Drinks made with local ingredients liven up the holidays.
Nothing is better at the holidays than welcoming friends and family into your home for a well-cooked meal, laughs, and sharing stories.
Generally, the holidays are a time to pull out all the stops and there isn’t a better way to impress your guests (and really get that festive spirit going!) than to try your hand at creating a festive new cocktail or two.
When you gather around your holiday table this year, whether it be a table set for two or twenty, I hope these cocktails help you share with friends and family the local flavors of Massachusetts (and appreciate the talented farmers, distillers, brewers, and winemakers that make it all possible) as you say cheers to a happy and healthy new year!
Cranberry sauce always has a spot on my holiday table, but this favorite condiment shouldn’t be relegated to a once-a-year appearance. That’s why I like to use it in this fun spin on a Bellini for a drink that looks as festive as it tastes.
- ⅓ cup local cranberry sauce (smooth or whole berry can be used)
- 3-4 tablespoons pulp-free orange juice
- Brut sparkling wine (such as Westport Rivers Vineyard & Winery)
- Fresh cranberries for garnish
Whisk together cranberry sauce and orange juice until smooth and thick, but pourable. Evenly divide the mixture between four champagne flutes (about 1 ½ tablespoons per glass). Top with sparkling wine and garnish with fresh cranberries.
Beer cocktails are starting to make quite a name for themselves, and while nothing beats a well-poured beer all on its own, sometimes it’s fun to change it up a bit. This cocktail is reminiscent of a Dark and Stormy, just replacing the rum with beer! Zippy and warm, it’s sure to please even the beer purist in your house.
- ½ cup sugar
- ¼ cup candied ginger
- Orange juice and slices
- Local American pale ale (such as Bog Iron Brewery “Drawing A Blank”, 10th District APA, or IndieFerm “Boat For Sale Pale Ale”)
- Ginger beer
Process sugar and candied ginger in a food processor until well combined; it should look like coarse sand. Dip the rim of a pint glass in orange juice and dip into sugar and ginger mixture. Fill glass ¾ up with beer, then top with ginger beer. Garnish with an orange slice.
Pomegranates are a delightful winter fruit, and I love to use them. Whole, they make a beautiful addition to holiday table centerpieces, and their jewel-like arils (seeds) make for a bright pop of flavor and color sprinkled over salad or yogurt. Use the juice to make this version of a mojito that may just make you forget it’s the middle of winter.
- 6 mint leaves
- 2 ounces white rum (such as Dirty Water Distillery WhatKnot White Rum)
- 2 tablespoons pomegranate juice
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Soda water
- Fresh pomegranate seeds and mint sprigs to garnish
Muddle mint leaves and sugar in a highball glass. Stir in ice, rum, pomegranate and lime juices. Top with soda water and garnish with pomegranate seeds and mint sprig.
Blood Orange and Thyme Martini
Blood oranges are another winter treat (they’re best late September through February) and their elegant, deep red color lends itself perfectly to holiday cocktails. The slightly bitter flavor of the blood orange and addition of fresh thyme makes for a sophisticated twist on a classic martini. If you’re a vodka martini fan you can substitute your favorite plain vodka for the gin.
- 4 ounces gin (such as Bradford Distillery)
- 2 ounces blood orange juice
- ½ ounce Cointreau Blood Orange (regular Cointreau or Triple Sec can be used for a lighter orange flavor)
- ½ teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- Blood orange twists
Rub thyme leaves in your hands to release oils and add to cocktail shaker. Shake gin, blood orange juice, and Cointreau over ice with the thyme. Strain into glasses and garnish with blood orange twists.
Bourbon Apple Switchel
While there is some debate on where switchel originated (many think it made its way north from the West Indies), Vermont definitely latched on to the drink as it was popular with farmers working long days in Colonial America. Made from mixing water, apple cider vinegar, and maple syrup for sweetness, switchel touts many of the same benefits as kombucha, and as such, is rising in popularity once again. Try this switchel-inspired cocktail that swaps the classic vinegar for apple cider and whiskey; what could be wrong with that?
- ½ cup apple cider
- 3 ounces single malt whiskey (such as Bachelor Single Malt Whiskey, Dirty Water Distillery)
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoons real maple syrup
- Ginger beer
- Apple slices
Shake apple cider, whiskey, lemon juice and maple syrup with ice. Serve on the rocks in a highball glass or strained in a coupe martini glass. Top with ginger beer and garnish with an apple slice.
Special thanks to The Quarry Restaurant in Hingham for their generous hospitality during our photo shoot.
Katie Callahan is a chef and writer. She looks forward to holiday entertaining all year and loves planning big family dinners, making homemade food gifts and cooking her mom’s favorite sour cream coffee cake for Christmas morning.