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The holidays are all about playing host to family and friends, but instead of shaking cocktails one by one, look toward punches, which allow you to prebatch your drinks and serve large groups in one fell swoop. Here are some of our favorite party-ready holiday punch recipes. Let the mingling and merriment commence!

Ale Punch
This English-style ale punch gets its orange aroma from homemade capillaire (a syrup traditionally made with maidenhair fern) in an updated recipe from Jacob Grier.

Charleston Brown Water Punch
Roderick Weaver from the Bar at Husk created this rum- and whiskey-based Southern punch recipe to serve at society events, where you’ll typically find a pitcher tucked among many bottles of bourbon.

Day Dream Polish Punch
A traditional style of punch made from water and sugar simmered with dried fruits.

Dominican Spiced Cider
Made with rum and red wine, this spiced cider becomes more flavorful the longer it steeps. Make it ahead and enjoy long into the evening.

Drink Boston Fort Point Punch
Champagne adds a festive sparkle to this punch from Boston, which is otherwise flush with baking spice and bright lemon flavors.

Gin Punch
The talented duo behind New York City’s ever-popular Employees Only offer up this reworked, Jerry Thomas classic in their book, Speakeasy: Classic Cocktails Reimagined From New York’s Employees Bar.

Kentucky Cardinal Punch
Wine lovers will love the tang of this Shiraz and vermouth punch, buffered with a bracing dose of rye whiskey and brandy for good measure.

Miel Picante Punch
The added heat on this warm rum and apple cider punch comes from a subtly spicy jalapeño and rum honey.

Santa’s Little Helper Cider Punch
Cinnamon, spice and everything nice.

Sparkling Pomegranate Punch
Bright winter citrus gives this fizzy punch a colorful, tangy boost. The recipe easily doubles to accommodate large gatherings in a snap.

Tequila-Sherry Egg Nog
It just wouldn’t be the holidays without a batch of egg nog, and Jeffrey Morgenthaler’s recipe using sherry and tequila is as delicious as it is decadent.

Velvet Ace Party Punch
Sweet and spicy, with hints of licorice and a slightly bitter finish.

Vixen Punch
This vodka punch is featured in our book, Cocktails for the Holidays, a collection of holiday recipes from talented bartenders around the world.

Yuletide Wave Punch
Think tiki drinks aren’t made for the holidays? This tropical punch will change your mind.

The post Holiday Punch Recipes appeared first on Imbibe Magazine.

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Patrick Foley in front of J.J. Foley’s in Boston.

By the time I moved to the Boston area in the 1990s, the South End had already become a desirable neighborhood, beyond the means that my entry-level publishing job provided me. It was a mecca of galleries, gay bars, trendy restaurants and former tenement houses turned groovy lofts. I would occasionally make a pilgrimage to the South End from my drafty apartment in outlying Somerville in search of some up-to-the-minute nightspot. Back then, I was utterly unaware that the neighborhood was home to one of Boston’s most legendary bars: J.J. Foley’s Cafe.

Foley’s is not to be confused with Boston’s newer generation of Irish bars—ones that are often run by recent immigrants from Ireland, who decorate the walls with Gaelic imagery and show soccer games on TV. Jeremiah J. Foley opened his namesake tavern in 1909, when “Irish immigrant” was still an insult. Jerry Foley—grandson of the original “J.J.”—and his four grown sons now run the place, which is unmistakably Irish American. They play Sox games on the TV that hangs next to a plastic diorama of the Budweiser Clydesdales. The long oak bar is standing-only. The walls are covered with Boston Irish memorabilia, like posters for mayors James Michael Curley, Ray Flynn and Marty Walsh, the city’s current leader. “I’ve known his family for years,” says Jerry, a trim, tactful man whose pressed white shirt and necktie announce, “I run a tight ship.”

It’s remarkable that Foley’s has survived for more than 100 years in a neighborhood that not only hasn’t been Irish since World War II but that also has been scarred by cycles of industry, blight and urban renewal. Gay residents helped reshape the area into a creative community, and the neighborhood is now so gentrified that there are high-end boutiques for babies and dogs. Amid these changes, Foley’s is a living time capsule—but far from being sealed off, it’s welcomed the ever-shifting demographic of the South End, and Boston as a whole.

Today the clientele is roughly half female—which doesn’t sound noteworthy until you consider that women weren’t allowed in the bar area of this or any Boston establishment until the early 1970s. When Jerry greets a female patron with “Hello, dahlin’,” I smile to myself. I first started going to Foley’s around 2008, when a friend invited me to an Oscars viewing party she hosted there. Young professionals of various stripes flock to the restaurant side (it opened in 2007) for Tuesday Trivia. They eat burgers, stuffed quahogs, yellowfin tuna steak. Jerry looks wistful as he reminisces about the days when his bar was a no-frills hangout for reporters and cops. He realized the neighborhood had changed for good when the nearby Boston Herald building became a Whole Foods.

But he’s not complaining—not by a long shot. Business is good. That’s in large part because of the easygoing professionalism with which Jerry and his sons run the place. They’re well-dressed and polite. They stand up straight when pouring a beer. They never appear rushed. And, as a result, patrons are behaved and relaxed.

One night, on the old tavern side, there was a gathering of Boston Medical Center co-workers ordering Cosmos, a table of 30-something guys racking up empties of Corona and Amstel Light, a young woman with platinum hair and chunky glasses, a grey-haired man in cargo shorts and flip flops drinking white wine, and middle-aged WASP-y me in a tailored dress, fresh from a job interview and enjoying a Guinness and a whiskey. Jerry and his son, Patrick, made each of us feel like we were in exactly the right place. What a neat trick. Foley’s may not be my neighborhood bar—I still live on the outskirts of Boston—but whenever I’m there, I feel like a local.

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The post J.J. Foley’s Cafe, A Boston Staple appeared first on Imbibe Magazine.

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Finding a good cocktail bar in Detroit has become increasingly easy, but to locate the one-of-a-kind creations at Castalia, you’ll want to follow your nose. Opened this spring by husband-and-wife team Kevin Peterson and Jane Larson, the basement-level bar (located in a historic Victorian mansion in midtown) is a fragrance shop by day and an 18-seat cocktail bar by night.

The couple started Sfumato fragrances about five years ago, with Larson bringing her experience in art and design to the table and Peterson coming from a career in the culinary field. “I started playing with fragrances just as a way to keep that part of my brain working,” he says. “There a lot of similarities between the way flavors are put together and the way you would build a fragrance.”

Together they created a line of eight all-natural fragrances ranging from the citrusy Epiphany to the herbal Apricity and sold them online and at pop-up events. They also hosted a series of dinners where they would pair each of their scents with a food dish, or a cocktail and an album, to create a full sensory experience. The owner of the historic building they currently occupy happened to attend one of the dinners and offered them the space to house Sfumato and Castalia. Sfumato opens at noon and features display cases filled with fragrances, essential oils and incense. At 6 pm, the cases flip around, tables and benches unfold from the wall and barstools emerge as Castalia opens for business.

Each of the cocktails on Castalia’s menu is created to pair with one of Sfumato’s eight scents. “Fragrances are built on a structure of top notes, middle notes and base notes, so the top notes hit first and the base notes stay the longest,” says Peterson. “The base is whatever spirit you’re going to use, the middle is liqueurs or juices, and the top notes are often tinctures of other aromatic components.”

The spirits they use range from barrel-aged options like bourbon and rum that emulate woodsy and resinous scents, to gins for their aromatic botanical profiles, and an extensive collection of amari. When served, the cocktail’s matching fragrance is spritzed onto either the napkin or the garnish, for comparison. “I think a lot of people don’t realize how much flavor is due to scent. When you’re eating or drinking, a lot of the aromatic components are going up the back of your throat,” says Peterson. “What we’re trying to do is get everything harmonizing, so it’s multiplying the effect in your brain—like signals from every direction.”

While Sfumato’s core fragrances stays the same, Castalia’s cocktail menu changes seasonally. If the spicy, cedar notes of their Gravitas fragrance was initially conceptualized to pair with a wintry sipper, the next iteration might see it matched with a citrus-forward springtime aperitif. On the current menu, the Pareidolia is a riff on a Daiquiri with a split base of rum and aquavit. It’s served alongside the scent Apricity, which is imbued with herbal aromas of angelica seed, basil and clary sage. Meanwhile, chai-infused Carina Carina pairs perfectly with the spice-forward Gravitas scent, and the smoky, herbal To Build a Fire cocktail is matched with the Survival Instinct fragrance. “The most surprising thing for me has been the way complete strangers will sit next to each other and start a conversation based on how they experienced the scents and the drink,” says Larson. “They’ll say how it reminds them of their grandma’s cedar chest, or a place they went to as a kid. I think people let their guard down since it’s out of the ordinary, and they’re experiencing something together revolving around a sense that they don’t normally think about.”

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The post The Scent-Inspired Cocktails of Castalia appeared first on Imbibe Magazine.

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With the power to transport you to the heart of a snowy forest in a single sip, alpine liqueur is a perfect ingredient for the holiday season. Today, there are great options made by traditional European distillers as well as adventurous American producers. Here are a few recipes from bartenders around the U.S. that showcase the unique flavor of these liqueurs.

Melrose Umbrella Co. Collins 
Pear vodka meets rosemary-honey syrup, lemon, alpine liqueur and soda in this Collins riff.

Golden Ghost
Opposites attract in this modern twist on the classic Bijou.

In the Pines
This mezcal cocktail has winter written all over it.

Welcome to France
Single malt whiskey and sweet vermouth back up the woodsy flavor of alpine liqueur.

Lush Life
Sage’s aromatics help merge the spice of falernum with the botanicals of génépy.

Little Caprice
A light and refreshing collins with hints of alpine herbs, tea and pineapple.

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The post Six Alpine Liqueur Cocktails appeared first on Imbibe Magazine.

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Today’s alpine liqueurs are descendants of those created centuries ago by farmers, mountaineers and monks, who would harvest the native flora to harness the flavor of the mountains in an herbal spirit. Often sipped solo as an aperitif or digestif, alpine liqueurs can also lend an intriguing depth to cocktails or a boozy boost to hot cocoa. From European distillers using traditional recipes to American makers tapping the flavors of their regions, here are five to try.

Zirbenz Stone Pine Liqueur of the Alps
The Arolla stone pine is sometimes referred to as the “agave of the Alps,” as it can take up to 30 years for a tree to produce the fruit used in this signature spirit of Austria. Produced seasonally with the harvest by the centuries-old Josef Hofer family distillery, the crimson liqueur carries the aroma of juicy red fruit and alpine flora with a smooth sweetness and a hint of menthol. $32.99, klwines.com

Leopold Bros. Three Pins Alpine Herbal Liqueur
Denver-based Leopold Bros. looks to the Rocky Mountains to create a blend of 15 mostly native herbs and flowers. The Three Pins Alpine Herbal Liqueur, named with a nod to the old style of telemark ski bindings, is bursting with flavors of pine and clove, with a cola-like sweetness and a gently bitter finish. $34.99, klwines.com

Townshend’s Bluebird Alpine Liqueur
Produced by Thomas & Sons Distillery, the spirits wing of Portland, Oregon’s Townshend’s Tea Company, Bluebird Alpine Liqueur is made from a roster of aromatic herbs and spices, such as fennel and angelica. A fragrance of sweet mint is balanced by a snap of licorice and warming spices. $32, seelbachs.com

Dolin Génépy des Alpes
A hallmark liqueur of the Savoy region in the French Alps, génépy recipes date back centuries and include a range of botanicals, specifically a variety of Artemisia (commonly called mugwort or wormwood) native to the region. Lush with the aroma of pine, Dolin Génépy is the sweetest liqueur of the bunch, but with an herbaceous depth of licorice and spice. $29.50, bittersandbottles.com

Cascadia D’Amore American Bitter Liqueur
An interpretation of traditional European herbal liqueurs by way of the Pacific Northwest, Cascadia D’Amore, made by Portland’s New Deal Distillery, is a love letter to the Cascade Mountain Range. Incorporating a blend of local flora, including lavender and rose, the liqueur is smooth and sweet up front but with a spicy, bitter finish. $32.50, bittersandbottles.com

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The post 5 To Try: Alpine Liqueurs appeared first on Imbibe Magazine.

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Italian distiller Luxardo has been making iconic spirits and liqueurs for almost 200 years, and the newest release brings two family staples together in one bottle. The sour cherry gin—a blend of their London Dry-style gin (not currently available in the U.S.) and proprietary Marasca cherry juice made from fruit grown on the family’s orchards in Veneto—balances the bright juniper qualities of a strong London Dry with the sweet fruit notes of Marasca cherry juice, finishing in a long, lingering thread of bone-dry tannin. Try it in a Martinez, Negroni, or a cherry G&T. $32.50, bittersandbottles.com

The post Drink of the Week: Luxardo Sour Cherry Gin appeared first on Imbibe Magazine.

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Since Jerry Thomas set the first Blue Blazer on fire in the 1860s, flamed cocktails have captured the attention of bartenders and guests worldwide. “Every other drink that’s lit on fire owes something to the Blue Blazer, including two of our favorites, the Spanish Coffee and the Flaming Dr. Pepper,” says Andrew Volk, co-owner of Portland Hunt + Alpine Club in Portland, Maine. In their new book Northern Hospitality, Andrew and wife Briana talk about the art of flaming cocktails, and we recently chatted with Volk about the technique. “It’s a delight to see a skilled bartender throw a drink on fire, and the drink isn’t half-bad either,” he says.

With most cocktails, lighting booze on fire is mainly for entertainment, but in the case of the Spanish Coffee, it does actually serve a purpose. “When you light the rum in a Spanish Coffee on fire, you’ve already coated the rim of the glass with sugar, and the fire actually caramelizes that sugar on the rim, bringing a texture and flavor to the drink that wouldn’t exist otherwise,” Volk says. To light a Spanish Coffee, Volk says you need to act quickly and decisively. At Hunt + Alpine, they add 1 oz. of overproof rum to a sugar-rimmed glass and tilt the glass at an angle to light the rum on fire with a stick lighter (so you don’t burn your fingers). Once it’s on fire, they hold the bottom of the glass and rotate the glass to make sure fresh oxygen continues to fuel the fire and caramelize the sugars on the rim. After the sugar has caramelized, they add ¾ oz. of dry curaçao and ¾ oz. of coffee liqueur and watch as the flame continues to burn. To snuff it out, they top the glass with hot coffee, then they garnish with whipped cream.

For the Blue Blazer, fire “concentrates the flavors of the whisky while reducing the proof to a crowd-friendly level,” says Volk. “But way more so, it’s a real show-stopper of a drink, as you’re throwing fire between two mugs.” To make the drink, Volk starts by warming two double-walled mugs and one 8 oz. rocks glass with hot water. Prepare a station near a sink or water bucket with your warm mugs, warm glass, 2 oz. of barrel-proof whiskey (choose bourbon or Scotch), a lemon peel and a lighter or match. Discard the warm water from the mugs and in one of them, pour 2 oz. of fresh hot water. On top of that, gently pour the whiskey. Light the whiskey on fire and carefully pour the lit fire between the mugs. “Make sure you’re holding the mug handles at 12 o’clock to your knuckles, because if you hold them like you would a beer stein, you will burn yourself,” says Volk. “Start with the mugs close together, but as you get practiced and confident, slowly raise your pouring hand higher, keeping an eye on the mug you are pouring INTO at all times. After 10 or 12 throws, discard the water from the prepared rocks glass and pour the lit whiskey into the glass. Immediately express a lemon peel over the whiskey and discard the peel. Make sure the fire is out completely before serving this drink.”

Most bartenders are trained to work with fire behind the bar, but if you plan to try the technique at home, safety is critical. “There’s the sense of danger about fire that can be thrilling, but we strongly recommend adhering to some strict safely guidelines whenever mixing fire and alcohol,” Volk says. Some tips:

  • Make sure your ingredients are all within arm’s reach. “The most common mistake we’ve seen when someone starts lighting a drink on fire is not being fully prepared to execute the entire drink,” Volk says. “You want to make sure you have everything you need to complete the drink within arm’s reach so it’s easy to grab.”
  • Always practice first without fire. “Practice without fire so that you can confidently and quickly make the moves you need to when the drink is actually on fire,” Volk says.
  • If you’re the one making the flamed drinks, don’t partake in the drinks. “We have a friend who decided it was a good idea to make a Blue Blazer after he’d had a drink or three,” Volk recalls. “Needless to say, it’s truly not recommended to light drinks or anything else on fire after you’ve been drinking.”
  • Keep everything around you flame-free. “Make sure your hair is pulled completely back and any loose pieces of clothing are totally secured,” Volk adds.
  • Prepare for the worst. “We have been fortunate (and careful) enough to not have a bad incident, but keep a bucket of water and a fire extinguisher nearby,” Volk says.

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The post How To Flame Cocktails … Safely appeared first on Imbibe Magazine.

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The Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria.

Hugging the stony shoreline on the southern tip of Vancouver Island, British Columbia’s capital city boasts a gorgeous, if anachronous, landscape, with historic landmarks like The Empress Hotel camouflaging the modern movements of the city’s evolving drinks culture. Australian bartender Shawn Soole migrated to Victoria more than a decade ago and has influenced this evolution firsthand, bringing international attention to spots like Clive’s Classic Lounge before opening Little Jumbo in 2013 and the (now closed) Foxtrot Tango Whisky in 2017. Now the head bartender at Pagliacci’s, Soole offers a tour of his favorite drinking destinations in his adopted home. “For a city that has less than 100,000 people, it has a vibrant food-and-drink scene,” he says. “Getting a pour-over coffee in the morning, drinking a pint of craft ale at lunch or enjoying a cocktail is not just a treat, but a way of life.”

Hey Happy 
Since opening in the summer of 2014, this downtown coffee shop helmed by former Canadian Barista Champion Rob Kettner has been at the forefront of the city’s coffee culture. Sourcing from roasters like Heart in Portland, Phil & Sebastian in Calgary, and 49th Parallel in Vancouver, Hey Happy brews every cup to order via pourover, in addition to whipping up creative alcohol-free mixed drinks like an espresso mint julep and caffeine-free options like housemade cashew milk with turmeric, ginger and vanilla. Soole keeps it simple, swearing by the nitro cold brew.

The Drake Eatery 
Paying homage to the old Drake Hotel and Beer Parlour that was the first pub to open after Prohibition was lifted in Canada in 1954, The Drake Eatery opened in 2014 with a focus on the craft beers of Canada and a few Northwest standouts. Taps from spots like the local Swans Brewpub and eastern Canada’s Muskoka share space next to Oregon’s Pfriem and California-based Modern Times. “It’s the most well-curated menu in the city,” says Soole. “[Owners] Mike and Lee Spence have it down to a fine science here.” With pub-style counter service, the atmosphere is casual, while a sitting room filled with Victorian-style sofas maintains the parlor vibe.

Pagliacci’s
Originally opened in 1979 by brothers and Brooklyn natives David and Howie Siegel, Pagliacci’s quickly became a Victoria staple serving up big portions of New York-Italian-style pasta and even bigger slices of New York Cheesecake. Shawn Soole took over the bar program after a full kitchen renovation and new bar re-opened in early 2018, offering 15 wines on tap, two cocktails and a rotating selection of beer. “The cocktail menu mantra is high prep, quick service cocktails with a Solera barrel-aged Odd Society cocktail, a milk punch, winter sangria on tap and a carbonated bottle cocktail,” Soole says. “Overall, the renovations blend the longstanding tradition of Pagliacci’s with trends that reflect the future of this stalwart.”

Bodega 
The newer sister location to longtime local favorite Tapa Bar, Spanish wine bar Bodega is Soole’s go-to spot at happy hour for pintxos and a glass of sherry. The bar’s list features around 20 varieties, and Bodega owner and general manager Emily Henderson also experiments with playful sherry cocktails like the Juan Burgundy, made with amontillado sherry, port, fresh lemon and simple syrup. “We garnish it with a strip of leather clipped to the glass and then mist the whole thing with Bowmore scotch,” says Henderson. “We thought it tasted like smoking a cigar in a mahogany leather chair in an old library, so we ran with it.”

Cafe Mexico 
A Victoria institution, Cafe Mexico opened in 1985, was gutted by a fire in 2015, then rebuilt and reopened in 2016, much to the relief of dedicated patrons and agave fans. “This old-school Mexican joint has a world-class cocktail program,” Soole says. With a list of around 115 tequilas, mezcals and sotols, the cantina-style bar boasts one of the largest agave-spirit selections in Canada. The expansive list of original cocktails ranges from the boldly spirited, like the Barrel-Aged Tridente with blanco tequila, Cynar, fino sherry and peach bitters, to the bright and lively, like the Jalisco Bubbly Pop with blanco tequila, Aperol and Ancho Reyes in a Jarritos tamarind soda.

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The post Where to Drink in Victoria, British Columbia appeared first on Imbibe Magazine.

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