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).
Humble Pie (Sean Hoard, Teardrop Lounge, Portland, OR)
Sean Hoard, formerly of New York City's mixology mecca, PDT, returned recently to his roots in Portland, Oregon, where he helms the bar at Teardrop Lounge, a West Coast cocktail hub that offers some esoteric drinks of its own (all of which benefit from the bar team's hand-crafted tinctures and potions). Luckily, for the rest of us, the Humble Pie is refreshingly easy to make, which comes in handy if you have the whole family coming over for the holidays. "It's the kind of drink you can make to impress your foodie mother-in-law without having to spend hours in the kitchen prepping," says Hoard. The only real work is making the ginger syrup – which is truly as a easy as, well, pie.
• 1 oz. Bonded Lairds Applejack
• 1 oz. Famous Grouse Blended Scotch
• .25 oz. Ginger Syrup*
• 1 tsp. Rich Demerara Syrup**
• 4 dashes St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram
• 1 dash Angostura Bitters
• 2 grinds Black Peppercorn
Combine ingredients in a stirring vessel, add ice, stir until ingredients are incorporated and mixture is chilled, strain over fresh ice, and garnish with candied ginger (when available).
*Ginger Syrup: Equal parts cane sugar and ginger juice (by volume). Soak the raw ginger in warm water. Peel the ginger (the back of a spoon works really well). Run the peeled raw ginger through an extractor. Strain the ginger juice and add sugar. Stir until incorporated.
**Rich Demerara Syrup: 2 parts demerara sugar to 1 part warm water (by volume).
Credit: Photograph by Jason Rowan
Boil water. When the water reaches a boil, remove from heat. Add sugar and stir until fully incorporated.