Holiday Cocktails

This is my favorite room in my house

This is my favorite room in my house

I’m fond of cocktails. I’m the guy who has never worked as a bartender, but tends to know how to make whatever it is you want. I’m the guy who they point at a bar full of random stuff, and say “please make us something yummy.” I’m that guy.

So at extended family gatherings, I make a lot of cocktails. And last Thanksgiving (the real one, at the end of November, not that abomination they have up in Canadia way too early) I decided to live tweet the cocktails as I made them. These are those tweets. (Anyone get that “Law and Order” reference just then? No? Just me?)

Not everyone has the ingredients you need for this one, unfortunately, because it’s a really amazing cocktail. St Germain is a sweet, fruity, floral liqueur that is pretty popular at high end bars. You’ve probably had a cocktail with it. Aperol is made by the same people who make Campari, and it’s similar. Very bitter. Bright orange/red color. Together, the sweet St Germain and the bitter Aperol yield an almost grapefruit experience. Everyone loves this cocktail. Everyone.

This is your basic gin and tonic, except we added St Germain. That gives it a sweetness and character that makes it more approachable to people who find a G&T too harsh. It’s important that you use a decent tonic. You don’t have to get anything fancy like Q or Fever Tree. Just a Schweppes or Canada Dry or Polar is fine. The key is to not use store-brand tonic. We made the mistake of buying that once. 4 bottles went straight down the kitchen sink drain that day. Yuck.

Did you know that pretty much all the rum drinks you’ve ever had were invented by the same guy? He was a rum importer, naturally. They all follow this same basic formula: citrus juice, rum, more rum, liqueur. In fact, if you follow that pattern, you can invent your own rum drink which tastes just like every other rum drink.

Sometimes you just have to satisfy your audience, you know? This is wretched. Horrible. Awful. It’s what nana drinks, tho.

Now things are getting interesting. This is a rare gin martini. I’m really a vodka martini guy, but the Cold River gin is not very junipery, which helps keep it from overpowering the vermouth. You know that martinis really are all about the vermouth, right? Without vermouth, it’s just a shot of vodka or gin in a fancy glass. And there are really only two readily available vermouths that you should use: Dolin and Noilly Prat. I prefer the former. And go heavy on the vermouth, like I do in this recipe. For the garnish, you really have to try those caperberries. They’re really weird and wonderful. But if you can’t find those, anything interesting will do. Bleu cheese stuffed olives, and jalapeño stuffed olives are two favorites.

OK, so I totally made this one up on the spot. Someone wanted something a little fizzy, and I fooled around until I landed on this concoction. It was well received.

And let’s cap the night with my favorite. I make so much of this at the holidays that I actually pre-mix the nog spike. I literally have a bottle in my bar labeled “Nog Spike.” The cool thing about pre-mixing your spike is that it keeps just as well as the stuff that’s in it, which is basically until the end times. So make a ton, and use it over a period of years. Or one really hard night. We just get the carton of egg nog. No need to get fancy, since this is really just an excuse to drink the spike.

I’ve given you plenty of time before the holidays to go shopping. If you have to choose just one to focus on, I’d recommend the Apparent Sour. It’s really, really good.


5 thoughts on “Holiday Cocktails

  1. I had a hard time reading past the Canadian reference! Hahaha Just cause we live in a frozen winter wonderland, doesn’t mean we can’t have nice things!
    Wait… I think it does!
    Putting a few new items on my holiday shopping list! Thx for these.

  2. I gotta ask… do you actually measure each shot out? I’ve got a visual of you flipping bottles behind your back and over your head-like Tom Cruise in Cocktail. 🙂

    • For the most part, I measure. Not for the martini, but for everything else. I like my cocktails to be highly repeatable phenomena. I flip pancakes, I flip eggs, but I don’t flip bottles.

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