A Perfect Christmas Cocktail

From Thanksgiving stuffing to Christmas Cocktails, ’tis the season! I have a number of blog posts lined up but have been so busy I cannot find time to finish any of them. Sounds like a good New Years Resolution… “Finish Blog Posts!” Of course the effect any resolution has on me is less than nil. We will see what happens in January.

In the meantime, here is a cocktail for your holiday celebrating that is just about perfect. My twist on the great Gramercy Tavern‘s Cranberry Daiquiri.

Cranberry Daiquiri
Cranberry Daiquiri


Understand, I am not a fan of sweet drinks. The fact I love this cocktail and will happily drink it in lieu of a martini says a lot about how wonderful it tastes.

The daiquiri takes a little prep, both getting the right rum and making Cranberry Syrup. Make a big batch of the syrup, however, and you are ready anytime between now and Epiphany to make the cocktail.

People go crazy over this, trust me.

Since we are talking cocktails, I’ve also included another drink I will humbly admit I have become famous for, my version of a classic Manhattan. So invite some people over, make some goat cheese spread (A Near Perfect Food, my first post) and have a blessed Christmas season. Gourmet magazine’s Baked Cheddar Olives are another sublime appetizer to serve.

For two amazing cocktail recipes, click here —> 


It’s very easy:

1 oz Cranberry Syrup (see below)

1 oz fresh squeezed lime juice

2 oz Gosling’s Black Rum

Place all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Stir until icy cold, then pour into a chilled martini glass. Serve with a slice of lime or orange or for a pretty garnish you can throw a fresh cranberry or two into the drink.

NOTES: You must get Gosling’s Black Rum, it makes all the difference in the world. If you have a few people over, make a big batch: 1 part syrup, 1 part lime juice, 2 parts Gosling’s, however much you need. I like to make a batch in the afternoon and chill it in the fridge. Then it’s ready to pour into the shaker when people arrive.


First, make simple syrup: In a saucepan combine 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water. Boil until the sugar dissolves. This doubles or triples easily and keeps in the fridge forever.

For the Cranberry Syrup: add to 1 cup of simple syrup the peel of an orange and 1 large cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil. Add a 12 oz bag of fresh cranberries and reduce to a simmer.

Simmer, stirring occasionally, until most of the cranberries have popped. Remove from heat, cover and let sit for at least 30 minutes. Strain into a bowl, gently pressing onto the berries for more juice, but be careful! If you press hard, you will end up with jelly, not syrup!

Cool, then put into a container and place in the fridge. It will keep at least a month.

My jug of Cranberry Syrup for the holidays
My jug of Cranberry Syrup for the holidays



I can’t take full credit for this as an amazing bartender named Seth taught me how to make the best Manhattan ever. A classic Manhattan is one of the best drinks imaginable but it can be too sweet, particularly with the typical Maraschino Cherries added. Maraschino Cherries are, in a word, gross. And make any drink sickly sweet.

Below is my version of Seth’s version, using a lemon twist instead of a cherry. This gives the drink a slightly tart difference from the norm that is divine. Give it a try, even if you love a Manhattan with cherries. This will blow you away.

Best Manhattan Ever


Manhattans are easy. 1 part Sweet Vermouth to 2 parts bourbon. That’s basically it, with a couple of twists. You want a good sweet vermouth, Dolin or Nolly Prat. (Martini & Rossi is a decent dry vermouth for a martini but their sweet vermouth is not as good.) You also want a good bourbon. You don’t want a very expensive bourbon, though. Those are for sipping. For this cocktail I like Bulleit, but Maker’s Mark also makes a wonderful Manhattan.

To make the drink:

Add 1 part Sweet Vermouth and 2 Parts Bourbon to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Let it sit for 30 seconds. While it sits, throw a few shakes of Angostura Bitters into a chilled martini glass. Take a lemon twist and swirl it around in the bitters, leaving the twist in the glass. Stir the cocktail shaker to make sure the liquid is ice cold. Pour into the glass and serve. Perfection.

NOTE: You can also make a batch of these before a party, mixing the bourbon and sweet vermouth, then keep it in the fridge, ready to pour.

Do you have cocktail traditions for the holidays? Let us know. And, as always, if you try one of these, I would love to hear what you think!


4 thoughts on “A Perfect Christmas Cocktail

  1. Ever since you introduced me to lemon in my Manhattan, I have been blessed! Recently, I ran across some new bitters which have thrown Agnostura Bitters out of my refrigerator. Perhaps you will find some at your doorstep before the New Year! 🙂

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