It’s getting on towards the winter holidays, so we decided to throw together a couple of seasonal cocktails, featuring flavors we associate with this time of year. We went green (evergreen, that is ;)) for one, and orange for the other.
With the season in mind and the scent of a recently hung holiday wreath in our noses, we broke out the Douglas Fir eau de vie, because who doesn’t love the smell of fir in the winter months. We really like this spirit and have mixed with it before, though that can be challenging. Christa thought that it might pair well with creme de menthe, letting the tingly-ness of the mint and the tingly/resin-y flavors of the fir reinforce each other. Shaun was skeptical. Shaun was wrong. It actually paired quite nicely. Having creme de menthe in the mix made us think of the Stinger, which is a perennial favorite, so we broke out some brandy and tried that. It was definitely additive, but overall the cocktail lacked depth, so we experimented further. Cointreau added some nice complexity but was overwhelming. Nocino brought out some harsh bitter notes. Averna, though, was just what we were looking for, adding earthy and bitter notes to give a little depth to the drink. That said, we still missed having a touch of citrus (which seems to pair well with the Doug fir based on our past mixing experiments. 😉 ). Small amounts of the Cointreau were additive but still a bit much. Enter orange bitters instead. Perfect! With that we give you:
Suave and Debonair
- 1 oz cognac
- 1 oz Doug Fir eau de vie
- 1 oz creme de menthe (We used the Depth Menthe from Sound Spirits which is drier. If using a different brand we recommend reducing the amount)
- 1/2 oz Averna amaro (substitute with cola-y amaro)
- 1 dash orange bitters
Stir all ingredients with ice. Strain into a glass. Enjoy!
- Nose: Mint and fir with touches of caramel, cola, and chocolate. Tiny bit of orange.
- Palate: Fir, mint and a hint of caramel to start. Orange appears going into the mid-palate along with cola and a little bit of clove. Finish is dark earthy and chocolatey flavors along with another strong hit of fir. Aftertaste is spice, mint, cola.
We sincerely hope Cary Grant would approve 🙂
For our second cocktail, we wanted to do something with Grand Marnier. It’s such a luxuriant spirit and seems most appropriate for the season. As mixers to start with, Christa chose sweet sherry and Shaun went with calvados. The calvados was nice, but the sweet sherry was better. With that combination as a promising base, we both immediately thought of whiskey as a good counterbalance to cut the sweetness and bring some bite. We started with a sweeter American whiskey, but that didn’t cut the heavier flavors of the other two ingredients quite enough. We then went with a spicy, slightly stronger rye. That was just the thing. The flavor was good, but we thought a drop or two of bitters would not go amiss to round things out. So we dug into our bitters library. Lemon was not additive, cherry worked quite nicely (probably requires some future exploration), but the Boker’s bitters took this round. Which gives us:
- 1 oz rye
- 3/4 oz Grand Marnier
- 1/3 oz sweet sherry
- 1 dash Boker’s bitters
Stir all ingredients with ice. Strain into a glass. Garnish with a brandied cherry.
- Nose: Rye, pumpkin pie spice, orange, dulce de leche.
- Palate: Rye and pumpkin pie spice to start, followed by barrel notes, sweet oak, and orange on the mid-palate. Chamomile, spice and oxidized wine going into the finish along with a heavier mouth feel. Finish is rich brandy and orange peel with a hint of wine notes. Sweet, but the spiciness of the rye helps balance that out.
There you go, a couple of tasty cocktails to make the season grand in our opinions. Where ever you are and whatever holiday you celebrate, we hope you’re having a drink and enjoying this festive season. Cheers!