Holiday 'tails

Not a creature is stirring... except your local bartender
By HEATHER BOUZAN  |  December 8, 2006

The holidays are all about indulging — and just as we temporarily trade in our carrot sticks and cottage cheese for sugary treats, we swap our tried-and-true vodka tonics for more sumptuous seasonal beverages. After all, calories don’t count when you’re celebrating, right? In the spirit of all that is jolly, we’ve rounded up a sampling of the city’s finest holiday libations to keep you festive and sufficiently tipsy for the remainder of the season.

Only your finest holiday garb seems appropriate for enjoying the White Velvet Martini ($11.50), being mixed this month at the Rowes Wharf Bar (Boston Harbor Hotel, 70 Rowes Wharf, Boston, 617.439.7000). A smooth concoction of vodka, white crème de menthe, peppermint schnapps, and a dash of grenadine, the cocktail is an elegant end to any hectic day of shopping. With a sprinkle of nutmeg and a candy-cane garnish, it’s got enough style to warrant drinking it for the rest of the evening — a little velvet looks good with every outfit.

Scrunch up your eyes and pray for snow while sipping a White Christmas ($9) at Irish pub Grafton Street (1230 Mass Ave, Cambridge, 617.497.0400). Even if the flakes aren’t a-flying outside, the combination of vanilla vodka, white crème de cacao liqueur, and peppermint schnapps will warm up your insides. And maybe the more of these we drink, the better the chances that this December 25 will be a snowy one.

We have visions of sugarplums dancing in our heads starting way before Christmas Eve, so it’s only fitting that we should indulge in the Sugar Plumtini ($17) at the Oak Bar (Fairmont Copley Plaza, 138 St. James Avenue, Boston, 617.267.5300) from now through the end of December. A blend of vanilla vodka, plum purée, plum wine, and sugar, the cocktail is sure to satisfy the most discerning palates. A few too many, though, and you’ll be settling down for that long winter’s nap before the party’s even over.

Settle your poor, overstuffed tummy with a light peppermint treat. Make your way over to Café Fleuri (Langham Hotel, 250 Franklin Street, Boston, 617.451.1900) for a Candy Cane Martini ($12), a mix of vodka and white crème de menthe that’s garnished with a candy cane. We know you’ll be leaving the rest of your stash hanging on the tree after trying this drink; booze-free candy canes just won’t taste the same.

Sangria is up there on our list of favorite warm-weather drinks, but the Winter Sangria ($9/glass; $29/small pitcher; $39/large pitcher) at KingFish Hall (188 Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Boston, 617.523.8862) is a crowd-pleaser during the chilly days of December. It’s made by combining brandy with a full-bodied cabernet and adding orange juice, pineapple juice, and simple syrup, plus fresh-squeezed citrus fruits. Nutmeg, a pinch of cayenne pepper, and cloves are also dropped in to spice things up; then the whole mix is left to brew for a day before it’s served, at room temperature, in a honey-rimmed glass. You’ll be surprised how easy it goes down when you’re passing the pitcher among a crowd of friends. Our suggestion: start with the large.

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