Coolest Holiday Cocktails

A bartender has an army of ingredients at hand—but how do you mix a cocktail with cachet at home? These recipes let you make liquid magic with just five. Prepare for party crashers!

Charlotte Voisey
holiday cocktails
Crowd Pleasers >> From left: rye-based Sazerac, bubbly Elderberry Royale and a Cavalier made with Cognac.
Photograph: Jens Mortensen

➤ Sicilian margarita
➤ Pickwick punch
➤ Winter rickey
➤ Tropical storm
➤ Sazerac
➤ New york sour
➤ Russian hill
➤ Elderberry royale
➤ Escape to rio
➤ Cavalier
➤ Spirits consultant: Toby Cecchini

Sicilian margarita
A blood-orange liqueur from Sicily reinvigorates one of America's favorite cocktails.

1½ ounces tequila
½ ounce Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur
½ ounce fresh lime juice
½ ounce simple syrup*
½ ounce pink grapefruit juice
Lime slices, for garnish

Combine ingredients and shake well. Serve over ice in an old-fashioned glass, and garnish with slices of lime.

Pickwick punch
This is an elegant, traditional hot punch worth snuggling up to.

3 parts gin
1 part port
1 part simple syrup*
1 part fresh lime juice
2 parts hot water
Fresh pineapple, for garnish
Freshly grated nutmeg

Combine ingredients in a punch bowl. Garnish with pineapple slices and nutmeg.

Winter rickey
The rickey was created in our nation's capital in 1883, and the drink's simple balance of gin, citrus and soda water makes it as drinkable today as it was back then.

1½ ounces gin
½ ounce fresh lime juice
½ ounce blood-orange juice (store bought is fine)
½ ounce honey syrup (equal parts honey and water)
3 ounces soda water
Orange slices, for garnish

Build ingredients over ice in a tall glass, and garnish with an orange wheel.

Tropical storm
This drink conjures up images of warm beaches and swaying palm trees—just what we need as winter takes hold.

3 parts vodka
2 parts lychee juice (store bought)
1 part guava juice (store bought)
1 part fresh lime juice
1 part Monin Coconut Syrup
Fresh strawberries, for garnish

Combine ingredients in a pitcher or punch bowl with ice. Serve over ice in tall glasses with sliced strawberries.

Sazerac
Louisiana's official cocktail is also New Orleans's signature drink: strong and smooth, with a wisp of absinthe and a taste of another era (much like the city itself).

Dash of absinthe
2 ounces rye whiskey
3 dashes Peychaud's Bitters
½ ounce simple syrup*
Lemon peel

Chill an old-fashioned glass, and rinse with absinthe. Combine rye, bitters and simple syrup in a mixing glass, and stir with ice. Strain cocktail into prepared old-fashioned glass, and finish with a lemon peel.

New York Sour
The New York Sour dates back at least to the mid-1800s and is best enjoyed during the cold months. The trick to floating the wine at the end? A steady hand.

2 ounces rye whiskey
1 ounce simple syrup*
¾ ounce fresh lemon juice
Dash of orange bitters
½ ounce red wine

Combine ingredients except red wine, and shake well. Strain into a coupe, and float red wine on top by pouring over the back of a tablespoon.

Russian Hill
A classic White Russian is made with vodka. This variation, served at San Francisco's W Hotel, offers a more contemporary spin with a mix of local brands of liqueur and vermouth (they are also available nationwide).

1 ounce Firelit Blue Bottle Coffee Liqueur
1 ounce dry vermouth, preferably Sutton Cellars
½ ounce fresh lemon juice
½ ounce simple syrup*
Lemon peel

Combine ingredients, and shake well; strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a lemon spiral.

Elderberry Royale
This is a modern take on an Italian classic, the Bellini. Decadent blackberries sweetened with elderflower liqueur and finished with crisp, dry Champagne make a sophisticated black-tie cocktail.

5 blackberries, plus more for garnish
1½ ounces St-Germain elderflower liqueur
8 fresh mint leaves, plus a sprig for garnish
4 ounces Champagne
Edible silver dust, for garnish

Muddle blackberries, add St-Germain and mint, and shake well. Strain into a flute or highball glass, and top with Champagne. Garnish with blackberries, mint sprig and a dusting of edible silver.

First Published November 8, 2011

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