Written by RJ Firchau
Get in the spirit this holiday season and show off some seriously impressive bartending skills at your next Christmas party. To get you inspired, we’ve asked 4 renowned mixologists from some of the coolest cocktail joints in Southern California to give us their best signature holiday-inspired drink recipes, so that we could share them with you. With no further ado, here are their concoctions, complete with instructions so that you can make your very own (note: ingredients listed below are for 1 cocktail). Happy sipping!
By Robert Adamson of The Blind Rabbit (Anaheim, CA)
“This cocktail was inspired by the unshakable interest in all things pumpkin for the holidays. Keeping this in mind, I wanted to create something seasonal and fun. “Michael’s” has all the perfect markings of the holidays–the orange peel and clove garnish, the spicy warm taste of pumpkin spice and rye whiskey, and the finishing subtle notes of cinnamon and vanilla to warm your heart and your tummy. The name came to us instantly as we brought it up to our nose for the first time. If you live in California and have ever been to a Michael’s craft store during the holidays, this cocktail captures that experience, from the sights to the smells to the feeling overall, perfectly.”
2 oz Bulleit rye whiskey
2 dashes of Spice Island pumpkin pie spice
0.25 oz Homemade cinnamon syrup*
0.25 oz Grade “B” maple syrup
4 drops of Homemade vanilla tincture**
Combine all ingredients into a mixing glass and stir with ice approximately 30 times. Serve in a rocks glass over slow ice (large, hand-cut ice cubes) with an clove-studded orange peel for aromatics.
*Cinnamon Syrup Preparation
You will need 2 parts sugar, 1 part water, and 8 cinnamon sticks. Total time: 6 minutes.
1. Bring the water to a boil in a saucepan with the cinnamon sticks
2. When the water is boiling, turn off the heat and let it sit for 10 minutes.
3. Strain out the cinnamon sticks.
4. Reheat your cinnamon water to a slow boil. Add sugar slowly, stirring sugar into water gradually until completely dissolved.
5. You can bottle the leftover syrup and store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Be sure to label your container so you know how long it’s good for.
**Vanilla Tincture Preparation
You will need 750 ml of 100 proof vodka and 8 vanilla beans. Total time: Approximately 5 minutes.
1. Slice vanilla beans in half lengthwise to reveal the inside of the beans.
2. Place in a sealable container and pour alcohol over the beans.
3. Seal tightly and shake gentle. Store in a cool, dark place. For best results, make this at least a few weeks in advance. If you’re on a time crunch, a vanilla flavored vodka will substitute just fine.
Lord’s Court Cobbler
By David Valiante of The Exhibition Room (Long Beach, CA)
1.5 oz Henebery rye whiskey
0.5 oz Plantation 5 Year Reserve rum
0.25 oz Amontillado Sherry
1 oz fresh persimmon/apple syrup*
0.5 oz fresh lemon juice
1 dash Angostura bitters
Add all ingredients in a Julep cup. Fill halfway with cracked ice and stir with a swizzle stick for 20-30 seconds. Top with more ice. Garnish your cocktail with a slice of dried apple, a skewer of maraschino cherries (Recommended: Luxardo), and a lemon peel.
You will need a few fuyu persimmons and fuji apples–enough for 6 oz of persimmon juice and 12 oz of apple juice, and sugar.
1. Juice the fruits and finely strain the juice mixture into a sauce pan.
2. Add 1 cup of white sugar and bring to a low boil (approximately 130 degrees), stirring frequently.
3. Remove from heat. Cool completely before using in cocktail. Store unused syrup in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
The Great Secret (“The Best Cocktail You’re Not Ordering Tonight”)
By Jarred Dooley of The Playground (Santa Ana, CA)
“Born from a love of cherries and almonds, The Great Secret combines notes of cherry pie and toasty almonds fortified with a little rye whiskey. I have had an ongoing love affair with Sherry, Amontillado in particular, and when paired with Maurin Quina, magic happens!”
1 oz Valdespino Amontillado Sherry
1 oz Maurin Quina
0.5 oz Rittenhouse Rye Whiskey
0.5 oz Cherry Heering
Lemon and orange peels for garnish
Combine all the ingredients into a double old-fashioned glass with a single large ice cube. Stir until chilled. Garnish with the lemon and orange peel and serve.
Time to Waste
By Jacob Cedeno of Little Sparrow Cafe (Santa Ana, CA)
“During the holidays, no one is in a hurry. Everyone has time to waste–time to enjoy things and sit back. I wanted to capture that feeling and put it in a cup for people to drink and enjoy just like a good slice of carrot cake or pumpkin pie.”
time to waste
2 oz spiced rum (recommended: Zaya)
1.5 oz Carrot simple syrup
0.5 oz Lime juice
Build ingredients in a glass with a single large ice cube. Stir and serve. To get fancy, garnish with a skewered baby carrot and a mint sprig.
Whether you’re mixing these up for yourself or for a crowd, we hope your drinks are strong, your company is exceptional, and your holidays are superb. Oh, and let us know which concoction you enjoyed best–we’d love to hear all about it. Cheers.