Mix up drinks for the holidays

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A couple of weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to be a judge in the American Harvest Bartenders' Challenge at City Roots urban farm in Columbia, S.C.

It was great fun for me and the other judges (Anne Postic, Jonathan Sharpe and Jason Johnson) to be able to sample some creations from Columbia area bartenders featuring American Harvest vodka. After some serious deliberation, the winner of that contest (taking first and second place in the judges' category) was Kristian Niemi of Bourbon and Rosso. Niemi's Hayride (a mixture of pecan-infused American Harvest, Strohe Jagertee, and a syrup of Lazy Magnolia Jefferson Stout, maple syrup and orange bitters) took first place and his Adrian Balbos (rosemary-infused American Harvest, cherry liqueur, cherry preserves and Fizz 66) placed second. Joshua Streetman of Motor Supply won the people's choice vote with his Harvest Aviation: American Harvest, Shady Grove Farms lemons and homemade maraschino cherries.

Anyway, after the imbibing was done, I asked bartenders Olando Patterson, manager of Goatfeathers, and Lauren Tebeau, bar manager and event coordinator at The Oak Table if they would like to share their recipes for some holiday cocktails. Here are their offerings for the season:

Bad Santa

One drink

This drink would pair great with cookies. Glass shape: Irish coffee glass; Garnish: Whipped cream & Cinnamon powder

4 to 5 ounces eggnog

1½ to 2 ounces Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey

Steam the eggnog, rim a standard Irish Coffee glass with a mix of cinnamon and sugar. Add Fireball Whiskey to the glass and add the steamed eggnog and froth to the glass and top with whipped cream then dust with more cinnamon. Consume.

You’re Nerdy Hot

One drink

Glass shape: Irish Coffee glass; Garnish: Whipped cream, cinnamon and chocolate sprinkles. What’s your inspiration for this drink? My friend Amanda Fairchild. This drink would pair great with a nice cold winter day in front of a nice roaring fire.

4 to 5 ounces Hot Chocolate

1 ounce UV Whipped Cream Flavored Vodka

½ ounce Goldschlager

Rim a standard size Irish Coffee glass with sugar. Steam you favorite hot chocolate. Add Goldschlager and UV Whipped Cream Vodka to the glass and top with the steamed hot chocolate. Add whipped cream and dust it with cinnamon and chocolate sprinkles. Consume.

Season Greetings

One drink

What’s your inspiration for this drink? Is it possible to make eggnog even better than it is? This drink is total decadence. Probably best with caviar on toast points. Glass shape: Irish Coffee glass; Any special tools: Zester; Garnish: Whipped cream, orange zest, and nutmeg.

4 to 5 ounces Eggnog

1 ounce Meukow Vanilla Cognac

½ ounce Belle de Brilliet Pear Cognac

Rim a standard Irish Coffee glass with sugar. Steam the eggnog, and then add Meukow Vanilla cognac and Belle de Brilliet Pear Cognac to the glass and top with the steamed eggnog. Top with whipped cream and garnish with orange zest and fresh nutmeg. Consume.

The Turkey Dickel

One drink

Also, from Chef Adam Cooke, of Blackberry Farms. One of their drinks on the holiday menu, The Turkey Dickel, captures the taste of the season. Glass: flute; Tools: shaker, strainer; Garnish: orange twist and candied cranberry

1 ounce George Dickel No 12 (white label)

1 splash Tim Burton’s Maple Syrup

3 dashes bitters

2 ounces hard cider

Combine all ingredients, except hard cider, and shake with ice cubes. Fine-strain into a chilled flute, top with hard cider and (optional) garnish.