This holiday cocktail recipe is the creation of Matt Dutton, assistant general manager of Union Station’s Cooper Lounge, the city’s most glamorous watering hole, and he’s a master of his craft.
A Wonderful Life
In a shaker, combine:
1½ oz Breckenridge Vodka
½ oz ginger liqueur
¼ oz Hamilton Pimento Dram liqueur
¾ lemon juice
¾ cranberry 5-spice almond syrup (See below for that recipe.)
Add one ice cube and whip the shaker until the ice is completely dissolved. Pour into your favorite collins/highball glass and fill with ice. Top with cold soda water, then garnish with a rosemary sprig and a few fresh cranberries.
Cranberry 5-spice Almond Syrup
1½ oz cranberries (fresh or frozen, your choice)
2 c white granulated sugar
1 c water
1 Tbsp Chinese five-spice seasoning
½ tsp almond extract
Combine all ingredients in a medium pot over high heat. Bring to a simmer, whisking until all the sugar is dissolved and there are no clumps of seasoning. Then grab a potato masher and pop all those cranberries in the pot. Let the mixture sit over medium-low heat for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, then strain through fine mesh to remove all the solid bits. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 45 days.
Choosing the right vessel to serve your cocktail in is of the utmost importance, says Dutton. “It really comes down to dilution. You don’t want your glass to be too large. You also want to find something that fits your aesthetic, and a little footed glass never hurt nobody. Holding it by the foot also keeps your hands from warming up the beverage—super important for egg-white and cream-based cocktails, best served in a coupe glass.”
Shake It Up
When it comes to the cocktail shaker, Dutton says intentional movements make for the best results. “I used to shake straight from the elbow, but you’ve got to get a little shoulder motion to it or you’ll get tennis elbow,” he says. “Think of cutting a tree in two places: shake it hard, up and back, then hard, down and back—not just like you’re mixing it around in a blender.”
Measure For Success
Don’t just eyeball your pours—even if you were a bartender back in college and could always pass the pour test. If you’re serious about your home bar setup, get yourself a jigger and use it. If you don’t have one, Dutton suggests using measuring cups instead. “You wouldn’t eyeball how much flour you’re adding to the stuffing you’re making,” he says. “A cocktail is no different. It’s a recipe, so follow it.”
For more cocktail recipes and tips, pick up our December 2022 issue.