Holiday cocktails

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      Ah, the holiday season. No matter your faith—or lack thereof—you must admit this is a great time of year to stay inside and celebrate, especially in our rain-slicked city. Any attempts at making “snow angels” in Stanley Park will more than likely leave you with a coat full of wet leaves and dog-dirt stains. Perish the thought. Far better to take the celebration home, where potent potables await to warm you and yours up from the inside out. Here are a few mixed-drink ideas for seasonal celebrating.

      Let's start by reviving a few swellegant classics from the days when gents wore grey flannel suits, no lady would dream of being seen out without her finest string of pearls, and the Christmas-shopping season didn't start the day after Halloween. Found in my 1949 edition of Esquire's Handbook for Hosts, the Stinger is minty and refreshing, but strong enough to fortify you against chilly December rain. According to Esquire: " also-ran in the cocktail derby, the Stinger buzzed into popularity when wartime pilots discovered how well it lives up to its name."


      2 parts brandy
      1 part white crí¨me de menthe
      Stir with cracked ice in tall mixing glass; strain into cocktail glass.

      The Stinger is sometimes served with a pair of short straws.

      The Handbook for Hosts, which has been reprinted several times since its first edition came out nearly 60 years ago, is a quaint curiosity by today's standards. The antiquated tome actually devotes an entire page to cocktails for "girls" and insists that "the world's best chefs wear pants", but where else are you going to find recipes for the Bunny Hug, the Connecticut Bullfrog, or the Bosom Caresser? Here's a little something the editors recommend specifically for Christmas, presumably named after one Mr. Dickens.


      Fill a large tumbler half full with shaved ice. Add to this one teaspoon of granulated sugar, one wineglass of port, half glass of brandy, half glass of Curaí§ao. Stir well with a spoon. Ornament the top with slices of orange, pineapple, and split grapes.

      Shag Party: Cocktails and Appetizers to Seduce and Entertain (Surrey Books, 2001, $19.50) is chock-a-block with '50s retro-cool illustrations by lowbrow legend Josh "Shag" Agle. Here, Adam Rocke recommends the following elegantly bubbly beverage for a swinging New Year's Eve.


      1.5 to 2 ounces Chambord [black raspberry-flavoured liqueur]
      Champagne (chilled)
      Club soda

      Champagne glass; pour Chambord, add splash of champagne, top with club soda.

      Finally, here's a pair of originals from the Georgia Straight's own test kitchen, perfect for an upbeat winter soirée in a high-rise condo–very Vancouver.


      1 part cranberry juice
      1 part Goldschlí¤ger cinnamon liqueur
      2 parts club soda

      Add a splash of black-cherry juice for extra colour and sweetness, if desired. Pour over crushed ice and garnish with fresh or frozen cranberries.


      1 part peppermint schnapps
      1 part crí¨me de cacao
      1 part club soda

      Serve on the rocks with a sprig of fresh mint–and stir it with a candy cane, if that's your thing. Substitute a mug of coffee or hot chocolate for the club soda if you need to warm your shopped-out bones.

      There you have it–a season's worth of drinking with nary a drop of eggnog in sight. And remember, friends: if you drink, don't sled.




      Mar 31, 2008 at 10:20am

      Stinger sounds good but im not sure about the cranberry drink with cinnamon not sure how that would taste in a drink, on food yeah its good. The last time i got creative on the holidays with mixing i thought id end up in alcohol rehab some of the mixes were amazingly great others need not be tried again.

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      John Lucas

      Mar 31, 2008 at 10:42am

      I actually hosted a cocktail party right before Christmas, and the Cranberry-Cinnamon Santa was the hit of the night. I understand that some people like to mix cranberry juice, Goldschlí¤ger, and vodka into a martini. I'm off vodka, though. I have discovered that if I drink it, I inevitably end up painting the inside of the toilet bowl a new colour.

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