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Cocktail Party

Our favorite bars offer the perfect drink for every occasion.


The holidays are festive and fun, but playing host isn’t always easy. We enlisted local bars to help you create make-at-home cocktails for every type of guest. Whether you are looking for a crowd-pleaser or your own island escape, we’ve got you covered.


Photography by Paige Hermreck

New Year’s Eve

Scenario: You’re ready to party like it’s 2014, but you want to serve your guests something more inspired than flutes of bubbly.

Solution: Jazz up plain Champagne with Martini Sky’s popular and pretty drink, the Jax.

1½  ounces Grey Goose  
Le Citron
½ ounce Triple Sec
½ ounce fresh-made

Combine Grey Goose Le Citron, Triple Sec, and lemonade. Shake with ice, and strain into a martini glass. Layer Champagne on top, and then pour Chambord into middle so it sinks to the bottom.

Martini Sky, 416 Sycamore Valley Rd. W., Danville, (925) 838-7611, martinisky.com.


After Dinner

Scenario: Your belly is full of Mary’s Chicken, and your sweet tooth is coming to life—but you don’t have room for pie.

Solution: Shake up Coco Cabana’s cool creamy horchata, which doubles as dessert and nightcap.

Malibu Rum

Combine 50 percent RumChata (available at BevMo) with 50 percent Malibu. Shake. Pour into a glass, and top with a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Coco Cabana, 4500-C Tassajara Rd., Dublin, (925) 556-9055, cococabanadublin.com.




With the In-Laws

Scenario: Your brother-in-law is rolling his eyes at peartinis, and you’re not sure what to serve him on the rocks.

Solution: Whip up 1515’s Perfect Gentleman: classic, straight up, and to the point. That’ll put some hair on his chest.

Gentleman Jack
Tennessee Whiskey
Dry vermouth
Orange peel

Combine four parts whiskey, one part Cointreau, and one part dry vermouth. Shake. Pour into a short glass over ice. Garnish with an orange peel.

1515 Restaurant Lounge, 1515 N. Main St., Walnut Creek, (925) 939-1515, 1515wc.com.


Build Holiday Spirit

Scenario: The freeway is a parking lot, the presents aren’t wrapped, and you’re starting to feel a lot like Ebenezer Scrooge.

Solution: With notes of sage and fir, Metro Lafayette’s gin holiday cocktail will give you a seasonal lift.

St. George Terroir Gin
Soda water

Fill an old-fashioned glass with ice. Pour glass half full with gin. Top off with soda. Garnish with lime.

Metro Lafayette, 3524 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette, (925) 284-4422, metrolafayette.com.



For a Holiday Getaway

Scenario: You’re knee-deep in destroyed gift displays, and every store at Broadway Plaza is blasting holiday tunes. While standing in line, you start to daydream about somewhere far, far, away ...

Solution: Take a trip to the tropics with one of Tiki Tom’s classic mai tais.

1½ ounces rum
1½ ounces pineapple juice
1½ ounces orange juice
Float of dark rum
Float of Bacardi 151
Pineapple and cherries (optional)

Combine rum with pineapple and orange juices. Pour into a 10-ounce glass filled with ice. Add a dash of grenadine. Top with floats of rum and 151. Garnish with fruit, if desired.

Tiki Tom’s, 1535 Olympic Blvd., Walnut Creek, (925) 932-9202.


For the Nondrinker

Scenario: You have designated driver duty but still want a delicious, drinkable treat.

Solution: Warm up a mug of Eddie Papa’s mulled apple cider to sip while you mingle. Change your mind and decide to call a taxi? Add a little Tuaca or brandy.

Traditional apple cider
Brown sugar

Heat apple cider, and add a little cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and brown sugar. For an alcoholic version, add Tuaca or brandy.

Eddie Papa’s American Hangout, 4889 Hopyard Rd., Pleasanton, (925) 469-6266, eddiepapas.com.

For more holiday cocktail recipes, scroll down.


To Warm You Up

Scenario: Your Tahoe cabin is snowed in, and you can’t drag yourself out of bed to open presents with the kids.

Solution: Pep up your step with Flora’s hot apple toddy, which has cinnamon and nutmeg to remind you why you love the holidays.

2 ounces apple brandy
Apple juice
Cinnamon stick

Pour apple brandy into an Irish coffee glass or mug. Heat apple juice, and then pour over brandy. Garnish with cinnamon stick and nutmeg.

Flora Restaurant & Bar, 1900 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, (510) 286-0100, floraoakland.com.


To Get the Party Started

Scenario: You’re hosting a holiday soiree, where you’re hoping to meet that special someone under the mistletoe. But first, you need a little (civilized) liquid courage.

Solution: Put a holiday twist on your go-to tequila with Maria Maria’s margarita sangria, which combines the sweetness of homemade sangria with the fun of margaritas.

Margarita Mix:
Piloncillo or panela (Mexican brown sugar)
Triple sec
Fresh-squeezed lime juice

Hand-muddled wedges of limes, oranges, and lemons
Orange juice
Triple sec
Red wine (Maria Maria uses Cabernet)

To make the margarita mix: Combine the brown sugar, Triple Sec, brandy, and fresh-squeezed lime juice. (Use within a day.)

To make sangria: Combine wedges of limes, oranges, and lemons, with sugar, a little bit of orange juice, brandy, Triple sec, and wine. Store in refrigerator for 24 hours.

To make the margarita sangria: Fill a seven-ounce glass 3/4 of the way with margarita mix and tequila. Fill the last 1/4 with sangria. Shake and serve.

Maria Maria, 710 Camino Ramon, Danville, (925) 820-2366, mariamariarestaurants.com.

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