Recipes: 12 Days of Christmas Cocktails
The Rusty Skate cocktail, pictured above, combines the sweetness and spice of Drambuie with the smokiness and boldness of Scotch. Photo: Courtesy of Wayne Gretzky Distillery
It’s time to deck the halls, get into the merry merry and bright of it all. We’ve tapped expert mixologists for their secret recipes and included a few warm beverages as well as an option for teetotallers. Cheers!
1. Rusty Skate (above)
Courtesy Wayne Gretzky Distillery
Bartender’s note: When I started bartending, one of the first cocktails I fell in love with was the Rusty Nail. It combines the sweetness and spice of Drambuie with the smokiness and boldness of Scotch. This cocktail is an ode to that, using our Canadian Rye and liquid smoke to make up for the peat of the Scotch.
1 ½ oz. Red Cask Whisky
¾ oz. Drambuie
2 drops liquid smoke*
2 whisky-infused cherries and an orange slice
Fill a rocks glass with ice. Add whisky, Drambuie and liquid smoke (if using). Stir until chilled, garnish with cherries and orange slice.
*Tip: If you have hickory chips handy, try putting a pinch on a cutting board that you don’t mind scorching a little. Add a ¼ oz of whisky to the rocks glass, swish it around and then shake it out. Light the hickory chips with a barbecue lighter and then flip the whisky-rinsed glass over top of it. Let the glass smoke for one minute and then assemble the cocktail without the liquid smoke.
2. Hot Gin & Tonic
Courtesy: Sipsmith London Dry Gin
Bartender’s note: A warming new twist on a classic.
1.5 oz Sipsmith London Dry Gin
½ oz Jack Rudy Tonic Syrup
1/3 oz sugar syrup
In a mug or heatproof stem glass, combine gin, tonic syrup and sugar syrup. Stir well and top with boiling water. Garnish with an orange twist.
3. Gingerbread Eggnog
Courtesy Fairmont Hot Springs Resort
1 tbsp white sugar
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 cup ice cubes
1 cup eggnog
1 cup vodka
1 cup coffee liqueur
2 tbsp molasses
Freshly grated nutmeg
4 cinnamon sticks
Combine sugar and cinnamon. Rim four glasses and then dip in cinnamon sugar. Fill cocktail shaker with ice; add eggnog, vodka, coffee liqueur, molasses and a pinch of nutmeg. Shake to combine. Pour into rimmed glasses. Top with whipped cream and sprinkle fresh nutmeg on top, adding a cinnamon stick for garnish.
4. Salted Caramel White Russian
Courtesy Chelsea Hotel, Toronto
Bartender’s note: A creamy blend of coffee liqueur, Irish cream with salted caramel and vodka.
3/4 oz Kahlua Coffee Liqueur
3/4 oz Bailey’s Salted Caramel
½ oz Polar Ice Vodka
In ice-filled glass, combine Kahlua, Bailey’s and vodka. Top with milk and caramel drizzle.
5. A Kiss for Clara
Courtesy Chris Rail, head bartender at Shangri-La Hotel in Toronto, who was inspired by The Nutcracker ballet, to serve with the Nutcracker afternoon tea.
1 oz Ketel One Vodka
0.75 oz Umeshu Plum Brandy
0.5 oz Black Plum Syrup*
0.25 oz Verjus
1 oz Prosecco
In ice-filled shaker tin, combine vodka, brandy, syrup, Verjus and Prosecco; shake and strain into coupette glass. Garnish with a pickled grape and enjoy!
* Black Plum Syrup
Combine 1 cup diced black plums and 500 ml simple syrup; and bring to a soft boil. Steep overnight and strain.
6. Crimson and Clover
Courtesy Creemore’s Batch House, Toronto
Bartender’s note: This cocktail is light and well-balanced, clove wafting throughout. Try pairing it with duck.
1.5 oz Collective Arts Hibiscus & Rhubarb Gin
0.5 oz Amaro Nonino
0.5 oz Ontario honey
1 oz Rosé
Cloves and dried orange slice for garnish
Build ingredients, starting with non-alcoholic into the shaker tin top. Add ice to shaker tin top. Place shaker tin bottom over top, ensuring they are sealed and in a straight line. Smack the top of the tin bottom to ensure the seal. Shake vigorously for 15 to 20 seconds or until a layer of condensation appears on the outside of the tin. Dislodge the two parts of the tin. Double strain into a coupe glass, using the Hawthorn strainer on the tin and the screen strainer above the glass. Garnish with orange slice and cloves.
7. Patrón Paloma
1 oz Patrón Silver
Pour Patrón Silver into a highball glass filled with ice. Add grapefruit soda and top with squeezed lime.
8. Baileys Over Ice Cream
1 scoop ice cream
3.5 oz. Baileys Original Irish Cream
Your choice of toppings
Put ice cream in a small glass. Pour Baileys on top. Sprinkle on your favourite topping.
9. French 76
1.25 oz Ciroc Ultra Premium vodka
0.5 oz lemon juice
0.5 oz simple syrup
Splash Piper Champagne
Dark grape (optional)
In ice-filled shaker tin, combine vodka, lemon juice and simple syrup; strain into a chilled flute glass. Top with Champagne and garnish with a dark grape.
10. The Fashion Caesar
Courtesy of Walter Craft Caesar Mix
Bartender’s note: This works perfectly at brunch or as an appetizer/cocktail combined.
Rim: lemon juice, Walter Craft Caesar Rim
1 oz vodka
4 oz Walter Craft Caesar Mix – Holiday
Squeeze fresh lemon juice
Garnish: cooked lobster claw, tarragon, sage and lemon
Rim tall glass with lemon juice and Caesar Rim. Fill glass with ice. In a shaker, mix vodka, caesar mix and lemon juice. Pour over ice in prepared glass. Garnish with lobster, tarragon, sage and lemon slices.
11. Chocolate Mule
Courtesy Rise Kombucha
Bartender’s note: Kombucha is a good substitute for sweet juices or mixers. It adds flavour and a bit of fizz without being overly sugary.
1 oz vodka
0.5 oz sour honey syrup
1-2 ml chocolate bitters
Rise Fresh Ginger Kombucha
Combine vodka, sour honey syrup and chocolate bitters. Top with kombucha and garnish with lemon.
12. Garden Toddy
2 oz Seedlip Distilled Non-Alcoholic Spirits in Garden 108
Warm apple or pear cider
Honey to taste
Sage leaf or lemon wheel
In a glass mug, combine Spirits, cider, a squeeze of fresh lemon and honey to taste. Garnish with a sage leaf or lemon wheel.
But, first, we’ll take a Manhattan
And for those of you who might just need a sophisticated yet simplified option, may we suggest Canada’s own JP Wiser’s Manhattan Whisky Cocktail? It’s a premixed version of the classic cocktail, with JP Wiser’s whisky, vermouth and natural flavours. Simply pour over ice, stir and garnish with a cherry or orange twist. P.S. It makes a great hostess gift, as well.
A version of this story was originally published on Dec. 12, 2019.