It’s hard to believe that Christmas is just a few days away. It seems like yesterday that I was posting about cocktails for Thanksgiving! I thought I’d do the same kind of recap for you of some of my favorite drinks for the upcoming holiday week. There are a total of 8 all together, with 3 of them being brand new. Once again I’ll rank them from easiest to most difficult, beginning with the before dinner drinks. Just click on the cocktail’s name to be taken to the post that contains the actual recipe.
This Champagne Elderflower Cocktail from thekitchn.com is a perfect low alcohol before dinner drink that’s easy to make in large quantities. The Verdi Prosecco is very inexpensive but it works well in this cocktail and its lower price helps to offset the cost of the St. Germain. You can use the strawberries or you can use more of a holiday fruit like cranberries, pomegranate arils, or red currants (pictured above). If you don’t have champagne glasses you can also use a wine glass or a cocktail coupe. Be sure to keep this drink as cold as possible. The sweetness of the St. Germain can quickly become overwhelming as it warms up!
Champagne Elderflower Cocktail
1 (750-ml) bottle Verdi Prosecco, well-chilled
1 cup of St. Germain, chilled
12-oz of a good club soda, chilled
1 cup sliced strawberries
In a large pitcher, combine all of the ingredients and stir. Add ice and stir to chill, but strain into a new pitcher, leaving the ice behind. Pour into glasses and scoop a few strawberries into each glass. Keep any unused portion very cold until serving.
The recipe can be made without the club soda, but cut the St. Germain by 1/4 cup.
To make just one cocktail, combine 1 ounce of chilled St. Germain and 3 ounces of chilled Prosecco in a mixing glass with ice. Stir until very cold. Add a few sliced strawberries or any other fruit.
This Aperol Spritz from aperol.com is just as easy to make as the Champagne Elderflower Cocktail, especially in large quantities. What’s really nice about this drink is that you can substitute any of the other apertivos like Campari, Cynar, or Cappeletti for the Aperol and just keep all the proportions the same. This one gets served over ice so it’s a bit easier to keep cold. It’s also very low in alcohol which makes it light and refreshing.
1 bottle of Verdi Prosecco, chilled
2 cups Aperol, chilled
1 cup good quality club soda, chilled
Lemon strips or peels for garnishing
Combine the first 3 ingredients in a pitcher and stir well. Pour into wine or champagne glasses over ice and garnish with a lemon strip or lemon peel.
To make one drink, use 3 oz of Prosecco, 2 oz of Aperol, and 1 oz of club soda.
I’ve included the Old Time Holiday Shrub on the list because it’s very different and because it was such a hit when I poured it at Gorshin Trading Post 2 Fridays ago. This cocktail is made with a McClary Bros. shrub (available at Gorshin), which is basically like a fruit vinegar that gives the drink a surprisingly refreshing taste. If you can’t find the McClary Bros. there are many other shrubs available. Feel free to substitute.
What I love so much about the Pomegranate Elderflower Martini is the fact that it’s not overly sweet. So many martinis that include Pomegranate as an ingredient end up being a sugary nightmare. This one is definitely an exception to that rule, especially if you use an unsweetened Pomegranate juice like Knudsen or Lakewood. You’ll want to serve this drink very cold either before or after dinner. I prefer martinis in smaller glasses; otherwise they warm up too quickly!
The Confident Man from Joe Campanale and tastingtable.com is one of my all-time favorite holiday cocktails. We served it last year on Christmas and it was quite the night! It’s a perfect blend of vodka, St. Germain, Aperol, and grapefruit juice that will work just as well as either a before or after dinner drink. It’s name comes from its gorgeous pink color because only a confident man would be seen drinking a pink cocktail. These go down very easily so plan to make lots and expect overnight guests!
I’m including The Ghost of Christmas Present in this list because it’s a riff on a bourbon smash that will appeal to dark spirit drinkers as well as those who are open to giving bourbon a try. The combination of the Cherry Heering, the pomegranate juice, and the blood orange juice make this a very fruit forward drink that will work either before or after dinner. This cocktail will also give you the opportunity to try making a burnt sugar simple syrup, which can add such depth to drinks that contain spirits like bourbon and rye. If you don’t have the DRAM wild mountain sage bitters or a place close by where you can buy them, you can definitely substitute aromatic bitters.
Scrooge and Marley was another very popular cocktail that I served at Gorshin Trading Post this past Friday night. It’s made with Old Overholt rye which is fairly spicy, and Art in the Age ROOT liqueur, a super fun spirit to have on hand for sipping and for cocktails. This drink also uses burnt sugar syrup, once again because of its affinity for the darker spirits, and aromatic bitters. I would recommend this as an after dinner drink, but many rye drinkers would disagree with me on that!
My final cocktail, Silent Night, is a new one that I plan to serve at Gorshin Trading Post this Friday. It’s centered around the wildly spicy spirit called St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram that I’ve been wanting to try for the last year. My friend Mathias Bable, bartender at Charlie was a sinner. picked it up for me last week at Astor Wines in NYC. The base spirit in this cocktail is bourbon because I thought the spice of a rye would be a bit too much with the St. Elizabeth. From there I added in Dave’s coffee syrup and chocolate and orange bitters. The result is a super smooth dark cocktail that reminded me of a drink I had a long time ago on Christmas Eve at my parent’s house. I was standing outside on their front porch because it was snowing, and I was struck by how incredibly quiet the world seemed at that moment.
2 oz Buffalo Trace bourbon
¼ oz St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram
¼ oz Dave’s Coffee Syrup (available at Gorshin)
1 dash Jack Rudy chocolate bitters (available at Gorshin)
1 dash Fee Brothers orange bitters
Orange peel for garnishing
Add all the ingredients to a mixing glass filled ⅔ full with ice. Stir with a long-handled bar spoon until cold (about 30-45 seconds). Using a julep strainer, strain into an old-fashioned glass over ice, preferably one large cube if you have it. Express the orange peel over the drink, give it a twist, and drop it in. Enjoy!
If you can’t find the St. Elizabeth you can substitute ½ oz of Amaro Ramazzotti (easy to find), and 1 dash of Jack Rudy aromatic bitters for the orange bitters.
I hope this helps to give you a jump start on your Christmas week cocktails. Remember to batch your drinks if you want to make enough for a crowd. One caveat on that: since my Cocktails for a Crowd post, I have learned from Death & Co. to reduce my citrus and bitters in a batched cocktail by ¼. So if a batched cocktail calls for 1 cup of lime juice, you should reduce that down to ¾ cup.
See you all on Friday!