Cocktails take you on a journey – or provide a twist on tradition

The Apple Eggnog Fizz, created by Chris Tucker of Hook & Ladder, is exceptionally easy to make and takes eggnog in a refreshing, soda-like direction.
The Apple Eggnog Fizz, created by Chris Tucker of Hook & Ladder, is exceptionally easy to make and takes eggnog in a refreshing, soda-like direction. Sacramento Bee file

The time for holiday cheer is just about here, so let’s whip up some cocktails. Whether you’re looking for libations to serve at a soiree, or just looking for a way to wind down from shopping and wrapping gifts, we’ve got you covered with some tasty drinks.

The following cocktails offer a range of styles, including a rum-based Tiki-styled drink and an updated eggnog. But they all come packed with flavor, plus just enough of a boozy kick, and are fairly easy to make. So, break out that Boston shaker and let’s get those drinks going.

Chris Macias: 916-321-1253, @chris_macias

Eureka Punch

As the weather hits the coldest temperatures of the year, and the holiday rush quickly heats up, how lovely the thought becomes of a sunny island getaway. Not everyone can afford a trip to Tahiti with all those credit card bills looming, but, hey, you can sail away with a taste of vacation in a glass.

Tiki-styled cocktails are the perfect way to temper those winter blues. Their sweetness makes for an easy crowd pleaser, but are layered with enough complexities to appease even the staunchest of cocktail connoisseurs.

This Eureka Punch recipe comes from Martin Cate, owner of Smuggler’s Cove, a temple of Tiki in San Francisco. And as it goes with craft cocktails, don’t skimp on the quality of ingredients and always opt for fresh produce. Plenty of local lemons for this recipe will be ready to be plucked from trees and juiced around Thanksgiving time, and, if possible, go with a premium ginger ale such as Fever Tree or Q. That mass-produced stuff is too cloying here. Tommy Bahama shirt and lei are optional.

2 ounces chilled ginger ale

1 1/2 ounces fresh lemon juice

1 ounce honey syrup (combine 1 part water with 1 part honey; bring to a boil; cool)

1/2 ounce Yellow Chartreuse

1 1/2 ounces premium aged rum

1 dash Angostura Bitters

Add ginger ale to the bottom of a Collins or highball glass.

Combine and shake remaining ingredients in a shaker with ice, and strain over the ginger ale.

Fill glass with ice. Garnish with a twist or wedge of lemon and mint sprig.

Yuzu-Calpico Fizz

The cooling weather also means that yuzu season is arriving soon. This bitter citrus fruit is widely cultivated in Japan, China and Korea but can also be found closer to home in El Dorado County. Yuzu is prized for its aromatic properties and as a potent souring agent for ponzu sauce and other recipes – and, yes, that includes cocktails.

This recipe has become a go-to cocktail around the house since we discovered it in PUNCH, the online magazine that’s a must-read for fans of adult libations. This drink is like an exotic riff on a Tom Collins, with the prerequisite gin, simple syrup, lemon juice and club soda. But this Yuzu-Calpico Fizz adds a refreshing Asian accent, with the addition of yuzu preserves and a bit of Calpico, the uncarbonated Japanese soft drink with a milky touch.

Look for yuzu marmalade at Corti Brothers, and Calpico can be found at Oto’s Market and other Asian shops.

2 ounces gin

3/4 ounce lemon juice

1/2 ounce Calpico

1/2 ounce cane syrup

2 teaspoons yuzu preserves

1 ounce club soda

Add all ingredients except for club soda in a shaker. Use a hand mixer to dissolve yuzu preserves thoroughly.

Add ice and shake until chilled.

Strain into a highball glass.

Top with club soda, and garnish with a calpico marshmallow (optional).

Apple Eggnog Fizz

And, finally, a bit of eggnog – but not the usual concoction that’s the ugly sweater of the cocktail world. This particular take on eggnog, created by Chris Tucker of Hook & Ladder, takes a lighter approach for a drink that goes down easy and not coating the mouth in an egg-y wonderland. This drink is exceptionally easy to make and takes eggnog in a refreshing, soda-like direction. It’s bound to be a hit at your holiday party or just while kicking back on the couch while watching “Bad Santa” on cable.

1 1/2 ounces apple brandy, calvados or applejack

3 ounces eggnog

2 ounces club soda

1 cinnamon stick

1 apple, sliced

Freshly grated nutmeg for garnish

Into an ice-filled 12-ounce glass, pour brandy and eggnog, and top with club soda.

Stir and garnish with cinnamon stick, apple slices and fresh grated nutmeg.