A few years ago, my family started an annual cocktail competition during the holidays. Each of us finds or creates our own cocktail, which we keep secret until the unveiling on the night of the competition.We each vote by ranking the cocktails based on taste, creativity, and name to pick the winner and reigning champ for the year. Here are the cocktails from last year’s competition:My mom’s “Siren” took home 1st place! She had a whole story ready to introduce her drink: “In Greek Mythology, Sirens were beautiful but dangerous creatures who lured sailors with their lovely voices to their doom on the craggy rocks of the island shores. Sipping the ‘Siren’ is like listening to a beautiful song, fresh and lovely, and as the flavors change ever so slightly with each sip, be careful not to be lured to your doom!”The Siren is a champagne cocktail with different flavored ice cubes, so that while you sip, the melting ice slightly changes the taste of the drink (inspired by this recipe).“Pie of My Eye”: We were all a bit skeptical when we saw Smirnoff vanilla vodka on the bar, but this ended up being very good! Turns out, vanilla vodka mixes well with Fireball, apple juice and a dash of cinnamon sugar for a deliciously warm seasonal drink.“Edmonton Eskimo Warmer”: a stiff dark rum cocktail mixed with homemade pecan simple syrup, a touch of lemon juice, and a blow-torched cinnamon stick. The pecan simple syrup was as delicious as it sounds!“Baconator”: Homemade bacon-infused bourbon mixed with a hint of maple syrup and a few dashes of orange bitters. It was strong and smokey!“Great Annihilater”: This was easily the strongest cocktail, simply a mix of brandy and two different vermouths. Aptly named according to the mixologist “because this one slips down with such smoothly good intentions that it leaves you utterly obtundated…gently pressing you deeper into the cashmere sofa while also slipping on your silk pajamas.”My “White Christmas Russian” sadly did not bring me the win, BUT it was requested by everyone after our Christmas Eve dinner. No one could deny that it is festive and delicious!! Unfortunately, the competition last year was very stiff…I made a traditional White Russian and added cinnamon simple syrup for a seasonal twist.
White Christmas Russian
- 2 oz vodka
- 1 oz Kahlua
- 1 oz Half & Half (or full-fat canned coconut milk for dairy free)
- 1.5 Tablespoons cinnamon simple syrup*
Pour everything into a cocktail shaker with ice and shake. Strain into a glass with a large ice cube. (For presentation points, I rimmed the glasses partly with cinnamon sugar.)
*To make the cinnamon simple syrup: Mix 1 cup sugar with 1 cup water in a pan, add 2 cinnamon sticks, and heat until a boil. Reduce the heat and continue to simmer for about 15 minutes. Pour into a glass jar for storing. Make this ahead of time so that it has time to cool (in the fridge/freezer if necessary).
For a description of how we judge the competition or other cocktail ideas, read about our 2014 Cocktail Competition.