Three Cocktails For The Holidays

We like to think that whiskey aids in digestion. So this holiday season, stave off the food coma with these recipes from Koval Distillery
November 25, 2015Words by Justus ZimmerlyPhotos by Alex Souza

The food may get all the glory throughout the holidays, but it's the tipple that can make or break the annual celebrations. While a nice Pinot Noir is rarely a bad choice with turkey, and a pumpkin-flavored beer is occasionally palatable while watching the football game, why not pull out all the stops and get the party going with a delicious cocktail — or three?

For many, the holidays are all about family time, but with all the aunts and uncles packed in the house, sometimes you need a little something something to smooth out the ride. And if you're more of the "friends-giving" type, then chances are good that you're already planning to knock back a few with the homies.

My personal go-to cocktail is an Old Fashioned, but I'm always keen to try new whiskey cocktails, and after my article about American varieties of the liquid gold, I was also interested in sampling some whiskeys that fall outside of the usual bourbon/rye dichotomy. Enter Koval Distillery.

Koval Distillery

When Robert and Sonat Birnecker established Koval Distillery in 2008, the couple wanted to apply Robert's family distilling traditions from Austria to the American whiskey industry, making everything from scratch and applying an academic mind to experimentation with different ingredients and processes. Koval also happens to be the first distillery to operate in Chicago since the mid-1800's. Not content with that distinction, they're also operating on the vanguard of the new American craft distilling movement by producing whiskeys with less common ingredients like millet and oat from local farms in addition to more commonplace elements like corn, wheat and rye.


What better way to sample some interesting new whiskies AND expand my cocktail repertoire than to shake up some new drinks? Koval was happy to oblige and had their resident mixologists put together three recipes that put a spin on traditional cocktails to showcase the qualities of the millet and oat grains.

So run down to the store, grab a few bottles, shake up some drinks and hoist a glass before settling into the couch for a well-deserved turkey nap.

It's not like you need the excuse, but the holidays are perfectly suited for day drinking, and the Breakfast Blend is just the way to kick things off. From oats to orange marmalade, it's made entirely from normal breakfast ingredients. And breakfast, as we all know, is the most important meal of the day.

(Click each recipe to open in a new tab. They're the perfect size for printing out and keeping with your bar supplies!)

Turkey and mashed potatoes with all the fixings is a tough act to follow, but a combo of whiskey, amaro, chocolate and orange bitters, and some maraschino cherry does a pretty admirable job of it.

As the night winds down, simple trumps fancy. This variation on the classic Manhattan is a perfect drink to slip slowly late into the evening (read: 8:30pm) as you become wrapped in the soft embrace of turkey-induced food coma.

Justus Zimmerly is happy to try any holiday cocktail, so long as it doesn't include eggnog. He's an Editor at Huckberry and lives in Oakland.




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