The holidays are jam-packed with office parties, reunions with old friends in hometown bars, and days spent in the same house as members of your family. To put it lightly, if you drink, you'll be drinking extra during this time of year. But by making a special occasion out of the drinks themselves, you can elevate that boozy routine and transform it into something celebratory. We asked some of our favorite bartenders in the United States for their finest cocktails that deliver a distinctly seasonal and festive quality. From the retro-cool Amaretto Sour from Portland, Oregon to a smooth-as-silk gin punch from Manhattan to a killer Bloody Mary from New Orleans, there's a drink here that's perfect for almost every occasion you'll encounter between now and New Year's Day (when you may be needing that Bloody Mary).
SoBou Bloody Mary (Abigail Gullo, SoBou, New Orleans, LA)
Bloody Marys are often appropriate during the hectic holiday season, whether they are used to shore up one's courage before the ride to grandmother's house and a houseful of in-laws, or as the salve to the wounds of the office holiday party. Abigail Gullo, a veteran of Brooklyn's Fort Defiance and Manhattan's The Beagle, is part of a recent wave of bartender emigrés to New Orleans. Gullo brought her Bloody Mary recipe to her new post as Head Bar Chef at SoBou in the French Quarter, and it's been her personal passion to craft smooth, drinkable Marys without the astringency and excessive spiciness that can upset a tender stomach and turn one off mid-drink. She discovered a new secret ingredient in the form of a ghost pepper pickling juice that executive chef Juan Carlos Gonzalez makes for her, but, as Gullo says, everyone's Bloody Mary should be different. "Just throw it all in and see how it tastes," she suggests. "Everyone likes something different, so adjust it until you like it." That said, Gullo does warn us about the spiciness. "It always gets hotter the longer it sits, so go easy on the hot sauce at first and add more later if desired," she says. And Bloody Marys don't have to be made with traditional vodka only. At SoBou, you can get any of four different spirits to go with its mix below: Vodka, Gin, 100% agave Tequila, or Aquavit. The last one, a caraway seed spirit from Scandinavia, is Gullo's personal favorite."
Credit: Photograph by Jason Rowan
• 36 ounces V8 (get yer veggies in!)
• 4 teaspoons prepared horseradish
• 2 teaspoon orange juice
• 3 teaspoon fresh lemon or lime juice
• 4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
• 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
• 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
• 14 dashes hot sauce (we like Crystal here in Nola)
• 10 dashes celery bitters
• 1.5 ounces Krogstad Aquavit (or your clear spirit of choice, per suggestions above)
• 10 drops of spicy bitters, such as Thai chili or sriracha
• 4 teaspoons of ghost pepper pickling liquid ("Any pickling juice you have on hand will do, again: just add slowly and taste as you go," explains Gullo)