With only a few more days left until Christmas, we’ve still got plenty of time left to cozy up to holiday cocktails — from classics like spiked eggnog and hot chocolate to more original concoctions — while making merry with friends and family.
Austin bars and restaurants have exactly those kinds of drinks for the next week or two. Here’s a roundup of them to keep your spirits bright this holiday season, as well as a couple of recipes in case you’d prefer to make them at home.
Contigo: This East Austin restaurant focused on ranch-style dining has a hot toddy menu that will keep you warm and toasty as you enjoy dinner inside Contigo’s outdoor tent. The menu includes a classic toddy for the traditionalists out there — made from lemon, honey and allspice and your choice of bourbon, rye or aged rum — but more adventurous drinkers can also seek out a cocktail called the Teacher’s Pet, with applejack brandy, apple cider and cinnamon.
East Side Showroom: Indulge in East Side Showroom’s special Holiday Toddy, which comes in a large mug and has El Dorado 5 Rum, lemon, cinnamon syrup, allspice dram, angostura and chocolate bitters, as well as a clove-studded orange zest garnish. It’s large enough to be the only cocktail you enjoy that night and tasty enough that you won’t mind.
Half Step: The seasonal drink at Half Step will remind you why ’tis the season for not counting calories. The Rainey Street cocktail bar is offering the Orchard Warmer, with Cognac, 100 proof apple brandy, maple syrup, unsalted butter and hot water for your yuletide merriment, not for your waistline.
Hotel Granduca Austin: You’ve probably already had plenty of eggnog by now, but have you enjoyed it Italian-style? That’s what you’ll get at the relatively new Hotel Granduca, off Loop 360, whose bar and restaurant are serving up two holiday drinks: the Zabaglione and Vin Brulé. The Zabaglione, made with egg yolks, sugar and fortified with Cynar, will renew your appreciation for eggnog’s cold sweet grip, while the Vin Brulé, served hot, will keep you warm. It’s an Italian spiced mulled wine made from Paolo Scavino Rosso, a blend of Nebbiolo, Barbera and Dolcetto grapes. You can try both of these even on Christmas Eve and Christmas because Hotel Granduca’s Visconti Ristorante & Bar isn’t closing for the holidays.
Icenhauer’s: Only a few days after Thanksgiving, this Rainey Street bar goes full Clark Griswold with Christmas decorations galore. Even the trees in the front courtyard are decked out with colorful ornaments. And the cocktail menu, of course, is similarly festive. You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out, with candy cane-infused chocolate vodka and Bailey’s Irish Cream, is a maddeningly easy sipper, as is Griswold’s Eggnog, spiked with spiced rum and Kahlua and topped with freshly grated nutmeg (recipe below). You’ll have to remind yourself both of them have lots of booze; otherwise, you’ll find yourself turning into the Grinch the next day.
Lustre Pearl: Among the cocktails at this newly resurrected bungalow bar is a trio of winter warmers. You can sip on the classic Hot Toddy, made with Tullamore DEW Irish whiskey, lemon and honey, or go for something a little more original, like the Far East Tea, an herbal blend of Grand Marnier, Luxardo Amaretto and Earl Grey Tea. Another option is the Spiced Apple Cider.
Punch Bowl Social: Holiday parties with lots of people can try drinks in large batches at this Domain entertainment space. Among them is Punch Bowl Social’s holiday punch: Grandma Got Run Over by a Punch Bowl. It’s a bittersweet treat of Averna Amaro, Old Forester Bourbon, apple and lemon juices, and cinnamon syrup. If you’d like it for at-home entertaining, the recipe is below.
The Four Season’s Lobby Bar: Each year, the hotel has offered holiday cocktails that pair thematically with the large gingerbread village displayed in the lobby starting in November. This time around, the Four Seasons has gone a little country with a “Wild, Wild West” theme, and the drinks are no different. Through Dec. 31, try the likes of the Broken Spoke, featuring Ron Zapaca rum, brown sugar and lime juice, or the Rock & Rye with holiday spice-infused Rittenhouse Rye that’s accompanied only by a rock candy garnish. The rock candy will melt as you sip, imbuing the boozy treat with even more sweet flavor.
1 1/2 oz. spiced rum
3/4 oz. Kahlua
2.5 oz. eggnog
Add all ingredients into a shaker over fresh ice. Shake vigorously and strain into martini glass. Top with freshly grated nutmeg.
— Icenhauer’s Stuart Thompson
Grandma Got Run Over by a Punch Bowl
6 parts Averna Amaro
2 parts Old Forester Bourbon
4 parts apple juice
1 part lemon juice
1 part cinnamon syrup (see below)
Use 1 oz. as your 1 part to yield a bowl that serves 4. Mix all of the ingredients and pour over ice. Serve in a large punch bowl and garnish with a lemon wheel and a maraschino cherry.
Boil 1 cup of water for each cinnamon stick for 1 hour. Add equal parts sugar to the cinnamon water to make the syrup.
— Punch Bowl Social