The guests have gone home, the dishes are clean, and you’re stuck with extra baking spices and fresh herbs. What luck! Instead of storing everything in the pantry for next year, you can use these spices, herbs, and other fragrant flavor enhancers while they’re still sitting out. Check out these tips (paired with suggested recipes) to see how you can reuse some of those leftover ingredients from holiday celebrations in cocktails, taking them to the next level.
Mix in Ground Spices (Nutmeg)
A good bourbon, such as Bulleit, already has notes of baking spices in its flavor profile, so you can’t go wrong with adding it to eggnog. You can use the basic ratio for this recipe to scale up for larger batches. For most cocktails, you’re not going to want to add ground spices directly to the drink (see infusions below for an option), as they risk making the drink taste gritty, but with a thick mixer like eggnog, they blend in beautifully. Consider also ground cinnamon, allspice or pumpkin spices.
Easy Bourbon Eggnog
- 1 ounce Bulleit Bourbon
- 4 ounces eggnog, chilled
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Chocolate orange stick garnish (optional)
- Dash of ground nutmeg garnish
- Combine bourbon and ground nutmeg in a mixing glass or cocktail shaker with ice.
- Stir well to chill and strain into a mug or Old Fashioned glass.
- Add chilled eggnog and stir to blend.
- Sprinkle nutmeg over the drink to garnish.
- Garnish with a chocolate orange stick.
Infuse Spirits With Seasonal Herbs (Rosemary)
Tequila pairs wonderfully with cool-weather fruits, herbs, and spices, and infusing your tequila with these seasonal ingredients helps bring out those winter flavor notes even more. Infusing a spirit is easy: Stick whole fruit, herbs, or spices in a large-mouth jar or bottle, add tequila, seal, and store in a cool dark place for a few hours or a couple of days. Strain into a clean bottle and, presto! This Old Fashioned riff has all the goodness of your favorite tequila and citrus cocktail with the added seasonal flavors of rosemary and pear for a crisp, herbal drink that looks as good as it tastes. To give this recipe a little heat, incorporate a few jalapeño slices.
Rosemary Pear Tequila Old Fashioned
- 1.5 ounces rosemary and pear-infused Casamigos Blanco Tequila*
- 0.5 ounce simple syrup
- 0.75 ounce lemon juice
- 3-4 dashes bitters
- Rosemary sprig garnish
- 2 jalapeño slices (optional)
- Candied ginger garnish (optional)
- Muddle 2 jalapeño slices (without seeds) in a cocktail shaker (optional).
- Add the rest of the ingredients and top with ice.
- Shake until thoroughly chilled, at least 10 seconds.
- Strain into a rocks glass filled with ice.
- Garnish with a rosemary sprig and a piece of candied ginger.
*Rosemary and Pear-Infused Casamigos Blanco Tequila:
- Add a few sprigs of fresh rosemary and half a diced pear to a sealable container filled with 6-10 ounces Casamigos Blanco Tequila.
- Seal and let sit for 1-4 hours in a cool, dark space.
- Strain into another sealable container for storage. Store in a cool, dark place.
Make a Simple Syrup (Ginger)
What’s better than an inviting, wintry interpretation of the Espresso Martini that uses leftover ginger to make a homemade simple syrup? The answer is nothing. Nothing is better. Sure, you can buy simple syrup at the store, but making it and customizing it is fun and easy. So grab your ginger and follow these easy steps to mix up this classic cocktail with just the right amount of spice.
Gingerbread Espresso Martini Recipe
- 1 ounce Ketel One Vodka
- 0.5 ounce Baileys Original Irish Cream
- 1 ounce brewed espresso or coffee, cooled
- 0.25 ounce ginger simple syrup*
- 2-4 ½-inch slices fresh ginger, to taste
- 3 espresso beans to garnish
- Candy cane garnish
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice.
Shake vigorously, at least 20 seconds, until chilled and frothy, and strain into a Martini or cocktail glass.
Top with three espresso beans facing each other and a small candy cane to garnish.
*Ginger Simple Syrup:
- Add 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar, and 1 cup freshly peeled and sliced ginger root to a saucepan and heat over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves, stirring occasionally to avoid caking.
- Strain into a sealable container and store in a cool, dark space.
Use Herbs or Spices to Garnish (Cinnamon Sticks)
Cinnamon is a classic seasonal favorite — from its smell to its taste to even its look. You really can’t go wrong by adding cinnamon to your cocktail. Thanks to its botanical makeup, gin plays well with lots of fresh spices and herbs — including cinnamon! This wintry take on a classic G & T spices things up with seasonal garnishes. The best garnishes engage at least three senses: sight, smell, and taste, so try adding sprigs of rosemary, whole cinnamon sticks, orange peels, or even leftover holiday candy to create fun, inventive garnishes.
Winter Gin & Tonic
- 1.5 ounces Tanqueray No. Ten Gin
- 1 orange slice, peeled and cut into quarters
- 1 cinnamon stick, cut into three pieces
- Tonic water
- 2-3 dashes citrus bitters
- Cinnamon stick garnish
- Orange slice garnish
- Combine gin and peeled orange segments in a mixing glass or cocktail shaker, and muddle gently.
- Add cinnamon stick pieces and ice.
- Stir well to chill and blend, and strain (or fine strain) into a large copa or red wine glass filled with ice.
- Top with tonic water and dash with bitters.
- Garnish with an orange slice (dehydrated is also cool!) and a cinnamon stick.
This infographic is sponsored by The Bar.