The ultimate holidized cocktail menu

The holiday season is upon us, y’all, which means it’s time to gallivant around town (or out of town) in merriment,  spreading joy, laughter and kindness amongst family and friends. Whether you’ve got staunch family traditions that have trickled down throughout generations or you’re hosting a “friends-giving” complete with a turkey soaked in weed butter, let’s be honest, there will be binge drinking regardless. My family has always offered up a “drink what you like” mantra, with a chock-full holiday bar in the corner of my auntie’s kitchen. My boyfriend’s huge and jovial Mexican family pours up shots of Rum Chata + Fireball come Christmas (a delightfully creamy holiday spiced shooter, if you ask me). No matter where we hail from or what holiday we’re celebrating, I think we can all sing the same carol when it comes to the clutch family member or friend that brings a batch of the most delectable boozy libations to the celebration. I’ve climbed through the cocktail recipe crevasses, done my own (willing) research and sampling and crafted a list of the most toothsome beverages that will keep your loved ones’ mouths watering all year.

Bourbon Orchard

Warm and toasty cocktails are good for the soul this time of year, methinks, so let’s pour us something that’ll keep us cozy might that nasty polar vortex creep back into Derby City. The Bourbon Orchard pairs a rye-heavy bourbon (such as Four Roses Small Batch or Bulleit) and apple cider for a spicy and balanced libation. Take 2 oz. bourbon, 4 oz. of your favorite hot apple cider (Huber’s, anyone?), 0.5 oz. lemon juice, a squeeze of local honey and two dashes of orange bitters. Stir in a mug and garnish with a thinly sliced apple wheel. One sip of this and you’ll be convinced your heart is wearing a Snuggie.

Kentucky Eggnog

Certainly, there’s nothing wrong with revamping an age-old tradition. So give your eggnog a Kentucky makeover to both welcome your out-of-town guests to Bourbon Country and give the natives our favorite bluegrass hug. Grab a liter of your favorite bourbon (might I suggest a smooth, wheated bourbon for this recipe, like Maker’s Mark), one quart of milk, one quart of heavy cream, two dozen eggs, one cup of sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon sticks for garnish. Separate your egg babies and beat the yolks until they’re nice and creamy, whipping in the sugar. Beat the egg whites until they stand in peaks. Then beat the yolks and your bourbon together, adding whites. Add the cream and milk mixture and sprinkle nutmeg to taste into the whole batch.  When you’re pouring the individual cocktails into that adorable snowman glassware you break out every year, garnish each glass with nutmeg and throw a cinnamon stick on that bitch. Bam!

Cranberry Mule

Let’s “holidize” one of the most trendy cocktails in bars across America currently and go Mrs. Clause on the Moscow Mule. Grab a bottle of Stoli Cranberry Vodka, some ginger beer, a few limes, cranberry sauce, cranberries and some candied ginger. For a single serving, pour up 2 oz. cranberry vodka, 4 oz. ginger beer, one teaspoon of cranberry sauce (a sweetened brand seems to work best) and squeeze one lime quarter. Shake all ingredients with ice and pour into one of those precious little copper mugs (over crushed ice, preferably). Crush the candied ginger and roll two cranberries on a cocktail sword through the ginger, then lay that beautiful garnish atop the crushed ice. Voila! You’ve crafted a quirky and creative delight for your whole brood.

Bubbles + Bourbon

Champagne may as well be the international symbol for celebrations, and this easy-to-make, bubbly delight is like a collision of Kentucky gumption and class. Grab a champagne flute and pour up 0.5 oz. of bourbon, 0.25 oz. of St. Germaine Elderflower Liqueur, fill the rest of the glass with champagne and toss in a frozen cranberry. Pro tip: If you’re hosting festivities this year, grab a box of plastic champagne flutes and a fancy serving tray, pour up these little champagne dreams and have them arranged on the tray, waiting at the door for guests as they arrive. Your party will get Instagrammed before it’s even begun.

Whether your holiday season includes glorious merriment and memory making, or feverishly avoiding awkward glares from your pervy uncle Phil, or trying to intercept political arguments between brothers, or trying to explain to your grandma for the umpteenth time that Meredith is, in fact, your girlfriend, and “Yes, we’re both girls,“ I think we can all agree on one thing. Booze will make it better. Cheers!