A Guide to Holiday Cocktails

Our seasoned mixologist shares three can’t-miss recipes

While we love our holiday traditions here at Brooks Brothers, we also like to mix things up a bit. So we asked Joey Vargas of New York City’s American Whiskey Bar to share his favorite new classic cocktails for the season, and tell us how to make them. Cheers.

Like Joey’s look? Shop his sport shirt and vest.


“This is one of my favorites. I think of it like a fall twist on a Manhattan. It’s a bit sweeter and has a touch of spice with hints of honey and clove.”

2 dashes Angostura bitters
.75 oz sweet vermouth
.25 oz Bénédictine
2.0z rye whiskey (Joey prefers Rittenhouse Rye)
1 orange

Add the bitters to a glass carafe, then add the vermouth and Bénédictine and finally the rye. Add ice to the mixture and stir for about thirty stirs. (Don’t do it too vigorously, or you’ll actually “bruise the spirits,” he says.) Pour the liquid without the ice into a martini glass. Garnish with a twist of orange peel before serving.


“This is our more accessible take on an Old Fashioned. The maple adds a lot of flavor and cuts the bite of the rye whiskey.”

2 dashes maple bitters
.5 oz black pepper maple syrup*
2. oz Rittenhouse Rye

Add the maple bitters, then the syrup and then the rye to a glass carafe. Add ice and mix for about 15 stirs. Pour the liquid sans ice into a short tumbler and serve immediately.

*How to make Black Pepper Maple Syrup
“This is so easy to make at home, and the flavor is amazing,” says Joey. Add a generous helping of black pepper, 2 oz water and 1/4 cup of maple syrup to a small sauce pan. Stir and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Once it cools, it’s ready to go.


“We wanted something fun, exciting and a little different for the season. We thought, what are people are eating? Butternut squash soup, sage, and then the Cachaça we use a has a delicious cinnamon quality to it.”

*Think the name sounds familiar? Doug Coughlin was the bartending legend who schooled Tom Cruise in the movie Cocktail

.5 oz lemon
1 oz butternut squash juice
.5 oz simple syrup
.25 oz Allspice Dram
2 oz Avua Amburana Cachaça
1 stick cinnamon

To make the butternut squash juice, just add 1 inch pieces of chopped, peeled squash to a blender and pulse until the mixture is liquid. Add 1 oz of the juice to a cocktail shaker with the lemon, simple syrup, Allspice Dram and cachaça. Add ice and shake vigorously for about 30 seconds. Strain and serve over fresh ice with a bit of fresh cinnamon shaved on top.

We asked Vargas to share some of his
behind-the-bar wisdom with home-based mixologists.

“Measurement is the most important thing. People at home tend to measure way too much. They think more alcohol makes it better, and then everyone just gets a headache. So I say go light with it. You can appreciate the flavors and the subtlety of the ingredients much more.”

“One classic catch phrase in the kitchen is, ‘if it grows together it goes together.’ So sugar cane and rum, for example. Think about flavors that pair naturally. Besides that, just have fun and try flavors that you like. Experiment and see what works. That’s what I do.”

“I love the interaction with people. Bartending is kind of like throwing a house party every day. You make sure everyone in your house is having a good time and that’s very rewarding. At the bar, we’re all very close. It’s definitely like a family.”

American Whiskey is located at 247 West 30th Street in New York City
For more, visit their website