BY Taylor Byrne Dodge | SIDEDISH | DECEMBER 22, 2016


If you’re officially on holiday break, you might have plans to meet up and socialize with friends. Now is the time for ‘nogs, spiked punch and toddies.

This is the time of year when you can dabble in silly cocktails if not imperfect combinations in the spirit of Christmas, Hannukah and New Year’s celebrations. We’ve tasted many and tallied up those that we find the most fun (and boozy) but balanced. There are some well-known Houston holiday staples such as the Tom and Jerry and Irish Coffee from Anvil, and Brandy Milk Punch from Brennan’s of Houston (recipe below) Below are a few of our recommendations should you find yourself scooting around town, sipping and socializing.

Harold’s in the Heights
This past fall, we loved the punny autumn-themed cocktails created by Lauren Muse in the downstairs bar of Harold’s in the Heights. If you find yourself on 19th Street, you can pop in for a bite and a drink as late as 2 am. For that festive feeling: Try the Like, OMG ($10, photo below). Lemon and ginger-infused vodka, homemade rumchata, pistachio orgeat and brown sugar and cinnamon rim garnished with flaming marshmallow.

State of Grace
Last week we accidentally happened upon the new winter-spirited custom cocktails at State of Grace. We liked one so much that not only did we ask for the recipe (to share with you, of course) but we did a morning photoshoot with the cocktails. For that festive feeling: Rum Raisin Flip ($12, photo and recipe below).

½ oz. package of dark raisins (The small individual boxes from your childhood lunches will work great.)
2 oz. barrel-aged rum
1 egg
1 oz. vanilla syrup
½ oz. whole milk
fresh ground nutmeg, for garnish

METHOD: In a jar, combine raisins and rum. Shake well, refrigerate 6 hours to overnight. When ready to serve, combine the raisin rum (hold back raisins), egg, milk and vanilla syrup in a shaker. Shake violently for longer than you think necessary. Then add ice and shake again. Take a coupe glass and put a few rum-soaked raisins in the bottom of the glass. Pour strained cocktail from shaker into glass; there should be a foam on top of the drink. Add fresh nutmeg garnish. Enjoy alone in your garage while your family struggles with Christmas dinner preparations.

Stone’s Throw
At just $7 each, you could try all four of the holiday drinks from Stone’s Throw (photo below) and still afford to tip your Uber driver. For that festive feeling: Reindeer Games (vodka, coffee liqueur, orgeat, chocolate liqueur, horchata, topped with pumpkin whipped cream) and Jingle All The Way (vodka, pomegranate juice, lemon Juice, simple syrup, pomegranate arils and rosemary).

Third Coast
Yes, we have been jiving on Third Coast lately with their new digs and turkey enchilada recipe. If you’re interested in the bar scene (and delightful happy hour deals) at the 6th-floor restaurant, check out beverage manager David Cook’s Texas Toddy and Orange Clove. It might be 80°F on Christmas weekend, but they crank the AC up in the Medical Center restaurant. For that festive feeling: Check out the recipes for the Orange Clove and Texas Toddy (and other holiday drinks) here.

Brennan’s of Houston
This is a tried-and-true recipe that we’ve shared before and will continue to do so at the request of our readers. If you’re traveling for the holidays and want to bring a taste of Houston with you, this adults-only punch is the perfect Christmas morning party-starter. For that festive feeling: Brandy Milk Punch (photo and recipe below).

2 oz. VS brandy, such as Paul Beau VS cognac
1 ½ oz. milk (not skim milk)
1 oz. simple syrup
¼ oz. Amaretto diSaronno
½ tsp. pure vanilla extract

METHOD: Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously and strain into an ice-filled rocks glass. Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.