In Season: Happy Holiday Promotions and Drinks

The holiday season is all about giving, which is why we’re giving you some new ideas to warm up your bars this December. As we work our way through December, scheduling festive promotions at your venue is a surefire way to get people in the holiday spirit and through your doors. From drink specials to ugly sweater contests, we’ve compiled a list of some creative promotions bar operators and suppliers have in store for this holiday season; try them out at your venue for an extra revenue boost.

Bar Hopping for the Holidays

Winter on the Waterfront, San Diego
The Waterfront Bar & Grill in San Diego will host a variety of events this holiday season for its patrons. The bar will hold a “Nightmare Before Christmas Party” in which guests arriving in their Halloween costumes receive discounts on beverages; a costume contest also will be held. Additionally, the tavern intends to hire a Santa Claus for a photo session with patrons. “We will post all of the pictures on our web site, which will help us create more web traffic and also allow us to collect people’s e-mail addresses for future e-mail marketing,” says Jason “Rocky” Nichols, GM of The Waterfront.

12 Days of Christmas at Union Jack’s, Arlington, Va., and Bethesda, Md.
For the past few years, British-themed pub Union Jack’s, located in Arlington, Va., and Bethesda, Md., in conjunction with Vacation Adventures International, has created the 12 Days of Christmas for patrons. Starting in mid-December and running through New Year’s Eve, Union Jack’s offers Vacation Adventures’ luxury incentive vacations each of the 12 days through drawings and contests. “We have couples register for the events so we are able to capture e-mail addresses and contact information. It’s a great way to build a database and increase your social marketing networks. And with the wide range of trips offered through Vacation Adventures, it’s easy to find a vacation that appeals to every crowd,” explains Union Jack’s Johnny “Nitro” Natoli. “The trips cost less than $100 each.  We have started buying them by the hundreds for a considerable savings. For us, there is no better promotion.” For more information on Vacation Adventures International’s incentive vacations and promotional ideas, visit

Holiday Cocktails from Jbar at The James Hotel, Chicago
Chicago’s James Hotel houses Jbar, which is offering specialty holiday cocktails to put patrons in the festive spirit. Spirited cocktails include Carol’s Cookie Concoction, involving Kahlua, Frangelico, Cointreau, cream and Carol’s cookie crumbles on top ($12); the Junior Mint Martini, created with chocolate vodka, white chocolate crème, mint and chips ($12); and Nightfall, using Stoli Razberi, Merlot and Chambord ($10).

Winter Warmups from The Tasting Room, Chicago
With the holidays right around the corner, The Tasting Room is offering festive options to enchant customers throughout the holiday season. For $12 each, guests can sip on the innovative cocktails at The Tasting Room, including When the Leaves Fall in Tennessee (hickory smoke-infused whiskey cordial, clover honey and mission fig elixir; cream cheese-stuffed Medjool date) and the Homage to Charlie Brown (Tahitian vanilla-infused spiced rum cordial, pumpkin pie elixir and crème de cocoa).

Elfin Fun at Cheeseburger in Paradise Locations
Winter is upon us and with summer nowhere in sight, Cheeseburger in Paradise and Skyy Spirits are again joining forces to bring some sunshine to the chilly season with the return of The Disgruntled Elf. At Cheeseburger in Paradise locations nationwide, consumers can enjoy The Disgruntled Elf Margarita featuring Cabo Wabo Tequila and Midori Melon Liqueur (see cocktail recipe below). They can then visit to submit a picture of their most disgruntled face and a 100-word explanation on how they found their cure from the wintertime blues while at the restaurant enjoying the Disgruntled Elf Margarita. The top photo will win a grand prize trip to Jamaica, courtesy of Jamaica Tourism and FunJet promotions. Other winners will receive gift certificates to Cheeseburger in Paradise restaurants. The Disgruntled Elf promotion runs Nov. 1-Dec. 31 and will include social media outreach and in-restaurant promotional materials, including signs, posters, branded t-shirts recipe cards and more.

Disgruntled Elf
1 ¼ ounce Cabo Wabo Reposado
¾ ounce Midori
½ ounce Monin Kiwi Syrup
3 ounces Cheeseburger in Paradise Margarita mix made with natural lemon, lime and orange juices
Garnish: Red Sugar Rim and “Disgruntled Elf” stir stick with cherry on the bottom.

Christmas at Club Mayan, Los Angeles
For Dimelo Records, its seventh annual holiday party at Club Mayan is an event like no other. Club Mayan will feature Dimelo Records’ entire roster of artists performing on the venue’s stage. Dimelo is trying three new tactics to attract clubgoers and salsa dancing lovers to the event.
1. The holiday party will offer a branded CD with the event ticket; the ticket is branded with the club logo and it comes with a leaflet filled with advertisements.
2. The event is held in Los Angeles, but a charter bus is available from San Diego for fans to attend; the cost of the trip is bundled into the ticket price.
3. Male and female models will be in attendance, dressed in Santa attire and taking pictures with guests. The guests then receive a business card with a web site listed of where to download the picture; the picture is branded with Dimelo Records’ logo.

Charitable Giving in Orange County, Calif.
AcropolisRPM sponsors events in which local charities and local chapters of national charities can benefit. Last year’s Christmas party benefited Toys for Tots; guests were asked to bring an unwrapped toy ($10 value) for free entry. Previous events have supported Salvation Army and local food banks (canned food allowed free entry). “It becomes really successful in all ends when we apply it on a Monday/non-weekend night or add an industry night on top of it,” AcropolisRPM’s Daniel Park explains. “As we are in the service industry, we are charity-centric already, so we have a good showing with charity-related events.”

Ho-ho-ho at Hard Rock Café
Hard Rock Café and Monin joined forces to create a clever holiday beverage program. The engaging drink names and fun beverage menu copy help drive sales with seasonal beverage options.

Bad Rudolf
Sold with a Souvenir Hurricane glass.
A mischievous mix of Absolut Citron Vodka, Monin Wildberry, fresh blueberries and fresh lemonade.

Jingle Bell Rocks
Sold with a Souvenir Pilsner glass.
Absolut Citron Vodka, Malibu Pineapple, Monin Habeñero Lime, pineapple and cranberry juice.

Mistletoe Mudslide
Sold with a Souvenir Martini glass.
Pucker up to this delight made with ABSOLUT Vodka, Disaronno Amaretto, Patrón XO Café, Monin Vanilla, chocolate syrup and a splash of cream.

Naughty Santa
Sold with a Souvenir Pilsner glass.
Red Stag Black Cherry Bourbon, Disaronno Amaretto, Monin Pomegranate and cranberry juice mixed to create one delicious holiday present!

Bring Out the Seasonal Sweaters at Starters Riverport, Bethlehem, Pa.
In honor of the sweaters passed down from generation to generation from aunts, grandmothers and more, Starters Riverport in Bethlehem, Pa., will host an “Ugly Sweater Party” in which patrons (and staff) wear the ugliest sweater available. A competition will be held to judge which guests have the ugliest sweaters; male and female finalists will be rewarded with a spa day and a gift card to a local boutique to aid their fashion sense. Beer distributors are providing radio advertising and print ads; a spirits sponsor will provide a photographer to capture the action.

Christmas Cheer at Charlie’s Bar & Restaurant, Somers Point, N.J.
Celebrating the holidays at Charlie’s Bar & Restaurant lasts throughout December. On Dec. 8, the bar will host its 22nd annual tree trimming party, and a Breakfast with Santa will take place on the morning of Dec. 13. Following that, Charlie’s 10 Days of Christmas will run from Dec. 15-24; if a patron purchases $100 in gift certificates, they get a $20 gift certificate free.

Greenville (S.C.) Westin Hotel for the Holidays
After G Magazine named Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka its holiday drink, the Greenville Westin Hotel’s executive chef Curtis Wolf decided to develop a holiday drink for the hotel using Fuzzy’s as the main ingredient, and so the Fuzzy Poinsettia was created (Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka, light Crème de Cacao, Grand Marnier and grenadine, topped with white chocolate shavings and a chocolate straw).

Chicago’s Bar Novo Presents: What Santa Would Drink if He Weren’t Driving
Bar Novo at the Renaissance Chicago Hotel has created a festive cocktail for the holiday season — one the staff is certain would be Santa’s ideal cocktail. The Red Champagne Cocktail is made with a splash of absinthe, Absolut, fresh strawberry puree and a twist of lemon, all topped off with Champagne.

Celebrating the Eve of Christmas Eve at Babel Hookah Lounge, New York City
NOSTOSNIGHTS presents Christmas Eve Eve at Babel Hookah Lounge on Dec. 23, offering guests an open bar to guests from 11 p.m.-1 a.m. and music by DJ Ibrahim aka DJ Jungle. Table reservations are recommended; entry is $30.

Seasonal Suppliers

Heineken’s “Give in Good Taste” Holiday Promotion
Heineken, Heineken Premium Light and Amstel Light present the “Give in Good Taste” program with a branded “Waiting for You” message board and POS items including table tents and pennants. The POS materials will encourage customers to buy a gift of Heineken, Heineken Premium Light or Amstel Light for a fellow patron. The message board posts the name of the gift giver and receiver to help create excitement among patrons.

Patrón’s Signature Cocktails
This holiday season, Patrón tequila has introduced three new signature drinks, each featuring Patrón XO Cafe, paired with other Patrón tequilas: Silver, Añejo and Reposado. (Patrón XO Cafe is a tequila and coffee liqueur that blends Patrón tequila and the pure, natural essence of fine arabica bean coffee.) The cocktails — the Espresso Martini, the Spiced Chocolate, and the Hazelnut Cafe — each highlight the versatility and mixability of ultra-premium Patrón tequila. To help increase consumer demand on-premise, the drinks will be supported with national print advertising, wait staff cards and online promotion starting Nov. 15 and continuing through the end of December.

Sky Ranch Holiday Greeting Cards
Holiday greeting cards from The Sky Ranch Foundation are now available for purchase, and this year, they can be ordered online at This year’s card features artwork painted by Miles C., a Native American teenager who was cared for at Sky Ranch. Sky Ranch Foundation has offered cards with art created by Sky Ranch boys since 1999.

The cards come with “peel and seal” foil-lined envelopes, which offer easier closing and a luxurious look. Standard and deluxe styles are available; the cards are the same, but the deluxe option offers a one-line (35-character) imprint inside the cards and a two-line return address printed on the envelopes. A box of 25 standard cards and envelopes is $50, while deluxe is $60.

Visit to learn more or to order cards. Online ordering is available, or an order form can be printed and mailed in with check or credit card information.

Gran Gala on the Menu
Gran Gala encourages the use of this orange liqueur in cocktails and food dishes this season with a collection of recipes, from the Gran Berry Smash to the Gran Gala Flourless Chocolate Cake.

Gran Berry Smash
5 medium size blackberries, crushed
1 ounce Gran Gala Triple Orange Liqueur
2 ounces Stock ‘84 VSOP Brandy
4-6 mint leaves
½ ounce simple syrup
3/8 ounce lemon juice

Gently muddle 4-6 mint leaves with ½ ounce simple syrup and 3/8 ounce lemon juice. Add other ingredients, then shake with ice, finely strain into rocks glass and add crushed ice. Garnish with skewered blackberries and a sprig of mint.

Gran Gala Chocolate Covered Orange
1 ½ ounces Gran Gala Triple Orange Liqueur
1 ½ ounces whole milk
½ ounce chocolate liqueur
¼ teaspoon vanilla

Shake with ice, strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with chocolate shavings.

Gran Gala Flourless Chocolate Cake
½ cup Gran Gala
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup white sugar
18 (1 ounce) squares bittersweet chocolate
1 cup unsalted butter
3 eggs
3 egg whites

-Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C). Grease one 10-inch round cake pan and set aside.
-In a small saucepan over medium heat combine the Gran Gala, salt and sugar. Stir until completely dissolved and set aside.
-Either in the top half of a double boiler or in a microwave oven, melt the bittersweet chocolate. Pour the chocolate into the bowl of an electric mixer.
-Cut the butter into pieces and beat the butter into the chocolate, 1 piece at a time. Beat in the hot sugar-water. Slowly beat in the eggs, one at a time.
-Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Have a pan larger than the cake pan ready, put the cake pan in the larger pan and fill the pan with boiling water halfway up the sides of the cake pan.
-Bake cake in the water bath at 300 degrees F (150 degrees C) for 45 minutes. The center will still look wet. Chill cake overnight in the pan. To unmold, dip the bottom of the cake pan in hot water for 10 seconds and invert onto a serving plate.

Holiday Cocktails from Midori
Midori presents a selection of Christmas-themed cocktails for this upcoming season to give your drink menu a bit of holiday spirit.

Midori Merry Berry Bowl
Created by Victoria D’Amato Moran.
1 ounce Midori Melon Liqueur
½ ounce Flor de Cana Rum Platino
½ ounce pear liqueur
1 ounce pear juice
1 ounce white cranberry

Add the liquids, then add cranberries, pear slices, pierced with cloves, 2 cinnamon sticks and winter melon balls. May also add Champagne, Prosecco or Sparkling water.

*This recipe makes 1 serving; to make a punch bowl, multiply this recipe by 8.

Midori Peppermint Kiss
Created by Victoria D’Amato Moran.
1 ounce Midori Melon Liqueur
1 ounce Skyy Vodka
3 ounces pineapple juice
¼ ounce fresh lemon juice
¼ ounce Peppermint Schnapps
6 basil leaves, gently torn in half (to release oils)

In a chilled shaker glass, add all ingredients. Add ice, shake for 15 seconds and strain into a Collins glass. Garnish with a basil leaf and one raspberry sitting in front of basil in glass.

Holiday Cocktail/Sandwich Picks
Stir Sticks & Picks International presents its holiday cane and bowtie holiday picks. The picks, which measure 4.5 inches, are available in assorted colors. Commercial or retail packaging is available.

TY KU’s Figure-Friendly Drinks
TY KU Asian Wine & Spirits offers guests “A Wiser Way to Drink” around the calorie-heavy holidays with signature cocktails involving TY KU Liqueur, TY KU Sake and TY KU Soju. Cocktails include the Cranberry Christmas (TY KU Soju, splash of cranberry juice, squeeze of lemon and a cinnamon stick for garnish), the Gingerbread Man (TY KU Sake, ginger ale and sprinkle of cinnamon) and the Naugh-TY Elf (TY KU Liqueur, ginger liqueur, white cranberry juice and squeeze of fresh lime juice).

Brighten Up the Holidays with Bacardi Recipes
This year, Bacardi is offering recipes to help your patrons enjoy the holiday season. Using fresh ingredients and distinctive seasonal flavors, this traditional yet elegant menu is sure to spread holiday cheer.

Bacardi Party Punch
750 ml bottle Bacardi Gold Rum
1 liter cranberry juice
2 liters ginger ale, chilled
8 ounces orange juice
1 ounce lime juice
1 ½ ounces lemon juice
Extra citrus fruit for garnish

In large container, combine rum and fruit juices. Chill. Just before serving, pour into large punch bowl. Add ice and gently stir in chilled ginger ale. Garnish by floating orange, lemon and lime slices on top. Makes 16 cups.

Bacardi Dragon Berry & Ginger
3 parts Bacardi Dragon Berry Flavored Rum
1 part ginger ale

Pour ingredients over ice and garnish with a lime wedge.

Bacardi Rum Spicy Chorizo Tapas
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 lb. chorizo sausage, sliced on the diagonal into ½-inch slices
1 to 1½ cups sliced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup sliced roasted red peppers
a cup Bacardi Select Rum
Chopped cilantro or Italian parsley leaves
Warm flour tortillas, cut into quarters, or crusty bread slices

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat and sauté the sliced chorizo until it begins to brown. Add the onion and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are softened. Stir in the peppers and Bacardi Select Rum; simmer, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid is reduced. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro or Italian parsley before serving with quartered flour tortillas or sliced crusty bread.
Yield: 6 to 8 appetizer servings

Bacardi Rum Fruit Salsa
1 cup diced mango
1 cup diced pineapple
1 cup diced strawberries
2 kiwi, peeled and diced

Combine all ingredients and gently toss. Refrigerate until served.

Tales of the Toddy in New Orleans
This year, Tales of the Cocktail and the New Orleans Culinary & Cultural Preservation Society present Tales of the Toddy with the theme Making Spirits Bright. The event, held at the W Hotel on Dec. 10, will feature the best bartenders in New Orleans creating yuletide toddies, eggnogs, punches and Champagne drinks while sharing their secrets for holiday festivities. The event benefits the New Orleans Musicians Assistance Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides low cost medical care for local musicians. Tickets are available at for a discounted price of $10.

Red Rum’s Warm Winter Drinks
Red Rum presents its selection of warm concoctions for those cold winter days around the holidays (for many guests, that is). Serve these hot cocktails to spice things up at your bar. Guests will be warming up to you in no time!

Tree Smacker
1 ½ ounces RedRum
½ ounce Peppermint Schnapps
5 ounces hot chocolate
Top with whipped cream

VooDoo Coffee
1 ½ ounces VooDoo Spiced Rum
1 ounce Irish cream liqueur
Top off with hot coffee

Yo-Ho Cocoa
1 ½ ounces Jolly Roger Coconut & Key Lime Rum
5 ounces hot chocolate
Top with whipped cream

Gluug for the Holidays
Gluug’s customizable shot glasses are a perfect take-home souvenir for patrons. They can be emblazoned with logos or holiday images. Gluug is a sealable/re-sealable shot glass with a unique shape for separated or regular shots.

2009/2010 Science Behind The Cocktail Tour
Canadian Mist Whisky presents the Science Behind the Cocktail Tour, with a holiday season session happening in Memphis on Dec. 10. The event will be held at the Brooks Museum of Art. The Science Behind the Cocktail, an after-hours event hosted at various Art and Science museums nationwide, will explore the entertaining and educational side of cocktail creation. The events, brought to you by Canadian Mist Whisky, will feature an interactive presentation from Canadian Mist’s Chief Entertaining Officer (CEO) Tim Laird and Spirits Scientist Steve Hughes.

Christmastime Candles
FlickerCell MINI, one of many candle options distributed by, can brighten up your venue for the holidays. As a reusable, tealight-sized, battery-operated LED candle and lamp cell, the FlickerCell MINI flickers like a real candle and can be used in regular candleholders in place of traditional wax candles or liquid fuel cells. Each has a burn time of up to 125 hours and has an on/off switch.


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