Nothing rings in the holidays like a cocktail party. It’s the perfect time to gather with friends and family, celebrate the year that has passed, reflect on the year ahead and, of course, to have a cocktail. You can certainly enjoy an adult drink any time during the year, but there’s something special about the holiday season that makes folks want to uncork their finest wines and pull out their favorite liquors to craft the perfect drink. Here, we recognize some delicious Southern spirits you should try.
When temperatures dip, it’s officially time to swap out the crisp, light white wines for a full-bodied red that’ll keep you warm in the winter. And Nashville’s City Winery — a fully functioning winery just minutes from downtown — has the perfect bottle that will appeal to red and white fans alike. The Music City Pinot Noir has notes of raspberry and blackberry with a subtle spiciness that makes it bold, yet totally approachable.
Looking for a red wine that’s a little bolder? Definitely try the City Winery’s Pedal Steel Petite Shirah. It marries cherry, raisin and sage flavors with a strong oak finish and has a deep purple hue that coats the glass like oil and goes down smooth.
If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, can an apple cocktail help us meet our daily quota? We hope so, because the crew at Copper & Kings has crafted an apple brandy so perfectly crisp and elegant (and without any added flavors or synthetic chemicals) we want to mix it with everything.
The Un-Aged Apple Brandy is small-batch distilled in a copper pot and non-chill filtered to retain the product’s natural apple essence. Truthfully, though, we think the secret to Copper & Kings’ brandy mastery is in the rock-and-roll music that wafts continuously throughout the maturation cellar at the Louisville distiller. Copper & Kings founder Joe Heron produces a non-conformist liquor that’s heavy on American bravado — just like rock-and-roll.
Bourbon is to Kentucky as Santa is to Christmas, so it should come as no surprise that our bourbon pick hails straight from the Bluegrass State. Whether you like yours swirled in a glass of sweet tea, or shaken in a classic Old Fashioned, the Four Roses Bourbon Yellow is created specifically for cocktails — with notes of pear and apple, and taste of honey and spice — and is sure to make yours sing.
The state of Virginia has been upping its wine game for years and is now the fifth most important wine region in the country, with more than 200 local wineries. So what does it take to stand out in an increasingly crowded market? For Scott and Rachel Stinson of Stinson Vineyards, it’s a commitment to traditional French wine-making style and technique. The father-daughter duo uses all French equipment to produce small lots of fine wine with a distinct French pedigree. And this includes the Imperialis, a Port-style wine that is a slowly fermented blend of red grapes and Brandy. It’s rich and decadent and the perfect dessert drink.
In Louisiana Cajun country, there’s the myth of the Rougaroux — a mysterious werewolf creature that lurks in the local sugarcane fields, emerging only during a full moon to exact justice on the wicked. And it is in this tradition that Donner-Peltier Distillers created their Rougaroux rums, a line of premium liquors handcrafted from pure blackstrap molasses and locally grown and milled raw sugar. Our favorite is the 13 Pennies Praline Rum. (Legend has it that the Rougaroux can’t count past 12, so placing 13 pennies outside your door will protect you, as it’ll keep trying to count to 13, only to have to retreat back to the sugarcane fields at sunrise.) We love it for the added flavors of toasted pecans, Madagascar vanilla and local, craft-made cane syrup, as well as the fact that it’s not overly sweet or syrupy. Add it to your eggnog, after-dinner coffee or hot buttered rum for instant elevation.
No roundup of holiday spirits would be complete without a good bottle of bubbly, and the folks at the Infinite Monkey Theorem Winery in Austin, TX, have crafted a sparkling wine that marries the best of tradition with contemporary flair. The Bubble Universe is handmade using Methode Champenoise (the Dom Perignon method) and Texas Hill Country Blanc du Bois. It’s then aged and rotated on traditional riddling racks before the bottle is topped with a crown cap. None of your parents’ stuffy champagne here, just a bright blend of kefir lime and orchard fruit that is perfect for toasting the New Year — or any day, for that matter.
Happy holidays! And remember — always drink responsibly!
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