The fresh smell of pine, spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, dark spirits that warm you up from the cold outside: If these aromas and flavors don't scream "It's the holidays!" we don't know what does.
Bartenders around the city are also getting inspired by the season, concocting a host of merry cocktails that evoke visions of gingerbread houses, Scandinavian winters and fragrant Christmas trees.
But much like the holidays, these short-lived cocktails will be gone before you know it. Here are 10 to sip right now.
? Three Wise Men at Miracle on Ninth Street, East Village
At this festive pop-up decked out in tinsel, barman Nico de Soto makes playfully named drinks like the Three Wise Men ($14). Melding Calvados with spice-packed gingerbread syrup and a wallop of frankincense smoke, it's a jolly companion to the soundtrack of vintage Christmas carols.
Nico de Soto makes festive cocktails at Miracle on Ninth Street
? Glögg at Aquavit, Midtown
Do like they do in Scandinavia during this most wonderful time of year: Wrap your hands around a hot mug of traditional glögg ($12) at Manhattan's Scandi stalwart. Its mulled wine rendition—heavy on the orange peel and cardamom—is rife with notes of dried figs, raisins, brown sugar and cloves. Bonus: The presence of vodka culminates in a nice, warm burn.
? Pear of Aces at Raines Law Room, Midtown
At the second outpost of this cocktail den, located inside The William hotel, you'll find head bartender Meaghan Dorman's ode to one of our favorite winter desserts: poached spiced pears (served at the hotel's restaurant, The Peacock). To make the drink ($14), she blends St. George Spiced Pear Liqueur and Avuá Prata Cachaça with cinnamon syrup, lemon juice and Angostura bitters. Dorman says, "I love the pear notes with the funky, grassy ones of the cachaça."
? Eggnog at Bar URBO, Times Square
A reprieve from the maddening hordes of tourists and their armfuls of shopping bags can be achieved with an order of Jan Warren's refined eggnog ($16). Along with bourbon, cognac and heavy cream, sherry and maple syrup "give this recipe a nutty, rich depth that I love," he says.
? Nothing Gold Can Stay, Ponyboy at Perilla, West Village
After dinner at Harold Dieterle's restaurant, ask one of the bartenders to whip up the Nothing Gold Can Stay, Ponyboy ($13). Caden Worley's heady cocktail, made with Calvados, St. Elizabeth allspice dram, Ramazzotti amaro, El Dorado spiced rum and a dash of apple bitters, then garnished with a cinnamon stick, is a nightcap that inevitably leads to several.
? The Maximilian at Cedar Local, Financial District
To create a "warming, woodsy and wintery experience," John McCarthy unites Christmas tree-like Zirbenz Stone Pine Liqueur with Roca Patrón Reposado tequila and allspice for the Maximilian ($14). Naturally, it's adorned with a seasonally appropriate burned rosemary sprig.
? Gingerbread Daiquiri at Joseph Leonard, West Village
"I was recently upstate, and the snowy weather and how it stuck to the trees left a terrific impression on me. It was like driving through an endless gingerbread house," Brian Bartels, director of bar operations at Happy Cooking Hospitality, recalls. That tranquil experience inspired this daiquiri ($13), in which he combines white rum with lime and ginger-vanilla molasses.
? Grasshopper Eggnog at Perla, West Village
Alas, another Bartels creation: Bar Sardine's Black Pepper Grasshopper is beloved, so for sister West Village restaurant Perla, he dreamed up an eggnog version of the crème de cacao and crème de menthe classic ($13), with sweetened almond milk, textured chocolate and mint notes, and a nutmeg garnish. Who needs Christmas cookies when you can drink this?
Perilla's Nothing Gold Can Stay, Ponyboy | The Daily's Maple Hot Buttered Whiskey
? Maple Hot Buttered Whiskey at The Daily, Nolita
Head bartender Ignacio Jimenez digs the smoky quality of whiskey. So he reimagined the traditional rum toddy as the Maple Hot Buttered Whiskey ($13), starring Old Overholt rye, Pierre Ferrand cognac, allspice dram, apple butter and a house-made apple-maple syrup.
? Shenandoah Eggnog at the Shanty, Williamsburg
This cocktail is an ode to the valley of the same name bordering the Blue Ridge Mountains—where the father of Allen Katz, co-founder of both the bar and adjacent New York Distilling Company, was born. The straightforward drink ($8) is a good way to showcase his newly released Mister Katz's Rock & Rye, laced with rock candy syrup.
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