One is sweet, the other is warming.
Norwalk-based Diageo North America offers these holiday cocktail recipes for anyone entertaining at home this season.
Candy Cane Cocktail
The beauty of vodka is that it can be infused with almost anything, from sweet vanilla to fiery chili. This doesn’t need to be left to the pros, either, as anyone who has spent time on Pinterest in the run-up to the festive season will have noticed, you can create a multitude of infused flavors at home and try your hand at some inventive cocktails.
Few things evoke the festive spirit like white-and-pink-striped candy canes, making them the perfect ingredient for a seasonal infusion. This is one you’ll have to prepare in advance because your vodka will require a few days (and regular shaking) to properly absorb the sweet, minty flavor. Four days of infusion is okay, but a week is better if you want to let the flavors fully seep in. The color will vary depending on the brand of candy canes you use, but a splash of cherry brandy added during infusion will make sure you get the soft, milky pink tone you’re hoping for.
A rim of crushed candy cane is an optional garnish for this sweet, strong cocktail or, if you prefer your drinks a little drier, add a splash of lime juice during shaking to balance the sweetness.
Prep time: 1 minute
Difficulty rating: Easy
CANDY CANE INFUSION INGREDIENTS
1 vanilla pod
6 six-inch candy canes
1 bottle of vodka (Diageo recommends Kettel One)
50ml candy cane vodka
25ml of clear Crème de Cacao (plus a little for the rim)
1 dash of Angostura bitters
Splash of cherry brandy for color (if needed)
Crushed candy cane for the rim
CANDY CANE METHOD
Pour the vodka into a lidded jar.
Split the vanilla pod lengthways with a sharp knife and add to the vodka.
Break or crush the candy canes (crush with a rolling pin or use a food processor).
Add the crushed candy canes to the jar with the vanilla pod and vodka.
If required, add a splash of cherry brandy for color.
Seal and leave in a cool, dark place for around four days (longer, if possible), shaking occasionally.
When ready, strain to remove the vanilla pod and sediment.
Place candy cane in a food processor and blend until it’s the consistency of granulated sugar (if you don’t have a food processor, crush the candy canes using a rolling pin, as above).
Apply Crème de Cacao to the outer rim of a Martini glass or coupe.
Coat the rim with the crushed candy cane.
Pour the candy cane vodka, Crème de Cacao and Angostura bitters into a shaker with ice.
Shake and strain into a Martini glass or coupe (use a sieve to catch any remaining sediment).
Hot Toddy Recipe
Chilly evenings are the best time to experiment with heated drinks to give your guests an extra-warm welcome. The hot toddy has long been a winter staple, combining seasonal citrus and a strong base of dark spirit.
Whisky, honey and lemon juice are a classic combination that’s hard to get wrong: the acidic taste of the lemon is softened by the sweet honey, while the drink’s simplicity allows the strong, creamy notes of the Johnnie Walker base to shine through.
Comprising mainly easy-to-source pantry fodder, the only sticking point you may encounter is the equipment required: a bar spoon for stirring and a latte glass for serving. If you don’t have a bar spoon to hand, a regular spoon is perfectly fine (as long as the handle is sufficiently long to keep your hands away from the boiling water). The latte glass matters because whatever you use to hold the toddy needs to be able to withstand the heat, while the handle stops your fingers burning while drinking. If you don’t have heat-resistant glasses, a regular mug will be fine – your drink won’t look as pretty, but it’ll taste just as good.
To serve, garnish with a lemon wedge and cinnamon stick. If you want to show your guests you’ve gone the extra mile, try studding the lemon wedge with a few cloves to add some extra spice.
Prep time: 2 minutes
Difficulty rating: Easy
50ml good Scotch. (Diageo recommends Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve)
75ml boiling water
25ml lemon juice
1 lemon wedge
1 cinnamon stick
Place a bar spoon with runny honey in a latte glass.
Add the hot water.
Add the lemon juice and stir.
Add the Scotch and stir once more.
Garnish with a clove-studded lemon wedge and a cinnamon stick.