Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Twelve Days of Cocktails

I know my last blog entry was based on the "Twelve Days of Christmas," but it's been quite a long time since I've written a cocktail blog, so I'm combining the two. Below is a list of twelve holiday cocktails, inspired by each of the gifts in "The Twelve Days of Christmas."

12 Drummers Drumming
I promise the Highland Drum won't have you feeling like there are 12 drummers drumming on your head the next morning (at least, as long as you don't drink 12 of them!).

In a shaker over ice, combine 2 oz scotch, 1 oz dry vermouth, 3/4 oz Drambuie*, splash of orange juice (or triple sec), a glug of honey or simple syrup, and a dash or two of bitters. Serve in a chilled martini glass and garnish with an orange twist or slice, or a mint or basil leaf or a sprig of rosemary.

*Drambuie is scotch sweetened with honey and steeped with fennel and rosemary. You can make your own using this recipe - but plan ahead, because it needs to steep for three days.

11 Pipers Piping
Most people think of a flute or a fife when they think of the phrase "pipers piping," but I always picture bagpipes. So the cocktail for this gift is called Jack's Bagpipes. The original recipe calls for Gentleman Jack bourbon, but scotch whisky feels more appropriate to me. Use whichever you prefer.

Fill a Collins or highball glass with ice and add 2 parts whisky (bourbon or scotch) and 1 part butterscotch schnapps. Fill with ginger ale.

10 Lords a-Leaping

When I teach the "Twelve Days" song to children, I remind them that lords take small, restrained leaps, since they are elegant and important and a bit stuffy. (I couldn't find a picture of the cocktail, so enjoy instead the above image of Thomas Radcliffe, a Lord Chamberlain who looks like he would not - and possibly could not - have "leaped" if his life depended on it.) The Lord Chamberlain cocktail seems a rather apt cocktail, given that description.

In a shaker over ice, combine 2 parts brandy, 1 part port, 1 part dry vermouth, and a dash or two of bitters. Serve in a chilled martini glass and garnish with a lemon twist, being sure to squeeze a bit of juice into the drink.

9 Ladies Dancing

The first "lady" themed cocktail that came to mind was a Pink Lady, but a bit of research revealed that there is a lovely gin cocktail called a White Lady that seems much more appropriate for the Christmas season.

In a shaker over ice, combine 2 parts gin, 1 part Cointreau, and 1 part lemon juice. Serve in a chilled cocktail glass without garnish.

8 Maids a-Milking
The White Christmas cocktail uses both white creme de cacao and white chocolate liqueur to create a creamy, icy white treat.

Coat the edge of a martini glass with honey or white chocolate liqueur and dip in sanding sugar. Place in freezer until ready to serve. In a shaker over ice, combine 2 parts vanilla vodka, 2 parts white chocolate liqueur, 1 part white creme de cacao, and 1 part cream. Shake vigorously and serve in prepared glass.

7 Swans a-Swimming

After the movie "Black Swan" was nominated for a boatload of Oscars in 2011 (including Best Picture and Best Director noms, and a Best Actress win for Natalie Portman), there were dozens of recipes for Black Swan cocktails. Since the simplest is often the best, here is one of the simpler versions.

In a shaker over ice, combine 3 parts vodka with 1 part Chambord (or black raspberry liqueur of choice). Add a splash of lemon juice if you like. Serve in a chilled martini glass with a black raspberry garnish.

6 Geese a-Laying
If you want to get really fancy, you can grab one of those eggs that goose was a-laying and make eggnog from scratch to use in the Eggnog Martini, but I find that the kind from a carton tastes just as good and is a lot less work.

In a shaker over ice, combine 5 parts eggnog, 2 parts Grey Goose vanilla vodka, and 1 part amaretto. Garnish with nutmeg or cinnamon. (You can also substitute any brand of vanilla vodka or any brand of plain vodka plus a splash of Tuaca, but it's much more thematic if you use Grey Goose.)

5 Gold Rings
When I think of gold and cocktails, I immediately think of Goldschlager, with its elegant floating gold flakes, and the Academy Award cocktail. If you're not a big fan of cinnamon, don't get a whole bottle; five nips would be just about right.

Wet the edge of a chilled martini glass apple juice and dip it in sanding sugar (gold, if you have it), then return to freezer until ready to pour. In a shaker over ice, combine 2 parts apple juice, 1 part butterscotch schnapps, and a generous splash of Goldschlager. Serve in prepared glass.

4 Calling Birds
A Yellow Bird was just too obvious for #4 (and besides, I don't like banana), and since you already have a few nips of Goldschlager on hand, I opted for the '57 T-Bird instead.

In a shaker over ice, combine 2 parts vodka, 2 parts Goldschlager, 1 part cherry syrup (or grenadine), and a splash of Tabasco (how big a splash you use is entirely up to you). Serve with a lemon twist.

3 French Hens
I went for the obvious here and chose a French Martini. Ina Garten uses vermouth in place of lemon juice, but although she's never steered me wrong, I'm sticking with lemon juice.

In a shaker over ice, combine 3 parts vodka, 2 parts pineapple juice, a splash of lemon juice (or vermouth), and a splash of chambord. Serve with a lemon twist.

2 Turtledoves
Emphasizing the "turtle" in turtledove, this sweet Turtle Martini borrows the flavors of chocolate, caramel, and nuts from pecan turtle candies.

In a shaker over ice, combine 3 parts vodka with one part each creme de cacao, butterscotch schnapps, and amaretto, and top with a splash of cream. If you want to get really fancy (and even sweeter), drizzle a chilled martini glass with chocolate and/or caramel sauce before pouring and garnish with your favorite chopped nuts.

A Partridge in a Pear Tree

The Breath of Fresh Pear from Del Frisco's steakhouse in Boston became a favorite of mine the first time I had it, and they were happy to share their recipe. It seems perfect for representing the last (or is it the first?) gift in this series.

In a shaker over ice, combine 2-1/2 oz pear vodka, 1 oz Cointreau (or triple sec), and 1-3/4 oz white cranberry juice. Serve in a chilled martini glass and garnish with a thin slice (or two, or three) of pear.


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