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Happier Holidays! 

by Sheila Swerling-Puritt

I love the holiday season. From late November to January folks entertain (and are entertained) at a seriously speeded-up pace. At this time of year office parties pop up like mushrooms after a rain. And of course, we participate in lovely dinners with close friends and family.

It's important to prepare yourself for the stress of the holiday season. It's good stress, but it is stress nonetheless. My most important piece of advice is "Plan ahead!" You don't want to spend all your time behind the bar or in the kitchen because you left too much too late and didn't arrange for some help with it all. You want to enjoy yourself, and your guests want to enjoy your company. That's hard to do when you're running around putting out brush fires.

A big part of advance planning is making sure you have small delicious nibbles to soak up the alcohol your guests will consume. Have some non-alcoholic drinks and a pot of coffee handy. Make sure you have plenty of ice in the freezer.

Your early winter cocktails should be warmly satisfying as well as refreshing. Hot Toddies with sweet spices like cloves, ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon will help set the tone. At your seasonal parties cocktails made with sparkling wine tell your guests that the celebrations have begun.

Here are a few examples of mixed drinks to help you with those celebrations. Drink them responsibly, and if you drink, bring along a designated driver. Happy holidays!


Campari Fizz

(great for brunch)

  • 1 oz. Campari
  • 1/4 tsp. sugar (optional)
  • Yellow Tail Bubbles (sparkling wine)
  1. Pour the Campari into a champagne flute, add sugar, stir to dissolve.
  2. Top up with the Bubbles.



  • 2 oz. Absolute Vodka
  • 1 oz. Bottega Prosecco
  • Dash of St. Germain Elderflower
  • Lemon twist to garnish
  1. Pour into a shaker with ice. Mix well.
  2. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
  3. Garnish



Heather 81

  • 3/4 part lavender honey
  • 6 mint leaves
  • 1/2 part hot water
  • 2 parts Grey Goose vodka
  • 1/2 part Drambuie
  • Garnish: Mint leaves and piece of honeycomb
  1. In a cocktail shaker combine honey, hot water and 6 mint leaves.
  2. Muddle well. Add ice, vodka and Drambuie.
  3. Shake well and strain into a rocks glass filled with ice (if you prefer it warm skip the ice).
  4. Garnish with mint leaves and honeycomb.
(Thanks to Grey Goose Vodka for the recipe)



Binta Breeze

  • 1 oz. Appleton V/X Rum
  • 1/2 oz. Sandeman Ruby Port
  • 1/2 oz. apricot brandy
  • 1/4 oz. grenadine
  • 1 dried apricot
  1. Pour the rum, ruby port, apricot brandy and grenadine into a shaker filled with ice.
  2. Shake well.
  3. Add ice cubes to a rocks glass and strain ingredients from shaker into the glass.
  4. Garnish with a skewered dried apricot.
(Thanks to Appleton Rum for the recipe)

On the Liquor Board shelves for the holiday season is a delicious example of an important ingredient which makes for easy-to-do cocktails. Stock up, as it is only around this time of year. (It will be great for St. Paddy's Day).

It is Peppermint Mocha from Kahlúa, whose coffee liqueur has been delighting tipplers around the world since 1936. The Peppermint Mocha is a limited-edition flavor designed for the holidays. 100% Arabica coffee beans shade-grown in the Veracruz region of Mexico combined with peppermint dark chocolate derived from the finest cocoa beans. True to its name, it's a minty mouthful with a chocolate undertone.

It's very well balanced and you don't think you have just had a shot of mouthwash! This is the stuff with which to spike your hot chocolate or whip up a decadent coffee cocktail.

It might just replace grappa in my espresso.

Sorry, this recipe isn't for the children in your family. Only for the young at heart. The alcohol is 20%.


Kahlúa Peppermint Mocha Hot Chocolate

  • 2 parts milk
  • 1 part drinking chocolate
  • 1 part Kahlúa Peppermint Mocha
  1. Bring milk to a simmer.
  2. Whisk in drinking chocolate.
  3. Simmer for 30 seconds while stirring.
  4. Add Kahlúa Peppermint Mocha.
  5. Garnish with peppermint stick and marshmallow.

(Courtesy of Kahlúa)



For more information, you can contact Sheila at




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