Holiday Cocktails to Make You Merry!

You may have noticed ladies and g's, but I've been on holiday from posting for a few months. This is likely to continue for a bit, but the good news is that my favorite holiday cocktails hold up every year. Whether you go for the easy Poinsettia or the more complicated egg nog I hope you enjoy!

The Poinsettia (an easy way to add a little sparkle): Sparkling is always festive, and you can easily turn a nice Prosecco or Cava into something a little fancy by adding a half ounce or so of a nice liqueur and a pretty holiday garnish. Or, you can go a step further and mix up a Poinsettia...

1 ounce unsweetened cranberry juice (unsweetened is a must)
1 ounce Grand Marnier
A squirt of agave nectar

Shake cranberry, Grand Marnier, and agave with ice in a shaker. Pour into a champagne flute (or another glass), top with Prosecco. Garnish with fresh cranberries.

Notes: There are several versions of the Poinsettia floating around. This is closest to the one in the wonderful book Peterson's Holiday Helper (also online: Simple and Pretty Poinsettia Cocktail). 

You can make these in batches, just multiply…

And, you only need a small bottle of Grand Marnier… not airplane small, but behind-the-counter flask size… I've squeezed at least 12 drinks out of one bottle of Prosecco with this recipe.

A Hot Toddy (to ease the chill): The variations on hot toddies are endless. They make a wonderful companion for holiday cookies and help to warm frozen fingers. Use a nice brandy--one that you would drink alone. 

Chai Hot Toddy
Apple Pie Hot Toddy
1 ounce brandy
Chai tea (brewed 4 min.)
Honey to taste
1 nugget candied ginger
Squeeze of lemon and strip of zest (Meyer is best)
1 tsp. ginger syrup* (If you don’t have time to make this, you can skip it.)

Drop the ginger into a small glass. Add brandy and ginger syrup. Pour in hot tea (about 3 ounces). Stir in honey. Squeeze lemon and top with zest.

*Ginger syrup is easy to make--Simmer two cups of water with sliced ginger for 30 minutes. It will boil down to about a cup. Add 2/3 cup agave syrup and one ounce vodka. Refrigerate once made.

A Manhattan (for classic merriment): Enjoying a Manhattan by the light of the Christmas tree is one of my favorite winter evening activities. It's a simple three-ingredient drink (plus the cherry). It's critical to use a tasty bourbon (or rye), a good vermouth (Carpano Antica, for one) and a quality cherry (no maraschino). One of my favorite homemade easy versions:

2.5 ounces bourbon
.5 ounce Carpano Antica vermouth
2-3 dashes old fashioned bitters
1 cherry (brandied is delicious)

Optional: orange peel garnish

Chill a glass with ice water. Stir the bourbon, vermouth and bitters in a shaker with ice. Let sit for 20-30 seconds. Drop the cherry into the chilled glass. Pour in the liquor. Garnish with the orange peel.

Eggnog (for decadent festivities): It takes a lot of whipping and stirring, but eggnog is delicious. And you might as well indulge before those pesky New Year's resolutions kick in... you know, the ones about working out and eating better.
Photo by Trader Vicky

Egg Nog
6 eggs, separated
1/3 cup sugar
2 cups whole milk
1 pint heavy cream
5 ounces Woodford Reserve Bourbon
5 ounces Gosling Black Seal Rum
Freshly grated nutmeg (fresh is a must)

Note: You will need a punch bowl and a second bowl that is big enough for the punch bowl to sit in with ice. This photo is from last year's holiday cocktail club. Eventually the ice began to melt and the top bowl settled in.

Beat the yolks until almost white, adding half of the sugar as you go. Stir in the milk, cream, bourbon, rum, and some freshly grated nutmeg. Transfer to a punch bowl. Beat the whites with the remaining sugar until white and fluffy. Fold the whites into the yolk mixture.

Fill the large bowl with crushed ice and water and place the punch bowl in the ice water. Grate nutmeg over the top of the bowl and again in each cup as you serve.