Raise a Glass

Local restaurants and wine stores reveal what holiday drinks they’ll be serving this season

In New Canaan…

Cava Wine Bar & Restaurant
2 Forest Street, New Canaan; 203-966-6946

Pumpkin Pie Martini
This drink tastes like liquid pumpkin pie and is fun and festive: 

1.5 oz Kahlua Pumpkin Spice
1 oz Dekuper Buttershots
3 oz cream 

Shake well, then strain into a cocktail glass with a cinnamon sugar rim.

Monkey Jam Sour
This pairs nicely with cheeses like brie or gouda, or with an apple or pear tart or a bittersweet chocolate dessert. 

1 1/4 oz Monkey Shoulder Scotch

1/2 oz lemon juice

2 spoonfuls raspberry jam

Dash of sugar

3 dashes of orange bitters

Shake very well, then strain into a cocktail glass. Serve with an orange garnish.

Chef Luis
129 Elm Street, New Canaan; 203-972-5847

Chef Luis Hot Toddy
1 3/4 oz Aged Venezuelan Rum (such as Pampero Aniversario 7yr)

1 oz Kirschwasser (such as Clear Creek Distillery)
1/2 oz Sweet Vermouth (such as Carpano Antica)
3 dashes of cinnamon bitters
1 large orange twist
3 oz  boiling water
In a snifter glass, combine the rum, kirschwasser, sweet vermouth, and bitters. Squeeze the orange zest, pith side facing up into the glass. Add the boiling water and a dash of Mexican cinnamon on top.

Franco’s Wine Merchants
130 Elm Street, New Canaan; 203-966-9571

“For Thanksgiving, people traditionally tend to choose American wines like Pinot Noir, because it can stand up to a meal with a variety of flavors,” explains Carl Franco, co-owner with Rick Franco of Franco’s Wine Store. Given that, he recommends Gavilan by Chalon Vineyards Pinot Noir ($22.99). If you prefer a more full-bodied wine, Carl likes the Clos Du Val Cabernet ($24.99). For white wine fans, try choosing a classic California Chardonnay like Ramey Russian River or Ramey Sonoma Coast Chardonnay (both $29.99). These white wines offer a good balance between oak and fruit and go well with root vegetables, which are sure to grace your table this Thanksgiving or Christmas.

New Canaan Wine Merchants
36 Pine Street, New Canaan; 203-972-0100

“Champagne is always a favorite during the holidays, particularly at Christmas,” says owner Jeff Barbour. He recommends Pierre Gimonnet ($39), a premier cru of bubbly (a designation bestowed upon top notch vineyards).

Joseph Swan Vineyards Pinot Noir ($34) is Jeff’s choice for red wine at a holiday meal because it’s not too “bulky” of a wine. “Pinot Noirs in general offer themselves to a more broad spectrum of foods like poultry, ham, fish and duck compared to a heavier wine like Cabernet,” he says. Salmon and Pinot Noir is a classic pairing for the holidays. Reverdy-Ducroux Sancerre ($20) is his choice for those who prefer white wine. Jeff explains that this Sancerre has good body, isn’t too tart and goes well with lighter, white fish. It makes a great aperitif wine and is wonderful with oysters.

South End
36 Pine Street, New Canaan; 203-966-5200

This cocktail is sure to add a spring to any holiday reveler’s step this season.

South End’s “Toast of the Town”
1.5 oz. Comb Gin from Port Chester, NY

Muddled rosemary
Splash freshly squeezed lemon juice
Splash simple syrup
Splash Pom Juice
Shake and strain into a champagne flute. Garnish with a lemon wheel.


In Darien…

Nicholas Roberts Fine Wine
1053 Post Road, Darien; (203) 656-9463

“I wouldn’t be able to get through the holidays without Non Vintage Vilmart Grand Cellier ($75),” says Peter Troilo, Managing Director of Nicholas Roberts Fine Wine in Darien. He claims this is the “most extraordinary non vintage Champagne currently available in the market,” containing “notes of pear and vanilla that are enhanced by rich notes of mystical herbs and chalk”.

Peter will be enjoying a Burgundy with his Thanksgiving dinner this year, specifically 2009 Domaine Gaston & Pierre Ravaut Cote de Nuits Village ($33). The light and delicate aromas of dried cherry, sage, mushroom and warm earth supply “just enough weight to carry its brooding fruit to delightful finish,” he says. His other glowing recommendation: 2010 Herman J Wiemer Dry Riesling ($20) from the Finger Lakes in upstate New York. He promises, “Its apple and pear fruit with light apricot nuances will be a treat with turkey.”

With Christmas prime rib, Peter drinks a 2008 Paradise Ridge “Elevation” Cabernet Sauvignon ($38) from Sonoma County. He loves the “dark fruit and soft cedar touches that erupt from the glass”. What’s the true holiday splurge that rounds out the meal? A 2010 Chateau Grand Tayac Margaux ($55) that is heaven paired with Stilton cheese.

Darien Social
10 Center Street, Darien; 203-614-8183

Baird Van Beever, general manager, explains that this cocktail is perfect for chilly weather and reminds you of warming up by the fire. The aging process mellows out the drink, and is nostalgic of an older era.

Barrel-Aged Manhattan
Equal parts Bulliet (rye whiskey) and Carpano Antica (a sweet vermouth) aged both together in an oak barrel (available to buy online if you want to do it yourself) for 6 weeks.
Once aged, pour over ice into a Rocks glass.
Add 3 dashes of Dr. Heather Duncan’s Christmas Bitters to give it that holiday flair, and serve.

Ten Twenty Post
1020 Post Road, Darien; 203-655-1020

Given Ten Twenty Post’s amazing oyster bar, we asked bartender Donnie O’Donoghue what he would pair with oysters. He recommends a dry white wine with moderate minerality like a Muscadet, or even, better, any champagne. He adds that if you’re in the mood for beer, believe it or not, Guinness is an excellent compliment to oysters because both have a high mineral content and the flavors blend nicely. For festive holiday drinks, don’t miss Donnie’s 3 Ten Twenty Post house specialties:

1) Velvet Hammer
Pour 1 part Guinness into a glass. As it settles, fill a champagne flute with 3 parts champagne (Veuve Cliquot is his choice). Add the “settled” 1 part Guinness to the flute, pouring slowly.
2) Kir Royale
¼ oz. Crème de Cassis (Mathilde is a good brand)
Top with champagneThe Boulavardier
Float a raspberry on top

3) The Boulavardier
This is Ten Twenty’s updated variation on the original libation created in 1927 by Harry McElhone, owner of Harry’s Bar in Paris. Harry fashioned the drink for an American expat who owned the magazine Boulavardier.
2.5 oz. bourbon (Buffalo Trace is a good brand)
1 oz. Carpano Antica Vermouth
½ oz. Campari
Stir in a shaker, then strain into a 5 oz. Martini glass.
Use a wide peel orange rind and a brandied cherry as a garnish

Wine Port of Darien
25 Old Kings Highway North, Darien; 203-655-2726

Manager Tim Smith agrees that Pinot Noirs seem to be a favorite for Thanksgiving, and his favorite is the Meiomi Pinot Noir ($19.99) from the Caymus family. If you prefer organic wines without all the strong sulfites that afflict many with headaches and stuffy noses, opt for the organic Barra Pinot Noir ($19.99) from the Mendocino area.

White Bridge Wine & Sprits
284 Tokeneke Road, Darien; 203-655-0658

Owner Mickey Interlandi explains that, “Truth be known, there is no wine that can perfectly compliment all flavors brought together for Thanksgiving.” Here is a list of some of his favorites that compliment most holiday menus.

For a traditional turkey with stuffing or berry stuffing, try:

White wines
White Knight Viognier 12.99
Lander Jenkins Chardonnay 13.99
Chateau St. Jean Chardonnay 14.99
Stuhlmuller Chardonnay 23.99
Mer Soleil Chardonnay 32.99

Red wines
Anekena Pinot Noir 8.99
Primarius Oregon Pinot Noir 15.99
Monte degli Angeli Barolo 24.99
Migration by Duckhorn Pinot Noir 36.99

For a traditional turkey with cornbread or sausage stuffing, try:

White wines
Chateau Montaud Rose Provence 9.99
Willm Gewurtztraminer or Pinot Blanc 14.99
Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc New Z. 15.99
La Craie Pouilly Fume 16.99
Gobelsburger Dry Riesling 18.99

Red wines
Four Vines Zinfandel 12.99
Taymente Cabernet Sauvignon 13.99
Felino Vina Cobos Cabernet Sauvignon 19.99
Bogle Phantom Zinfandel Blend 20.99
Duckhorn Decoy Cabernet Blend 22.99


In Rowayton…

Sails American Grille
148 Rowayton Avenue, Rowayton; 203-853-7245

The team at Sails can’t wait to serve their new, favorite holiday drink

The Fireside Chat
In advance, submerge one cinnamon stick in 750 ml of Gold rum (like Bacardi Gold) for 24 hours.

2 oz. cinnamon-infused rum
1 oz. Tuaca (a vanilla citrus liqueur)
2 oz. regular apple juice

Shake and serve in a chilled martini glass with a brown sugar rim.

Rowayton Wine Shop
158 Rowayton Avenue, Rowayton; 203-299-0404

Manager Michael Johnson loves either a Red Rioja like Marques de Vargas ($28.99) or the Chinon Marie Beauregard Cab Franc ($15.99) for Thanksgiving. For a Christmas meal of roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, he goes for a California Cabernet like Honig Napa Cabernet ($39.99) or an Italian Barolo like the 2008 Renato Ratti Marcenasco ($51.99).


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