Shake Up Your Holiday Festivities with Creative Cocktails

The fall holidays are steeped in tradition. Try to imagine Thanksgiving without turkey and stuffing, Christmas without a ham or New Year’s Eve without a champagne toast.

So how can home entertainers honor the past while spicing up their own celebrations for family and friends? Many of us have resorted to exotic stuffing recipes and desserts that sound better on paper than they taste on the plate.

The obvious solution to this conundrum is to whip up some designer cocktails to compliment those staples of the holiday table.

“The Mirror” turned to David Ortiz, spirits specialist and staff mixologist for Republic National Distributing Company in Deerfield Beach, for some suggestions. Ortiz, who has more than 30 years experience in the industry, is charged with helping restaurant and bar managers across the state concoct new libations.

Ortiz believes less is more when it comes to cocktails, focusing on tasty recipes that include no more than four ingredients.

“I like to keep it simple,” he explained. “Just a few, carefully chosen ingredients can lend big flavors to cocktails and when you’re busy entertaining, ease is one of the most important considerations.”

Ortiz created four custom cocktails for “Mirror” readers, one each for the Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years holidays, using Republic National brands (but you can substitute your favorites, too). Sticking to his philosophy, each is easily mixed—or shaken—at home and promise to make an amateur mixologist shine like a pro.

Maple “Peared” Together

Halloween is the traditional start to the holiday entertaining season and this original cocktail captures the tastes of those crisp, fall nights up north, along with a little hint of orange, suggesting the jack-o-lanterns greeting trick-or-treaters:

1 ¾ oz. Death’s Door Gin
¾ oz. Briottet pear liqueur
½ oz. orange juice
½ oz. maple syrup

Add all ingredients in a shaker, shake hard and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a mint sprig.

Autumn Fig

Bring on the turkey and dressing! The perfect complement to the savory tastes of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, Ortiz’s Autumn Fig plays the acidity of citrus-infused vodka and lemon juice against the complex sweetness of agave nectar and fig:

2 oz. St. George California Citrus Vodka
¾ oz. lemon juice
¾ oz. agave nectar
½ oz. fig preserves (2 bar spoons)

Add all ingredients in a shaker, shake hard and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a mint sprig.

Christmas Julep

The Old Fashioned is back and Ortiz has been training bartenders across the state to make this traditional bourbon cocktail. For a Christmas twist, add some muddled peppermints while you anxiously await jolly old St. Nick’s annual visit:

2 oz. Buffalo Trace Bourbon
1 oz. simple syrup
3 peppermints, muddled
¼ oz. cranberry juice

In an Old Fashioned glass, mix muddled peppermints and simple syrup. Add bourbon and fill glass with crushed ice. Garnish with fresh peppermint sprig.

New Year’s Cranberry Fizz

One of the most popular cocktails within the LGBT community is the Cape Cod, vodka mixed with cranberry juice. For a special New Year’s toast, Ortiz offers a festive variation, featuring cranberry-infused vodka and prosecco, Italian sparkling wine:

1 oz. Deep Eddy Cranberry Vodka
¾ oz. lemon juice
½ oz. simple syrup
La Marca Prosecco to fill

Pour all ingredients into a shaker. Shake hard and strain into a flute garnished with lemon twist.


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