Merry Mixology!

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Mark Addison, a top New York City event planner, is the expert on all things chic and clever and has put his good taste to use with Kelly Ripa, Antonio Banderas and Jennifer Lopez. Now, he is providing entertaining tips perfect for the holiday season.

The holidays remind me of bows, evergreen and family feasts with delectable desserts. These fond memories inspired me to experiment with mixology and "cook up" three holiday cocktails: The Stewed Cranberry Punch, Tannenbaum Tonic and the Baked Appletini.

Each concoction begins on the stove to create the base and moves on to the bar to chill and add the spirits and garnish.

The Stewed Cranberry Punch
This drink starts similar to the favorite holiday side dish from which it derives its name.

1. Like classic cranberry sauce, begin with a small pot of cranberries, brown sugar, whole cloves, cinnamon sticks, star anise, cardamom pods and orange rind brought to a boil.
2. Cool the mixture to room temperature before adding orange juice and a touch of lime juice. Refrigerate overnight.  
3. To serve, strain the mixture into a punch bowl then garnish with whole cloves and cinnamon sticks. Freeze fresh cranberries and orange slices in a block of ice for a voila finish! For an added kick, add an jigger of rum to each glass as served.

The Tannenbaum Tonic
This drink tastes just like a Christmas tree. Not that I’ve ever tasted a Christmas tree… Then again, why would I? The star ingredients in this tonic are fresh ginger and juniper berries, which is the primary flavoring in gin.

1. Simmer the ginger and berries with sugar to create the flavored syrup.
2. Add this to soda water and fresh lime with an optional jigger of gin.
3. Serve over ice in a crystallized ginger sugar rimmed glass. "Oh, Christmas Tree" (in a cup)!

The Baked Appletini
This drink reminds me of fresh-baked apples glazed with brown sugar and spices.

1. Start with apple juice in a pan with whole cloves, cinnamon sticks and star anise. Bring this mixture to a boil.
2. Once the juice has cooled, add five ounces of the mixture and a jigger of vanilla vodka (optional) to an ice shaker.
3. Shake and strain into apple pie spiced sugar rim (a mix of super-fine sugar, ground cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger) and garnish with a dried apple ring.

Enjoy these spirited cocktails at your next holiday feast or cocktail party. They are certain to bring warmth and cheer with each delightful sip.

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