Three cocktail recipes for a sweet new year

Spice up the High Holidays with celebratory drinks

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Apples & Spice & Everything Nice cocktail.

The High Holidays are a time to celebrate, reflect and begin anew-and of fering a festive cocktail to your holiday guests can help ensure a joyful celebration.

North Shore mixologist Cheryl Rich Heisler created three signature cocktails for the High Holidays this year. "They are a great way to capture our traditions in an edible art form," she said.

"I think the key to any great cocktail is balance-tart and sweet, color and visual components," said Heisler, who designs custom cocktails for events of all sizes. "Mixing for all the senses makes this a delightful occupation."

And it's a job Heisler was certainly born to do. She said it's family legend that she has always been drawn to cocktails. "My dad used to entice me to crawl by putting a martini at the other end of the room," she said.

A self-described "serial career changer" with a background in law and marketing, Heisler now works as a career counselor by day and mixologist by night. Her lengthy list of local clients includes the Writer's Theater of Glencoe, the Chicago Botanic Gardens, and KOVAL Distillery.

To incorporate the symbolism of the High Holidays into the three cocktails below, Heisler considered seasonality, theme, colors, and flavors. She said it's all about "taking the bitter with the sweet. This Rosh Hashanah, even more than in other years, I believe we need to be grateful for what we do have."

Heisler also drew inspiration from the traditional flavors of a sweet new year. The result is aptly named Apples & Spice & Everything Nice . "It's all about apples and honey. That's tradition," she said. "We bring in a little bit of bourbon, and that's the fall color."

Heisler says she doesn't shy away from bold flavors. "I like to know what I'm drinking," she said. "I'm a stickler for real ingredients like fresh squeezed juices and fresh homemade simple syrups."

For Fruited & Fabulous , Heisler dresses up a simple white wine for the holidays with a garnish inspired by an ancient fruit and Jewish symbol of love and prosperity. "Pomegranates have a seasonality and tradition," she said. "There's a Midrash (rabbinic exposition) that says the actual apple in the Garden of Eden was a pomegranate."

To experiment with mixing your own cocktails, Heisler says at-home mixologists need to be open-minded. "If you want to play around with this stuff at home, you need to be cocktail curious," she said. "You have to be playful in terms of your palate and be open to trying new things."

But you don't necessarily have to prepare an entire punch bowl for your first foray into mixology. "Start small. Good spirits aren't cheap," Heisler suggested. "Make a mini version of any new cocktail and see how the flavors mix together."

No matter the size of your pour, Heisler embraces creativity to celebrate the High Holidays with a festive mixed drink. "You don't eat the same food all the time, and I don't think you need to drink the same drink every season every year," she said.


Apples & Spice & Everything Nice

3.0 oz. spiced apple cider

1.0 oz. single barrel Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey

.5 oz. vanilla liqueur

Honey (wildflower preferred)

Freshly picked/super crisp apples or pears

  1. Lightly rim a rocks glass with honey.
  2. Add cider, bourbon and vanilla liqueur.
  3. Stir gently.
  4. Add ice (optional) and garnish with a fresh slice of apple.


Taking the Bitter(s) with the Sweet

.5 oz. coffee liqueur

.5 oz. Amaro

1 oz. premium vodka

1 sugar cube

Angostura bitters

  1. Douse sugar cube with bitters.
  2. Place into small rocks glass.
  3. Fill a martini shaker with ice. Add coffee liqueur, Amaro, and vodka. Stir gently until chilled. Strain into rocks glass.


Fruited & Fabulous

5 oz. Sauvignon Blanc (or crisp, dry white wine of choice)

1 oversized ice cube, with pomegranate seeds frozen inside

Leslie Hill Hirschfeld is a freelance writer living in the northern suburbs of Chicago.

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