Holiday time for me means long days checking and re-checking my to-do list, along with repeated trips to the grocery store, making sure to grab all ingredients necessary to make each family member (and assorted relatives) happy with what’s being served. Which is why, between the madness of the mall and my own craziness trying to unearth last year’s leftover wrapping paper, I like to settle down post-errands with the perfect Yuletide libation. All that running around can make a person thirsty, not to mention a wee bit stressed. So I asked my favorite restaurateurs for advice on cocktails guaranteed to put everyone—including the hostess—in a jolly mood. (All drinks serve eight.)
PHOTO BY Domenica Comfort
The R Bar 914
Bistro Rollin (142 Fifth Ave, Pelham 914-633-0780; bistrorollin.com)
R Bar 914 is a contemporary American take on the vintage French 75 Champagne cocktail invented in 1915 at the New York Bar in Paris. Bistro Rollin uses a crisp American sparkling wine, gin, citrus juice, simple syrup, and a splash of black currant cordial to create “a festive, fizzy drink that’s perfect for holiday entertaining,” says Paul Bratone, co-owner, general manager, and mixologist.
8 oz gin
8 oz Warwick Valley Winery & Distillery’s American Fruits Black Currant Cordial (available by mail order from the Vineyard)
2 oz fresh-squeezed lemon juice
2 oz simple syrup
1 750-ml bottle of Gruet Blanc de Noirs sparkling wine (available at most wine stores)
Shake gin, cordial, lemon juice, and simple syrup together in a large cocktail shaker with ice. Strain into eight martini glasses (or Champagne flutes) and top with sparkling wine. Garnish each glass with a large twist of lime.
Butterfield 8 (147 Mamaroneck Ave, White Plains 914-358-4881; butterfield8whiteplains.com)
The Buttermint 8 “says winter to me,” Owner Ralph Battista says. “The mix of chocolate and mint is reminiscent of fire and ice—so I think of sitting around a fire and warming up from the cold while enjoying a sweet ending to a night. It’s the perfect way to toast a holiday celebration.”
24 oz Pinnacle Whipped vodka
12 oz clear crème de cacao
8 oz green crème de menthe
8 oz heavy cream, whipped
For garnish: chocolate sprinkles and a peppermint pattie
Pour first three ingredients in a pitcher and mix well. Pour into a glass swirled with chocolate. Top with whipped cream, chocolate sprinkles, and a peppermint pattie.
The Egg Nog
Equus (Castle on the Hudson, 400 Benedict Ave, Tarrytown 914-631-3646; castleonthehudson.com)
“I wanted to stay with the tradition of eggnog for the holidays, but with an update on my grandparents’ version,” Wine Captain Chuck Kavunedus says.
7½ oz Grey Goose vodka
7½ oz Godiva White
5 oz Frangelico liqueur
4 oz half-and-half
cinnamon and nutmeg to taste
Shake first four ingredients together. Serve on the rocks or chilled and straight up. Sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg as garnish and flavor to taste.
Mulberry Street (189 E Post Rd,
White Plains 914-761-1111;
“Sgroppino combines Prosecco, vodka, and sorbet and can be used as a palate cleanser or a nice cocktail to start off a party,” Manager Matt Flanders says. “Our version includes raspberry purée—it gives it a seasonal flair and beautiful color.”
4 cups chilled Prosecco
8 Tbsp chilled vodka
1 cup frozen lemon sorbet
½ cup raspberry purée (see below)
1 tsp fresh mint leaves, chopped
For raspberry purée:
1 pint raspberries
1 Tbsp sugar
2 oz water
Purée all ingredients in a blender.
Pour the Prosecco and vodka into eight Champagne flutes, dividing equally. Add the raspberry purée into the lemon sorbet, beating it with a whisk. Spoon a scoop of raspberry-lemon sorbet into each flute. Sprinkle with mint and serve immediately.
nessa (325 N Main St, Port Chester 914-939-0119; nessarestaurant.com)
“My grandma Leticia would make this waiting for her family to come in from the coffee fields,” bartender Jhon-Harvey “Loku” Taborda says. “Having grown up in the Valle de Aburrá area of Colombia, the central coffee region, there were always beautiful, cool, rainy days up in the mountains. She would make this and sit outside to watch the rain fall.”
2 cups milk
4 tsp sugar
4 oz cognac
1 oz elderflower liqueur
½ oz anise liqueur
1 tsp vanilla extract
powdered cinnamon for garnish
Bring milk to a gentle boil. Add remaining ingredients to a blender and mix. Slowly add the warm milk to the mixture, so as not to curdle the eggs. Serve in coffee or martini glasses.
Opus 465 (465 Main St, Armonk 914-273-4676; opus465.com)
“What makes you think of wintertime and the holidays more than snow?” asks Chef/Owner Marc Mazzarulli. “When it’s cold outside, this drink makes you warm and puts you in the holiday spirit.”
16 oz Sobieski vanilla vodka
8 oz peppermint schnapps
8 oz white crème de cacao
chocolate syrup and shavings to garnish
Garnish martini glass with chocolate syrup. Pour ingredients into a shaker over ice, shake, and pour into glass.
Vintage 1891 (2098 Boston Post Rd, Larchmont 914-834-9463; vintage1891.com)
“During the shortest days of the year, sometimes you need to be reminded that winter doesn’t last forever,” Executive Chef Jesus Canela says. “We’ve chosen ingredients that represent the classic comfort of the season—cranberries, grappa, and the warmth of vodka-infused black tea—and added to that the floral and citrus notes of bright sunny days.”
12 oz Montanaro Grappa alla Camomilla
12 oz vodka infused with cranberry-orange tea
12 oz Luxardo Triplum Triple Sec Orange
8 oz fresh-squeezed lemon juice
8 oz fresh-squeezed orange juice
8 oz cranberry juice
6 oz simple syrup
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously, then strain into a chilled martini glass or serve as a punch in an old fashioned (the cocktail, not the style) glass filled with ice.