Ottawa, ON

December 2017

With the holiday entertaining season in full swing, it’s great to have some easy to make, super delicious, and awe-inspiring cocktail recipes on hand to treat your guests this holiday season.

With a few simple ingredients you can easily wow your guest with these delicious and easy to make premium cocktails.  One recommendation I have is to have a few options available just like with wine, where you may want to have a red wine and a white wine option for your guests, the same is true with spirits.  Having a light coloured spirit, like Gin, and a darker spirit, like Whisky, will ensure you’ve got your bases covered and can find something enjoyable for every palate and preference.  Better yet, offer the choice of two premium cocktails such as an Old Fashioned or a White Lady.  Guaranteed your guests will be thrilled to have one of those specialty cocktails prepared for them.

Here are a few of my favourite cocktails that I recommend treating your guests to this holiday season.  With only two key spirits, Jack Daniel’s Rye Whiskey and Death’s Door Gin, you’ll be well on your way to offering some fantastic cocktails!


Jack Daniel’s new Rye Whiskey – $39.95


When you haven’t changed a recipe in over a hundred years any change must be for a pretty darn good reason!  So when Jack Daniel’s announced the release of their new Jack Daniel’s Rye Whiskey, made with 70% Rye grain, essentially reversing the old recipe that consisted of 80% corn, it got a lot of Whiskey enthusiasts very interested in giving it a shot, or two.  Upon my first sip I appreciated their decision to up the Rye content, thereby moving away from a sweeter style corn based Whiskey and into a style of Rye Whiskey that would be great when served with premium cocktails and also a decent choice to enjoy neat, especially for those that like the pure expression of a mildly spicy Rye.   I found it to be a terrific Rye for mixing in cocktails.  Whether it be a Manhattan, Old Fashioned, or Whiskey Sour, this Rye takes those cocktails to the next level, and in style! At 45% abv , its powerful but in a distinguished way making it ideal in those timeless cocktails.  Tasted November 2017.  Matt Steeves –

Available at LCBO – $39.95 



Old Fashioned with Jack Daniel’s Rye Whiskey

The classic old fashioned rye cocktail is so simple to make and delicious especially with the new Jack Daniels Rye Whiskey which makes this storied cocktail absolutely to die for.

All you need is 2oz JD Rye Whiskey, 2 sugar cubes, 3+ dashes of Angostura bitters/ Dillons bitters and a big cube of ice. Muddle sugar, bitters, and a splash of water (or club soda), then add Whiskey, large ice cube, then stir 20-30 seconds, strain into a whiskey glass and garnish with orange peel/twist. Add the ice cube to keep the drink cool and let the ice melt a bit as you savour this tasty cocktail. Give it a try. Guaranteed your guest will love it.




Manhattan with Jack Daniel’s Rye Whiskey and Carpano (Vermouth)


2 ounces of Jack Daniel’s Rye Whiskey + 1/2 ounce sweet red vermouth (Carpano), a 1/2 ounce of Grand Marnier (optional) + a couple of dashes of angostura bitters. Stir all ingredients with ice for 15 seconds and strain into a coupe. Garnish with a Luxardo cherry.


 Image result for manhattan cocktail


Fratelli Branca Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth
Fratelli Branca Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth – Available at LCBO



White Lady Cocktail with Death’s Door Gin

Image result for white lady cocktail

  • 35ml Sipsmith London Dry Gin
  • 25ml Cointreau or Triple Sec
  • 25ml Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice
  • 25ml Simple Syrup
  • One Egg White
  • Lemon Twist to garnish
  1. Combine the ingredients together in a cocktail shaker and dry shake
  2. Add the ice and shake again
  3. Fine strain into a chilled martini glass
  4. Garnish with lemon zest twist



Death’s Door Gin.

This Wisconsin-based craft distillery is producing some of the finest Gin available.  They’ve achieved Certified Organic status from growing their hard Red Winter Wheat on Washington Island, which is also where they grow the super aromatic Juniper that is the hallmark of this premium craft Gin. On the nose, botanical Juniper berry and sweet evergreen notes, followed by delicate exotic spice.  The palate is incredibly smooth which persists on the long anise and Juniper finish.  Very impressive, this is a Gin you’ll enjoy served straight up on ice, and is stellar as the main component of a traditional G&T.  Death’s Door is named after the passage of water between Washington Island and Wisconsin mainland.  It may sound spooky but it couldn’t be further from that especially once you smell the pure Juniper, Corriander, and Fennel, and taste how smooth it is. Death’s Door may just be the gateway to Gin heaven. Tasted October 2017. Highly recommended! 93+ points. Matt Steeves –




I hope you get a chance to enjoy some of these tasty cocktails and to serve some to your guests this holiday season.  Enjoy!


Matt Steeves

Matt Steeves – Sommelier, Wine Writer, & Director with the National Capital Sommelier Guild – follow Matt on Twitter @Quercusvinoor