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Mount Kisco Cocktail Expert Offers Holiday Recipes And Suggestions

Mahopac resident Marina Vataj is the Digital Editorial Manager for Wine Enthusiast Magazine. Photo Credit: Teri Lyn Fisher
French 75 Punch is great for parties. Photo Credit: Courtesy photo

MOUNT KISCO, N.Y. -- Marina Vataj knows cocktails. As the Digital Editorial Manager for Mount Kisco-based Wine Enthusiast Magazine, she tastes a lot of beverages in order to find the best drinks for her readers. Here are some of her holiday tips.

Tip One: Make big batches. This ensures you’re not stuck in the kitchen and can mingle with your guests. "I particularly like this spin on the classic French 75," she said. "Mix it in a punch bowl, lay out some ladles and start sipping."

French 75 Punch (Adapted from Cocktails for a Crowd by Kara Newman, spirits editor, Wine Enthusiast)

1 cup lemon juice 2 cups gin, like Tanqueray ¾ cup simple syrup ½ tsp. orange bitters 4 cups cold dry Champagne, or other sparkling wine 8 orange wheels, for garnish

Pour lemon juice, gin, simple syrup, bitters and champagne into a punch bowl, and stir to combine. (If making ahead, add the champagne at the very last minute.) Add a large ice block to chill. Garnish with orange wheels. Serves eight.

Tip Two: Keep it simple. "You can’t go wrong with a rose-colored cocktail and it looks extra elegant when served in a flute glass," she said.

Kir Royale (Adapted from The Cocktail Club: A Year of Recipes and Tips for Spirited Tasting Parties by Maureen Christian-Petrosky)

1 tbs. Crème de Cassis 3 oz. Champagne, chilled

In a Champagne flute, add the crème de cassis and top with the chilled Champagne.

Tip Three: Serve a Hot Toddy. This warm libation is a must have during the holiday season as it sets a cozy scene for your party, especially when served in a coffee mug, she said.

The Classic Hot Toddy

1½ oz. brown liquor, such as brandy, whiskey or rum 1 tbsp. honey ½ oz. lemon juice 1 cup hot water Lemon wedge, cinnamon stick and star anise for garnish (optional)

Combine the first four ingredients into the bottom of a warmed mug. If desired, garnish with the lemon, cinnamon stick or star anise.

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