5@5 - Essential bar tools for the holidays
December 5th, 2011
05:00 PM ET
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5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.

Ready or not, here the holidays come. And that means people - friends, in-laws, carolers, cousins twice removed -  will be merrily rolling into your house. Some of them you will like; some of them you will not. Either way, you might as well ease the potential awkwardness and give them a drink.

Bryan Dayton, the owner of Boulder's Oak at Fourteenth and this year's "most inspired bartender in the country" according to GQ Magazine, offers all the bare necessities to make spirits brighter in the comfort of your own home.

Five Essential Bar Tools for the Holidays: Bryan Dayton

1. A great knife
"I like MacKnives (not the Mac that makes the iPhone in your hand, there’s not an app for that yet!) for their durability and price. Mainly to cut all that winter citrus: blood oranges, Meyer lemons, grapefruits, persimmons, quinces, kumquats.

A hand juicer is another essential tool; winter is citrus season and there is no better way to make great cocktails than by utilizing the abundance of great citrus in its peak."

2. A teapot is essential in the season to help make warm drinks
"A Hot Toddy is one of best drinks during the holidays. You can geek out on warm drinks. Adding rum to chamomile tea is amazing with a little honey and lemon."

3. A whisk and mixing bowl
"...For homemade, fresh eggnog! One thing I love to do is take fresh whipping cream, add a little honey and aromatic liqueur (an amaro works great, Grand Marnier is fun, St Elizabeth Allspice Dram is off the hook) and whip it all together until you get a thick whipped cream that has a little kick to it. It goes great on hot drinks and pies."

4. A microplane is a must-have
"...For fresh nutmeg on your eggnog, rum punch or your spiked whipped cream. Fresh cinnamon grated in cocktails can really accent your Manhattan-esque cocktail."

5. A mixing spoon, mixing glass and a julep strainer
"Always stir your all spirit cocktails. I love the Teardrop spoons, Yari glasses and julep strainers from Cocktail Kingdom - they're easy to use and elegant. Winter is also spirit season there is nothing better than sitting by the fireplace drinking an Old Fashioned, Manhattan or Negroni."

Santa's Little Helper
2 ounces rye whiskey
.5 ounces allspice/pimento dram (I use St. Elizabeth's)
1 teaspoon honey (agave nectar will work also)
2 dashes bitters (I prefer Angostura)
Orange Peel

Place all ingredients into a mixing glass. Add ice. Stir until well chilled. Pull the spoon out and place the julep strainer on top and strain over rocks or up in a cocktail glass.

Garnish with an orange peel and some freshly grated nutmeg.

Is there someone you'd like to see in the hot seat? Let us know in the comments below and if we agree, we'll do our best to chase 'em down.

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Filed under: 5@5 • Chilled Out and Cheery • Cocktail Recipes • Feature • HolidayShopping • Sip • Spirits • Think

soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. Sampsonite


    December 7, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
  2. Chuck

    He forgot about a good corkscrew.

    December 6, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
  3. KWDragon

    That last drink would be awesome. Worried that in my rural region, though, I won't be able to find this allspice liqueur that he is touting. It sounds wonderful.

    December 6, 2011 at 10:48 am |
    • JSizzle

      Here in Portland, Oregon we have an amazing selection of spirits due to the prevalent cocktail and drinking culture in this town. I've had the Allspice Dram in a number of drinks and it has that delectable holiday spice taste (allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, etc.) that really perks up all cocktails around this time of year. You only need about 1/8 to 1/4 teaspon in most drinks to keep it from overpowering the drink. You should be able to find it via a mail order service and I can testify that its worth the time, effort, and cost to order.

      December 7, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
  4. fob

    ooooooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhh, I will so be adding rum to my next evening cup of chamomile.

    December 5, 2011 at 7:17 pm |
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