Holidays sparkle with pretty, creamy drinks

Cheers to Christmas Eve! I'm celebrating tonight with my framily (friends that are like family), and my friend Annie always comes up with a few new signature cocktails for us to try. This year, I can't wait to sing carols with a cup of "The Grinch" in my hand — an electric green drink made with peach schnapps, blue Curaçao, coconut rum and orange juice, then garnished with a candy cane.

Plenty of area restaurants are getting in on the cocktail act, too, with creative libations that wink at the colors, flavors or traditions of the season.

The quintessential Rochester holiday cocktail has got to be the Tom & Jerry, made a local tradition by Michaels Restaurant, which closed nearly a full year ago now. The secret sauce in any Tom & Jerry is the batter, made with beaten eggs, sugar and typically vanilla and nutmeg. And by all accounts, the Michaels recipe was something special.

Never fear: Though Michaels is no more, the Pappas family hasn't gone anywhere. Last week, the Hubbell House (owned by Don Pappas) was featured for its Tom & Jerry in the Four Stars column; if you want to stop for a happy hour in town, try Pappy's Place (owned by Chris Pappas). Besides being one of Rochester's best-kept secrets for great food, Pappy's has Rochester's Tom & Jerry. My friend Jill said, "I closed my eyes, and I was right back at Michaels."

If a creamy, hot drink isn't your speed, be sure to check out their candy cane martini or their most popular, the white chocolate peppermint martini. Pro tip: While you're there, also order a Greek salad and wild walleye pike for dinner. Pappy's is at 1635 U.S. 52 North, on the frontage road off 19th Street.


Five West Kitchen and Bar (1991 Commerce Drive NW) is also in the holiday spirit with a short list of limited-time cocktails. My favorite is the holly berry mojito, which is one of the prettiest drinks I've seen — a couple whole cranberries float atop a pink mojito mixed with plenty of fresh mint. Or try the sipper Jingle Bells on the Rocks, a pour of apple brandy and house-made old-fashioned simple syrup over a sphere ice cube, garnished with a cinnamon stick.

Know of some more favorites? Send them my way, and I'll pass the ideas along to Annie for next year's Christmas Eve party.

Really last-minute gifts

Maybe you need to pick up a final gift on your way to a holiday party, or you forgot that one person on your list (again). I've said it once, and I'll say it again: Gift cards. Gift. Cards. #giftcards

Even if you're done with your shopping, there are so many gift card promotions right now, you just might want to buy them for yourself and enjoy the free gifts, too.

I featured several restaurants with "bonus gift card" promotions a couple weeks back (Victoria's, Four Daughters, Flapdoodles, The Loop, Five West), and there are definitely more where that came from.

Creative Cuisine Company restaurants are offering a free $25 gift card for every $100 spent, and those cards can be used at any location of Newt's or City Market, as well as City Cafe, 300 First, and Redwood Room. A similar deal is being offered at Crooked Pint (2723 Commerce Drive NW), where you buy $100 in gift cards to get a $20 gift card to be used in January or February next year.

Chocolaterie Stam (Shops at University Square, downtown) is offering a free $10 gift card when you purchase a $50 gift card, and Grand Rounds Brewpub (4 Third St. SW) is offering a $5 bonus gift card for every $50 you buy.


Upcoming pop-ups

The calendar for the pop-up restaurant space at Kutzky Market is filling up fast. On Jan. 3, enjoy a nine-course "culinary adventure" with Chef D Nord for $57, and on Jan. 19, check out cocktail pairings with Forager Chef Jordan Bell and Bertha Kutzky's Craft Cocktail Lounge drink expert Paul Koerner for $88. Contact Kutzky Market for more details.

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