A Pair of Holiday Cocktails to Celebrate Surviving 2020

Enough downer stuff has been written about the year 2020, so I’d like to accentuate the positive. For starters, it’s almost over. And if you’re reading this, congratulations, that means unlike hundreds of thousands of our loved ones, you survived it. This is cause for celebration. 

And there is much to celebrate besides our continued existence, there’s the fact that a vaccine is on the way. Please take it. The Enlightenment happened. It’s a good thing. I can’t believe I have to write this, but please — pretty please with a cherry on top — let’s not bring back the Dark Ages. Dark Ages bad.

What else can we celebrate? How about this: the Lakers and Dodgers are world champions. Maybe there’s an asterisk in there I left out. Grammarians can stew on that one for years to come. And on the subject of sports, for whatever reason, football is still being played — even without fans in the stadium. Yay football. It’s fun. 

Guillotine Heritage Edition: probably what 2020 will be remembered for (photo by Scott Bridges)

What else? Oh, our 244-year-old democracy survived despite an unprecedented attack on it — and with the greatest amount of participation in our history. And despite the no voter fraud we’re still somehow hearing about. So, It’s now the holiday season — a holiday season that anyone who lives through it will never forget. And with that in mind, I want to offer a few unprecedented cocktails for these unprecedented times.

There will be plenty of things I remember about 2020, but one of the happier memories will be the discovery of Guillotine Vodka. The Originale version strikes me as having all the elegance of French nobility, while the barrel-aged Heritage Edition is much more… “revolutionary.” 

“Grapes are handpicked, de-seeded, pressed, then fermented and slowly distilled in a 100-year-old distillery following standards of traditional French expertise that preserve the subtleties of the fruit,” according to the company.

The city’s best mixologists are hard at work, concocting magic in a glass with these superb spirits. One of the most interesting is from the team at Porta Via in Beverly Hills. Normally, it wouldn’t resemble a holiday cocktail, but this year, I think this recipe says it all: the sting of jalapeno and the sour of lemon provide easy metaphorical value, but then there’s the tangy sweetness of the pineapple to remind you of the good despite it all… and if that isn’t enough, you’ve got two full ounces of 80-proof Guillotine that cuts to the chase.

Pina Picante (Porta Via) 

2 oz. Guillotine Originale

1 oz. pineapple juice

½ lemon juice

Dash of symple syrup

Muddled jalapeno (to taste)

Shake over ice for 10 seconds. Pour into a martini glass. Garnish rim with Tajin flakes and a Jalapeno slice. 

Porta Via’s Pina Picante (courtesy photo)

And in the spirit of our celebratory theme, I’m coining this next concoction of my own creation, a fig-inspired cocktail, the “Fig-torious.” It’s inspired by this year’s victory of sturdy, longstanding democratic institutions — like a free press and universal suffrage — based loosely on the Sidecar, and showcases fig brandy. 

What? Your stupid liquor aisle doesn’t carry fig brandy? Of course, it doesn’t. Luckily, Paso Robles winery Opolo does. And since we’re in the spirit of supporting our beloved institutions, buy a bottle. Buy a lot. Make a point of talking to their guy Jeff Faber, who in one breath can inform you about some wine thing or other, and in the next, help recalibrate your life’s compass. So, anyway, back to my liquor recipe…


2 oz. Opolo fig brandy

1 oz. Cointreau 

½ oz. lemon juice

Dash Angostura bitters

Champagne float

Mix the first four ingredients in a shaker filled with ice. Float the champagne over top. Garnish with lemon twist. Drink heavily till Jan. 20. Cheers.

A Pair of Holiday Cocktails to Celebrate Surviving 2020


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