Sipping a handmade cocktail during the holiday season is almost like getting a homemade gift. At least according to Kyle Hayse, general manager of Beeline, a bar in Easton Town Center.
“Someone took the time to make it … it was specially made for you,” Hayse said. “I think there are many of us who need it during the holidays. It’s been a long year and it’s time for joy. Whoa, maybe even the holidays have worn you out with all that shopping.
“Everyone needs the special attention that a craft cocktail can bring.”
So if you’re looking for more than just a standard rum and cola or vodka cranberry for Christmas or New Year’s Eve, or really an upcoming winter evening, look no further.
Several bartenders in Central Ohio recommend these seasonal beverages to get you and your loved ones sailing:
Beeline seasonal mule: Perfect for sharing for family dinners
Most of the winter cocktails on the menu at Beeline focus on the heartiness of the season with flavors like blackberry jam and caramel cider.
This is certainly also the case with its seasonal mules, Hayse said, as the drink contains a single homemade rosemary and blueberry syrup.
“It’s the tasty, homely feeling – almost like family dinner taste,” Hayse said. “We try to beat you with blueberries and rosemary in a crisp simple syrup. You get the aroma and taste of the rosemary, and then it hits you with the sweetness and sourness of the blueberries.”
Plus, the syrup – which is also easy to make at home – gives the drink a fun purple color that makes the drink “a statement piece.”
Hayse said the brass mugs in which mules are typically served evoke memories of past vacations.
“That brass – when I was growing up, I had a lot of gold and brass ornaments,” Hayse said.
However, he added that the drink does not need to be served in a brass mug. It can be poured into any glass, including a fancy Christmas glass, for the festive gatherings.
“And you can prepare the simple syrup a few days out,” Hayse said. “You can even do some pre-batching with the lime juice and store it in a carafe, so when your guests get there, it’s a slope, and then you add ginger beer.”
BEELINE SEASONAL MULE
1 ounce Ketel One botanical cucumber and mint
½ ounce blueberry / rosemary simple syrup (recipe to make below)
½ ounce fresh lemon juice
Ginger beer, to the top
Blueberries and rosemary sprig, for garnish
Combine Ketel One, simple syrup and fresh lemon juice in a shaker. Shake vigorously, then pour a copper mug over ice and top with ginger beer. If you do not have a shaker, just add to the mug in order of ingredients. Top with a few blueberries and a sprig of rosemary.
How to make simple syrup: Combine 2 cups of water with 2 cups of sugar in a saucepan. Add a mussel (about a cup) of fresh blueberries and three sprigs of rosemary to the pan and crush them well. Put on medium heat and bring to a boil. Cook for about five to 10 minutes until you have a nice, rich purple color. Allow to cool and then strain the blueberries and rosemary.
Buckeye Sprinkletini: Brings the festive spirit
Fatima Bouyer has long been the family bartender at holiday gatherings.
“I love finding creative ways to make sure people have fun,” said Bouyer, who runs Bad Ass Mobile Bartending, a mobile bartending service.
She said that Sprinkletini made with Buckeye Vodka will definitely put a smile on the face of everyone who drinks it, because of its blue hue and sprinkled on the glass rim, reminiscent of sponge cakes left out for Santa.
“The bright color brings out the holiday,” Bouyer said. “Think of all the Christmas decorations and the beautiful lights. This beautiful blue fits right in. If you see something beautiful, you want it and it’s a winner for me.”
And not only does it look good, but Bouyer said the cocktail also has just the right amount of sweetness. Plus, because it’s vodka-based, it’s likely to appeal to the majority of partygoers.
The bubbles from Prosecco give it the festive vibe needed at this time of year, making the drink the perfect addition to any holiday gathering – and your Instagram page.
“It’s a great way to get the conversation going and loosen everyone up,” she said. “Holidays can be stressful, but they should only be about connecting and catching up with family and friends. This is a fun drink that helps do that.”
1 ounce Buckeye Vodka
2 ounces blue curacao
1 ounce simple syrup
Prosecco, to the top
Fill a glass with honey and festive sprinkle in your color choice. Set aside.
Pour Buckeye Vodka, curacao and simple syrup into a martini glass and top with prosecco.
To make simple syrup: See recipe above, minus blueberries and rosemary.
You only live twice: A winter warmer
A whiskey sour may not scream Christmas like a peppermint martini does, but bartenders at High Bank Distillery Co. think their seasonal riff on the classic cocktail will have visions of sugar plums dancing through the head of every sucker.
The deep red pomegranate liqueur in this version of the drink – called You Only Live Twice – will give the cocktail a festive hue. The more you add, the redder it gets, said Zach Jensen, general manager and mixologist at the Grandview Heights venue.
Plus, what warms the senses more than a glass of whiskey?
“You tend to lean a little more towards whiskey in the winter,” said High Bank co-founder Adam Hines. “Throughout the holiday, you are with friends gathering inside, not on the deck by the pool. This warms the body more. It’s not like a passion fruit mojito.”
Jensen said this is an ideal drink to serve at parties or when guests come over this holiday season because it is not only easy to make, it impresses as well.
The frothy top will definitely delight, especially this time of year. Jensen said this can be made the traditional way by using an egg white, but their bar uses aquafaba (or chickpea juice) as it is vegan-friendly.
“We make a lemon wheel on the glass to make it brighter,” Jensen said. “It’s nicer to serve. Guests or friends you’re passing by – this will make it look like you know what you’re doing.”
YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE
1 ounce High Bank Distillery Whiskey War
1 ounce lemon juice
½ ounce simple syrup (see first recipe, minus blueberries and rosemary)
¼ to ½ ounce Pama pomegranate liqueur
1 ounce aquafaba (liquid from a can of chickpeas)
Put all the ingredients in a shaker and shake vigorously for at least 15 seconds. This will allow the foaming of the aquafaba (or egg) to activate. Then add a few ice cubes and shake again to cool as well as dilute it.
Use a Hawthorne strainer to strain it while pouring a large ice cube over the top of a stone glass or other glass jar. Top with a little Peychaud’s bitter and a slice of lemon.
Them apples: Apple pie a la glass
Few tastes remind David Yee more of this time of year than apples – especially in Ohio, where fruit is plentiful in the cooler months.
“The Grany Smith apple is such an fall and winter fruit,” said Yee, beverage director at Watershed Kitchen & Bar. “But it’s not heavy either.”
That makes it the ideal flavor for the brandy cocktail called Them Apples, a less cheesy version of the classic appletini, Yee said.
This drink also has an equally satisfying non-alcoholic version.
“The way I like to make our drink menu is to have drinks that are available both ways, so it’s not like you’re on the kids menu if you don’t have alcohol,” Yee said. “You still get all the themed flavors … this one tastes really good without alcohol.”
While the bar serves this drink in a martini glass, Yee said any other glass works just as well.
Cocktail making must be full of experimentation and customization to create the perfect holiday drink to share with friends or family.
“Cocktails should be fun and allow you to interact with guests,” Yee said. “They should not be restrictive.”
1½ to 2 ounces Watershed apple brandy
Ounce ounce Meletti Amoro
½ ounce apple agave (recipe below)
¾ ounce limesaft
Put all the ingredients in a shaker and shake it until it is mixed. Pour in martini glasses or glassware of your choice.
To make apple agave, mix 2/3 liter of blue agave nectar and 1/3 liter of warm water. Add a sliced Granny Smith apple or other sour apple to the liquid and let it sit overnight.
½ ounce Seedlip spice
½ ounce Giffard aperture
2 ounces of apple cider
½ ounce apple agave
¾ ounce limesaft
Put the above in the shaker and shake until mixed. Pour martini glass or glass of your choice.