Deep Fried Diaries

The insider's scoop on food, travel & southern culture

SIMONE SEZ: 4-1-1 on Holiday Cocktails

TGIF Washingtonians! You’ve successfully arrived at another Friday afternoon. You may find yourself a little distracted right now, as visions of the weekend dance around in your head.

Maybe you’re planning to get all nestled snug on your couch. Or perhaps your weekend plans involve raising a bit more of a clatter, making the rounds on U Street or Dupont Circle. You might even be planning a little holiday party of your own.

The "Brown Bear" from Brasserie Beck

The “Brown Bear” from Brasserie Beck

In any case, a little knowledge on holiday cocktails is essential. Just be sure to choose with care!

First stop for you jolly ole carousers in Washington, DC, is Bar Dupont. Their winter cocktail menu touts a fabulous variety for the holidays from Mulled Wine, with winter spices and orange, to Irish Coffees with Jameson and a Hot Pumpkin Chai (Godiva chocolate, Frangelico, pumpkin spice, Captain Morgan, hot milk). Click here for their winter cocktail menu. Brasserie Beck is now offering a special holiday drink they’ve coined the Brown Bear (pictured above) with Cognac, Kahlua, espresso and Bailey’s Irish Cream.

When it comes to hosting your own holiday event, every one knows that the key to a good cocktail party is… well, good cocktails. And your guests will be counting on you! Don’t panic.

I decided to get in touch with notable DC mixologist Gina Chersevani, a good friend of mine, for a little bar-tending advice. Gina’s latest venture Buffalo & Bergen just opened at the new Union Market and offers a modern twist on the classic New York soda shop.

First thing’s first, she said, you want to feel like a guest at your own party, so don’t feel obligated to be running around mixing drinks for people. One great solution is serving a holiday punch, or a variety of punches. “At my house, I’ll usually serve one that’s light liquor-based and one that’s dark liquor-based,” Gina said. “And something hot is always a nice option! One of my favorites is a warm winter punch packed with seasonal apples, spices, honey and rum.”

There’s also nothing wrong with a self-service station, just be sure to give your guests some good options, she added. You can even make a mixer bar that’s practically fool-proof. For example, offer mixers like pear juice, cranberry orange spice, cinnamon syrup—things that work well together. Then you can lay out a variety of liquors like Bluecoat gin, Chairman’s Rum, Shine White Whiskey. If even by accident, your guests will end up mixing a great drink.

To cut on costs, but not quality, Gina suggests taking advantage of the liquors offered by your local distilleries. Local liquors are often middle of the road in price, but not on flavor. A few from the Washington, DC, area and nearby Virginia include Catoctin Creek, Green Hat Gin and Copper Fox.

And finally, for those of you who chose Option A (snuggling up on your couch), there’s no reason you can’t snuggle up with a great cocktail. I leave you with one of Gina’s favorite holiday cocktail recipes—one she calls NogginHAM. It’s a buttery banana cocktail sweetened with caramelized sugar and Velvet Falernum, and spiced with cinnamon and cardamom. It’s ‘punch’ comes from the Chairman’s Reserve Rum and Allspice Rum, and it’s topped with a pinch of ham dust to balance the flavor. (Do bars take delivery orders?)

However you choose to enjoy your holiday cocktails this weekend, drink responsibly!

I’m Simone. And this is what simone sez.

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