(credit: Thinkstock)

(credit: Thinkstock)

The holidays are here, and for anyone entertaining loved ones during the season, unique and festive cocktails are a must. Start with these delicious holiday drinks, offered up by local D.C. mixologists Erik Holzherr from Wisdom and Ed Howard from Dickson Wine Bar, to please any party crowd this year.

1432 Pennsylvania Ave. SE
Washington, DC 20003
(202) 543-2323

One of Wisdom owner and mixologist Erik Holzherr’s favorite holiday drinks is Wisdom’s ginger cran. Holzherr promises a “seasonal delight with a nice ginger-tart zing. The drink even looks festive, with its light pink color and bursts of bright red from the cranberries.” The first step in concocting this beverage is making the ginger cranberries. Add one cup of sugar and two cups of water in a pot on the stove and heat, without boiling, while stirring until the sugar dissolves. Next, peel about two inches of ginger and slice into thin pieces. In a separate bowl, muddle/pop fresh cranberries. Add both ginger and cranberries to the cooling syrup. Cover and set in the refrigerator overnight. To make the drink, combine one ounce of Plymouth bin, one ounce of Domaine de Canton ginger cognac liqueur, one ounce of white cranberry juice, a half ounce of fresh squeezed lemon juice, and six to 10 of the gingered cranberries in a Collins glass with ice. Stir well, add a splash of soda, and enjoy.

A second recommendation for a festive holiday cocktail from Holzherr is his apple strudel martini, which he describes as a “fun, easy and cheery martini.” The first step is to buy or make vanilla-infused vodka. To make it, slice two whole vanilla beans open and insert them in a bottle of the vodka of your choice. Add two teaspoons of agave nectar. Shake repeatedly for about two weeks. Once your vodka is ready, mix 1.5 ounces of the vanilla bean-infused vodka, 0.25 ounces of German Apfel (Schönauer AppleSchnapps, and 1.75 ounces of pressed apple juice together. Pour into a martini glass and serve.

About Mixologist Erik Holzherr
With a background as unique as his cocktails, Erik Holzerr is a former pilot turned mixologist, who is originally from Queens and lived in Los Angeles just before opening his D.C. cocktail bar, Wisdom, in 2009. Featuring artistic, exotic cocktails as well as an extensive beer and wine menu, Wisdom is Holzherr’s first venture in the restaurant/bar industry.

Related: Best Sommeliers in D.C.

Dickson Wine Bar
903 U St. NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 332-1779

A “wintery version of a dark and stormy” called the Dead Sea is one  Ed Howard’s favorite seasonal beverages. Howard, who is general manager and mixologist of Dickson Wine Bar, advises stirring together 1.5 ounces of Crusoe spiced rum, three ounces of ginger beer, .75 ounces of red wine, and .75 ounces of fresh pressed lime juice to make this beverage, which is best served over ice.

Another seasonal sensation suggested by the cocktail guru is the peach cobbler sangria. Usually a summer drink, this beverage is modified to have a seasonal feel to it. Mix together ounces of sauvignon blanc, .25 ounces lemon vodka, and 1.5 ounces of peach puree. Add .75 ounces of a fall spice-infused simple syrup. To make the simple syrup yourself, dissolve one cup of sugar in one cup of water over heat. Add cinnamon sticks, cloves and nutmeg. After anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes, pour the liquid through a sieve to remove the cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Allow the simple syrup to cool, and then use. To serve the drink, toss crumbled graham crackers, sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl. Wet the rim of a martini and dip in the bowl with the graham cracker mixture. Fill the glass with the drink, and indulge.

For a drink that looks and smells like the holidays, Howard suggests the blackstrap. Combine three ounces of fresh blood orange juice, (orange juice will work as well but using blood oranges provide a red holiday hue to the beverage) with 1.5 oz. of Snap, a ginger snap-tasting spirit that is an 80-proof liquor made with ginger and black molasses. Drizzle in .75 ounces of wildflower honey and about five dashes of angostura bitters. Serve on the rocks.

About Mixologist Ed Howard
A D.C. local, Ed Howard has been a bartender and manager of restaurants in the area for more than nine years. He recently became the general manager and mixologist at Dickson, where he has constructed a diverse menu of hand-crafted cocktails for patrons to enjoy.

Related: Best Hot Drinks in D.C.

Priya Konings is a freelance writer and restaurant critic in Washington D.C. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.