With visions of sugarplums dancing in his head, PDT owner Jim Meehan pulled out a bottle of Damson gin liqueur and starting tinkering. Damson plums—the spiciest and most tart variety of the fruit—often ripen in early September, just in time to be macerated into a liquid holiday treat. Made in the Finger Lakes, Averell's Damson Gin is an American take on the classic British liqueur. A combination of fresh damson juice, gin and sugar, it's like the less bitter cousin of sloe gin.
'winter cocktails' on Serious Eats
It's that time of year again, when we all develop that natural inclination to reach for something bubbly. Here are five sparkling cocktail recipes from two of our favorite places to toast in Chicago: Sepia, where Josh Pearson presides over the handsome marble bar, and Pops for Champagne, a longtime fixture of the city's bubbly scene. We promise you'll have no trouble replicating these drinks in all their fizzy finery.
This recipe is for "the world's fanciest cranberry juice cocktail." Matthew Ficke of the Columbia Room in Washington, D.C. serves this fruity, effervescent drink during the holiday season and now, so can you.
As much as a Manhattan made with top-quality vermouth hits the spot, and as good as a well-made Sazerac always is, we wanted to explore what rye can do when it comes together with fresher flavors—grapefruit, lemon, apple cider, even balsalmic vinegar. The results, thanks to these recipes from a few bartender friends—including Sother Teague of Amor y Amargo in NYC and Leo Robitschek of The Nomad and Eleven Madison Park—are delicious.
Since it's the season for entertaining, we asked Chris Lane of Lolinda to teach us a few holiday cocktail recipes for whipping up at home. He shared some favorites from the current menu, including the Armagnac-based Carpenter's Hand; the Bergen Street, a twist on a classic citrusy gin cocktail; and The Devil's Backbone, a balanced blend of rye and Scotch. He also showed us how to make Napoleon's Vice, a winter-ready tiki drink, and a dangerously tasty rum-spiked mulled wine.
Advocaat is often called Dutch egg nog, but it's actually more like a creamy brandy custard with a deep and rich flavor and a light, pudding-like texture.
The combination of cranberry simple syrup and fresh grapefruit juice makes this a festive morning cocktail. A splash of gin and a simple salt solution to bring out the flavors really makes this drink something special.
A sweeter cousin to the common (and more sour) Eureka lemon, Meyer lemons are differentiated by their thin, smooth, slightly more orange-colored rind. With a more delicate, floral flavor, Meyer lemons are an easy way to make a common lemon-based cocktail a little more special.
This recipe for a kumquat whiskey sour by Feizal Valli at the Hot & Hot Fish Club in Birmingham, Alabama is perfect for a little winter pick-me-up. It pairs the bright, zesty flavor of kumquats, fresh lemon, and lime juice with the rich warmth of whiskey. It's perfectly balanced and a little dangerous—it's so delicious, you're going to want more than one.
This cocktail from Todd Maul of Clio in Boston is refreshing and complex, and would also be delicious served over ice.
The Meyer lemon in this simple cocktail beautifully complements the flavors of gin.
This Negroni variation from Chef Frank Stitt appears on the menu at Bottega only in deep winter when blood oranges are in season. "It makes us reminisce about aperitif time in the gorgeous cafes and bars of Torino and Venice," says Stitt. Serve with a slice of orange and a bowl of green olives.
The base spirit of this cocktail, Sheep Dip blended Scotch whisky, gets its name from an old term Scottish farmers used to disguise casks of homemade hooch. To avoid taxes (and the disapproval of their wives) they labeled barrels of bootleg Scotch as Sheep Dip, an insecticide used to delouse sheep.
This cocktail features a pair of wine-based ingredients, dry white port and barolo chinato. The latter is an Italian digestif made with a base of Italian barolo wine. Thanks to an infusion of cinchona bark, gentian and rhubarb roots, and other aromatics, it makes for a warming, full-bodied drink.
This refined rum cocktail from Chicago's Sepia hides a festive tiki core. A burnt-sugar backbone from the aged Guatemalan rum is deepened with the sweet, nutty, baking-spice notes of falernum, a syrup typically made from almond, ginger, clove and lime that's a staple of many a Caribbean bar. Calvados, the French apple brandy, lends a telltale flavor of the season.
This mojito has been dressed up for a little winter partying with the help of muddled cranberries and a warm cinnamon and orange syrup, plus a dollop of dark rum for added richness.
Olive-sized kumquats have an edible peel that's sweet while the flesh is tart. A hearty muddling brings out the oils from their skin as well as the juice from their flesh, bringing that tartness that's key to a balanced margarita.
I don't always drink coffee, but when I do, I drink it in my eggnog.
Sometimes you feel like a nut. Then this peanut butter variation on eggnog is just right.
If you happen to have a stand mixer, an immersion blender with a whisk head, or an electric handle-held mixer, you're in luck, because with those tools, you can get to take your noggin' into the 21st century with this recipe.