'Tis the season for long lines at stores, for uncomfortable mornings after the office holiday party, for time spent with family members who you haven't seen in over a year. Is it any wonder that there's so much drinking this time of year? And in the cold, dark days of winter, bourbon should be your spirit of choice.
The Cocktail to Make
Whether you're making it for yourself or a guest, you want a drink that projects an air of masculinity, discernment and authority. An old fashioned does all that, while being relatively easy to make and requiring no special equipment.
1 tsp sugar (or 2 sugar cubes)
4 dashes Angostura bitters
1 orange wheel
1 maraschino cherry
Splash club soda
2 oz bourbon
With the back of a spoon, muddle the bitters, sugar and orange wheel with a splash of soda in a rocks glass. Remove the orange rind, add the ice and bourbon and garnish with an orange peel and cherry.
The Punch to Serve
Back in the day, when Americans wanted to efficiently spread some holiday cheer, they pulled out their ladles and mixed up a punch—as complex as a cocktail and as drinkable as Champagne, while being more potent than both. This simple twist on a julep is perfect for a party.
Stir water and sugar in saucepan over low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat, bringing to a boil and crumple in five mint sprigs. Remove from heat and let syrup cool.
Strain syrup into punch bowl. Add juice, bourbon and bitters; mix in soda and remaining mint. Add ice to bowl.
The Bottle to Give
Whether you're giving this to a buddy, your boss or a bourbon aficionado, they'll appreciate this small batch sipping whiskey with notes of smoky vanilla, caramel and coffee. Bottled in Kentucky straight from the barrel, it has a higher proof than most bourbons, but little of the bite.