January: Lukas Smith Cocktail Recipe

Recipe by Lukas Smith

This cocktail, using Maryland cider and spirits, will add a spicy kick to your holiday party. Garnish the drink festively, with clove-studded orange slices or peels. Apples also work well, especially if sprinkled with a little citric acid to arrest their tendency to brown. You can’t go wrong with whole cranberries (or even Craisins) on a cocktail skewer.

For the adventurous sorts out there, I’ll recommend adding to this drink a half ounce of Baltamaro Coffee Amaro from Baltimore Spirits Company. It layers rich chocolate notes over spicy tea flavors and gives the drink a bit more cushion for colder weather.


■ 1 ¼ cup unsweetened cranberry juice
■ 1 whole clove
■ 10 allspice berries, cracked
■ ½ cinnamon stick
■ 1 cup sugar


■ 1 oz. Sagamore Spirit Rye Whiskey
■ .5 oz. lemon juice
■ 1 oz. spiced cranberry syrup
■ splash of Distillery Lane Celebration Cider
■ Baltamaro Coffee Amaro (optional)


In a small saucepan, bring cranberry juice, clove, allspice berries and cinnamon stick to a light boil. Cover, turn off heat and let stand for 10 minutes. Using a fine strainer or twice-folded cheesecloth, strain out the whole spices. Return liquid to saucepan and stir in sugar until dissolved. Cranberries are high in antioxidants and antimicrobials, so this syrup will keep for weeks in the fridge.

Note: If you don’t have whole spices, use powdered spices very conservatively. Powdered spices will remain in the liquid after straining, and will add a more sharp flavor as well as astringency. For a quicker version, add the sugar directly to the unsweetened juice and skip the spices. You’ll have to stir at a few 10-minute intervals to ensure sugar dissolves.


Mix rye, lemon juice and cranberry syrup in a 12-ounce glass. Top with plenty of ice, finish with Celebration Cider, and if you wish, 1 oz. Baltamaro coffee amaro; give it a quick stir or three and enjoy.

Note: When making any cocktail, be sure to use plenty of ice. Too little and the liquid will melt the ice before the drink has cooled, and you’ll end up with a watery, tepid cocktail. Counterintuitively, more ice makes for colder, less diluted drinks. Have a bag or two on hand if you’re serving lots of drinks.

Lukas Smith, who makes cider blends in collaboration with Distillery Lane Ciderworks of Frederick, is the founder and creative head of Redbeard, a culinary beverage consultancy and soda company, and Destination Wedding, a cocktail bar in Washington, D.C. He is also a partner, herbalist and cocktail specialist at Cotton & Reed, D.C.’s first rum distillery.

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