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Photo: Alison Larabie Chase/Apt613.

#Support613 Gift Guide: Spirits and cocktail recipes

Part 11 of Apt613’s holiday gift guide knows that after a year like 2020, everyone needs a celebratory drink or two.

Whether you consume alcohol or not, there’s something for everyone in these recipes using locally made spirits, wines, cordials, bitters, and even kombucha. We’re #blessed with no fewer than four nearby distilleries: Top Shelf in Perth, Artist in Residence in Gatineau, Dairy Distillery in Almonte, and North of 7 right here in Ottawa. Each of them makes a pretty wide range of products including vodkas, gins (so many gins), liqueurs, whiskies, rum, and moonshine. There are nearly 10 vineyards in the valley as well, most of whom offer curbside pickup through the holidays.


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Plus we have many awesome folks making seltzers, sodas, kombucha, and cordials that can be used to create cocktails or mocktails that are sure to please your friends and family. Grab a bottle or two, write out a recipe on a nice card, box it up and you’re all set to pop it under their tree.

New to mixology or just looking for some new holiday cocktail recipes to suggest to friends along with your gift of booze or not-booze? We’ve done the incredibly difficult and tedious work of trying out some ideas for you.

Christmas Glow

In a highball glass filled with ice, add the gin, moonshine, and lime juice. Top with Artist in Residence tonic water to taste and garnish with a lime wheel and three raspberries (frozen is fine!).

The Christmas Glow with gin and raspberry moonshine. Photo: Alison Larabie Chase/Apt613.

Blue Ginger

Combine whisky and ginger beer in a tumbler over ice cubes. Garnish with a lime wedge and several blueberries.

Grapefruit Drop

Shake all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with lemon or grapefruit slice.

The Grapefruit Drop and Blue Ginger, made with locally distilled spirits. Photo: Alison Larabie Chase/Apt613.

Candy Apple

Shake all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Strain into a coupe glass and garnish with a short cinnamon stick.


In a rocks glass, muddle the sugar and bitters. Add whisky and a large ice cube. Stir to combine. Garnish with a Top Shelf Preserves maraschino cherry and a twist of orange peel.

Christmas Morning in the Valley

Brew a pot of fresh coffee, sprinkle in a few dashes of spicy cardamom bitters and stir in the liqueur and cream. Dunk a Christmas cookie, and you’re all set.


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Santa’s Sangria

Soak cranberries and orange slices in rum overnight, or for at least 4 hours. Mix the ingredients in a pitcher, let chill, and serve with ice. Freeze fruit pieces in the ice for added colour. Add a spritz of soda or seltzer in each glass for a bit of fizz!

The coolest kids’ table

Not everybody imbibes alcohol so let’s not leave out those friends who like to stay dry. There are lots of drink kits that are easy to put together for hot or cold holiday bevvies. Here are some combinations you might like to try for yourself or to gift. Full disclaimer here that while I may be far from being a trained mixologist, as a seldom-drinker I do enjoy making and having mocktails of all sorts.

Start off with an effervescent base. City Seltzer is one of the newest tastes coming to Ottawa from local brewery Dominion City. Four flavours of this cool carbonated water are available from local stores like Bridgehead or from their Canotek Road location. It’s the perfect base to start off any mocktail kit you might want to put together.

Kombucha is another good base to have when putting together a cold mocktail. This fizzy fermented drink can come in many flavours, so it’s easy to come up with exciting and new flavour combinations. Culture Kombucha and Vox Kombucha are two local breweries that are easy to find in grocery stores, while Carlington Booch can be found in select grocers and online.


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Next, add depth. One option is to use bitters (which, admittedly, do contain a bit of alcohol, so use discerningly). Bitters can provide depth to your fizzy drink and add an additional dimension for your taste buds without adding sweetness. Top Shelf makes a variety of bitters to choose from, and I’d pair a City Seltzer Cool Melon with Top Shelf’s cardamom bitters.

Another option for that extra layer of flavouring (this one completely alcohol-free) is cordials. Split Tree, based in Ottawa with multiple stockists, creates a wide selection of cordials and tonics, including an award-winning Rhubarb and Elderflower Cordial.


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Some people like their drinks on the sweeter side, and for that, you can use frozen fruit, a bit of jam, any fruit syrup (blueberry is easy to get in Ottawa), or an Asian favourite, Ribena, a concentrated blackcurrant syrup originating from Britain that you can get from Asian grocery stores. Kombucha in and of itself is already sweet, so I would stick to these additions for unsweetened bases only.

Add ice and a final aromatic touch like herbs (mint, rosemary, thyme, or tarragon), thinly sliced cucumber, or a citrus rind – twisted to let the oils perfume the drink. Not only does it complete the look, it greets your nose with aroma and welcomes you into the drink.

Kombucha Mule

  • Plenty of ice
  • 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 4 oz Carlington Booch Ginger Kombucha
  • For garnish: lime spiral, and sprig of fresh mint

Best and fanciest served in a copper Moscow mule cup.

Sparkling Cranbucha
(serves 4)

  • 1 inch slice of fresh ginger, thinly sliced, plus more for garnish
  • 1 large sprig fresh rosemary, plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 cup cranberry juice
  • 2 bottles Carlington Booch kombucha (Original or Ginger)
  • Fresh cranberries, rosemary sprigs and thinly sliced ginger for garnish

Muddle sliced ginger and rosemary together in a pitcher. Add cranberry juice and kombucha, stir gently to combine. Pour into ice-filled glasses and garnish with sprigs of rosemary, a slice of fresh ginger and a few cranberries before serving. (Pro tip: freeze cranberries into ice cubes ahead of time for extra pizzazz!)

Did we leave out any locally made drinks that you think we need to add? Let us know in the comments below.