Bored with bubbly? Try these holiday drinks

What will people in Southern Nevada be drinking on New Year’s Eve?

"Champagne. That’s definitely the way to go," said Catherine Pawelek, co-owner of Elements Kitchen & Martini Bar.

"By-the-glass Champagne does tend to sell more on that night," said Troy Kumalaa, beverage director for Michael Corrigan Restaurants, which owns Vintner Grill, Agave and the Roadrunners.

"On New Year’s Eve, people want simple," said Ichabod Adickes, bartender at the Capital Grille at Fashion Show mall. "They want simple because there’s so many things going on."

Which doesn’t mean everyone will be springing for Cristal, with its one-sure-way-to-foreclosure price tag. Some restaurants offer splits for those who don’t want a whole bottle, as Elements does year-round. Others, such as Vintner Grille, offer less-expensive alternatives such as prosecco and a rose Champagne from Moet & Chandon.

But if Champagne seems a little — dare we say it? — boring, local bartenders are standing by with a Las Vegas buffet’s worth of holiday drinks.

The signature at Capital Grille — which always sells out on New Year’s Eve, Adickes said — is the Stoli Doli, made by soaking fresh pineapple in Stolichnaya vodka.

"We let it infuse for about 10 days," he said. "It makes this nice pineapple-flavored martini. We definitely do crazy business with those on New Year’s Eve. Some people will do shots of Stoli Doli. Some people will do shots of it with the martini."

They also make an espresso martini, which Adickes said is "wonderful for keeping you awake on New Year’s Eve."

At Beso in Crystals at CityCenter, head bartender Martin Garcia said the pumpkin spice martini has been popular in large part because the rim is glazed with crushed pepitas, or pumpkin seeds. The cranberry tart, he said, is "a little bit tart, but it’s definitely cranberry, definitely holiday."

At Elements, a holiday drink that has become popular, Pawelek said, is the ‘smores martini, "especially because we finish it off with minimarshmallows that we torch right before we give it to the customer, so you get the smell and taste of toasted marshmallows." Elements also makes a candy-cane martini.

Such cocktails, Pawelek said, "not only put them in the spirit of the holidays, but they taste darn good as well. I think that’s what it comes down to. If it doesn’t taste good, it doesn’t matter."

Kumalaa recently served seasonal cocktails at a private party. They included the white peppermint cocktail on the rocks, the sage martini and the warm apple cider, the latter of which also demonstrates the versatility of holiday cocktails. It’s cider with Frangelico-spiked whipped cream, sprinkled with hazelnuts, plus the vanilla-citrus liqueur Tuaca — either 1½ or 2 ounces.

"It all depends," Kumalaa said, "on how much fun the party wants to have."

Following are holiday cocktail recipes from Las Vegas bars and lounges. Use them to have your own kind of fun — and remember to drink responsibly.

CRANBERRY TART

2 ounces Stoli cranberi

½ to ¾ ounce agave nectar

Juice of ½ lime

2 bar spoons cranberry-orange marmalade or relish

Lime slice for garnish

Shake all ingredients over ice and strain into a martini glass. Garnish.

Serves 1.

— Recipe from Martin Garcia, Beso

PUMPKIN SPICE

Pepitas

Sugar

Nutmeg

1½ ounces Goldschlager

Juice of ½ lemon

½ ounce Trader Vic’s Rock Candy Syrup

2 bar spoons pumpkin-spice puree (similar to canned pumpkin-pie mix)

To make pumpkin-spice rim, dry pepitas in 400-degree oven for about 20 minutes. Grind them and add sugar and nutmeg to taste. Moisten rim of cocktail glass and dip into mixture.

Combine Goldschlager, lemon juice, syrup and puree in a shaker over ice and strain into rimmed glass.

Serves 1.

— Recipe from Martin Garcia, Beso

ESPRESSO MARTINI

2 ounces Stoli vanil

1 1½-ounce shot fresh espresso

1 ounce Tia Maria

Shake all ingredients over ice. Strain into a cocktail glass.

Serves 1.

— Recipe from Ichabod Adickes, the Capital Grill

SAGE MARTINI

Fresh sage

Honey

1½ ounces Bombay Gin

1½ ounces sage tea (see recipe)

Squeeze of fresh grapefruit juice

Squeeze of fresh lemon juice

Thick lemon twist for garnish

Make tea by steeping sage in water. Sweeten with honey to taste.

Mix gin, sage tea and juices over ice and strain into cocktail glass. Garnish.

Serves 1.

— Recipe from Troy Kumalaa, Michael Corrigan Restaurants

WARM APPLE CIDER

5 ounces apple cider, warmed

1½ to 2 ounces Tuaca

Cream whipped with Frangelico and toasted hazelnuts for garnish

Mix cider and Tuaca and garnish.

— Recipe from Troy Kumalaa, Michael Corrigan Restaurants

WHITE PEPPERMINT COCKTAIL

ON THE ROCKS

Red cake-decorating sugar for rim

1 ounce Russian Ice Vodka

1 ounce Bailey’s Irish Cream

1 ounce peppermint schnapps

Small candy cane for garnish

Moisten rim of glass and dip in sugar. Mix vodka, Bailey’s and schnapps and shake over ice; pour into glass and garnish.

Serves 1.

— Recipe from Troy Kumalaa, Michael Corrigan Restaurants

S’MORES COCKTAIL

Crushed graham crackers for rim

½ ounce Godiva Dark Chocolate Liqueur

½ ounce Godiva White Chocolate Liqueur

2 ounces Van Gogh Dutch Chocolate Vodka

1½ ounces Bailey’s Irish Cream

½ ounce vanilla vodka or liqueur

Miniature marshmallows

Moisten rim of glass and dip into graham cracker crumbs. Swirl dark and white chocolate liqueurs in glass.

Mix vodka, Bailey’s and vanilla vodka or liqueur over ice; shake and strain into glass.

Sprinkle top with eight or nine miniature marshmallows. Toast marshmallows with kitchen torch.

Serves 1.

— Recipe from Elements Kitchen & Martini Bar

CANDY CANE COCKTAIL

Lime reduction

Raspberry reduction

2½ ounces Stoli Razberi

1 ounce peppermint schnapps

1 ounce Bailey’s Irish Cream

Small candy cane for garnish

Swirl lime and raspberry reductions in glass. Shake remaining ingredients over ice and strain into glass. Garnish.

Serves 1.

— Recipe from Elements Kitchen & Martini Bar

MINT & CHIP

¾ ounce Mount Gay Eclipse Rum

¾ ounce Marie Brizard White Creme de Cacao

¾ ounce Marie Brizard Green Creme de Menthe

¾ ounce half-and-half

Fresh mint and shaved chocolate flakes for garnish

In an ice-filled mixing glass, mix all ingredients. Shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish.

Serves 1.

— Recipe from Johnny Smalls at the Hard Rock Hotel

BELGIAN MINT

1½ ounce Godiva White Chocolate Liqueur

¾ ounce Remy VSOP Cognac

¾ ounce Marie Brizard White Creme de Menthe

¾ ounce half-and-half

Fresh mint and white chocolate stick for garnish

In an ice-filled mixing glass, mix all ingredients. Shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish.

Serves 1.

— Recipe from Luxe Bar at the Hard Rock Hotel

GINGERBREAD

1 ounce Stoli Vanil

¾ ounce Godiva White Chocolate

¾ ounce Gingerbread Syrup

Dash nutmeg

Cinnamon stick for garnish

Combine above ingredients in mixing glass and add ice; shake well and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish.

— Recipe from Mr. Lucky’s 24/7 at the Hard Rock Hotel

HOLIDAY FLIP

1 ounce Amaretto

1 ounce dark creme de cacao

1 ounce half-and-half

1 egg

Combine all ingredients in mixing glass and add ice; shake well and strain into chilled cocktail glass.

Serves 1.

— Recipe from Ago at the Hard Rock Hotel

Contact reporter Heidi Knapp Rinella at hrinella@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0474.

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