Food & Drink

Some cool drinks to serve up for holidays, New Year's Eve

Nothing makes the holidays happier than a good stiff drink. It's even better if it's one that's easy to concoct and uses what's in season.

And now that we're days from turning the corner to 2012, sharing a cocktail or three with friends and family is imperative.

You're likely to have on hand whiskey, rum, gin, vodka and tequila. In other words, you probably already have the makings of a party. (Happy New Year!)

Persimmon Champagne Cocktail

Serves: 1

This recipe is adapted from Jason Schiffer of 320 Main in Orange County.


Persimmon syrup: 1 ripe Fuyu persimmon, in ½-inch cubes; ½ cup water; fresh grated nutmeg; 1 sprig rosemary; 1 cup brown sugar

Cocktail: 1 ounce orange liqueur

½ ounce persimmon syrup

¼ ounce fresh lemon juice

4 ounces dry Champagne

Sprig of rosemary and 1 cranberry, garnish


For the persimmon syrup: In a medium saucepan heated over medium heat, cook the persimmon until the pieces caramelize, five to 10 minutes. (The persimmons may stick to the bottom of the pan. Gently scrape them from the pan, and continue to stir to keep them from burning.) Stir in the water and rosemary, then grate one-fourth of a nutmeg into the pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then add the brown sugar and stir until dissolved. Remove from heat, strain and cool. Refrigerate up to one week. Makes about 1 cup syrup.

In a cocktail shaker with ice, combine the orange liqueur, persimmon syrup and lemon juice. Shake and strain into a Champagne flute or saucer. Top with Champagne. Garnish with a sprig of rosemary and a cranberry.

Per cocktail: 222 calories; 24 grams carbohydrates; 4 milligrams sodium; 22 grams sugar.

Holiday Sangria

Serves: 8 to 10

This recipe is from


Star anise simple syrup: ½ cup sugar; ½ cup water; 4-5 star anise pods


½ grapefruit

1 lemon

1 orange

1 persimmon

4 kumquats

Seeds of 1 pomegranate

Juice of 2 oranges (¾ cup)

Juice of 2 lemons (½ cup)

1 (750 milliliter) bottle of pomegranate wine

½ to 1 cup dark rum

1 cup star anise simple syrup

Club soda (to top)


For star anise simple syrup: Add all ingredients to a small pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and stir until sugar disappears. Turn off stove and let mixture steep for one hour; cool.

For the cocktail, slice grapefruit, lemon, orange, persimmon and kumquats in thin circles. Add fruit to a bowl, including the pomegranate seeds and lemon and orange juices. Pour in pomegranate wine. Next add dark rum and half of the star anise simple syrup (reserve the other half for guests to adjust the sweetness of their individual drinks). Briefly stir mixture and chill for at least two hours (or overnight), to allow for the flavors to fully develop.

Serve with a little bit of fruit, and a fresh citrus slice in each glass. Just before serving, top off each glass with club soda (if not using club soda, reduce amount of simple syrup to taste). Give each glass a stir.

Thin Mint-tini

Serves: 1

This recipe is from


1½ ounces heavy cream

1 ounce milk chocolate liqueur

1 ounce vodka

1 ounce chocolate syrup, plus extra for rim

¼ teaspoon peppermint extract

10 Chocolate wafer cookies (crushed)



Add cream, chocolate liqueur, vodka, chocolate syrup, peppermint extract and ice to a cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously.

Dip rim of glass into a plate of chocolate syrup and then into a plate of cookie crumbs. Strain into a martini glass.

Candy Cane-tini

Serves: 1

This recipe is from


3 ounces half-and-half

2 ounces white chocolate liqueur

1 ounce vanilla vodka

1/8 teaspoon peppermint extract

White chocolate (for glass)

Peppermint flavored hard candy, for garnish

Crushed ice


Add drink ingredients to a cocktail shaker and shake.

In a double boiler, melt white chocolate and dip rim of glass into it. Immediately dip rim of glass into plate of crushed red peppermint candy. Pour drink into glass

Sterling Daiquiri

Serves: 1

This recipe is adapted from Allan Katz of Cana Rum Bar in Los Angeles.


Agua de jamaica

3 2/3 cups water

1 2/3 cups dried hibiscus flowers

Peel from ½ Valencia orange (or the whole peel of a small orange)

½ lemon

2/3 cup sugar

1 large stick canela

3 star anise


½ ounce spiced rum

¾ ounce ginger liqueur (Domaine de Canton)

½ ounce agua de jamaica

½ ounce lime juice

2 dashes bitters (Peychaud's)

Orange twist, for garnish

Edible silver flakes, optional


For the agua de jamaica: In a large plastic container, combine the water, dried hibiscus and orange peel. Squeeze the juice of the lemon into the mixture, and drop the peel in too. Cover and refrigerate for 12 hours to steep, then strain.

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar with 1 cup of the strained hibiscus tea. Bring to a simmer, stirring or whisking the sugar until it is dissolved. Add the canela and anise, and continue to simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Strain the cooled mixture into the container with the remaining cold tea, discarding the spices. This makes about 3 cups, which is more than is needed for the recipe. Store it, covered and refrigerated, for up to two weeks.

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine the spiced rum, ginger liqueur, agua de jamaica, lime juice and bitters. Shake and strain into a chilled coupe glass.

Garnish with a fresh orange twist. Add a sprinkling of edible silver flakes, if desired.

Note: Dried hibiscus flowers and canela (Mexican cinnamon sticks) are available at Latino markets. Edible silver leaf flakes are available at select baking and cooking supply stores.

Per cocktail: 120 calories; 13 grams carbohydrates; 2 milligrams sodium; 11 grams sugar.

Santa's Sidecar

Serves: 1

This recipe is adapted from Zahra Bates of Providence in Los Angeles.


Cranberry compote: ½ pound fresh cranberries; 1 ounce orange juice; 1 to 2 ounces lemon juice; ½ cup sugar; 2 tablespoons loosely packed sage leaves; 1 ounce peeled ginger, chopped; 1½ cup water

Cocktail: Sugar, for rimming the glass

2½ ounces brandy

¼ ounce orange liqueur (Bates uses Cointreau)

1 heaping tablespoon cranberry compote


For compote: In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients with enough water to cover. Cover and bring to a boil, then remove cover and simmer until the berries are softened, about 15 minutes. Cool. Refrigerate up to 1 week. Makes 3 cups.

For cocktail, rim a martini glass with sugar. In shaker with ice, combine brandy, orange liqueur and compote. Shake; strain into a glass.

Per cocktail: 197 calories; 6 grams carbohydrates; 1 milligrams sodium; 5 grams sugar.

Hot Cider Toddy

Serves: 1

This recipe is adapted from Marcos Tello's 1886 bar in Los Angeles.


1½ ounces bonded Apple Jack

¼ ounce maple syrup

6 ounces hot fresh-pressed apple juice (heated in a tea kettle)

3 slices crab apple for garnish, very thinly sliced

Grated cinnamon for garnish

Cinnamon stick for garnish


Into an 8-ounce glass mug, pour the Apple Jack and maple syrup. Top with hot apple cider and stir. Garnish with crab apple, grated cinnamon and a cinnamon stick.

Note: For the apple juice, peel and core any type of apple and feed through a juicer. Strain and store, covered, in the refrigerator. Alternatively, unfiltered fresh apple juice can be found in the refrigerated section of well-stocked supermarkets.

Per cocktail: 200 calories; 26 grams carbohydrates; 8 milligrams sodium; 22 grams sugar.

Nuit Rouge

Serves: 1

This recipe is adapted from Vincenzo Marianella of Copa d'Oro bar in Santa Monica.


Cinnamon-allspice syrup: 1 cup water; 1 cup sugar; 4 cinnamon sticks, broken; 1 to 1½ teaspoons allspice; 1 (4-inch) vanilla bean, split


2 ounces bourbon or Jamaican dark rum

½ ounce cinnamon-allspice syrup

¾ ounce fresh lemon juice

½ ounce organic apple juice

Cranberry ice cubes

1½ to 2 ounces Bundaberg ginger beer


For the syrup: In a saucepan, combine the water, sugar, cinnamon and allspice. Scrape the vanilla seeds into the pan; drop the pod in. Heat on medium-high, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool, then strain. This makes 1 cup. Keep refrigerated up to four weeks.

In a cocktail shaker with ice, combine the bourbon, syrup and lemon and apple juices. Shake; strain into a glass filled with cranberry ice cubes. Top with ginger beer.

Note: For cranberry ice cubes, place cranberries into ice cube molds and pour cranberry juice to fill. Freeze until set.

Per cocktail: 252 calories; 32 grams carbohydrates; 8 milligrams sodium; 28 grams sugar.