October 2018 – Holiday Whiskey Cocktails
*** All of the recipes in this post are measured for 1 drink. If you plan on making a pitcher or slow cooker of the drink, please multiply everything by the number of guests you’re expecting. ***
Cocktail events have become one of the most popular events we do in our club. This was easily the best one so far. We had a cocktail that matched each of the upcoming major holidays along with my rubbed, smoked lamb. I’ll throw some details in about that later. Suffice to say, I started preparations for this meeting much earlier than I usually do.
As a note, we used Old Forester and Buffalo Trace whiskey for our cocktails.
Old Forester is my absolute favorite on-hand whiskey to have. In Oregon as of this writing, a handle goes for about $35. It’s got a bold, delicious flavor that’s not overly complex but has some of those great dark berry notes you want in a sipping whiskey.
Buffalo Trace is getting a little pricey for what it is anymore, but it’s a light, sweet whiskey that makes a great old fashioned. I’ve never heard of anyone hating this bourbon.
My wife found this one on Pintrest and sent it to me. If you’re a guy and you’re afraid to have a Pintrest account, you’re missing out. There’s a ton of whiskey stuff there, it’s definitely not just for your mom to find quilting patterns.
Red Moon over Manhattan
Ingredients (single cocktail)
- 2 oz red wine
- 1/2 oz bourbon
- 1/2 oz simple syrup
- 1 large round ice sphere
- 3 maraschino cherries
Here’s the thing. You can put all this in a shaker and strain it, and it won’t taste any different. In fact, shaking anything with wine seems silly. Just put everything into a pitcher and leave it in the refrigerator for a couple hours. Stir it gently before you pour it into a glass.
For added effect, make these little ‘eyeballs on a skewer’. Just stuff lychees with blueberries and skewer them. You can get canned lychees in the Asian food section of most grocery stores, and stop by your local dollar store around Halloween for some goofy little plastic skewers. At your cocktail event, set up enough for everyone to have at least 1 set of ‘eyeball skewers’ for their drinks. It takes maybe 5 minutes to prepare but it adds a ton of fun to the cocktail.
This is another one that started with some browsing on Pintrest and resulted in me adjusting based on the ingredients near me. The important thing is to find the flavors that best represent the Autumn experience. Apple, cloves, rosemary, and cinnamon are among some of the most common flavors. I also mixed this cocktail into a pitcher and let sit in the refrigerator for a couple hours before serving.
The big fall cocktail
Clove Simple Syrup
Simple syrup is so stupid easy to make, and if you have it when you host it’ll make you look like you really know what you’re doing. My advice, go to a dollar store or grocery store and get a little squeezy bottle to keep it in. You’ll look professional. Trust me.
Simple syrup is 50% sugar and 50% water. You just have to put it over heat until the sugar becomes invisible. The water won’t even fully boil before it’s done. In this case, throw in some whole cloves and you’re done.
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup white granulated sugar
- 2 Tbsp whole cloves
Ingredients (Single cocktail)
- .75 oz clove simple syrup
- .25 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 oz bourbon
- 2.5 oz dry apple cider
For an added festive flavor, get a tea steeper (like the one in my picture) and steep some rosemary in there. I let mine steep in the refrigerator about 1.5 hours and it was very subtle.
This is another one that’s just as good prepared in a pitcher before the party, so just do some simple math and scale up.
I’m lucky enough to have a wife who loves her kitchen aid mixer slightly less than me, but not by much. She makes home made whipped cream and throws a bit of bourbon in there just for me, even though she doesn’t like whiskey.
The greatest tool to have at a party is a large container to keep pre-mixed drinks in such as some pitchers. The greatest tool to have at a holiday cocktail party is a slow cooker. This next cocktail is just hot chocolate with some extras.
Bourbon Hot Chocolate
- Hot Chocolate (Use whole milk. Water is for quitters.)
- A pinch of sea salt
- 1.5 oz bourbon
- 0.5 oz peppermint schnapps
- Whipped cream
- Dark cocoa for garnish
Here are some pointers:
1. If you have some real drinkers on their way, keep the bottle ready and pour a little extra in their drink. Don’t over-pour your whiskey in the base hot cocoa and ruin it for the other people who aren’t used to drinking.
2. Get your cheese grater out and grate some dark cocoa into a little bowl. Keep a soup spoon nearby so people can put it on top of their whipped cream. It keeps their fingers out of the community garnish and while it doesn’t add much to the flavor it looks nice and makes people happy.
3. Don’t overdo the peppermint. It’s very potent and if you go any higher with the ratio here you’ll kill all the other flavors.
Cocktails go down faster and easier, and they’re typically stronger than expected. Don’t let your friends drink on an empty stomach and then try to drive home. This tip brings us to the last part of this club. Lamb.
It’s not hard to feed this many people well if you plan ahead. I picked up a $40 cut of lamb from Costco that fed everyone. That still left plenty of budget for ingredients for cocktails.
If you don’t have a smoker, aren’t comfortable using one, or just can’t seem to get it into your budget, use a grill or an oven. If you follow instructions well enough, it’s not all that difficult. My word of advice is get a meat thermometer and know what you want the meat to be done at. Check occasionally, but not more often than your recipe calls for. The most important aspect of preparing meat is knowing your goal temperature and being consistent in your cook temperature.
I smoked my lamb over apple wood for about 4 hrs at 250 degrees. My wife made a couple of incredible sauces to go with it, and we served it over pita. It’s rubbed with a mix of garlic, basil, thyme, and some other green leafy herbs. Feed your members, and make sure they get home safe!