By Nathan Robins
As 2015 fades to memory, we enter a season of celebration and numbing cold – two things which are complemented marvelously by festive drinks to keep your spirits high and the chill at bay. The winter months are home to some of the grandest celebrations of the year, from holiday parties and intimate family gatherings to citywide extravaganzas; the exuberance is infectious and inescapable. To get you into the holiday spirit, or to ease you into acquiescence that the soundtrack of the world suddenly features considerably more bells and chimes, I present you with a roster of celebration inspired cocktails which will light you up like a Christmas tree and burn through those memories of grandpa’s annual New Year rant.
As always be careful and safe, enjoy what you drink, drink what you enjoy, and do so with people you cherish.
Taste-wise, this drink isn’t all that special. By no means is it bland or bad, it is simply and maybe a bit familiar, but this is by design. It is essentially a striped down Long Island Iced Tea, which makes it go down easy. The secret to this drink is the cake shimmer dust which is normally used in cake decorating to make things sparkle or give a metallic sheen. Here, mixed into the drink, the dust causes swirls of silver and gold throughout the glass. While this could be done with practically any cocktail, the taste of the dust is unnoticeable, I chose this drink and it’s somewhat standard taste to ensure that it would wouldn’t sit still too long. Unfortunately the shimmer dust will not remain in suspension forever and if the drink sits still too long it will settle out, a slowly sipped flashy martini might eventually have a muddy silver precipitate. Being both quickly consumed and dark, any settled material should go unseen in the Disco Tea. As a side note, I almost always use diet cola in cocktails as I find the taste a bit cleaner (some would say chemical) but either diet or regular will do here.
1 ½ oz. White Rum
1 ½ oz. Vodka
½ oz. Gin
¼ oz. Sweet and Sour mix
¼ tsp. Silver Cake Shimmer Dust
Fill a shaker partially with ice, add all ingredients aside from the cold. Shake vigorously, transfer to a tall glass, and top with diet soda.
The sound of corks popping out of sparkling wine bottles is celebratory in its own right and while Champagne, Prosecco, and their bubbling cousins may not need to be mixed to be enjoyed it is certainly nice to deviate from the typical from time to time and it’s a creative way to stretch bottles late into the night. This cocktail was also a chance to call on two of my favorite liquors, St. Germain and Creme de Violette. Between the floral liquors and Prosecco, this is a very light and bright cocktail something only further enhanced by the citrus of the vodka. Though optional this drink can be decorated by mixing white sugar cake sparkles (colored bits of sugar) and rimming the glasses, I used a deep blue to match the Creme de Violette, or the glasses could be rimmed in the silver shimmer dust used in the Disco Tea.
1 oz. Creme de Violette
½ oz. St. Germain
½ oz. Citrus Vodka
Cake Sparkles (optional)
Rim a martini glass with mixed sugar (optional). Combine ingredients in glass and fill with well chilled Prosecco.
The Auld Lang Syne
“Auld Lang Syne” is one of my favorite songs, and the New Year can not properly be entered without it, so I knew I wanted to include a cocktail inspired by it. A poem before put to music it was originally penned by Robert Burns, Scotland’s ‘favourite son’, so without a doubt Scotch had to be the base liquor of my liquid tribute. Unfortunately Scotch is extremely difficult to mix with, and as such, when using Scotch in a mixed drink, ingredients should be chosen that will play well in the background and not compete with the Scotch. In this drink cranberry juice is used to match the dryer notes of some Scotch but it is mellowed out with simple syrup, however if you use a very peaty Scotch I’d leave this out – the earthy taste clashes with sweetness. I don’t recommend using an expensive Scotch for mixing as the subtleties those are noted for would largely be covered by the other ingredients. This drink is not for the faint of heart, as Scotch to most is an acquired taste, and scotch aficionados might turn their noses up at it their patron spirit comingling yet it does provide a nice introduction to a liquor many might otherwise avoid.
2 oz. Scotch
1 oz. Amaretto
½ Oz. Cranberry Juice
Dash of Simple Syrup
Fill a shaker partially with ice, add all ingredients and swirl to combine. Strain into a snifter or rocks glass.