January 31, 2023

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Finding Yourself Within Your Drink

2022 Forbes Holiday Cocktail Guide – Forbes

Simple recipes for 14 festive drinks from award-winning bartenders and spirits professionals around the world—and one potent potable from Bryan Cranston.

Whether you’re drinking to forget 2022 or ring in 2023—or both—it’s always good to have new cocktail ideas for your holiday spirit of choice. The 15 recipes in this year’s Forbes holiday cocktail guide come from some of the world’s most acclaimed bartenders—as well as an original creation from Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston, who knows a thing or two about a life behind bars.

Many conjure childhood memories with flavors of the season, while others put new twists on old favorites like hot chocolate or a hot toddy. All will leave you and your guests feeling merry and bright.


Milady’s Big Apple Martini

Viewers of Netflix’s Drink Masters got to know Julie Reiner this year as a judge on the entertaining cocktail competition series. But those in the world of New York hospitality recognize her as a mixology pioneer—she was the recipient of the Helen David Lifetime Achievement Award at this year’s Spirited Awards in New Orleans. And as if 2022 wasn’t a big enough year for Reiner, she also reopened Milady’s, a beloved SoHo bar that closed nearly a decade ago. So with her new watering hole top of mind, Reiner created a drink reminiscent of her early days in the cocktail world, where she was known for her fresh-fruit infusions. “We wanted to create a playful and nostalgic take on the apple martini of the ’90s,” says Reiner, who is also a cofounder at Social Hour, a canned cocktail line. “The Milady’s Big Apple Martini drinks like a classic martini with a bright green apple flavor. The color is festive too, thanks to cocktail glitter that makes it perfect for sipping this time of year.”

MILADY’S BIG APPLE MARTINI

Ingredients:

2 oz. Granny Smith green apple-infused Bombay Sapphire gin and Skyy vodka (equal parts)*

0.75 oz. blanc vermouth

0.5 oz. Clear Creek apple brandy

Dehydrated apple slice, garnish

Lemon oil, garnish

*Apple infusion: Cut up a container of green apples (small pieces) and cover with equal parts gin and vodka. Let it sit in the refrigerator for 5–7 days. Fine strain and rebottle. It will keep for approximately three weeks.

Method: Throw the cocktail 6–7 times from tin to tin until chilled and diluted. Pour into martini glass. Express a lemon rind and garnish with a dehydrated apple chip.


Toasted Coconut Egg Nog

Self-proclaimed tequila evangelist Lauren Mote likes to end the year on a sweet note. “The holidays are always a nice time to celebrate with friends and family—with a great drink in hand,” says the Canadian-born Mote, who was named Tales of the Cocktail’s Best International Bar Mentor for 2022. “I love a mince or custard tart, so every time I reach for my glass you can be sure there’ll be a sweet little accompaniment to follow during the holidays.

TOASTED COCONUT EGG NOG

Ingredients:

1.5 oz. Patrón añejo tequila

2 oz. 36% cream (or a non-dairy alternative like barista-style oat milk)

1 oz. toasted coconut and black tea syrup* 1 whole egg (cold, fresh, organic)

2 dashes Bittered Sling Malagasy chocolate bitters

Grated nutmeg, garnish

*Toasted coconut and black tea syrup (makes 16 oz.): In a bowl, combine 300 grams of superfine sugar and 10 oz. water, whisking until the sugar is dissolved. Add 100 grams unsweetened coconut flakes and 1 tbsp. black breakfast tea to a dry saucepan over low heat. Stir until coconut is golden brown. Add the coconut and tea mixture to the sugar water. Cover and infuse for 30 minutes. Strain the liquid into a sanitized bottle, label with the date, and store in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.

Method: Add all ingredients to a shaker and dry shake without ice to emulsify the egg. Add ice and shake hard. Double strain into a rocks glass and top with freshly grated nutmeg. Best served with a mince tart or custard tart on the side.


Feliz Navidad (Cha Cha Cha)

James Beard Award winner Leo Robitschek made his name in the cocktail world in the early 2010s while he was bar director at New York’s NoMad Bar and Michelin-starred Eleven Madison Park. “The Feliz Navidad (Cha Cha Cha) is our playful nod to the spirited tune that everybody knows and loves,” says the Venezuelan-born Robitschek, vice president of food and beverage at the NoMad Hotel in London. “The blend of tequila and smoky mezcal adds a depth of flavor, making it a crowd-pleaser for spirits lovers in the season of indulgence. The lime and passionfruit are an ode to the song’s upbeat, tropical lilt and beautifully complement its base of Mexican spirits. It’s all tied together with cranberry sauce and Christmas spice for a dose of nostalgic warmth, topped off like with lights and a star—just like a Christmas tree.”

FELIZ NAVIDAD (CHA CHA CHA)

Ingredients:

0.25 oz. cane sugar

0.25 oz. passionfruit puree or concentrate (such as Boiron)

0.5 oz. lime juice

0.75 oz. spiced cranberry*

0.75 oz. dry sherry

0.75 oz. vermouth

1 oz. Altos Plata tequila

1 oz. Del Maguey Vida mezcal

Piña head, garnish

*Spiced cranberry: Combine orange peel from 1 orange, ½ cup ground cinnamon, 1½ cups cranberry juice, 1½ cups frozen cranberries into a saucepan. Cover and let sit at low heat for 30 minutes. Remove from stove and strain through a chinois. Add equal amount of caster sugar.

Method: Shake all ingredients and pour in a glass over nugget ice. Garnish with a piña head and decorate with mini lights and a star.


The Réveillon Daisy

“Réveillon is a very important part of the Christmas holiday in New Orleans,” says Jewel of the South co-owner Chris Hannah, who was named U.S. Bartender of the Year at the 2022 Spirited Awards. “It means ‘the awakening’ in French. Historically, it was the meal right after midnight mass for Catholic New Orleanians.” And Hannah’s holiday cocktail, the Réveillon Daisy, is meant to be enjoyed at the beginning of a revéillon supper. “Inspired by this festive season, it’s a round, apple brandy sour balanced with the nuttiness of walnut or hazelnut liqueurs and the sweetness of the apple butter. The bitters add the warming baking spices perfect for this time of year.”

THE REVEILLON DAISY

Ingredients:

1.75 oz. Calvados Coquerel

0.75 oz. lemon juice

0.5 oz. ginger liqueur

0.25 oz. walnut or hazelnut liqueur

1 tbsp. apple butter

2 dashes spiced bitters

Method: Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker and shake with ice until properly chilled and diluted. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a lemon peel or sprig of thyme.


Silverado

Perched atop the 64th floor of New York’s 70 Pine Street—home to two Michelin-starred restaurants, Crown Shy and Saga—is one of the city’s most highly regarded bars: the award-winning Overstory. Boasting 360-degree views of the Manhattan skyline, its wraparound terrace is a destination itself—even in the middle of frigid New York winters. Which is why Overstory’s bar director, Harrison Ginsberg, came up with a festive drink fit for the cold. “The Silverado is one of my favorite cocktails on the Overstory menu—especially for the holiday season,” Ginsberg says. “It’s a touch smoky, which is ideal for cold-weather cocktails. The cinnamon raisin-infused tequila combined with the baking spice notes remind me of panettone or Christmas cake—seasonal treats I look forward to all year. I love serving the Silverado when hosting holiday parties because assembly is simple and it’s easy drinking. Your guests can keep sipping on them all night!”

SILVERADO

Ingredients:

1 tsp. Ardbeg 10 whisky

0.25 oz. apple brandy

1.25 oz. reposado tequila infused with cinnamon and raisin*

Soda (topper)

*Cinnamon Raisin-Infused Tequila: Combine 5 cinnamon sticks, ½ cup black raisins, and 1 liter of reposado tequila. Allow to infuse for 24 hours at room temperature. Strain through a fine mesh strainer. Bottle, label, and store for use.

Method: Build all ingredients in a highball glass, top with soda, and garnish with a lime wedge.


Festive Punch

For Czech-born Adrián Michalčik, director of mixology at Pier 42 at the Amerikalinjen Hotel in Oslo, Norway, Christmas is for more than traditional tasty food: “It’s the time to enjoy delicious drinks. Dark spirits and spiced notes suit the festive season very well—as do creamy, sweet, and full-bodied flavors.” For Michalčik, the 2022 Global World Class Bartender of the Year, that means serving what he calls a Festive Punch. “It’s a simple combination of the spiced notes of masala tea,” he says, “refreshed with notes of orange and a base of your favorite dark spirit. It can also be paired with gingerbread cookies or served as a liquid dessert.”

FESTIVE PUNCH

Ingredients:

1 oz. Bulleit rye

1 oz. masala tea*

0.7 oz. butterscotch syrup

0.5 oz. fresh lemon juice

0.5 oz. fresh orange juice

0.9 oz. milk (optional)

*Masala tea: Prepare a tea macerate and apply a ratio of 2.5 grams of tea for every 100 ml. (3.5 oz.) of boiling water for 10 minutes. Strain.

Method: Mix all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and strain into chilled glass on a bigger chunk of ice and garnish with a red ribbon to make it festive. To prepare the cocktail in advance—10 servings is recommended—blend all the ingredients (save for the milk) in a container. Warm 4% milk on a pan and pour into the mix. Leave the rest in the refrigerator overnight and strain through a paper coffee filter. Pour into a bottle and chill. Serve over a nice chunk of ice.


Natale A New York

During the holiday season, Renato Marco Tonelli—beverage training director at the Negroni paradise that is New York’s Dante—really leans into his family heritage. “Being of Italian origin, I wanted to create something that was reminiscent of Italian flavors while fitting into the context of Christmastime in New York,” Tonelli explains. “Most cocktails during the holidays have heavy cream or egg yolks to achieve a creamy texture, but the same can be done with a much ‘healthier’ ingredient like Greek yogurt. I’m using it in combination with ingredients that together create a cocktail reminiscent of Italy: lemons, almonds, and a bitter mint amaro that gives this cocktail a peppermint flavor similar to candy canes. It’s a cocktail that can be enjoyed after dinner without being overly sweet.”

NATALE A NEW YORK

Ingredients:

1 oz. Johnnie Walker Black

0.5 oz. Fernet Branca Menta

0.5 oz. lemon juice

0.33 oz. orgeat

2–3 barspoons of Greek yogurt

Thyme leaves, garnish

Method: Add all ingredients into a shaker except for the thyme leaves. Make sure to stir and combine Greek yogurt with other ingredients before adding ice. Shake vigorously with ice and double strain into a chilled coupe glass with no ice. To garnish it, remove the thyme leaves by pinching the top of the stem with one hand, and with your other hand, run your thumb and index finger down against the direction of leaf growth to release the leaves. Pinch the leaves firmly to release their aromatic flavors and delicately place them on top at the center of the cocktail.


Chocolate Covered Apples

Moe Aljaff, the acclaimed cofounder of Barcelona’s Two Schmucks, recently left the Schmuck or Die empire to take his mixology talents to America in 2023 for a pop-up—until he opens a new bar in the United States. So it’s only fitting that Aljaff leaned into an all-American grain like rye for his festive cocktail. “For me, salty chocolate has always been a flavor that goes hand-in-hand with the holidays,” Aljaff says. “When making this drink, I wanted to make a rye-based salty chocolate cocktail with a hint of acidity from balsamic vinegar. The touch of apples in the form of calvados complements the drink and made it one hundred percent.”

CHOCOLATE COVERED APPLES

Ingredients:

1.5 oz. Michter’s US*1 Kentucky Straight Rye

0.5 oz. calvados

0.5 oz. Pedro Ximénez sherry

0.33 oz. Mozart dark chocolate liqueur

0.5 tsp. white balsamic vinegar

Pinch of salt

Method: Put all the ingredients into a mixing glass, stir, and pour over ice in a rocks glass. Garnish with a thin apple slice.


Advent Fizz

Lyaness and Silver Lyan founder Ryan Chetiyawardana (a.k.a Mr. Lyan) has been a darling of the cocktail world for many years now. In 2022, Lyaness in London’s Sea Containers hotel took home two major honors at the 16th annual Spirited Awards: World’s Best Bar and Best International Hotel Bar. And Silver Lyan in Washington D.C. was also recognized as the Best U.S. Hotel Bar, having first appeared on the winners list in 2020 as the Best New American Cocktail Bar and Best American Restaurant Bar. So Chetiyawardana has a lot to celebrate in 2022. “The festive period is great for getting friends together. But I like to encourage people to consider the fun and practical side as well: You don’t want to be away from everyone while you’re shaking up drinks. If your pals are anything like mine, they never all turn up on time—so having something you can quickly make is a real bonus” Chetiyawardana says. “The Advent Fizz is an iteration of something I’ve been making for over a decade: It’s a simple bottled base that can be topped with fizz and garnished super quickly. And it’s got a lot of complexity but isn’t so boozy that it knocks anyone out. As ever, use the best ingredients you can, but it also works really well with supermarket brands and is very flexible should you want to add a personal twist.”

ADVENT FIZZ

Ingredients:

10 oz. white tea-infused Beefeater gin*

5 oz. Tio Pepe fino sherry

5 oz. Merlet crème de mûre

3.5 oz. water

0.2 oz. Regan’s orange bitters

Champagne or dry sparkling wine, topper

*White tea gin: Add 2 tsps. of loose-leaf silver tip white tea to 12 oz. of Beefeater London dry gin. Stir and infuse in the refrigerator for 2 hours, then strain.

Method: Mix all ingredients, then pour into to a clean, empty wine bottle. Chill very well. To serve, add 1.7 oz. to a frozen flute, then top with very cold Champagne (or dry sparkling wine). Garnish with a discarded lemon coin and a small cracker. (Serves about 14)


Silver Bay

Dating back to the eighteenth century, the Hot Toddy has long been a winter cocktail classic. And Bobby Hiddleston, co-owner of Swift, the London bar renowned for its inventive cocktails and 300-strong whisky list, wanted to make a version that was approachable but modern. “I’ve always loved the smell of roasted chestnuts when walking through the Christmas markets and I wanted to encapsulate that feeling,” says Hiddleston. “I used a smoky Scotch to pair with the chestnut liqueur to recreate toasty warmth—and added spiced depth with the barrel-aged bitters. The classic Hot Toddy combination of lemon, honey, and hot water finishes this drink. And a dusting of freshly grated nutmeg adds a bright, woody note.”

SILVER BAY

Ingredients:

1.75 oz. Talisker 10

0.25 oz. lemon juice

0.5 oz. chestnut liqueur

0.75 oz. honey syrup (2:1)

1 dash of barrel-aged bitters

Nutmeg, garnish

Method: Build in an Irish coffee glass. Top with boiling water and quickly stir to integrate. Garnish with grated fresh nutmeg on top.


Gramma’s Nightcap

Charles Joly’s illustrious career in the cocktail world has garnered him a shelf full of top-shelf accolades: He was U.S. Bartender of the Year at the 2013 Spirited Awards, the Diageo World Class global champion in 2014, and the recipient of the 2013 James Beard Awards’ Outstanding Bar Program for his work at The Aviary. For this year’s holiday season, Joly is going back to an old favorite: hot chocolate. “I started putting spiked Mexican-style hot chocolate on my winter cocktail menus back in 2008 at the Drawing Room in Chicago,” says Joly, who is also the cofounder of the award-winning RTD line Crafthouse Cocktails. “We’d even go so far as to make boozy marshmallows in-house, with orange and vanilla liqueurs, then toast them tableside. You can always add additional spices or a twist of orange peel and play with the modifying liqueurs.” But don’t use just any chocolate. Joly is exacting when it comes to this particular ingredient and insists that at-home bartenders use the best they can find. “I’ve fallen in love with the Picante Drinking Chocolate from Sleep Walk Chocolateria in Chicago. It’s perfectly spiced with cinnamon and cayenne and uses top-quality cacao,” he says. “Commercial alternatives include Nestlé Abuelita and Ibarra, but do yourself a favor and order some Sleep Walk.”

GRAMMA’S NIGHTCAP

Ingredients:

1 oz. Plantation Barbados 5-Year Rum

0.75 oz. quality coffee liqueur

12 oz. milk or milk alternative

2 Sleep Walk spiced chocolate pucks

Pinch of coarse salt

Method: Combine all liquid ingredients in a small pot and heat. Add salt and drinking chocolate pucks. Traditionally, we would use a molinillo rolled between your palms to froth and combine the ingredients; otherwise, a whisk will do in a pinch.


Nuts for Christmas

For Gina Barbachano, bar manager at the Mexico City speakeasy Hanky Panky (winner of the World’s 50 Best Bars’ Art of Hospitality award), the season summons the nostalgic flavors she first experienced in Michoacán. “When I was legally able to drink, I celebrated Christmas in a forest town in the mountains near Morelia, where it was freezing cold—so I have warm memories of sitting around a fireplace with Doña Rafa, who was a good friend of the family,” Barbachano recalls. “I considered her a gift from the universe because she was like another grandma to me. We usually drank straight tequila or bourbon together. For me, Christmas always has a little bit of that pine tree smell and spirit-forward drinks and of course, the nuts that are always around—as a snack or covered in chocolate. So I wanted to recreate my favorite Christmas memories in this drink by making something I would love to sip with my loved ones while seated around a fireplace.”

NUTS FOR CHRISTMAS

Ingredients:

1.5 oz. Wild Turkey or Maker’s Mark bourbon

0.5 oz. sweet vermouth

0.25 oz. hazelnut liqueur

1 barspoon white mint liqueur

2 dashes walnut bitters

Method: Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir for about 1 minute. Strain into a chilled old-fashioned glass over a large cube of fresh ice. Garnish with a small piece of chocolate.


Bulletproof Punch

If it’s coffee cocktails you’re looking for, you can do no better than Maybe Sammy in Sydney—where there’s a dedicated menu for caffeine-forward libations. “Bulletproof Punch takes inspiration from bulletproof coffee, which is very common during cold days here in Australia, where surfers put a piece of butter in their coffee to get more energy,” says Maybe Sammy’s cofounder Martin Hudak, a Forbes Under 30 lister in his native Slovakia and the recipient of this year’s Best International Brand Ambassador award at Tales of the Cocktail. “My twist combines dark spirits, such as whiskey, with spiced honey and apples which creates nice festive harmony together with hot coffee.”

BULLETPROOF PUNCH

Ingredients:

1 oz. Michter’s US*1 Kentucky Straight Rye

3.5 oz. filtered coffee

1 oz. spiced honey*

0.75 oz. butter

1.75 oz. apple cider

Dried apple slice, garnish

*Spiced Honey: Mix 0.5 oz. dark forest honey, 3.5 oz. hot water, and 0.33 oz. masala chai mix and leave it to infuse for 30 minutes. Fine strain and store mixture in the fridge.

Method: Combine all the ingredients in a milk jug and steam it on the coffee machine until it’s hot and frothy. Alternatively, heat all the ingredients up in a pan on the stove. Pour the mixture in a preheated clay cup and garnish with a dried apple slice.


The Paradaisu

At New York City’s Bar Goto, which was a James Beard semifinalist for Outstanding Bar Program in 2017 and 2018, Asian flavors take center stage on its Japanese-inspired drinks menu. Think: shiso, togarashi, Japanese plum, yuzu, and of course, lychee. “As a kid, one of my favorite things to eat was lychee. Sweet, tropical, and not always easy to find—so eating the fruit felt very special to me,” says its Tokyo-born founder Kenta Goto, who also owns Bar Goto Niban in Brooklyn. “The Paradaisu is a lychee-forward cocktail that is bright, sophisticated, and effervescent. It’s a grown-up take on the flavors I used to enjoy as a child. The bergamot lends a slight hint of bitterness to balance the sweetness of the lychee—and the bubbles make this cocktail festive and perfect for any holiday or special occasion. I like to offer the Paradaisu to guests at a New Year’s Eve party—it’s a drink that makes people feel like celebrating.”

THE PARADAISU

Ingredients:

1.5 tsp. lemon juice

1.5 tsp. lime juice

1 tsp. lychee liqueur

2 tsp. bergamot liqueur

4 tsp. simple syrup

1.25 oz. Beefeater gin

1.5 oz. sparkling wine, topper

Method: Combine all ingredients except for sparkling wine in a tin and shake. Strain into a Nick and Nora glass—or coupe. Top with sparkling wine. Optional: Garnish with a frozen lychee (from a can is fine).


The Cranstonian

For those dreaming of a Walter White Christmas, Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston shares one of his favorite cocktail recipes, made with Dos Hombres mezcal, the brand he cofounded with costar Aaron Paul. “I created The Cranstonian as our mezcal version of a Paloma,” Cranston says. “I was inspired by the name since one of the main mixers is cranberry juice, but for some reason, the team thinks I named it after myself. I’m not sure where they’d get that idea from!”

THE CRANSTONIAN

Ingredients:

1 oz. Dos Hombres mezcal

1 oz. Cranberry Juice

0.5 oz. Aperol

0.5 oz. fresh lime juice

Method: Add all ingredients into a mixing tin. Add ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a large rocks glass rimmed with salt and chili powder.

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