The winter holidays are the hap-hap-happiest time of year and that tends to lead to overindulgence. Filling food and drinks abound. Case in point, eggnog, a thick and tasty cocktail that, while bringing tidings of good cheer, can leave you feeling as bloated as a bowl full of jelly after just a glass or two. Looking to stay as light on your feet as a jolly old elf? Bust out the Smokin’ Rye instead.

The Smokin’ Rye was created by Traeger Grills mixologist Casey Metzger. “We decided that this year we wanted to bring something with a little more spirit than calories,” he says. “This spirit-forward cocktail has the complexity of cherry smoke, essence of holiday cinnamon and sweetness of holiday fruit that will leave everyone sticking around for another.”

Smokin’ Rye Ingredients
2 oz Rye Whiskey
1 oz Smoked Cherry Vermouth
Smoked cherries & cinnamon sticks for garnish

Smoked Cherry Vermouth Ingredients
4 parts sweet vermouth
1 part Italian Amarena cherry syrup
2 parts Italian cherries
Pinch of cinnamon

How to Make It
To make smoked cherry vermouth, get your smoker going with the lid open until a fire is established (4 to 5 minutes). Turn temperature to 180 degrees F and preheat, lid closed, for 10 to 15 minutes. Combine smoked cherry vermouth ingredients in a small saucepan and mix. Place pan on the grill and smoke for at least 45 minutes (longer if more smoke flavor is desired). Once smoked, strain the mixture, then let cool. It can be bottled for up to 2 weeks.

To make garnish, skewer cherries with bamboo skewer and place directly on a 180-degrees preheated grill grate along with cinnamon sticks. Smoke garnishes for 30 minutes.

To make Smokin’ Rye cocktail, add 2 oz of your favorite rye whiskey and 1 oz of the smoked cherry vermouth to a mixing vessel filled with ice, and stir for 20 seconds. Strain into a martini glass. Garnish with cherries and a cinnamon stick. Drink. Smile.

Why We Like It
All the tastes and smells of the holiday season, combined with some smokiness, are wrapped up in a spectacular cocktail that doesn’t feel overly filling. Just be careful, these are tasty and too many could lead to problems other than a Santa-sized waist. Like yelling at your mother-in-law. Again.