Shaken and Stirred: Get ready to celebrate with these seasonal cocktails.

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by Nancy D. Lackey Shaffer

This is, without question, a very different kind of holiday season. Many of us won’t be traveling or hosting visitors, and any gatherings in which we might be participating are likely to take place outside and for a short duration.

We can, nevertheless, choose to be merry — and what better way to toast the season than with an expertly prepared cocktail?

Ventana Monthly asked some of the area’s best bartenders — all top vote getters in the 2020 Best of Ventura County, recently published by our weekly sister publication, the Ventura County Reporter — to come up with a few delicious drinks full of holiday spirit that are easy to prepare at home. As beautiful as they are tasty, with flavors of chocolate, cranberry, orange and spice, they’re perfect for sipping all season long.

So grab some ice and bar tools — it’s time to start shaking and stirring up some good cheer!

 

NAUGHTY OR SPICE

When he’s behind the bar at VenTiki, Josh Papuzza keeps customers satisfied with the tropical concoctions that have made Ventura’s own tiki bar famous. His Naughty or Spice, however, is more mainland than island, with cranberry, orange and cinnamon mixed with premium rum. Note that you need to mull the cranberry juice first.

– 2 ounces El Dorado 5 Year Rum

– 4 ounces mulled cranberry juice (recipe follows)

– 1/2 ounce cinnamon syrup (such as Torani)

Place all ingredients into a shaker filled two-thirds full of ice and shake until chilled. Pour over ice into a Collins glass, garnish as desired and serve.

 

Mulled Cranberry Juice

An integral part of the Naughty or Spice, this rich juice is also delicious on its own or mixed with sparkling water.

– 2 gallons cranberry juice

– 2 ounces mulling spice*

– Peel of 1/2 an orange

Place all ingredients in a pot and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Let cool and strain into a clean jar or other container and store in the refrigerator.

*Mulling spices usually include star anise, cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, dried orange peel and other spices. You can create your own, but well-stocked grocery stores carry it in the spice or baking aisle.

— Courtesy of VenTiki Lounge and Lanai, 701 E. Main St., Ventura, 805.667-8887, www.ventikiloungeandlanai.com.