The year 2020 has been an unpleasant year. The holidays will be spent with the threat of Covid 19 hanging over any small gatherings and smart people are staying within their social bubbles. That will mean smaller, spatially distanced, social gatherings and less use of the punch bowl and more use of the cocktail shaker. I thought it would be a good idea to look at some cocktails that are festive in nature and immediately thought of Joy Perrine’s and Susan Reigler’s book Kentucky Bourbon Cocktails. They break down the recipes by season and they provide several recipes for the holiday celebrations. Here are the ones I thought would be of interest for this holiday season:

Hot Buttered Bourbon: 5 ounces hot water, 2 ounces spice-infused Bourbon*, ¾ ounce brown sugar syrup, 1 ounce butter at room temperature (No butter substitutes). Into a heat proof mug, pour hot water, Bourbon and syrup. Stir well. Add the butter and stir rapidly to mix the butter into the liquid.

Christmas Punch: 1 ounce spice-infused Bourbon*, 1 teaspoon brown sugar syrup, Squeeze of lemon juice, 1 ounce fresh orange juice, 1 ounce cranberry juice, 1 ounce sparkling wine. Combine all ingredients except sparkling wine over ice, and shake. Strain into a champagne flute and top with wine. Drop fresh cranberries in the drink to garnish.

Poinsettia: 1 part Kentucky Bourbon (80-90 proof), 1 part DeKuyper pomegranate liqueur, 1 part brown sugar syrup. Shake over ice and strain into a chilled Martini glass. Darnish with a lemon wedge dropped into the drink. 

Perrine and Reigler wrote a second volume titled More Kentucky Bourbon Cocktails a few years later. This volume, unfortunately, does not break the cocktails up into seasons like the first volume, but there are a couple of cocktails that are perfect for the holiday season. The first is a cocktail that was developed for Heaven Hill and the Old Fitzgerald brand. It is the “Ginger Snap”.

Ginger Snap: 2 ounces Old Fitzgerald Prime, ¾ 0unce brown sugar syrup, ½ ounce Kilimanjaro Foods ginger syrup, 1 ounce fresh lemon juice. Shake over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Add a splash of ginger ale. Garnish with a lemon wedge.

The next is simply called “Holiday Cocktail”:

Holiday Cocktail: 2 ounces Kentucky Bourbon, ½ ounce brown sugar syrup, 3 dashes Fee Brothers West Indian orange bitters, 3 dashes Fee Brothers cranberry bitters, 1 ounce Grand Marnier, 2 ounces Kentucky cranberry wine. Combine and shake over ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with an orange wedge on the rim.

*Here is the recipe for Joy’s spice-infused Bourbon: Combine equal parts of the following in covered container and mix well. Ground allspice, ground cloves, ground mace, ground nutmeg, ground ginger, ground cinnamon. Pour bourbon into a glass jar and add 2 tablespoons of the spice mix. Shake and let steep for three days. Strain into the empty Bourbon bottle. Label, date, and refrigerate.

I hope these recipes will bring some added joy to this year’s holiday season. God knows we need it. Individual cocktails made for the special friends and family in your social bubble can be just what is needed to make this year end on a better note.  

Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller