Don Draper, Frank Sinatra, James Bond…. these and other quintessential “real men” are rarely seen with a glass of wine or a bottle of beer. They are usually seen holding a highball with some exquisitely distilled alcohol in one hand, and a gorgeous woman (or gun) in the other.
Maybe that’s why liquor—straight or on the rocks— is generally thought of as sophisticated, masculine drink choices.
So, for some gatherings, soda or ice may be all you need to make your holiday gathering festive, and full of appreciation for the host—and, of course, for that miraculous distillation of grains, fruits and vegetables.
But if your gathering includes those for whom a swig of unadulterated liquor may be a bit too much, there are plenty of ways to embellish it with just a few ingredients and make it a sophisticated cocktail to sip and enjoy throughout the evening.
Here are just a few ideas.
DEWAR’s 12 Blended Scotch Whisky
“Too much of anything is bad, but too much good whiskey is barely enough.” —Mark Twain
This very therapeutic sounding cocktail is named so probably because it’s made with very healthy ingredients: lemon juice, honey syrup and ginger.
- 5 parts DEWAR’S 12 Blended Scotch Whisky
- .75 parts lemon juice
- .75 parts honey syrup
- 3 slices fresh ginger
- candied ginger garnish
The Mixing Secret: Using a wooden muddler, muddle the fresh ginger in the bottom of a cocktail shaker until it is well mashed. Add the blended Scotch, lemon juice, and honey syrup, and fill shaker with ice. Shake until well chilled (about 20 seconds). Strain into an ice-filled rocks glass (you may wish to double strain through a fine tea strainer to remove the small flecks of ginger), and spray the Islay Scotch over the top.
Grey Goose Vodka
“I love vodka martinis. I know it’s a cliché.”— Daniel Craig (aka James Bond)
Vodka is great with soda or any fruit juice really. But to make a special drink that imbues the spirit of winter holidays, throw in some rosemary sprig leaves and maple syrup to make a “Fireside” cocktail. Very festive!
- 2 parts Grey Goose Vodka
- 2 tsp Organic Maple Syrup
- 1 pinch of Salt
- 1 Rosemary Sprig – leaves pulled off
- top with Fresh Pink Grapefruit Juice
The Mixing Secret: Crush rosemary, maple and salt. Add ice and Grey Goose Vodka. Top with fresh pink grapefruit juice. Stir. Garnish with rosemary sprig.
Star of Bombay Gin
“Forget the cheap white wine: go to beef and gin!”— iconic chef, Julia Child
Prosecco is very popular today, but when added to a shot or two of Star of Bombay gin shaken with lemon, tea and St-Germain liqueur, it becomes a bubbly constellation of flavours to please anyone’s palate—especially those celebrating New Year’s Eve! Don’t forget to garnish with lavender for that special touch!
- 45 ml of Star of Bombay
- 15 ml of fresh lemon juice
- 15 ml of tea (1 tea bag per 250 ml)
- 10 ml of simple syrup 1:1 sugar water
- 1 teaspoon of St-Germain
- 25 ml of Prosecco
The Mixing Secret: Shake the gin with the lemon juice, tea and simple syrup with ice and fine strain (syrup can be prepared in advance and must be served chilled.) Into a chilled champagne flute, pour Star of Bombay Gin. Add the Prosecco over a bar spoon or by tilting the glass.
“It was understood that nothing of a tender nature could possibly be confided to old Barley, by reason of his being totally unequal to the consideration of any subject more psychological than gout, rum, and purser’s stores.” -Charles Dickens
Traditionally the Hot Toddy is known as a cure for the common cold, but it’s also a lovely way to warm up your guests as they arrive on those icy cold nights.
- 2 parts BACARDI® Gold Rum
- 1 part Unfiltered Apple Juice
- 0.75 parts Cinnamon Syrup
- 0.5 parts Lemon Juice
The Mixing Secret: Batch all the ingredients together, heat up and serve into festive mugs. For an extra special twist, garnish each one with 2 thin apple slices and cloves.
There are many more recipes for whisky, vodka, gin and rum that with a few ingredients easily found in any kitchen, will transform a neat shot of liquor—an acquired taste for many—into a flavourful concoction to celebrate the holidays. Click here for more ideas.