Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Holiday Cocktails - A Perfect Evening According to Gastronomista

This time of year I receive numerous emails asking me what to serve for the holidays, so I figure I should write a post with all my boozy recommendations!

Drink Responsibly, Y'all

The first thing one should remember about holiday entertaining, is that usually the drinking starts earlier than normal and goes later than normal, so have a plan that includes pacing and hydration.  I like to think about cocktails like a tasting menu - start off light, end boozy.

I also like formal holidays - nothing too dramatic, but holidays are an excellent excuse to bring out grandma's silver, the nice glassware, and that nice holiday outfit you never wear.

Mimosas made with Prosecco are a light and effervescent way to start the day, and are great when the whole family is in the kitchen and helping out.  Once dinner gets under control you can usually sneak away for a few moments to get cleaned up before the official kick off of the evening.

Then, bring out the champagne!  I love drinking champagne on holidays such as Christmas or New Years, and such momentous holidays deserve iconic brands such a Perrier Jouet or Veuve Clicquot, opened with a sabre, of course.  As you already know, I'm obsessed with the Coupe Stack, and holidays are a perfect excuse for it's theatrical presentation.

After a few glasses of champagne, it's time to mix up some martinis and serve them in a classic martini pitcher.  I learned the recipe for the Prince Edward Martini a few years ago, and it's still one of my favorites.  It has the light crispness of a martini, but with just a kiss of herbal scotch liqueur.  If you can't find Atholl Brose at your local you can substitute Drambuie.

I also like to make a punch that will keep guests entertained and occupied (and relieves me from the drink post).  This one I had at a holiday party last year, and it's divine.

Mississippi Punch
Adapted from Garden & Gun


1.5  cups raw sugar
4 cups black tea brewed ahead of time
4 cups bourbon
2  cups dark rum
2  cups cognac
1/2  cups fresh lemon juice
1.5  quarts water

Topped with Nutmeg and Lemon Wheels

Serve in a punch bowl with a large ice block.

Pro Tip:  Have enough supplies on hand for 4 rounds of punch - it's always very popular, and you don't want to run out! 

At this point, everyone should be pretty boozed up and will be ready for dinner.  Holidays are always long evenings of imbibing, so a good meal and proper hydration is a critical survival tool.  During dinner I like to serve a light red wine that pairs nicely with many different types of food, such as a Beaujolais.  Serve wines that compliment the food, and always have large pitchers of sparkling water with lemon.  It has incredible reviving powers.

If it's New Years, reserve a few bottles of bubbly for when the clock strikes midnight!  After a kiss from a lover, a champagne toast to the new year! 

Dessert is Ardbeg Ice Cream drizzled with dark chocolate sauce and a sprinkle of Maldon Sea Salt.

I also like to set out a tray with a few select sipping whiskeys ranging from moody single malts to sweet bourbons.  This year I'm enjoying the Glenlivet 18, the Balblair '02, Hakushu 12, Bowmore 12, Mortlach Rare Old Single Malt, Ardbeg Uigeadail, Old Putney 35, Russell's Reserve Single Barrel, and Tullamore Dew Phoenix.  

If people are asking for a cocktail at this point - and you are too tired (or lazy) to make anyone a mixed drink - keep a bottle of Rock & Rye handy.  It's basically an old fashioned in a bottle. Pour over ice and garnish with an orange slice.  MAGIC.

You can also set out a tray of amaros for those who are full and could use a little relief.  I recommend Ramazzotti, Averna, the little bottles of Underberg, the Amaro di Angostura, Sardinian Mirto, and Amaro Dell'erborista.

The next morning Bloody Marys are critical - so provision vodka, tomato juice, and loads of garnishes such as pickled okra, celery, Tabasco, pickled carrots, and candied bacon.  Everyone knows most of the Bloody Mary's super powers come in the garnishes (and the vodka). 

Finally, as the day demands it, give in to your every hangover need, if it be pizza, a run, more bloody marys, or a fluffy blanket and netflix.  Just remember to drink water, and you'll be feeling better in no time. 

Godspeed fellow imbibers, godspeed.



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