Whether you’re with loved ones or savoring time alone, the holidays are a time for comforting dishes and second servings (and gratitude). Many will crack open a beer before, during and after their meals. Some may pair wines with their plates. But for the spirits lover, the holidays offer a wealth of robust flavors to play with or play off. The following cocktails do that and more. They’re rich and flavorful. They support celebration and one even offers a little kick of energy. Many embrace whisky as a central component, as substantial developments continue to abound in the category (none more impressive than the helpful Aberlour All Access whisky chat and delicious Aberfeldy Spiked Golden Hot Chocolate). Always remember, though, to drink responsibly, and be thankful.
Featuring Grady’s, one of our favorite coffee brands, Shaker & Spoon’s Slippery Slopes can be served hot or cold. Their recipe (available as a kit for batch-making) is a great way to kick off a gathering or to lend an extra kick to dessert time. One of our favorite bartenders also has much to say about it.
1.5 oz Grady’s Cold Brew (prepare at least 12 hours in advance)
4 oz Sother’s spiced hot cocoa mix
1.5 oz Fernet-Branca to taste
.25 oz toasted coconut syrup
3 ml orange oil spray
Add the first 4 ingredients to a dry mixing glass and stir to dissolve the cocoa mix. Fill the glass with ice and stir until mixing glass feels ice cold (20–40 seconds, depending on ice size). Strain into a rocks glass over fresh cubed ice. Finish by adding a spritz of orange oil to the top of the drink.
This fruit-forward and nutty cocktail comes from Salacombe Gin—with the intention of highlighting their all-natural pink tipple. Citrus plays an important role, but it’s the bundle of botanicals found in everything that make the flavor fire-side ready.
1 oz Salcombe Gin “Rosé Sainte Marie”
1 oz rosé vermouth
1 oz Londinio Aperitivo
In a mixing glass, add plenty of ice. Add the Salcombe Gin “Rosé Sainte Marie,” vermouth and aperitivo. Stir gently. Strain into a chilled glass. Garnish with a twist of lemon peel.
Stranahan’s Blue Peak does most of the work in The Highlands, but it’s the black walnut bitters and grapefruit zest that set it apart. This is a simple one to assemble but subtly different than others in the whiskey-with-a-dash-of-something division.
1.5 oz Blue Peak
.25 oz simple syrup
2 dashes black walnut bitters
1 grapefruit zest
Add all ingredients, add ice and stir to 20% dilution. Strain over big cube with grapefruit zest.
The Cranberry Sauce Margarita
Everyone loves to tease the joys of the cranberry cocktail this time of year. So much so that PUNCH wrote an expose on the number of people chatting about the fruit, and Kings County Distiller put out an exemplary (limited edition) Thanksgiving Cranberry Punch. The Cranberry Sauce Margarita, from Delish, stands as a perennial favorite.
2 oz tequila
1.5 tbsp chunky cranberry sauce
1 tsp honey
Cup of ice
Cranberries, fresh or frozen
Rim a margarita glass with brown sugar. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, tequila, the juice of one lime, chunky cranberry sauce, and honey. Shake, then strain mixture into glass. Garnish with fresh or frozen cranberries.
There’s No Hanky Panky in the Dining Room
Developed by Rachel Wright, “There’s No Hanky Panky in the Dining Room” pairs a hearty dose of bourbon with bitters galore. Marshallow-washed sweet vermouth is the most uncommon of accouterments—and it lends a satisfying sweetness to the strong tipple.
1.5 oz Angel’s Envy Bourbon
2 dash Dale DeGroff’s Aromatic Pimento Bitters
1 dash Regan’s Orange Bitters
0.75 oz marshmallow-washed sweet vermouth*
Barspoon of Fernet Branca
Stir and serve neat. Garnish with an orange twist and a toasted marshmallow. *To marshmallow-wash your vermouth, chop up marshmallows and infused them in sweet vermouth for 1-2 days. A French press works nicely to squeeze and strain.
Hero image courtesy of Shaker & Spoon