The big day is almost here, and in the moments between shopping, gift wrapping, partying,
pulling your hair out, decorating and cooking we suggest you take the time to have a well-made cocktail with special family and friends. Taking a few minutes to put on some music, pick the recipe, pull out the glasses and mix the drinks will soothe your soul. And you get a tasty drink and good company out of the deal, a very merry Christmas indeed! (And if Hanukkah is your gig, then please try the Bees Knees.)
So what to drink? It all depends on your taste. We like gin and it is the holiday season. Gin does taste a bit like a Christmas tree (all that juniper), so we may toss in some winter citrus and mix up a classic like the Aviation or a Pegu Club. We also like champagne and spice, so a Seelbach is an almost perfect holiday cocktail, and a good choice for bourbon fans. If you like rye whiskey and deep flavor, then the Sazerac, with it’s bright red color and strong kick will bring out your inner Rudolph (2 or 3 Sazeracs will make you think you’re Rudolph, but you’re not). Cold? Try a toddy like the Tammany Jack. If you want a lighter, aperitif-style cocktail then a Calla Lily, Chrysanthemum, or our variant, the Flowers For Sonja would be a good choice. And if you just need a cold, hard dose of booze (and sometimes we do), then a dry Martini will always do the trick.
But what if you want to experiment? Maybe impress your guests with a secret ingredient? Well, there are plenty of places to look. Fred Yarm’s Cocktail
Virgin Slut is one of the leading cocktail blogs with literally hundreds of innovative recipes from the best bars in Boston. He also has a companion book, Drink and Tell. If you get a few good bottles of booze, pick up Drink and Tell and mix away. Other good web references include the Mixology Monday series of themed online cocktails parties, Drinks at Serious Eats, Liquor.com, Saveur and Cocktail Chronicles all have large libraries of new and old cocktails. And CocktailDB has a huge list of classic drinks, just be ready to sort through a lot of recipes!
Before you start, remember that making cocktails is just like making a good dinner for family and friends, just faster (and slower, if you follow). Look at the booze you have, your fridge and your spice drawer. Maybe you have a few herbs in the garden, or some fresh fruit? Seek out a little inspiration (or a challenge), think of what you and your guests like, and then get going. You will be glad you did.
And if you need a little help getting started, here are a few of our favorites that encompass the old and the new, the simple and complex. And we have one new recipe, The Back Word, that we think clearly fits the holiday theme. Have fun and Merry Christmas!
(From Drink and Tell and Backbar in Boston)
- 1 and 1/2 oz. dry gin
- 3/4 oz. Yellow Chartreuse
- 1/2 oz. Lillet Blanc
- 1/4 oz. Luxardo cherry jar syrup (or brandied cherry syrup)
- Lemon peel, for garnish
- Rosemary, for garnish
- Combine the liquid ingredients with ice in a cocktail glass or shaker. Stir until very cold and strain into a chilled cocktail glass or coupe.
- Cut a small slit in the middle of the lemon peel and insert a sprig of rosemary in the peel. Float the peel on the top of the drink and serve.
And if you really, really hate the holidays, here is a whole list of Humbug Cocktails. Enjoy….I guess… ;-)
- Mixology Monday Cocktail: Alone, Bitter at the Beach (putneyfarm.com)
- Mixology Monday Cocktail: The McCovey Cove (putneyfarm.com)
- Our 10 Favorite Cocktail Recipes of 2012 (drinks.seriouseats.com)
- Weekly Cocktail #34: The Sawyer (putneyfarm.com)