FORT WORTH, Texas - The invitations offered the right touch of glamour, your seasonal decor is worthy of a magazine cover, and your food will be the envy of hostesses everywhere.
The one last ingredient you need for a magical holiday party is just the right festive cocktail. Why not whip up some of these, crafted by bartenders, chefs and restaurateurs? Some of them are on their bar or restaurant menus - others they dreamed up just for us.
Serve them at home, and they're sure to make everyone merry and bright.
Mike Catlin of My Martini in Arlington, Texas, was quick to tell us that a Peppermint Martini is the way to go for a special holiday drink. This one offers equal parts fire and ice for a delightful bit of frostbite.
You can add a few drops of pomegranate juice to infuse a rosy glow.
10 ounces pepper vodka, such as Absolut
4 ounces white creme de menthe
1 ounce peppermint schnapps
Mini candy canes for garnish
1. In a tall martini pitcher, mix liquors with ice.
2. Strain into frosty glasses; garnish with candy canes.
Nutritional analysis per serving: 288 calories, trace fat, 12 grams carbohydrates, 0 grams protein, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 2 milligrams sodium, 0 grams dietary fiber, 2 percent of calories from fat.
Michael Flynn, new wine and beverage director at Dallas' revamped Mansion on Turtle Creek restaurant, came up with this variation on a New York classic. You'll be humming "Silver Bells" to yourself before you've finished mixing the first batch.
1 orange, halved
2 tablespoons whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
10 ounces bourbon
2 ounces sweet vermouth
Bing cherries and cinnamon sticks for garnish
1. Stud orange halves with cloves.
2. Place the clove-studded orange and cinnamon stick in a medium-size glass container. Fill the container with bourbon.
3. Cover and allow mixture to infuse at room temperature for at least 48 hours.
4. When ready to serve, fill shaker half full with cubed ice. Strain and pour bourbon mixture into shaker.
5. Add sweet vermouth to shaker. Shake vigorously for 20 seconds. Strain and pour mixture into four chilled martini glasses.
6. Garnish each drink with a cherry and cinnamon stick.
Nutritional analysis per serving: 225 calories, 1 gram fat, 7 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram protein, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 13 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber, 18 percent of calories from fat.
PUMPKIN SPICE MARTINI
At Ferre, the stylish Italian restaurant and bar in Fort Worth, Texas's Sundance Square, you'll find any number of holiday celebrators toasting the season with martinis. This version from the menu, created by general manager Luis Rojas, is one your guests will find goes nicely with everything from jazzed-up party nuts to gingerbread cookies.
2 ounces vodka
1 ounce vanilla-flavored vodka, such as Svedka
1 ounce chai-flavored liqueur, such as Voyant
Cinnamon stick for garnish
1. Mix the vodkas, chai liqueur and ground cinnamon in a martini shaker.
Shake vigorously and strain into a martini glass.
2. Garnish with a cinnamon stick and ground cinnamon.
Nutritional analysis per serving: 263 calories, trace fat, trace
carbohydrates, trace protein, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 1 milligram
sodium, 0 grams dietary fiber, 8 percent of calories from fat.