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NPR Arts & Life

Cocktail Ideas To Put The Holiday Spirit Into Your Spirits

ALLISON AUBREY, HOST:

Once your holiday meal is cooked to perfection according to sound, you may want to add a festive cocktail on the side. Here in D.C., locals are getting their fill at a Christmas-themed pop-up bar. It's called Miracle on Seventh Street. To get in, people wait in lines that wrap around the block. Once inside, cotton snowdrifts hang from the rafters and bartenders serve up complex drinks inspired by Christmas movies.

Earlier this week, we dropped in for some tips on how to make some simple holiday drinks at home, especially for those of us who might have procrastinated.

Thanks for having us here.

PAUL TAYLOR: Thanks for coming.

AUBREY: Tell - introduce yourself.

TAYLOR: My name's Paul Taylor. For all intents and purposes, I am the head elf of Miracle on Seventh.

AUBREY: And we've got here a little eggnog shot. I've heard that there have been thousands downed here this month.

TAYLOR: It's a delightful portion of a delightful beverage.

AUBREY: All right, so...

TAYLOR: Cheers.

AUBREY: All right - good place to start.

TAYLOR: Right.

AUBREY: Instantly warms you up. I've had just a little sip here. This is just an ounce. And there's something about this creaminess, the eggy-ness (ph) - there's plenty of sugar, the spice - it just warms you right up.

TAYLOR: Yeah, the holidays, I think, are about sweet things. We have all these pastries and chocolates and all sorts of desserts. So I think moving towards the direction of a little more sugar is a good thing - for the holidays.

AUBREY: It's already Christmas Eve. It's already cocktail hour. If you haven't thought of a festive cocktail yet and you happen to have, you know, store-bought eggnog sitting in the refrigerator, what's a good way to turn it into a festive cocktail pretty quickly?

TAYLOR: Well, spices definitely. So nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon - warming spices, for sure. Also blending different spirits or maybe some fortified wines together, I'd like...

AUBREY: So rum, some bourbon.

TAYLOR: Rums for sure - I love rum. Like, dark rum in eggnog - so, so good. Maybe some Sherry if you have some hiding around. Usually, the grocery stores are open Christmas Eve. So you could go pick up, like, a little bottle of medium Amontillado or some Oloroso just to give it sort of a nutty backbone, so something with some age on it.

AUBREY: For me, bubbles are an instant way to sort of say celebration. Right? So, say, you have a bottle of champagne sitting around. What would you suggest to make a quick holiday cocktail from bubbly, bubbly wine or Champagne?

TAYLOR: Well, the easiest thing to do is a Champagne cocktail, which is just an Angostura bitters-soaked sugar cube, Champagne poured on top of that and a little piece of citrus peel. We suggest lemon for that.

AUBREY: It sounds like a common theme here is that you can get a lot out of a little citrus or a little spice.

TAYLOR: Right, right. Citrus and spice just sort of add just a little bit of depth. But you really want to accent what you're serving, which is spirits or wine or something like that.

AUBREY: So we've gone super simple. Now let's, just for fun, go complicated. If you could go all out, what is your favorite Christmas cocktail?

TAYLOR: Let's take something that we're doing here right now. We've talked a lot about spice. So we make a five-spice syrup here, taking star anise, cinnamon, cloves, Sichuan peppercorns and allspice - toasting them.

AUBREY: That sounds like a really rich mixture.

TAYLOR: That is. And we toast that, and then we make a rich simple syrup out of that, so sort of like a tiki holiday, if you will, tropics in December.

AUBREY: Anyone want to taste that (laughter)?

TAYLOR: Let's make one of those...

AUBREY: All right.

TAYLOR: ...Sure.

So for this cocktail, we're doing the classic daiquiri recipe, which is two parts rum to three quarters sugar to three quarters lime. The way that we've changed this is making the five-spice syrup. So I know previously we talked about spices. This is a way to take all of your spices and build out the cocktail with your syrup. So we have star anise, cinnamon, clove, allspice and Sichuan peppercorns.

AUBREY: So a little heat there, too?

TAYLOR: Yeah, for sure. And then we will...

(SOUNDBITE OF ICE HITTING METAL)

TAYLOR: ...Fill our shaker tin up with ice, make sure it's closed and we'll shake.

(SOUNDBITE OF COCKTAIL BEING SHAKEN)

AUBREY: I love that. That's what makes it worth coming into the bar for a drink. Right?

TAYLOR: Cheers. We'll - I'll have a drink.

AUBREY: All right. Cheers.

TAYLOR: All right. Cheers.

AUBREY: I love it. I could see sitting around the fire sipping this for a good hour or two (laughter).

TAYLOR: Well, thank you.

AUBREY: Paul Taylor of Miracle on Seventh, happy holidays - and cheers.

TAYLOR: Cheers.

AUBREY: This has been really fun.

(SOUNDBITE OF VINCE GUARALDI'S "OH GOOD GRIEF") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.