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It's a Christmas cocktail miracle

Forget the ghost of Christmas past and future. Today is Christmas present, and if it's cocktails you desire, it's cocktails you should have.

Madrona Manor in Healdsburg is a winter wonderland at Christmas, decorated to the hilt with gilded, glittery Victorian-era finery, fresh-cut Christmas trees and layers of sparkling lights. Inside, the Michelin-starred inn presents a five-course Dickens Dinner throughout the Christmas season, alongside an inspired menu of Christmas cocktails.

Behind the bar is Pam Bushling, whose creativity with drinks matches the flavorful level of chef Jesse Mallgren's food.

"Over the last year I've seen a huge increase in the complexity of cocktails people will order," Bushling noted.

Today, she will feature a Moscow Mule, Hot Toddy, Irish Bedouin and special, barrel-aged eggnog. She shares the recipes for some of those below, as well as some of her other favorite classic drinks.

Bushling's eggnog is inspired by a treat she enjoyed recently at Screaming Mimi's in Sebastopol and thus tastes like "the best indescribable flavor of ice cream ever," she says. She bought a small, 20-liter American oak barrel, cured the barrel with Canadian whiskey and then used it to age the base of her eggnog, which consists of Napoleon Cognac, Maker's Mark Kentucky Straight Bourbon, Gosling's Rum, eggs, sugar and salt.

She advises three cups of alcohol per dozen eggs, and with a 20-liter barrel, she'll have enough for 230 servings, the oak giving the base a chance to mellow and smoothen out its rough edges. She says it's important to age the concoction for a minimum of three weeks and no more than one year.

Bushling describes the Boulevardier as a stepbrother to a Negroni, but Manhattan fans will also love its combination of bourbon and flamed orange. Her go-to bourbon is from a new distiller in Colorado named Peach Street, and the barkeep mentions that she could take a bath in it, it has so much delicate flavor.

The orange used by Bushling comes from the Madrona Manor's impressive gardens. By flaming the rind, the drink is given a rich, caramelized layer of flavor on top. The Am?e Sauvage from Bittermens Spirits in New York is a bitters flavored with French yellow gentian root, chamomile and citrus peel, adding tons of subtle earthiness to the drink.

For the Blushing Bella, Bushling again sources from the estate gardens, zesting oranges when they're green to make her own fresh, high-acid Orangecello. Sonoma-based HelloCello also makes an Orangecello, which can be found at Bottle Barn in Santa Rosa and Sonoma Market.


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