August 13, 2020

Holiday Spirits

img_4728I love a nice cocktail: the kind with quality liquor and good balance. As big as the cocktail revolution has been in the past few years, it is surprising to me that while there are plenty of “fancy” drink recipes out there, many are sticky-sweet and faddish, lacking the depth of real “spirits.” Dare I say, Holiday Spirits?

I’m not saying that every cocktail has to be made with Top Shelf brands, but some nuance of flavor is nice.  While a chocolate martini is fine and dandy, I prefer the ones that make me feel like I’m indulging in a high-end dark chocolate truffle, not smearing my face with squeezable Hershey’s chocolate syrup.

Because the holidays are here, aaaaaaaand I don’t get Winter, here are some lovely Katie-tested concoctions from various (long-forgotten) sources:

Winter Palace White Russian

img_4725This is just a small variation on a White Russian:

  • 1/2 oz Kahlua
  • 1 oz Van Gogh’s Dark Chocolate Vodka
  • 1 oz Peppermint-flavored Non-Dairy Creamer
  • Cream/milk

This variation on the tradition White Russian is more indulgent and festive. If you are seeking a “flavored” vodka, the Van Gogh brand is nice, and the Dark Chocolate vodka tastes like chocolate without being cloying.

I prefer using the tiny measuring cup as opposed to a jigger. More accurate.


Starting in November (maybe October now), grocery stores carry all sorts of crazy flavored coffee creamers. Experiment, if you like. The caramel ones also work well in this, but the peppermint variety feels most “holiday-ish” to me.

Put ice in a highball glass, add Kahlua and Vodka, top with non-dairy creamer, and then the cream/milk. Using the regular milk (especially if it is skim milk) will take some of the richness out of this drink, which might be helpful if you have a sensitive stomach.

If non-dairy creamer is a thing you can’t manage, use 1/2 ounce peppermint schnapps either in addition to the above ingredients, or reduce the vodka by the same amount.

Pear Martiniimg_4716

Pears are in season fall through winter, so if you live in a warmer climate, pears might come to be associated with the winter holidays (they have to me). Perhaps because December is National Pear Month. Of course, if you have a Harry & David subscription, you have a monthly barrage of pears. Then you can drink this throughout the year.

  • 2 oz Pear Vodka (or plain vodka)
  • 1/2 oz limoncello
  • 1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 1 oz pear puree

img_4727This is another fancy fruit-infused vodka drink. But if you don’t have the pear infused vodka, there is also pear liquors on the market. They are generally sweeter, so substituting out just 1/2 ounce from the vodka amount will probably do just fine.
A note on pear puree: the easiest way to find this? The baby food section. No joke. One little jar of Gerber’s will go a long way in your cocktail bar.

Combine ingredients in a shaker, shake 30 seconds (when the ice chips form) and pour into martini glass. If you’re the fancy sort (I am), float a finely sliced pear wedge for garnish.

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