Happy holidays! My friends and I recently had our long-running obscure holiday cocktail party - the 7th annual gathering (insert many exclamation points here). It really does blow my mind - in a warm fuzzy way - that I've been living in one place (that I love) having this same themed holiday party with the same group of people (that I love) for seven years now.
We started with obscure holiday cocktails (Vol. 1), meaning historic holiday cocktails, but as you can imagine, we pretty quickly exhausted available recipes. Then we switched to holiday cocktails, but predictably those turn out to be pretty terrible, relying on green liqueurs and a lot of peppermint flavor.
We finally evolved into creating original cocktails for the event, and it's here that we've seen the most success. This year, all of the drinks were hits.
We started with a light sparkler, perfect for a party - easy to make and light on the alcohol. It's a riff on a Kir Royale with St. Germaine (an elderflower liqueur), sparkling wine, and hibiscus flowers. Jay of Finest Kind Modifiers & Mixers made it, so it contains a splash of his green tea hibiscus concentrate (available in Portland at Vena's Fizz House and Whole Foods).
St. Germaine liqueur
dried hibiscus flower in syrup
splash of Finest Kind hibiscus tea concentrate
Dawn made the Christmas Rose, a riff on a drink served at The Honey Paw. It contains a rose liqueur, adding a subtle floral taste, which complimented the Bombay Sapphire.
2 oz Bombay Sapphire Gin
3/4 oz La Quintinye Dry Vermouth
1/2 oz Combier Rose Liqueur
Thin lemon peel (coat the rim of the glass then add to drink)
Prof. A's drink was thoughtfully sourced, using as many local ingredients as he could find, as is his usual approach.
He used honey from his beehives down in York County, which in 2013 made a lighter, brighter flavored honey and went well with the Cocchi Americano and the sweetness that aging imparts to the gin.
Maine Craft Distilling Sprigge ("barrel-rested" gin)
Blue Current Sake
A little bit of Cocchi Americano
R. made a cocktail using Genever from her and S.'s trip to the Netherlands this year. R. reported that most of her attempts to use it in a cocktail tasted like "poop," so she ended up with a fruity cocktail that hid the Genever's flavor.
The "You can't taste the Genever" cocktail
dash of orange bitters
splash of Tonic
Garnish with a cherry and an umbrella.
My drink was a replica of the Whiskey Paramour that A. and I enjoyed during our visit to The Velveteen Habit in Ogunquit. It's smoky from the Scotch, but the citrus juice and liqueur mediate the flavors and meld nicely.
The Whiskey Paramour
1.5 oz Laphroaig Scotch whiskey
3/4 oz Rhum Clement
3/4 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz Royal Rose Jasmine simple syrup
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake, strain into coupe. Garnish with a dried orange slice or twist.
Of course, all of the cocktails had expert cheese pairings from S. who slings cheese at Whole Foods. She's leading a cheese and beer class with Allagash next Tuesday if you're looking for holiday advice.