Cheers to These Cocktails
Mixing Seasonal Sips to Keep Guests Satisfied
With its chilly temperatures and event-packed calendar, the winter holidays have diners craving creative, yet comforting cocktails evoking the spirit of the season. Bartenders respond with recipes that kindle just the right touch of nostalgia, while keeping things fresh. Whether guests are looking for a unique twist on a classic, a celebration of seasonal produce or an exploration of exotic new flavors, there’s never been a more exciting time to reach for the cocktail menu.
“When coming up with any new recipe, I try to use fresh, seasonal flavor combinations that are easily obtainable,” says Keri Smith, bar manager at Doc Crow’s Southern Smokehouse & Raw Bar in Louisville, Ky. “For fall and winter cocktails, fresh rosemary is good either in the cocktail itself or as a garnish because it has that pine scent. Garnishes should always add to the drink, either by scent or sight—with bonus points for both.”
Here, Smith and other noted bartenders across the country share their latest recipes and thoughts on crafting just the right cocktails for the season. Step up to the bar for a bit of inspiration.
Doc Crow’s Southern Smokehouse & Raw Bar, Louisville, Ky.
Old Forester Signature 100 proof bourbon, orchard pear liqueur, lemon juice, ginger syrup, apricot-cinnamon syrup, garnished with a dried pear chip
“Try to stick to easier cocktails. Some people get turned off by cocktails that have six or more ingredients and maybe half they haven't heard of or tried before. It can be overwhelming. And presentation is key. No one wants to drink an ugly cocktail. It sets the stage and gets you excited.”
- Keri Smith
Dash of absinthe, Prichard's Sweet Lucy liqueur, Pago de Tharsys cava, sugar cube soaked in Peychaud’s bitters, garnished with candied orange peel
“My personal go-to holiday recipe would be a warm, buttered cocktail. I've always loved hot buttered rum with a spicy twist, like making a cayenne vanilla butter and then washing the rum with it.”
- Kaitlyn Kupiac
The Pool Lounge, New York
Don Julio 1942 tequila, El Tesoro añejo tequila, grapefruit-cinnamon syrup, Bittermens ‘Elemakule Tiki bitters, garnished with a long grapefruit twist and soft cinnamon stick
“I set out to create an Old Fashioned cocktail with Don Julio 1942 as the base. I also implement a second Don, Don the Beachcomber, by adding a flavor combination of cinnamon and grapefruit called ‘Don’s Mix.’ This is the millionaire’s tequila Old Fashioned.”
- Thomas Waugh
Candy Cane Old Fashioned
Searsucker, Las Vegas
Russell’s Reserve 10-year-old bourbon, Bittermilk Peppermint Chocolate Julep mixer, Bitter Queens Norcal Nancy Eucalyptus bitters, garnished with a candy cane
“As a kid growing up in the frigid North Dakota winters, hot chocolate was a staple beverage to keep us warm. We would also insert candy canes left over from the holidays to give it a little extra sweet herbal kick! This provided my inspiration for the Candy Cane Old Fashioned.”
- Tim Weigel