Holiday Cocktail: Gin and Spice and Everything Nice

The Barrel-Aged Holiday Spirits cocktail is one of the Claremont's many festive offerings this month.

While the weather outside may never quite reach "frightful" extremes in the East Bay, sipping a cocktail with a view of the sun setting over the Bay from Berkeley’s Claremont hotel is always delightful—especially when your drink is this spicy winter warmer.

Featured in the Fairmont property’s Lobby Lounge and Bar, the Barrel-Aged Holiday Spirits elixir combines a pine-tinged gin with the pleasant bitterness of Carpano Antica vermouth and Campari. A wintry riff on a negroni, the drink then spends six weeks in an American oak barrel to mellow and achieve a rich roundness and complexity.

For an extra-jolly kick, the bar brews up its own batch of Metropolitan Tea Company Christmas-blend tea, with hints of clove and cinnamon, to craft a giant slow-release ice cube spiked with star anise. And like a present without a bow, the cocktail isn’t truly complete without a garnish of cranberry and shaved citrus peel. Since it uses Alameda-made St. George Spirits Terroir Gin, the drink also boasts local botanicals, whose herbal qualities complement the citrus and bitter elements.

When seeking inspiration, beverage manager Michael Mighetto Hoefling didn’t have to look far. "We’re known for our holiday high tea and our barrel-aged cocktail program, so we thought, What better than to combine the two?" he says. "It’s also a very spirit-forward cocktail, giving you that warm holiday feeling." So if you’ve been particularly nice this season, consider ordering two.

See the Claremont’s full slate of holiday specials and events here.