Classic Cocktails for the Holidays

The holidays are quickly approaching and it’s time to plan for the relatives. Or should I say, how some of you are going to cope with them! Whether you are planning a grand holiday bash or a casual gathering with friends, a well-stocked bar is a must. Here are some classic cocktails that every home bartender should be able to make at a moments notice. As always, practice makes perfect.

Martinis: Gin or vodka, plain or flavored, shaken or stirred, always have two choices of each bottle on hand. My current obsession? Nolet gin. The floral notes are perfect in a martini or the French 75.

Manhattan: Yes, this is a classic cocktail that requires a great bottle of whiskey or bourbon. I highly recommend pocking up some Luxardo cherries or slowly simmering some cherries on the stovetop in bourbon and letting them marinate in the syrup and orange blossom water in the refrigerator for a week or two.

Old Fashioned: Where I grew up, we made these with brandy. Many prefer bourbon, rye or whiskey so be sure to ask. The key to this cocktail is the right amount of bitters and well muddled orange and cherry. Use one of the bourbon cherries!

Side Car: This cocktail is my go-to drink when it’s cold outside. Although served over ice, it warms me from the inside out.

French 75: This is my favorite cocktail before a wine dinner. Made with a touch of gin and topped with champagne or sparkling wine, it makes for a nice transition to a glass of white or red.

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