Holiday Entertaining: 6 Classic Cocktails with a Twist

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With the holiday season upon us, of course, with it, comes cocktails. Being intrepid, we love to try something new, or a new twist on an old classic.


Consider this your one-on-one cocktail session with Simon Hooper (above), Diageo Canada’s Reserve Brand Ambassador – and co-owner of the award-winning cocktail bar, Rush Lane & Co., in Toronto’s Queen St., West neighbourhood – who gave us his recipes and tips for making spirits, well, bright, from eggnog to Caesars.

His big tip: always put the least expensive ingredient, say lime juice or ginger beer – rather than cognac, into your shaker first, in case you mess up. Simon also gave us a tip on the easiest way to make simple syrup. (Instagram video @simondangr)

And don’t forget to make that merry responsibly, arrange for designated drivers and taxis, or have a good old fashioned sleepover! Merry, merry!

Click through for recipes!


Baileys Eggnog

Simon’s tip: “Always start with the egg first, so that if a bit shell drops into your shaker, or you mess it up, you can remove it or dump it out and start again.” He also suggests using a strainer while pouring the finished mixture through another strainer, before pouring into a serving glass.

  • 1 oz BAILEYS Original Irish Cream Liquor
  • 25 oz Irish Whiskey
  • 1 Full Egg
  • 3 oz 2% Cold milk
  • Nutmeg (pinch)
  • Cinnamon stick (garnish)
  1. Add all ingredients into shaker with ice and shake vigorously.
  2. Strain into glass and sprinkle with nutmeg to taste.
  3. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.

Dutch Mule

A variation of the Russian cocktail. Simon says: “The Moscow Mule was first invented for Smirnoff Vodka, but this one’s made with Ketel One – and Ketel One has a pronounced note of citrus that works for this drink.”

  • 5 oz of KETEL ONE
  • 3 oz Ginger beer
  • 1 tsb Sugar syrup
  • 25 oz Lime juice
  • 1 Mint sprig
  • 1 Lime slice
  1. In a glass with ice, add KETEL ONE, sugar syrup and lime juice.
  2. Top with ginger beer and stir. Garnish with mint sprig and lime slice.

Spiced Apple Cider

Made with Captain Morgan Rum that’s infused with spice, to take the guesswork out.

  • 5 oz Captain Morgan Original Spiced
  • 4 oz. Hot apple cider
  • Cinnamon sticks
  1. Combine Captain Morgan Spiced and hot apple cider into a mug. Garnish with cinnamon stick

Cîroc French 76

A one-up on a the French 75, Simon offers this tip: “If you don’t have sparkling wine or Champagne, Chardonnay and Soda can simulate the sparkling effect.”

  • 1 oz. CÎROC Ultra Premium
  • 5 oz Lemon juice
  • 5 oz. Simple syrup
  • 5 oz. Sparkling Wine
  • one dark grape or blackberry  (Simon says any dark berry type fruit will do, just go for something that’s in season)
  1. Shake first three ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled flute glass.
  2. Top with sparkling wine and garnish with a dark grape or blackberry.


The Canadian classic, with a bit of rock ‘n’ roll thrown in. ‘Nuff said.

  • 1 oz. Smirnoff No. 21 Vodka
  • 3 oz. Clamato juice
  • 2 Dashes red hot sauce
  • 1 Dash Worcestershire sauce
  • 5 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 Pinch salt
  • 1 Pinch pepper
  • 1 Piece celery stalk (cut)
  1. Mix Smirnoff No. 21 Vodka, clamato juice, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, pinch of salt, pinch of pepper. Simon’s tip: Use lots of ice, and instead of shaking it in one shaker, pour it back and forth between two shakers (Simon calls this method “rock ‘n’ roll). It aerates the mixture to mingle the flavours.
  2. Strain into an ice-filled highball glass.
  3. Garnish with celery stalk.

Grand Cider

Grand Marnier’s tropical notes add a bit of winter escape to this cocktail.

  • 5 oz. Grand Marnier
  • Sparkling apple cider
  • Apple slice and herbs or lemon wheel
  1. Combine Grand Marnier and sparkling cider in a chilled glass.
  2. Garnish with a lemon wheel or apple slice and your favourite fresh herbs to add a touch of seasonal elegance.