Chris West plays the guitar, sings and makes cocktails. Don’t swoon just yet. Between touring with The Western Den (his indie-orchestral-rock band with his wife) and managing the bar at Leesburg’s The Wine Kitchen, West started bringing his mixology capabilities into people’s homes with Nightcap Cocktail Co.
Launched in summer, Nightcap customizes cocktail menus for small dinner parties to full-scale weddings. A native of Bermuda, West has a preternatural interest in rum, though he expanded his repertoire while living in bar-heavy Boston.
When he moved to Winchester, he missed the cocktail culture he was used to, and so he started studying recipes and eventually opened his own boutique catering company. Here, West shares some tips for better holiday tippling.
Hack Holiday Cocktails at Home
• “Make everything fresh,” says West. An easy way to add intrigue to a classic cocktail is making spiced simple syrup. This time of year, a sugar-water mixture infused with star anise, cloves and cinnamon (let infuse overnight, strain) updates an Old-Fashioned.
• Play with the on-trend Italian herbal liqueur, amaro. Instead of vermouth, use the widely available Averna in lieu of vermouth for a black Manhattan. “There’s a lovely, round spice tone that has the same level of sweetness, but adds another level of depth,” says West.
• Punch makes the party. West suggests keeping punch cold, while also slowing the dilution, by using a giant ice cube. Fill a large plastic food storage container with water until it’s a solid block of ice and keep the punch, and the party, chill.