Ginger Johnson
The Bismarck Blend - a cocktail created for Be Magazine by Ginger Johnson. Mix one up, sit back and enjoy!

You can just hear the tinkling of glasses being hoisted together, toasting good health and friends this holiday season. Enjoying flavorful and fun drinks is a terrific way to gather and enjoy each other's company. So just where did the cocktail come from, and why do we like to mix it all up?

According to our friends at Mirriam-Webster, the first iterations of the cocktail appeared in the 17th and 18th centuries, and people have been mixing drinks ever since. Cocktails are concoctions of spirits, mixes, water, fruits, spices and a variety of other ingredients. Pickup a cocktail cookbook and you'll get a buzz by the sheer number of choices already available -- never mind getting creative yourself and inventing a new drink!

This said, it's a great time of year to mix, experiment and sip various cocktails. Everyone knows BYOB, but how about MYOC (Mix Your Own Cocktail): provide a variety of mixes and accoutrements and have your party guests bring the spirits. Set out a silver tray or festive cloth on a dedicated table for creating drinks, include an assortment of fun glassware and a bucket of ice. If you have a cocktail book, set that next to the drink station as well for curious sippers to use.

Some of the classically popular holiday cocktails include spiced wine, hot buttered rum and eggnog. Many people go for sparkling wines and champagnes for the holidays. Flavorful and versatile beer choices for the most wonderful time of the year will offer many robust winter warmers, barleywines and holiday seasonals. A vast array of spirits will keep the parties going and the toes warm.

Need a few ideas for the "nice" people on your list? Glassware is the gift that keeps on giving. Find attractive well-made glasses, wrap them in an open basket with a bright bow and give with a bottle of a tasty beverage tucked inside. The ubiquitous gift certificate at a favored watering hole with delicious liquids of choice is always a welcome surprise. Consider fun books on mixology, histories of various libations and cookbooks with recipes using alcohol as ingredients to accent your culinary efforts.

How do you get started? Begin by visiting your local purveyors of beer, wine and spirits. New Bismarck retailer GeeWilliquors has a nice assortment of goods as well as seasoned pros to readily assist with ideas and suggestions. Beyond the obvious shelf selection, ask about fresh and different choices to gift and to try for yourself. There are bushels of tasty ciders and meads to try as well, offering brand new beverages for many. What a perfect opportunity to bring holiday cheer to the table this year!

As always, enjoy the spirit of the season in moderation. America has a colorful history with alcohol, so being mindful of your consumption will ensure a good time will be had by all. Eat before drinking, drink plenty of water between alcoholic drinks and savor the flavors rather than gulp.

The Bismarck Blend

Beer cocktail recipe, created exclusively for Be Magazine by Ginger Johnson, Women Enjoying Beer

In a blender combine:

4 ounces deep, roasty beer like New Holland's The Poet (oatmeal stout)

3-4 generous scoops of high-quality ice cream -- can use vanilla, chocolate or coffee for variety (mix the scoops too!)

2-3 heaping tablespoons of malted milk powder

Small handful of blackberries or strawberries

Milk, as needed for desired thickness -- coconut and almond milks offer unique nuances

Blend until smooth

Garnish with torn fresh mint, bright berries or shaved chocolate

Pour into festive glasses

Idea: Tie colorful ribbons around stemmed glassware and everyone can easily identify their own glass at the party.


Ginger Johnson can often be found grocery shopping, prepping and cooking wherever she may be. As a professional entertainer, speaker and business owner, she loves to meet new people in the various pursuits of life. Read more via and