orange wheels in the bottom of a bowl—light on fire with cinnamon and nutmeg dusted on top. Add everything else, except the cider, to a shaker. Shake, add ice to the bowl and pour on top. Top with two cans of Harpoon Cider and garnish with apple wheels.
From The Marlton Hotel‘s signature seasonal menu, comes the ostentatious Marlton Grand. While it’s sure to appeal to drinkers of Manhattans or Old Fashioneds, the use of chili liqueur lends it spice, Creme de Cacao gives it depth and Cherry Herring makes it lush. And if that sip doesn’t pack enough punch, the visuals certainly will: it’s served with the garnish on fire.
2 oz. Whistle Pig Rye
.5 oz. Ancho Reyes chili liqueur
.25 oz. Creme de Cacao
.25 oz. Cherry Herring
2 dashes orange bitters
Stir all ingredients. Serve on the rocks with an orange twist—that’s lit on fire.
Call Me Animal
A truly simple delight, developed by Drew Welsh of Black Market, the Call Me Animal tastes like an eggnog but includes no eggs. Welsh steeps raw cashews and a series of fruits and spices in cashew milk, and then blends it in equal parts with rum. Even the advanced preparation takes almost no time at all and the result is something rich and delightful.
1 oz. white rum
1 oz. Omilk cashew milk
Soak raw cashews, dates, cloves, and cinnamon in cashew milk overnight. Add a dash of vanilla. Strain and combine cashew milk blend with rum. Shake over ice. Serve on the rocks in a tumbler. Garnish with cinnamon stick
Candy Cane Fizz
Even with all the inherent botanicals, there’s still room for gin to adopt a little bit more. And that’s what the team at Mace did with their Candy Cane Fizz. The gin utilized has been infused with peppermint—and when used in conjunction with buttermilk syrup and clementine acid there’s nothing else quite like it. It’s a modern holiday delight that’s sweet and minty, but full.
1.5 oz. peppermint-infused gin
.75 oz. buttermilk syrup
.75 oz. clementine acid
Shake all ingredients, except prosecco, over ice. Strain and serve in a champagne flute. Top with prosecco and garnish with a candy cane.
Apples and Oranges image courtesy of The Garrett, all other images by Cool Hunting