With winter looming, there’s a chill in the air. As holiday festivities embark, from family and office gatherings to weddings, an important part of the special event is selecting beverages to accompany the celebration. Whether hot or chilled, signature cocktails have become definite headliners.

Not only do these dreamy concoctions allow for a personal “stamp” on the occasion by incorporating seasonal flavors and adding an impressive touch to the menu, they tend to be tasty, too. It’s important to work with the venue to come up with the perfect drink.

“Many established places have the basic 12-14 classic offerings that they execute quite well,” said Troy Roth, Director of Food and Beverage at Omni Shoreham Hotel. “Signature drinks open folks up to be a little adventurous with a spirit or other ingredient that they otherwise would not have tried.”

Roth added that couples often request a “special” cocktail for their wedding, for example.

“We’re seeing that dynamic more and more,” he noted. “I must say that it gives us an opportunity to expand our offerings as we have had some outrageous requests for custom cocktail for weddings. Also, convention guests are wanting to feature a specialty cocktail for their main receptions. These requests are becoming as numerous as the wedding cocktails.”

For the season, the Omni Shoreham Hotel is preparing a special “aged eggnog.”

“It will be available the day after Thanksgiving,” said Roth. “It’s prepared now and is in the ‘aging process.’ It’s a great cocktail served in a martini glass, with a brûlée sugar rim and cinnamon stick.”

A new twist to their bar selection is also on the horizon.

“An offering we will have next year in our social events arena is a ‘create your own cocktail,’” he said. “We of course, pour the spirit ingredient and the guests build their own creation from that base. A new twist on a ‘build your own Bloody Mary Bar.’”

Colder weather doesn’t necessarily produce more requests for hot beverages, he said.

“The interesting thing that I’ve seen is not necessarily hot drinks, but a shift to darker spirits as the weather cools. You always will have your purists. They are a gin or bourbon person, but a good number of folks have season loyalties, which I think is a great adventure.”

Around the ALHI world, special drinks—hot and cold—are emerging for winter, and we share the recipes in Part 1 of a two-part series. Read Part 2 here.

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Grand Geneva Resort & Spa

Grand Geneva's Maya-inspired Toasted Cinnamon Hot Chocolate is warm, and full of inspiring and familiar flavors with a fun adult twist.

“We use dark chocolate from Antigua, Guatemala, vanilla from Jalisco, Mexico, and true cinnamon from Veracruz, Mexico, to curate our hot chocolate base here on property,” said Nelly Buleje, Director of Food & Beverage. “Once warm, frothed and topped with our roasted to-order marshmallow, you can enjoy it organically or fancied up with cocoa flavored tequila or freshly frothed RumChata. It's a great choice to warm you up after a day on our ski slopes.”

Toasted Cinnamon Hot Chocolate

·      Swirl the glass in chocolate syrup and Antigua chocolate shavings to create the perfect chocolate rim 

·      Pour 2 oz. of coco flavored tequila or freshly frothed RumChata into the glass

·      Add 8 oz. of *house-made hot chocolate base

·      Top hot chocolate with fresh marshmallow cream and toast to perfection using a blow torch garnish with a true cinnamon stick

·      *House-made hot chocolate base recipe: 1 cup whole milk - ½ stick Ceylon cinnamon stick - 2 oz. Guatemalan 77% dark chocolate, finely chopped - 3 tbsp. Demerara sugar - 1/3 tsp. Usumacinta Pure Mexican vanilla - pinch of kosher salt

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The recently introduced Earl’s at House Without a Key is featuring extraordinary cocktails by the sea. Earl’s Spiked Hot Chocolate is perfect for those cool nights.

Earl's Spiked Hot Chocolate

·      In heat-safe glass combine:

·      4 oz of cayenne infused Ghirardelli hot chocolate (see below)

·      1 oz Koloa Coffee Rum (or rum based coffee liqueur)

·      1 oz Kuleana Nanea (aged rum)

·      1/4 oz maple syrup

·      Top with vanilla coconut whipped cream (or whipped cream of your choice).

·      Finally, dust the top with sweet cocoa and cayenne pepper with a touch of salt.

·      *If desired, this beverage can be made cold. Just add ice before the whipped cream.

·      Cayenne infused hot cocoa: Make the hot cocoa per the instructions of your preferred brand and add a touch of cayenne pepper powder to taste.

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Caribe Royale Orlando

“The Blackberry Bourbon Smash marries the full-bodied flavors of Blackberry Liqueur and fresh berries with the softer, muted vanilla of Angel’s Envy bourbon,” explained Chris Andaur, Director of Banquets. “It’s both easy on the palate and elegant for the eye, making it a solid choice for weddings where you need a striking signature drink that’s also a versatile crowd-pleaser. Topped with an orange peel, mint, and blackberries, this colorful cocktail is sure to wow even the non-bourbon drinkers on your guest list.”

Blackberry Bourbon Smash

·      2 oz Angel’s Envy Bourbon

·      1 oz Blackberry Liqueur

·      1 oz fresh lemon juice, squeezed

·      Ginger Beer

·      4 mint leaves

·      4 blackberries

·      1 orange slice

·      Add blackberries, orange slice, and mint leaves into shaker and muddle together.

·      Add ice, Bourbon, Blackberry Liqueur, and fresh lemon juice and shake vigorously for 7-10 seconds. Strain into a glass with a fresh large ice cube.

·      Top off with Ginger Beer. Garnish with mint and orange/blackberry skewer.

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Fairmont San Francisco

It may be winter, but this drink, the Hurry Kane, will make you feel like it is summer. Feel warm and cozy on the inside and enjoy one of Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar’s most popular drinks, the Hurry Kane.

“This Tonga original cocktail was created as an ode to our namesake bar and the Tiki god who protects all who gather here,” explained Courtney Hanaway, Fairmont San Francisco Marketing Manager. “While sipping on your delicious Hurry Kane cocktail you’ll instantly be transported to a place with salty sea air, gently swaying palm trees, and experience all of the island magic that the Tonga Room has to offer.

The Hurry Kane

The ingredients include Barbadian Rum, Cognac, Overproof Rum, Lemon, Passion Fruit and Port. As far as what to do next, well, let’s just say it’s a trade secret, so stop by the Fairmont San Francisco for the experience.

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Williamsburg Inn

Named after Virginia’s original governing body, and Colonial Williamsburg’s largest group of caretakers and guardians of the traditional Old Fashioned, is the House of Burgesses, a window into the tastes and flavors of Virginia’s founding spirits. Laird’s Old Apple Brandy, from North Garden, Va., plays the starring role calling back to its days as the first spirit of all Virginians. Madeira, historically the preferred partner of all fine tables in the East, dances in the glass with spices and lemon to produce a warming, but always accessible, refined delight.

The House of Burgesses

·      1.5 oz Laird's Old Apple Brandy

·      .75 oz Broadbent Fine Rich Sweet Madeira (or an alternate full bodied and sweet Madeira)

·      .5 oz Demerara Simple Syrup (1:1)

·      4 Dashes Angostura Bitters

·      Add all ingredients into a mixing glass, add ice, stir for 20-25 seconds, strain into a rocks glass with a large ice cube.

·      Express a trimmed lemon peel over the cocktail, and garnish with the lemon peel.

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Terranea Resort

“At Terranea Resort we nurture the creativity of our bar team to cultivate a unique array of eclectic signature cocktails resort wide,” said Erica Williams, Resort Mixologist & Sommelier.

“We encourage creativity, while using the best possible ingredients. This means making as many of our ingredients in-house as possible. It also means using local ingredients, or ingredients based on seasonality. We wanted a warm cocktail that was outside of the box, different than hot chocolate or a ‘Hot Toddy.’

“This was our spin on a warm holiday drink. I was trying to think of something to rhyme with Toddy, so I came up with Laddie. It brings you back to when you were a kid excited for the holidays and especially the dessert pies after the home cooked meal. It definitely reminds me of Thanksgiving because this gives me pumpkin pie vibes. It can be a great mocktail for all to enjoy or cocktail for adults with the addition of the vodka.”

Mar'sel Laddie or "Autumn Toddy" (served warm in a glass mug)

·      1 ½ oz Tito’s vodka

·      1 ½ oz pumpkin puree (Libby’s or your favorite brand)

·      ½ oz sparkling cider (Martinelli’s or your favorite sparkling cider)

·      ½ oz Fever-Tree ginger beer

·      Whipped cream

·      Set aside a glass mug (or mugs) with 1 ½ oz of the Tito’s vodka (per serving). Take a small pot and combine other ingredients to your preferred amount of servings. Multiply the measurements as needed. Stir well to combine and simmer on low – medium low heat to desired temperature. Take off heat when ready to serve. Fill the remainder of the glass mug and top with whipped cream (fresh or your favorite brand) and a cinnamon stick.