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Dec 26, 2013 07:01 PM

Approve/improve my Christmas cocktail ideas, please

I'd like to offer 2 cocktails to lure my wine drinking friends away from the grape but I'm not a super experienced mixologist. I have a doz friends coming so the recipes need to be pretty simple but festive.

For one I thought I'd go with dark rum, spiced cider, pineapple juice and a slice of orange as a garnish. For the second vodka, raspberry puree, a splash of club soda (or 7-up?) for fizz and a skewer of raspberries as garnish. I've tested and they both are quite good.

I have a well-stocked bar and bitters, Rose's, etc. if you think I could improve upon the above without getting too complicated. Thank you!

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  1. Those both sound crowd-pleasing. The first sounds very accessible -- basically spiced, spiked fruit juice with a bit of molasses flavor from the rum. The second is spiked, sparkling raspberry juice -- perfect for the Cosmo-type drinker.

    That said, I'm not sure either would be particularly interesting to someone who is really interested in wine. Wine has complex and challenging flavors (particularly the acid and tannin aspects). I would be inclined to make at least one option more interesting.

    A classic Manhattan is popular with a wide range of people from little-old-ladies to cocktail nerds. Use a good American straight rye whiskey, a good quality sweet vermouth, a dash or two of Angostura bitters (or similar), and a high quality cherry (see the Luxardo Cherries Aren't Worth it thread -- I think they are).

    I like my Manhattan's "perfect" -- splitting the vermouth 50/50 sweet and dry. I also like a bitter element -- either a bit of Campari or using Punt e Mes as the sweet vermouth. But that's me.

    If someone wants something less strong, a Duplex -- half of each type of vermouth -- is light and delicious. You can add bitters if you want.

    A whiskey sour is a sophisticated but accessible drink. You can use the same rye, but combine with lemon juice (fresh), sugar (or simple syrup), and an egg white. Shake like hell without ice and then with. Top with a couple of drops of the same Angostura bitters. This will be a bit labor intensive, but is fun and festive.

    And sticking with the same bottle, a lot of folks associate the holidays with Old Fashioneds. There are tons of recipes from the original-and-simple spirit + bitters + sugar + ice to the more elaborate/modern/perhaps-wrong with muddled orange peel (or slice) or even a muddled cherry (horrors). The spirit can be anything, although brandy or whiskey are most common. If using a cherry, make sure it is a delicious one.


    1 Reply
    1. re: EvergreenDan

      Thanks so much for the suggestions, Dan. I have all the ingredients for Manhattans and that's so retro-chic right now. Plus I have plenty of nice wine and champagne. Happy New Year and cheers.

    2. Wine drinkers in general are used to lower-alcohol drinks, rarely exceeding 12 or 13% ABV unless fortified.

      I've never had these, but you might try a cocktail that's actually made with delicious wines such as Port, Sauternes, and Moscato d'Asti:

      1: Sauternes based drinks: Tell any wine drinker you're serving them a cocktail with Sauternes and they're probably interested.

      2: Cocktails made with Moscato d'Asti:

      3: Cocktails made with Port: