’Tis the season — for booze. Nothing screams, “Time for a cocktail!” more than a house full of family members and awkward holiday parties. We’ve got you covered here at MAX. We asked our friends at STLBarkeep to provide you with some delicious and easy-to-execute cocktails to help you navigate the holiday season.

STLBarkeep is a local agency that specializes in custom cocktails for events and spirit companies. They also cover event planning and execution, which includes bartending services. Most notably, STLBarkeep curates “Fizz and Folly,” the cocktail experience at Loufest. The owner of the company, Matt Longueville, won the 2017 Central West End Cocktail Competition. You can find him at Vicia during weekday lunchtime as well as all over town hosting special events and upstairs at Brennan’s on the weekends. Check out stlbarkeep.com or @stlbarkeep on Instagram.

Before we start making our cocktails, we need to do some prep work. Don’t worry; it’s actually quite “simple.” Our first two recipes call for cinnamon simple syrup.

Cinnamon Simple Syrup
16 oz. brown sugar 16 oz. water
4 cinnamon sticks
Add brown sugar and water to a pot. Set heat on low and stir until sugar is diluted, creating syrup. Add four cinnamon sticks and let simmer for 20 minutes. This recipe yields 24 oz. of cinnamon syrup.

Santa’s Sipper
For the first cocktail, we are going to use the Quiet Man 8 Year Old Irish Whiskey, which is named in honor of an Irish bartender who saw and heard it all but was true to the code and told no one. The Quiet Man 8 Year is by far the best Irish whiskey on the market and is bound to turn heads at your holiday party.

Add 2 oz. of the Quiet Man 8Year Old Irish Whiskey, 1 ounce Big O Ginger Liqueur, 0.5 oz. cinnamon syrup and 3 oz. hot apple cider. Combine all ingredients in your favorite mug and stir. Garnish with sliced apples.

Feliz Navidad
For the next cocktail, we’re heading south of the border to hang with whiskey’s Mexican cousin tequila. This cocktail was designed using the classic Old Fashioned formula but substitutes tequila for whiskey, adding cinnamon to the simple syrup and using mole bitters instead of aromatic.

Add 2 oz. of El Mayor Añejo Tequila, 0.5 oz. cinnamon syrup, orange peel and mole bitters to a mixing glass. Stir for 30 seconds and strain over fresh ice. Garnish with zest of orange.

Cranberry Dubliner (Get it? Like Manhattan but it’s an Irish city.)
For this cocktail, we are going to stick with another formula for a classic cocktail: the Manhattan. The classic Manhattan formula is 2 oz. bourbon or rye whiskey, 1 oz. sweet vermouth and bitters. We are going to change some ingredients to make it unique. We will go back to the Quiet Man 8 Year Old Whiskey and exchange the sweet vermouth for Saint Brendan’s Irish Cream.This is a fantastic cocktail to enjoy after dinner.

Add 2 oz. of the Quiet Man 8Year Old Irish Whiskey, 1 oz. Saint Brendan’s Irish Cream and four dashes of cranberry bitters to a mixing glass. Add ice and stir. Strain into a coupe glass or over ice in a rocks glass. Garnish with maraschino cherry.

New Year’s Resolution
For this recipe, we are going to use Veev, a neutral grain spirit similar to vodka that is infused with acai. Acai berries are a superfood grown on acai palms in Central and Southern America. Oftentimes, they are compared to blackberries. Veev contains only 65 calories per ounce, so this is a great cocktail to help you shed those extra holidays pounds without having to give up booze.

Fill a mason jar with ice. Add 2 oz. of Veev, 0.25 oz. of lemon juice and a sprig of rosemary torn apart. Put cap securely on the jar and shake for 20 seconds. Top with Topo Chico Mineral Water. M