FLORHAM PARK, NJ -- With the holiday season in full swing, party hosts often lighten the mood with a signature cocktail handed to guests as they come in the door. It makes for a great ice breaker as people walk into a corporate event which might attract guests who might not know each other. Immediately, guests have an easy a conversation starter. 

Many events start with a glass of champagne; but far fewer begin with a holiday mimosa consisting of champagne and apple cider with an apple slice as a garnish, which was served at the  Greater Westfield Area Chamber of Commerce's holiday party recently.

A great drink starts as result of the creativity of its maker. The more passion behind that creativity, the better the result. Park Avenue Club, a private dining club in Florham Park, NJ, that donates its profits to a wide range of non-profit organizations, boasts a passionate team leading its innovative bar program. The staff finds that cocktails can lighten the mood and make the holidays more fun.

Sign Up for Scotch Plains/Fanwood Newsletter
Our newsletter delivers the local news that you can trust.

Below are a few of mixologist Isabel "Izzy" Tulloch’s favorite recipes for signature drinks:

The Rupert Holmes

  • 1 oz Rumhaven
  • .5 oz Cachaca Prata
  • 1.5 oz Pineapple
  • 1 oz Cream
  • .75 oz Cider Reduction
  • .5 oz Averna

In a tin combine all ingredients, add ice and shake vigorously for 30 seconds. Pour entire contents of tin into glass. Top with ice. Garnish with lemon wheel and skewered cherry. Shave fresh nutmeg over cocktail.

Now Peter Piper Picked Peppers, but Run Rapped Rhymes

  • 6 Red Pepper Squares
  • 1 oz Pimm’s No.1
  • .5 oz Yellow Chartreuse
  • .5 oz Lemon Juice
  • 2 dashes Orange Bitters
  • Source Tonic Water

Prep glass: Rub a lemon wedge from lip of glass to a quarter of the way down Sprinkle cayenne over “lemon juice square” Combine pepper, liquor, and bitters in tin. Add ice and Shake. Add fresh ice to prepped glass and strain cocktail in. Add more ice and top with tonic. Garnish: Cayenne for glass.

Lips Like 'Cinnamon' Sugar

  • 1.5 oz Cachaca Amburana
  • .5 oz Banana Liqueur
  • .5 oz Lime
  • .5 oz Diplomatico (FLOAT)

In shaker combine all ingredients MINUS Diplomatico. Add 2 dashes of cinnamon and ice, shake. Strain into rocks glass. Add large ice cube. Por Diplomatico slowly over cube and add a torched Cinnamon stick for garnish.

If you are hosting a holiday gathering and want to stick with simpler, yet different recipes, try something along the lines of a mulled wine, red wine that is spiced, sweetened, and served warm (made in a slow-cooker). All you need is a couple of bottles of wine, maple syrup, oranges, cinnamon sticks, cloves, and star anise. Mulled wine is sometimes spiked with brandy.

If you are looking for something "snowy", try making a White Christmas Martini (vanilla-infused vodka, white chocolate liqueur, and creme de cocoa with red or green sprinkles as a garnish).