Announcing Tripleseat’s 12 Sip-Sational Cocktail Contest Semi-Finalists for 2022


The moment that all of our cocktail-loving contest contestants have been waiting for is finally here. In case you’re new here, this spring we asked our community of event professionals to think ahead to the end-of-year holiday season and submit their best holiday cocktail.

We received submissions that ranged from eggnog-inspired to minty rims and cranberry garnishes. We saw festive names, unique flavor combinations, and meaningful cocktail origin stories. Ultimately, our team of Tripleseat cocktail enthusiasts narrowed the contestant list to the 12 semifinalists listed below.

Now, the voting is left in the hands of the public. Starting today, each cocktail semi-finalist has until Monday, Aug. 1 at midnight PST to encourage as many votes as possible on the official voting platform. Voting is limited to one vote per person per day.

The top five winning finalists at the end of voting on Aug. 1 will be invited to join us at Tripleseat’s EventCamp on Tuesday, Sept. 13 in Boston where they will participate in the final “Sip-Off” to determine the grand winner. EventCamp attendees will sip each cocktail and vote on one favorite.

Now to introduce the 12 semi-finalists:

1. Caribbean Snowball

Created by: Courtney Wright
Company name: 1487 Brewery
Location: Plain City, Ohio

1.5 ounces of Bumbu creme
.5 ounce of Bumbu rum
.5 ounce of Godiva chocolate liqueur
Whipped cream

Combine first three ingredients and top with whipped cream and sprinkles.

About the Cocktail:

“The founder of our brewery is in love with Bumbu Rum products,” Wright said. “We wanted to make an elevated dessert drink that not only he would enjoy, but when he chats up the guests over cigars by the fire pit in the wintertime, the guests could look at him drinking it and immediately inquire about it. It looks great, has a unique taste, and was released for our winter holiday party season. The name comes from it being a rum imported from the Caribbean and a play on winter.”

2. Christmas in the Andes

Created by: John Marsh
Company: Ellen’s
Location: Dallas

8 eggs, separated
3/4 cup sugar
1 quart whole milk (preferably organic)
1 pint heavy cream
8 ounces Claude Chatelier VS cognac
6 ounces Tempus Fugit creme de menthe
4 ounces Tempus Fugit creme de cacao
Callebaut semisweet chocolate block

In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks and sugar until thickened and the color has lightened. Stir in the milk, cream, Cognac, Creme de Menthe, and Creme de Cacao.
In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Fold about a quarter of the egg whites into the other bowl’s contents.
Serve in a coupe. Top with more of the egg whites, if desired. Grate the Callebaut chocolate over the finished drink.

About the Cocktail:

“Over the holidays last year, one of my colleagues, Buster, challenged me to a ‘Nog-Off.’ She and I each made batches of our eggnog recipes to taste and judge. When I heard about Tripleseat’s Sip-Sational Cocktail Challenge, I knew I had another opportunity to kick her ass,” Marsh said.

“I usually use bourbon and aged rum in my eggnog, but for this, I wanted to do something unique. One of the things I associate with Christmas is candy canes. I wanted to do something with peppermint to reflect that association. The flavors of the peppermint eggnog I came up with reminded us of Andes mints, so we decided to reflect that in the name, but subtly. Eggnog is a holiday go-to, but we hope this take on an old favorite reminds you that traditions can be dusted off and freshened up. Buster, who loves to judge, agrees that this is a winner.”

3. Mistletoe Margarita

Created by: Rob Day, Beverage Director
Submitted by: Megan Fightmaster
Company: Richard Sandoval Hospitality
Location: Denver

1 ½ ounce Blanco tequila
½ ounce triple sec
1 ounce lime
1 ounce cranberry/rosemary syrup

Shake ingredients in a double old-fashioned glass with a salt rim. Add frozen cranberries or pomegranate seeds and rosemary sprig.

Cranberry/Rosemary Syrup Recipe:

1 bag of fresh or frozen cranberries
6-8 rosemary sprigs
1 liter white sugar
1 liter water

Combine ingredients in a pot, bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and let sit for 20 minutes. Strain into a clean container.

About the Cocktail:

“As a Latin company, the margarita is our best selling cocktail. We created this drink specifically for our featured cocktail on our holiday event menus, and it’s been a fan favorite ever since,” Fightmaster said.

4. Borracho Noël

Created by: Evans Horn
Company: RMD Group
Location: San Diego

Melt chocolate into a mixture of milk/half and half using 50/50 bittersweet or dark and milk chocolate (approx 1qt)
When hot, add:
4 ounces Corralejo Repo tequila (the red bottle)
4 ounces Del Maguey Vida mezcal (the green bottle)
4 ounces Ancho Reyes Chile Liqueur
2 ounces Licor 43
2 ounces Cointreau
2 tablespoons grated cinnamon
2 tablespoons chili powder

Pour into 4 warmed mugs and top with marshmallows/marshmallow fluff and shaved chocolate and cinnamon

About the cocktail:

“While I did not grow up in a Latin home, I have always loved spiced hot chocolate, which has become a favorite for the holidays. Boozy and rich, it’s just what is needed to survive the holidays,” Horn said.

5. I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Beer

Created by: Zach Fromm, Events Lead Bartender
Submitted by: Kati O’Brien
Company: Hotel Tango Distillery
Location: Indianapolis

2 ounces bourbon
1 ounce caramel
1 ounce butterscotch
2 ounces cream soda

Add all ingredients to a cocktail tin with ice. Stir and strain into a cup of your choice. Top with whipped cream and drizzle butterscotch and caramel syrup.

About the Cocktail:

“Hotel Tango is traditionally known for innovative and elaborate cocktails, but during the holiday season, we host an over-the-top holiday pop-up bar called Salute to Santa to help support the Marine Corp Reserve Toys for Tots Program,” O’Brien said. “Salute to Santa features super over-the-top decor, a limited edition holiday cocktail menu, and themed snacks.”

6. The Reindeer Games

Created by: Jason McKinney
Company: The Brink Lounge
Location: Madison, Wisc.

1.5 ounces Belvedere vodka
0.25 ounce lime juice
0.75 ounce mulled cranberry simple syrup
3 dashes Bittercube cherry bark vanilla bitters
1 slice (3/4″) ginger root
Cinnamon sugar (ratio of 3:1)
Maraschino cherry
2 rosemary sprigs

Prepare a tumbler by rimming the glass with cinnamon sugar and add ice. Muddle ginger root in an empty cocktail shaker tin. Add vodka, lime juice, simple syrup, and bitters into the shaker tin and add ice. Shake for 15 seconds and then double strain into the tumbler glass. Garnish with a maraschino cherry on a pick in the front of the drink and the 2 rosemary sprigs on either side.

Mulled Cranberry Simple Syrup Recipe:
4 cups cranberry juice
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
2 slices lemon
1 orange, sliced
3 slices ginger root (1/2″) thick
1 clove
2 star anise

In a medium saucepan, add all ingredients except for the water and granulated sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce to simmer. Continue to simmer until the resulting liquid is reduced by half. Turn off heat and then add the water and granulated sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Strain final mixture into a container and let cool to room temperature.

About the Cocktail:

“The original drink was very popular during this last winter cocktail list that I created. I went back to the drawing board and tweaked it to make the cocktail have a more diverse flavor profile,” McKinney.

7. Scoma’s Vintage Eggnog

Created by: Scoma’s Restaurant
Submitted by: Melissa Amato
Company: Scoma’s Restaurant
Location: San Francisco

Creme anglaise

About the Cocktail:

“Made with rum, cognac, sherry, creme anglaise, vanilla, cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg, Scoma’s Vintage Eggnog is aged for a year with a flavor that can’t be beat. This San Francisco favorite sells out every year and is a favorite of locals and visitors alike,” Amato said.

8. The Sugar Plum Fairy

Created by: Rachel Markoja
Company: Hopmonk Tavern
Location: Novato, Calif.

2 ounces Woodford Reserve bourbon
1 ounce spiced plum syrup
.75 ounce fresh lemon
1 egg white

Add ingredients to cocktail tin and dry shake (without ice) vigorously. Add ice and shake again. Double strain into coupe glass. Garnish with snow-dusted rosemary, edible flower, and star anise. Sprinkle with fairy dust (edible glitter).

About the Cocktail:

“My cocktail is based on my love for ‘The Nutcracker.’ My Nana and I had a tradition of seeing the play every year around the holidays. Whenever I think of winter and the giving season, I think of the Nutcracker and the fond, loving memories I have of the story,” Markoja said. “I named the drink after my favorite character, the Sugar Plum Fairy. My Nana passed away 2 years ago, and now that I am a mom, I have started the tradition with my son. This cocktail is very special to me, and I hope you love it as much as I do!”

9. Negligent Reindeer

Created by: Tony Hicks
Submitted by: Anna Sargent
Company: Trophy Club
Location: Sacramento, Calif.

2 ounces Glenmorangie X
.7 ounce Tempus Fugit Noyaux
.5 ounce Galliano L’Aperitivo
.75 ounce lemon
.86 ounce cinnamon syrup
4 dashes sarsaparilla bitters
Egg white

Combine all ingredients into a shaker; use a preferred egg white shake method (mine is a NY shake), strain into a coupe. Garnish with tarragon spring, cherries, and Angostura bitters.

About the Cocktail:

‘I’ve always been obsessed with the flavor profile of almonds and cherries and recently brought in a liqueur I absolutely adore that contains that essence beautifully. When this competition was brought to my attention, I knew I had to include Tempus Fugit Noyaux for its aforementioned character,” Hicks said. “All of those flavors flowed so well with baking spice and marmalade, which are staples of the Glenmorangie Distillery line. I used the X because it was created by bartenders for the sole purpose of creating a fantastic Scotch designed to elevate cocktails. With the primary structures in place, I added some bitterness and citrus, smoothed it out with an egg, and voila! And as for the name, I just felt that perhaps the reindeer who ran over grandma was an avid fan of cocktails themselves.”

10. White Elephant

Created by: Andrew Pollard
Submitted by: Michelle O’Hala
Company: The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
Location: Las Vegas

2 dashes Angostura Aromatic Bitters
1 1/2 ounces Ocean Spray White Cranberry Juice
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
1/2 ounce Monin caramel apple butter syrup
1/2 ounce Campari
1 1/2 ounce Remy Martin 1738 Cognac

Powdered sugar “Snow”
Rosemary sprig
Grapefruit twist

Combine all ingredients in a mixing tin filled 2/3 full, shake vigorously, and double strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish and serve.

About the Cocktail:

“The White Elephant is intended to be served with a gift box and surprise QR code gift that can be redeemed,” said O’Hala. The cocktail’s inspiration comes from a sidecar, a holiday seasonal Christmas in a glass, and a warm, comforting, complex feel.

11. MC’S Elegant Eggnog

Created by: Wesley James
Company: Casati’s
Location: Chicago

1.25 ounce spiced simple syrup (see recipe below)
1.5 ounce E & J VS brandy
1 ounce Watershed Barel Aged Nocino bourbon
.5 ounce heavy cream
1 egg

Combine ingredients in a shaker tin. Dry shake, then add ice and shake for 10 seconds. Double strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a sprinkle of ground cinnamon and a star anise.

Spiced Simple Syrup Recipe:
1 star anise
5 cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
1 cup hot water
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Combine ingredients except for vanilla. Let sit for two hours. Strain. Add sugar equal to weight of spiced infused water and add vanilla extract.

About the Cocktail:

“I have always made eggnog every year and was inspired to make an upscale version of that. So this is in honor of my grandmother. MC is my grandmother, which is where the name came from,” James said.

12. When Ginger Snapped

Created by: Dimitri Lewis
Submitted by: Jackie Carlton
Company: Smashing Grapes Kitchen & Wine Bar
Location: Gambrills, Md.

1.5 ounces Captain Morgan rum
.5 ounce Domaine De Canton ginger liqueur
.25 ounce half and half
.5 ounce vanilla ice cream
.5 ounce simple syrup
1 egg white liquid

Combine all ingredients and serve.

Vote for your favorite holiday cocktail

Now that you have seen all of the Sip-Sational holiday cocktails, it is time to vote! Vote up to once daily between now and Monday, August 1 at midnight PST. Click here to vote!