If there’s one thing the holidays do, it’s bring people together.
That’s wonderful, of course, but it can be hard to come up with a drink selection that pleases both party-hearty cousin Charlie and your Great Aunt Myrtle. The trick is to stock your holiday bar with liquor, mixers, and garnish that play well together. I like to keep things simple and choose a theme, some sort of flavor or ingredient to tie everything together.
I’ve chosen Ginger Simple Syrup to be my unifying cocktail ingredient for the holidays. It’s homemade, but ridiculously easy (And you get that extra little bit of “made-it-myself” cache . . .). The flavor blends nicely, and is warm, festive, and comforting — with just a little edge of heat. It was also a great base for these five delicious ginger cocktails:
For this cocktail set you’ll need two kinds of alcohol, one strong (a hard liquor), and one soft. Combine them with your mixers, and with each other, to get various levels of ‘oomph’ in your cocktails. A range like that is very important, and allows your guests to choose just how strong a drink they want without feeling like they’re missing out on all the fun.
Being that we’re in the season of festivities, I’ve chosen a clean vodka for the hard alcohol (But lots of things would work; this same bar set up in the fall might call for bourbon or rye whiskey.).
For the softer alcohol, what better to use than a bit of the bubbly? Champagne, of course, sets the bar for elegance, but there are other options that won’t break the bank — Cava or Prosecco work very well in these fruity preparations.
Next, your mixers. A juice is always advisable, as it adds sweetness and body. I’ve gone with cranberry here, for obvious holiday reasons. The other mixer is club soda, because (combined with our ginger syrup) it can provide bubble and interest in a variety of non-alcoholic drinks for drivers and for those who’d rather abstain.
Like a Homemade Ginger Ale, chock full of bright maraschino cherries and a colorful straw, or a non-alcoholic spritzer made with club soda, juice and the ginger syrup. Choose ingredients with an eye to what can make a pleasing non-alcoholic drink, for both adults AND kids. Nobody wants to feel left out!
Another trick to making more out of fewer ingredients is to choose some that can do ‘double duty.’ Lemon, like I’ve chosen here, is a classic example. First create twists for garnish out of the peel and then use the juice to add a touch of tartness to drinks that need it.
Oh, yes, I almost forgot! The Ginger Simple Syrup!
Start with fresh ginger.
Slice into thin rounds.
Heat sugar and water, add the ginger, and steep.
Strain and decant in a pretty bottle on your bar. Prepare to receive compliments aplenty from delighted guests.
Hope you enjoy!
Happy New Year!
Michelle Palm created the Jelly Shot Test Kitchen blog after discovering a lack of cocktail-style jelly shot recipes. Look for her posts here, and check her Tablespoon member profile often to see what she’s already gelled up!