Fancy a Drink? Our Favorite Winter Cocktails

Photos by Ryan Benoit

You know that feeling you get when you come in from the cold and there’s a hot toddy waiting for you, all roaring with lemony steam? It gets the heart pumping and the skin glowing. It’s a feeling that lights up the darkest December sky!

With winter solstice upon us tomorrow, we’re celebrating our cold-weather harvests — like peace, good cheer, and a snowy jade plant — with this menu of our favorite cocktails of the season.

Our goal: to make drinks that are actually pretty simple, but also delicious and festive. There’s only one homemade syrup necessary, and many of the widely available ingredients overlap between drinks.

Find the recipes below — curated, mixed and photographed by Ryan! Each serves one unless otherwise noted. The cocktails include a stick-to-your-ribs marriage of bourbon and Laphroaig, a jolly sparkling punch, and maple syrup added to two holiday staples. Not to mention some fun virgins — for the non-drinkers and saintly DDs at the party…

Plus, we designed a snazzy menu and recipe guide that you can download, print and share with your guests!

You can find a printable PDF version of this menu — with the persimmon-ginger syrup recipe — at the bottom of this post.

Our winter cocktail menu. Click here to download the larger, printable PDF version.

Persimmon-Ginger Syrup

Our featured syrup, adapted via The LA Times and David Lebovitz, combines a winter fruit with a unique flavor with the sharp familiarity of ginger. It’s easy to make and is used in three cocktails on our menu.

Makes about 2 cups

3 medium fuyu persimmons, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
8 ounces fresh ginger root, cut into small strips
4 cups water
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 whole nutmeg, grated

Saute persimmons in large saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring often until
caramelized, about 5 minutes. Add 4 cups water and bring to boil. Add
ginger, brown sugar, nutmeg and a pinch of salt. Simmer on lower heat until reduced by
half (about 45-60 minutes). Strain through cheesecloth and/or fine mesh strainer. Transfer to glass
bottle. Refrigerate up to two weeks.

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The natural sugars in persimmons will caramelize when sauteed alone.

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Simmer persimmons and ginger mixture until reduced by half.

Mr. Persimmon

Existing at the intersection of a classic penicillin and the cult favorite Magnificent Merry Bastard, our Mr. Persimmon Cocktail also adds (you guessed it) persimmons to the mix. The persimmon-ginger syrup softens — if only just slightly — the smokey, peaty wallop of the bourbon and Laphroaig.

2 ounces bourbon (we like Bulleit)

1 ounce persimmon-ginger syrup (see recipe above)

Splash of Laphroaig single-malt scotch whisky

Persimmon shaving (for garnish)

Combine ingredients with ice in a mixing glass. Stir, strain and serve over crushed ice in an old-fashioned glass. Garnish with a persimmon shaving.

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Mr. Persimmon himself.

Lady Ginger

At our wedding we served two signature Champagne cocktails: the Lavender Lady (lavender syrup, extra-dry sparking wine, a twist of lemon) and the Ginger Gent (formulated by our friend Maria Hunt of The Bubbly Girl with ginger beer, mango nectar and extra-dry sparkling wine). You could say Lady Ginger is their boozy offspring.

4 ounces Prosecco

1/2 ounce persimmon-ginger syrup

Squeeze of lemon

Combine ingredients in a Champagne flute. Garnish with lemon shaving.

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Left Bank Martini

Juniper, the primary ingredient in gin, is such a wonderful winter tree — meaning we had to include gin in this menu. We love this classic cocktail for its dry gin backbone, elderflower notes and inclusion of always-on-hand sauvignon blanc.

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1 1/2 ounce dry gin

1 ounce St. Germain

1 ounce sauvignon blanc

Squeeze of lime

Rosemary sprig

Combine first 4 ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Shake and strain into a cocktail
glass. Garnish with rosemary sprig.

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Ryan sources rosemary from our hedge.

Maple Bourbon Toddy

Adapted from SoLo Farm & Table in Vermont via Esquire, this hot toddy brings in maple syrup, which adds a woodsy, semi-sweet complexity to a warm classic.

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4 ounces boiling water

1 ounce bourbon

1 tablespoon real maple syrup

1 squeeze of lemon

lemon wedge and cinnamon stick (for garnish)

Combine first 4 ingredients in an Irish coffee glass. Garnish with cinnamon stick and lemon wedge.

Fresh Brandied Eggnog

Consuming them gives many people pause, but the odds of getting salmonella from raw eggs are about 1:10,000. As lovers of a good over-easy, we rolled the dice and mixed up a from-scratch eggnog that’s light and flavorful and has forever ruined the stuff in the carton for us. Here we added maple syrup instead of simple syrup — and boy, were the results spectacular.

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3 ounces milk

1 tablespoon maple syrup

1 egg yolk

2 dashes vanilla extract

2 ounces brandy

whole nutmeg, grated

Combine first 5 ingredients in a shaker. Shake vigorously for 20 seconds. Strain into a small tumbler or Irish coffee glass. Garnish with grated nutmeg.

Pomegranate Island Punch

This punch, adapted from Bon Appétit, was a huge, huge, huge hit last year at our friend Jill’s No Pants Party. Rich but juicy, the pomegranate is uplifted by the sparkling wine and knocked sideways by the rum. The garnishes inside the wine glass — mint, pom seeds and lemon — create a nifty edible terrarium.

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1 ounce rum

1 ounce pomegranate juice

Squeeze of lemon

4 ounces sparkling wine

2 sprigs of mint, lemon wheel and pomegranate seeds (for garnish)

Shake first 3 ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Strain into wine glass, top with sparkling wine.
Garnish with mint, lemon wheel and pomegranate seeds.

The PG

For the non-drinkers in the house, this soda — flavored by the persimmon-ginger syrup — is simple but celebratory.

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1/2 ounce persimmon-ginger syrup,

5 ounces soda

Squeeze of lemon

Persimmon wedge

Combine first 3 ingredients over ice in a highball glass. Garnish with persimmon wedge.

Pomegranate Soda

Yes, another soda! We like to think of the pomegranate, linked to heart, skin and digestion health, as an excellent hangover prophylaxis.

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2 ounces pomegranate juice

Squeeze of lemon

mint sprig

6 ounces soda (chilled or serve over ice)

Lemon slice and pomegranate seeds (for garnish)

Combine first three ingredients in a wine glass and stir. Garnish with lemon slice, pomegranate seeds and mint.

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Checking out the menu…

And here’s the menu and recipes in PDF. Save it, print it,  display it on a tablet — this menu will give your guests lots to choose from, and also provides the easy recipes in one place:

Click here to download.

So less time is spent mixing, and more time is spent mingling.

Cheers. We’re off next week to enjoy some family time (and to take the occasional tasteful tree nude on Instagram). Wishing you the happiest of holidays! —TH

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The Horticult Winter Cocktail Class of 2013-2014. What’s your favorite?

 

  • Father Ginmas

    I love the Left Bank Martini!

    • It is fun, isn’t it? The Sauv is a nice surprise.