Holiday cocktails

Col-head-ZalkinHoliday party season is in full swing, and chances are you’ll be hosting guests sometime before the year is done.

So it’s time to bust out the bar and make something to impress your guests. If you want something beyond the usual suspects, here are a few recommendations that are sure to surprise and delight.

Warm and Spicy

Traditional Hot Toddy

4 whole cloves

1 star anise

1 cinnamon stick

1 t honey

1/2 cup boiling water

1.5 oz. brandy

Make sure to use a heatproof glass, and let the hot water sit for a few seconds before adding the brandy, so that the alcohol doesn’t immediately boil off. A hot toddy is a great way to warm up after a cold day, and there are a hundred different recipes for it. Just remember, the nicer the brandy, the less you want to add to it.

Try it with Germain Robin, Lot 29 Brandy.

Chai Toddy

3 oz. chai tea

1.5 oz. spiced rum

1.5 oz. part half-and-half.

a light drizzle of raw honey.

The chai toddy is a creamy spin on this traditional winter warmer. You can make your own chai tea, or buy it in concentrate from specialty grocery stores. A dark, spicy rum adds additional depth to spicy chai, and raw honey adds a touch of mild sweetness.

Try it with Myers dark spiced rum.

Winter Whiskey Sour

1.5 oz. whiskey

3/4 oz. lemon juice

1/2 oz. maple syrup

Lemon and maple syrup add a touch of depth and sweetness, while still allowing the character of the whiskey to shine through. This classic cocktail has enough bite to stand up to creamy, cheesy appetizers, and looks particularly beautiful garnished with a rosemary sprig.

Try it with Smooth Ambler.

The Long Hello

.75 oz. calvados

.75 oz. St Germain

dash of bitters



Complex and spicy, with elderflower liquor, apple brandy, and a hint of nutmeg as a cheeky nod to the season. Stir the calvados, St. Germain, and bitters in a glass, then top with Champagne and freshly grated nutmeg. Serve this one to your guests first thing — the long hello is excellent on its own, as an aperitif.

Try it with Manoir de Montreuil Calvados Du Pays d’auge reserve.

The Magdalena

1 part Canton ginger liqueur

1 part plain seltzer

Squeeze of lemon

Few things capture the holiday spirit like the flavor of ginger. Relative newcomer Domaine de Canton is a mix of ginger, cognac, and provincial honey. Serve it in a rocks glass with a slice of lemon for a garnish, The Magdelana makes a refreshing accompaniment to seafood appetizers and nicely compliments Asian-influenced hors d’oeuvres.

Try it with Domaine de Canton French ginger liquor.

French 75

1/2 oz. lemon juice

1.5 oz. gin

1 teaspoon superfine sugar or

A generous splash of Champagne or Cava.

The French 75 dates back to 1915, and was popularized by the glamorous Stork Club. And no wonder! With festive bubbles, and an alcoholic kick that’s not too overwhelming, it’s a perfect drink for all occasions. Use a floral gin like Green Hook and serve in a tall, narrow glass or a Champagne flute. Garnish with cherries and a lemon twist!

Try it with Greenhook gin.

You can find all of these delightful liquors for purchase at our store, Old Greenwich Fine Wines & Cheese, located at 195 Sound Beach Avenue, Old Greenwich, or visit our website,, or call 203-990-3030 to place an order.

When you stop in, we invite you to taste a number of our favorite wines while we help you find the right bottle for your palate.

Robert Zalkin is the owner of Old Greenwich Fine Wines & Cheese at 195 Sound Beach Avenue. His column is available weekly at

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