Cheers to the new year: Holiday tipples for the home bar

LIQUID CHEER: Kyle Beach of MG Road created the Chalet for the holiday season. One of its ingredients is Christmas tree tincture. Photo by Hayley Benton

With the influx of family that comes with the holidays, it’s always nice to have a little something to take the edge off. It’s amazing how a little whiskey allows the continuous sniveling of your cousin’s little ankle-biters to fade into the distance like white noise. Here to assist in your holiday relief are a few recipes from local bartenders and their cocktail menus, as well as one I always keep in my back pocket for a snowy day. Note that these recipes call for ingredients with some make-ahead prep time.

The Proving Grounds

by Russell Knighten of Seven Sows Bourbon & Larder

1 ounce Cognac

0.75 ounce Cocchi Vermouth di Torino

0.5 ounce Batavia arrack

Bar spoon of demerara simple syrup (1:1 ratio of demerara sugar to water)

Bar spoon of allspice dram (see below for direction on how to make your own)

Stir the contents and serve up in a cocktail coupe.

Conveniently this cocktail is currently on the menu at Seven Sows if you would like to try it before you commit to making it.

Cocchi Vermouth di Torino can be found at any wine shop that stocks cocktail supplies. The Batavia arrack can occasionally be found at the ABC store on Charlotte Street, but since it is still on the ABC’s special order list, it is often like finding the golden goose. As for allspice dram, with a little planning, it is supereasy to make at home. Simply take a cup of light rum, add in 1/4 cup of lightly crushed allspice berries, 1 cinnamon stick and let it sit for about five days. Then strain the contents and take all of the solid elements and heat them on a stove with 2/3 cup of brown sugar and 2/3 cup of water, until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add the infused rum back to the mixture and allow to sit for another 3 days, shaking the mixture daily. After a week, strain into a bottle and enjoy adding it to your cocktails. The flavor will be rich and tannic.


by Kyle Beach of MG Road

2 ounces Tanqueray gin

0.5 ounce molasses syrup (2:1 ratio molasses to water)

0.5 ounce lemon juice

0.25 ounce Nardini amaro

5 drops Christmas tree tincture (organic Christmas tree clippings steeped in Everclear for 2 weeks)

1 egg white

Dry-shake all ingredients until frothy. Add a large chunk of ice and shake until chilled. Strain into a coupe and garnish with a Christmas tree frond.

Nardini amaro might be found at ABC, but again, it is a special order for most bars. A substitution of the readily available Fernet Branca would make a comparable, if not quite accurate, rendition.

Kiss Me Like a Stranger

by Jonathan Ammons

2 ounces Four Roses bourbon

.5 ounces Fernet Branca

.25 ounces maple simple syrup (2:1 maple syrup to water)

1 egg white

Dash of Fee Brothers black walnut bitters for garnish

Combine ingredients and dry-shake without ice for about 10 seconds. Then fill your shaker tin to the top with ice so as not to overly dilute your cocktail, and shake like hell for about 5 seconds. Strain into a cocktail coupe. It should have a nice frothy head from the egg white, so put one big black dot of black walnut bitters right in the middle of the froth as a garnish.

About Jonathan Ammons
Native Asheville writer, eater, drinker, bartender and musician. Proprietor of Follow me @jonathanammons

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