It's company holiday party time, and as resident Cocktail Girl I've been asked to whip up a few recipes with some bare requirements: a Christmas cocktail with red and green colors, and a Hanukkah cocktail with blue and white colors. In addition, we were pairing drinks with the beginning of a lovely multi-course Italian meal at a local culinary school, so I wanted to include Italian spirits and elements where possible. Here's what I wound up doing.
Rudolph Steps Out
1 oz bourbon (Elijah Craig 12 year)
1 oz sweet vermouth (Martini & Rossi)
7/8 oz Ramazzotti
1/8 oz (barspoon) Solerno
bourbon cherry skewered on rosemary sprig*
Stir ingredients on ice and strain into a(n ideally
chilled) cocktail glass. Garnish with a bourbon cherry skewered on a
rosemary sprig. Bonus points if garnish is twisted reindeerly and
*bourbon cherry a modified take on Dr. Adam Elmegirab's cocktail cherries, using Buffalo Trace and subbing half an orange's zest for vanilla bean
I originally wanted to use Cynar instead of Ramazzotti in the drink because in coordinating with dinner there were several earthy rustic-style options, including some artichokes in the appetizer course. Trying to think to my audience, however, Cynar has a particular long bitter finish, which, while good as an aperitif function, might not agree with the audience (also, that drink veers very close to a Colonel Carpano). I've had Ramazzotti on my to-get list for awhile now, so testing was a great excuse to bring it into the fold. Ramazzotti's bitter/sweet ratio is on par with Averna and the gentian similarly stands out among its bittering agents, but I like how its famed cola flavor comes through. Some would say it's more root beer/citrus, but while I do get root-i-ness, it's, well, less dour than Averna. That cola note (and, if we're getting highly aesthetic, the red and white label coloring -- and the word "cola" with its rounded shapes evoking images of red glass ball Christmas tree ornaments) just has a friendly let's-get-down-and-boogie feel to it that finishes a sip on par with the bourbon and vermouth, perfect for a holiday party.
So overall, this is a Boulevardier variation, along the lines of my Doe's Path. Solerno is the orange liqueur here - opulent, regal, ornament-invoking. Along with the green rosemary, red cherry and general red tint of the cocktail, this fit the Christmas criteria
1 oz Magellan gin
1/2 oz honey-ginger-lemon sour mix
top with prosecco (about 3 oz)
Fuji apple garnish
Shake gin and sour mix with ice, strain into a champagne flute and top with prosecco. Garnish with Fuji apple cutout or sliver.
While not a "sling" cocktail per se (more of a champagne cocktail), the Maccabee Sling riffs on the French 75 using classic Jewish flavors apple and honey. With this drink I wanted a lighter and drier cocktail to provide variety up against ol' Rudolph up above. Magellan gin is a French-style gin that utilizes orris root and blue iris flowers during its final distillation, rendering the gin a pale sky blue (if unavailable, substitute Citadelle gin and a smidge blue food coloring). To add white to the equation: delicate-flavored Fuji apple. The apple along with the ginger-honey add hints of flavor around the edges but not as to dampen the gin's multitudinous aromatics.
Honey-Ginger-Lemon sour mix
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup honey (a lighter honey helps the cocktail remain gin-forward)
1/2 tsp powdered ginger (McCormick has a new interesting roasted ginger powder out at the moment)
1 cup lemon juice
Blend water, honey, ginger in a pot on the stove and bring to a boil. Immediately strain through a coffee filter into a container to cool. Refrigerate until ready to use. Blend syrup half-and-half with fresh-squeezed lemon juice just before cocktailing.