Nothing says a holiday like a celebratory drink. But these aren’t your standard Old Fashioneds or Cosmos. Mixed drinks have gotten more sophisticated. They are artisanal cocktails made from fresh ingredients and immersive mixology where science works.
A local bartender provided Tribune Review with some of the easiest recipes for amateurs just starting out as mixologists at home this holiday season.
At Industry Public House of Lawrenceville, manipulate a torch to smoke wood chips and infuse bourbon to create a signature smoke stack for Industry Public House of Lawrenceville.
Industry Public House Bar Captain Steven “Shipwreck Aander” Karajainen said:
Shipwreck’s toasted marshmallow recipe gives you great flavor and smokiness without the need for flames.
“It’s like a warm campfire,” he said. Well, if Shipwreck was making a drink for you, he would use an atomizer sprayer to apply a fine mist and finish it off with a layer of Islascotch.
Mixologists Aimee McCune and Deanna Tomlinson at The Venue in downtown Greensburg have a holiday drink special.
One of the most popular, not just at Christmas, but all year round is the Raspberry Field Cocktail, made with Stolichnaya Raspberry Vodka, Chambord, Fresh Lemon Juice and Fresh Raspberry Puree.
“People really love when they drink cocktails made with freshly squeezed juice,” said Tomlinson.
Professional bartenders also focus on infusing simple syrups with fresh ingredients.
Devin Goyac, mixologist at Etna’s Bitter End Cocktail Bar, uses fresh herbs and fruits in simple syrups. With a background in chemistry, he makes a variety of simple syrups flavored with mint, rosemary, lavender, cinnamon sticks and more.
A simple syrup, as the name suggests, is simply sugar dissolved in water, but it can be complicated.
Goyak creates a candy cane martini that “tastes like Christmas,” adding fresh mint sprigs to the simple syrup “to give it a little fresher, minty kick.”
“It’s easy,” said Goyac.
for him. Bartenders have the techniques and tools to make simple syrups infused with various herbs that aren’t easy without the tools.
For candy cane martinis, mix mint and simple syrup in a tumbler or shaker, then add the drink ingredients and ice to the same tumbler, Goyak said. Remove the top and place a large strainer over the top of the tumbler to catch the ice and pour directly into a small sieve strainer over a chilled martini glass.
Goyak prefers Belvedere or Tito’s vodka for smoothness, and combines Rumple Minze peppermint schnapps liqueur with simple syrup to create a “finally mellow candy cane.” However, “Be careful. RumpleMinze is his 100 proof,” he warns.
This drink was developed by Goyaku because it reminds me of hard candy.
“I want to create things that other people can enjoy and spread a little happiness,” he said.
Nikki Wright, owner and head bartender of Bubbly Bar, a Freeport beverage catering business, proposes her favorite tequila-based Pomegranate Ginger Paloma for the holidays.
“It tastes like heaven,” she said. “Sweet and fruity. Topped with ginger beer for a mellow taste. Squeeze the juice to taste and finish off with ginger beer.
She uses store-bought pomegranate or fresh grapefruit juice, lime juice, agave or simple syrup, but adding fresh ginger and mint makes it a little more complicated, she said. But it’s worth it (see recipe).
Black Walnut Manhattan is the favorite seasonal drink of Yvan Rojas Gallardo, head bartender at Holiday House at The Maverick in East Liberty.
“It gives you a feeling of warmth and reminds you of lounging by the fireplace with your family,” he said.
He added that it’s a complex but approachable drink that’s easy to drink, even for those who don’t normally drink spirit-forward (alcohol-rich) cocktails.
Rojas-Gallardo has a penchant for certain ingredients, especially fresh herbs in some drinks, but he describes himself as a traditional bartender.
“I just want to tweak the rosemary a bit and make a delicious drink like Old Fashioned,” he said.
In one of his mocktails, the Pomegranate Rosemary Lemonade, Rojas-Gallardo uses a simple rosemary-infused syrup. He said it’s important to use fresh rosemary.
“The plant still has moisture, and when you make a simple syrup, that moisture transfers the flavor of the herbs during the cooking process.”
Rojas-Gallardo gravitates toward classic beverages while adhering to the adage ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’.
Mary Ann Thomas is a staff writer for Tribune-Review. You can reach Mary by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on her Twitter. .