Cocktails for a Spirited Holiday

Mike McCelland, Director of Food and Beverage

Hello from the Food and Beverage team here at the Club. 'Tis the season to celebrate! Whether you're marking Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or gearing up for New Year's Eve, it's a time for festive gatherings with family and friends, and enjoying delightful specialty cocktails while showing off those skills of making the best drink. The one you brag about for years to come.

We have compiled a selection of our top holiday cocktail recipes featuring seasonal twists on classics — warm and cozy concoctions perfect for chilly nights sitting on the back veranda, and sparkling libations to welcome the new year.

Before we get into the holidays, make sure you have the essential tools in your home bar. Here are a few of the basics we recommend that every good bar should have: a cocktail shaker, jigger and bar spoon — you can find a comprehensive kit on Cocktail Kingdom, which is an industry go-to. Equally important is glassware. Be sure to stock up on beautiful rocks glasses, cocktail coupes and Collins glasses. The size of the glass will also play a key role for serving well-balanced cocktails. If your bar is looking a bit empty, worry not — we can help curate a well-balanced bar of spirits, mixers and garnishes to have your bar ready for the Good Life with family and friends here at Cordillera Ranch. 

Please know we are available to consult with you on your needs for your home bar. If assistance is needed, contact us here at the Club as we are happy to help.

Here is our list of top holiday cocktails and recipes:

Christmas Carol Barrel
pictured above 

  2 oz Reposado Tequila
  0.75 oz Coffee Liqueur (e.g., Kahlúa)
  0.5 oz Dry Curaçao
  1 oz Spiced Chocolate Syrup (see recipe below)
  A dash of aromatic bitters  Orange peel and a cinnamon stick for garnish

Spiced Chocolate Syrup Ingredients:
  1/2 cup Dark Chocolate, chopped
  1/4 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  A pinch of cayenne pepper

Instructions for Spiced Chocolate Syrup:

1. In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the dark chocolate.
2. Stir in the ground cinnamon and a pinch of cayenne pepper until well combined.
3. Remove from heat and allow the spiced chocolate syrup to cool to room temperature.

Instructions for Christmas Carol Barrel:
1. In a mixing glass, combine 2 oz of Reposado Tequila, 0.75 oz of Coffee Liqueur, 0.5 oz of Dry Curaçao and 1 oz of the prepared Spiced Chocolate Syrup.
2. Add a dash of aromatic bitters to the mixture.
3. Stir the ingredients in the mixing glass until well combined.
4. Fill a barrel-shaped glass or a rocks glass with ice.
5. Strain the cocktail mixture over the ice.
6. Express the oils from a fresh orange peel by giving it a good twist over the drink.
7. Garnish with a cinnamon stick for added aroma and presentation.

Creamy Coquito Crush (Batched)

  1 can (14 oz) Sweetened Condensed Milk
  1 can (12 oz) Evaporated Milk
  1 can (13.5 oz) Coconut Milk or Coconut Cream
  1 cup White Rum (adjust to taste)
  1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  1/2 tsp Ground Nutmeg
  1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  A pinch of salt
  Cinnamon sticks and grated nutmeg for garnish (optional)
• Toasted coconut flakes for  garnish (optional)

Instructions for Creamy Coquito Crush:
1. In a blender, combine 1 can of Sweetened Condensed Milk, 1 can of Evaporated Milk, 1 can of Coconut Milk or Cream, 1 cup of White Rum, 1 tsp of Ground Cinnamon, 1/2 tsp of Ground Nutmeg, 1 tsp of Vanilla Extract and a pinch of salt.
2. Blend the mixture until it’s smooth and all the ingredients are well combined.
3. Taste the Creamy Coquito Crush and adjust the sweetness or rum level according to your preference. You can add more Condensed Milk for extra sweetness or more Rum for a stronger kick.
4. Pour the Creamy Coquito Crush into bottles or a large glass container with a lid. Refrigerate for a few hours or overnight to allow the flavors to meld and the drink to chill thoroughly.
5. Before serving, give it a good shake or stir. Pour into small glasses or cups for serving.
6. Optionally, garnish with cinnamon sticks, grated nutmeg and toasted coconut flakes for added flavor and presentation.

Gingerbread Old Fashioned

  2 oz Rye Whiskey
  0.5 oz Gingerbread Syrup
  2 dashes Wormwood Bitters
  Orange zest for garnish

Instructions for Gingerbread Old Fashioned:
1. Start by selecting a rocks glass or Old Fashioned glass for serving.
2. Fill the glass with ice cubes. You can use a large ice cube or several smaller ones.
3. Measure 2 oz of Rye Whiskey and pour it over the ice in the glass.
4. Measure 0.5 oz of Gingerbread Syrup (you can adjust the amount to your desired sweetness) and add it to the glass with the whiskey.
5. Add 2 dashes of Wormwood Bitters to the glass. Wormwood Bitters add a subtle herbal and aromatic complexity to the cocktail.
6. Take a bar spoon or cocktail stirrer and gently stir the mixture in the glass. Stirring helps to combine the ingredients and chill the cocktail.
7. Take a fresh orange peel and hold it over the glass, skin side facing the cocktail. Gently squeeze the peel to release its aromatic oils over the drink. This will add a burst of citrus aroma to the cocktail.
8. Optionally, you can drop the twisted orange peel into the glass for added flavor. It also serves as an elegant garnish.

Nutty Nogg Delight

  2 oz Brown Butter and Cinnamon Fat-Washed Bourbon (see recipe below)
  1 oz Amontillado Sherry
  1 oz Almond Milk
  1 oz Cream
  1 Egg
  Freshly grated nutmeg for garnish

Brown Butter and Cinnamon Fat-Washed Bourbon Ingredients:
  1 cup Bourbon
  2 tbls Browned Butter (browned and cooled)
  1 Cinnamon Stick

Instructions for Fat-Washing Bourbon:
1. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over low heat until it starts to brown and give off a nutty aroma. Remove from heat and let it cool.
2. In a separate container, combine 1 cup of bourbon with 2 tablespoons of cooled brown butter and a cinnamon stick.
3. Let the mixture infuse at room temperature for a few hours or  overnight. The fat from the butter will rise to the top. Once infused, place it in the freezer until the fat is solidified.
4. Remove the solidified fat from the bourbon and strain the liquid through a fine mesh strainer or coffee filter to remove any remaining particles.

Instructions for Nutty Nogg Delight:
1. In a cocktail shaker, combine  2 oz of the Brown Butter and Cinnamon Fat-Washed Bourbon, 1 oz of Amontillado Sherry, 1 oz of Almond Milk, 1 oz of Cream and 1 whole egg.
2. Dry shake (shake without ice) vigorously to emulsify the egg and create a rich, frothy texture.
3. Add ice to the shaker and shake again until well chilled.
4. Strain the cocktail into a chilled rocks glass or coupe.
5. Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg on top and enjoy!

Mike McClellan is the Director of Food and Beverage at The Clubs of Cordillera Ranch. He can be reached at and 210.717.2146.

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