Houston’s Alba Huerta, a member of our Chefs’ Collective, is having a busy year. Her iconic Houston bar, Julep, just turned seven. She recently led the training of an all-female bartending staff at Polaris Lounge, Houston’s international airport bar. And she just turned her bar over to a film crew for a couple of days. (All this and a trip to Oaxaca to celebrate Día de los Muertos, too!)
It’s all in a day’s work for the woman who just wrapped up a stint leading our Beverage Academy. We were psyched that Alba took time out from her schedule to walk us through two of Julep’s most popular holiday drinks. Here are the drinks, the gear you’ll need to make them, and why they’re wonderful. (If DIY cocktails seem overwhelming, just watch Alba making them in the videos below!)
Holiday Agave Old-Fashioned
Traditional bourbon and Angostura bitters are swapped out for tequila and cherry bark bitters in this beautifully aromatic Old Fashioned riff redolent of bourbon, coffee, vanilla and cherries. As light and bright as the holidays themselves, it’s a divine potable to hand folks walking into your home. You’ll want Old Fashioned glasses, of course, but also a big mixing glass, mixing tins, a good jigger, a Hawthorne strainer, and our round cube ice mold, which makes the whole thing as pretty as a picture. (Bonus: It makes for a giant cube that melts slowly; ideal for this drink.)
- Ice cubes, plus 1 large ice cube
- 2 oz. (60 ml) resposado Tequila
- 2 dashes Cherry Bark Bitters or Angostura Bitters
- 1 bar spoon WS Coffee Vanilla Syrup
- 1 large ice cube
- Orange twist
In a cocktail mixing glass filled with ice cubes, combine the tequila, bitters, and coffee vanilla syrup. Stir with a bar spoon until well chilled. Place the large ice cube into a rocks glass. Strain the cocktail into the glass. Garnish with an orange twist. Makes 1 serving.
Watch the video:
Alba loves to incorporate seasonal themes into her cocktails. She appreciates the classic and memorable quality of an Old-Fashioned cocktail at holiday gatherings (especially her 21st century agave-forward riff) and turns to the celebratory nature of champagne and sparkling wine when the calendar dips closer to the new year.
Auld Lang Spritz
So clean, refreshing, seasonal and celebratory, this elixir mingles our inimitable cranberry-pomegranate cider with vodka, Champagne, lime juice, simple syrup, and fresh mint. You can easily make a couple of Auld Lang Spritzes at a time in our big mixing tins (which is ideal because you’ll be popping open the bubbly for these!) You’ll also need a simple citrus squeezer, an elegant bar spoon, a highball glass and a cocktail pick. Cheers!
- 1 ½ oz. (45 ml) vodka
- 1 oz. (30 ml) Williams Sonoma Cranberry-Pomegranate Cider
- ¼ oz. (7 ml) simple syrup
- 2-3 mint leaves, plus mint for garnish
- ½ oz. (15 ml) fresh lime juice
- Champagne or sparkling wine
- Lime wheel
- Fresh cranberries or blackberries
In a cocktail shaker, combine the vodka, cider, mint leaves, and lime juice. Fill the shaker with ice. Cover and shake vigorously until well chilled. Fill a highball glass with ice. Strain the cocktail into the glass. Top with Champagne. Garnish with a fresh mint sprig and a cocktail pick threaded with the lime wheel and a few fresh berries. Makes 1 serving.
Watch the video: