There is no question Americans are fond of their traditions, especially when it comes to the holidays. So whether you’re hosting an intimate gathering or perhaps planning an elaborate affair, I’d like to share with you a few of my all-time favorite holiday recipes. These classic cocktails are the perfect addition to your upcoming celebration.
When people think of holiday parties and festive get-togethers, the first thing that often comes to mind is holiday punch. Beyond being an attractive addition to your table setting, this quintessential centerpiece is a great conversation starter. My personal recipe features an equal split of aged rum and brandy mixed with black tea, sugar, lemon juice and a light dusting of nutmeg on each glass.
A perennial favorite, hot cider with a touch of anise, clove and cinnamon, is simple to make, mixes easy and travels well when heated prior to serving. To prepare, simply add aged rum (or an apple brandy) to taste. To give it a festive nose, a dusting of nutmeg and a dash of almost any style of bitters is a welcomed touch.
When I’m looking to add pizazz and excitement to any gathering, my go-to is the champagne cocktail. Saturate one sugar cube in Angostura bitters, and then drop it into a champagne flute. Top off with champagne and garnish with a lemon twist. For an even more delightful creation, add a splash of Giffard Syrup or a nice Remy Cognac to taste.
Feeling adventurous? Consider the French 75. This vintage holiday drink is similar to the famed Tom Collins, with champagne substituting for carbonated water. Add .75 oz gin, lemon juice and simple syrup in a flute, and then top off with champagne. Voila! Holiday perfection!
There’s nothing more synonymous with the holiday season than eggnog. Here is a great homemade eggnog recipe that is simple to follow:
6 eggs (separated)
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 quarts milk
1 pint cream
6 oz each bourbon and spiced rum
1 whole nutmeg
The goal is light and frothy eggnog — the key to doing this is to use more milk than cream and to whip the egg whites independent of the yolks. Beat the egg yolks, and add half a cup of the sugar. Mix in the cream and milk, and then add your spirit. Stir in the remaining sugar, and continue to beat the mixture until it begins to peak. Now whip your egg whites and fold into your mix. Grate fresh nutmeg over the top for a fabulously festive finish.
About the Expert: John Christie
John Christie is the director of Craft and Luxury Spirits for Young’s Market Company in Arizona. His illustrious career began in 1998 at The Arizona Baseball Club at Bank One Ballpark, where he quickly became a part of a new generation of bartenders in the area perfecting the art of classic craft cocktails. In 2004, John made the leap to head bartender at the James Hotel in Scottsdale, capturing national acclaim for his vast skills and deep knowledge of spirits and select beverages.
A successful author, storyteller, and regular contributor to numerous fine spirits and mixology publications, John’s enthusiasm and passion for the industry are revered by his peers — and appreciated by an ever-growing number of satisfied customers and guests.