Everyone has tricks for making holiday entertaining as stress-free as possible, but when it comes to cocktails, one way to simplify is to prebatch. For ease of service, many bars make drinks ahead of time, pour them into 750-ml. bottles, store them in the fridge or freezer, and then serve as needed. This is an especially useful trick for home entertainers during the holiday season, so we asked a few bartenders to share their favorite recipes for easy bottle and chill cocktails.
“People normally associate agave spirits with warmer weather, so we thought it would be interesting to make a cocktail with mezcal that felt more appropriate for the cooler months by pairing it with apple brandy and the herbal, honey sweetness of Bénédictine, both of which play nicely with the subtle smokiness of the mezcal,” says Ludlow Liquors bar manager Grace Bernotavicius. “The molé bitters add a spicy note and are always a good complement.”
15 oz. espadín mezcal
5 oz. apple brandy
2 ½ oz. Bénédictine
2-3 drops of Bittermen’s Xocolatl Molé Bitters
10 dashes Angostura bitters
2 ¼ oz. water
Combine all the ingredients in a 750-ml. bottle and store in the freezer or refrigerator. Ludlow serves in various sized glasses in 1 oz., 2 oz., or 3 oz. portions, so each guest can decide what they prefer.
The Tuxedo #2 is a crowd-pleasing cocktail, “with the stiffness and strength of a Martini and hints of fruit that draw out a beautiful freshness,” says Nathan McCarley-O’Neill, bar manager at NoMad Bar in New York City. At the bar, they serve the drink in a v-shaped glass or coupe with a lemon twist, but exploring your garnish options can also be fun.
12 oz. London Dry gin (NoMad uses Beefeater)
6 oz. dry vermouth (NoMad uses Noilly Prat)
1 ½ oz. Luxardo maraschino liqueur
4 ½ oz. water
Absinthe, to rinse
Pour all the ingredients except the absinthe into a 750-ml. bottle and make sure they are mixed together, then place in the freezer and allow to chill. When ready to serve, rinse the glass with absinthe and garnish with a twist of lemon.
My Kind of Manhattan
Great for both before and after dinner, this recipe from the Jim and Neesie bar at Generator in Miami packs a big punch of flavor. “The malty scotch and mellow rum go well with the tannins of toasted pecan and Angostura bitters,” says Gui Jaroschy, director of bar and restaurant concepts.
4 ½ oz. scotch
4 ½ oz. aged rum
7 oz. Cardamaro
1 oz. Giffard’s Banane du Bresil
¼ oz. toasted pecan tincture (see below)
¼ oz. Angostura bitters
4 ¾ oz. water
Combine all the ingredients in a large non-reactive container and stir to combine. Funnel into a clean 750-ml. bottles. Store in the freezer until you’re ready to serve. Place an amarena cherry in a chilled coupe and top with 3 ½ oz. of the Manhattan.
Pecan tincture: Toast ½ cup of chopped pecans in a 300 degree F oven for 8 minutes. Remove and let cool. In a jar pour 8 oz. of high-proof bourbon and add the toasted pecans. Taste frequently, and let stand at least 1 day but no more than 1 week, depending on how strong you want the pecan flavor to be. Strain out the pecans and store in a cool place.
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