Tis the season for merriment – and what better way to let your heart be light than with festive libations from some of Tampa Bay’s best restaurants and bars? We’ve rounded up enough boozy creations to last you the entire season. Visit these local venues, find your favorites and then try your hand at home to impress your guests with newfound bartender skills.
Bourbon Smoke Cocktail – Rococo Steak
2.5 oz. Old Forester bourbon
0.5 oz. maple simple syrup
3 dashes orange bitters
3 dashes apple bitters
1 maple bacon cube
Applewood smoked bacon garnish
“The cocktail hits on all the senses, incorporating visual and aromatic elements from the smoke settling on the drink and rolling over the edges of the glass with your first impression,” Will Howard, beverage director at Rococo, describes. “The bacon-maple cube adds to the theme of smoke and offers a bit of sweetness to the otherwise boozy, bourbon-based cocktail.”
Christmapolitan – Intermezzo
Spiced cranberry sauce
“Starting Black Friday and running until New Year’s Eve, Miracle at Mezzo is Tampa Bay’s largest Christmas-themed pop-up cocktail bar that serves holiday cocktails in a festive setting,” Intermezzo owner Jarrett Sabatini says. “With kitschy holiday décor, professionally-developed cocktails and the nostalgic energy of the best office party you’ve ever been to, Miracle is sure to get even the grouchiest grinch in the holiday spirit.”
EggNog – Mandarin Hide
Wild Turkey 101 infused with mulling spices
“We utilize Wild Turkey 101 for its depth and funk,” beverage director Wade Murata says. “We infuse the whiskey with a bunch of mulling spices to bring those holiday vibes to the mixture. Adding two very different styles of sherry contributes balance to the cocktail along with beautiful complexity. We utilize a very traditional eggnog recipe that is just so comforting and nostalgic. You can’t help but feel like you’re home.”
Mistletoe and Thorns – Forbici Modern Italian
Mike’s Spicy Hot Honey
We’re not sure which part of this cocktail is mistletoe and which is thorns. Fresh and citrusy with a pop of spice, it all sounds good to us.
Espresso Martini – True Food Kitchen
2 oz. espresso martini mix (premade infusion of Vodka + Espresso with Cacao Nib Mix)
1 oz. oat milk
0.5 oz. hazelnut syrup
0.5 oz. vanilla syrup
0.75 oz. Amarula cream liqueur
3 espresso beans for garnish
“We infuse our vodka in-house using fair trade organic espresso from a family-owned roaster in AZ,” Vice President of Food & Beverage Jon Augustin says. “Cacao nibs to provide another layer of flavor. For the creaminess we use a liqueur from Amarula that has a hint of citrus from the fruit that comes from the Amarula tree, dubbed the ‘marriage tree’ by locals.”
Baklava Alexander – Lilac at the Tampa Edition
Remy 1738 Cognac
Orange Blossom Spray garnish
Slivered Almond bark garnish
It’s no surprise that the cocktail program at one of Tampa’s hottest new restaurants is equally as brilliant as its culinary program.
“The cocktails at Lilac are a Mediterranean twist on classics, such as this Halva-inspired espresso martini,” beverage director Amy Racin says.
Seedy and nutty, you’ll want to head to the Edition and get your hands on one of Racin’s creations. Her knowledge of cocktail creation is nearly unmatched in Tampa Bay.
Live Or Let Rye – Taverna Costale
Butter-washed redemption rye
House chai syrup
Black walnut bitters
Caramel popcorn garnish
“Our cocktail is inspired by the classic cocktail, Hot Buttered Rum, but updated in a really fun new way,” says Anthony Sandstrom, co-owner. “Although it’s a drink served cold, it’ll really warm you up.”
Saké Sangria – Kona Grill
Awa Yuki sparkling saké
“The effervescence from the sparkling saké combined with the sweet citrus flavors of the lychee add a fun and unique twist to this cocktail,” Donovan Swanson, senior marketing manager for The One Group, says.
Milk and Cookies – Willa’s
0.75 oz. Cognac Park
0.75 oz. Santa Teresa
0.75 oz. RumChata
0.25 oz. Giffard coconut syrup
Mini chocolate chip cookie for garnish
Grated nutmeg for dusting on top
“Our team took traditional eggnog and decided to put a twist on it with a boozy alternative,” Amber Carregal, Willa’s lead bartender, says. “Our pastry chef, Cheyenne Gibson, makes the most delicious chocolate chip cookies that are the perfect pairing with this creamy dessert cocktail.”
Sgroppino – Cipresso at The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino
1oz Belvedere Vodka
1oz House-made limoncello
0.5oz Lemon juice
0.5oz Simple syrup
2 tablespoons house-made lemon sorbet
Grated lemon peel garnish
Served with a sugar rim in a champagne saucer, this shaken drink is sweet, citrusy and creamy.
Ornament-Tini – Catch Twenty Three
Pama pomegranate liqueur
House-made cranberry simple syrup
Rosemary sprig garnish
Fresh cranberry garnish
“We Infuse cranberries into a simple syrup,” general manager Aileen Forsythe says. “It’s a great versatile ingredient for many holiday cocktails. Creating delicious and unique cocktails for our guests to enjoy is a passion of mine. An ever-evolving cocktail menu and cocktail specials are a staple at Catch Twenty Three.”
Saké ‘Nog – In Between Days
“The flavors and aromatics are reminiscent of eggnog and it leaves you with that cozy holiday feeling,” says Noah Sain, beverage director. “This cocktail is completely vegan, full of flavor and very unique.”
Salted Karamel Apple Mule – Yeoman’s TopGolf Swing Suite
1.5 oz. Stoli salted karamel vodka
1 oz. fresh apple juice
3.5 oz. Q ginger beer
Apple wedge garnish
Buttery sweet creamy caramel comes together with tart apple and spicy ginger in this drink that’s simple, flavorful and full of the winter vibe.
Sofisticato – Bonu
Pancetta infused Balcones bourbon
Walnut simple syrup
Candied bacon and nutmeg garnish
Simple and sophisticated indeed. Smoky aged bourbon is infused with rich pancetta and balanced with sweet, nutty walnut. Nutmeg adds an aromatic finish.
That’s S’more – Casa Santo Stefano
Gasparilla Reserve rum
Toasted marshmallow garnish
A drinkable s’more is exactly what the holidays call for. Warm rum meets nutty Frangelico and sweet marshmallows in this cocktail confection.
There Will Be Chocolate – Ciro’s
Bols Genever-infused cold brew
Coppertail Night Swim porter reduction
House-made Irish cream
“What makes this cocktail so unique is the house-made Irish cream recipe used in the cocktail,” bar manager Austin Earle says. “We craft it using an iSi cream charger to create a foam top and then garnish the cocktail with two kinds of chocolate – semi-sweet and cocoa nibs. By using this technique, we take ingredients as simple as vodka, coffee and cream and turn them into an art form.”
The Sugar Plum – Mandarin Heights
London Dry gin
White cranberry cordial
Fresh mint garnish
“Snow” (powdered sugar) garnish
Mixologist-prepped and served fresh in the Heights, this drink will satisfy the palette of lighter drinkers with its refreshing light and slightly sweet flavor, perfect for a Florida Christmas. Crafted by Morgan Zuch, beverage director at Mandarin Heights, it’s elegantly served in iced-cold frosty gold collins.
Yuki O-ren – Mise en Place
Kyoya Yuzu gin
Domaine de Canton Ginger liqueur
Housemade Honey Lemon Oleo Saccharum
The Yuki O-ren, created by in-house mixologist Gary Daily utilizes the flavors of Japan’s winter with a Tarantino tongue-in-cheek twist. A yuzu-infused gin, fresh lemon, house-made honey lemon oleo Saccharum, ginger liqueur, cream, and egg white all come together in this wonderfully balanced cocktail. The twist in the presentation is inspired by the film Kill Bill Vol. 1. Specifically the death scene of O-Ren Ishii, with Peychaud’s Bitters across the cocktail and a Samurai sword across the rim.
Ziggy’s Punch – Punch Room at the Tampa Edition
Smith & Cross aged navy-strength rum
Plantation 3 Stars blended rum
Smoked jerk spices
Ginger of the Caribbean
Rhum Clement Creole Shrubb
“Originally, we took inspiration from our love of Jamaican food and laidback times. We wanted to invoke the feeling of a sun-soaked day at the beach, with jerk chicken on the fire and cold beers in hand,” Gates Otsuji, director of bars for Edition explains. “While refining the recipe, we took each version to Chef Ziggy, for his stamp of approval on authenticity. We finally got it right, and Chef, this one’s for you.”
Feeling festive? Find holiday-themed pop-up bars and festive experiences here.