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Spirits: Making Merry – Handcrafted Holiday Cocktails

Luxury Living Tampa Bay

Want to know why Rudolph’s nose was really red? Too many holiday cocktails! From frozen hot chocolate to brandy-infused candy cane eggnog, cranberry orange cinnamon margaritas to cranberry/rosemary simple syrup Cosmos, the sips of the season are merry and bright.

Incorporate seasonal flavors (ginger, cranberry, peppermint, orange spice, cardamom, cinnamon) into your holiday cocktail menu. After all, who can resist a white chocolate peppermint latte with rum? Certainly not Santa, who already has a cookie issue!

We’ve asked some of our best mixologists and spirit mongers to share their favorite seasonal sips.

Datz Restaurant Group: Suzanne and Roger Perry always have something festive in their shaker, and this Sugar Plum cocktail dancing in their heads is as light and whimsical as their restaurant dishes and drinks. (Datz, Roux, Dough, Dr. BBQ).

Sugar Plum Fairy: 1.5 oz Damrak Gin, 1⁄2 oz. Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur, 3 dashes of Fee Brothers Plum Bitters, sugar, lemon and shake. Add 2 black cherries, a mint sprig and dust with powdered sugar like snowflakes.

Edison food+drink lab: Enjoy their savory Royal Tannenbaum, made with The Botanist gin, lemon juice, Boomsma Cloosterbitter, Fernet-Branca, simple syrup, egg white, and Bittermens ‘Boston Bittahs’.

Fleming Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar: Known for their gourmet fare and boutique wines, Fleming’s celebratory cocktails include a French 75 (Plymouth gin, citrusy Mas Fi cava) and a French Twist Lemonade (Svedka vodka, St. Germain Elderflower liqueur, fresh-squeezed lemonade).

The Mill: Introducing gourmet gluten-free plus other culinary delights, the robust cocktail menu features a classic Sazerac perfect for the season, made with The Mill Single Barrel Whistle Pig 10 year Rye, De Luze VSOP Cognac, Proprietary Bitters Blend, Demerara Sugar Cube and Absinthe Rinse.

Nueva Cantina: Louie Spetrini and his merry margarita elves in downtown St. Pete know a thing or two about Festivus, hence their Cranberry Margarita. In a shaker add crushed ice, 1 1⁄2 ounces of tequila, 1/2 ounce of Grand Marnier, 2 ounces of cranberry puree and shake to mix. Pour drink into a sugar rimmed margarita glass.

Ocean Prime: Handcrafted cocktails, shaken, stirred and superb, from the den for men rosemary-infused Manhattan (Woodford Reserve, Carpano Antica Vermouth, Nonino Amaro, Rosemary Grapefruit, Peppercorn Bitters) to the “Auld Lang Syne” signature Berries & Bubbles (Belvedere Citrus Vodka, Marinated Blackberries, House Made Sour, Domaine Chandon Brut).

On Swann: Like the color of Santa’s coat, their Florida-style red Sangria is spicy and succulent while local Old St. Pete Righteous Rum & Spice perks up a Dark N Stormy. Serve weary adults attending your Teddy Bear tea a High Noon Tea (chai and spice tea, vanilla infused rum). Nutty Brandy infused with macadamia, hazelnut and almonds is perfect for a Christmas Eve toast.

Rococo Steak: If you’ve started to grab the bull by the horns with their Turkish Rose Cocktail, then you know this steakhouse excels at cocktails. A simple Ruby Red Martini at Christmas says you’ve been naughty, not nice, made with Ketel One, St. Germain, ruby red grapefruit and basil. Other tidings of joy include:

St. Pete Swing: Mix Titos vodka with ice and shake. Strain into a martini glass and add Prosecco, mint and lemon sorbet.

Muddled Mule: Combine Tito’s Vodka and Muddled blackberries and blueberries. Add Ginger Beer, lime juice and ice, stir and serve.

Tito’s Handmade Vodka: This is my new oh so smooth favorite, a sister to the Austin-based Deep Eddy cranberry, peach, grapefruit vodkas, displacing Grey Goose from my all-time faves:

Christmas Lights Out: Mix 3 oz Tito’s, 1 1⁄2 oz bourbon whiskey, 1 dollop maple syrup, 1⁄2 tsp vanilla, top off with low fat milk; mix with ice and enjoy!

Candy Cane Martini: 2 1⁄2 oz of Tito’s , 1 drop of peppermint oil, 1⁄4 oz grenadine syrup, 1⁄4 oz simple syrup. Shake and strain into a martini glass with a crushed candy cane rim. (Put the candy cane in a bag, and break them up with a hammer until they are the consistency of margarita salt.)

Holiday Cocktail Tips

Use champagne instead of soda in your drinks.

Fresh ginger syrup spices up Moscow Mules and Dark N Stormies. Simmer 2 oz. peeled, sliced ginger with a cup each of water and sugar for 30 minutes.

Add a yummy sherry or port to a martini or classic Manhattan for a smooth, honey finish.

Seasonal garnishes make merry, from red and white peppermint drops in the glass to candy cane sipper straws.

Warm up a cool night with mulled red wine with muscovado sugar, fennel seed and cinnamon spice.

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