Over the weekend, we got our holiday spirit started early this year with the Dizzy Fizz‘s 2011 Holiday Spirits Bazaar.  A night of tasting different types of liquors and cocktails makes for a nasty hangover the next morning, but at the time it got my juices flowing for ideas on what to serve at my next holiday party.

The event was held at the Astor Center, right above the liquor store, which proved to be dangerous for impulse purchases after the event.  The liquor vendors were knowledgeable and very eager to put drinks in our hands.  And there were all sorts of attractive people!  The Beefeater 24 Gin bartender was kept extremely busy with a throng of women waiting for a cocktail.  Well, let’s be honest, we were actually in line for a glimpse of his perfectly coiffed hair, his smoldering gaze, and to hear his charming accent.

There were also these lovely “Russian” ladies with Russian Standard Vodka, which dominated the main bar with three delicious signature cocktails.

For the most standout local liquor, Bootlegger 21 Vodka takes the cake.  Made in New York, the 21 is there to reminds us of the 21st Amendment that repealed the ban on booze in 1933.  While I usually cringe at the thought of drinking straight vodka, I was pleasantly surprised.  So smooth!  After all, it won gold medals at the 2010 New York International Spirits Competition and an “Exceptional 90-95 Rating” from the esteemed Beverage Testing Institute. Throw it in a punch bowl of lemonade and it’s sure to be the hit of the party.

My favorite drink of the evening was the spiked Mezcal Mexican hot chocolate.  For those of you that didn’t already get the memo, Mezcal is the new tequila.  Made in a huge pot, the Mexican chocolate heated and melted with milk and vanilla bean.  (Do not boil!)  Then gently pour in Scorpion Mezcal and then serve topped with whipped cream and/or extra marshmallows.  Possibly the most amazing winter drink you will be able to find, so be grateful that the recipe is included below.

But please don’t get arrested for child endangerment by mistakenly giving it to your kids.

Iceburg Vodka and Cockspur Rum really laid on the holiday spirit thick with their display of lights, poinsettias, and reindeer.

For an alternative to liquor, Innis & Gunn was there with their oak cask aged beer.

Other liquor sponsors included: Hudson Whiskey, Bulleit Bourbon, Cointreau, Plymouth Gin, Pierre Ferrand Cognac, Chairman’s Reserve Rum, Catdaddy Moonshine, Denizen Rum, Becherovka, Bluecoat Gin, Vieux Carré Absinthe, Penn 1681 Rye Vodka, XXX Shine Whiskey, Redemption Rye, Redemption High Rye Bourbon, and Midnight Moon Apple Pie Moonshine.

To keep guests from going over the edge, Andaz Hotel’s DJ Kimiko provided the party beats for intermittent dancing, and nourishment was in the form of bread provided by SCRATCHbread; grass-fed beef jerky by Slantshack; and filtered water on site with representatives from MAVEA.

For the special VIP hour,  small bites were provided by Emily Cavalier of the Midnight Brunch supper club, which consisted of delicious turkey and beef meatballs, and delicious macaroni and cheese squares.  Fantastic way to make mac and cheese into a finger food.

We had a fantastic evening trying all sorts of different liquors and now have all sorts of cocktail recipe ideas ready.  Bring on the holiday cheer!