People always talk during the holiday season about their recipes for the big dinner or the appetizers they are planning to produce for a pre-holiday party. This always leaves me thinking, did you plan for the cocktails? While party-goers and general holiday revelers want to have a great bite with along with the holiday cheer, caroling, and winter scarves -- they also want to have a great drink. This season, I propose going back to some classic holiday cocktail recipes that are sure to impress.
Before I go on, you might say to yourself -- Why classic cocktails?
Classic cocktails are tried and true renditions that are designed to impress. Not only will people like that you are focusing them back to a classic cocktail, but it will also definitely amp up your mixology credibility at that party your hosting when you tell guests the stories of their favorites. Don't most great stories include a little bit of alcohol?
Holiday Classic #1: THE OLD-FASHIONED
History: This drink was likely envisioned around 1808 and then refined into its current form by 1888. By the time it was published in the the antique volume The Bartender's Manual it was already being coined the "Old-Fashioned."
Hacks: The simplicity of the recipe is key to the timeless nature of this cocktail. You really want to keep it to about 2-3 ingredients to call it an "Old-Fashioned." I love using a fancy large ice cube in the glass (always a rocks glass) which I let temper (sit) while I mix the drink to avoid the ice cracking.
Hints: I always use a Rye whiskey in my Old-Fashioned. One affordable option for parties is Bulleit Rye, which typically runs about $25-$30 for a full sized bottle.
2 oz. Bulleit Rye Whiskey (or your choice)
1 sugar cube
2 dashes of Angostura Bitters
Garnish: lemon or orange peel twist
This is a simple one folks -- add the large ice cube to your glass (if using). Add the sugar cube and the bitters to your cocktail shaker or mixing glass. Muddle together. Add the whiskey to the shaker, cover, secure, and shake until chilled. Strain over tempered large ice cube. Garnish wish desired garnish and voila -- an aperitif you can be proud to present.
Holiday Classic #2: THE GIN GIMLET
History: The gin gimlet has a great story. Yes, we all know that it was Ernest Hemingway's favorite drink while in Africa on safari, but where could it have come from? The answer? A Royal Navy surgeon named Sir Thomas Gimlet who always encouraged his sailors to "mix lime juice with their gin ration" somewhere in the late 1800's.
Hacks: I love the gimlet with its original gin spirit selection; however, a vodka gimlet isn't unheard of and actually tastes quite delicious. Originally, the recipe would use Roses Lime Juice, but I personally don't like the stuff. Instead -- just make a simple syrup (2 cups superfine sugar and 16 oz. water -- simmered until sugar dissolves) and add a bit of micro-bladed lime zest to the mix. Yum! Much better!
Hints: The original recipe called for equal parts gin and lime-sugar syrup. Tastes have evolved and this is WAYYYY too much sweet for my pallet. I go with the recipe below -- just enough sweetness to help offset the tartness of the lime juice and zing of the gin.
2 oz. Tanqueray No. 10 Gin
.5 oz of the lime syrup mentioned above (or Rose's if you have to)
Garnish: Lime wheel
This is another simple one. Most classic cocktails are no muss, no fuss. Add the gin and the lime syrup to your cocktail shaker or mixing glass. Stir or shake over ice until chilled. Strain into chilled coup glass. Garnish with 1 lime wheel.
I hope these classic cocktail recipes and stories have got you fired up this winter season. Whether it be a holiday or new year's celebration, these classic cocktails will always impress.
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Happy holidays to you and yours!
Chef Marlon Alexander
About Chef Marlon Alexander