Festive Cocktails


Tips for mixing the best holiday cocktails in your restaurant.

“I’ll have what she’s having” is a phrase that will always be linked with the 1989 movie “When Harry Met Sally.” But if a restaurant can induce a similar request—to have what she’s having—it’s doing something right.

An easy way to do this is with festive cocktails, whose eye appeal is often a big selling point and can lead to copycat orders as they’re paraded across a dining room.

The proverbial cherry on top can be a strawberry, a cranberry, orange rind, cinnamon, whipped cream or a drizzle of honey or chocolate.

For the holidays, bd’s Mongolian Grill, a 34-unit chain that’s headquartered in Burnsville, Minnesota, serves a cider cocktail in a glass containing Captain Morgan Spiced Rum and cider, topped with whipped cream and sprinkled with cinnamon and sometimes adorned with a cinnamon stick.

It also offers a coffee cocktail, The Jolly Java, which is topped with whipped cream, sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar then garnished with an orange twist.

“A good presentation is one of the simplest ways of selling drinks,” says Rachel Kasbrick, corporate mixologist/bartender for bd’s. “People these days have a shorter attention span, so creating visually appealing drinks is the easiest and quickest way to catch their attention.”

Wow with looks

“Presentation is key,” says JP Nguyen, beverage director at Xino, a Chinese restaurant in Santa Monica, California. “You want a cocktail to be balanced, but after that you’ve got to have something that looks good. We want to give the wow factor.”

Xino features a number of cocktails for the holidays, and Nguyen says he likes to follow what the kitchen’s doing, so he collaborates a lot with the chef.

For the holidays, he includes a lot of darker spirits such as bourbons and whiskies and spices them with flavors like cinnamon, pumpkin, pear and honey—“anything that reminds me of winter,” he says.

Pear nectar, apple, pomegranate, pumpkin, allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon and rosemary are all flavors that summon the holiday spirit, says Elayne Duke, master mixologist for beverage company Diageo, whose U.S. business is based in Norwalk, Connecticut.

An ideal holiday beverage is apple cider, she says, and it can be served on the rocks or hot, garnished with a cinnamon stick. She makes it with bourbon, apple cider, some lemon juice to balance it out, maple syrup and a couple of dashes of Old Fashioned Aromatic Bitters, which add a cinnamon flavor.




Add new comment