In the dining room or to-go, Chaval’s Spanish-style egg nog comes with a gingerbread cookie sandwich. Photo from Chaval

During the holidays, I love seeing (and tasting) the various festive cocktails that talented local bartenders come up with, and this year they did not disappoint. Here are just a handful of their creations for you to enjoy on site, order to go, or try to recreate on your own, depending on the restaurant’s current operating status and your personal preferences.

I’ve recently become enamored with Godiva white chocolate liqueur (I may or may not be sipping some while I type this), so I’m kicking things off with the $12.75 Chai Tini which is making a triumphant return to the cocktail menu at David’s in Portland’s Monument Square this December. It’s made with 1.5 ounces house-infused chai rum, 1 ounce Godiva white chocolate liqueur, 1 ounce RumChata, and 1 ounce milk (or cream or your preferred substitute for milk), and is served straight up in a martini glass and garnished with ground cinnamon or nutmeg. If you want to try making the chai-infused rum, use half a cup loose leaf chai for each liter of rum. Let steep for at least three days or until it has reached your desired strength (obviously you will need to sample it frequently in order to determine when that moment has arrived). Any rum works well, but dark or spiced rum takes it to the next level.

The Malta Martini from Tiqa, made with Godiva white chocolate liqueur. Photo from Tiqa

Tiqa also uses Godiva white chocolate liqueur in its $12 Malta Martini, a white chocolate peppermint martini containing not only the Godiva, but also vodka and peppermint schnapps, then garnished with a candy cane rim.

In keeping with Tiqa’s pan-Mediterranean theme, they also have a $16 Tripoli Hot Chocolate, a twist on a Mexican hot chocolate, made with Ghirardelli hot chocolate, vodka, Vespertino tequila crema (another one of my favorite ingredients, and a local Portland product), Ancho Reyes chile liqueur, Vespertino whipped cream, and house-toasted marshmallows.

If you’re in the mood for a different type of Christmassy hot beverage, Three of Strong Spirits’ $10 Merrily Mulled Cider highlights its Merrymeeting spiced rum.  They press the apples in house for fresh cider that they then simmer with cinnamon, green cardamom, star anise, clove, allspice, orange slices and brown sugar. There’s even the option to upgrade to a hot buttered rum version for a dollar.

Batson River’s Snow Day is made with horchata, all spice dram and Dixie Bull Rum. Photo from Batson River

If you prefer your rum cold, Batson River in Kennebunk makes a $12 Snow Day with Allspice Dram (a liqueur flavored with allspice berries), horchata and Batson River’s Dixie Bull Rum. For extra festivity, they serve it in Spode Christmas glassware.

I can’t talk about Christmas and rum without venturing into eggnog territory, and neither can Chaval, where a Spanish-style eggnog is on the menu for the third year in a row. They do it with cooked eggs, Amontillado sherry and Four Roses bourbon. They even have a dairy-free version and an alcohol-free version (which they can also sell with your spirit of preference). If you order it to go, it comes in a package with a gingerbread cookie sandwich (two cookies filled with cream cheese and candied ginger frosting) and costs $20. If you order it to consume on the premises, it costs $13 and comes with a baby gingerbread cookie sandwich.

I saved the best for last – a nod to my favorite Christmas movie, “A Christmas Story.” Blyth & Burrows has created the $13 Fra-Gee-Lay (it must be Italian!) using roasted chestnut bourbon, Creme de Cacao, Cynar, mole bitters and egg, with an edible rice paper printout of the infamous leg-shaped table lamp that floats on top.

Whatever your drink of choice, I wish those who celebrate a very Merry Christmas.

Angie Bryan is a former diplomat who is enjoying getting acquainted with her new home in Portland, one cocktail at a time.

The Fra-Gee-Lay from Blyth & Burrows comes with an edible rice paper leg lamp. Photo from Blyth & Burrows

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