Christmas cocktails to-go – Tacoma & Pierce County bars shake up holiday booze
Jason Alexander stood at the bar last week at newly opened Gilman House. He hovered over a giant plastic bucket surrounded by smaller buckets half filled with house-made elixirs for which Gilman House and its sister bar Devil’s Reef are known.
Alexander’s brand of cocktail mixing is some kind of crazy alchemy.
He’s known for using baking spices and swirls of mystery in every glass.
A bottle of his house-made pimento (allspice) dram is the stuff every cocktail enthusiast should have on hand at all times.
Ever since the state Liquor Control Board loosened up the rules earlier this year to allow to-go cocktails alongside food orders, bars like Gilman House have been doing brisk business with to-go cocktails.
Alexander has been developing some kind of new “punch” recipe every week.
So many new cocktails are rotating through the Gilman House menu, I can’t keep up, so it’s best to check in at the restaurant’s social media to see what Alexander is doing. The last few weeks have brought a Mele Kalikimaka Punch, the Stiggins Fancy Sleigh Ride and a Festival Gin and Tonic. Pair up those cocktails with Gilman House’s famous biscuits and soups and stews.
FIND TO-GO COCKTAILS FROM TACOMA TO GIG HARBOR
The Alexanders are not alone in the robust to-go cocktail game. Countless barkeeps from Tacoma to Gig Harbor are mixing up to-go cocktails sold in flasks, bottles, mason jars and pouches.
Pair them with a meal to-go and you should consider ordering three or four extra. Why? Because if stored in the fridge, the cocktails will keep for a week or more and they make for outstanding gifting.
Pop a bow on the mason jar, tie a tag onto the flask or dress up a pouch with an ornament and boom – a fast and festive holiday gift for a porch drop-off. I mean, if anybody wants to drop off a to-go cocktail on my porch, I’m up for it. Just sayin’.
Here’s who is pouring what and what you should have on your cocktail radar right now.
If you order one thing from a restaurant this month, make it the Gilman House Mele Kalikimaka Punch, a blend of black tea with fresh lemon, cranberry syrup, Dry Curacao and macadamia nut bourbon. Or how about his tea punch called Stiggins Fancy Sleigh Ride, which is a rum cocktail with lime, vanilla, allspice, grapefruit, cinnamon and house-made falernum. It’s a sweet-and-boozy tropical elixir. The restaurant’s Holiday Punch sold out earlier this month: it combined Chai tea, honey, lime, vanilla, cinnamon and allspice.
If you’re doing it right, you’ll order extra of Robyn Alexander’s biscuits to go with the to-go punches, which are available in single-serve bottles for $10, three-serving mason jars for $30 or larger bottles for up to $50.
Available for in-person pick-up from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. every Friday and Saturday at Gilman House.
Where: 12 N Tacoma Ave, Tacoma
“The egg nog is pretty out of this world,” said Chris Keil, who is every bit the crazy alchemist that Alexander is when it comes to cocktail originality in Tacoma. That nog he’s talking about is available through online ordering right now along with burgers everybody in Tacoma should try immediately.
As for the nog, it’s “super decadent and rich, it’s also incredibly boozy – brown butter infused rum, brandy, chai spiced whiskey, east india sherry.”
He added, “We also have the Snow Day, whiskey and housemade irish cream with whip, which is meant to be added to coffee.”
And one more try is the bar’s Golden Path, which is cinnamon infused whiskey with becherovka herbal bitters and spiced apple cider from Lattin Farms in Thurston county. It’s meant to be heated up at home.
Cocktails are packaged in flasks and come in single-servings for $14, doubles for $25 and large servings for four at $35
Where: 1102 A St #220, Tacoma; 253-223-7184
Order here: https://www.exploretock.com/enrama/search
DOYLE’S PUBLIC HOUSE
How about some Irish nog? Chef Ben Marcus of Doyle’s Public House in Tacoma’s Saint Helens neighborhood described a killer sounding Irish nog and a bourbon nog, which both are available for take-out – but won’t last long, so be sure to order soon.
Said Marcus, “We made two kinds this year – our traditional bourbon nog and a Irish nog. The bourbon nog we used 4 Roses bourbon, Blue Swift cognac, and Sailor Jerry rum mixed with lots of egg yolk, sugar, whole milk, and heavy cream. I add a little nutmeg also but that is also our garnish so I don’t over do it. The Irish Nog is Tullamore Dew, Dubliner Honey Irish whiskey, and Blue Swift with the same egg, sugar, whole milk, heavy cream and nutmeg. I make them then we age them.”
The process takes more four months.
Added Marcus, “Both batches were made on August 22 and aged until Thanksgiving, giving them a good four month age. Use about a liter of each alcohol so it packs a kick. We had about three gallons of each when we started about a week ago so supplies are limited.”
Where: 208 Saint Helens Ave, Tacoma; 253-272-7468
At Bar Bistro in Midland, owner Eric Poulin is excited about his rum cocktail Kraken’s Eye. “It has a nice spiced rum profile,” he said.
There’s also a hot buttered rum made with a blended 23-YR Ron Zacapa rum, cider made in house and two ingredients that sound intriguing – a house Madagascar vanilla cordial and holiday spiced butter.
For the Madagascar vanilla cordial, “we use fresh Madagascar vanilla beans mixed with Demerara and brown sugar. After soaking with a little water for eight hours we add the sugar and vanilla bean mixture to Cruzan 151 Aged Rum.” It ages for 30 days.
The house-made butter rum mixture is fresh-grated cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and allspice mixed up with vanilla ice cream. Single-serve cocktails to-go are $9 to $12 each. Pair one to-go with the restaurant’s excellent burger.
Where: 1718 99th St E, Tacoma; 253-537-3655
Order here: https://barbistro.hrpos.heartland.us/menu
Abe Fox of downtown Tacoma’s Wooden City is mixing up a tasty sounding nog. “We actually just made it tonight and starting to sell it tomorrow. We’ll keep it pretty stocked. We use Jeffrey Morganthaler’s anejo tequila and sherry recipe.”
To-go cocktails are priced $10 to $12 with larger servings $44 to $70. They’ll go down swell with the restaurant’s excellent fried chicken thigh sandwich.
Where: 714 Pacific Ave., Tacoma; 503-0762
Order here: https://app.upserve.com/s/wooden-city-tacoma
“We are running several of our menu cocktails through our to-go service, including the Diablo Martini,” said Asado general manager Chris Casella. “The cocktails are mostly bottled for two servings.”
Also find: to-go wines in three-bottle sets. Casella added, “We will also be doing some cocktail kits in the month of December and beyond.”
Find two-serving to-go cocktails for $24 to $28 and to-go sangria for four for $46. Pair it up with the restaurant’s to-go meal kits.
Where: 2810 6th Ave, Tacoma; 253-272-7770
Brix 25 in Gig Harbor is shaking up all kinds of cocktail kits that ought to make for terrific porch drop-off gifting. “Brix is selling four kits,” said co-owner Katie Doherty. “ A smokin sweet rita kit that comes with a bottle of our smokin sweet mix, a 375 btl of silver tequila, a 50ml gran marnier, a shaker, a jigger, two glasses and limes.” That kit is $65 and serves 8 cocktails.
The Kings Harvest Old Fashioned is “a mix of cocoa nib infused rittenhouse rye, roasted walnut syrup, chocolate bitters, orange. We premade the cocktails for this kit, so they are a shake over ice and pour option. The kit includes the cocktails for 4, a stainless steel shaker – because we style our old fashioned to be shaken – candied walnuts, chocolate bars, & oranges.” That kit with cocktails for four is $80.
She added, “We also have a quick and easy Winter Warmer Pack which has our own hot butter batter, plus two 50 ml bottles of Knob Creek.” That one is $16. See more on their website and be sure to get a take-out cocktail kit paired with the restaurant’s pub burger.
Where: 3315 Harborview Dr, Gig Harbor; 253-858-6626
Order here: https://www.toasttab.com/brix25/v3
Gig Harbor’s Brimstone PNW is also doing some fun holiday cocktail packs.
Co-owner Katie Doherty said, “The first contains two our our most popular cocktails; The Moscow Mule (lime vodka, spicy ginger syrup, lime, soda) and our Kentucky Mule (rittenhouse rye, spicy ginger syrup, lime and soda); a mason jar cocktail shaker plus two holiday mule mugs.” The four-cocktail kits are $50.
She added, “The second is an Old Fashioned Cocktail Kit: Our most popular cocktails are always Old Fashioned. For this kit we are including two cocktails; the Skrewball Old Fashioned with skrewball peanut butter whiskey, old crow whiskey, bitters, and cold roasted coffee and our Bacon Old Fashioned with stillhouse black bourbon, jack daniels maple, bacon and orange Each kits comes with two of each cocktail; a mason jar shaker & two old fashioned glasses.”
That kit? It would pair so well with the restaurant’s brisket – be sure to order some.
She added, “The last kit is a mix of BBQ essentials. A toolkit of items to make your backyard bbq even better: One flask filled with the Jolt – a blend of jameson-cold brew coffee shots; two rainier tall boys; an 8-ounce jar each of our Sassy and Carolina Gold Sauces. An 8-ounce jar of our special Red Eye Mop Sauce. A jar of our secret weapon (rubbed, smoked brisket tallow). And a $25.00 gift card for when that didn’t work and you want to order from us!” That kit is $75.
She added a note about packaging, “Brimstone likes to reuse items, reducing items that end up in landfills. To that we are offering the items to be packaged in a few ways. The first option is packed into an antique Rainier Beer galvanized bucket (we only have four of those). Or an antique tool box – we found some great old boxes (some wooden, some metal, all unique and it makes a great gift.”
Where: 7707 Pioneer Way, Gig Harbor; 253-858-2709
Order here: https://www.toasttab.com/brimstone-pnw/v3