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Staffers and Their Favorite Holiday Drinks Traditions

Holidays are all about tradition, and here at Imbibe HQ, we have a few favorite traditions of our own. From a coffee kick-off to celebratory sparklers, here’s how we’re toasting the holidays at home this year.

Photo: Stuart Mullenberg

Punch Bowls a Plenty!

“Every Christmas Eve, we gather with a bunch of friends, and my household is in charge of bringing a big batch of punch. Last year was a Fish House Punch, and before that was a Spiced Pear Punch from a past issue of Imbibe. I’m still trying to decide what this year’s recipe will be—I might go for something warm, like the Wassail from our American Cocktail Book. Regardless, I’m pretty sure that just like always, there won’t be a drop left in the punch bowl.” —Karen Foley, publisher
Bourbon Milk Punch … for Breakfast.

“I’m not sure how this holiday tradition developed in my house, but it’s one I look forward to every year. After the kids have plunged through their presents and we’re ready to settle into a late breakfast, a bourbon milk punch finds itself welcome at the table (alongside a cup of coffee–usually Stumptown Hairbender around here). A nice wheated bourbon like Larceny or Weller 12 year old isn’t out of place in a milk punch on Christmas morning—the drink is soft and satisfying in a comfort-food kind of way, the nutmeg gives it a holiday touch (I sometimes add a dash of allspice liqueur, just to bolster the Ho Ho Ho nuances), and the milk adds enough richness to remind you that you’re indulging, but the drink’s not so heavy as to satiate you before the day’s full festivities get under way.” —Paul Clarke, contributing editor

Lots of Strong Coffee…

“Come Christmas morning, strong, black coffee takes precedent above everything else—no presents, no sweet rolls, nothing, until all the grownups have a big steamy cuppa in hand. No one knows exactly how many pounds we go through in just those few hours, but I’m pretty sure it’s enough to keep the entire city of Portland caffeinated for a full week. Of course, everyone has their own favorite beans and brew methods, so we basically just set up a giant coffee bar where there’s always a fresh pot in circulation. Except for that one year, when my sister’s boyfriend emptied a coffee carafe and didn’t start a fresh one—hello, holiday scandal! Needless to say, he wasn’t invited back.” —Tracy Howard, senior editor

Cranberry Queens for All!

“For our annual Christmas morning brunch, we have 25 to 30 people over and serve Champagne with a bit of Clear Creek’s cranberry liqueur. Cheery, fizzy red flutes of deliciousness all around! Mom made rhubarb bitters a few years ago, so sometimes we also add a few dashes of those to the drink—mom calls the cocktail the Cranberry Queen (because she’s a little cranberry obsessed and fancies herself the queen of all things Cranberry).” —Miranda Rake, editorial assistant

Photo: Polite Provisions

A Very Merry, Bourbon-Soaked Holiday.

“Ever since starting with Imbibe, for every special gathering with friends I’m asked to bring a recipe and ingredients for a special cocktail. Last year I made the Winter Julep, and for this past Thanksgiving I made the Maple-Cranberry Bourbon Smashed. This year we’re having a big Christmas dinner with a lot of friends, and I am probably going to stick with a bourbon-based drink … I am from the south, after all! Thinking of maybe the Pendergast from Ryan Maybee or the Brave Companionfrom Polite Provisions.”—Molly Henty, art director

Christmas Craftiness.

“Our home at the holidays is one of evolving traditions when it comes to imbibing thanks to my ambitious brother and his crafty fiancé. They love to experiment and always arrive with something new—mead, apple pie whiskey, blackberry cordial—it’s all been delicious! I can’t wait to taste what they bring this year!” —Sarah Thornton, production manager

A New Tradition Is Born.

“I’m really getting into sparkling wine cocktails these days. They’re super-festive and great aperitifs—and also kick things off on the lower-ABV scale of things, which is good for someone like me who thinks everything sounds delicious and wants to try it all. My fave right now is one I made up and named the Stirling, using things on hand at my house in Greenport, New York. I had some family over and wanted to make something nice before a big dinner. I had a bottle of New York’s Atsby “Armadillo Cake” Vermouth, some Nino Franco prosecco, and Fee Bros. orange bitters. The spice of the vermouth with the round, orchard-fruity flavors of the sparkler topped off with a festive balancing note of orange bitters was perfect. Greenport used to be called Stirling in the 18thcentury, and so, lo! A drink was born.” —Amy Zavatto, contributing editor

A Midwesterner’s Classic.
“Being from the Midwest, Brandy Old Fashioneds are a mainstay in any of my relatives’ homes morning, noon and night. I learned how to make them when I was seven, from my grandfather who was both a moonshiner and bartender. But my favorite of all holiday cocktails is the pre-mixed gallons of homemade Grasshopper my mom keeps stocked for unexpected guests or the occasional midnight pilferage—yum!!!” —Jen Boelts, account executive

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