Photos by Joy Solano

Yes, ladies & gentlemen! It’s that time of the year, once again… Holiday season! As I am still trying to figure out where exactly 2018 went, I typically get excited about the last sixty days of the calendar year as we get to experience and celebrate Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s (eve). I know, it’s not everyone’s favorite, but I certainly enjoy getting out of the exhausting heat and into some cooler weather, as well as enjoying the energy leading up to the ringing in of the New Year! 

With the cooler weather peeking its head, we start to get away from the lighter-natured spirits, beers, wines and fruity foo-foo summer drinks into the heavier brown spirits and seasonal fall and winter flavors, deeper rich red wines and darker beers. Since I am now into the “spirit(s)” of the holidays, I would like to share with you some joyous, holiday season cocktails that are easy to make at home or anywhere else you find yourself celebrating.

I love my whiskey sours. It’s a beautifully simplistic drink consisting of three essential ingredients: Bourbon or Rye whiskey (your choice), fresh lemon juice and sugar. Something so easy, and yet, so flavorful. Over the years, I have developed quite a few variations and am happy to share one of my favorites, especially for this time of year.

THE AUTUMN POMME 
(Served Hot or Cold)

1.50 oz. Rittenhouse Bottled-In-Bond
rye whiskey

0.50 oz. Licor 43

2.00 oz. Fresh Pressed Apple Cider (Cloudy)

0.50 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice

0.25 oz. Cinnamon-infused Pure
Maple Syrup*

* For every four ounces of Grade A maple syrup, mix with 1 Tbsp. of ground cinnamon and blend together. Let sit for 8-12 hours. Scoop out the sediment at the top, then run the remainder through a cheese cloth to filter out as much of the cinnamon particles. Keep refrigerated.

In a mixing glass or tin, combine all of the ingredients and shake well over ice. Strain the contents into a double old-fashioned glass over fresh ice. Garnish with a fresh or dehydrated red apple slice and a cinnamon stick. To serve hot, place all of the ingredients into a sauce pan times the amount of desired servings and place at a low to medium heat. Remove and serve as soon as it begins to boil. Place the warm drink in a heat-resistant mug or snifter and garnish.

Another one of my go-to cocktails is the Old Fashioned. It’s the epitome of the original “cocktail” DNA which consisted of a base spirit (typically whiskey), sugar, water and bitters. Of course, over the last two centuries the Old Fashioned, itself, has evolved, and now you see many different variations. For the holiday season, one of the great and vast types of ingredient I enjoy working with is tea.

CHAI OLD FASHIONED

2.00 oz Sia blended Scotch

0.25 oz El Silencio Mezcal Espadin

0.50 oz Homemade Chai Tea Syrup*

2  Grapefruit Swaths

2-3 Dashes aromatic bitters

* For every 12 ounces of hot water, steep three chai tea bags for 15-20 mins or longer until very strong. Remove the tea bags and add equal parts granulated sugar to make the syrup. Stir well until the sugar’s dissolved. Keep refrigerated. 

In a mixing beaker or glass, place the grapefruit swaths, bitters and syrup and muddle well. Add the remainder of the ingredients and stir well over ice. Strain the contents into a double Old Fashioned glass over a large sphere. Garnish with a grapefruit peel or long twist for aromatics.

What would the holiday season be without a nog-style drink? I appreciate the versatility of this style of cocktail for being equally as tasty whether its served hot or cold. 

BROWN COW 
(Served Hot or Cold)

1.25 oz. Remy Martin 1738 Cognac

1.25 oz. Cruzan Velvet Cinn Horchata

4.00 oz. Half & Half or Whole Milk

0.50 oz Torani Brown Sugar Cinnamon Syrup

In a mixing glass or tin, combine all of the ingredients and shake well over ice. Strain the contents into a highball or Collins glass over fresh ice. Garnish. To serve hot, place all of the ingredients into a sauce pan times the amount of desired servings and place at a low to medium heat. Remove and serve as soon as it begins to boil. Place the warm drink in a heat-resistant mug or snifter. Garnish with some grated nutmeg, cinnamon or allspice.