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What to Drink This Holiday Season
My at-home bar consists of three year-old grenadine, two cans of Coors Light, a shaker (missing the top), and a fancy wine opener. So it goes without saying that, should someone come over and ask for a drink, their choices are limited. Well that's all about to change.

The nice folks at Jim Beam sent me a bottle of Red Stag, their black cherry flavored bourbon - and it's good. Ridiculously good. It has all the attitude of bourbon without any of the tear-inducing qualities. With this radical introduction to my otherwise wilted liquor offerings, I was inspired to get off my ass and improve the quality of my bar. And so, I consulted World Record holding bartender and mixologist Bobby G for some tips and holiday recipes. He did not disappoint.

Bobby knows drinks. He's been tending bars and creating delicious drinks since 1984. He's also been been published in Penthouse, Market Watch, Nightclub & Bar Magazine and is a regular contributor to Las Vegas Magazine. Similarly, Bobby has appeared on E! Entertainment Television, CNBC and the Travel Channel. In other words, Bobby isn't the guy behind a bar in the Meatpacking District who keeps copies of his headshot in his back pocket ... just in case.

Echowood: What do you recommend most people keep in their home bar?
Bobby G: With any bar you want to stock the basics. Stock what you like to drink. And if you're having guests over, you'll want the base spirits. Obviously you'll want some bourbon (Jim Beam). Vodka drinkers gravitate toward what they know. I always recommend people don't believe the hype, just believe the taste with Vodka. See what each vodka brings to the table. You can put a top hat on a pig, but all you'll have is a pig in a top hat. Get some aged rum and finally support all of that with cordials (Triple Sec, etc...). Finally, make sure you have a Boston Shaker, a 1/2 ounce strainer, bar spoon and bitters. Bitters are the salt and pepper of the cocktail world.

EW: My girlfriend is always asking me to make her a drink she'd enjoy. Any recommendations?
BG: What's more near and dear to a woman's heart than chocolate? Try the Red Mistletoe [Recipe Below]. You can substitute the heavy cream for 2% milk if she's frightened by the cream. If you want to attract attention, put chilled chocolate syrup in a squeeze bottle and draw designs on the side of the glass. If you're good at writing backwards, put your phone number on the glass.

EW: What's the strangest drink request you've ever received?
BG: In a competition, I was asked to create a pizza cocktail for Las Vegas Magazine. [Drink recipe and ingredients here].

EW: If you're looking to impress the bartender, what should you order?
BG: Order with confidence. Tell the bartender exactly how you want it and they won't have to ask you a lot of questions. It's also a great way to start a conversation.

EW: You set the world record of 253 different drinks made in an hour. How did you manage to accomplish that?
BG: We had to make all different drinks and the rules said that each drink had to have at least 3 ingredients. You had to finish one before starting another, and while you can have assistants, they can't physically hand you anything. So they can bring you glasses and ice, but they can't put ice in the glasses. I'd found a list of different cocktails from around the country that had been on at least one drink menu and went off of that.

EW: Is there anything else we should know about cocktails this season?
BG: Just that it's easy to make good cocktails quickly. You don't need to cut corners. Enjoy yourself and drink smart.

Bobby G was nice enough to send along some tips for a perfect party, some trends this season and a few recipes to keep you warm this Holiday season.

Tips for a Perfect Party

* Plan in Advance for Successful Cocktails. Offer one "signature" party drink and back it up with 1-2 additional choices. Planning reduces the risk of serving an unsuccessful cocktail and your guests will appreciate the quality and consistency of the selections.
* Skip the Complicated Recipes. Pick simple, festive drinks with only 2 or 3 steps and consider options that can be made in big batches so you're not stuck behind the bar all night mixing. For the whiskey drinker, choose a Red Stag Toddy as a warm treat for this cold winter weather.
* Talk to Your Guests. Don't over pour - be sure to ask your guests about their preferences and provide an option for those who want the flavor without too much alcohol. Also, serve food so guests don't drink on an empty stomach and provide non-alcoholic beverages for designated drivers and those who choose not to drink.
* Keep Water Handy. In a large, crowded room, have plenty of pitchers of water nearby so people can stay hydrated.

Trends This Year

* Mad Men Created A Trend. Think 1960s New York: the classics are back. Serve your guests punches and hot toddys and take them back to the golden days of the cocktail.
* The Details Make The Party. Choose the right glasses for your drinks. Manhattans are best served in a martini glass. Serve a Red Stag and cola in a highball glass.
* Know Your Ice. Whether crushed, cubed, thin or thick, know which type of ice matches-up best with each particular cocktail you serve.

Top Recipes

1.5 parts Red Stag by Jim Beam™ Bourbon
.75 parts DeKuyper Dark® Crème de Cocoa
2 parts Heavy Cream
Chocolate Syrup

Shake all ingredients but chocolate syrup vigorously with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass that has been drizzled with the chocolate syrup.

1.5 parts Red Stag by Jim Beam™ Bourbon
1 cherry
1 half moon orange slice
2 pieces of clove

In a pre heated coffee mug, muddle the clove, cherry and orange.
Pour in Red Stag by Jim Beam and top with steaming hot water.

1.5 parts Red Stag by Jim Beam™ Bourbon
4 parts Prepared Egg Nog
Shake all ingredients with ice until frothy and strain into a chilled white wine glass.
Garnish with a dash of nutmeg on top.

Please drink responsibly this holiday season.
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Wish I had read this before I went out to get some holiday cheer. I just picked up my old faithful, Wild Turkey and ginger ale.

said cleet on December 24, 2009 9:43 AM.

A friend of mine has been touting the virtues of Red Stag. I'll have to remember to look for it the next time I go liquor shopping.

said Average Jane on December 27, 2009 12:04 AM.
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