Top 5 Holiday Cocktails from Last Call's JK Grence

Some of you might not realize that I've been writing Last Call for close to three years now. This means if you go back through the Last Call archives, you'll find yourself quite an impressive collection of cocktails.

This also means that if you're looking for a certain style of recipe, there's a whole bunch of other stuff in the archives that you have to slog through to find something that's more to your immediate taste. So, as an early holiday gift to you, this week I've culled five of my very favorite cold-weather cocktails. They're as welcome at a big soirée as they are if it's just a couple of people bundled up around a roaring fire under the stars. I hope you enjoy at least one of them soon, and hopefully several.

Hot Toddy

Good idea to keep this recipe around for when you're feeling under the weather. It all works together to soothe coughs and sniffles.

"The Hot Toddy is more of a method than a specific cocktail. It starts with a base of boiling-hot water, then varies wildly from there. I've seen some that involve several liqueurs, some highly flavored base (apple cider is a common offender), and about half the contents of the nearest Penzeys Spices. The resulting cocktails are... pleasant, but the end result is that everyone's "special signature toddy" tastes just like the next one because there's too much going on. Simplicity is key!"

Hot Buttered Rum

I started making these back when I worked at the legendary Trader Vic's, and now in winter I always have a tub of hot buttered rum batter lurking in the fridge.

"If you want to add some dramatic flair at a gathering, keep a fireplace poker in the fire. Prepare a mug of hot buttered rum, and stick the red-hot poker in the mug until the drink is steaming hot. Naturally, it's a much better idea to do this at the start of the party than after you've had a couple."

Cola de Mono, Chilean Christmas Coffee Punch (pictured above)

Spiced iced coffee and milk with a kick makes for some very festive parties. Make it in the morning, it's ready for your evening gathering.

"Apparently, Montt was known as "El Mono", The Monkey, to his friends. He attended a party one night, and brought along his Colt revolver, which the host kept safe. Montt was ready to leave and asked the host to retrieve his Colt, but the host persuaded him to stay. The party then stretched into the wee hours and the wine ran out, but everyone was still in a party mood. The host made some coffee with spices, milk, and sugar, and spiked it with aguardiente, a local eau-de-vie similar to grappa. The guests loved it, and named the drink Colt de Montt, after El Presidente's beloved revolver. The name evolved over time to cola de mono, as the drink is known to this day.

And if you believe a story that convoluted, I have some Incan ruins to sell you."

Irish Coffee

Take a little time to master the famed Irish Coffee, and your efforts shall be handsomely rewarded. A well-made one is transcendent.

"One of my favorite winter recovery drinks is Irish Coffee. The light sweetness, warmth, and gentle caffeine kick make it appropriate for after-dinner, or as an indulgent breakfast complement. Like so many classic cocktails, Irish Coffee is a simple affair frequently ruined. For a drink consisting of spiked coffee with sugar, I've had some atrocious ones. Just a little care to detail makes a huge difference."

And My Number One Winter Holiday Drink Is... Chocolate Coquito!

Seriously, if you haven't made this, stop what you're doing and make a batch right this instant. Even people who say they hate egg nog love coquito. It doesn't taste like standard egg nog. It's rich and creamy, it has some tropical flair from coconut, and adding chocolate just takes the whole thing over the top.

"While you can serve your coquito the same day you make it, it vastly improves the longer you let it sit. As with egg nog, I like to let it chill in the fridge for at least 3 weeks to mellow everything and so the alcohol can work its preservative magic and kill any bacterial ickiness from the rare salmonella-laced raw egg."

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