Thanksgiving is officially behind us. Holiday entertaining season is here!

Today is the legitimate first day you can have a holiday party, so I gathered some ideas to help make your holiday season the brightest. Every holiday party could use a signature drink, right?

My bartending skills are about as good as this year’s Cavs, so I enlisted the help of a few experts. Lynsey Curren, of Timber Lodge, and Jen King, of Corkscrew Saloon.

I met with Lynsey at Timber Lodge to get her opinion on the big three: holiday cocktails, holiday wines and holiday coffee drinks. She started with a drink that is an instant winner, the Jack Frost.

Her Jack Frost was made with rum, Blue Curacao and white cranberry juice, served in a glass rimmed with both blue and white sanding sugar.

I did find a few other versions online for the Jack Frost. Here is one with specifics: In a blender, combine 1 c. Vodka, 1 c. champagne, ½ c. Blue Curacao, ½ c. lemonade and 3 cups ice. Blend until combined. Run a lemon wedge around the rim of the glasses and dip in the sanding sugars. Pour into the glasses and serve immediately.

“Get creative think outside the box,” Lynsey said. “Look at holiday candy in a different way to accent your drinks. A lot of people smash candy canes for holiday drink accents, but the little ones work great, too.”

Lynsey finds a lot of ideas and supplies for her holiday drinks in Hobby Lobby’s cake decorating section. She also says that white cranberry juice is her new favorite holiday mixer, as it is not as sweet as the red cranberry juice and very versatile.

“You can combine white cranberry juice with orange vodka and champagne for a holiday mimosa, for instance,” she said.

Spruce that up with a festive garnish. Lynsey suggested cranberries, rolled in lime juice then rolled in sugar, popped in the freezer for a little bit. A sprig of rosemary or an orange garnish would be good, as well. She just adds one or two of these to the glass, let them sit in the bottom.

“The key to dressing up many holiday drinks is the colored sugar rimmed glasses”, she said.

Jen, of Corkscrew, says one of her favorite holiday drinks is a bourbon mule. She will infuse the bourbon with apples and cinnamon sticks for about a week, then mix that with a little apple cider and ginger beer and garnish with a little cinnamon.

I say this should be called a “Yule Mule!” Jen also likes to make up some rosemary simple syrup. She will use this in a bourbon sour during the holidays, shaking together crushed ice, bourbon, the rosemary simple syrup and fresh lemon juice.

“A good prosecco with the rosemary simple syrup is good, too,” Jen said.

As for wines, Lynsey says rosé is the hot wine for the holidays. She has some suggestions for those bringing a special bottle as a hostess gift.

“Put your name on it and tell the host to set it aside and enjoy it later,” Lynsey said.

Here are a few of her high-end, $20 grocery-store picks that will make a great hostess gift. Intrinsic Cab is a Washington state cabernet with a bold flavor and beautiful bottle. Cambria Pinot Noir is for those who you are not sure if they are red or white wine drinkers. And for that extra special bottle for dad under the tree, Penfolds Grandfather Port. It is a $90 bottle but well worth it. For that special sparkling wine, Verve Cliquot Rose, because she feels pink bubbles are classy. This one is not too sweet and not too dry and costs around $70.

Jen King says spiced mulled wine is a holiday must for her.

“It’s easy and great for parties, just throw your ingredients into a crockpot and you are done,” Jen said.

Made with a dry, full-bodied red wine (cab or syrah), 1 bottle, 2 cups apple cider, 1 orange (zested and juiced), ¼ cup brandy and mulling spices (5 whole cloves, 4 green cardamom pods, 2 cinnamon sticks, one whole star anise). Cook on low 1 hour then set to “keep warm setting.” Garnish cups with an orange slice and cinnamon stick

Coffee drinks? Lynsey says whipped cream holds and showcases the garnishes, like crushed candy canes, chocolate shavings, and crushed ginger snaps. Jen’s favorite is homemade Kahlua in coffee.

Feliz Navidad!

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