Take a sip of this story, brought to you by SoulBoxer – quality, ready-to-drink cocktails that promise less time making, more time drinking. Put a little soul in your life, Milwaukee.
It might be tempting to concoct unique holiday cocktails – I saw a recipe for "Mrs. Claus’ Wild Side Punch" that really caught my eye – but mixmaster extraordinaires like Jason Neu from SoulBoxer Cocktail Co. recommend otherwise.
"Reaching too far for some complex, ill-conceived recipe with obscure ingredients is probably not worth the effort," says Neu.
Instead, Neu suggests sticking with the simpler drinks. "Classics are classics for a reason," he says. "Also, when possible, always use high quality ingredients. Don’t cheap out when entertaining guests at the holidays."
Here are four easy holiday cocktails – and one a little more complex only because it takes time in the fridge – recommended by Neu:
1. Brandy Slush
It’s a corny-yet-classic Wisconsin cocktail that must be passed down to the next generation, so you should probably make this immediately. Basically it’s a frozen/icy drink made with Milwaukee’s mothers milk and best buddy: brandy. SoulBoxer has an awesome take on this classic:
1 cup sugar
6 cups water
2 cups frozen cherries
1 12-ounce can frozen orange juice concentrate
1 12-ounce can frozen lemonade concentrate
1 bottle of SoulBoxer
Dissolve sugar into water. Mix all ingredients in a one-gallon bucket and freeze for 24 hours. Scoop into glasses; top with Squirt. Repeat.
2. Eggnog cocktails
Eggnog is a controversial holiday beverage – and those who like it, love it. Eggnog mixes well with brandy, bourbon or rum and makes a simple, two-ingredient cocktail. Here’s another version that’s even more Wisconsin-y thanks to the use of a Wisco-made product. It takes a week to reach it’s full flavor – but dang, it’s worth it.
Wisconsin Old Fashioned Nog
3 cups whole milk
3 cups heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
Pinch of kosher salt
12 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups of sugar
2 cups SoulBoxer
Combine milk, cream, vanilla bean, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a saucepan and heat on lowest setting for five minutes. Slowly bring milk mixture to a boil. In large bowl, combine yolks and sugar and whisk until fluffy. Then whisk hot milk mixture slowly into the eggs. Pour the mixture into a saucepan and cook over low-to-medium heat, stirring constantly for 3 minutes or until thick. Do not allow mixture to boil. Remove vanilla bean and let cool for an hour. Stir in SoulBoxer and refrigerate. Let rest for a week. Serve over ice and garnish with a dusting of grated nutmeg.
3. Hot Toddy
Some believe the Hot Toddy is a remedy for a cold; others just think it's a remedy for everything in life. Either way, the Hot Toddy is usually made with a spirit (whiskey, rum or brandy), water and honey. Aptly, it is served hot. Fun etymology fact: The word "toddy" does not come from some party-hardy guy named Todd, rather it comes from the toddy drink in India, produced by fermenting the sap of palm trees.
4. Sangria or mulled wine
Sangria is, basically, a punch that includes red wine, chopped fruit, orange juice and often (in Wisconsin anyway) brandy. Mulled wine is a warm spiced wine that also – surprise, surprise – often includes a splash of brandy when made by Wisconsinites. There are so many variations of both of these drinks, and regardless of the recipe, there’s plenty of opportunity to incorporate seasonal ingredients like blood orange, cranberry, ginger, cloves and cinnamon. Here’s one from SoulBoxer:
2 cups SoulBoxer
2 bottles Tempranillo
2 lemons (1 juiced and 1 thinly sliced)
2 oranges (1 juiced, 1 thinly sliced)
2 cups fresh, sweet cherries
Combine the ingredients in a pitcher. Chill the beverage for at least four hours then pour over ice to serve. Now, it's your turn to chill for hopefully at least four hours.
5. Tom and Jerry
Grandma and grandpa loved them and for good reason. This Christmas cocktail is traditionally made with eggs or eggnog, brandy and rum, sprinkled with nutmeg and served hot. For a slightly fancier Tom and Jerry recipe, go here. Otherwise grab a bottle of SoulBoxer, lace up your innovation boots, experiment and enjoy.
Most importantly, Nue reminds everyone that the true spirit of the season is, well, not spirits.
"Cocktails during the holidays is more about enjoying the time with loved ones and the experience of sharing a drink," says Neu. "Don’t forget that."
Check out this video with Andy Braun from Drink Wisconsinbly Pub:
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.