We’re major foodie fans and could spend days coming up with menus for dinner parties, but when it comes to holiday entertaining, no party is complete without a signature cocktail. In our quest to suss out just what makes the perfect festive beverage, we turned to our go-to spirits savant, Chris Weld of Berkshire Mountain Distillers.
Berkshire Mountain makes some seriously smooth, fun-to-drink spirits, all crafted by hand in small batches for maximum flavor and an easy finish. They also collaborate with craft brewers like Samuel Adams, Ommegang, and Smuttynose, to finish their bourbon in empty barrels that have previously held beer. That might sound odd, but it allows the Cask Finished Bourbon Whiskey, which has a natural vanilla and toffee flavor, to take on notes that are present in the beer, such as of port, fig, and maple. The result? A spicy-sweet spirit that works beautifully on its own or as the base of cocktails.
For Chris, the ultimate holiday cocktail should, first and foremost, not be too sweet, and should feature the best-quality ingredients you can afford. “Making a good drink is similar to making a good salad,” he explains. “Start with only the best raw, fresh ingredients, and it’s hard to mess it up.” Chris typically uses brown spirits—rum, Bourbon, and corn whiskey—as a base for winter holiday drinks (except New Year’s Eve; stay tuned for that post in a couple weeks). “I’m a huge fan of our rum in hot mulled cider. And it’s tough to beat a Manhattan with our corn whiskey, or a Bourbon nog,” he says. He mixes in toasty spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice for a flavor kick, and tops off the finished cocktail with a pinch of nutmeg, an orange slice pierced with a clove or two, or a slice of fresh apple for garnish.
Getting warmer yet? Then scroll down for a few of Chris’s original recipes, guaranteed to make your holiday party sparkle.
- 4 egg yolks
- 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 pint whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 3 ounces Berkshire Bourbon
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 4 egg whites
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg yolks until they lighten in color. Gradually add the 1/3 cup sugar and continue to beat until it’s completely dissolved. Add the milk, cream, Bourbon, and nutmeg, and stir to combine. Remove to a bowl.
2. Place the egg whites in the stand mixer and beat until soft peaks form. With the mixer running, gradually add the 1 tablespoon sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.
3. Whisk the beaten egg whites into the Bourbon mixture. Chill before serving.
For each drink:
- 2 ounces Ragged Mountain Rum
- ¾ ounce fresh lime juice
- ½ ounce fresh grapefruit juice
- ½ ounce simple syrup
- ¼ ounce Allspice Dram
- Lime wedges, for garnish
- Mint sprigs, for garnish
Build the grog in a rocks glass filled with crushed ice. Stir, and garnish with a lime wedge and mint sprig.
For each drink:
- 2 ounces Greylock Gin
- 1 ounce fresh lemon juice
- ¼ ounce maple syrup
- 2 dashes grapefruit bitters
- Orange peel twists, for garnish
1. Chill your cocktail glasses.
2. Pour the ingredients into a mixing glass, and add ice. Shake well for about 10 seconds.
3. Strain the mixture into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with orange twist.