Gallery: The Best Drinks We Drank in December

Shrubby Mary at Home
Shrubby Mary at Home

"On Christmas morning, my wife and I have a long-standing breakfast tradition: strong coffee, bagels with lox and the whole spread, and Bloody Marys. This year, I made the Bloodies using a tomato and celery shrub I made for my upcoming book on shrubs, due out in September 2014. (So if you want the recipe, you’ll need to be a little patient.) Lately, we prefer to use gin in place of vodka in our Bloodies, and we’ve been decreasing the amount of alcohol as we get older. (I used to make them half vodka, half tomato mixture, but those’ll get to you quickly. Now I use an ounce of booze per drink.)"—Michael Dietsch, Cocktail 101 contributor

[Photo: Jennifer Hess]

Monk's Café Flemish Sour Ale
Monk's Café Flemish Sour Ale

"There was a brief period of time some years back when my local grocery store carried a refreshing sour ale from the Philly brew shop and restaurant Monk's Café. I suspect I singlehandedly went through the entire stock of it, and, to my great sorrow, it hasn't reappeared since. Recently, I was lucky enough to be gifted a bottle by a wise and knowing friend and could barely contain my excitement. It may not be the most lip-puckering or complex sour out there, but its bright tartness and light sweetness has a cider-like effect on my senses—that wind-whipped feeling of a crisp fall day."—Niki Achitoff-Gray, Associate Editor

[Photograph: Flickr/Brian Haberer]

Atsby Vermouth
Atsby Vermouth
"Even though Maggie wrote about it way back in 2012, I’m only now discovering the joy of Atsby Vermouth, made right here in New York State. The Amberthorn dry vermouth is very dry and very aromatic, with a tart flavor that helped cut through the giant celebratory meal I’d just stuffed myself with. I don’t have a ton of experience drinking vermouth straight, but after meeting Atsby, it might be my new go-to."—Jamie Feldmar, Managing Editor
'The Art of Choke' at Home
'The Art of Choke' at Home

"The best drink I drank this month was made at home using two of my (new) favorite things: Green Chartreuse and Cynar, an Italian amaro flavored with artichokes. The recipe, from the Violet Hour in Chicago, uses Green Chartreuse, Cynar, rum, demerara syrup, lime juice, and Angostura bitters to make a bitter, earthy, yet sweet drink that's perfect for winter sipping. I made a version that uses mole bitters from Bittermens and Ron Zacapa 23 rum that kicks up the richness a notch, without losing any of that clean, cutting amaro flavor."—Lizz Schumer, cocktail contributor

[Photo: Lizz Schumer]

Cigar City Jai Alai IPA
Cigar City Jai Alai IPA

"One of the best parts of visiting my family in Florida for the holidays is that I get to drink beer by Tampa based Cigar City Brewing. Their Jai Alai IPA is gorgeous. It's hazy orange in color and the aroma and flavor is full of pine, grapefruit, mango, and citrus fruit. Hops don't grow in FL, but Cigar City has managed to capture the FL sunshine and citrus crop in these cans. When fresh, Jai Alai is among the very best IPAs in the world."—Chris Cohen, beer contributor

[Photo: Chris Cohen]

Zubrowka Highball
Zubrowka Highball

"My new winter happy hour thing is a vodka soda that's actually good. It starts with Zubrowka, a rye-based vodka flavored with bison grass for something creamy and, well, grassy, then adds Pimm's and lemon along with the soda. I've taken to topping it off with Reagan's orange bitters and Fee Brothers rhubarb bitters, and the result is something like a not-too-sweet soda I wouldn't mind seeing in bodega fridge cases."—Max Falkowitz, SENY Editor

[Photo: Max Falkowitz]

Champagne at the King Cole Bar in NYC
Champagne at the King Cole Bar in NYC

"My favorite drink this month was more a function of experience than taste, though it wasn't hard to put away either. I've been away from NYC just long enough that I wanted to be touristy when I came home for Christmas, and after a visit to the Rockefeller tree and skating rink, a glass of Champagne at the newly renovated King Cole Bar at the St. Regis was perfect. The bar was festive, glamorous, and had good bar snacks. A perfect holiday afternoon."—Carrie Vasios, Sweets Editor

[Photo: Alice Gao]

2002 Chinon from Domaine Olga Raffault
2002 Chinon from Domaine Olga Raffault
"Awhile back, I had a great old bottle of Domaine Olga Raffault's 'Les Picasses' Chinon at NoMad in NYC, and it's always stuck in my mind. Cabernet Franc from the Loire ages beautifully and doesn't cost as much as it should. So I was pumped to discover a few bottles of the 2002 on sale on Astor Wine's website—and heavily discounted on Black Friday. I wish I'd bought more; it's drinking beautifully."—Maggie Hoffman, Drinks editor
Ginger Milk Tea from Saint's Alp in NYC
Ginger Milk Tea from Saint's Alp in NYC

"When a friend visiting from out of town suggested walking from the East Village to Chelsea on a painfully cold afternoon, my response was something like, 'Bbluluhgguoohouhhoodowehaveto.' A cup of hot ginger milk tea helped keep my innards toasty (and my morale high)." —Robyn Lee, AHT Editor and Photographer

[Photograph: Robyn Lee]

Wormtown Norm Chocolate Coconut Stout
Wormtown Norm Chocolate Coconut Stout

"I don't particularly like Almond Joys or chocolate beer, but this creamy, rich chocolate coconut stout that drinks uncannily like an Almond Joy bar won me over and had me thinking about it for days after. It's decadent for sure, but not overly sweet thanks to a nice roastiness and the toasted coconut. Worcester's excellent Wormtown Brewery brewed it in honor of local beer blogger Norman "the Beer Nut" Miller's coconut obsession, so we all owe Norm for this one."—Heather Vandenengel, beer contributor

[Photo: Craft Beer Cellar]

Lambrusco Bianco
Lambrusco Bianco

"I've been on a bit of an Emilia-Romagna kick recently—anyone else?—and this Lambrusco Bianco from Lini was a delight, with soft, small bubbles and almost Champagne-like warm, bready flavors. For $13, it's a steal; we got three bottles to kick off our Christmas dinner."—Carey Jones, cocktail contributor

[Photo: Carey Jones]

Punch at Caña Rum Bar in Los Angeles
Punch at Caña Rum Bar in Los Angeles

"With all the holiday party hopping, I have more cups of punch in December than any other time of the year. I stumbled upon a favorite at Caña Rum Bar in Downtown L.A., simply called a cream punch in Spanish (Ponche de Crême). It had Angostura 5 year rum, spiced maple syrup, bitters, egg and cream like any eggnog-like punch. Yes, it was milky, creamy and absolutely delicious, but it also had a touch of effervescence thanks to the addition of Golden Road Stout. An egg nog that was rich yet something I could sip all night? I was sold."—Esther Tseng, Los Angeles correspondent

[Photo: Esther Tseng]

La Garagista Vin Mousseux 'Capreolus' 2012
La Garagista Vin Mousseux 'Capreolus' 2012

"This may be Vermont winemaker Deirdre Heekin's second commercial vintage, but she's already winning sommeliers' hearts with her red, white, sparkling, and orange wines. Capreolus (sent to me by the winemaker just after disgorgement) is a blend of 70% red Marquette and 30% white La Crescent grapes made into a dry pétillant naturel sparkler. The body is deep garnet red, and its pearly mousse yields rosy-floral aromas and flavors of ripe strawberries cut with salt, herbs, and pastry. Look for her orange “Vinu Jancu” on the list at New York City’s Rouge Tomate."—Meg Houston Maker, wine contributor

[Photo: Meg Houston Maker]

Tom and Jerry at Mike A in Buffalo, NY
Tom and Jerry at Mike A in Buffalo, NY

"One of the most popular Christmastime cocktails in Buffalo, NY, is the Tom and Jerry. Different bartenders will put their own spin on it, but this was a particularly great one I had at Mike A at the Lafayette. The base is rum infused with fig, vanilla bean, and toasted cardamom, plus brandy or cognac. On top of that goes a batter made by whipping eggwhites, combining the yolks with superfine sugar and spices, and then mixing the two back together. A few dollops of that, some hot water to top it all off, and all of a sudden, the snow doesn't seem quite so bad."—Nick Guy, cocktail contributor

[Photo: Nick Guy]

Champagne Margarita at Frontera, Chicago
Champagne Margarita at Frontera, Chicago

"All of the margaritas at Frontera are worth ordering—believe me, I’ve tried them all. But the one I’m most obsessed with is the Champagne margarita, which is pictured on the left (on the right is the still very good Topolo Margarita). It’s exactly what it sounds like: a margarita made with Sauza Conmemorativo Añejo tequila and Gran Torres orange liqueur is topped with Piper-Heidsieck Brut. But still I don’t understand why it works so well, only that I want one all of the time. Fortunately, the recipe in the Fiesta at Rick’s cookbook and also on his website more than gets the job done. —Nick Kindelsperger, SE Chicago editor

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

Chartreuse Swizzle at Acabar in Los Angeles
Chartreuse Swizzle at Acabar in Los Angeles

"I’ve been having trouble keeping up with all the great new cocktail places in Los Angeles lately, let alone getting to visit one a second time. In December, however, I found myself making a pitstop at Acabar once again for their Chartreuse Swizzle. Somehow they tame the intensely herbal nature of Green Chartreuse and make it...refreshing. (There's pineapple and lime in there, plus falernum for spice.) Thinking about stopping in for a third soon."—Elana Lepkowski, cocktail contributor

[Photo: Elana Lepkowski]

Gigondas Domaine Grapillon D'Or
Gigondas Domaine Grapillon D'Or
"I got this bottle at a cute shop in the Village. They have some great selections, they were pouring some nice french wines the day we stopped in. The wine itself is perfect for a chilly evening. I made seared tuna with a cucumber/olive tapenade and couscous and it went really well with it!"—Tracie Lee, Designer