I would like to make an alcoholic contribution to this year's family Christmas party. My extended family generally settles on wine as the beverage of choice, but I would like to attempt to introduce them to spirits. I've made Brandy Alexanders and Eggnog recently and liked both. However, I think they might be too heavy for many (including myself) so I was wondering if fellow Hounds had any recommendations for drinks that are equally agreeable (i.e. not overly alcoholic or challenging) but less rich and would be simple to make en masse.
How about the Widow's Kiss?
1 1/2 oz Calvados
3/4 oz Benedictine
3/4 oz Yellow Chartreuse
This is "less rich," per your requirements, than either of the dairy-based cocktails you listed. But it's still rich in its own way. It's also smooth, deep, spicy, and very much evocative of the holidays (at least, for me). I personally think the drink wouldn't be hurt by a small squeeze of lemon oil expressed over the surface, but I don't think that's usually called for. For added festivity you could serve in Champagne flutes. The drink takes on a very pretty golden hue.
Another option you might consider would be a flip of some sort. Yarm has a bunch of recipes for them on his blog (Cocktail Virgin).
I have not once had anyone dislike a Corpse Reviver #2 when I've made them one. Use Cocchi Americano if you can find it, but Lillet Blanc works very well too. If that's too citrusy for the holidays, I generally have had good responses to the Cocktail La Louisiane, which might be better suited to colder weather.
If you want to get really fancy, you can cook down, sweeten and puree the cranberries and add some to a standard margarita increasing the orange component a little bit, or to taste.
If you don't want to get fancy, just use cranberry juice cocktail (not straight cranberry juice, which is beyond "bracing <g>) in the margarita, which will both mask and dilute the tequila flavor. Or better yet, throw it all in the blender and make a slurpee margarita. Festive, pretty to look at and only slightly alcoholic
I think you can't go wrong with a well-made Sidecar or its French cousin The Deauville. I think both are nice for the holidays.
1 1/2 oz. brandy
3/4 oz. Cointreau
3/4 oz. fresh lemon juice
3/4 oz brandy
3/4 oz Calvados
3/4 oz Cointreau
3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
I wouldn't disagree in that they go well with the holidays. However, I'm on the hunt for "gateway cocktails", and I feel that the Sidecar is a little too straightforward to meet that requirement. Whatever I make must appeal to a crowd which normally sticks to beer and/or wine. My hope is to slowly steer them to the dark side.
How about a classic whiskey sour? Use egg white for a festive foamy top. You could add something pie-spiced for a bit more autumnal flair -- Allspice Dram, Becherovka, Velvet Falernum, Angostura bitters, etc.
Or go with a flip. There are so many to choose from. Make them in batches of two with a Boston shaker, sharing 1 large egg for two drinks. I usually find that even the smallest egg available (medium) is too big for lots of drinnks.
The Lemon Melletti Flip from Hungry Mother in Cambridge is superb, accessible and not very alcoholic.
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While there is nothing wrong with a whiskey sour, I am afraid it might be too... bracing... for a crowd that has collectively consumed ten mixed drinks in as many years.
A flip, on the other hand, sounds like exactly what I had in mind. WSJ had an article recently about the very subject. One cocktail they mentioned employed walnut bitters and got me thinking about my new bottle of Nocino. A walnut flip sounds fitting, delicious, and family-friendly. Do you know of any Nocino flips (doubtful) or have any thoughts on what would pair well with it?
I was thinking about Blackstrap and how it might go with Nocino which brought me to the Tenser's Transformation I recently had at Sable's. It is Blackstrap, Cynar, Averna, raspberry, lemon.
Could I sub Nocino for Cynar and Averna in the Tenser's Transformation and make it a flip? I'm sure I'd have to tweak a few other things as well to achieve a balance of flavours.