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Juanita MORE!’s Cocktails for the Season

The Empress’ picks for holiday entertaining.

Juanita MORE!, wearing a sequinned cape and a perfectly coiffed updo, smiles and poses to the side of her dining room table, with a charcuterie board spread and a big bouquet of pink roses. She holds an orange-hued vodka cocktail in her hand. Photography by Carolyn Fong
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Juanita MORE! is known for hosting elaborate parties for all occasions, but the holiday season calls for a little something extra. The Empress of the Imperial Court of San Francisco worked with SKYY Vodka and two San Francisco cocktail experts, Carey Jones and John McCarthy, to develop two cocktails that evoke the holiday season, with a California twist. You won’t find sugary-sweet punches or pumpkin-apple-allspice anywhere: These sophisticated drinks bring out the best that California winters have to offer.

There’s nothing more California than fresh, juicy citrus this time of year. Meyer lemons are a particular favorite, and the citrusy ‘Salty Collins’ riffs on the Tom Collins, but swaps gin for SKYY Vodka instead. Add in some Meyer lemon juice and a dash of coarse salt, and you’ve got a perfect balance of sweet, sour, and salty. MORE! loves to support businesses local to San Francisco, like SKYY Vodka, which was founded there — not only is it her go-to for a vodka cocktail, the brand “ has been a big supporter of the LGBTQ+ community, and I applaud that,” she says.

SKYY Vodka is made with water enriched by Pacific Minerals, and the salted rim lets this drink showcase SKYY’s gentle salinity. “I am a big fan of the Salty Collins, as my cocktail preference leans more towards the bitter,” MORE! says. “It is cool, light, and refreshing, and a great start to a dinner party.” Read on for that recipe, plus one for ‘Winter’s Bite.’

On a countertop is a vodka soda highball, topped filled with sliced oranges, a salted rim, and a sprig of mint as a garnish. Alongside it is a SKYY Vodka bottle along with other sliced lemons.
The Salty Collins.

The Salty Collins

Ingredients:

1 1/2 parts SKYY Vodka

1 part Meyer lemon juice

1/2 part simple syrup

2 parts club soda

Coarse salt, for garnish

Lemon verbena, for garnish

Preparation:

  1. Prepare glass: Pour a thin layer of salt onto a small plate. Moisten the edge of a Collins glass, and press into salt. Fill glass with ice.
  2. Add vodka, Meyer lemon juice, simple syrup, and club soda to the prepared glass, and stir well to combine.
  3. Garnish with a sprig of lemon verbena, tapped firmly against your hand before adding to the drink to release its aroma.
Juanita MORE! adds a lemon verbana garnish to the Salty Collins cocktail.

MORE! says her go-to drink is a Negroni, but this vodka-based version packs the same bitterness plus a hint of citrus. The bone-dry cocktail brings together two classic highballs — a vodka-soda and Campari-soda. Slightly tart, thanks to SKYY Infusions Citrus, it’s refreshing and bitter, ideal for sipping in the kitchen while you work up an appetite for a hearty holiday meal. “The Winter’s Bite is also a big favorite, as I love the fruits of winter,” MORE! says.

A bottle of SKYY Infusions Citrus and the Winter’s Bite cocktail, orange-hued in a highball glass, sit on Juanita’s dining room table, with some Thanksgiving pies and plates in the background.
The Winter’s Bite.

Winter’s Bite

Ingredients:

1 1/2 parts SKYY Infusions Citrus

1/4 part Italian aperativo spirit (we used Campari)

3 parts club soda

Grapefruit half-moon slice, for garnish

Preparation:

  1. Combine vodka, aperativo, and club soda in a Collins glass with ice and stir briefly.
  2. Garnish with a grapefruit half-moon.


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Carey Jones and John McCarthy are co-authors of Be Your Own Bartender: A Surefire Guide to Finding (and Making) Your Perfect Cocktail. Carey is a food and spirits writer for publications including Food & Wine, Travel + Leisure, and Vogue. John is a consulting mixologist and spirits writer who has created bar programs for more than a dozen establishments in New York and beyond. He and his cocktails have been profiled in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and other publications; and he has appeared on-camera on Good Morning America and the Today Show. They live in Sonoma County, California.

Photography: Carolyn Fong
Creative Director: Laura Delarato
Managing Editor: Marcy Bosco
Line Producer: Desiree Abeyta
Food Styling: Julie Smith
Recipe Development: Carey Jones and John McCarthy
Hair and Makeup: Juanita MORE!
Production Manager: Danielle Valdez
Production Designer: Amy Selyne

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