Festive occasions deserve only the finest mixed drinks, but not everyone likes playing bartender for hungry friends and relatives — especially when the upcoming holiday season stretches over three weeks and multiple meals.
Here are a few crowd-pleasing cocktails that are sweet, festive and total crowd pleasers for the New Year.
Classic Sangria with Apples and Citrus
Sangria is the ideal party drink— inexpensive, festive and serves a lot of people— and also provides an elegant way to utilize wine brought by guests that isn’t quite good enough to take its own place on your table (or that doesn’t suit your palate).
How to make this crowd pleaser seasonally relevant? Replace the sugar with honey or pomegranate molasses You can use an Israeli liquor such as the citric Tubi 60 or an American spirit like Nahmias et Fils’ fig brandy or Sukkah Hill’s holiday-inspired liqueurs. Keep the holiday tradition of tasting new fruits— add sliced kumquats, lychees, figs or whatever interesting fruit you can find.
Note: Making sangria is about keeping proportions. For every one bottle of dry red wine, you want to add the following ingredients.
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup cup liquor such as brandy or triple-sec (though any wine, fruit or grain-based alcohol will do)
- 1 apple, sliced
- 1 orange, sliced with peel
- 1 lemon, sliced with peel
- club soda
- In a punch bowl or large pitcher, add the sugar to the wine and mix until dissolved.
- Add the rest of the ingredients, mix and refrigerate for 2-24 hours.
- When serving, mix 1/2 cup sangria with 1/2 cup club soda and garnish with a slice of sangria fruit if desired.
Apples & Honey Whisky
For Jewish and secular holidays alike, the kids in my family celebrated with bottles of sparkling cider. This incredibly simple drink will keep you young at heart and your shopping lists mercifully short. We recommend using Golan Heights Distillery’s Golani Honey whisky, specially mixed for Rosh Hashanah with locally-sourced avocado honey. Otherwise, any honey whisky will work.
- 1.5 oz honey whisky
- sparkling cider, preferably dry
In a champagne flute, add the honey whisky and top with cider.
Pomegranates are an auspicious fruit to consume during Rosh Hashanah: They are one of the Seven Species promised by God to always be plentiful in the Land of Israel, their “crown” is reminiscent of the liturgy’s mentioning of God as King, and they are thought to contain one edible seed for each of the Torah’s 613 commandments.
This drink is a riff on the classic gin and tonic, with extra color and quench from the aforementioned fruit and a splash of sweet vermouth or sherry.
- 1.5 oz dry gin
- 0.5 oz sweet vermouth or sherry
- 0.5 oz pomegranate juice
- tonic water
- Pour the gin in a lowball or highball glass.
- Add the vermouth or sherry and juice, and carefully swirl the glass.
- Fill with ice, top with tonic water and serve.