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).
Amaretto Sour (Jeffrey Morgenthaler, Clyde Common, Portland, OR)
Just a couple blocks away from Teardrop Lounge in Portland, Clyde Common is tucked into the Ace Hotel, home to flannel and beard sporting locavores who look like they've just come back from cutting their own Christmas tree year-round. Head barman and avid cocktail blogger Jeffrey Morgenthaler soothes the Portlandia set with his eminently balanced, seasonally inspired concoctions; his surprise ace in the hole is a 1970s throwback: The Amaretto Sour. Long relegated to the history books for being almost poisonously sweet, the drink has been relaunched by Morgenthaler in a version that's a bit less toxic tasting, but is still anchored with cask-proof bourbon and ended with a manly finish (and egg white). "The almondy-sweet Amaretto Sour conjures up holiday memories of marzipan, sour candies, and the whole shebang is finished with a brandied cherry," explains Morgenthaler, with justifiable pride. "Holiday drink, indeed."
• 1.5 oz amaretto (I love the Lazzaroni amaretto, but DiSarrano works well here, too.)
• .75 oz cask-proof bourbon (I use Booker's, from the Jim Beam distillery.)
• 1 oz lemon juice
• 2:1 simple syrup
• .5 oz egg whites, beaten
Dry shake ingredients to combine, then shake well with cracked ice. Strain over fresh ice in an old-fashioned glass. Garnish with lemon peel and brandied cherries.
Credit: Photograph by Jason Rowan