There’s a golden hour enveloping our lovely town at the moment, as the leaves have turned, and the trees are holding strong to their last, precious strands of new growth. Louisville has a few weeks of stunning autumn glory this time of year, just before families and friends begin gathering in celebration of tradition. I find the crisp, sunny hours of early November the most perfect moments to sit outside on my deck with my notebook, a fuzzy blanket and a glass of wine (god, I’m so basic right now) and begin planning holiday menus. I’m hosting out-of-town guests this year, so my cocktail offerings can’t be anything less than stellar, as I must be ready to dazzle my guests and get everyone toasty enough not to care about those awkward familial woes that somehow always surface on holidays. If you’re looking to create some delectable, boozy delights, then look no further. I’ve revamped a favorite or two and created a couple of user-friendly libations that are sure to keep your guests warm and buzzy.
Bourbon Orchard remix
I’ve talked about my love affair with my slow cooker before and how it can be an incredible tool for cocktails to warm the soul (my friends covet my warm bourbon orchard cider at our gift exchange each year). A cider cocktail at holiday gatherings is always a knockout classic, and why not add a twist to make it even more Instagram-worthy? Pair a rye-heavy bourbon (Four Roses Small Batch or Bulleit do the trick) with your favorite apple cider for a spicy and balanced mug of joy. Add a gallon of the apple cider, some lemon juice, local honey and orange bitters to taste with a heaping handful of cinnamon sticks to your slow cooker. Let that marinate on low for 90 minutes to two hours. While that simmers, grab some apples. Slice the top off those suckers and use an apple corer to remove the inside of the apple so that about a half-inch remains, keeping it sturdy, like a mug. Pro tip: Splash lemon juice on the inside of the apple to keep it from browning. Then, add your bourbon generously to the slow cooker and turn it off, ladling the liquid into the apples. Toss a cinnamon stick into those babies and — oh my god, how adorable is that little apple mug?! Hashtag yum! Do it for the ‘gram.
Not your average PSL
I am not dissing the iconic drink of the season — if you love a Pumpkin Spiced Latte from time to time, you do you, baby, and I say let’s embrace the trend… by adding booze, of course. Tickle your guests’ inner white girl by whipping up a pumpkin-spiced cocktail sure to have everyone in yoga pants by the end of the night (but let’s be honest, I’ll already be in yoga pants). Pair Stolen Smoked Rum (1 ounce), a half-ounce of coffee liqueur, 4 ounces of almond milk and a squeeze of pumpkin puree (you should find this in the mixer aisle of any major liquor store now, or you can get crazy and make your own). Shake that, strain it into the glass of your choice and top with a dash of Trader Joe’s pumpkin pie spice. Mmmmm. That’s fall, y’all.
Alright, I know this isn’t exactly a product of my creative genius, but I firmly believe that the Chambong should be incorporated into every family gathering from here on out. We all remember the days of beer-bonging our way into oblivion in college. Now, you can enjoy an equal amount of debauchery with a bit more class with the Chambong. I first encountered the Chambong when my friends at Chik’n & Mi began offering them with brunch — it’s quite literally a champagne flute with a turned up open end — so that one may bong champagne. Why not remix those mimosas and do something a bit more unexpected that’ll have your guests well on their way to buzz-town even quicker? You can find a six-pack on Amazon for $50, a worthy investment for holiday soirées if I do say so myself.
Whether your holiday season includes an array of shindigs sure to fill your heart with merriment for the year to come or time spent arguing politics and feverishly avoiding questions from relatives about when you’ll procreate, I’ve got your back, as themed cocktails can never go wrong. And, neither can bonging champagne. Cheers!