As the season of spiked eggnog and New Year's toasts heightens, so has our obsession with cocktails. No longer is the liquor-laced drink simply a prop to celebrate the season. It has become a source of self-identification. Last week, the New York Times went as far as labeling different cocktail philosophies (a neo-classicist might make an outdated recipe with a cutting-edge twist, while a liquid locavore mixes drinks with local spirits) and nodding to amateur cocktail makers whose passion for syrups or ice have led to entirely new combinations. Similarly, new recipe resources--like Chow's cocktail index or Bon Appetit's month-long cocktail calendar--have made selecting a personalized holiday punch all the easier. But if your palette needs more refining before it's ready to select a New Year's drink, we recommend happy hour at Beatrice & Woodsley, Solera, or Parallel Seventeen, where inventive cocktails are both shaken and stirred. Bonus: Sip on holiday-themed drinks such as Elway's Yule Grogg and Bistro Vendome's Santa's Go Go Juice during DINR's holiday cocktail contest. Make the rounds, and vote for your fave by December 15.