Custom Cocktails for your Holiday Party 7

T. Read Richards of Oren restaurant shares holiday party-inspired drink recipes

With Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s Eve 
celebrations on the horizon, many party-givers are treating their guests to new experiences that challenge tradition. One of the newest trends is to serve a custom cocktail made specifically for the event. In case your bartending skills could use a little help, 
T. Read Richards of Oren Restaurant has shared a few of his best cocktails for you to make at home.

Cassini Sunrise

“Named in honor of the famed satellite and its final sunrise seen over Saturn this past month, Cassini Sunrise is a fun riff on the Mai Tai, with a slightly less exotic vodka base, but we’ve washed it with coconut and added sunflower seeds to ramp up the savory nutty notes and really firmly place this drink beach-side,” said Richards.

2-ounces coconut-washed vodka 
(preferably Aylesbury Duck)

1-ounce sunflower seed orgeat

.75-ounce lime juice

.5-ounce Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
 (preferably Smith & Perry Pinot Noir)

Combine all but the wine and shake with ice to mix/chill. Strain into an ice-filled old-fashioned glass and float the wine over the drink. Garnish with lavish mint sprigs.

Recipe for coconut-washed vodka: four (4) ounces coconut oil, one (1) liter Aylesbury Vodka. Lightly warm the coconut oil to liquify then add vodka. Let sit for two hours occasionally shaking the container to mix. Chill to re-solidify the oil then strain out the vodka using a tea strainer.

How to make sunflower seed orgeat: Pulverize four (4) ounces of sunflower seeds in a food processor. Combine over heat in a pot one (1) cup of sugar in the raw with one cup of water and the pulverized sunflower seeds. Bring to a boil while stirring occasionally to incorporate. Remove from heat once boil is achieved and infuse for 24 hours before straining out the solids and bottling.


“Sumac is Post-Metal is a fun and spiritous beverage extolling the virtues of the lesser-known sumac spice and the great metal band of the same name. Autumn never truly feels rung in unless you’re enjoying some savory fall spices and this drink supplies them in full force,” said Richards.

1.25-ounces sumac-infused rye 
(preferably Wild Turkey 101)

.75-ounce apple brandy 
(preferably Clear Creek brandy aged 3 years)

.5-ounce Letherbee Fernet

.5-ounce curacao 
(preferably Bauchant)

.25-ounce demerara syrup

1 dash Angostura Bitters

1 dash Winship Wormwood Bitters

Combine ingredients in a mixing glass and stir with ice to chill/mix. Strain into an ice-filled old-fashioned glass. Express a lemon peel over the drink.

How to make sumac-infused rye: Combine two (2) ounces of dried sumac berries with one (1) liter Wild Turkey 101 rye. Let sit 24 hours while occasionally shaking the container. Strain and bottle.


For a non-alcoholic drink for the under-21 guests at your party, Richards recommends, “The Yuzu Palmer – a more traditional option with a great balance between the exotic tart citrus of yuzu and southernly-loved iced tea..”

1.5-ounces yuzu juice

3-ounces black unsweetened iced tea

1-ounce demerara syrup

Combine all ingredients and shake with ice to chill/mix. Strain into an ice-filled collins glass. No garnish.

How to make demerara syrup: Combine one (1) cup of sugar in the raw with one 
(1) cup of water over heat and stir until sugar is dissolved.

Now if these recipes sound a little daunting, you can always take your party to Oren and have Richards make these uniquely-crafted cocktails for you. Richards joined Oren upon its opening this past summer after developing the cocktail program at Valkyrie in the Brady District. Oren is a progressive American restaurant in Brookside located at Center 1 on Peoria. “Our focus is on taking a singular ingredient and showcasing it through hyper-focused dishes that elevate it to something you may not have experienced before,” said Richards.

Oren is owned by Yara and Matt Amberg who moved to Tulsa after cooking at high-end New York City-area restaurants. Reservations can be made by calling 918.764.9699. Oren can be found online at