A couple of weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to be a judge in the American Harvest Bartenders' Challenge at City Roots urban farm in Columbia, S.C.
It was great fun for me and the other judges (Anne Postic, Jonathan Sharpe and Jason Johnson) to be able to sample some creations from Columbia area bartenders featuring American Harvest vodka. After some serious deliberation, the winner of that contest (taking first and second place in the judges' category) was Kristian Niemi of Bourbon and Rosso. Niemi's Hayride (a mixture of pecan-infused American Harvest, Strohe Jagertee, and a syrup of Lazy Magnolia Jefferson Stout, maple syrup and orange bitters) took first place and his Adrian Balbos (rosemary-infused American Harvest, cherry liqueur, cherry preserves and Fizz 66) placed second. Joshua Streetman of Motor Supply won the people's choice vote with his Harvest Aviation: American Harvest, Shady Grove Farms lemons and homemade maraschino cherries.
Anyway, after the imbibing was done, I asked bartenders Olando Patterson, manager of Goatfeathers, and Lauren Tebeau, bar manager and event coordinator at The Oak Table if they would like to share their recipes for some holiday cocktails. Here are their offerings for the season:
4 to 5 ounces eggnog
11/2 to 2 ounces Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey
Steam the eggnog, rim a standard Irish Coffee glass with a mix of cinnamon and sugar. Add Fireball Whiskey to the glass and add the steamed eggnog and froth to the glass and top with whipped cream then dust with more cinnamon. Consume
Glass shape: Irish coffee glass; Garnish: Whipped cream & Cinnamon powder
What's your inspiration for this drink? Jeff Helsley (Owner of Goatfeathers)
This drink would pair great with ... Good or Bad, Santa always get cookies
YOU'RE NERDY HOT
4 to 5 ounces Hot Chocolate
1 ounce UV Whipped Cream Flavored Vodka
1/2 ounce Goldschlager
Rim a standard size Irish Coffee glass with sugar. Steam you favorite hot chocolate. Add Goldschlager and UV Whipped Cream Vodka to the glass and top with the steamed hot chocolate. Add whipped cream and dust it with cinnamon and chocolate sprinkles. Consume.
Glass shape: Irish Coffee glass; Garnish: Whipped cream, cinnamon and chocolate sprinkles
What's your inspiration for this drink? My friend Amanda Fairchild
This drink would pair great with ... Nice cold winter day in front of a nice roaring fire.
4 to 5 ounces Eggnog
1 ounce Meukow Vanilla Cognac
1/2 ounce Belle de Brilliet Pear Cognac
Rim a standard Irish Coffee glass with sugar. Steam the eggnog. Add Meukow Vanilla cognac and Belle de Brilliet Pear Cognac to the glass and top with the steamed eggnog. Top with whipped cream and garnish with orange zest and fresh nutmeg. Consume.
Glass shape: Irish Coffee glass; Any special tools: Zester; Garnish: Whipped cream, orange zest, and nutmeg.
What's your inspiration for this drink? Is it possible to make eggnog even better than it is?
This drink would pair great with ... This drink is total decadence. Probably best with caviar on toast points.
THE HONEYED CRANBERRY TART
Fresh orange wedge
1/4 ounce Bee Trail Farms honey
11/2 ounces Prichard's cranberry rum
1/2 ounce ginger-infused vodka (see NOTE)
1/2 ounce apple cider
Muddle one orange wedge with the Bee Trail Farms honey (from Lexington) and a pinch of cinnamon and sugar. Add Prichard's cranberry rum, ginger vodka and apple cider and shake. Pour over fresh ice into a rocks glass and garnish with frozen cranberries and an orange twist.
Glass shape: Rocks glass (wide mouth tumbler); Any special tools: Spoon for muddling; Garnish: Cranberries, orange twist
Inspiration: The first time I tasted Prichard's Cranberry Rum I immediately thought of autumn and the holidays. As we became more adventurous with our cocktail list, we had more ingredients to play with which led to the creation of this cocktail.
NOTE: How to infuse vodka: Finely grate 1 teaspoon of fresh ginger and add to one 750 milliliter bottle of unflavored vodka. Allow to infuse at least overnight.
Also, from Chef Adam Cooke, of Blackberry Farms, has been working on the menu at Restaurant 17 at the new Hotel Domestique in Travelers Rest. (The hotel is the latest venture for cyclist and Tour de France veteran Greg Hincapie and the restaurant's name is a tribute to Hincapie's seventeen Tour rides.)
One of their drinks on the holiday menu, The Turkey Dickel, captures the taste of the season.
THE TURKEY DICKEL
1 ounce George Dickel No 12 (white label)
1 splash Tim Burton's Maple Syrup
3 dashes bitters
2 ounces hard cider
Combine all ingredients, except hard cider, and shake with ice cubes. Fine-strain into a chilled flute, top with hard cider and (optional) garnish.
Glass: flute; Tools: shaker, strainer; Garnish: orange twist and candied cranberry