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Four Festive Cocktails for Your Holidays

BU alum bartenders prepare wintry tipples

The revival of cocktail culture over the past decade has dramatically raised the bar (no pun intended) for the quality of the mixed drink—particularly in restaurants and bars, but also at home. Packaged sour mix and gin in plastic bottles have given way to fresh-squeezed juices and small batch bourbons. Retailers from Target to West Elm are selling bar carts and champagne coupes.

As we enter the season of holiday parties and New Year’s Eve celebrations, BU Today asked two BU alums to show us how to prepare a few seasonally appropriate and slightly unexpected cocktails.

In the videos below, Ryan Lotz (CAS’09), bar manager of Boston’s No. 9 Park, takes on the vintage Jimmie Roosevelt cocktail, a refined alternative to a glass of bubbly, and an original creation called the Applewood, which he describes as an “Old Fashioned meets Sazerac meets winter-spiced flavor profile.”

Meghan Powers (CAS’14), a bartender at Drink, also in Boston, prepares two classic cocktails. The Lion’s Tail deviates from the typical whiskey sour template with notes of baking spices from Angostura bitters and allspice dram. The Alexander, not to be confused with the Brandy Alexander, uses gin to lend a citrusy brightness against a decadent combination of cream and crème de cacao.

The spirits selected below reflect the preferences of our featured bartenders, who advise readers to feel free to use whatever they can find. Or, they can stop by No. 9 Park or Drink and leave it to the experts.

Ryan Lotz, bar manger of No. 9 Park in Boston, Mass., stirs an original winter-flavored, spirit-forward cocktail, the Applewood.


2 ounces Calvados Coquerel Fine
Bar spoon of allspice or pimento dram
Bar spoon of Demerara sugar syrup
2 dashes Angostura bitters
2 dashes Peychaud bitters
¼ ounce Laphroaig single malt Scotch whisky

Rinse a chilled double Old Fashioned glass with Scotch whisky. Add all other ingredients to a mixing glass. Add ice to the mixing glass and stir for 60 to 90 seconds. Strain into the rinsed glass. Garnish with freshly grated cinnamon.

Meghan Powers, a bartender at Drink in Boston, Mass., prepares the ultimate dessert cocktail: the Alexander.

The Alexander

1½ ounces Citadelle Gin
¾ ounce Tempus Fugit Spirits Crème de Cacao
¾ ounce heavy cream

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker. Fill the shaker with ice and shake long enough to emulsify ingredients—about 15 seconds. Strain through a fine strainer into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.

Lotz shows how to make a Jimmie Roosevelt, a cocktail from Charles H. Baker's 1939 book The Gentleman's Companion.

Jimmie Roosevelt

Louis Roederer Brut Premier Champagne
1 ounce Pierre Ferrand 1840 Original Formula Cognac
¼ ounce Green Chartreuse
3 dashes Angostura bitters
Demerara sugar cube

Fill a large wine glass halfway with cracked ice cubes. In a separate vessel, saturate the sugar cube with Angostura bitters. Use a bar spoon to place the soaked sugar cube into the wine glass. Fill the remaining half of the wine glass with cracked ice cubes. Add the cognac. Fill the wine glass with champagne. Add the Green Chartreuse on top of the ice for aroma and flavor. No garnish.

Powers shakes together the classic cocktail, the Lion's Tail.

Lion’s Tail

1¾ ounces bourbon whiskey
¼ ounce allspice or pimento dram
½ ounce fresh-squeezed lime juice
½ ounce Demerara sugar syrup
2 dashes Angostura bitters

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker. Fill the shaker with ice, and shake for 10 to 12 seconds. Strain into a chilled coupe glass. No garnish.

Additional Notes

The measure of a bar spoon is equivalent to ⅛ ounce or ¾ teaspoon. Find out how to make Demerara sugar syrup here. Want to shake a drink like a bartender? Purchase two weighted Boston shaker tins in 28 ounce and 18 ounce sizes.

Alan Wong

Alan Wong can be reached at alanwong@bu.edu.

12 Comments on Four Festive Cocktails for Your Holidays

  • Nathan on 12.16.2015 at 1:04 pm

    Consider the amount of BU Police resources spent dealing with alcohol.

    Consider that alcohol is the “gateway drug” to drug abuse.

    Consider that alcohol results in more deaths than any other substance except tobacco.

    – – –

    Is it really a good idea to promote alcoholic drinks in a BU Today article?

    – – –

    According to the Centers for disease control “Drinking too much can harm your health. Excessive alcohol use led to approximately 88,000 deaths and 2.5 million years of potential life lost (YPLL) each year in the United States from 2006 – 2010, shortening the lives of those who died by an average of 30 years.1,2 Further, excessive drinking was responsible for 1 in 10 deaths among working-age adults aged 20-64 years. The economic costs of excessive alcohol consumption in 2010 were estimated at $249 billion, or $2.05 a drink”

    And yet BUY printed this article without even a reminder to drink responsibly.

    – – –

    I’m not suggesting prohibition here, but why promote alcohol use?

    What’s next, how to juggle hand grenades?

    • BU Grad Student on 12.17.2015 at 8:26 am

      Wow, exaggerate much? Showcasing 2 BU alumni and 4 cocktails is not promoting alcohol use or saying to go drink too much. The article isn’t under the “Campus Life” section. And do you seriously think that any underage undergrads are going to make these drinks with items such as bitters? No, they’re going to get the cheapest beer and vodka from plastic handles available so calm down. If you can’t read an article and look at 4 cocktail recipes without being told you should drink responsibly then you have a problem. The whole BU community receives the BU Today emails so thanks for the festive drink ideas, BU Today. People need to stop getting offended over every single thing.

      • Nathan on 12.17.2015 at 10:29 am

        Maybe you will understand in a few years, after you have firsthand knowledge of a few more pointless deaths, unplanned pregnancies and destroyed marrriages.

        It is not the sophistication and taste of undergrad drinking that matters. I was at a sophisticated cocktail party (Oakland, Ca – live 12 piece Jazz band) and saw a banking professional and a co-worker having sex outside the back door while throwing up. I’m pretty sure there are BU undergrads that saw the same thing this year. The quality of the drink does not stop the effects of alcohol and the different ways people manage them.

        • BU Grad Student on 12.17.2015 at 11:26 am

          So because some people can’t handle their alcohol and aren’t responsible and other people become alcoholics and make poor choices no one should ever read about a different cocktail recipe? Absurd. Should I not drive a car because there are irresponsible drivers? Should I not read an article about Christmas cookies because some contain lard and our country is obese? Please. I have plenty of life experience and firsthand knowledge of things that can go wrong in life, thank you. This is a short, simple article showcasing some BU alumni and their talents. No need to get on a soapbox for a cause.

        • Adam on 12.17.2015 at 9:04 pm

          I wouldn’t exactly call that a “sophisticated cocktail party,” Nathan.

  • Lauren Wise on 12.17.2015 at 6:59 am

    I agree with Nathan. I do not think this was an appropriate article choice for BU Today. What were the editors thinking?

  • Just another BU parent on 12.17.2015 at 8:59 am

    I do not feel obliged to agree or disagree with Nathan; almost all of what he says is just stating facts. My daughter went to BU as a 16 year old freshman, and was teased in her first year in a PhD program because, as a 20 year old, “she was too young to drink”. And so, I’d like BU Today to take the discussion in a more interesting direction. Namely, report on what what type of alcohol-related conversations do parents in this country have with 12-14 year old “kids”? When do they start offering their kids alcohol at the dinner table in order to both watch their behavior and have a dialog going (before discussing BU police statistics)?

    • Nathan on 12.17.2015 at 10:16 am

      Thank you.

      I shared wine and beer with my two kids at 12+ at the dinner table and at restaurants in Europe. I shared hard liquor with my kids around 15. At this point they don’t care much about alcohol and don’t like seeing high school friends throw up at parties. – so I think I did fairly well in preparing them to deal with social drinking.

      The wife and I also talk to them about the drunk next door who killed a pedestrian last year, and still drives drunk.

      I advocate balance.

      Maybe “hand grenades” sounded over the top, but the USA death toll from non-military explosions is probably about 200 per year and juggling hand grenades less – yet we have a gut reaction to the potential danger. I believe the gut reaction to 88,000 deaths per year should be shocking too.

  • Friend of BU on 12.17.2015 at 11:25 am

    Discussing a drink recipe doesn’t promote the abuse of alcohol. Avoidance of issues and censorship of an idea does. Healthy conversation never hurt anyone.

  • Proud Alum on 12.17.2015 at 7:59 pm

    I look forward to creating these drinks over the holidays. Making specialty drinks in our home always connotes a special occasion. I understand parental concerns about sharing drink recipes on BU Today; however, BU Today is a news and information website with a far-reaching audience. I’m an alum in my mid-thirties who stays current with University happenings through this informative site. I have appreciated past articles that have made mention of off-campus restaurants (w/ excellent drink menus) and tastings/demonstrations by culinary experts such as Jacques Pepin. BU Today has even sparked my interest in registering for a class in the culinary arts: wine studies program.

    Even as the legal drinking age is set at 21 years, in the state of Massachusetts, an 18 year old may be employed as a bartender to directly handle (sell, mix, and serve) alcoholic beverages as stated by the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission (ABCC). Given that most undergraduate students are around 18 years of age, it seems that honest and thought-provoking conversations about alcohol use and misuse would be an important part of campus life. BU has so many resources to offer its students, so I would like to think that there’s information and support available to enrolled students to address issues surrounding the use and misuse of alcohol. It would have been sensible if the article reminded students of legal age to drink responsibly and could have shared some of these resources as well.

  • Jay on 12.21.2015 at 10:34 pm

    Nice recipes. I’m looking forward to trying these as well. Thank you.

    I may also juggle some hand-grenades for flair while making them :)

  • Shweta Bist on 01.07.2016 at 6:03 am

    Thanks for sharing these Whisky cocktails.. Cocktail is easy to make at home that is like a twist in each drink to cheer up that’s why we should always prefer cocktails instead of drinking neat liquor .

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