We asked a trio of great Twin Cities bartenders to share their best holiday cocktails. Like the season's bright lights, these drinks are colorful and fun. But you'd better believe they also come with a kick. The recipes are included here, so feel free to test them at home. But if you're not snowed in, we suggest getting out of the house. It's best to taste these cocktails when made by the hands of masters.

 

Adam Harness

Home base: Cafe Maude

Drink: The STNNNG.

Back story: "It's a riff off a classic cocktail called the Stinger. I like to name drinks after bands and songs. There's a Minneapolis band called the STNNNG -- phonetically, it looks like Sting (but pronounced 'stunning'). They're all my buddies."

Flavor: Herbaceous, minty, with an earthy green color.

  • 2 oz. brandy or cognac
  • 1 oz. Branca Menta
  • 1 bar spoon White Creme de menthe

Splash of soda Combine all ingredients except for soda into shaker, shake and strain over fresh ice. Garnish with a single mint leaf.

Drink: Bitter Mai Tai.

Back story: "It was a long summer. I kept trying to rack my brain wondering how I was going to make a winter cocktail menu with such nice weather. So I just put a twist on a summer drink. Typically, a summer cocktail should be easy drinking and really refreshing. But this one has a bitter front. It's like walking outside onto a winter beach.

Flavor: The bitterness will warm your insides.

  • 2 oz. aged rum
  • 1 oz. Campari
  • ¾ oz. lime juice
  • 2 bar spoons Orgeat (almond) syrup (depending on how sweet you want it)

Shake and strain over ice. Garnish with orange slice.

 

Robert Jones

Home base: Meritage

Drink: Fake Norwegian.

Back story: "It's named after my bar back, who's from Norway. Her accent sounds more like she's from northern Minnesota. So we like to joke that she's not really from Norway."

Flavor: The frothy head is as silky as a pillow of snow. The rest goes down dry and sweet, with a minty aftertaste.

  • 1¾ oz. Aalborg Akvavit
  • ½ oz. absinthe
  • ¾ oz. simple syrup
  • ¾ oz. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 egg white

Combine ingredients and shake without ice. Add ice and shake hard. Strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with 12 drops Peychaud's bitters.

Drink: Count's Courage.

Back story: "It's a variation of a Negroni, which was invented by Count Negroni -- a really old Italian guy. But instead of gin, I'm using Genever [a gin-like liquor], which the Dutch call 'Dutch courage.' So my drink is a play on words."

Flavor: The bitterness and accompanying spice can be challenging. But the piney notes make it perfect for coming in from the cold.

  • 1 oz. Bols Genever
  • 1 oz. Dolin Sweet Vermouth
  • 1 oz. Campari
  • 1/4 oz. Fernet Branca

Combine ingredients over ice and stir. Strain into chilled coupe glass. Garnish with flamed orange disc.

 

Jeff Rogers

Home base: The Lowry in Uptown

Drink: Cafe Lowry.

Back story: "I've always been in love with hot drinks and the holidays. I was also thinking of my dad when I made this drink. He was a big fan of mixed nuts and he would always make oatmeal with walnuts and honey."

Flavor: Creamy chocolate-orange goodness with honey and roasted-walnut notes.

  • 1½ oz. honey walnut liqueur
  • Hot coffee to fill
  • Homemade whipped cream

Preheat a footed glass mug with hot water. Discard the water. Place liqueur and coffee into glass while leaving a 1/2 -inch window on top. Float whipped cream and place two stir straws on top.

Honey Walnut Liqueur:

  • 15 raw walnuts
  • 2 c. brown sugar
  • 1 bottle Cointreau orange liqueur
  • 8½ oz. honey
  • 17½ oz. cream
  • 1½ oz. milk

Roast the walnuts in a preheated 375-degree oven. Add roasted walnuts, brown sugar and half the bottle of Cointreau to pot. Simmer on medium-low heat for 10 minutes, while stirring. Remove walnuts. Add honey, cream and milk, simmer for another 5 to 7 minutes while stirring. Remove from heat. Stir in the rest of the Cointreau. Allow to cool, then bottle. Keep refrigerated.

Drink: Snow Shoe.

Back story: "I'm really infatuated with the cream drinks of yore, like the Grasshopper. I substituted Rumple Minze for the Crème de menthe, which gave the Grasshopper its green color. Now the drink is as pure as the driven snow. Originally, I wanted the chocolate drizzle to look like snow tracks."

Flavor: Tastes like a Grasshopper, but a bit stronger (thanks to the Rumple Minze).

  • 1 oz. Rumple Minze
  • 1 oz. dark crème de cacao
  • 1 oz. half-and-half

Directions: Place all ingredients into shaker, add ice and shake. Strain over new ice in a lowball glass. Garnish with a chocolate swirl.