December is here, and that means you can’t get away from holiday themes and decorations everywhere — which has technically been true for the past three months. September, we hardly knew ye.
As it turns out, this blog is no exception to the rule, since I more than happy to welcome the extra traffic that will come in from search engine hits if I do a holiday theme.
So welcome to my post for the holidays! Hopefully most of these drinks will be somewhat non-denominational (I mean, Christmas doesn’t have a monopoly on peppermint, right?), but there might be a few drinks specific to one holiday. Maybe next year I’ll really get into the whole denominational thing, and do an eight crazy shots post or something. Sounds fun.
In any case, no matter what you celebrate this year, it’s a great time for family, love, kindness, and alcohol. Lots of alcohol. After all, you are going to be seeing your family, so it’s kind of a necessity. So while you’re giving your loved ones the gift of junk you wouldn’t buy for yourself, give yourself the gift of intoxication. Here’s eight drinks to enjoy this season.
- 1 1/2 oz Raspberry Vodka
- 1/2 oz Triple Sec
- 1/4 oz Rose’s Lime Juice
- 3 oz Cranberry Juice
- Holly Sprig without Berries
I think the recipe book I got this from just decided to make a reddish drink and add a holly sprig to it to make it look relevant to the season. With that in mind, I encourage you to use this method to invent your own festive holiday drinks — just be sure to pluck off all the berries (they are poisonous) and wash the sprig. Hell, you can use a plastic replica for all I care. Just whatever you do, don’t die.
In any case, this drink is pretty good, even if its inventor was really lazy when thinking it up. Despite being mostly raspberry vodka and cranberry juice, it’s not overly tart at all. In fact, the flavor of the triple sec is very noticeable, making for a very nice orange taste. In the end, all the flavors of the drink work very well together, much in the same way that all the religions in America don’t this time of year.
To make this, shake the liquid ingredients with ice, strain the mix into a martini glass, and garnish with the holly sprig. Or, if you’re not trying to impress anyone, go ahead and skip this garnish. Your call.
Vanilla Dark and Stormy
- 2 oz Dark Rum
- 1 dash Vanilla Extract
- Ginger Beer
- Lime Wedge
So this is seasonal in that vanilla and ginger are both flavors associated with the season. Other than that, it’s not very special. However, it is pretty good. Just be ready for the ginger beer. If you haven’t tasted ginger beer before, it’s kind of weird, and it can be as shocking as waking up to cat butt, though definitely not as unpleasant.
Personally, I am not a huge fan of ginger beer, but it’s definitely not a bad flavor. It is weird at first, but it’s good. Unfortunately, the vanilla flavor isn’t all that noticeable in this drink, but you will get hints of it here and there. It’s nice when you do notice it, anyway. Either way, this is a good and easy cooler for the holiday season, so if you’re a fan of ginger, give this a try.
To make, just pour the liquid ingredients in a tall glass of ice and stir. Squeeze the lime wedge over the drink and drop it in. Not the most complicated of holiday drinks, but not bad at all.
Let’s make something a little more pretty.
- 3/4 oz Gin
- 3/4 oz Triple Sec
- 2 to 3 dashes Grenadine
- 1 oz Cream
Isn’t this drink pretty? The deep red is very appropriate for the season, and the cream on top looks like a mound of snow or the trim on Santa’s suit. It’s just… oh, so pretty. I almost didn’t want to drink it.
But drink it I did, and it was delicious. Grenadine and gin compliment each other very well, and the triple sec throws in a little bit of complexity for the occasion. The cream is wonderful and fluffy as it just sits on top.
So, it’s pretty, it’s yummy, and it’s alcoholic. I suppose not much else is required to make something angelic. Especially when I’m three drinks in.
Shake all of the ingredients except the cream with ice and strain it into a champagne flute. Then carefully float the cream on top of the rest of the drink. You can also use a wine glass or a martini glass for this cocktail. I chose the champagne flute because it looks prettier.
- 1 1/2 oz Gin
- 1/2 oz Dry Vermouth
- 1/2 oz Melon Liqueur
- 1 dash Lemon Juice
- 1 splash Blue Curacao
- Maraschino Cherry
Gin always did kind of taste like a tree, so this seems like a natural fit for it. This is essentially a Kyoto Cocktail, but with the addition of blue curacao and a cherry. It’s not bad, but in all honesty, the lemon juice really conflicts with the melon liqueur. The recipe is clearly following the sweet ingredient and sour ingredient blueprint, but I don’t think it works here.
Other than that, the drink isn’t bad. The melon is nice, the gin gives that slight tree-like taste, and biting into the cherry at the end is a great finisher. It is also pretty, so that’s worth something. Go light on the lemon juice, and it might impress some guests. Otherwise, this drink will overwhelm you, and that nice tree-like taste will quickly start to feel like that one scene from Evil Dead that Sam Raimi later regretted.
Shake the gin, vermouth, melon liqueur, and lemon juice with ice and strain it into a martini glass. Top it with a splash of blue curacao and drop the cherry in. It’s pretty, but not as good as some of the others on this list.
Now let’s look at peppermint, that ever-popular holiday flavor.
Candy Cane Twist
- 1 oz Raspberry Vodka
- 1/2 oz Peppermint Schnapps
- 2 oz Cranberry Juice
- 1/2 oz Grenadine
- 1 splash Lemon-Lime Soda
- Candy Cane
Yeah, we all have probably had enough of peppermint by now. But, alas, This list would be incomplete without a peppermint-themed drink. It’s not a bad flavor at all, but it is overdone this time of year. However, this fact apparently didn’t stop me from beating this dead horse with a comically large candy cane.
This drink is nice and smooth. It’s sweet without being too sweet, and it has that peppermint flavor without being overpowering. A note on that, by the way: The peppermint flavor is kind of subtle in this drink if you use the above proportions. It gives that cool feeling without being very strong. If you want to have a stronger peppermint flavor, increase the amount of peppermint schnapps a little at a time — maybe in quarter ounce increments. Be careful though, as peppermint schnapps is one of those ingredients that is very powerful, and can overpower whatever it’s in if you put in too much.
Shake the liquid ingredients except for the soda with ice and strain it into a martini glass. Add the soda, garnish with the candy cane and enjoy. Also, if you want to put in the effort, you can crush another candy cane and rim the glass with it. I attempted to do this, but I couldn’t get the candy cane crumbs to stick to the glass. I’m sure there’s a good way to do this, but I didn’t figure it out. If you’re up for the adventure, be my guest.
- 1/2 oz Grenadine
- 1/2 oz Green Crème de Menthe
- 1/2 oz Cream
Turns out we’re not quite done with mint yet, because I wanted to do at least one shot for this post. I figured that the celebratory nature of the holiday season is perfect for shots, so here’s one with Christmas colors.
Often, layered shots are made to look pretty rather than to taste good. In this case, however, it works both ways. The flavors work pretty alright together (as long as you do it as a shot, rather than sipping it the way that assholes always drink shots), and the layering actually allows you to taste each ingredient individually and in order, giving you an enjoyable progression.
Plus, it does look very pretty. Especially if it’s in a clear glass, as opposed to the yellow-ish glass I used. Apologies. It will take a few minutes to layer them all correctly, but whip up a round of these at a holiday party, and people will really like it.
To make this wonder of alcohol and thick liquids, carefully layer each ingredient into a shot glass in the order given. Depending on the size of the glass, you may have to adjust the amounts. In order to layer the ingredients, pour the first one in, and then slowly pour in the next two, using the back of a bar spoon to break the liquid’s fall just above the surface of the shot.
Once you’ve made your shot, throw it down the hatch.
- 1 1/2 oz Vodka
- 1/2 oz Dry Vermouth
- 1 splash Blue Curacao
Jewish readers, I’m afraid I must apologize, as I fear I have let you all down. Not only is this a week late, but, as you see, finding a good Hanukkah-themed cocktail proved a challenge for me, especially given limited ingredients. If I could get every brand the Internet recommended to me, I could make a cocktail with nothing but Israeli spirits. However, most Hanukkah-themed cocktails proved to be nothing more than normal Winter-themed cocktails. That’s all well and good, but I wanted something a bit special.
But then I learned that blue is a big Hanukkah color, and I found this allegedly blue drink that some blogger or writer had invented specifically to celebrate the lighting of the menorah. On top of that, a sugared rim always looks frosty, so that adds a nice winter touch.
However, if the picture of this drink loaded on your computer and you’re not colorblind, then you already know the problem. This drink is green, not blue. You see, the sweet vermouth colored the drink too, and it simply came out green. I’m betting the person who invented this drink doesn’t know too much about mixing drinks and most definitely never actually mixed this drink. It still works for this post, since green is a Christmas color, but that just gives Christians another drink and robs the Jews of their rightful booze. I am sincerely sorry.
The taste is pretty good, in any case. Sweet vermouth and curacao play off each other in interesting ways. I don’t know if that’s a good thing, but it is an interesting thing. You could try making this drink with dry vermouth — which would probably help keep it blue — but that would also drastically change the taste. Try it if you so choose.
First, rim a martini glass with sugar. Then shake the liquid ingredients with ice and strain it into the prepared glass, and garnish with the blueberries. I know blueberries are out of season right now, which is all the more proof that the person who invented this drink didn’t know what they were doing. I have frozen blueberries in my fridge, so that worked out for me.
Cinnamon Old Fashioned
- 2 1/2 oz Fireball Cinnamon Whisky
- 1/4 oz Simple Syrup
- 2 to 3 dashes Angostura Bitters
I was going to end there, but I thought that this post would be incomplete without some cinnamon. I also wanted a stiffer drink, so I decided to whip up an Old Fashioned, but use Fireball in place of bourbon or rye. This was an on-the-fly decision, and I think it worked out well.
A note for you Old Fashioned enthusiasts, though: I know you probably think this drink is an abomination. I know that Fireball is very sweet, and is closer to a liqueur than a liquor. So, I understand how some of you will punch your screen right now, because “This isn’t a real Old Fashioned!”
Calm down, please. This drink is just for the season, and there’s no reason to get upset over a novelty.
Now that we have that out of the way, let me say that this drink works very well. It’s good, delicious, and alcoholic. What more do want from anything?
So, pour the ingredients into a rocks glass with or without ice (your preference), and stir. Also, Fireball is already kind of sweet, so feel free to reduce the amount of syrup.
Happy Holidays. Be safe. Be responsible. Check back next week for a New Year’s post with champagne drinks.