This time of year brings with it a bounty of flavors—spices and ginger, port and bourbon—so closely associated with the season that it wouldn’t feel like the holidays without them. From hot drinks to herbal drinks to those that call on the bounty of winter citrus. ‘Tis the season, too, for no-holds-barred excess: Put all those flavors in one glass (or bowl), and light it on fire. Merry Christmas.
It’s with these principles in mind that we’ve pulled together a suite of drinks—classic to modern, shaken to stirred, hot to literally flaming—that feel properly suited to the year’s most obsessed-over holiday. In our arsenal, always, is the classic Smoking Bishop, a port- and clove-spiked remnant of Charles Dickens’ days and one seriously iconic Christmas drink; it’s possibly most famous for its cameo in the last scene of A Christmas Carol, where it illustrates a grinch’s new leaf and the communal Christmas spirit all in one.
In the modern canon of Christmas drinks is Narcissa‘s One Hot Ginger, a blend of bourbon and Grand Marnier kicked up with ginger syrup; this one doubles down on the heat with the addition of cayenne pepper and instructions to serve hot. “The inspiration behind this drink is a hot toddy meets a juice bar cold remedy,” says Goldberg. “Delicious and effective at the same time.”
Down the street at Nitecap, Natasha David brings the wintry vibes in her Mountain Man, a riff on the Whiskey Sour that’s a rounded combination of pêche de vigne and bourbon, complemented by seasonal staples ginger and maple syrup. While in San Francisco, Isaac Shumway, formerly of Tosca Cafe, blends together two different types of Scotch in the Old Grampian for a heady, smoky take on the Old-Fashioned. Double the Scotch, double the fun.
Finally, in the Bergamot Blazer, Seattle’s Andrew Bohrer combines Earl Grey tea and elderflower liqueur to the classic Blue Blazer combination of whiskey and fire, which is rolled between two mugs for a 19th-century display of pyrotechnics. Because, really, nothing starts a party like a flaming mug of bourbon.