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Here are the best holiday cocktails for Christmastime

Need a festive cocktail for the holiday stretch? Look no further than this esteemed list of recipes

As 2022 winds down and the holidays really set in, the opportunity for a good, festive drink presents itself more often than usual. Makes sense, as this time of year is really about loved ones, gratitude, gatherings, and catching up. A constant throughout this deceptively busy time of year is the cocktail.

Sure, we love a good stout and a bracing glass of Sauvignon Blanc. But special occasions call for special drinks. And some of the most special around come in the format of the cocktail. What, with their decorative garnishes, vivid colors and flavors schemes, and cool, corresponding glassware, it’s arguable the best time of year for one.

Now, by all means enjoy hot cocktails and mulled wine. Treat that eggnog to some rum or a few drops of tequila. But when you’re really ready to celebrate the season in style, look to the following cocktails.

Here are 15 of the best holiday cocktails for celebrating all things worth celebrating this December.

Flight of the Highlanders

Flight of the Highlanders.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

(Created by Mixologist Eric Ribeiro)

A crowd-pleaser on many fronts, this cocktail looks cool and really stretches the palate with its mix of earthy, spicy, sweet, and tart.

Ingredients

Method

  1. In a pitcher with fresh ice, combine The Singleton of Glendullan 12-Year-Old, chili liqueur, fresh lemon juice, maple syrup, and fresh cranberry-apple juice.
  2. Stir well.
  3. Serve in highball glasses over fresh ice and fill to top with brut Champagne.
  4. Garnish with cranberries. Serves 6.

Cuban Winter

Cuban Winter Cocktail.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

(Created at sbe’s HYDE Sunset, Beverly Hills)

Ah, to be in Havana in the winter. Go there with this tidy mix of rum, deservedly-trendy apricot liqueur, maple syrup, and herbs.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 ounces Bacardi 8
  • 1/2 ounce apricot liqueur
  • 3/4 ounce lemon juice
  • 3/4 ounce maple syrup
  • 3 sage leaves
  • Lemon disc and sage leaf

Method

  1. Add sage leaves and liquids to shaker and muddle.
  2. Add ice, shake, and strain into a glass with ice.
  3. Garnish with lemon disc and sage leaf.

Kremas

Kremas Cocktail.
Raoul Beltrame

We’re keeping the “pretending we’re elsewhere” theme alive this holiday season with Kremas, the traditional Haitian drink that will produce instant joy to the beholder.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of cream of coconut sweetened
  • 2 cups of condensed milk
  • 2 cups Rhum Barbancourt 
  • 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • 4 teaspoons fresh lime juice 

Method

  1. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients thoroughly.
  2. Pour into a glass container or glass bottle and refrigerate until serving. It can also be served over ice.
  3. Always shake the bottle or glass container before serving.
  4. Store in the refrigerator. This recipe should yield about 6 cups.

The Negrete

The Negrete Cocktail.
Candace Molatore

(Created by Alfredo Climaco, Tropicale, Portland)

Sadly, the pandemic took cocktail genius and Tropicale owner Alfredo Climaco from us (RIP). Try out one of the late, great’s favorites with The Negrete, a relatively simple but powerful cocktail.

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces Mezcal Joven Union
  • 1 ounce Campari
  • 1 ounce sweet vermouth
  • 10 milliliters chocolate bitters

Method

  1. Add ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice.
  2. Stir and strain over ice.
  3. Garnish with a twist of orange peel.

Pear Brandy Collins

Pear Brandy Collins in Glass.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

We love a good Collins cocktail. This one is an appetizing curveball, taking on brandy and the lovely late-fall and early-winter-ness of pear.

Ingredients

Method

  1. Shake brandy, lemon juice, and simple syrup and strain over ice.
  2. Top with soda and garnish with a lemon wedge.
  3. Serve in a highball glass.

Peach Toddy

hot toddy recipe.
Anfisa Kameneva / EyeEm / Getty Images

Is there anything more satisfying during a lazy winter evening than a Toddy? Try this peach-inspired riff.

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces Kettle One Peach and Orange Blossom
  • 1 peach teabag
  • 1 large lemon wedge
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 dash orange bitters
  • 4-5 ounces hot water

Method

  1. Add vodka, bitters, teabag, cinnamon stick, and honey to a mug.
  2. Top with 4-5 ounces of hot water and stir to dissolve honey.
  3. Let sit for 3 minutes, then remove teabag.
  4. Squeeze large lemon wedge into mug and discard.
  5. Stir to incorporate all ingredients.
  6. Garnish with a lemon wheel, in glass, and enjoy.

Coco’s Cocoa

Coco's Cocoa cocktail.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

(Created by Nomi Park, Wayfinder Hotel, Newport, Rhode Island)

A good hot cocktail can truly do wonders, like this Rhode Island-born take on hot cocoa.

Cocoa Ingredients

  • 2 quarts heavy cream
  • 1 quart Hershey’s chocolate
  • 1/2 quart water
  • 1/2 quart brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne
  • 2 teaspoons allspice
  • 8 cinnamon sticks

Method

  1. Combine all ingredients in a pot and cook for 45 minutes over medium heat.

The Drink

  •  1 1/2 ounces bourbon
  • 6-8 ounces cocoa
  • Cayenne pepper, whipped cream, and chocolate for garnish

Method

  1. In a mug, add bourbon and cocoa.
  2. Garnish with whipped cream, shaved chocolate, and a pinch of cayenne pepper.

Villa One Apple Cider Manhattan

Apple Cider Manhattan.
@Mattmiscostudios

(Created by chef Julian Rodarte)

A timely take on the Manhattan, this drink is rounded out by apple, orange, the dark fruit of sweet vermouth, and woodsy tequila.

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces Villa One Añejo
  • 3/4 ounce apple cider
  • 1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 1 dash orange bitters
  • Apple slices for garnish

Method

  1. Add all ingredients to a bar beaker with ice and stir for 20 seconds.
  2. Strain out cocktail into a coupe glass and serve up.
  3. Garnish with apple slices.

Montenegro Hot Toddy

Montenegro Hot Toddy.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

(Created by Harry McNamara, Urban Cowboy Lodge)

Another tasty take on the Toddy, this one utilizes the singular flavor of Montenegro alongside sherry, bourbon, brandy, and more.

Ingredients

  • 1 ounce Amaro Montenegro
  • 1 ounce Old Forester Bourbon
  • 1/4 ounce Laird’s Apple Brandy
  • 1/2 ounce Lustau East India Solera Sherry
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
  • 2 ounces water
  • 1/4 ounce cinnamon syrup
  • 1/4 ounce lemon juice

Method

  1. Combine all ingredients excluding cinnamon syrup and lemon juice, and heat to near boiling.
  2. In a mug, add the cinnamon syrup and lemon juice, then pour heated mixture into the mug.
  3. Top with a tiny dollop of whipped cream, an orange star and shave fresh nutmeg over top.

Home for the Holidays

Home for the Holidays cocktail.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

This may be a serve-chilled cocktail, but the warming syrup, made from cinnamon and clove, will thaw you to the bone.

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces Broken Shed Vodka
  • 3/4 ounce cranberry juice
  • 1/2 ounce cinnamon-clove simple syrup*
  • 1/4 ounce orange curaçao
  • 1 dash orange bitters
  • Optional: blood orange seltzer
  • Cranberries, rosemary, cinnamon stick and star anise for garnish

Method

  1. Combine all ingredients except soda in a shaker over ice.
  2. Shake to chill.
  3. Strain into a rocks glass over a large ice cube and top with seltzer. Or double-strain into a chilled martini glass.
  4. Garnish as you see fit. For a more festive feel, freeze cranberries into your ice cubes the day before making the cocktail.

*Cinnamon-Clove Simple Syrup: Dissolve 1 cup sugar in 1 cup hot water. Add 2 cinnamon sticks and 10 whole cloves. Let seep for 30 minutes. Strain out solids and store in a glass bottle in the refrigerator.

The Madeline

The Madeline cocktail.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

(Created by Candra Drinks)

Brandy, sherry, and elderflower — what else could you possibly need for the holidays?

Ingredients

  • 2 parts brandy (Cognac recommended)
  • 1 1/2 parts Amontillado Sherry
  • 3/4 part elderflower liqueur

Method

  1. Add all ingredients to mixing glass.
  2. Fill mixing glass with ice and stir until it’s ice cold.
  3. Strain into a Coupette glass.
  4. Garnish with a dehydrated lemon wheel.

Posada Ponche

Posada Ponche cocktail.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

This punch is packed with warming notes and the deep citrus tones of blood orange. If you have access to fresh apple cider, it’ll be all the better.

Ingredients

  • 1 ounce Tequila Cazadores Añejo
  • 1/2 ounce blood orange puree
  • 1 package of apple cider
  • 5 ounces hot water
  • 2 star anise
  • 5 ounces hot water

Method

  1. In a mug, combine apple cider, hot water, blood orange puree and mix well; add the rest of the ingredients and serve.
  2. Garnish with orange peel.

Sicilian Espresso Martini

Sicilian Espresso Martini.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

(Created by Linden Pride, Dante, NYC)

Espresso Martini’s are still all the rage right now. This one separates itself from the pack with some southern Italian flair.

Ingredients

  • 1 ounce Averna
  • 1/2 ounce Espolón blanco
  • 1/4 ounce dark crème de cacao
  • 1/2 ounce orgeat
  • 1 1/2 ounces cold espresso
  • 3 dashes chocolate bitters
  • Coffee beans for garnish

Method

  1. Combine all ingredients in tin, shake hard, and strain into a coupe glass.
  2. Garnish with coffee beans.

Cointreau Cosmo

JoJo's Cosmo cocktail.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Get with the program, people — Cosmos are not just for fans of Sex and the City. That’s especially the case with a well-made version of the classic, like this number.

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 3/4 ounce Cointreau 
  • 1/2 ounce lime juice 
  • 1/2 ounce chai ginger syrup*
  • 3/4 ounce egg whites 
  • 2 dashes of cranberry bitters

Method

  1. Combine all ingredients in a shaker, add ice, and shake.
  2. Strain into a cosmopolitan glass.
  3. Garnish with lime.

*Chai Ginger Syrup: Stir ½ cup sugar and ½ cup of water in a saucepan over the stove until sugar is dissolved and mixture is hot. While still hot, add 1 chai teabag and 1 tablespoon of fresh minced ginger. Let seep for 10 minutes, strain, and cool.

Admiral of the Fleet

Admiral of the Fleet cocktail.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Gin loves tea and vice versa and the marriage is all the better during the height of citrus season, with some fresh-squeezed lemon.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 ounces Darley’s Original Gin
  • 3 ounces Rooibos tea
  • 1/2 ounce honey simple syrup (1:1)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 cinnamon stick

Method

  1. Brew 100mL of Rooibos tea, store in the fridge.
  2. Make a batch of honey simple syrup, bring to a simmer until the honey has dissolved, then cool in the fridge.
  3. Add all of the above ingredients into a cocktail shaker and ice.
  4. Shake and strain into the cocktail glass.
  5. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.
Topics
Mark Stock
Mark Stock is a writer from Portland, Oregon. He fell into wine during the Recession and has been fixated on the stuff since…
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