2021 Forbes Holiday Cocktail Guide

Food & Drink

Simple recipes for 11 festive drinks—and one punch that packs a punch—from award-winning bartenders around the world.

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire may sound lovely but what do you pair with it? To add some actual spirits to the holiday spirit—or to give Jack Frost a different kind of nip—here are 12 easy cocktail recipes from acclaimed bars and bartenders around the world. Some feature the flavors associated with the season, while others conjure memories of childhood for kids from 21 to 92. And although it’s been said many times, many ways, you can also enjoy these on December 31, or the Lunar New Year—or any time you just want to feel very merry.


Negroni Code

Because of its golden ratio—a 1:1:1 mix of gin, bitters and sweet vermouth—the Negroni is one of those classic cocktails that inspires endless experimentation. At the Connaught Bar in London—2021’s World’s Best Bar and a perennial winner at the Spirited Awards—director of mixology Agostino Perrone and head mixologist Giorgio Bargiani have created a festive variation for the holidays. “We wanted to twist the Negroni to remind us of convivial moments with family and friends back in Italy, using flavors that are typical of our gastronomic tradition,” Perrone says. “Raisins and oranges are reminiscent of Italian Christmas desserts and are also widely available, making this take on the Negroni a simple and customizable serve for everyone’s festive occasion. The fresh and persistent flavors of orange and cocoa husk add a velvety and mouthful texture to make your special celebration even more memorable.”

NEGRONI CODE

Ingredients:

1 oz. gin

1 oz. bitters

1 oz. sweet vermouth

1 oz. aromatic water*

1 drop of balsamic vinegar 

1 orange peel

*Aromatic water: Infuse cocoa nibs in hot water with raisins and orange peel. Let the infusion rest for 1 hour, cool down and filter into a bottle to be stored.

Method: Stir all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Pour in a rocks glass over a cube of ice. Garnish with an orange peel.



Holiday Spiced Cuba Libre

Lynnette Marrero is a pioneer in the spirits world, celebrated for her bartender mentorship as well as her innovative drink recipes. An inaugural Dame Hall of Fame inductee at Tales of the Cocktail, a cofounder of Speed Rack and a Masterclass mixology teacher, her holiday cocktail remixes a traditional Cuba Libre with the scents and tastes of the season. “The Holiday Spiced Cuba Libre is a great cocktail because it’s easy to prepare and you can have fun with the spices and the different flavors of good quality maple syrup,” Marrero says. “I love to set up a highball station for guests to enjoy as they build their own cocktails and pick their choice of spice garnish and base spirit. This cocktail really works best with aged spirits, which amplify the baking spice notes.”

HOLIDAY SPICED CUBA LIBRE

Ingredients:

1.5 oz. rum

3 oz. Fever-Tree Distillers Cola 

0.5 oz. fresh lime juice

0.5 oz. quality maple syrup

Cinnamon stick

Nutmeg

Method: Fill a highball glass with ice then add the lime juice, maple syrup, the Fever-Tree Distillers Cola and the rum. Give it a gentle stir. Garnish with a cinnamon stick and grated nutmeg.


Tiger Style

For Deke Dunne, the head bartender and beverage director at the Allegory at Eaton DC, the holiday season extends past January 1 to the Lunar New Year, which reminds him of his beloved aunt and uncle. “My Uncle Scotty married my Aunt Grace when she moved from Beijing to study in the States. As a white kid growing up in a predominately white rural town in Wyoming, it took me a while to realize that we were the only family that would celebrate the Chinese New Year,” says Dunne, whose Beltway watering hole was named a regional honoree for Best U.S. Hotel Bar category at last year’s Spirited Awards. “Every time we would visit, Scotty always had dope music playing during the holidays, which had a big impact on my musical tastes. There’s a good chance I would have never gotten into groups like Wu Tang Clan without his influence. Devastatingly, Scotty passed away this year, so this cocktail is in commemoration of him. The perfect cocktail to celebrate the Chinese New Year: A Bee’s Knees riff, Wu Tang style. For Uncle Scotty and Aunt Grace.”

TIGER STYLE

Ingredients:

2 oz. gin

0.75 oz. fresh-squeezed lemon juice

0.50 oz. Chinese 5-spice honey syrup*

0.25 oz. Demerara syrup**

*Chinese 5-Spice Honey Syrup: Combine 2 oz. of honey with 1 oz. of water in a pan. Add 2 tablespoons of ground Chinese 5-spice and bring the mixture to a simmer on the stove. Stir until the honey and water have fully incorporated. Remove from the heat and let the mixture sit for 20 minutes. Strain the syrup through a fine mesh strainer to catch any large 5-spice particulates. Let cool and then bottle and refrigerate. The syrup will last for up to 3 weeks.

**Demerara Syrup: Combine 1 oz. of Demerara sugar with 1 oz. of water in a pan and bring to a simmer on the stove. Stir until the sugar and water fully incorporate. Let cool and then bottle and refrigerate. The syrup will last for up to 3 weeks.

Method: Combine all the ingredients into a shaker, add ice and shake for 10 seconds. Double strain the cocktail into a stemmed glass and garnish with a pinch of Chinese 5-spice.


Harlem Shake

Australia’s coffee culture is among the best in the world. And Maybe Sammy in Sydney puts the bar in barista by adding its own boozy twist to coffee-based cocktails. (Maybe Sammy even has a dedicated menu for the category.) But the Harlem Shake is by far its most popular offering. “This signature coffee cocktail features a local coffee liqueur and dark notes of Cognac with a spicy gingery aftertaste,” says Martin Hudak, the cofounder of the 2019 Spirited Award-winning bar and a Forbes Under 30 lister in his native Slovakia. “It’s the perfect holiday cocktail and it’s great as a digestif after dinner—and if you fancy something a bit different rather than a classic Espresso Martini.”

HARLEM SHAKE

Ingredients:

1 oz. coffee liqueur

1 oz. Cognac or brandy

0.5 oz. ginger syrup

1 oz. espresso

Black pepper

Method: Combine ingredients in a shaker and shake. Pour into a rocks glass and garnish with fresh-cracked black pepper.



Tannic at the Disco

The Spare Room at the Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles is part cocktail lounge and part gaming parlor—its name was inspired by the bar’s two bowling lanes—with a cocktail menu that complements its Old Hollywood décor. “My reinterpretation of the Cosmopolitan is a fun and festive cocktail that’s simple to make—but looks quite impressive,” says Tess Anne Sawyer, the bar director at Spirited Awards’ Best American Hotel Bar for 2020. “You can take it up a notch by using a flavored vodka such as pear or apple. And with the float of sparkling red wine, it’s always a party when some bubbles are involved!”

TANNIC AT THE DISCO

Ingredients:

1.5 oz. vodka

0.75 oz. triple sec or orange liqueur

0.75 oz. white cranberry juice

0.5 oz. fresh lime juice

1 oz. sparkling red wine

Method: Add the first four ingredients to a shaking vessel and shake vigorously with ice. Strain into a stemmed glass and float an ounce of sparkling red wine on top. Add a festive garnish if you’d like.


Bourbon Maple Today

“Making good cocktails around the holidays often involves improvisation and making the most of what’s around,” says Robert Haynes, a James Beard Award-winning bartender and the creator of the Gold Fashioned, a ready-to-drink craft cocktail. “Next time you’re at a function and digging through a friend or family member’s fridge for a mixer, remember the Bourbon Maple Toddy and thank me later. Chances are, there’s syrup in the side door and a lemon rolling around in there somewhere. Pro Tip: Don’t forget to prime those mugs with hot water!”

BOURBON MAPLE TODAY

Ingredients:

1 oz. 90-proof bourbon 

0.50 oz. pure maple syrup

0.25 oz. lemon juice

1 dash Angostura bitters

Method: Prime a mug with hot water. Discard water and add ingredients. Top with 4 oz. of piping hot water. Stir briefly and garnish with a lemon peel.


Buddy Bolden

Charles Joly, cofounder of Crafthouse Cocktails, has been honored by just about every spirits competition imaginable—including being named U.S. Bartender of the Year at the 2013 Spirited Awards and Diageo World Class global champion in 2014. For the holidays this year, jazz musician Buddy Bolden is very much on Joly’s mind. “Buddy Bolden was one of the most important figures in the earliest days of jazz and ragtime music in New Orleans. The music he and his contemporaries created scream celebration, revelry and community. When I’m entertaining, I love to toss on a playlist with music from that era. It’s guaranteed to put you in a festive mood,” says Joly. “This drink borrows some cues from classic New Orleans cocktails. The split base of Cognac and rye is the way I most enjoy my Sazerac cocktail—one of the most revered libations of the Crescent City.”  

BUDDY BOLDEN

Ingredients:

1.5 oz. Cognac 

0.5 oz. rye whiskey

0.5 oz. port

1 oz. fresh lemon juice

0.75 oz. simple syrup

1 dash of Peychaud’s Bitters

1 dash of Angostura Bitters

Lemon twist

Method: Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake well and strain into a chilled coupe glass. Peel a lemon twist, expressing the oils over the cocktail and place the twist in the glass.


Homecoming Old Fashioned

Cherished family memories play an important role in Haley Traub’s holiday cocktail recipe, which calls for either aged or single malt Irish whiskey. “My siblings and I all moved away from the Midwest to various parts of the country,” says Traub, the general manager and the head bartender at New York’s Attaboy, a Spirited Award winner for Best American Cocktail Bar in 2019. “Every holiday season our mom would bake loaves of her famous banana bread and send them to us. The flavors have become incredibly nostalgic—and the aged Irish whiskey just plays better into the banana bread notes. And now that we’re all grown, we can share those flavors in cocktail form.”  

HOMECOMING OLD FASHIONED

Ingredients:

1.5 oz. 12-year or single malt Irish whiskey 

0.5 oz. walnut liqueur

0.25 oz. banana liqueur

3 dashes chocolate bitters

Lemon twist

Method: Build in an Old Fashioned glass over a large rock of ice. Garnish with a lemon twist.



Rusty Ringo

Bar Goto, a Best American Cocktail Bar nominee at the 2020 Spirited Awards, specializes in Japanese-inspired drinks. But this year, the Tokyo-born owner and bar director of Kenta Goto in New York, has been dreaming of Scotland. “I’m always a big fan of Scotch. And if you really like it, you have also probably heard of a Rusty Nail, which is traditionally made with Scotch and Drambuie. In this riff on the classic that we’re serving on our new winter menu at Bar Goto’s Brooklyn outpost, Bar Goto Niban, we add Calvados,” Goto says. “The apple brandy adds a beautiful aroma that works very well with Drambuie, which is made from Scotch and honey. The resulting cocktail is velvety and luxurious and is perfect to sip after a big holiday meal.”

RUSTY RINGO

Ingredients:

1.75 oz. Calvados

0.5 oz. Drambuie

0.25 oz. Scotch whisky

Gold leaf flake

Method: Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass. Fill up the mixing glass three-quarters to the top with ice. Stir 40 to 50 times. (You can adjust the stirring to increase or decrease the dilution to your taste.) Strain into a rocks glass with fresh ice. Garnish with a gold leaf flake.


The Decisive Moment

Miami mixologist Valentino Longo is renowned for his palate and his eye. Growing up in Rome, Longo worked in his father’s photography studio and that training still plays an important role in his position as head bartender at The Surf Club. “The Decisive Moment was inspired by the art of photography, using ingredients that correspond with different elements found in a photograph: light, shadow, subject and contrast,” says Longo, who was named Tales of the Cocktails’ Most Imaginative Bartender for 2020. The drink’s name is derived from Henri Cartier-Bresson’s influential philosophy about street photography, but, Longo adds, “it also means the exact moment when a guest and a bartender meet each other through a drink. That’s the ‘decisive moment’ for a bartender. It’s an elegant riff on a classic gin martini, rooted in simplicity—and ideal for any celebration.”

THE DECISIVE MOMENT

Ingredients:

1 oz. gin

0.5 oz. dry Jerez sherry

0.5 oz. Italicus Bergamot Liqueur

0.25 oz. Americano Cocchi

Coffee balsamic vinegar

Extra virgin olive oil

Method: In a mixing glass, stir all ingredients together and pour into glass. Garnish with a drop of olive oil and 3 drops of coffee balsamic vinegar.



Chocolate Negroni  

A century after it began life as a coffeehouse in New York’s Greenwich Village, Dante was reborn as a bar and restaurant in 2015—and became a Negroni paradise. (And like heaven itself, it’s not so easy to get into—especially since it was Best American Restaurant Bar for 2019 at the Spirited Awards.) “The Chocolate Negroni is a longtime favorite,” says Chris Moore, Dante’s beverage director. “This variation of the Negroni is rich and full of spice, with subtle notes of chocolate from the dark crème de cacao and chocolate bitters. It adds yet another layer of complexity to the already complex cocktail. Always serve in frozen glassware, use good ice (and lots of it) and pay attention to proportions when mixing the drink.”

CHOCOLATE NEGRONI

Ingredients:

1 oz. gin

0.75 oz. Carpano Punt e Mes

0.75 oz. Campari

0.25 oz. dark crème de cacao

Chocolate bitters

Orange twist

Valrhona chocolate

Method: Stir in a mixing glass and strain over a large ice cube in a rocks glass. Garnish with an orange twist and shaved Valrhona chocolate. 


Sweet Christmas 

Mexico City’s Licorería Limantour, the Spirited Awards’ Best International High Volume Cocktail Bar for 2020, is known for its vibrant party scene. But its holiday cocktail is made for quiet nights at home. “The inspiration behind this drink comes from the iconic elements in a Christmas dinner and how they mean communion, love and family,” says Yayo Nava, Limantour’s bar manager. “Cider reminds us of the toast and the celebration. The punch with seasonal fruits reminds us of Christmas flavors and the sherry that has been a significant part of my career as a bartender, part of my history and my essence.”

SWEET CHRISTMAS

Ingredients:

1.5 oz. Cabernet Sauvignon red wine

0.5 oz. lemon juice

1 oz. Tio Pepe Fino sherry

1.5 oz. apple cider 

1 oz. punch syrup*

Grapes

Mint sprig

 

*Punch syrup: Bring 0.5 gram of your preferred assorted fruit snack and spices for punch (such as apples, pears, oranges, tamarind, guavas, dried fruit, pieces of sugarcane); 1.5 liters of water; and sugar (1.5 parts sugar to 1 part water) to a boil for 15 minutes and let it infuse.

Method: Put in all the ingredients (except the cider) into a shaker with ice and mix using the throwing technique to oxygenate the mixture. Serve in a highball glass with ice cubes and finish filling with cider. Garnish with a mint sprig and a grape skewer. Note: Adjust portions of ingredients accordingly if you want to turn this into a batchable drink to serve guests.



MORE FROM FORBES


BUSHMILLS BRANDVOICE | PAID PROGRAM

Your Newest Holiday Tradition Is Ireland’s Oldest

Bushmills invites whiskey lovers to discover the unique, award-winning style of the following four traditional Irish whiskeys.

READ MORE


Products You May Like

Articles You May Like

China cuts quarantine time for international travelers in big step toward easing Covid controls
Spanish Premium Wine Region Commits To 100% Tempranillo Wines
Why more air travel chaos is on its way
Fanged Creature Attacks AIMS Team | Mountain Monsters | Travel Channel
Vermont ski resort to change ‘insensitive’ name

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.