Incorporate Seasonal Flavors into Cocktails at Home

By: Kevin Bender

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Holiday cocktail party season is officially upon us, and we at Cooking Channel couldn’t be more excited about the plentiful libations to come. But by your 5th or 6th ugly sweater party, you might find yourself a little nogged-out on ‘nog or mulling over tossing that mulled cider down the sink. To get some inspiration for mixing up our best seasonal cocktails throughout the holidays, we sat down with Theo Lieberman, head bartender at New York City’s esteemed cocktail destination  Milk and Honey. Theo loves incorporating seasonal flavors into his drinks – like in his Pomegranate Moonrise Cocktail (below) – and here he shares with us his favorite ways to shake up your signature party cocktail.

Theo Lieberman Milk and Honey

From artisinal hard apple ciders to apple brandy to apple bitters, the pomme is popping up everywhere on cocktail menus this season. Theo loves using Laird's 100 proof apple brandy as a warm, whiskey-like base for some of his favorite cocktails. Try apple brandy in these applicious recipes at home:


Let's go out on a limb and call cinnamon the quintessential spice of the holidays. While cinnamon-infused whiskey is popular this season, Theo is steering clear of the candy-sweet stuff, and we're with him. There are several ways to incorporate cinnamon into your favorite cocktails, like simply sprinkling a dash over almost any wintry libation. Feeling more ambitious? Theo likes to make cinnamon bark simple syrup and you can, too. Simply whiz cinnamon sticks in a coffee grinder until finely ground and combine with equal parts sugar and water. Put this mixture in a heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat and swirl constantly until the sugar melts, strain, and you've created an incredibly flavorful cinnamon-y syrup.

Add your cinnamon bark simple syrup to spice up these cocktails (and your next party):


It's hard for us to separate our association of nutmeg and eggnog as a pair, and Theo agrees: He likes it best in cocktails that incorporate egg whites or creamy elements. Always opt for freshly grated when possible, and add a dash of this little hallucinogenic spice to the party (you didn't hear it from us):


With its vibrant color and sweet flavor, pomegranate is a perfect choice for holiday libations. Theo's Moonrise Cocktail gets its subtle sweet flavor and beautiful jewel tone color from pomegranate liquor.

Get the recipe below:
Moonrise Cocktail Recipe

The Moonrise Cocktail (recipe courtesy Theo Lieberman)

  • 1 1/4 oz Santa Teresa "1796" Solera-Aged Rum
  • 1 oz PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur
  • 1 oz Atsby Amberthorn Vermouth

Build in an absinthe-rinsed rocks glass and stir.  Garnish with a lemon twist.


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