A Busy Bar’s Guide to Complicated Holiday Drinks

I wrote about holiday cocktails for Tales of the Cocktail. If you need to make eggnog, Tom & Jerrys or other high-maintenance cocktails for a crowd, this article has tips for you from bartenders around the country.

Holiday cocktails often call for delicate ingredients and labor-intensive techniques. But whipping, frothing and boiling a cup of cheer on the spot isn’t possible when you’re deep in the weeds. So what’s a bartender to do during this season of bigger crowds and complicated drinks? In a word: Batch.

How to Create Halloween Cocktails That Aren’t Gross

Stranger Things Cocktails

Cocktails from Hoxton Square’s “Stranger Things” Event

Forget the slasher movies and haunted houses: Nothing is scarier than Halloween cocktails. Every October, candy corn martinis and glow-in-the-dark slime shooters roam the streets looking for their next victim. But a bar menu filled with bad puns and even worse drinks isn’t the way to show guests a good time.

Over at Tales of the Cocktail, I wrote Halloween drinks that aren’t crimes against cocktails.

Brunch Cocktails for Mother’s Day

Blackberry Royal from Kitchen Konfidence

Somehow Mother’s Day and brunch became attached at the hip, but I’m certainly not complaining. I love brunch! I also love brunch cocktails—let’s hear it for day-time drinking! Here are some delightful concoctions you can make for Mom:

Sriracha Bloody Mary ~This spiced-up version of the brunch classic is a good accompaniment for savory egg dishes like Eggs Benedict. Garnish it up with fresh or pickled veggies or bacon. Who doesn’t love a drink that’s also a meal?

Motherly Love Mom-osa ~ Sparkling wine, elderflower liqueur, grapefruit juice, and hibiscus make for a delicate and light champagne cocktail. This one would go well with savory or sweet crepes as well as fruit-topped pancakes or waffles.

Blackberry Royal ~ Another champagne cocktail, because you just can’t go wrong with those! Made with blackberry shrub (which is a blackberry and balsamic vinegar syrup), this sparkler has a little tang to go with the fruit flavor. I bet it would go great with French toast (or mascarpone and strawberry stuffed french toast!).

Rum Cha-Yen ~ If you love Thai Iced Tea, then this is the cocktail for you. Sweet with herbal tea flavors, I’d pair this one with spicy dishes for a mom who likes a little morning heat.

Mom’s Sangria ~ Beautiful strawberries are popping up all around me, and this sangria is a great way to use them. It goes well with almost any meal, though I’d pair it with a frittata. You can make the sangria with red or white wine, depending on what your mama likes.

Eggnog for Everyone

Not Your Nana's Nog from Saveur

Eggnog is the official drink of Christmas. Lots of people seem to hate it, but I think it might be because they’ve only had the stuff that comes in a carton. Homemade Eggnog is rich, creamy, and (if made correctly) super boozy. It’s delightful!

So before you deck the halls, let a fantastic Eggnog light up your holidays:

Classic Eggnog ~ This recipe on Savvy Housekeeping is the one that convinced me I loved Eggnog. (Yes, I was an Eggnog hater.)

Spiced Chocolate Eggnog ~ Chocolate and a little cayenne pepper turn Eggnog into an exciting gourmet experience. Thanks, Martha!

Butterscotch Eggnog ~ Are you feeling fancy? The New York times offers a more savory take on Eggnog made with smoky Scotch whisky.

Not Your Nana’s Nog ~ Though the name is a bit silly, this Eggnog recipe from Saveur sounds wonderful. It uses Creole Shrub orange liqueur and spiced rum, which should please Tiki enthusiasts.

Coquito ~ I guess this isn’t really an Eggnog, since it contains no eggs. But it’s a festive Puerto Rican drink that’s like Eggnog with a tropical twist. It’s made with coconut milk and rum, and it’s soooo good.

Sticky Toffee Pudding Eggnog ~ Christmas is just a bad time for a diet, so why not go all out with an Eggnog that’s like a dessert. Eben Freeman shared his recipe with Food & Wine, and I have to say I am tempted.