25 Cocktails for 25 Days of Christmas

Guests fill up Bibiana's 12-seat bar and 24-seat lounge each yaer to try beverage director Michael King's 25 cocktail creations.
Guests fill up Bibiana's 12-seat bar and 24-seat lounge each yaer to try beverage director Michael King's 25 cocktail creations. Greg Powers

Thanksgiving has passed and the Christmas countdown has begun, and with it comes the annual list of 25 cocktails from Italian hot spot Bibiana in Washington, D.C.

Now in its fourth year, the 25 cocktails list, which beverage director Michael King began conceptualizing at the end of July, unveils a new alcoholic drink each day this month. Some, like the Christmas Cookie (espresso, Prosecco Grappa, lemon air), are clearly full of holiday cheer; others, like the Sazerac and Aged Negroni, are more classic sippers.

On Dec. 1, only the first cocktail on the list is available; on Dec. 2, both the first and second cocktails are available; and so on, all the way through Christmas. The strategy, King says, encourages guests to return to Bibiana multiple times during the holiday season.

"We have some people that will come in five, six, eight times during the run-up to Christmas just to try what's next and what's new, what they may not have tried yet," he explains. "It's fun and exciting to come up with the list, try new things, and to get our guests' feedback and see which ones they enjoy the most."

From year to year, classics such as the Vin Brulé, Hot Buttered Rum, and Hot Chocolate (made spicy this year) will make repeat appearances on the list. But generally, King says he tries to make the offerings new each year. As he plans the list, he takes into account the produce that will be in-season in late November and December.

"If we want to use an ingredient like figs or blood oranges where there's a one day- or two day-window when we don't have it, we put those cocktails toward the end [of the list], so we know those ingredients are available," King says.

Bibiana has a 12-seat bar and 24-seat lounge, and the cocktails pair nicely with the food, King says, because they work alone, as starters, or even as desserts. "Hot chocolate would be great with dessert, but it's not going to go with any of the food items. So, you come in, you're cold, you have a hot chocolate, and then maybe we'll get to wine or another cocktail. Or, have it with dessert—or as dessert."

At the conclusion of the 25 days, Bibiana picks the 10 cocktails that guests enjoyed most and carries them over to the winter cocktail list, extending the magic.

King's personal favorite is the Classic Eggnog with a Twist, which he says is unlike most eggnog out there. "We actually take each ingredient and prepare it separately," he explains. "For example, we'll beat the egg whites, we'll beat the cream, and we'll fold it together. It makes it really light, more like an eggnog foam than eggnog, so it's not thick and heavy. I like that because it can change peoples' mind about what eggnog is."

The libations are priced at $12 each.

The complete list: 

  1. Vin Brulé: Mulled Wine, Spices Served Warm
  2. Spicy Hot Chocolate with Brandy, and House Made Cardamom marshmallow
  3. Sbagliato: Campari, Cochi Vermouth, Prosecco
  4. Christmas Cookie: Espresso, Prosecco Grappa, Lemon Air
  5. Hazelnut Old Fashion: Hazelnut infused Filibuster Bourbon, Orange, Cherry
  6. Hot & Cold Gin Fizz: Lemon, Gin, Hot Gin Foam
  7. Sazerac: Rye, Bitters, Absinthe
  8. Carino: Boyd and Blair, Quince & Pear Jam, Lemon, Honey
  9. Affogato Martini: Boyd and Blair, Kahula, Espresso, Gelato
  10.  Italian 75: Blood Orange, Prosecco, Gin
  11.  Classic Eggnog with a Twist: Pedro Ximenez, Benedictine, Buffalo Trace
  12.  Amari Cup: Cucumber, Averna, Fernet Branca, Lemon, Lime, Gassoza
  13.  Sanguinella: Bourbon, Lemon, Pumpkin-Cinnamon Syrup
  14.  Hot Buttered Rum: Rum, Butter, Brown Sugar, Cinnamon
  15.  Speciale: Ginger Infused Vodka, Grapefruit, Cherry Bitter, Rosemary Tincture
  16.  Fichi: Maker’s Mark, Pureed Figs, Maple Syrup, Vanilla Sugar
  17.  Passione: Vodka, Aperol, Grilled Pineapple Juice, Passion Fruit, Lime
  18.  Francesca: Hayman’s Old Tom Gin, Creme de Violette, Luxardo Maraschino, Lemon
  19.  Bassano: Buffalo Trace, Amaro Bassano, Orange
  20.  Forte: Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Orange, Ginger, Maple, Lemon
  21.  Belladonna: Bourbon, Apple Cider, Cranberry
  22.  Aged Negroni: Barrel Aged for 12 months
  23.  Variopinto: Prosecco Grappa, Orange, Honey, Fig, Ginger, Rosemary Tincture
  24.  Acero Sprezzatura: Buffalo Trace, Maple Syrup, Nonino Amaro, Orange
  25.  Vespa: Ketel One, Bombay Sapphire, Cochi Americano, Tangello Bitter, Ginger

By Sonya Chudgar

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