Shake Up Some CHEER | Cover Story | Salt Lake City Weekly

December 16, 2020 News » Cover Story

Shake Up Some CHEER 

Our 12 drinks of Christmas for homebound party people

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¨We need a little Christmas. Right this very minute," has never been more true than in 2020. And yes, a little Hanukkah and Kwanzaa would be nice as well.

In a year of a surging pandemic, economic uncertainty, protests and political unrest, dashed hopes for travel and socializing and—locally—an earthquake and windstorm for good measure, why wouldn't we be seeking comfort and cheer? This is the year that's given rise to day-drinking in home offices, the "quaran-tini" and Zoom cocktail hours.

And, while there's light at the end of the tunnel, we remain stuck in amber for this holiday season, awaiting an end to COVID-19. Let's face it, such news calls for grog—and lots of it. To that end, we've dug into past issues of our sister publication Devour Utah and found drink recipes created by local bartenders and food writers perfect for the season. Thumb through our pages, make a list of ingredients and then visit your local liquor store to stock up.

Make it goal to amaze yourself and other adults under your roof with a festive cocktail (or two ... or 12) in honor of the season. Many can be crafted sans alcohol for the non-imbibers under your roof. The good news is you're already at home, so no need for a designated driver to enjoy these beverages—and all in moderation.

We hope you find ways to mark the season and make it a merry one. We've all earned it this year.

Stoneground Kitchen’s Stone Spice Pear - DEREK CARLISLE
  • Derek Carlisle
  • Stoneground Kitchen’s Stone Spice Pear

1. The Stone Spice Pear
Made by Stoneground Kitchen, 249 E. 400 South, 801-364-1368,

The beautiful bar and lounge at Stoneground Kitchen is the perfect place to enjoy a celebratory craft cocktail such as the Stone Spice Pear. Created with the chilly season in mind, this cocktail combines:

1 ½ ounce muddled fresh Bosc pear
1 ½ ounce spiced rum
2 dashes allspice dram (homemade or Dale Degroff's Pimento Aromatic Bitters)
2 ounces housemade brown-sugar simple syrup
1 ounce brut Champagne for topper
Garnish with pear slice and pinch of nutmeg

The savory notes will make you want to put on a warm sweater and cozy up next to a fire, but the topper of brut Champagne makes you want to celebrate late into the evening. Easy to sip and the perfect soul warmer, this is "the" cocktail to enjoy on a snowy evening with great conversation! (By Chelsea Nelson, November 2015)

Remember Ernest Hemingway with a  citrus-forward rum drink
  • Remember Ernest Hemingway with a citrus-forward rum drink

2. Hemingway Special Daiquiri
Inspired by Ernest Hemingway's A Moveable Feast (1964)

"I drink to make other people more interesting," is probably the most on-the-nose of Ernest Hemingway's attributions. Famous as much for his written words as for his larger-than-life persona, bars from Havana to Paris laud Hemingway's drinking legacy in the form of quotes, recipes and accumulated cocktail-related ephemera.

His first major novel in 1926, The Sun Also Rises, chronicled hard-drinking, absinthe-fueled exploits of jaded American and British post-WWI expatriates in Spain and France. On the advice of a friend and fellow "Lost Generation" ex-pat in Paris, Hemingway was encouraged to visit Cuba and Key West, Florida—places that appealed to his gusto-driven lifestyle and fascination with unique environs and character-rich people.

When I visited the Hemingway Home in Key West years ago during a trip retracing Hemingway's sport-fishing haunts, I was as much captivated by the challenging fly fishing as by the polydactyl (six-toed) feline inheritors of his estate and, of course, the region's citrus-forward cocktails.

My go-to Hemingway staple was influenced by his many years visiting and living in Havana, Cuba: the Hemingway Special Daiquiri aka "Papa Doble," as it's called when served as Hemingway ordered: double strength.

2 ounces overproof white rum (such as Wray & Nephew) or Distillery 36 Brigham Rum
½ ounce maraschino liqueur
¾ ounce fresh lime juice
½ ounce fresh grapefruit juice

To a shaker filled with ice, add all ingredients. Shake until tin is frosty, strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with lime wheel.

(By Darby Doyle, January 2020)

Warm Rum & Cognac Punch - DARBY DOYLE
  • Darby Doyle
  • Warm Rum & Cognac Punch

3. Charles Dickens' Rum & Cognac Punch
Perhaps one of literature's greatest proselytizers of punch, drinks historian David Wondrich says Charles Dickens was "known among his friends for his ritualized performance as he worked up a bowl or jug [of punch], complete with running commentary on his ingredients, techniques and progress." Dickens generously shared his popular punches with friends far and near, including this recipe for a highbrow hot rum-and-cognac punch that he sent to an in-law, Amelia Austin Filloneau, in 1847.

Dickens recommended decanting this punch into a large stoneware jug and setting it next to a roaring fire so that it might be served very warm. While the charm of his presentation is uncontested, modern hosts might choose to keep their punch warm in a heavy pot over very low flame or on the low setting in a crockpot.

I've adapted the recipe here for conventional measurements and nominal fire safety considerations (tavern-keepers of the time often poured and tossed flaming cups of punch over distressingly long distances). Although Dickens' recipe doesn't call for spice elements and oranges, both were very common additions in the era. Avoid using spiced rums in this recipe; there's more than enough intensity going on here without adding additional artificial flavors.

4 medium-size lemons
6 ounces demerara or raw sugar
6 ounces white rum
10 ounces aged (gold) rum
10 ounces cognac
5 cups hot water
Fresh nutmeg
optional: 4-5 star anise pods, slices from 1 orange, cinnamon stick for garnish

Day 1: With a vegetable peeler, remove zest from lemons with as little of the white pith as possible attached. Reserve the peeled lemons for day two. Drop all of the zest into a lidded glass jar and add sugar. With a blunt wooden spoon or cocktail muddler smash contents until the zest is bruised and completely coated in sugar. Place jar in a dark spot at room temperature; smash the zest/sugar every few hours if possible. Within 24 hours, you should have a syrupy but still grainy jar of citrus-oil sugar (historically called oleo saccharum).

Day 2: About one hour before serving, scoop all of the oleo saccharum mixture into the slow cooker basin or heavy pan. Add the rum and cognac, stir well to combine. Using a long matchstick, carefully set the surface of the lemon/booze mixture on fire (this will melt the sugar and extract more oil from the peel). After 4 minutes, place a well-fitting lid over the basin to snuff out the flame. Turn the slow cooker on low (or put pan over low heat). Add to the pot all of the fresh strained lemon juice from the reserved lemons and five cups very hot water. If desired, add orange slices and star anise pods. When serving, ladle into cups and grate a sprinkle of fresh nutmeg over the top; add a cinnamon stick for garnish. Makes about 8 cups of punch (just under 4 pints). (By Darby Doyle, November 2017)

Schümli-Pflümli - CAIT LEE
  • Cait Lee
  • Schümli-Pflümli

4. Schümli-Pflümli (Coffee With Plum Schnapps)
When Tupelo Park City pastry chef Shirley Butler described her favorite après ski beverage, Schümli-Pflümli, I was immediately hooked. With friends in Saas-Fee, Switzerland, she assembles mugs of the warming beverage slope side during ski breaks. Butler introduced me via email to her Swiss friend, Christoph Baumann, who gave me the inside scoop on this drink: "Schümli is a Swiss word for foam, and Kaffee-Schümli is coffee with whipped cream. Kaffee-Schümli-Pflümli is a specialty in Switzerland," made with plum schnapps called pflümli and served in stemmed heat-resistant cordial glasses. And it's as fun to drink as it is to pronounce: SHOOM-ly FLOOM-ly. If you can't find plum schnapps, Butler recommends substituting in plum brandy (slivovitz) or Mirabelle plum liqueur with equally delicious results. Ski buddies Butler and Baumann shared their recipe below. Makes one drink.

1 teaspoon instant coffee
1 ½ ounces plum schnapps
1 teaspoon sugar
5-6 ounces hot water
Garnish with whipped cream and chocolate shavings

Add all ingredients to a stemmed coffee glass or mug, stir to combine. Top with whipped cream and chocolate shavings.

(By Darby Doyle, December 2018)

The Rest’s Irish Coffee - DARBY DOYLE
  • Darby Doyle
  • The Rest’s Irish Coffee

5. 'Real' Irish Coffee
Made by The Rest, 331 S. Main, SLC,

True story: The Rest's Adam Albro's first bar job was sweeping floors at a pub in Dublin, Ireland. The Utah native attended Trinity College for four years, and that was his work-in-trade gig after classes. Along with sampling many a pint o' stout, Albro learned that instead of using Irish cream liqueurs in boozy coffee, it's usually made with a strong (way more than a Utah pour) glug of whiskey, a bit of sugar and real whipped cream. "It combines two of my true great loves: whiskey and black coffee," Albro says, sprinkling a bit of brown sugar to garnish the mound of whipped cream adorning a steaming mug. He also recommends adding some amaro and a few dashes of cocktail bitters to round out and balance the whiskey. Given the time and inclination, Albro might also be amenable to critiquing your pronunciation of sláinte. He implores, "Just don't say it like 'cilantro.'"

1 ounce Redbreast or other
Irish whiskey
½ ounce rich brown-sugar syrup *
½ ounce Cynar amaro
3 dashes Honest John coffee-cherry
6 ounces hot black coffee
Lightly sweetened heavy whipped

Add whiskey, syrup, amaro and bitters to a mug or Irish coffee glass. Gently stir to combine. Pour in coffee. Top with whipped cream, a sprinkle of dark brown sugar and a Luxardo cherry.

* Rich brown-sugar syrup: Add two parts dark brown sugar to one part boiling water, stir well until all sugar is dissolved. Cool to room temperature. Store in a lidded glass jar, refrigerated, for up to one month. (By Darby Doyle, March 2018)

The Aerie’s Banana Split - DARBY DOYLE
  • Darby Doyle
  • The Aerie’s Banana Split

6. Banana Split
Made by The Aerie, Cliff Lodge, 9320 Cliff Lodge Drive, Snowbird, 801-933-2222,

One of the marks of a tried-and-true Utah powder hound are tales about how many times they've been stuck "interlodge." When upper Little Cottonwood Canyon road shuts down due to severe avalanche danger around Alta or Snowbird, no one is allowed outside homes or resort lodges until crews blast the snowpack for pre-emptive safety.

As one of the most dangerous and avalanche-prone routes in the lower 48, we'll take their word for it when we should hunker down. In a perfect overnight interlodge scenario, we book a room at Snowbird's Cliff Lodge, and splurge on a meal at The Aerie to take the edge off our anticipation for getting first tracks the next day while the rest of the valley's powder-hungry are still itching to get up the canyon. Finish up with a sweet nightcap instead of (or in addition to) dessert in the form of this liquid version of a traditional banana split, topped with a whipped cream mountain.

1 ¼ ounces banana liqueur
½ ounce Godiva Chocolate Liqueur
¼ ounce vanilla vodka
½ ounce banana syrup
5 ounces hot chocolate
Garnish: whipped cream, cocoa powder and strawberry slice

Combine all ingredients in a glass mug. Add whipped cream, dust with cocoa powder and top with a strawberry slice.

(By Darby Doyle, December 2018)

Sparkling Pomegranate Earl Grey Tea Cocktail - CAIT LEE
  • Cait Lee
  • Sparkling Pomegranate Earl Grey Tea Cocktail

7. Sparkling Pomegranate Earl Grey Tea Cocktail
Say goodbye to the humdrum cranberry vodka of yesteryear. Here comes a seductive, ambrosial cocktail, with a pucker of pomegranate and cherry juices that is a step up from the overdone cranberry. The spruce of this fruity, fizzy elixir is Lady Earl Grey tea, a tea typically served piping hot, now chilled and shaken, leaving lingering floral notes and a bergamot citrus finish. Recipe courtesy of Honey Teahive Co. Makes 4 servings.

8 ounces vodka
8 ounces pomegranate juice, unsweetened
8 ounces cherry juice, unsweetened
¼ cup water
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 tea bag Lady Grey (or Earl Grey) tea
Chilled prosecco
1 wedge lemon for rim (optional)
Brown sugar for rim (optional)

Bring water and sugar to a boil, remove from heat. Steep Lady Grey tea bag for 4 minutes; remove tea bag and let syrup cool.

Prepare cocktail glasses by swiping rim of each glass with lemon and pressing into brown sugar.

In a shaker full of ice, combine vodka, pomegranate juice, cherry juice and Lady Grey tea syrup. Shake well and strain into cup until 2/3 full. Top with chilled prosecco and enjoy! (By Mika Lee and Cait Lee, January 2020)

Blue Christmas - DEREK CARLISLE
  • Derek Carlisle
  • Blue Christmas

8. 'Blue Christmas'
Blue Cheese martini by Derek Carlisle

1 ½ ounces Five Wives Premium Vodka
½ ounce dry vermouth
Splash of green olive brine

Add to glass with ice and stir well to chill, strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with blue cheese-stuffed olives.

  • Derek Carlisle
  • The Jitter Bug

9. The Jitter Bug
By Megan Wagstaff

2 cups mint chocolate chip ice cream
4 ounces chilled espresso
½ cup milk
4 ounces High West Vodka 7000'
2 ounces Crème de Menthe
1 cup ice
1/3 cup crushed chocolate cookies,
plus whole cookies for garnish
Whipped cream

Fill a blender with ice cream, crème de menthe, milk, espresso, vodka, and ice. Blend until creamy. Dip rims of 2 small Mason jar classes in chocolate syrup. Roll in crushed chocolate cookie crumbs. Fill jars with milkshake. Top with whipped cream, and an additional chocolate cookie garnish. Makes 2.

Hibiscus Tea Martini - DEREK CARLISLE
  • Derek Carlisle
  • Hibiscus Tea Martini

10. Hibiscus Tea Martini
By Megan Wagstaff

Hibiscus tea simple syrup
1 lemon
8 ounces Sugar House Distillery Vodka

To make hibiscus tea simple syrup, combine 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water in a saucepan with 2 hibiscus tea bags. Heat and stir until sugar dissolves. Allow syrup to cool before using.

Prior to mixing, peel 4 lemon twists. Juice the rest of the lemon and add to a martini shaker filled with ice. Add vodka and hibiscus simple syrup. Stir until combined. Pour into 4 chilled martini glasses and garnish with lemon twists.

Grappa’s  Hugo - MAYA SILVER
  • Maya Silver
  • Grappa’s Hugo

11. The Hugo
Made by Grappa, 151 Main, Park City, 435-645-0636,

In Italy, vino trumps all other drinks. From the Dolomites of Northern Italy, the Hugo (oo-GOH) is a high-altitude-tested cocktail with a German name evincing the region's proximity to Germany. Grappa tenderly muddles orange and mint sourced fresh from Bill White Farms in the bottom of a wine glass, then adds elderflower liqueur, San Pellegrino and prosecco. This popular drink is so lively, we bet you won't be able to drink just one. Saluti!

Orange and mint leaves
2/3 ounce elderflower syrup
5 ounces prosecco
Sprinkle of San Pellegrino mineral water

Cool a wine glass, muddle orange and mint leaves, add elderflower syrup and some ice cubes. Pour the prosecco, add more mint leaves and an orange slice, top with San Pellegrino water and gently mix. (Maya Silver, December 2016)

  • Darby Doyle
  • Glow Wine

12. Glow Wine (Glühwein)
One of the most charming traditions in Germany and Austria are holiday markets that spring up in town squares through December called Christkindlesmarkt (Christ child markets) or Weihnachtsmarkts (Holy Night markets). My most recent German holiday included a trip to the sprawling Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg, where—in addition to buying tree ornaments and scarfing down apple strudel, savory brats and kartoffelpuffer (potato pancakes)—we stopped at glühwein stands to refill our heavy ceramic mugs with fragrant spiced wine, perfect on a chilly night (glüh means "glow").

One of the most delightful parts of making glühwein at home is its flexibility for a crowd—just assemble all the ingredients in a crockpot and set it to low/warm (not hot!) and let your guests serve themselves. If you can't find good German wine or brandy, use a dry red wine such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz or Malbec and French brandy, which make a fine substitute. Makes 10-12 servings.

2 bottles red wine (750 ml each)
1 cup sugar (or more to taste)
1 cup brandy
4-5 whole allspice berries
1 whole nutmeg
2 tablespoons whole cloves
1 lemon
1 orange
2-3 cinnamon sticks
2 star anise pods
Garnish: additional cinnamon sticks and clove-studded citrus wheels

Slice lemon and orange into rounds. Poke cloves into the orange and lemon slices, distributing evenly. Smash the nutmeg with a hammer or mallet; tie up in a bit of doubled-up cheesecloth with the allspice berries (or use a tea ball). Add all ingredients to a heavy pot over low heat on the stove top or pour into a crockpot on low setting to heat the wine until steaming. Do not boil! Serve in mugs with a cinnamon stick and a clove-studded orange or lemon wheel. (By Darby Doyle, December 2018)

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