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Making Spirits Bright

by James O. Fraioli

As we say “cheers!” to another fabulous year of yachting, I’d like to share a handful of simple holiday-inspired cocktail recipes that are sure to spruce up your next party or gathering, whether serving them at home or aboard your boat—perhaps both. Back by popular demand, these featured cocktails from the Sammy Hagar’s Cocktail Hits: 85 Personal Favorites from the Red Rocker book I wrote with rockstar Sammy Hagar are ready to celebrate. I know when I’m looking to upgrade my holiday cocktails from the standard eggnog, mulled wine, and boring beer, I’ll turn to these fresh and festive recipes.


Named after the Rock & Roll Hall of Famer—and his drink of choice at his annual birthday bash—this ravishing red swig combining tequila, pomegranate, and lime is a surefire bet when it comes to the holidays. Play up the red color of this delicious, vibrant drink by pairing each glass with an equally bright red cocktail napkin.

Serves 1

2 ounces premium blanco tequila

1 ounce Monin Pomegranate Syrup

1 fresh lime wedge

Garnish: Fresh lime wedge

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add the tequila and pomegranate syrup, then squeeze the lime wedge into the shaker and drop in the wedge. Shake well and strain into a small cocktail glass. Garnish with a fresh lime wedge.

Photo by Tucker Hossler Photography


Nothing says “classy holiday party” like sipping on some red rum topped with chilled champagne and a lemon twist from a festive flute. For those of you who love elegant drinks, this one’s for you: Dress up your bubbly with this festive cocktail that’s fizzy and tart with an underlying macadamia flavor thanks to Sammy’s exotic-tasting rum. It’s the backbone to this exquisite cocktail.

Serves 1

1 ounce Sammy’s Beach Bar Red Head Rum*, divided

4 ounces chilled champagne

Garnish: Fresh lemon twist

Add half the rum to a chilled champagne flute. Slowly add the chilled champagne until ½-inch from the top. Top with the remaining rum. Garnish with a fresh lemon twist.

*Available at sammysbeachbarrum.com.


Whether you’re looking for a drink to serve on the water during the Christmas Boat Parade or just want to add some star power to your cocktail repertoire this season, the Higher Spirit will take you there. It features a glorious trio of Santo Mezquila, Aperol, and yellow chartreuse. Add a little lime and agave, then dress up your glass with a grapefruit peel. Serve these elegant sippers at your next holiday get-together and you’ll have created the hottest ticket in town.

Serves 1

1 ounce Santo Mezquila

¾ ounce Aperol

½ ounce yellow chartreuse

¾ ounce fresh lime juice

¼ ounce agave nectar

Garnish: Long, thin, fresh grapefruit peel

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the Mezquila, Aperol, yellow chartreuse, lime juice, and agave nectar. Shake well and double strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with a long, thin, fresh grapefruit peel.

Photo by Tucker Hossler Photography


Here’s a tiki spin on the traditional hot toddy. Whether you’re stirring up this toddy to ward off a chill, temper a cold, or just looking for a soothing beverage to relax with after a long night of hosting or partying, you’ll appreciate how quickly it comes together. Try it with Meyer lemon if you can get your hands on them; they’re smaller and less acidic than regular lemons, and they deliver a sweet, yet tart, lemon flavor without overpowering the other ingredients in the drink.

Serves 1

3 ounces premium white rum

4 tablespoons honey

3 tablespoons Meyer lemon or other fresh lemon juice

½ piece fresh lemon rind

1 dash (about 1/6 of a teaspoon) nutmeg

6–8 ounces boiling water

Garnish: Cinnamon stick, anise, fresh nutmeg

In a heavy glass or mug, add the rum, honey, fresh lemon juice, lemon rind, and nutmeg. Next, slowly add the boiling water. Stir all the ingredients with the cinnamon stick and keep the stick in the drink (if desired). Finish the garnish with anise and fresh nutmeg.


Forget the milk and cookies: This Christmas roll out the red carpet for Jolly ol’ Saint Nick with a Red Saint instead. Hands down, this is one star-studded cocktail. The vibrant red color is festive while the flavors are built on tequila, rum, triple sec, and citrus. One taste of this delicious, yet powerful, concoction and you’ll want to curl up on the couch with this drink in hand.

Serves 1

1 or 2 ounces premium blanco tequila

½ ounce premium white rum

½ ounce Sammy’s Beach Bar Red Head Rum*

1 ounce fresh lime juice

½ ounce triple sec                               

½ ounce fresh tangerine juice with peel, optional

Rim: Vanilla extract and sugar and cinnamon (equal amounts combined) with a touch of nutmeg

Garnish: Tangerine (or mandarin) slice and cinnamon stick

Dip the rim of a chilled martini glass in some vanilla extract and roll the moistened rim in the sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg mixture. Set the glass aside. In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add the tequila, both rums, lime juice, triple sec, and the tangerine juice and peel, if using. Shake well (about 16 to 20 shakes) and strain into the prepared glass. Garnish with a fresh tangerine (or mandarin) slice and cinnamon stick.

*Available at sammysbeachbarrum.com.

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