Home (bartending) for the holidays


If the drinks at your holiday party start to remind you of Aunt Edna’s favorite Christmas sweater—out of date and all too predictable—you know it’s time for a beverage makeover.
We asked bartender Chris Dooley of Ella Dining Room & Bar to suggest some anything-but-ordinary signature cocktails that have a modern sensibility (fresh ingredients, unexpected flavor combinations) yet still manage to evoke a sense of holiday tradition.

For a Holiday Open House

Blackberry Ginger Punch
An easy make-ahead punch that Dooley says is a nice balance of sweet, herbaceous, bitter and tart.
4 cups blackberries
2 teaspoons chopped fresh ginger
10 dashes Angostura bitters
10 basil leaves
1 cup fresh lime juice
1 cup simple syrup
4 cups vodka
1 cup gin
½ cup blackberry liqueur
5 cloves
Ginger ale
Soda water

Combine blackberries, ginger, bitters, basil, lime juice and simple syrup in a large bowl. Muddle the berries to a pulp. Add the vodka, gin and blackberry liqueur and stir to incorporate. Strain liquid through a fine mesh into another bowl, add cloves and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. When ready to serve, add punch and block ice to a punch bowl and top with ginger ale and soda water to taste. Serve in glasses garnished with whole blackberries.

For a Christmas Eve Gathering

Monk’s Toddy
This tea-based toddy is a contemporary twist on the classic version of everyone’s favorite steamy cocktail.
1 ½ ounces bourbon
½ ounce honey
¼ ounce yellow chartreuse
4 ounces freshly brewed
chamomile tea (preferably a
fresh, loose-leaf variety)
Lemon (wedge and twist)
Cinnamon stick
Fresh nutmeg
In a heat-resistant glass or mug, add bourbon, honey, yellow chartreuse and hot tea. Stir to combine. Squeeze juice from a lemon wedge into the glass and discard. Grate a small amount of cinnamon and nutmeg over the glass to taste, then drop one clove and a lemon twist in the glass.

For a New Year’s Eve Bash

Winter Solstice
(aka Meyer Wonderful)
Here’s a sparkling cocktail that is both beautiful to look at and a colorful alternative to ordinary champagne.
½ ounce vodka
¼ ounce Cointreau
1 ounce cranberry juice
½ ounce Meyer lemon juice
½ ounce vanilla simple syrup
(see below)
Prosecco or dry sparkling wine
Dash of crème de cassis
To a pint glass, add vodka, Cointreau, cranberry juice, lemon juice and vanilla syrup. Add ice and stir together to chill quickly without diluting. Strain into a champagne flute. Top with Prosecco or a dry sparkling wine. Finally, sink a dash of crème de cassis into the bottom of the glass.

For the vanilla simple syrup: In a saucepan, combine one cup each of sugar and water, bring to a boil and let simmer until the sugar is dissolved, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add a vanilla bean. Discard bean after 10 minutes. Cool syrup completely before using.


Tyler and Christina (3)