I hate making cocktails.
Okay, let me rephrase that: I never have stuff on hand to make cocktails so I say I hate making cocktails because it makes me sound more opinionated than lazy. I always have the best intentions: each year I swear that this will be the year I make a signature cocktail. I have visions of standing at my bar, surrounded by vintage cut-glass decanters, wearing a frilly apron and red lipstick (obviously), while confidently pouring my concoction into a perfectly chilled martini glass. But every year, when guests come around, I end up panicking and tossing a candy cane into a bottle of beer (candy cane unwrapped, of course. I’m not an animal) and calling it a day.
KISS: keep it simple, sweetie (listen, it’s the holidays, I’m being nice)
I’m turning over a new leaf this year. I am committed to making a festive cocktail. It’ll probably be minus the lipstick and apron, but, if you come by my place: I’m offering you a cocktail. And it’s gonna be good.
After giving it some serious thought I decided that my festive signature drink must meet two of my lazy hostess necessities:
I’m far too lazy to make drinks that involve a million ingredients, or slicing fruit, or muddling, or any combination thereof. Mostly because that means I’ll have to do it more than once, which, isn’t festively fun, in my books.
I’m also way too cheap to buy special liquors for that one drink that I’ll make once or twice and maybe never again, especially if I end up not liking said cocktail (Green Tea liquor circa 2007, I’m talking to you!).
So, here’s what I decided: the perfect cocktail for this holiday had to be easy to make. It could only use ingredients I typically have in my pantry, AND it could only use booze I normally have on hand. That way I can minimize those last minute trips to the liquor store, because, well, other people and you know, snow.
The Hot Todd-eh
(Get it?? It’s can-eh-dian. I’m hilarious.)
I love a good hot toddy. I discovered them a few years ago when the husband was sick and in an attempt to curb his disturbing cold pill addiction, I googled natural alternatives. And found hot toddies. And of course, being the compassionate wife I am, I had to taste test it to make sure it was sweet enough. I was hooked. For the next few evenings I made one for my sick hubs and one for me, just because. Sure, the hot toddy is touted as a cure for the common cold, but you know what? They’re also totally delicious! They’re warm and sweet and spicy and just a little tart. And to me, nothing says cold winter evenings around the fire quite like the toddy.
Winter spice maple infused hot toddy
A hot toddy is pretty basic. It’s just some lemon juice, honey, booze (bourbon, whiskey, or rye), and hot water. Nothing fancy. But I wanted a company-worthy hot toddy, so I decided to kick it up a notch (remember Emeril?? Good times.)
I started off by making a simple syrup. Now before you call me out on actually making something finicky, let me assure you: simple syrup is dead easy. And it can hang out in the fridge for a couple of weeks until you’re ready for it. So really, it’s as easy as pulling a beer out of the fridge and sticking a candy cane in it.
This simple syrup is a bit different though. It’s a maple syrup simple syrup. I picked up the handy maple simple syrup ratio from Joel and Dana over at Well Preserved, and it is perfectly maple-y without being overly cloying. But I didn’t stop at just simple syrup. No siree. I went crazy and added some spices to infuse my syrup while it simmered. I mean, it was there, already simmering, so it’s not like it was so difficult to throw in some spices, right?!?
The best part about this syrup is this: you can use it for cold cocktails too! I know: Mind. Blown. Your hot toddy can very easily become a toddy martini. Just omit the boiling water, toss the ingredients in a shaker with ice, strain into a chilled martini glass and serve with a lemon rind. Easy. Classy.
Connecting Over Cocktails
(#ConnectingOverCocktails. Instagram it. It’s a thing.)
So listen, I have these people I know who made these cool cocktails and probably have awesome parties with great curated music and matching plates and perfectly presented tapas. Their photos alone are pretty drool-worthy and make me regret some of my life choices, like maybe, just maybe, I could’ve been a mixologist (if, of course, I didn’t need to be in bed by 10pm). If you’re feeling inspired to get your holiday cocktail on, check out these super festive bevvies (plus their blogs are all deliciously on point):
Cassie from Crumb Kitchen’s Sinful Boozy Orange Hot Chocolate
Dana from Killing Thyme‘s Caramel Apple Sangria
Jared over at The Hesitant Chef’s Rum Nog Sour
Justine at Justine Celina and her Vanilla Pomegranate Mulled Wine
Kristy from She Eats and her Maple Whiskey Sour
Sean from Diversivore and his Night Heron
Taylor from The Girl on Bloor‘s Champagne Pomegranate Spritzers
Three cheers for cocktails!