All Things Considered

Appetites: Putting a holiday twist on cocktail classics

a group of christmas drinks
A group photo of the holiday drinks offered in the Red Nose Room at the Red Cow in Uptown Minneapolis.
The Red Cow in Uptown

The Red Nose Room at the Red Cow in Uptown has ten different drinks to help you celebrate the season. There are classics with a festive spin and some new concoctions. Everything from a Merry Spritzmas to a non-alcoholic Minty Espresso Martini.

Red Cow’s Beverage Director Ian Lowther was behind these creations. The key to a good holiday drink, he says, is simplicity and spice.

“You can just take a simple ingredient like cranberry juice or Angostura bitters and substitute that for either juice or some sort of easy cocktail. And just to add extra of something: extra bitters gives a little bit more cinnamon, little more clove and that's kind of what the holidays are about.”

He shared more tips and ideas for holiday drinks on Appetites.

Gingerbread White Russian

a gingerbread man in a mug with whipped cream
The Gingerbread White Russian is served in a boot in the Red Nose Room.
The Red Cow in Uptown

The most popular drink of the ten on the menu, Lowther says the drink begins, as it always does, with vodka and coffee liqueur. Then, to make it festive, infuse the cream with gingerbread cookies for about 20 to 30 minutes and add to the drink.

Christmas Eve of Destruction

a drink served in a tree shaped mug
The Christmas Eve of Destruction in a festive cup.
The Red Cow in Uptown

This is an original creation that could very well become a holiday classic.

“It’s Benedictine, which is a cognac-based but spice liqueur, and then a bunch of high-proof rum [with] some lime juice. Then, we add a little nutmeg syrup to it.”

But beware, this is not a drink for the faint of heart.

“A couple people have asked me where that name came from and I said, ‘have a few of them and see how your Christmas Eve turns out.’”

Non-alcoholic Minty Espresso Martini

a drink served on a glass with a candy cane
A non-alcoholic and holiday-ready Minty Espresso Martini.
The Red Cow in Uptown

If there was a drink of the year, it would very likely be the Espresso Martini. “[It’s] really having a moment again the last couple years and you see them everywhere,” said Lowther.

So he decided to make a non-alcoholic version with a holiday spin for everyone to enjoy.

“We just take peppermint extract and we mix that with a little bit of cream, a little bit of cold brew, and then we make a coffee syrup as well.”

The secret though is adding just the right amount of mint for freshness.

“It’s not supposed to be candy cane-y or like you're chewing some bubble gum.”

Batch Manhattans for the season

Even though this one is not available in the Red Nose Room, it’s a go-to favorite for Lowther because it can be batch made and easily spruced up.

“I’ll do a pitcher of Manhattan's but what I’ve done before is instead of using all bourbon, I'll actually split that with some spiced Rum or I’ve used a little bit extra vermouth because that has some spices to it as well.”

For more with Ian Lowther, click play on the audio player above. The Red Nose Room at the Red Cow in Uptown Minneapolis is open until Jan. 7, 2024.

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