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Spirits of the season: a holiday cocktail sampler

’Tis the season to be jolly takes on a new meaning when it comes to Atlanta’s thriving cocktail scene. Bars and restaurants around town are offering all sorts of merry libations in the spirit of the holidays. New takes on classic drinks range from eggnog and mulled cider to martini-style concoctions made with spices and flavorings, such as cinnamon and peppermint.

At Leon’s Full Service in Decatur (131 East Ponce de Leon Avenue, 404-687-0500,, bartender Miles Macquarrie has created a holiday cocktail list that works contemporary culinary twists into traditional winter favorites.

One called Whiskey Pie is single barrel bourbon, apple pie liqueur, Dupont Le Pommeau (a blend of Calvados and apple juice), and whiskey barrel bitters, garnished with a bitters-infused dried apple slice.

“People are definitely in a festive mood this time of year,” Macquarrie says. “We get a chance to use some darker spirits and richer ingredients. And it’s really cool to take traditional flavors or drinks and do things like mixing whiskey and apple pie spice together or going back in time to do eggnog the way they did in the 1800s.”

Macquarrie’s creamy, frothy eggnog is in the style of the classic flip, as featured in legendary bartender Jerry Thomas’s 1862 guide, “How to Mix Drinks.” Macquarrie vigorously shakes up house-spiced rum (made with dried cherries, star anise, vanilla bean, allspice, clove, and lemon and orange zest), Adet V.S. cognac and Martinique sugar cane syrup with a local farm egg, local milk and fresh nutmeg.

Also on the Leon’s list is a tasty hot toddy created by Macquarrie’s bartending partner, Juliet Ceballos. Dubbed La Posada, it’s based on a traditional drink her Mexican family served at Christmastime. A warming blend of 30-30 Reposado tequila, hibiscus and tamarind tea, Pedro Ximénez sherry, sugar and Fee’s aromatic bitters, it’s served with a stick of sugarcane and a fresh apple slice.

Here’s a sampler of five more cocktails to toast the holiday season.

The Grinch at The St. Regis in Buckhead

Part of The St. Regis 12 Days of Christmas cocktail list, this blend of Sabra orange liquor, Baileys mint chocolate Irish cream and half and half comes in a martini glass, garnished with chocolate shavings and a miniature candy cane. 88 West Paces Ferry Road, 404-261-3820, .

Holiday Spice Martini at Marlow’s Tavern in Duluth

This creamy, sweet and spicy martini-style creation features Absolut vanilla vodka and Voyant chai cream liqueur served with a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice. 1950 Satellite Boulevard, Suite 300, 770-622-2033, .

Peppermint Patti at Village Tavern in Alpharetta

Crème de menthe, crème de cocoa, a splash of Godiva chocolate liqueur and a splash of cream replicate the minty-fresh chocolate-covered candy treat. 11555 Rainwater Drive, 770-777-6490, .

Candy Cane at Whiskey Park in the W Hotel in Midtown

Stoli vodka, Rumble Minze peppermint schnapps, cream and a splash of grenadine come together to make this bracing adult beverage an entertaining version of the Christmas candy stick. 188 14th Street N.E., 404-892-600, .

Mulled Christmas Cider at Serpas in the Old Fourth Ward

A cornucopia of fresh apples, oranges and cranberries, spiced with cinnamon sticks, cloves, ginger and allspice, and mixed with apple cider and Laird’s apple jack make for a potent winter warmer. 659 Auburn Avenue N.E., 404-688-0040, .

Serpas, in the Old Fourth Ward, aromatic and potent mulled Christmas cider

Serpas, in the Old Fourth Ward, aromatic and potent mulled Christmas cider

Serpas Mulled Christmas Cider

8-9 servings


4 apples (1 Fiji, 1 Granny Smith, 1 Golden or Red Delicious and 1 Pink Lady)

1 Orange cut in half

1 (1 lb) bag of Cranberries

3-4 Cinnamon sticks

8 Cloves

1” pieces Ginger, peeled and sliced

1 tsp. Allspice

¼ c. Sugar

¼ c. Brown Sugar

¼ c. Honey

4 c. Water

4 c. Apple Cider

1 to 1 ½  c. Lairds Apple Jack

1.       Put all ingredients into 4-5 quart pot or crock pot.

2.       Simmer medium low, stirring occasionally until sugars are dissolved.

3.       Set heat to medium/medium high and let cook 3 ½ – 5 hours, stirring occasionally.

4.       Strain into glasses and enjoy!

5.       Can be made up to three days in advance, refrigerated and reheated or served chilled

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