In Atlanta, Kellie Thorn of Empire State South gets whimsical with her take on the “something smoky” request: the Bonfire Kiss, a mix of mezcal, sherry and crème de cacao topped with apple bitters and garnished with a cinnamon stick, which is intended to resemble a wintertime log on the fireplace.
The cocktail is best made with a mezcal—specifically Del Maguey’s Vida—which, according to Thorn, offers some fruitiness. “It already has great fruit notes that plays well with the liquor and bitters,” she explains, adding that the sherry’s perceivable acidity balances out the drink’s sweetness. “There is something familiar and nostalgic about these flavors coming together,” she says. “[It] reminds me of being at a fair with your loved one on a cold night, eating caramel apples.”