Local options kick up your holiday entertaining

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Need a little spice to kick up your holiday entertaining?


Two local hot spots have some tasty ideas to keep your guests wondering who made you the host to toast. Jeptha Creed Distillery and Talon Winery both shared some tip-top tips to help with entertaining from breakfast to midnight.

And the suggestions get rolling right at dawn.

“I enjoy eggnog first thing in the morning because it has coffee vodka,” said Mackenzie Poehlein, Food and Beverage Manager at Jeptha Creed. “This would be great with French toast,” she said.

Poehlein uses peppermint simple syrup and half and half.

“With eggnog, you can make it in large batches. I whip eggs, cream and sugar in a bowl. It’s not spiced but nice and frothy like a peppermint coffee,” she said.

If you're looking to serve something a little later in the day, Poehlein suggests a Holiday Old Fashioned.

“It’s just three ingredients so it's easy to keep on hand and prepare for unexpected guests and it’s great for a full course meal,” she said.

Poehlein suggests using whatever citrus you have on hand, typically orange juice, bourbon and simple syrup. She makes her own simple syrup by dissolving one part sugar in one part water.

“The good thing about a simple syrup is you can infuse it with anything: cranberries, mint, basil, lavender, chocolate,” she said.

She says one magic trick pulls it all off.

Fresh herbs are the things that take a dinner or drink from average to stunning.

If you prefer wine instead, Sheila Curtsinger at Talon Winery suggests always keeping semi-sweet wines on hand because if you don't know what people drink and you go semi it won’t be too sweet or too dry for anyone.

She recommends their Bluegrass Blush, Coyote Red or Sweet Evening Breeze for crowd-pleasing items.

“Coyote Red pairs with cheeses or chocolate dessert,” she said. “We have also been selling a lot of Forbidden for the holidays. It is a really good holiday wine.

“It has spiced apple and cinnamon and pairs with turkey or pork chops.”

But when it comes to dessert time, nothing beats the blackberry and the chocolate strawberry wines, especially paired with cheesecake.

Curtsinger also recommends making your own sangria.

“It’s less expensive to make your own but you want to use a good wine,” she said.

Sangrias are good any time of the year and can be served from a pretty punch bowl.

They can also be made with a dry wine if someone requires less sugar.

Wine freezer mixes are another quick, easy and fancy option.

“You just mix a bottle of wine and water to the fill-lines on the package and vigorously mix well and return to the freezer for about 30 minutes.”

You’ll have 16 servings to share with guests.

For dessert, Poehlein suggests the Jeptha Creed buttered Cinnamon Moonshine, especially if serving ginger cake or shortbread.

She also suggests a winter berry sorbet, which can be a stand-alone cocktail with a full serving of alcohol, or it can be served as a dessert by itself.

“So you get the best of both worlds,” Poehlein said.

Extra holiday tips Poehlein suggests are:

§  Making big batches of cocktails so all you have to do is serve and enjoy!

§  Keep a small herb garden over winter in your windowsill. The garnish of fresh herbs adds to the wow factor and decadence of a cocktail.

§  Make ingredients at home. You can save money and skip additives store brands have.

§  Always have a few oranges, a key ingredient in many holiday cocktails. A little citrus goes a long way to brighten any drink or dish.






Jeptha Creed Buttered Cinnamon Moonshine

This recipe makes 3-4 servings

1 cup unsalted butter (one stick)

¼ cup maple syrup

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

Juice of half an orange

1 cap Vanilla extract

Pinch Sea salt




3/4 cup Jeptha Creed Cinnamon moonshine

2 cups water


1.     Combine room temperature butter, maple syrup, brown sugar, orange juice,  and your spices (to taste), just a pinch of the sea salt. Whip together

2.     For the brown sugar light or dark is fine whatever you have on hand. the dark brown sugar will give you more caramel and sorghum notes in your finished cocktail.

3.    Add Jeptha Creed Cinnamon moonshine stir thoroughly

4.    Bring your water to a boil and then add to your cocktail mixture stir thoroughly

5.     You can now serve your buttered moonshine in coffee mugs or you can pop it in a warmer like a crock pot to serve later

6.    Garnish with a cinnamon stick or clove studded orange slices




Holiday Old Fashioned

For a single cocktail


Cranberry simple syrup


Bloody Butchers Creed 1 1/2 year-old four-grain bourbon

Ne Oublie Bitters


1.     Add 1/2-1 oz. cranberry simple syrup*  an orange slice, and 4 dashes of ne oublie bitters to the bottom of your glass

2.     Muddle the orange being careful not to over muddle you just want to be the juice out of the orange and brake up the meat of the fruit no turn it into mush

3.    Add 2 oz. of Bloody Butchers Creed 1 1/2 year old bourbon

4.    Top with ice

5.     Garnish with rosemary and cranberries



Simple syrup is a 1:1 solution of water and sugar coming equal parts in a sauce pan and stir on low heat until all the sugar has dissolved. You can use plain simple syrup in lots of cocktails you can also infuse your simple syrups for a little added flavor. For this cocktail I added a few handfuls of fresh cranberries to my simple syrup pot and let them simmer. I strained them off once the cranberries were soft and splitting open. I saved the cooked cranberries for garnish, you could even muddle a few along with the orange.




Winter Berry Sorbet

8 servings


4 cups raspberry purée (I prefer unsweetened)

4 cups water

2 cups Jeptha Creed Blackberry Moonshine

1/2 cup sweet vermouth

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup of vanilla extract

Juice of half an orange

Handful of Basil leaves


1.     Combine all ingredients (I like to tear my basil to release the essential oils )  in a pot and stir over low heat to combine until mixture is warm but not bubbling, we don’t want to cook off any of the alcohol

2.     Let you mixture cool and strain into a freezer safe container

3.    Let freeze over night or for a few hours

4.    Serve in a coupe or martini glass

5.     Garnish with basil sprig




Jeptha Creed Morning Eggnog

For a single cocktail


1 egg

3 oz. Heavy cream

2 oz. Jeptha Creed coffee flavored vodka

1 oz. peppermint simple syrup*


1.     Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously

2.     Strain liquid off and dump out ice

3.    Shake the cocktail again without ice (this is called a dry shake) you will continue to shake until you feel pressure build in the glass

4.    Rim your glass with crushed peppermint candies using simple syrup to help it stick

5.     Pour cocktail over ice

6.    You can make this cocktail in large batches by whisking the egg, cream, and simple syrup and then adding vodka

7.     Garnish with mint sprig

* I used peppermint extract added to my regular simple syrup. I made it a little more minty than i though necessary because I wanted the peppermint to shine through with all of the other ingredients being so rich




Holiday Wine Pairings by Talon Winery

Coyote Red, a semi-sweet estate blend that pairs with cheese or chocolate dessert

Forbidden: Spiced apple with cinnamon that pairs with turkey or pork chops

Blackberry: pairs with your favorite chocolate treat


Talon Wine Recipes


Blushing Bride

1 bottle of Talon Afterglow

1 2-Liter Ginger Ale



Sangria 1

1 bottle of Talon Coyote Red

2 cans of Ginger Ale

1 lemon, wedged

1 orange, sliced

2 teaspoons sugar




Sangria 2

1 bottle of Talon Coyote Red

1 cup Orange Juice

1 half can Orange soda

1 can Lemon Lime soda

2 cups pineapple juice

1 orange, sliced to garnish



Pina Vina (pina colada)

1 bottle of Talon Sweet Evening Breeze

4 ounces of lemon juice

Pineapple chunks to garnish




Blackberry Spritzer

1 bottle of Talon Blackberry

1 2-liter Cherry 7-up