I've been making more cocktails lately. My favorites have been the Gin Hound, a Death & Co. concoction that forced me to boil up some celery syrup (in a pinch, two chopped stalks with a cup of water and cup of sugar works well); the Boulevardier, or, as you may know it, "whiskey Negroni"; and the Corpse Reviver No. 2, mostly because I had the ingredients in hand and a friend reminded me that it was her favorite drink. In my mind, at least, I've mastered each of these concoctions.
But Christmastime is such a weird time for cocktails. All these spices and eggs and ... what, tea now? Did I really want to dive into the world of holiday potions? I needed some help, so I reached out to Tommy Ho, manager at Anvil, who loves creating fun fare over the holidays.
"I love Christmas," says Ho. "The eggnog or hot toddy—it takes you away a little bit. It's gonna get you back to that 'life's gonna be okay' thing for a little while.
He then goes on about brandy. "All the time," he says. Brandy is the official spirit of the season, boozy and sharp with those warm notes that get you all cozy. Ho has some ideas about brandy this season:
- 1.5 oz calvados
- .75 oz honey
- 1 bar spoon pimento dram
- 1 bar spoon maple syrup
- Hot water to top
- Cinnamon stick and lemon zest for garnish
Pour calvados and honey into a glass. Add dram and syrup, then water (coming off boil) to top. Stir. Garnish with cinnamon and lemon zest.
Ho loves this drink, as he especially digs calvados, an apple brandy native to Normandy, France. "I took a trip to France and stopped by Normandy," he says. "The aroma really entices memories from then. It holds a special place for me."
For an alternative with a very different spice profile, Ho recommends a blended drink authored by Alejandro Medina at Anvil called Mint Condition. This requires you to make a minty mix that includes brandy de Jerez.
- 2.75 oz mint batch (see below)
- 1.25 oz Coco Lopez cream of coconut
- .25 oz heavy cream
- Coconut whipped cream for garnish
- Mint spring for garnish
- Andes mint for garnish
- 1.25 oz Lustau Solera Reserva
- .75 oz Fernet-Branca Menta
- .75 oz turbinado sugar
- 4 drops green tincture
Make mint batch first, mixing together the ingredients. Then combine with cream of coconut and heavy cream. Blend on medium setting for 30 seconds. Optional garnish: Whip 9 oz Coco Lopez and 3 oz heavy cream until it forms peaks. Add to top of glass with mint sprig and Andes mint.