Cocktails, Recipes, and More
In this section I’m going to make a few awful dad jokes (sorry, not sorry) and also steer you toward a few ideas that may be a bit on the fringe of what’s normal, sane, or otherwise recommended. Stick with me. Some of these will sound weird, or may even require a bit of work, but I promise you’ll enjoy them.
Holiday Season “Don’t Do” & Items to Avoid for 2023
Let’s fire up this section of the 2023 bourbon buying guide with the things we whiskey drinkers don’t want. Yes, the thought is what counts, but if you’re reading this article to see what to buy for the whiskey lover, I feel as though I should also warn you what not to buy as well. It’s arguably more important than telling you what you should spend your hard earned money on.
- Whiskey stones (stones, bullets, metal cubes, etc.) do not make for a good gift. I know precisely zero whiskey fans who use these regularly, or even enjoy them. I feel like you’re more likely to destroy a tooth than to enjoy sipping whiskey that’s nominally colder for having stones in it. Don’t. Just don’t.
- That one bottle of local craft “whiskey” that was recommended by someone who works at the liquor store. We appreciate that you’re trying to buy us what we openly adore (read: whiskey) but the majority of whiskey nerds already have more bottles than they need–let alone bottles that have been collecting dust for their poor quality and high price. No offense to local craft distilleries, none taken.
- Niche novelty whiskey glassware. I get it–it seems fun to have a whiskey glass with a bullet stuffed into the sidewall–but realistically it’s a pain to clean and isn’t really the thing a more serious whiskey lover is going to use with any regularity. Opt instead for buying a box of Glencairn glasses from Amazon for under $40 or visit our friends at Aged & Ore to snag their bottle flight their neat traveler (I can’t recommend these enough).
Curing the Holiday Hangover
Let me begin by saying that this isn’t intended as health or medical advice (I mean, obviously?). I recommend responsible drinking above all else; buuut, we all know that one extra drink sometimes turns into two extra and/or more. It happens. We also need to get up and get going the next day because the holiday season is busy and hectic, so how do we cope? Here are just a few recommendations.
- Morning mimosa: I prefer either Chandon or Decoy sparkling with a dash of orange bitters and splash of Grand Marnier in my orange juice–I mean–mimosas.
- Buffalo Trace Bourbon Cream in the morning coffee. This can also be improved just a touch by slipping a little bourbon in there as well. The caramel notes and creamy texture combine well with the caffeine that will (hopefully) set you straight.
- Bourbon & orange juice. Yes, you’ve read that right. I swear it’s a thing, and it’s exponentially better than you may guess. I see you shaking your head. Just try it! I doubt you’ll find a quicker and tastier hair of the dog recipe out there.
- Bloody Pigs: I have to give credit to Chef Eric from WhistlePig Farm for introducing myself and my friends to this idea. Imagine your classic bloody Mary (made however you prefer) but sub the vodka for WhistlePig PiggyBack Rye whiskey. I don’t dance with V8 or vodka personally, but I know how popular the bloody is, and I think you could do far worse things than add some nice rye whiskey to your day.
John’s Gingerbread Eggnog & Holiday Schmooze
We’ve all heard the expression it’s the thought that counts, right? Of course. But what if the ‘thought’ is more of an internal monologue saying “I could really use a drink”? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. Below you’ll find a two-part recipe that has become something of a crowd favorite (or perhaps even cult following) around my friends and family: my gingerbread eggnog & holiday schmooze recipes.
This is a straightforward homemade eggnog that is noticeably less sweet than store-bought eggnog. I like to get that information out there early so you can adjust the sweetness levels to your liking; although, if I’m being honest with you, dear reader, I have yet to have someone say they wish it were sweeter. Do with that what you will.
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar (granulated or caster)
2 cups of milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon nutmeg (fresh, grated)
1 Pinch of salt (kosher, coarse)
2 vanilla beans (pods cleaned)
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 Tablespoon dark molasses
Separate eggs, add the yolks into a medium-sized bowl. Add in the sugar. Whisk until the creamy and smooth. Could also be done with a hand/stand mixer.
Heat the milk and heavy cream on the stovetop in a large saucepan with cinnamon stick. Add the spices, vanilla, and molasses. Stir plenty.
Temper the egg mixture with the heated milk and cream, then add the egg mixture into the rest of the milk mixture on the stove. Bring the entire mixture to a simmer while stirring until it hits 160 degrees.
Chill for at least four hours (overnight is best). Mix in Holiday Schmooze (or preferred liquor) and enjoy your uplifted holiday spirit.
The Holiday Schmooze is simply a blend I created to work well with the holiday vibes built into the gingerbread eggnog. Feel free to substitute or experiment with your own unique blend.
1/8 cup Grand Marnier (or orange liqueur of your choice)
1/4 cup Old Forester 1910 (or other dark-profile toasted bourbon, Maker’s Mark Private Selects work well, as does Woodford Reserve Double Oak)
1/8 cup brandy (I prefer Sacred Bond American brandy)
1/4 cup rye whiskey (I like to be around 100 proof with the rye and I like to use Wild Turkey 101 Rye or Rittenhouse Rye)