Cocktails for Christmas 2018

Cocktails for Christmas 2018

Declare the holidays happy with a cocktail or two among friends. We offer up these suggestions along with a Christmas Cookie Cheesecake with Winter Jack Caramel Sauce recipe. Enjoy!

Candy Cane Cocktail
For candy cane vodka:
1 vanilla pod
6 six-inch candy canes
750ml bottle of Ketel One Vodka

Cocktail Ingredients
1 ¼ oz. candy cane vodka
34 oz. clear Crème de Cacao (plus a little for the rim)
1 dash of Angostura bitters
splash of cherry brandy for color (if needed)
crushed candy cane for the rim

Candy Cane Method:
Pour the Ketel One Vodka into a lidded jar. Split the vanilla pod lengthways with a sharp knife and add to the vodka. Break or crush the candy canes (crush with a rolling pin or use a food processor). Add the crushed candy canes to the jar with the vanilla pod and vodka. If required, add a splash of cherry brandy for color. Seal and leave in a cool, dark place for up to four days (the longer it sits, the stronger the peppermint flavoring will be) shaking occasionally. When ready, strain to remove the vanilla pod and sediment.

Cocktail Method:
Place candy cane in a food processor and blend until it’s the consistency of granulated sugar, or crush the candy canes using a rolling pin. Apply Crème de Cacao to the outer rim of a Martini glass or coupe. Coat the rim with the crushed candy cane. Pour the candy cane vodka, Crème de Cacao, and Angostura bitters into a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into the candy rimmed Martini glass or coupe.

Plum, Yuzu, Gin, and Beer Punch
Serves 5
by Monica Carbonell, Beverage Director of Liquid Culture
5 brown sugar cubes
10 dashes El Guapo Holiday Pie Bitters
6 oz. gin
3 oz. Yuzu liqueur
8 oz. plum juice (2 plums + 1/2 cup water blended & strained)
3 oz. orange juice
1/2 oz. club soda
2 cinnamon sticks
2 cloves
5 oz. saison ale
plum slices, for garnish

In a pitcher, combine sugar cubes with bitters and an oz. of club soda. Muddle and stir until well dissolved. Add gin, liqueur, juices, the rest of the soda, cinnamon, and cloves. Fill pitcher halfway with ice and gently stir until well chilled. Strain into a punch bowl, but keep the cinnamon and the cloves in the liquid for 30 minutes before serving to properly steep. For individual pours, use a rocks glass with 1 large ice cube and top with 1 oz. of beer per cocktail. Garnish with plum slices.

Hard Knog
1 oz. Bourbon Barreled Big Gin
1 oz. 10 yr Tawny Port (we changed ours up with Fonseca Port Siroco, an extra dry white port for a less sweet version)
1 whole egg
½ oz. simple syrup

Build cocktail in shaker tin. Hard dry shake. Add ice and shake again. Double strain into your favorite festive glassware. Grate nutmeg across the top for a garnish.

Apple Butter Old Fashioned
courtesy of
coarse sugar, for the rim (optional)
1/4 cup apple cider
juice from 1/2 a lemon
dash of orange bitters
1 Tbsp. apple butter
2 oz. bourbon
ginger beer or ginger kombucha, for topping (optional)
thinly sliced apples and cinnamon, for garnish

If desired, rim your glass with coarse sugar. In a cocktail shaker, combine the apple cider, lemon juice, orange bitters, apple butter, and bourbon. Shake to combine. Strain into your prepared glass filled with ice. If desired top with ginger beer. Garnish with cinnamon and apples.

Rugged Orchard
1 ½ oz. Wyoming Whiskey Small Batch Bourbon
2 slices organic Fuji apple
2 oz. apple cider
¾ oz. agave nectar
1 pinch cinnamon

Muddle 1 apple slice in a shaker. Pour bourbon and agave nectar in the shaker too and shake. Add a large block or ball of ice. Top with cider and garnish with another apple slice and the pinch of cinnamon before 

Cobb’s Robler
1 oz. Glenlivet Founder’s Edition
1/2 oz. cream sherry
1/2 oz. amontillado sherry
1/4 oz. cinnamon syrup
¼ oz. apricot syrup
1/4 oz. walnut liqueur
1/4 oz. sherry vinegar

Shake all ingredients and strain over crushed ice in a rocks glass. No garnish is needed.

Nine Dancing Ladies
1 oz. The Botanist Gin
1 oz. fresh grapefruit juice
¾ oz. elderflower liqueur
½ oz. fresh lemon juice
1 tarragon sprig

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake. Fine strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with tarragon sprig and serve up.

The Merry Maker
1 1.2 oz. Port Cask Finished Virginia-Highland Whisky
1/2 oz. Laird’s Applejack Brandy
1 Tbsp. whole berry cranberry sauce
1/2 oz. brown sugar cinnamon simple syrup
1/4 oz. lemon juice
3 oz. cranberry juice
4 drops of orange bitters
Orange slice
Cinnamon stick

Muddle cranberry sauce and simple syrup in a shaker. Add lemon juice, cranberry juice, whisky, and brandy. Add ice, shake until chilled. Strain into a rock glass over ice and add bitters. Garnish with an orange slice and cinnamon stick.

Holiday Cheer
from Sticks at The Inn at Spanish Bay, Pebble Beach Resorts
1 ¼ oz. Absolut vodka
¾ oz. Godiva White Chocolate liqueur
1 oz. pumpkin spice syrup (recipe below)
1 navel orange wedge, skin on (about 1/8 of a medium-sized orange)
1 dash pumpkin spice

Add vodka, white chocolate liqueur and pumpkin spice syrup to a shaker. Fill ¾ with ice. Squeeze the orange wedge and add the juice to the shaker. Add the wedge to the shaker as well. Shake vigorously and strain into a chilled martini glass. Dust with a dash of pumpkin spice.

Pumpkin Spice Syrup
1 cup granulated white sugar
1 cup hot water
1 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice mix

Combine sugar and hot water in a small saucepan. Stir. Cook on medium/low heat until sugar has been dissolved, stirring occasionally until the mixture appears clear. Remove from heat and add the tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice. Whisk to incorporate. It’s okay if the spices clump a bit. Allow the mixture of spice and syrup to cool to room temperature. Once cooled, strain the spices from the mix by using a strainer lined with a coffee filter to help capture the smaller particles. (Getting most of the spices out is good enough—a little spice sediment won’t hurt the syrup.) Chill for use. Store this syrup in the fridge—it should stay good for two weeks or more. Yields ~12 oz.

Turmeric Hot Chocolate
courtesy of
1 cup milk
1½ Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. ground turmeric
2 tsp. coconut oil
a pinch of black pepper, to help absorb the turmeric
a pinch of cayenne pepper
2 tsp. honey

Pour milk in a sauce pan. Add cocoa powder, turmeric and coconut oil. Mix everything with a whisk until combined and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat, add a pinch of black pepper and cayenne pepper and give it a stir. Pour in a mug. Let it cool down a bit before adding honey. Serve warm.

Notes: Honey can be substituted with sugar, agave syrup, or maple syrup. Coconut oil and black pepper are important here as they help your body absorb turmeric. Cayenne pepper can be omitted.

Midori Peppermint Kiss
1 oz. Midori Melon Liqueur
1 oz. Skyy Vodka
3 oz. pineapple juice
¼ oz. fresh lemon juice
¼ oz. peppermint schnapps
6 basil leaves, gently torn in half (to release oils)

In a chilled shaker glass, add all the above ingredients. Add ice, shake for 15 seconds, and then strain into a Collins glass. Garnish with a basil leaf and one raspberry sitting in front of basil in glass.

Beet, Drink and be Merry
2 oz. Mount Gay Black Barrel
1 oz. fresh lime
1 oz. beet juice
½ oz. simple syrup

Add all ingredients to shaker. Add ice and shake. Strain into chilled coupe. Garnish with a lime wheel.

Santa’s Espresso
¼ oz. Godiva Chocolate Liqueur
¼ oz. ginger liqueur
¼ oz. cinnamon simple syrup
2 oz. rye whiskey
one shot of espresso

Add all ingredients into a coffee mug and stir well. Before serving, garnish with a cinnamon stick and a cherry.

1 1/2 oz. Casamigos Blanco
¾ oz. white chocolate liqueur
1/4 oz. crème de menthe
1 oz. blue curaçao
top off with whipped cream

Combine all ingredients into tin shaker and add ice. Shake vigorously and strain into champagne glass. Top off with whipped cream and garnish with crushed peppermint candy and a rosemary sprig.

The Salty Caramel
courtesy of Ocean Prime New York
1 ½ oz. Ketel One Vodka
1 oz. Giffard Vanille De Madagascar
½ oz. Baileys Irish Cream Salted Caramel Liqueur
1 oz. caramel syrup
2 oz. half & half
1 egg white

Combine all ingredients in small shaker. Fill larger shaker with ice and shake vigorously until mixture is integrated and chilled. Strain cocktail into chilled coupe and garnish with smoked sea salt.

Bulleit Cranberry Ginger Punch
1 1/4 oz. Bulleit Bourbon
2 ½ oz. cranberry juice
1.4 oz. ginger syrup
1 oz. club soda
frozen cranberries

Combine Bulleit Bourbon, Cranberry Juice, and Ginger Syrup. Top with Club Soda in a rocks glass with ice and add frozen cranberries.

Note: Prepare a group serve of 20 drinks by using a punch bowl, one 750 ml bottle of Bulleit Bourbon and multiplying all other ingredients by 20.

Christmas Cookie Cheesecake
One 16.5-oz. tube store-bought sugar cookie dough
Four 8-oz. packages cream cheese, at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup sour cream
2 Tbsp. vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
Red and green sprinkles, for decorating
One 1-pound box confectioners’ sugar (about 4 cups)
2 Tbsp. meringue powder
Red and green gel food coloring
two pastry bags fitted with small round tips

Position an oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Press the cookie dough into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan (use the bottom of a measuring cup to help spread it out and make it even). Bake until the cookie is set and golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool completely, about 30 minutes. Wrap the bottom and sides of the pan with a large piece of foil and put it in a large roasting pan. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F.

Beat the cream cheese and granulated sugar together in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed for 1 minute. Add the sour cream and vanilla and beat until just combined. Mix in the eggs by hand, one at a time, until just combined. (Take care not to overmix or the cheesecake will puff up and crack). Pour the batter into the springform pan. Add enough hot water to the roasting pan to come about halfway up the side of the springform pan.

Bake until the outside of the cake is set but the center is still slightly loose, about 1 hour and 20 minutes. Turn the oven off and leave the cheesecake in the oven for another hour. Remove the cheesecake from the roasting pan to a cooling rack. Run a knife around the edge and cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours.

Run a knife around the edge of the pan once more and unlock to unmold the cheesecake. Transfer to a serving platter or cake stand and smooth the edges with a knife. Pat the Jimmie sprinkles into the sides of the cheesecake making sure not to cover the crust or get any on top.

Whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and meringue powder in a large bowl. Add 5 tablespoons water and beat with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until soft glossy peaks form, adding up to 1 more tablespoon water if necessary.

Transfer about 1/2 cup of the royal icing to a pastry bag fitted with a small round tip. Thin the remaining icing with 1 teaspoon of water at a time until it is the consistency of syrup (you know you have reached the right consistency if you drizzle a bit of the icing and it sinks back into the icing within 8 to 10 seconds). Transfer 1 cup of the thinned icing in another pastry bag fitted with a small round tip. Divide the remaining batter between two small bowl and color one red and one green with the red and green gel food coloring.

Use the thick white icing to pipe a large scalloped circle around the cake leaving a 3/4-inch border. Use the thinned white icing to fill the center of the scalloped circle. Use an offset spatula to spread the icing out so that it is smooth. Decorate with the colored icing while the white icing is still set. Chill the cake until the icing is set, at least 1 hour.

For a fun topping, drizzle some of this over top before serving.

Winter Jack Caramel Sauce
2 cups sugar
½ cups water
1 Tbsp. light corn syrup
1 cup heavy cream
1/3 Jack Daniel’s Winter Jack Tennessee Cider

In a medium to large saucepan, combine the sugar, water and corn syrup and whisk to combine. Bring to a boil over medium high heat and stop whisking or stirring after it comes to a full boil. Boil vigorously for 5 to 10 minutes until the sugar reaches a deep amber color. If you see smoke (not steam) immediately remove the pan from the heat.

Remove the pan of sugar from the heat and let it sit for 2 minutes. Very slowly add in the cream, and whisk to combine. Use caution as the caramel will bubble and steam up aggressively. Let sit for 2 more minutes then add the Winter Jack, and stir to combine. If you see lumps in the sauce at this point, put the pan back on the heat for one minute, stirring or whisking constantly until smooth.

Remove the caramel from heat. Cool completely before transferring to jars or bottles. This caramel sauce should be stored in the refrigerator and can be kept for up to 2 weeks.

Makes 2 ½ cups.

Kim Richards lives in Santa Rosa, California. She is an author, amateur cheese maker, wine/mead maker, and a novice home brewer. She enjoys a nice cocktail while listening to live music, watching movies and mixed martial arts, or dining at home and in restaurants. She and her husband frequent festivals and love to visit breweries and distilleries.

Favorite cocktail: Old Fashioned with maple syrup.

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