What to Drink Now: Holiday Spirits

'Tis the season for festive cocktails.

El Mayor "Mora Sage" from D's 2015 Best Bartender, Leann Berry of Komali
El Mayor “Mora Sage” from D’s 2015 Best Bartender, Leann Berry, of Komali

This time of the year is filled with toasting with friends, family, colleagues and clients. With all those celebrations comes great cocktails, crafted from seasonal, fresh ingredients and high-quality spirits. I have been cocktail “testing” at home prior to my Christmas gatherings and have been using spirits that are both old favorites as well as a few new finds (some of which were sent for editorial consideration.)

Consider mixing up one of these this holiday elixirs, or simply pick up a bottle to gift to your favorite cocktail lover.

Our local brewing and distilling scene is booming! Eager entrepreneurs (or “beveragepreneurs”) are popping up throughout the region, showcasing their liquid passions such as seasonal stouts, IPAs, clean vodka, herbal gin, and sweet bourbon, scotch, and rye.

Herman Marshall Temptress Single Malt Whiskey[1]Herman Marshall Texas Whiskey is giving you an opportunity to enjoy two of our finest local flavors thanks to a partnership they did with neighbor Lakewood Brewing Co. The two, located down the street from each other in Garland within the Dallas County limit, making Herman Marshall the first distillery in Dallas, have combined flavors to create a beer infused single malt whiskey using Lakewood’s “The Temptress” Imperial Milk Stout with their small batch, single malt, Texas whiskey and aged 7 months in new American oak. The result is a rich, full flavored spirit filled with dark chocolate, burnt orange, toffee and vanilla. $55, available at select Spec’s and Total Wine and More locations.

“New” Carre
1 1/4 oz Herman Marshall Temptress Single Malt Whiskey
3/4 oz cognac
1/2 oz Creme de cacao
1/4 oz Benedictine
2 dashes Angostura bitter
Preparation: Add ingredients to a highball. Stir. Pour over large ice cube, with flamed orange garnish.

SMTbottleYou can also stop by Lakewood Brewing Co. to pick up one of their stellar seasonal brews for the holiday. From their “Holiday Bonus” porter with chocolate and orange notes, to their “Sin Mint Temptress” Imperial Milk Stout with fresh mint, vanilla and graham cracker notes.

The taproom is open Wednesday-Sunday with tours available on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

Lee and Julia Fuqua launched a new venture this year, transforming their former Fuqua Winery into Duckworth Distillers, starting with their Duckworth Vodka and adding gin in the new year. Named after Lee’s grandfather, H. E. Duckworth, the spirit loving couple knew their passion and drive could help them create something special to honor their highball loving patriarch. Made in small batches in Dallas their Texas Sipping Vodka has already made a splash, winning Gold at the 2015 International Review of Spirits. They also have created something truly unique in the flavored vodka world. Often, when you think of flavored vodkas they are syrupy sweet and rather unnatural.

20150816_095947The Fuqua’s went to the opposite spectrum to create a savory vodka with the addition of shaved black truffles (with a few shavings finding their way into every bottle as well.) I am a truffle lover, and tend to like a more savory cocktail, so this spirit is right up my alley. In playing around with cocktail ideas, it does make the perfect addition to a Bloody Mary recipe, though I would go light on the Tabasco, but it melds perfectly with tomato and Worcestershire. And adds an interesting flavor to a classic vodka martini, as well as a dirty martini, though I would use kalamata olives instead of green olives as the garnish. One of the more unique uses is in a sauce, like a vodka sauce over procini mushroom ravioli, wild mushroom risotto or with a mushroom bolognese. The alcohol burns off in the cooking leaving the sweetness of the spirit and the earthiness of the truffle. Delicious. $43, available at Pogo’s.

Our D Magazine Best Bartender, the amazingly creative Leann Berry of Komali, has been busy as ever showcasing her favorite spirit, tequila. She and Komali Owner/Chef Abraham Salum recently crafted a cocktail pairing dinner with El Mayor Tequila, highlighting the floral, fruit, caramel and spice notes found in the 100% Weber Blue Agave grown in volcanic soils on their estate in Jalisco, Tequila, Mexico. Slow cooked for 24 hours in chemical-free, autoclaves, resulting in a sweet, yet very clean agave, showcasing purity of flavor. After fermentation the tequila is double distilled, again to ensure a purity of flavor and then aged. The El Mayor Reposado is aged 9 months in American oak adding subtle notes of caramel, vanilla and baking spice to the orange blossom, soft herbs and black pepper flavors of the spirit. El Mayor Anejo is aged for 18 months in American oak, enhancing the toffee and toasted vanilla notes in the spirit. The tequila is available for $27-$32 at Goody-Goody and Spec’s locations, Leann’s cocktails can be special ordered at Komali through the holidays.

El Mayor "Resting Pina" from Leann Berry of Komali
El Mayor “Resting Pina” from Leann Berry of Komali

Resting Pina
1.5oz. El Mayor Rep.
05.oz. Cointreau
Fresh Pineapple and Lime
Splash Grapefruit Bitters
Preparation: Puree pineapple.  Add it to El Mayor Reposado tequila, Cointreau, fresh pineapple and fresh lime juice in shaker with ice. Shake, then pour into martini glass filled with ice. Add splash of grapefruit bitters . Garnish with pineapple wedge.

Mora Sage
1.5 El Mayor Anejo
.05 Agave Nectar
Fresh BlackBerry and Sage
Fresh Lime
Spray Green Chartreuse
Preparation:  Puree blackberries. Add puree and El Mayor Anejo tequila, agave nectar, fresh blackberries and sage leaves, and a splash of fresh lime juice to shaker. Shake, then pour over into martini glass over ice with several fresh blackberries and sage leaves. Using spray bottle, spray Green Chartreuse on top. Garnish with a blackberry.

Cafe’ Chila
1oz. El Mayor Anejo
1oz. Chila Cinnamon Rum
1oz. Expresso
.05 Liquor 43
Preparation: Combine all ingredients in shaker. Shake and serve up. Rim with mixture of ground coffee beans and vanilla sugar.

basil haydenTake the opportunity to please both bourbon lovers and rye lovers with Basil Hayden Bourbon. Though the base is still corn, as with all bourbon, there is also a high amount of rye used in the mash, adding depth, character and richness to the clean spirit. With a history that dates back to 1796 with Master Distiller Basil Hayden crafting his nontraditional recipe to create a smooth, subtle and spicy bourbon filled with pepper, soft herbs, sweet spice and caramel notes. $35, available at select Total Wine and More locations.

Basil Hayden’s Holiday Spice
Created by Joaquin Simo, NYC
2 parts Basil Hayden® Bourbon
3/4 part Fresh Lemon Juice
1/2 part Maple Syrup
1/4 part Amaretto
3 dashes Bitters
Preparation: Combine all ingredients in a mixing tin with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice. Grate a cinnamon stick over the top as garnish.

blitzenBasil Hayden’s Blitzen’s Bourbon
Created by Duggan McDonnell, San Francisco
2 parts Basil Hayden’s® Bourbon
1 part Reindeer Spice Syrup (*see recipe)
2 dashes Angostura® Bitters
Orange Peel
Preparation: In an old-fashioned glass, combine all ingredients and stir 20 times. Garnish with an orange peel.
*Reindeer Spice Syrup
3 Apples, peeled and diced
5 Large Cinnamon Sticks
1 cup Walnuts
2 cups Sugar
3 cups Water
To make the Reindeer Spice: Place the diced apples into water and boil, then reduce heat to low. Briefly toast cinnamon sticks and walnuts in a saucepan, then transfer into apple mixture. Simmer for 15 minutes. Gently stir in the 2 cups of sugar, thoroughly stirring, and remove from heat. Once mixture has cooled, strain and press the juice and flavor from the boiled apples back in the mix.

elit-vodka-lgFor your pure vodka loving friends the latest offering from Stolichnaya will impress because of both the clean and pure product inside the bottle, as well as the beautiful presentation. With perfection in mind, elit by Stolichnaya is made from hand selected winter wheat, spring wheat and rye, mixed with water from an artesian well in Latvia to maintain purity and achieve perfection. After fermentation and filtering through Russian birch-wood charcoal and fine quartz sand to remove tiny particles, the spirit then goes through a patented freeze filtration, dropping the temperature to -18º C, before passing through an ion-charged filter. The process is inspired by old world traditions of leaving casks outside during the winter to help clarify the product. The resulting vodka is clean, pure, slightly creamy with texture, and perfect. $60, available at Total Wine and More stores.

Winter Ruby
Created by Jeremy Oertel, Donna BK
2 oz Stoli Elit
1 oz Hibiscus Cranberry Shrub*
1 oz Lemon Juice
1 tsp Honey
Preparation: Add all ingredients to a shaker and shake then strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with gold flake.
*Hibiscus Cranberry Shrub:
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
2 cups apple cider vinegar
3 cups sugar
1 lb cranberries
10 grams dried Hibiscus flowers
Preparation: Add sugar, water, Hibiscus and cranberries to a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Allow to cool and then strain through cheesecloth or fine strainer. Add apple cider vinegar to the mixture and stir to combine. Store in the refrigerator.

smoke
Smoke on the Water

Smoke on the Water
3 Parts elit by Stolichnaya
½ Part Islay Scotch, like McClelland’s or Laphroaig
3 Orange Peels
Preparation: Rinse a chilled martini glass with the Scotch and discard excess. Ignite 3 orange peels over the inside of the glass to season it. Stir elit with ice until very cold. Strain into seasoned glass. Garnish with a flamed orange peel.

sailor jerryThe holidays are all about spice, so add some to your cocktail with Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum. Named after Navy-man and famed tattoo artist, Norman Collins, aka, Sailor Jerry. The rum was originally inspired by the practice young sailors used to take the edge off their on-ship rum rations, adding spices to the spirit to enhance the flavor and make it palatable. Precise and detailed, like its namesake, Sailor Jerry is smooth and rich, with character and distinction. Filled with sweet baking spices, cinnamon, nutmeg and all spice, with vanilla and toasted caramel notes. A perfect base for holiday cocktails, adding spice to your favorite egg nog, ginger beer or apple cider.

Sailor Jerry & Hot Chocolate
1 1/2 parts Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum
1 1/2 parts Butterscotch Schnapps
3 parts Hot Chocolate
Dash of Orange bitters
Garnish: whipped cream and a cinnamon stick or candy cane
Preparation: Add equal parts liquor to hot chocolate, top with whipped cream, shaved chocolate, and garnish with a cinnamon stick or candy cane.

Vegetarian Jambalaya at Max's Wine Dive
Vegetarian Jambalaya at Max’s Wine Dive

St Germain is the perfect addition to some of our favorite cocktails, as the fresh, floral, elderflower liqueur adds that sweet touch to classic favorites, like a Champagne cocktail. However, did you know it could enhance your favorite beer too? Max’s Wine Dive in West Village is showing guests how with their new craft cocktail menu showcasing regional distillers, while pairing with a new southern comfort food focused menu created by Chef Sean Hill. Chef Hill, who joined the restaurant in October, has added flavors of his childhood, growing up in Arkansas, including Maple Glazed Pork Belly, Vegetarian Jambalaya and Crab Hushpuppy. Perfect with one of the new cocktails, like the Deep L using Dripping Springs Artisan Gin and a brew from Deep Ellum Beer Company.

deep lDeep L
1 oz Dripping Springs Artisan Gin
.5 oz St Germaine
.25 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
Top with Deep Ellum Eazy Peazy
Preparation: Add all ingredients except beer and shake. Strain over ice into a Pilsner glass. Top with Eazy Peazy.

Another local product is making your favorite spirits that much better, even giving you a boost of health in your cocktail. Tribal Cold Pressed Juices, developed by Dallas locals, Brenton Phillips and Hailey Nutt, are USDA certified organic, gluten-free, cold pressed juices made by hydraulically pressing the freshest organic produce, pressed into a pulp, followed by applying a mass amount of pressure to the pulp, extracting juice from the fruit and vegetables. All juice is kept at cold temperatures during the process, creating a nutrient dense juice, without adding heat or additives of any kind. The process also ensures a long shelf life as the juices, anywhere from 60-90 days.

Tribal juiceOn their own they are the easiest way to sip the rainbow, with flavors like CHIEF (KALE / CUCUMBER / CELERY / PARSLEY / LEMON / GINGER) designed to relieve stiff, sore muscles, boost your metabolism and flush toxins from the body, MEDICINE MAN (ORANGE / GRAPEFRUIT / LEMON / TURMERIC) designed to strengthen your immune system and fight off free radicals with antioxidants, and BEATS (BEET / APPLE / LIME / GINGER) which is high vitamins, minerals & nitrate content promoting cardiovascular health, while balancing oxygen use & increasing energy. Mix with your favorite spirits though and you have a healthy, tasty cocktail option. Tribal Juices are available at Central Market locations and Green Grocer, among many other spots around town, for about $8 a bottle.

SMUDGE Jalapeno Margarita
1 part Milagro Silver Tequila
2 parts SMUDGE Tribal Juice blend of pineapple, orange, cilantro, jalapeno and lime
Preparation: Add tequila and SMUDGE to a blender with ice and blend until smooth. Serve in a salt and lime rimmed margarita class.

Moscow Mule Copper Mug 2And, if you want to create a cute gift box or your favorite spirit lover don’t forget to include glassware, like the adorable copper Moscow Mule mugs with the DeZavala Star embossed from Tumbleweed TexStyles. $25 each, available via their website.

Or, for the outdoorsy types who loves a good cocktail while roughing it in the wild, a Yeti Rambler. Crafted of 18/8 stainless steel with double-wall vacuum insulation, keeping cocktails cold twice as long as plastic cups, and hot drinks hot, perfect for your peppermint hot chocolate or Irish coffee. The Yeti Rambler Lowballer cup is $25 and available via their website.

Newsletter

Our SideDish newsletter features Dallas’s newest dining spots, scrumptious recipes from local restaurants, and news on breweries, cocktail hours and more.

Find It

Search our directories for...

Dining

Dining

Bars

Bars

Tex-Mex

Tex-Mex

BBQ

BBQ

View All

View All