Whether sipping some tasty bubbly or savoring a warm minty delight, these recipes are sure to be a hit at your holiday party!
This festive fizzer gets a saucy makeover thanks to several teaspoons of a favorite holiday condiment — just be sure to hold the turkey. “It’s the perfect welcome drink at any holiday soirée,” says Los Angeles bartender David Delaney. “It’s light and refreshing. Who doesn’t want to kick off the night with some bubbly?”
1 ounce gin
½ ounce Simple Syrup (see below)
½ ounce fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons cranberry sauce
2 dashes of Angostura bitters
2 ounces cold sparkling wine
Combine the gin, simple syrup, lemon juice, cranberry sauce, and bitters in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake well. Double strain into a chilled flute and top with the sparkling wine. Garnish with cranberries, skewered on a cocktail pick.
Makes about 1 ½ cups
1 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
Combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Turn the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring slowly, until the sugar is dissolved, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. Transfer to a clean glass bottle, cover, and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.
Tools: cocktail shaker, strainer, fine-mesh strainer
Garnish: 3 fresh cranberries
(Recipe by David Delaney, Los Angeles, CA)
If you thought juleps were only for the summer months, think again. Bartender Lara Creasy wanted to find a way to transform the classic hot-weather cocktail to a warming drink for the colder months. After a bit of tinkering, she found that peppermint tea was a perfect base for a good pour of bourbon, and the Winter Julep was born. Between the candy canes that hang from the tree and the starlight candies that line the roofs of gingerbread houses, who doesn’t crave mint all December long? Let the kids keep their candy canes and have yourself this properly grown-up treat.
1 teaspoon peppermint tea leaves
5 ounces boiling water
1 ½ ounces bourbon
¾ ounce brown sugar syrup
In a warm heat-proof brandy snifter, use an infuser to steep the tea leaves in the boiling water for 4 minutes. Remove the infuser. Add the bourbon and brown sugar syrup and stir to combine. Garnish with the mint sprig.
To make the brown sugar syrup, in a small cup, combine 1 1/8 teaspoons brown sugar with 1 1/8 teaspoons of boiling water. Stir to dissolve the sugar and allow to cool.
Tip: Don’t put the fresh mint garnish directly in the drink. Instead, lay the mint on the side of the mug.
Tools: tea infuser, barspoon
Glass: heat-proof brandy snifter or Irish coffee
Garnish: mint sprig (see tip)
(Recipe by Lara Creasy, Atlanta, GA)
Recipes reprinted with permission from “Cocktails for the Holidays” by the editors of Imbibe Magazine. Published by Chronicle Books.
HOLIDAY ENTERTAINING TIPS & TRICKS
It may be the most wonderful time of the year, but with back-to-back holiday festivities filling up the calendar, holiday entertaining can be a tad overwhelming. To ensure stress-free party planning, follow these tips and tricks.
THE BIG CHILL
Ice rings can be essential when it comes to making punches. Fortunately, they’re a cinch to make. Simply fill a Bundt pan with water and freeze the day before you’re planning to serve. It’s a good idea to freeze two so that you have a backup. And be sure to set the pans on a level surface in the freezer so the water freezes evenly. To get the frozen mold out of the ring, just run some water over the ice, and then carefully turn the pan upside down while supporting the ice ring.
JOIN THE PARTY
If you’re hosting a party, don’t forget to enjoy yourself! That means you shouldn’t be playing the bartender all night. Unless you’re a bartending dynamo, making dozens of cocktails and being a good host at the same time is virtually impossible. Here are a few ideas for planning that will allow you to have a good time at your party:
• Ask a friend to make drinks at your party in exchange for bar duty at his or her fête.
• Before the party, squeeze fresh juices and prep syrups (and any other ingredients you can) to save time later on.
• Make punches ahead of time and let guests serve themselves.
• Grate spices and make citrus peels for garnishes ahead of time, so they’re ready to go when it’s time to pour your drinks.
If spending money on matching sets of the right glassware stresses you out, think about going vintage and mixing and matching styles. Your local Goodwill store carries loads of fun and inexpensive glassware, and don’t be afraid to get creative with whatever you already have around.
As a host, you always want to plan for safe departures for your guests. Make sure everyone has a designated driver and print out a list of cabbie phone numbers to post near the door or hand to guests as they prepare to leave.
Looking for a fun way to make sure friends remember your party? Laminate recipe cards for the cocktails you will serve and give them to guests as they leave.
Lots of holiday cocktails call for sparkling wine as a key ingredient. Since you never shake sparkling wine with the rest of your ingredients, be sure to chill your wine ahead of time so it keeps the cocktails nice and cool once you pour it in.
SHARE THE WEALTH
Making lots of cocktails or big batches of punch can be expensive, so consider hosting a potluck where guests are assigned to bring certain spirits instead of snacks.
If you’re planning to batch a bunch of cocktails in advance and you don’t have enough containers to hold all the mixtures, simply reuse the empty bottles that held the spirits.
COOL LIKE THAT
You never want to run out of ice in the middle of a party, so make sure you’ve made or bought plenty of ice for your drinks. You can store it in coolers and use it as needed.
Be sure to have on hand all of the tools you’ll need to make your cocktails — plenty of shakers, barspoons, muddlers and strainers. Ask friends ahead of time if you need to borrow their tools, so you’re sure to be fully outfitted when you’re ready to start mixing.
You’ll likely use a lot of citrus juice in your holiday drinks, so you’ll want to get as much juice out of the fruit as possible. To do this, be sure to store your citrus at room temperature, and when you’re ready to juice them, first roll them under your hand on a counter surface. This will release the juices within the fruit so that when you cut into them, they’re ready to release every last drop.
SPICE IS NICE
Holiday cocktails are chock-full of wintry spice, and to maximize the flavor factor, you’ll want to use the freshest whole spices possible (throw out that decades-old container of ground cinnamon already!). Crush or grate them at the last minute for nuanced cocktails with layers of fresh seasonal spice. (Consider investing in mortar and pestle or a Microplane grater — even a few spins in a clean coffee grinder would do the trick.)
BECOME A MUDDLE MASTER
Many cocktails that call for fresh herbs, citrus, or spice will instruct you to muddle the ingredients before shaking in order to release added aromas and flavors. But, pulverize the ingredients into a pulp and the drink can take on unwanted bitter notes (not to mention extra floaties). Instead, gently press the ingredients with the muddler into the bottom or side of the cocktail shaker, give a slight twist, and repeat — five times ought to do it.
Reprinted with permission from “Cocktails for the Holidays” by the editors of Imbibe Magazine.