Tired of the same old eggnog? Bartenders are, too, and in this season of giving, they’ve have shaken up and shared top picks from their drink menus to boost holiday outings beyond the basics. From the warmth of whiskey to sweet plum wine and spicy gingerbread liqueur, here are out-of-the-box holiday cocktails to pack some punch into your seasonal gatherings.
Founding Farmers, Washington, D.C.
Health and wellness are a priority at Founding Farmers, so it’s no surprise that the winter beverage menu (offered through the end of February) spotlights fresh-pressed juices. Beverage Director John Arroyo’s Winter Pie features cold-pressed apple juice, vodka, lemon, and cinnamon syrup, garnished with fruit.
Crudo, Phoenix, Arizona
Serving anything in a Champagne flute emphasizes a celebratory spirit, but garnishing it with an orange peel bow makes it extra-special for the gift-giving season. In the Crudo Cran Royale, sparkling wine and bright lemon are given some added depth with housemade spiced cranberry syrup featuring clove, star anise, cardamom, and cinnamon.
Proof on Main, Louisville, Kentucky
The pepper and oak notes of US*1 Rye mix perfectly with the orange, anise, and clove of the China-China liqueur in the Valley Forge Flip, but the splendor of this perfect pairing is only matched by the cocktail’s historical origins. The name pays homage to the Michter’s namesake rye that warmed Revolutionary troops when George Washington purchased 200 barrels for the brave men spending winter on the battlefield. The contemporary tipple gets an upgrade with a dash of nutmeg and indulgent Aztec chocolate bitters.
SUSHISAMBA, New York, New York
There’s no need to head to the ballet for visions of sugar plums this season if you toast the season with a Smoked Plum Negroni. SUSHISAMBA’s Head of Spirit and Cocktail Development, Richard Woods, refreshed the signature list this December with unique, handcrafted cocktails. This one reinvents a classic aperitif with smoky Hakushu whiskey, umeshu (sweet/sour plum wine), vermouth, and citrus, that’s guaranteed to loosen up your own dancing feet.
Taj, Boston, Massachusetts
The Gaelic version of “cheers,” the blessing slainte toasts to good health — and this cocktail from Taj Boston bar manager Gabriela Garcia has a few medicinal benefits if you ask those who purport local honey can help allergy sufferers (the Taj Boston has its own rooftop hives). The Slainte’s warm whiskey notes are enhanced with a cinnamon stick, clove-studded lemon wheel, and hot water for a drink befitting the winter’s cold fingers.