By Barb Krause and Sharon Annen | Photography by Shanna Wolf
If you’re lucky, someone you know at the lake happens to be a natural mixologist, taking bottles of whatever you have in your liquor cabinet, combining one or two of them with a splash of this or that, and handing you a beverage that is perfectly delicious and just the right amount of festive.
For me, that someone is my friend Sharon Annen. There are those who might be able to make the best martini or craft a mean Old-Fashioned, but give Sharon any type of liquor, and she’ll produce a tasty libation every time.
For this issue, Sharon and I invited a handful of friends over and taste-tested a round of alcoholic drinks especially ideal for the upcoming holiday season. The five featured in our pages are the unanimous winners.
APRÉS SKI BRANDY APPLE CIDER
Let this hot drink simmer in your crock pot all day and serve it up to sip after a brisk day on the slopes (or on the trails).
6 cups apple cider
1⁄4 cup simple syrup
1 lemon, sliced
1 orange, sliced
2 cinnamon sticks plus more for garnish 8 whole cloves
11⁄2 cups brandy
Add all ingredients except brandy to a slow cooker and mix together. Cover and cook on low for 3-4 hours. Stir in brandy and reduce heat to warm. Ladle into mugs and garnish with a cinnamon stick.
This martini is a fan favorite of the At The Lake staff and was derived from the chocolate martini recipe served at the Del Bar in Wisconsin Dells. It’s especially delicious during the holidays, when a sweet chocolate drink after a sumptuous feast seems like a logical next step.
- 2 oz. vanilla vodka
- 2 oz. Godiva liqueur
- 2 oz. Bailey’s/any Irish cream liqueur Hershey’s syrup for rimming the glasses
Combine all ingredients in a martini shaker filled with ice. Pour into a martini glass rimmed with Hershey’s syrup.
GRAPEFRUIT GIN COCKTAIL
We love this cocktail as a brunch option — the grapefruit juice sets the scene and gin takes a backseat to the aromatic rosemary simple syrup.
- 3 oz. grapefruit juice
- 3 oz. gin
- 1⁄2 oz. rosemary simple syrup
Combine cocktail ingredients into a martini shaker with ice. Shake to combine and strain into an ice-filled rocks glass.
To make the rosemary simple syrup, bring 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar and 4-5 sprigs of rosemary to a boil. Remove from heat, cover and let sit for 10 minutes. Pour into container, removing used rosemary sprigs but adding 1-2 fresh sprigs to the container. Store in the refrigerator for up to one month.
HOLIDAY CHEERMEISTER BOURBON PUNCH
Who doesn’t love a little bourbon punch? This simple recipe for a small get-together will fit into your New Year’s plans nicely.
- 1⁄2 cup bourbon
- 1 cup pomegranate juice
- Zest of 1 orange
- 1⁄2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1 (750 ml) bottle Prosecco or sparkling wine, chilled
In a large pitcher, combine the bourbon, pomegranate juice, orange zest and orange juice. Chill until ready to serve. Just before serving, add ice to the pitcher and pour over the Prosecco and top with pomegranates.
To make festive ice cubes, place fresh cranberries and rosemary sprigs in an ice cube tray. Fill with water and freeze until solid.
SHARON’S MERRY MARGARITA MULE
This never-before- published holiday cocktail is a happy accident created by Sharon when she added ginger beer to the holiday margarita we were working on. It’s delightful when served on the rocks, really for any occasion.
- 1 oz. tequila
- 2 oz. cranberry juice
- 1 oz. PAMA pomegranate-flavored liqueur
- 1 lime, juiced Optional: 1⁄2 oz. simple syrup (if you want it a little sweeter)
- Ginger beer
Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Strain and pour into a glass filled with ice until two-thirds full. Top with ginger beer. If desired, garnish with lime, fresh cranberries and pomegranate seeds.
PS: If you fall in love with PAMA like we did, you can also try 2 ounces of it with an equal amount of vodka and 1 ounce of Cointreau, served on the rocks.