Entertain from Thanksgiving to dry January with these creative drink recipes
By Morgan Cartier Weston | Photography by John Michael Simpson
The art of crafting the perfect cocktail takes center stage as the holiday season approaches. This is the time of year when pros like Brendan Cox, owner and bartender at The Beagle Bar in downtown Pittsboro, shine. We asked him and his wife Leslie Cox to share their favorite make-ahead cocktails for a crowd. These time-saving recipes are sure to help you create sensational seasonal libations that make for memorable gatherings.
Rule No. 1? “Relax,” Brendan says. “Enjoy the party, and remember that guests are there for the good company, not to critique your mixology skills.”
Cranberry Flip Mocktail
A well-crafted mocktail can help guests who aren’t consuming alcohol feel welcome and part of the party. “Celebrations don’t have to include alcohol, but celebratory drinks should always be beautiful,” Leslie says.
2 oz. Seedlip Spice (a zero-proof spirit replacement)
1 oz. cranberry syrup
½ oz. lemon juice
¾ oz. egg white (roughly 1 medium egg white)
FOR THE CRANBERRY SYRUP Boil 1 cup fresh cranberries with 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar until cranberries split and soften, infusing the syrup. Puree and strain.
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker and shake without ice (dry shake) for 15 seconds. Add ice, and shake for 20-25 seconds. Strain into a chilled coupe glass, and garnish with a fresh rosemary sprig or sugared cranberries.
“This is definitely a dangerous and delicious freezer staple,” Leslie says. We tried this with a lemon twist, and it was crisp, refreshing and balanced – just as a martini should be. Leslie and Brendan also recommend buying a quality vermouth: “It’s worth the extra money,” she says.
Makes six martinis
6 oz. Tanqueray gin
6 oz. Tanqueray 10 gin
6 oz. dry vermouth
9 oz. still water
Add all ingredients to a pitcher and stir. Set pitcher in the freezer; will hold indefinitely.
WHEN THE PARTY STARTS Give the pitcher a stir and pour into chilled martini glasses. Garnish as you wish with a lemon twist, cocktail onion or olive.
Benedictine is an herbal French liqueur and serves as a fantastic complement to peppery rye and sweet vermouth. “This is a Rye cocktail that even dark spirit skeptics can love,” Leslie says.
Makes six drinks
6 oz. rye
6 oz. Benedictine
6 oz sweet vermouth
3-4 oz. still water
2-3 dashes angostura bitters
Orange twists, for garnish
Add all ingredients except bitters to a pitcher and stir. Set the pitcher in the fridge or freezer; will hold indefinitely.
WHEN THE PARTY STARTS Add a few small ice cubes or one large cube to a rocks glass, give the punch a stir, and add roughly 3½ oz. of punch to each glass. Add dashes of angostura bitters to individual cocktails, and garnish with an orange twist.
Raspberry Champagne Cocktail
An ideal cocktail to mark the bittersweet ending of a year and the promise of a new one, this drink couldn’t be easier to make for a crowd. “Line up your Champagne glasses, and add the Chambord, bitters and raspberries in advance,” Leslie recommends. “Then, simply pop the cork on the sparkling wine, and top them off when you are ready to toast!”
Bottle(s) of sparkling wine, such as dry Champagne or prosecco
½ oz. Chambord
2-3 dashes angostura bitters