The Best Happy Hour Cocktails

Simple enough to explain to a bartender, complex enough to stand out from the crowd — that’s what we like in a cocktail. Created by some of bartending’s biggest names, these are a combination of old friends and new favorites that we’d recommend for any occasion.

Dark & Stormy Created by Maura McGuigan, Bar Pleiades at The Surrey Hotel

● 2 oz Brugal Añejo Rum ● .75 oz fresh lime ● .75 oz ginger syrup ● Splash of soda water Shake, strain over ice in a Collins glass. Float 1 oz. of Cruzan Black Strap Rum. Garnish with lime.

Perfect Gin Martini Created by Jason Littrell (formerly of Death & Co and Dram) JBird Lounge ● 1 oz. Nolet’s Silver Gin Pour the gin into your mixing glass and add large ice cubes. Keep the ice just above the gin line so there is a good ratio of surface to liquid so as not to water down your drinks. Hold your barspoon like you would hold chopsticks and gently twist it with your fingers through the spirit. Technique is key here — it’s all in the circular stirring motion of the fingers along the ridges of the spoon handle. Keep your arm and wrist steady and be gentle so as not to bruise the botanicals in the gin. If done correctly, you can stir without hearing a sound from the ice or spoon. Stir for 30 to 60 seconds. Use a Hawthorne strainer to strain into a chilled martini glass. Slice the rind of a lemon and squeeze about 15 centimeters away from the glass at a 45-degree angle to perfume the glass and drink. Twist the lemon.

Fedora Honey Badger Created by Brian Bartels, Fedora’s Restaurant ‘ ● 1.5 oz Rittenhouse Rue ● .5 oz Combier liqueur ● .5 oz fresh lime juice ● .75 oz honey water ● Beef Jerky Bitters Combine and shake, and strain into champagne coupe. Top with 4 dashes of bitters.

Highlander Created by Eben Freeman, Marea

● 1 oz. blended scotch whisky ● .5 oz Drambuie liqueur ● 1 oz Pama liqueur ● 5 oz ginger beer ● Dash of lemon juice Combine, shake, and pour.

Siesta Created by Katie Stipe, Vandaag

● Ice ● 2 ounces silver tequila (100% agave) ● .5 ounce Campari ● .5 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice ● .5 ounce freshly squeezed grapefruit juice ● .5 ounce simple syrup ● Grapefruit twist Combine tequila, Campari, juices, and simple syrup over ice in a cocktail shaker, then shake and strain into a cold glass; garnish with a twist.

[Image via Judy Kennamer/Shutterstock]

Courvoisier & Jason Littrell’s Holiday Mixology at MPD

Nearly every spot in town was fêting one thing or another last night, and Derek and Daniel Koch’s new boîte, MPD, was not left out. The reason for the seasonal imbibing: Courvoisier’s casual evening of delicious fare, cocktails, and a chance to sample the newest offerings from Courvoisier: The Connoisseur Collection and L ‘Essence. More so, for me at least, it was a chance to get schooled in festive cognac mixology. I’ve never really figured out “the right way” to drink Courvoisier, so it was interesting to see how Courvoisier could be used as not only a major mixology component, with master cocktail crafter Jason Littrell serving up detailed cognac drinks, but also as a cognac aficionado’s best friend. That is, straight up—specifically with the release of L’Essence, a limited edition blend of 100 eaux-de-vies aged 60 to 70 years (priced at a cool $3,000 per Baccarat-designed decanter), as well as the release of two aged bottles, Courvoisier 12 and Courvoisier 21.

Jason Littrell is a rockstar in bar culture, earning the Star Chef Rising Star Award this year after working under the likes of Sasha Petraske of Milk & Honey, White Star, and Little Branch fame before joining the cocktail dream team at Death & Co., his current post. Aside from sipping on a $3K cognac, Littrell offered up creative and festive cocktails, paired with out-of-the-box ingredients. His favorite below:


Edith Piaf Served over ice. Courvoisier VSOP Pear Brandy Vanilla Syrup Lime Juice Angostura Bitters