Spirited cocktails for the holidays

The stars don’t really align this year, at least in regard to the holidays. Hannukah is already over and Christmastide and Kwanzaa have yet to begin (sometimes they all coincide). But at least we can get back to getting together with our families and our friends (as safely as possible) in order to celebrate. Because the holidays are all about celebrations, regardless of which one you recognize.

But what a difference a year makes. This year’s Holiday Season might be the most normal one that we’ve had in the last two years and it will remain to be seen whether that is all good, or all bad, or somewhere in between. However, with the return of traffic, holiday shopping, celebratory dinners, and family get togethers, one suspects that one just might need to fortify their spirits a bit more aggressively. Especially if your uber political uncle/aunt comes a calling. He/she has a couple of years of pent up frustration and guess who’s going to get to hear about it?

With that thought in mind here are four festive holiday sippers sure to fortify your celebratory spirit. All localized, of course, for your consumption.

Happy Holidays!

Please celebrate responsibly.

Kosher Christmas Tree

2 ounces Distillery No. 209 Kosher-for-Passover Gin

1 ounce fresh lemon juice

½ ounce maple syrup*

½ ounce hot water*

½ ounce aquafaba

1 rosemary sprig

Colored cake sprinkles for garnish

Sweetening syrups (agave, maple, honey) don’t typically mix well in cocktails unless they are pre-dissolved with water (simple syrup). To mitigate, add hot water to maple syrup and let sit while you assemble the other ingredients.

Combine gin, lemon juice, and aquafaba in a mixing and glass and dry shake until foamy. Add ice and maple syrup mixture and shake again. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass piling up foam in center. Stand rosemary sprig straight up in center of foam and garnish lightly with sprinkles.

Note: 209’s Kosher gin is made from a sugar distillate and is more citrus forward than their regular gin. It also includes Bay leaf instead of cardamom giving it quite a different spice note.

Easy Eggnog

2 ounces Batiste Rhum gold rhum

3 ounces Strauss Family Creamery Organic eggnog (or Califia Farms Holiday non-dairy “Nog”)

1 cinnamon stick

1 dash pumpkin pie spice mix (ginger, clove, cardamom, cinnamon)

Combine rhum and eggnog in a shaker with ice and shake until cold. Strain into a short rocks glass (or low juice glass) being sure you can stand up the cinnamon stick like a straw. Dust with pumpkin pie spice.

Note: Making fresh eggnog is more trouble than its worth. Essentially you will need to whip egg yolks and egg whites separately, one heated, the other not, fold them together, mix in the cream and the spices, and then store. It is far easier to buy fresh bottled eggnog and save yourself the time and effort. Be sure to get it from the refrigerated section, shelf stable eggnogs are a whole different, far less satisfying product.

Purple Potion

1½ ounces Griffo Distillery gin

¾ ounce Cointreau

½ ounce fresh squeezed lime juice

¼ ounce cranberry juice (sweetened)*

¼ ounce Pomegranate juice (unsweetened)*

3 pomegranate seeds

Combine all liquid ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake until ice cold. Strain into a chilled coupe glass and float pomegranate seeds on top.

Note: In the colder months fresh juices can be hard to find, and sometimes are not all that great tasting because most citrus is out of season in the winter months. Furthermore, so-called “juices” like cranberry and pomegranate are often “juice blends” including large amounts of sugar. A good way to control these flavors is to use fruit purees. The Perfect Puree is a Napa company that produces a whole line of excellent alternatives.

Cinnamon Mocha Manhattan

1 ounce Moylan’s American Bourbon

1 ounce St. George Spirits NOLA Coffee liqueur

1 ounce fresh espresso

King Floyd’s  Chocolate Cinnamon rimming sugar

Wet a thumb-sized spot on the rim of a chilled cocktail glass, dip in rim sugar and set aside. Combine whiskey, coffee liqueur, and fresh espresso in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until cold and strain into chilled, sugar rimmed, cocktail glass.

Note: Very strong cold brewed coffee works well in this drink, but fresh espresso gives this drink extra pizzaz and extra foam thanks to fresh espresso’s crema.