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Holiday Cocktails

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Unique and seasonal cocktails

MIX UP SOME CHEER Unique and seasonal cocktails make the holidays even more merry. (Illustration:

Cheers to the holidays! In this merriest of months, we thought it would be fun to focus on some festive holiday cocktails. We asked a few neighbors to share their favorites – their gifts to us all. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Happy New Year!

Stuart Rosenberg knows fun. He’s always got a smile and a story. And he says that the best holiday cocktail he’s had is the Grass Harbor. “Present Company in Montrose created this cocktail for an event I attended recently, and it was delicious,” the communications pro says. “It’s an updated version of a Grasshopper – very holiday and fun, thanks to its green color. I’m definitely planning on making this one.”

Grass Harbor

3 scoops cookies and cream gelato (the bar uses Teo Gelato)
1 ounce Titanium Tequila Blanco
¼ ounce Fernet Branca Menta (an Italian herbal liqueur)
¼ ounce crème de menthe
Chocolate sandwich cookies (Oreos), crushed
Mint leaves, for garnish

Combine all the ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Pour into glasses, and garnish with mint leaves and crushed sandwich cookies.

On the not-so-sweet side of tequila, Jeri Amundsen and Arthur Feldman, both attorneys (she’s retired) like a good margarita, and they often find that the ones they make at home are the best. Sometimes Jeri and Arthur top the margaritas with a little Topo Chico to dilute the tartness of the lime. In cooler months, they suggest using mescal, tequila’s smoky cousin, in place of tequila.

Perfect Martinis

1½ ounces white tequila (Arthur likes Herradura Blanco)
1 ounce fresh lime juice
½ ounce Cointreau (orange liqueur)
Fresh jalapeño, sliced

Wet the rim of an Old Fashioned glass with tequila, and dip it in salt to coat the rim. Shake tequila, lime juice and Cointreau in a shaker and pour over ice in the salted glass. Float a jalapeño slice or two on top and serve.

Rachel Volz, owner of the catering company A Fare Extraordinaire, is a consummate entertainer and spends all of her time doing just that, unless she’s planning over-the-top birthday parties for her children, who are 3 and 6. Rachel says her favorite thing about her favorite holiday cocktail is “the festive touch of the sugared rim.” She adds, “You can elevate any glass of Prosecco with the blackberry syrup and a sprig of thyme, which is a classic holiday herb.”

Blackberry Thyme Sparkler

1 cup blackberries, plus 8 more for serving
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
Butter for glass rims
Gold baking sugar
4 ounces gin
1 bottle of champagne
4 long sprigs of thyme

In a small saucepan, bring blackberries, water and sugar to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, until the blackberries are soft and the simple syrup has turned a bring pink/reddish color. Remove from heat, drain blackberries and allow to cool. This step can be done well in advance, as the syrup will keep for at least a week in the refrigerator.

To prep the champagne flutes, use butter to adhere the sugar on the rims. Place the tiniest amount between your fingers and rub just around the rim of the glass before dipping the glass into the gold baking sugar. Add 1 ounce of gin to each champagne glass. Drop two blackberries in each glass, followed by 2 ounces of homemade blackberry simple syrup. Fill the rest of the glasses with champagne and top with a sprig of thyme in each glass. Makes 4.

And finally, the quintessential, old-school holiday drink: Brandy Freeze. This one comes from Kelli Bunch, owner of KB Table, who says, “My family and I love making these tasty ‘boozy milkshakes’ during the holiday. You can almost always guarantee to find a backup of pre-made brandy freezes in my freezer during the holidays.”

Brandy Freeze

1 gallon Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla ice cream (Blue Bell is key!)
½ cup good quality brandy
⅛ teaspoon allspice
Fresh nutmeg, for garnish
Cinnamon sticks, for garnish

Let the ice cream sit on the counter for about 15 minutes. Pour the brandy into the bottom of a high-powered blender (Kelli uses a Vitamix). Add the ice cream in two separate batches. “I strongly suggest using an accelerator/tamper tool to allow the thick ingredients to incorporate without damaging the blender,” Kelli says. Add the allspice and blend until smooth. Serve in chilled glasses garnished with freshly ground nutmeg and a cinnamon stick. (These can be made 2-3 weeks in advance and kept frozen in an airtight container. To serve after freezing, let sit out for 30 minutes before reblending to achieve original consistency.)

For more on food and entertaining from Andria Frankfort, see her weekly blog, Back Porch Table, at Every Friday, you’ll find new recipes for weekend cooking (or anytime). 

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