Grogs and Nogs Cocktails/ Photo by Tom Arena
“With one bottle of fortified wine, I can make a hundred different cocktails,” declares Neal Bodenheimer, proprietor of Cure and other New Orleans bars. What is it about fortified wine that lends itself to mixing festive cocktails? It’s the tremendous range of flavor—from nutty and light (think dry Sherries and blanc vermouths) to bold red fruit (ruby Port) or richer, dried fruit and cocoa tones (Madeira, oloroso and PX Sherry). But these bottles also provide versatility, complexity and, yes, an opportunity to lighten the amount of alcohol in even the stiffest drinks. No wonder so many bartenders find inspiration here.
“The wine presents the flavor profile—it could be the spicy orange notes of the bitter Italian vermouth Punt e Mes or the nutty dried fruit of an oloroso Sherry—and then I match different spirits and bitters to that,” Bodenheimer explains. Some of his favorite templates include a reverse Manhattan-style combination of two parts fortified to one part spirit; cobblers, over a mountain of crushed ice and garnished with seasonal fruit; and punches, like his St. Charles Punch, featured here.
From mulled wine to eggnog, here are 10 wine-based cocktails perfect celebrating the holiday season.