Winter and Fall in Southern California seem to blend into one season for me because the weather is about the same. The good news is that this is the time when my lemons are in season and that tartness lends itself very nicely to a variety of cocktails. Here are a few sweater-weather cocktails to sip next to a fire pit as you enjoy some quality time with friends and family during this holiday season.
Cinnamon Apple Smash
- 0.5 oz lemon juice
- 1 oz cinnamon syrup
- 3 oz apple cider or freshly made juice
- 1.5 oz bourbon (I used Michter’s bourbon)
- 1-2 chilled apple slices for garnish
- burnt cinnamon for garnish
Instructions: Shake all ingredients in a shaker with ice and strain into glass. Add a few slices of chilled apple slices. Torch the end of a cinnamon stick until it catches on fire, extinguish flame, add to glass. Torching the cinnamon is similar to lighting incense. I usually use the flame from my gas stove but a brulee torch is nice just for show. Cinnamon syrup is also very easy to make. Throw in a few cinnamon sticks to one cup of sugar and water, allow to boil, turn off the heat, let it steep for 10 minutes, then strain. Freshly made apple juice is what will elevate this drink. I recommend at least two varieties of apples (I used Opal and Gala) to a more complex flavor.
- 0.5 oz simple syrup
- 1 oz lemon juice
- 1.5 oz rye whiskey (I used Sazerac Rye)
- 3 oz ginger beer (I used Bundaberg)
- lemon slices for garnish
Instructions: Mix simple syrup, lemon juice, and rye directly in a glass. After everything is dissolved, you have the option to add ice. Top with ginger beer and lemon slices for garnish. Stir once or twice with a spoon just before serving. I have a bit of a sweet tooth and find ginger beer not sweet enough for me but I like the strong ginger taste which is why I added a little simple syrup.
Cranberry Amaretto Punch
- 0.5 tsp cherry syrup
- 1 oz simple syrup
- 1.5 oz unsweetened cranberry juice
- 1.5 oz lemon juice
- 1.5 oz amaretto (I used Disaronno Originale)
- 3 drops of aromatic bitters (I used Berg & Hauck’s)
- Luxardo cherries for garnish
Instructions: Shake all ingredients except for bitters in a shaker with ice, strain into glass. Add bitters and cherry garnish. I haven’t tried using sweetened cranberry juice for this one, but I’d imagine you could double the juice amount to forego the simple syrup. I like to use unsweetened cranberry juice because it tastes more concentrated to me. Luxardo cherries are nice because of the darker cherry color and it is a little more special to use during the holidays.