3 Holly-Jolly Cocktails From Oakland’s Master Mixologist

Want your party to go down in history? Serve an epic cocktail. But before you pick up that shaker, take a beat. A signature spirit requires some thought. Serve a passé cosmo (not that you would), and you’ll never hear the end of it. Foodies, even the ones you call friends, are very unforgiving. But it's a fine line: Pour too stiff or obscure of a concoction, and you could alienate the thirstiest crowd. Enter Evan Williams, 22, bartending boy wonder at Oakland hotspot, Make Westing. He has three refreshing recipes to help any holiday hostess, whatever her skill level, breeze through cocktail hour with élan.
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The Drink: French 75
The Glass: Flute
Skill Level: Beginner
Meant for: Fans of mimosas and fizzy drinks, Francophiles, and amateur historians

Unleash the merriment with this champagne cocktail, French 75, named after an artillery piece used in WWI. The kick at the end, legend has it, is equivalent to being pummeled by a canon ball. Here, Evan heightens the effect with a glass rinsed in absinthe. Do it at home, with a Misto Olive Oil Sprayer, cleaned out, and filled with the green fairy.

Spritz of absinthe
2 oz gin
1 oz simple
1 oz lemon

1. Spritz flute with absinthe.
2. Combine gin, simple syrup, lemon, and ice. Shake well, and strain.
3. Top with champagne.
4. Garnish with a griotte cherry.

Photographed by Jasmine Gregory.
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The Drink: Blood and Sand
The Glass: Martini or coupe
Skill Level: Intermediate
Meant for: Fans of Old Fashioneds and crudite platters, and men who are tall, dark, and handsome

Called the Blood and Sand, we suggest renaming this drink something more festive, like Rudolph's Red Nose, for the mere fact that lion-slaying gladiators just don’t scream "holiday" to us. For the garnish, accept no substitutes. The recipe calls for griotte cherries, soaked in brandy, so its plump cousin, the maraschino, just won't do.

1 oz scotch
1 oz fresh OJ
3/4 oz fair trade goji liqueur or cherry brandy
3/4 oz Carpano Antica vermouth

1. Combine all ingredients in a shaker. Fill with ice, and shake.
2. Strain and pour.
3. Garnish with cherries and orange peel.

Photographed by Jasmine Gregory.
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The Drink: Forest Sour
The Glass: Wine goblet
Skill Level: Advanced
Meant for: Fans of eggnog, fruitcake, and Christmas

Like a spiked latte, this is just the thing to wash down spicy holiday desserts. The addition of an egg white produces a frothy top that takes the bite out of the alcohol.

1 egg white
1/2 oz lemon
1 oz maple simple syrup
3 dashes of "Bar Keep" Baked Apple Bitters
2 oz of apple brandy Cinnamon Bitters

1. The secret to a frothy egg white sour is to pre-shake the non-alcoholic ingredients, including the egg white, without ice.
2. Then, add ice and applejack brandy; shake vigorously.
3. Double strain through a mesh filter.
4. Garnish with a few drops of cinnamon and clove-forward bitters. Evan likes Fee's Old-Fashioned Bitters.

Photographed by Jasmine Gregory.

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