My family is always up for a little friendly competition, which not surprisingly, has crossed over into our cocktails. The last 4 years, we’ve held an annual cocktail competition around the holidays to see who can come up with the best recipe. I’m sad to say that last year, I took 2nd place for a third time! And each of those times, I’ve lost to my brother! The first year, he beat my cranberry margarita with his basil gimlet:
The second year, everyone joined the competition. My dad still doesn’t understand how his Bloody Mary with a bacon cheeseburger on top didn’t win?! He offered a drink AND a meal – sorry dad!
Two years ago, my mom jumped from last to first place with her champagne cocktail, The Siren, and an epic Greek Mythology story to tell the “tale” of her drink.
Last year, my brother took home his third win with this Espresso Martini:
Espresso Martini: He made a homemade espresso simple syrup, to shake up with vodka and Kahlua. It was delicious!
Pisco Sour: This was the first egg white cocktail to ever enter the competition. Most of us were a little skeptical, but it ended up tasting really refreshing with Pisco, fresh lime, simple syrup and bitters!
Apple Cider Bourbon: We are a bourbon loving family, so this was right up our alley – bourbon mixed with an apple cider syrup and fresh lemon juice.
Mid Winter Margarita: I ALWAYS love a fresh margarita and this was a delicious twist! A basic margarita (tequila, Cointreau, and fresh lime juice) mixed with the addition of fresh grapefruit juice…and a chili salt rim – yum!
Fairy Tale of New York: This was my stab at winning over the judges with a winter-y old fashioned. If you love bourbon, THIS is your holiday cocktail! It’s an original old fashioned, spiced up with a winter warmth syrup made from all the best seasonal flavors – pear, walnuts, cinnamon, nutmeg…It doesn’t get cozier or stronger than this! It’s very quick to make, once you’ve made the syrup ahead of time. (The recipe comes from a restaurant in Toronto my mom and I loved, The Harbord Room.)
Ingredients for 1 drink:
- 2 oz bourbon
- 2 tsp winter warmth syrup* (or more for a sweater drink)
- 6 dashes walnut bitters (you could use orange bitters if that’s what you have)
- orange peel
Pour bourbon, winter warmth syrup, and bitters into a cocktail glass with a large ice cube and stir. Twist orange peel over glass and drop in.
*To make the winter warmth syrup: Mix all of the below ingredients in a pan over medium heat and bring to a simmer, stirring until sugar disolves. Reduce the heat and continue to simmer for about 15-2o minutes. Pour into a glass jar for storing, straining out all of the extra stuff. Make this ahead of time so that it has time to cool (in the fridge/freezer if necessary).
- 1.5 cups water
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 apple, peeled & diced
- 1/2 pear, peeled & diced
- 12 walnut halves
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 6 whole cloves
- 1 whole nutmeg
Thinking your own friends and family might love to do this?! Maybe it’s time to host your own cocktail competition! Here’s how we’ve settled on voting:
- Each person votes using their own scorecard and ranks each drink 1-6 (if 6 drinks are entered). 6 is for the drink you like the most, 5 is for second place, etc. (You can vote for your own drink…)
- All points are summed up and the cocktail with the most points wins!