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 Last week, the New York Times went as far as labeling different cocktail philosophies (a neo-classicist might make an outdated recipe with a cutting-edge twist, while a liquid locavore mixes drinks with local spirits) and nodding to amateur cocktail makers whose passion for syrups or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.