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).
Mr. Roy (Jason Littrell, Death & Co, JBird, New York)
High energy Jason Littrell can be found behind the bar at Manhattan's Death & Co and Jbird, as well as doing extensive consulting for bars and spirits with Jbird Cocktails. For this riff on a Rob Roy, Littrell used Johnny Walker Double Black, a super-smokey, more Islay-whiskey-driven expression of Johnny Walker's classic Black Label formulation. "Peat, vanilla, and allspice are a pretty magical combination, one that can has ready associtations with comfort, the holidays, and escaping even for a moment from your crazy family," says Littrell, when asked about his thinking behind the manly cocktail. "[Mr. Roy] is simple, elegant, sophisticated, and has a fair amount of backbone, just in case you find yourself under the mistletoe at a holiday party."
• 1 oz Johnnie Walker Double Black Label Scotch
• 1/2 oz Sweet Vermouth
• 1 dash Angostura Bitters
• 1 dash Allspice Dram
Stir over ice and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a cherry. Mr. Roy can do double duty as a hot drink as well. "Simply assemble all the ingredients on the stove in a pot (multiplied by desired amount of servings of course), and add an ounce of hot apple cider," explains Littrell. "Hot punch is brilliant served out of a crock pot by the way. Garnish with cinnamon and nutmeg to really push it over the top."