Cheers to the Season

Monday, December 14, 2015 | 8:56 pm

Few things can make the holiday season more cheery but a festive cocktail never hurts. ‘Tis the season for indulging in mature, wintry flavors – even if the temperatures outside are far from frosty.

Local mixologists are working hard to make the season toast-worthy by creatively combining fresh ingredients and updating old favorite with a holiday twist.

Pasadena Now had the pleasure of sitting down with some of the city’s master mixers and getting a taste of the holiday spirit- or spirits…

Edwin Mills
This laid-back bar and brunch spot is always packed on weekends and for a good reason. Step into this laid-back chic spot and you’ll immediately feel at home. Jason, the mixologist and head bartender, has created a detailed cocktail menu that is sure to tickle your fancy.

Edwin Mills- 3 shot

He varies the intensity of his drinks and tries to make something that everyone will enjoy. Although Jason personally favors more complex drinks, he says that working will darker, wintery liquors and spirits can be a challenge because not everyone is accustomed to smokier tastes. He developed these recipes through “trial and error” and has focused holiday fresh flavors.

Edwin Mills  - Fall Over

Fall Over
Cute puns aside, this drink will blow you over. This smooth cocktail leaves you with a hint of spice. This popular drink is made from Daron Calvados Brandy which is made from apples instead of grapes. Jason builds on this crisp flavor with fresh cranberries, spices gala apples, fresh lemon juice and a maple reduction.

Holiday Boar-bon

“It’s supposed to taste like a holiday ham,” said Jason. This playful and original cocktail includes Bib & Tucker Bourbon and homemade pork and brown sugar simple syrup, pineapple juice and honey. It comes garnished with a clove-studded pineapple ring and maraschino cherry. This non-vegetarian drink is a savory cocktail that you’ll be hard pressed to find anywhere else.

Edwin Mills - Hot Chata

Hot Chata
If dessert is your favorite meal of the day, than this is the drink for you. The Hot Chata is your answer to a warm, boozy frappucino. This time-consuming cocktail stars homemade horchata made from toasted rice, spiced rum, Rum Chata and Fireball Whiskey. It comes garnished with homemade whipped cream and a generous sprinkling of cinnamon. “It’s very easy to drink,” said Jason. “It’s the dessert of the drink menu.”

Edwin Mills - Bartender Jason

“The [bartending] industry has changed so much in the last six years…you get the chance to be creative,” he explained. “This is just one of those professions where we feed off each other’s creativity. It keeps improving and I’m glad to be in it.” Drinkers everywhere couldn’t agree more.

Edwin Mills is located at 22 Mills Place, Pasadena. Call (626) 564-8656 or visit for more information.

Magnolia House
Located in a historic home, Magnolia House is your home away from home. This polished rustic bar was once a post-Prohibition liquor store and now serves inventive drinks and small plates daily. Try these seasonal favorite while relaxing with friends.

Magnolia House - Oaxacan Winter Blood (1)

Oaxacan Blood Winter
Created by Brian Klemm

For a supple and hearty warm-up during the holiday season, there is no better remedy than the Oaxacan Blood Winter, with a floating garnish of star anise.

Magnolia House - Magnolia House's Badass Coffee (1)

Mag House’s Bad Ass Coffee
Created by Brian Klemm

Luscious and dreamy, Mag House’s Bad Ass Coffee, is a creamy elixir of rum, Ancho chili, cinnamon, cream, and coffee with a sexy Holland red chili garnish that is shaken up tableside in a silver thermos. This balanced drink with a hint of spice from Bar Manager Brian Klemm is so delicious, it cannot go without saying: Once you go “badass,” you will never want to go back to your morning java routine!

Magnolia House is located at 492 South Lake Avenue, Pasadena. Call (626) 584-1121 or visit for more details.

The Raymond 1886
This laid-back bar has a long history of crafting thoughtful cocktails. They boast over 600 menu items and are more than happy to customize drinks or even whip you up something special.

The Raymond 1886 - Donner's Dash

Donner’s Dash
Created by Peter Lloyd Jones

The Donner’s Dash is a tasty liquid treat from Barman Peter Lloyd-Jones that is mixed up with Cognac, rye, allspice, homemade honey syrup and coffee infused with cream and cinnamon and may just be the merriest way to celebrate Christmas!

The Raymond 1886 - Kafka On The Shore

Kafka On The Shore
Created by Peter Lloyd-Jones & Pastry Chef Eliot Pardo

This cocktail shares the name of Haruki Murakami’s bestselling novel and, as we all know, cocktail plus cookie equals a very Merry Christmas indeed! Barman Peter Lloyd-Jones is mixing up the Kafka On The Shore, crafted with Japanese pear-infused Tito’s vodka, almond avocado milk, lime, simple syrup and egg whites, accompanied by a gin-gerbread cookie garnish baked up by Pastry Chef Eliot Pardo.

The Raymond 1886 is located at 1250 South Fair Oaks Avenue, Pasadena. Call (626) 441-3136 or visit

The Blind Donkey
This bar is dedicated to the art and diversity of whiskey. Ask any bartender for a mini-whiskey lesson and you’ll learn that not all drinks are created equal.

BLind Donkey 2 shot

“A lot of people don’t know what makes different styles of whiskey taste different or what makes them unique,” said Travis, The Blind Donkey’s bartender.

BLind Donkey- Inherent Weiss ingredients

American whiskey is made with either corn or rye and aged in new, charred oak barrels while Scotch is made of barley and usually finished in bourbon or port wine barrels. These differences in production impart unique tasting notes into the whiskeys.

For the holiday season, The Blind Donkey is highlighting two whiskey cocktails.

BLind Donkey - inherent Weiss

Inherent Weiss
“Weiss” is German for “white” so this cocktail features white, unaged whiskey with St. George Spiced Pear, maraschino, orange bitters, dry vermouth and lemon. This smooth drink warms you up with spices and ends with a smooth finish.

BLing Donkey - Southern Tartan

Southern Tartan
Is a “warm you up by the campfire” kind of drink. It features single malt Scotch, bitters and get its smoky taste from an Ardberg 10 rinse. This drink is modeled off a Sazerac cocktail but has a whiskey-infused punch.

Visit the Blind Donkey for a whiskey education. This is the only homework you’ll actually want to do.

The Blind Donkey is located at 53 East Union Street, Pasadena. Call (626) 792-1833 or visit for more information.

Kings Row Gastropub
This hip, brick building has ample outdoor seating and enough indoor room to accommodate larger groups. Kings Row is one of those special bars where the food tastes good even before you’re drunk. They focus on seasonal flavors and source from local, mostly organic growers to bring you the freshest meal possible. Starters include a popular cheese naan and house cut fries with aioli while those with a sweet tooth will appreciate the chocolate mousse or seasonal sweet potato pie.

KingsRow- Sweet Potato Pie

This pie is made with organic sweet potatoes and housemade gelatin-free marshmallow topping, all nestled into a rich graham cracker crust. A slice of this sweet, smooth pie tastes even better when paired with a hearty beer or matched with a seasonal cocktail.

Kings Row’s inventive cocktails have pop culture names like Invisible Cities and Inherent Vice. As Zulma, the bartender explains, these names are a fun reference for customers. Zulma is responsible for most of the cocktails on the menu and is one of the only female bartenders Pasadena Now has encountered. She is the mastermind behind the surprisingly spicy Pickle Back shot and a few of the bar’s seasonal offerings.

Kings Row - Ruby Fruit Jungle

Ruby Fruit Jungle
Zulma describes this cocktail as one of the easiest to drink because it has port instead of a harder liquor. This refreshing cocktail has grapefruit, gin and cinnamon for a decidedly holiday flavor. this drink is a great starter for the night- it eases your tastebuds into richer, heavier flavors.

Kings Row - Moveable Feast

A Moveable Feast
This cocktail features housemade apple reduction, Sailor Jerry and lemon cointreau. Zulm a describes it as a cocktail warming holiday flavors that don’t overpower. This drink more of a punch than the Ruby Fruit Jungle but is still an easy to sip cocktail.

Kings Row - The Price of Salt

The Price of Salt
This cocktail pairs cold brewed coffee from Home Brewed Bar, on Arroyo Parkway, with Tillamore Dew, cinnamon, nutmeg and a generous helping of whipped cream. Think of it as the boozy evil twin to your morning coffee. Thanks to the 20-hour cold brew coffee, this low acidity cocktail goes down easy and has a touch of salt for added body.

As with all her cocktail, Zulma tries to make something that will please a wide range of palettes without playing it safe. “I”m trying to push the boundaries while still making something with a loy of flavor that can appeal to each category [of drinker],” she said.

Kings Row Gastropub is located at 20 East Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena. Call (626) 793-3010 or visit for more detials.

Grab some friends and get into these holiday spirits. Cheers to the end of 2015 and the start of another brilliant year!

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