These 4 Holiday Cocktails Will Help You Avoid Awkward Conversations This Year
If you’re gearing up for an eventful day of cooking, cleaning, feasting and family, give some thought to your holiday drink menu. No time of year lends more weight to the adage “don’t walk into battle unprepared.” Why not make sure all of your bases are covered with a full-on holiday blowout? These cocktails are not just delicious, but can take the focus away from awkward political discussion and questions about why you’re still single.
—Photography by Aaron Graubart, Styling by Julia Lea
This year, give thanks for duck fat and rye whiskey. With advice from owner and barman Nico de Soto of Mace in New York City, we turned this fatty fusion into a savory masterpiece. A spin on the New York Sour, this concoction is inspired by the turducken—a turkey stuffed with a chicken, which is stuffed with a duck—topped with sparkling Shiraz from The Black Chook (chook is an Australian term for chicken). Consider this your boozy main event.
- 1½ ounces duck fat-washed Wild Turkey 101 Rye Whiskey*
- ¾ ounce Cointreau
- ¾ ounce lemon juice
- ½ ounce The Chook Sparkling Shiraz
- Rosemary sprig, for garnish
- *Duck fat–washed Wild Turkey 101 Rye Whiskey:
- 1 750 ml bottle Wild Turkey 101 Rye Whiskey
- 2 ounces duck fat, rendered
Add the whiskey, Cointreau and lemon juice to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until chilled, and strain into a rocks glass filled with ice. Delicately pour the wine over the back of a cocktail spoon to float it on top of the drink. Garnish with the rosemary sprig.
For the Duck fat–washed Wild Turkey 101 Rye Whiskey, combine the whiskey and duck fat in a wide-mouthed jar. Shake thoroughly, and let sit for 2 hours. Place in the freezer to allow the fat to congeal and float atop the liquid, about 1½ hours. Break this cap and discard the hardened fat. Strain the whiskey through a coffee filter and funnel back into its original bottle.
Even if you’re not a fan of your mom’s candied sweet potato casserole, you’ll probably want a second helping of this tipple. Barrel-aged sweet potato liqueur, with all its brown sugar- spiced goodness, supports modest amounts of Cognac-infused orange liqueur and lemon juice.
- 2 ounces Corbin Cash Sweet Potato Liqueur
- ¾ ounce Grand Marnier
- ½ ounce lemon juice
- Roasted marshmallow, for garnish
Add the sweet potato liqueur, Grand Marnier and lemon juice to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well, and strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with the marshmallow.
Recipe courtesy Bob Peters, head mixologist, The Punch Room at The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte, NC
Now that carrots no longer have cocktail shock value, bartenders are working with different seasonal root vegetables: notably, the humble parsnip. Once juiced, its mildly sweet, slightly earthy flavor profile “screams autumn,” according to The Punch Room’s Bob Peters. Pair it with the Candied Sweet Potato Sidecar for a delightful vegetarian affair.
- One halved orange
- 2 ounces vodka, like Tito’s Handmade Vodka
- 1 ounce freshly pressed parsnip juice (approximately 2–3 peeled parsnips)
- ½ ounce ginger liqueur, like such as Domaine de Canton
- ¼ ounce honey (optional)
- Freshly grated nutmeg, for garnish
Place the orange in a cocktail shaker and muddle, extracting as much juice as possible. Add vodka, parsnip juice, ginger liqueur and honey (if desired). Dry shake (vigorously and without ice) for 10 – 15 seconds, then add ice and shake again to chill. Strain into a chilled coupe or martini glass. Garnish with a sprinkle of nutmeg.
Turkey without cranberry sauce is borderline blasphemy. This refreshing cranberry-pear punch is a handy way to wash down everything from bird to oyster stuffing. Plus, it’s fortified with plenty of pear brandy and orange liqueur to keep the entire family mellow, at least until dessert. While any fruity red wine will work, Garnacha is used here for its juicy qualities.
- 2 cups cranberries
- 2 pears, sliced
- 1 orange, cut into chunks
- ¾ cup spiced simple syrup
- ¾ cup Cointreau
- ¼ cup pear brandy
- 1 bottle fruity red wine
In a bowl, combine the cranberries, pears, orange, spiced syrup, Cointreau and pear brandy. Mix thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate for at least 5 hours or, preferably, overnight. Transfer to a pitcher or punch bowl. Add the bottle of red wine and stir thoroughly. Refrigerate to chill. Serve with the marinated fruit.
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 whole star anise pods
- 8 allspice berries
- 1 cinnamon stick
Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let steep for 10 minutes. Strain and discard the solids. Let cool.
- 1Turdrunken Sour
- 2Candied Sweet Potato Sidecar
- 3The Allen Parsnips Project
- 4Cranberry Sauced