Happy Holidays!

For Christmas Eve I’m making up a batch of what I think is one of the best fireside drinks, the Star Cocktail. I take a couple liberties with my variation, but it’s what tastes best to me and delightfully simple.

Star Cocktail
1.5 oz applejack (Laird’s)
1.5 oz sweet vermouth (Martini & Rossi)
1.5 dashes each Angostura & Peychaud’s bitters
Stir with ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with lemon peel. 

You’re probably thinking, “How do I get 1.5 dashes of bitters?” You make two cocktails at once and double all of the quantities. The original recipe calls for 3 dashes of Angostura or Peychaud’s, but I see no reason not to use both; the spices in the bitters add to that fireside feeling. I’ve also tried this with Laird’s bonded apple brandy and syrup and found it lacking. Somehow the applejack with its neutral spirits makes this drink better.

However you decide to make it, or whatever you are having, happy holidays to you and yours.

A Winter Warmer (or Vinter Varmer as I like to say.)

Inspired by this video by Jamie Boudreau, I have been experimenting. This is the best and most delicious result (my ingredients in parentheses):

Fireside Chat
3/4oz bourbon (Jim Beam Black)
3/4oz applejack (Laird’s – is there another kind?)
3/4oz sweet vermouth (Martini & Rossi)
1/4oz peach amaretto (see Sept./Oct. 2010 issue of Imbibe)
2 dashes Regan’s Orange Bitters No. 6
1 dash Angostura Bitters
Combine ingredients in a mixing glass. Stir with ice until very cold. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a twist of orange peel.

If this seems to vary from Mr. Boudreau’s formula, it is because I split the spirit into two equal parts. Just bourbon didn’t quite work, nor did just applejack. The blend of the two is a happy medium. Also, you don’t want a high proof whiskey here as it will unbalance the drink. I find Old Overholt rye works just as well.

[Note: I’m sorry there is no photo. Though like most everything I make, this is a brown drink with some citrus oil on the surface.]