Tis’ the season to be merry, jolly and, for some of us, buzzed. Winter is a perfect time to try your hand at your very own signature cocktail. Since we usually relax our calorie counting when it’s cold outside, sweeter liqueurs, cream and half and half are more-than-welcome ingredients for a winter cocktail. This also means you can work with the spices and flavors of the season. This, my friends, is the perfect opportunity for mixologists of any skill level to try their hand at signature cocktails. Fun garnishes, interesting flavor combos, and lots of practice can easily turn a dull and dreary winter evening into a lively and festive soiree.
So, before you can start mixing, you will need a few things to get started. First, stock the bar with a few key liqueurs and pieces of hardware. A well stocked bar should contain at least one bottle each of gin, vodka, whisky, bourbon, tequila, scotch, rum (both light and dark and/or spiced) and brandy. I may have left out something here but you get the idea. Just make sure it’s quality booze. If you drink cheap stuff you might not feel like doing much of anything the next day. If you don’t want to lay down a bunch of cash on all these different flavors pick your three favorite, that’s a good start.
The next thing to add to your collection are liqueurs. Now there are lots and lots of these so you might break the bank trying to buy all of them. Add to your collection a little at a time. A bottle of Frangelico here, a bottle of Grand Marnier there will quickly turn into a respectable collection. Think seasonally when selecting your liqueurs. In the winter time, what flavors are most inspiring? Orange, hazel nut, chocolate, raspberry, maybe even pear? There is a liqueur out there for just about anything you are going for so play around. If you aren’t sure and don’t want to dedicate to a large bottle try buying the airline bottles until you find what you are looking for. These smaller bottles allow you to have lots of different things on hand to mix with.
Now that you have the hard stuff figured out, you can add the finishing touches. Fresh fruit and other garnishes are going to make your cocktail pop. Get creative and don’t be afraid to taste things as you go as this tends to “inspire” people. Play around with variations on classic cocktails by subbing a portion of the liqueur or adding spices. Cranberry, orange, and cinnamon? Yes these things taste good together.
Now that you are well on your way and hopefully have some great ideas, go out and get your drink on. Included below is one of my favorite concoctions. Please drink safely!