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3 holiday cocktails you have to try

Here's a look at different recipes from Harrisburg and York that are being featured in restaurants this season.

Valoree Skiles was trying to come up ideas for a seasonal cocktail, and knew that she liked to use nuts in food and drinks.

Skiles, a bartender at Rubicon, on North Street near North 3rd Street in Harrisburg, then got the idea: Turning a pecan pie into a drink. So after roasting some fresh pecans, she slow-cooked them with cinnamon sticks, vanilla beans, cocoa and a little bit of sugar to make simple syrup.

“It was just the most magnificent syrup any of us had ever tasted,” she said. “Right off the stove.”

After some “trial and error,” Skiles ended up with the finished drink: The Nutcracker. Rubicon is one of several places throughout southcentral Pennsylvania that are featuring seasonal and holiday-themed drinks.

Here’s a look at four cocktails from throughout the region — and the story behind them:

The Nutcracker


  • 2 ounces of Ketel One or Tito’s vodka
  • 3/4 ounces of hazelnut liqueur
  • ¼ ounces of Bauchant cognac
  • 1 ounce of pecan simple syrup
  • 4 dashes of black walnut bitters


  • Shake, serve in a martini glass.
  • Rub an orange peel around the rim of the glass, and then dip it in agave.
  • Coat the rim with crumbled pecans.

Sugar plum sangria

Nikki Condon, the event coordinator for Level 2, on Second Street near Cranberry Street in Harrisburg, said the club will have sugar plum sangria this season.

Twice a year, she said, the club changes its drink menu. And, Condon said, the place features a seasonal sangria.

“It’s something that’s really nice to have at a Christmas party, or a private event,” she said, adding that the drink goes along with the season.


  • Merlot-base
  • Asian plum sake
  • Orange peel, cinnamon flavors


  • Garnish with sugar plums.

Gingerbread martini

James Manning, the bar manager at Blue Moon, on West Market Street near North Penn Street in York, said he always does a holiday-themed drink menu. One of the items that’s “definitely” returning for the second year is the gingerbread martini, which he said went over very well in 2014.

“My grandma made good gingerbread, so that’s the first thing I had every Christmas,” Manning said. “I grew up with it, so that’s kind of why — it’s just one of those things that sticks with me.”


  • 2 ounces of vanilla vodka
  • ½ ounces of Kahlua
  • ½ ounces of Ginger syrup
  • 1 gingersnap cookie
  • Cream


  • Shake and strain.

Contact Dylan Segelbaum at 771-2102.