We really have it lucky these days. Seriously: Can you imagine not being allowed to drink alcohol? It’s a pretty preposterous proposition. But that was exactly what reality was like for Americans for almost 15 years, starting in 1919. Fortunately for American boozehounds, a consensus was reached on Dec. 5, 1933, when Utah became the last state needed to reach a three-quarters majority for ratifying the 21st Amendment, which put an end to Prohibition.
Repeal Day, as it’s come to be called (also known as "Take Your Flask to Work Day" from this point forward), has reached its 80th anniversary today, and that means you have the perfect excuse to get your drink on. (And, hey, it’s Thursday, and that essentially counts as the weekend, right? Right?)
To help you celebrate in style, The Daily Meal found six festive cocktails fitting the flavor profile that palates crave most during the chilly holiday season. We’re talking earthy spices, warm milk, brandy and cognac, and smoky comfort emanating from each cinnamon-stick-garnished glass. Four can be found in my home base of New York City, while the other two come from my favorite locale to get loaded (and former stomping ground), New Orleans. If you don’t live around these parts, we’ve snagged instructions directly from a few of the bartenders behind these creative drinks, so you can duplicate them in your own mixology lab (or adjust them to meet your tastes).
Pear Brandy Crusta — Mulberry Project, New York City
Mulberry Project is making people want to trek to Little Italy again, providing a cocktail oasis in a stylish speakeasy setting in an area known for smarmy hosts who hustle unsuspecting diners into ordering overpriced eggplant Parm. Expert mixologist and co-owner Rael Petit is particularly adept at crafting bespoke cocktails based on answers he’ll glean from a few key queries, such as your favorite fruit(s) and herb(s), your preference for light or dark liquor, and even your mood. Petit and his crew won’t hesitate to experiment with new tastes, like when they shook up my favorite gin with sprigs of fresh thyme and grapefruit juice on a recent visit, but they’re also sticklers for classic cold-weather cocktails like the Pear Brandy Crusta.
This drink features Poire Williams, a pear-flavored liqueur that often comes with a whole pear grown inside the bottle. It’s rounded out with a heavy pour of Hennessy VS, maraschino liqueur, citrusy Combier, and a splash of lemon juice, shaken with ice and then served in a sugar rimmed glass with grapefruit peel. A belly-warming beverage like this is exactly what partiers would be toasting with back in ’33 (and will go great with Mulberry Project’s Mexican-inspired eats).
Warm Brandy Milk Punch — The Grill Room at the Windsor Court Hotel, New Orleans
The Grill Room at The Windsor Court Hotel is legendary in a city that built its reputation on being home to some of the world’s best watering holes. You can’t help but feel classy hanging out in a venue like this, especially when you can order some Warm Brandy Milk Punch, a cocktail so crazy it’s mixed inside a two-chambered glass that requires a butane torch to be lit underneath it. The heat causes the liquid from the bottom (a mixture of Landy VSOP, 2 percent milk, vanilla syrup, orange blossom water, and red Hawaiian salt) to be vacuumed up into the top, where it’s then infused with the essence of cinnamon sticks, mace and other autumn spices, fresh tarragon, marigold flower, chocolate, and sugar, among other flavorful aromatics. Afterward, it drizzles back to the bottom and is then poured into snifters and garnished with ground nutmeg.
You’ll feel warm and fuzzy sharing one of these after-dinner drinks with your favorite cocktail companion (served table side; each run $32 and serve two), and the old-school ambiance of the Windsor Court will temporarily transport your mind to a simpler time.
Hot Calvados Cider, Warm Mulled Cider, and Hot Chocolate Ganache — Mezetto, New York City
Mezetto’s menu of Mediterranean fusion dishes is more than enough reason to venture to the corner of East Houston and Allen Streets. Chef Bahr Rapaport’s inventive menu, with dishes like "falafel buns" that combine Israeli pickle salsa, French aioli, North African harissa, and Chinese steamed buns, are some of the most exciting eats in Manhattan. But it’s Mezetto’s warm winter cocktail menu that we’re talking about today.
Kick back and press your lips against a glass of Warm Mulled Cider, mixed with red wine, brandy, spices, fresh and dried fruit, and a combination of juices for an antioxidant-rich elixir. Or, opt for apples with the Hot Calvados Cider, featuring the apple brandy and apple cider infused with cinnamon. Perhaps most indulgent is the Hot Chocolate Ganache, a blend of Jameson Irish whiskey, Irish cream, and Mezetto’s house-made ganache.
How would you react if the government suddenly banned drinks this delicious?
Tom and Jerry — Arnaud’s French 75 Bar, New Orleans
Not much can beat a hot, boozy beverage at Arnaud’s, one of the French Quarter’s premier eating and drinking destinations, on a cold Repeal Day after work. Expert mixologist Chris Hannah and his team are proud to serve up the Tom and Jerry, a whiskey or cognac-based drink blended with a sweet vanilla egg batter and piping hot water to give it a consistency similar to egg nog. Topped with grated nutmeg, this beverage is sure to elicit feelings of holiday cheer.
Smoky Mt. Rye — Humphrey (at the Eventi Kimpton Hotel), New York City
Sometimes one ingredient can elevate a simple cocktail to new heights; in the case of the Smoky Mt. Rye at Humphrey, it’s two: smoked honey and blood orange bitters. These two mixers provide the perfect notes to complement Jack Daniel’s rye and cranberry juice, creating a sweet-tart bouquet with a backbone of burnt wood that almost entirely conceals the alcohol. Treat yourself to three or four in true Repeal Day spirit.
Midsummer Night’s Dream — Whitman & Bloom, New York City
Hot summer days are a distant memory, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try to fool your tongue into thinking Repeal Day is really Independence Day. Attempt this at Whitman & Bloom, where the Midsummer Night’s Dream awaits. St. Germain elderflower liqueur is blended with citron vodka and simple syrup, which is then kicked up with fresh raspberries and lemon juice. The flavor could be enough to convince your brain it’s July, at least until you stumble outside for a smoke.