family time is cocktail time

It’s almost time, friends. Time for the family to descend en masse, time for turkey and pie and stuffing and…well, sky-high piles of dirty dishes. But I digress.

What do we most need to get us through this four-day family extravaganza? Well, a spirit of thankfulness wouldn’t hurt. Even a cynic like me would do well to remember occasionally that I’m much better off than millions of other people. I have a roof, a full fridge, a fuller closet, and people who love me. That’s quite a lot, really.

What else do we need? Cocktails. Because I don’t know about you, but my family is generally much more pleasant to be around after we’ve all had a nip or two.

New Deal Distillery here in Portland recently introduced me to their new Ginger Liqueur, and I cannot get enough. It’s warm and strong and has that ginger bite with just the tiniest touch of sweetness. It’s amazing, and exactly – exactly – what you need for the holidays. Get a bottle immediately. (If you’re not in Portland, I’m sad for you…but starting in January, you can order online! For now, you do have other options.)

As soon as I tried it, I knew cocktails were in order. Evan, one of the masterminds at New Deal, offered up his signature hot toddy recipe, which sounds pretty amazing. But I couldn’t resist trying my own spin. So, I headed to the bar. Specifically, the bar at Three Degrees, the restaurant inside the RiverPlace Hotel (if you’re in Portland, it’s a must for the view and the killer cocktails), where their stellar bartender (hi, Angel!) and I spent some time concocting what I think is the perfect holiday champagne cocktail. It’s a dirty job, friends.

Now, it’s up to you. The champagne cocktail would make an excellent pre-dinner drink, but the hot toddy would go swimmingly with pumpkin pie (ooh, and you could even put some more Ginger Liqueur into the whipped cream for the pie! Full of ideas, I am.). So hey, have one of each (both are a snap to mix in advance), see which you love best, and report back. Not that I’m keeping score or anything…

Evan’s Hot Toddy: Mix 1 part New Deal Ginger Liqueur with 3 parts Santa Cruz Organics Apple Cider, and spice with cloves and cinnamon sticks to taste. Warm and serve in a brandy glass or a mug, garnishing with a cinnamon stick when serving.

SMC’s Ginger in a Pear Tree: Shake 1.5 oz Absolut Pear, .5 oz New Deal Ginger Liqueur, .25 oz lime juice, 1.5 oz pear nectar and a few grates of fresh ginger over ice, strain into a champagne flute, top with 1.5 oz sparkling wine (Cava would be great) and garnish with a few fresh cranberries (which will float and look quite pretty in your glass). {Note: Skip the fresh ginger if you mix this up in advance – my expert tells me it’ll get funny. And not haha funny. Strange funny.} 

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