The holidays are about time honored traditions shared amongst family and friends. Regardless if you're gathering to decorate a tree, sing carols, or snuggle up around a fire sharing stories of a time gone by – all are made a little more festive with the addition of a delicious holiday libation.
For this year’s holiday collection we returned to the early 1920's for inspiration - and our holiday cocktail menu is no different. We wanted to revisit a spirit that has been anchored in holiday traditions for centuries – brandy.
Crafted from distilled wine or fruit juice, brandy has all the necessary notes to dance with traditional holiday spices. Its sweet but versatile flavor pairs perfectly with hints of cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and citrus. From fruitcakes to Wassail, brandy has happily taken its seat at the holiday table with little or no apologies for centuries. And for that we say "cheers"!
So with that, we want to share four of our holiday staples that are easy to craft and will keep the conversation going for hours. And because no one should be left out of the joy, we’ve included our current mocktail of choice. While it lacks a true connection to brandy we love it no less . . . and everyone (even the kids) deserve a little extra dapper in their drink this holiday season.
An important technical note here – all Cognac is brandy but not all brandy is Cognac. Cognac is crafted in a specific region of France and will come with a seal of authenticity.
Cognac is a wine grape brandy and is best savored as an after dinner digestif. Here the ingredient list and prep work is kept simple to allow the warm, fruity flavors to shine.
- 2 oz Cognac
- 1 oz Amaretto
Stir both ingredients in a large, chilled shaker
Pour into a rocks glass complete with a large cube of ice
*If the drink is too strong for your liking add a drop or two of water, or an orange peel, or simply allow the ice to melt slightly.
Created by an American bartender named Victor Morris in the early 1920s, Pisco is a specific type of brandy that you will likely have to purchase to enjoy this cocktail. Trust us here, it is worth it!
This South American brandy, popular in Peru, enjoys a complex earthy flavor with strong floral notes that seem to linger as if the party will never end.
- 3 oz Pisco
- 1 oz fresh lime juice
- ¾ oz simple syrup
- 1 fresh egg white
- A dash of Angostura bitters
Add the Pisco, lime juice, simple syrup, and egg white to a shaker (without ice)
Shake vigorously until the egg white is frothy, approx. 15 seconds
Add ice to the shaker and shake again until cold
Strain the mixture into your glass
Top with a dash or two of bitters over the settled egg whites
This cocktail, dating back to the mid-1800s, is believed to be the creation of an Italian bartender by the name of Joseph Santini plying his trade in New Orleans.
This version has been updated slightly to satisfy a more modern palette that skews slightly sweeter. With a blend of brandy, dry curaçao, maraschino liquor, lemon, and bitters how could you go wrong?
Don’t forget to go heavy on the sugar rim, which is not only beautiful and festive, but is a key component to making the Crusta . . . well . . . a Crusta.
- 2 oz brandy
- ¼ oz orange curaçao
- 1 teaspoon maraschino liqueur
- ½ oz fresh lemon juice
- ½ oz simple syrup
- 1 dash Angostura bitters
- Lemon peel
- Sugar Rim
Rim your glass with sugar
Add the first 6 ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake until well chilled
Strain into your glass
Garnish with your lemon peel around the inside of the glass
Born in a pre-prohibition lobster palace, Hotel Rector in New York City, the Brandy Alexander is the brainchild of Troy Alexander. Created specifically for its white color, this cocktail’s origin story is as interesting as its flavor profile.
Seriously, it is worth a quick read.
- 1 ½ oz brandy
- 1 oz crème de cacao
- 1 oz cream
- Grated nutmeg for garnish
Combine the brandy, crème de cacao, and cream in a shaker with ice
Shake until well chilled
Strain into your coupe glass
Top with freshly grated nutmeg
Rosemary Pomegranate Soda
This mocktail takes a little planning on the simple syrup front, but well worth the effort. The end result is pure holiday in a glass both from flavor profile and appearance. The sweet, tart pomegranate balances the woodsy and warm rosemary beautifully. Get your Instagram ready!
- 1 oz pomegranate juice
- 1 oz rosemary simple syrup
- Club soda
- Fresh rosemary sprigs to garnish
Fill a Collins glass 2/3 of the way with ice
Add your juice and simple syrup
Top with the club soda and stir
Garnish with your fresh rosemary
*For your simple syrup: boil 1 cup of brown sugar, 1 cup of water, and 6-8 springs of fresh rosemary until the sugar is completely melted, then remove from heat. Allow to cool before storing in the refrigerator. You can make the syrup and store for up to 3 weeks in a sealed, refrigerated container.