Holiday cheers: Drink up

The holidays are a green light for a near-constant cocktail hour. Five ­bartenders share simple drink recipes to ring in Festivus.

Agave Brose from Nick Kennedy at Civil Liberties

Co-owner Nick Kennedy fixes batches of an extra-smoky take on the Athol Brose, a traditional Scottish drink that combines oatmeal, honey, cream and (usually) whisky. Save this one for after the feast, maybe in lieu of dessert – it’s a wholesome rib-sticker. 

8 oz mezcal, like Del Maguey Vida

8 oz brose (recipe below)

6 oz heavy cream

1 oz agave syrup

Dry shake ingredients before shaking again with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with grated cinnamon if you please. 


Bake 1 cup steel-cut oats at 350ºC for 20 minutes, stirring halfway through. Combine with 1 cup untoasted steel-cut oats and grind the entire mixture to medium-coarse. Mix with 4 cups water and refrigerate overnight.


Catalan Cobbler

This simple, refreshing recipe from -Oliver Stern (former bar manager of Toronto Temperance Society and soon to be heading up Anthony Rose’s anticipated cocktail joint, Bar Begonia on Dupont) can be mixed beforehand in a punch bowl and served individually over crushed ice as guests arrive. Stern’s winning cocktail from the -Bacardi Legacy Canadian regional finals is a riff on the sherry cobbler, one of the oldest known cocktails, and is inspired by the Catalan region, the birthplace of Bacardi founder Facundo Bacardí Massó. 

1 oz Bacardi Superior 

1 oz BG Reynold’s Don’s Mix

1 oz dry cider (Stern uses Basque cider, but any dry cider will do)

Combine ingredients over crushed ice and stir, adding more crushed ice on top as needed. Garnish with an apple fan and grated cinnamon. 


Deceit and Lies from Charlie Lamont, at DaiLo/LoPan 

Embrace the name: not every festive drink needs to be jolly. Silky, smoky and a wee bit bitter, this nutty version of a classic flip is the perfect digestif to spark a good holiday mope. 

1¾ oz Black Bottle Blended Scotch

¾ oz Cynar

1 oz cashew orgeat (regular orgeat will do – try B.G. Reynolds, available at BYOB, 972 Queen West, 647-727-3600)

1 egg

Combine ingredients, including whole egg, in a shaker and shake to emulsify. Add ice and shake again. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with black sesame seeds.


Hot buttered rum from Alana Nogueda, Shameful Tiki Room

Rum nuts will find a variety of tropical classics at the brand new bar in Parkdale. This simple recipe, resurrected by Nogueda, is a Trader Vic’s original. 

1 oz dark Jamaica rum,

like Myer’s or Appleton Estate

1 oz creme de cacao

4 oz hot water

1 pat butter

Muddle butter to dissolve and serve steamy in a pre-warmed tiki glass. Add spices like cinnamon, allspice, mace and cloves to taste.


Sage Advice from Holly Caverly, at Momofuku Nikai and Daisho

Bar manager Caverly mixes a festive sparkling drink that makes a lovely self-serve aperitif when prepped in a punch bowl or pitcher. (The less work you’re forced to do over the holidays, the better.) Between the floral savoury sage and the tart cranberry, it’s not too sweet, and the bubbles prime the palate for an evening of unchecked celebratory gluttony.

1 oz chilled vodka like Absolut (vodka should live in the freezer, always)

1½ oz cranberry sage simple syrup

4 oz dry sparkling wine

Build in a flute and garnish with a sage sprig. 

Cranberry Sage Syrup

1 cup cranberries

2 tbsp dried sage 

2 cups water 

Combine ingredients and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes, add 2 cups sugar and stir until it dissolves. Remove from heat and let cool. Strain before using. Keep refrigerated for up to a week.

Leave your opinion for the editor...We read everything!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • This Week’s Issue