Tis the season to celebrate. And what better way than to sip and savor a craft cocktail? We hope that these seven special holiday libations will bring some sweetness and spice into your family’s festivities.
1. Gin Hot Toddy
A typical Hot Toddy includes brandy, rum, and whiskey, but gin offers a beautifully botanical alternative. When warmed, the gin becomes so aromatic that no tea is needed in this delightfully delicious “after-dinner sipper” presented by The Spruce Eats.
- 1.5 ounces gin (use a high-quality brand to make the most of the botanicals)
- 3/4 ounces fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 ounces hot water
- Cinnamon stick to garnish
Using a heat-resistant wine goblet, brandy snifter, or glass mug, add gin, lemon juice, and sugar. Add hot water and stir well to dissolve the sugar. Garnish with a cinnamon stick. Cozy up by the fire and enjoy!
2. Mistletoe Martini
Equal parts festive, colorful, and delicious, the Mistletoe Martini may become a new year-round favorite. Sweet, tart, and tangy, this specialty cocktail from Davio’s Italian Steakhouse in New York City was featured in Town and Country Magazine along with other holiday martinis.
- 1.5 ounces of your favorite vodka
- .75 ounces cherry brandy
- Juice of one lime
- Sprig of rosemary
Rim a martini glass with sugar. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice and add vodka, lime juice, and brandy. Shake until chilled. Strain the mixture into the glass. Spear one or two raspberries onto the rosemary sprig as a garnish.
3. Cape May Mule
Crafted by the Ebbitt Room at the Virginia Hotel in Cape May, New Jersey, this signature libation blends cranberries, lime juice, and ginger beer to create a distinctly holiday flavor. This Christmas creation is featured in Town and Country’s 26 Christmas Cocktails list.
- 2 ounces vodka (Absolut Elyx recommended)
- Fresh cranberries
- Ginger Beer (Fever Tree makes an excellent one)
- Fresh lime
In a copper mule mug, muddle the cranberries. Fill the mug 2/3 full of ice, adding in the vodka, ginger beer, and freshly squeezed lime juice to taste. Garnish with whole cranberries.
4. Christmas Old Fashioned
A classic cocktail with a Yuletide twist, the Christmas Old Fashioned uses rye whiskey as the base spirit with a fresh cranberry simple syrup to add a tart holiday taste. This old fashioned favorite cocktail is featured in Gastronomblog.
- 2 Ounces Rye whiskey
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
- 1-ounce Cranberry simple syrup
- Orange wedge
- 3 Cranberries, plus extra for garnish
Using a rocks glass, add sugar to the rim. Crush the cranberries in the glass (don’t muddle). Add the rye and simple syrup, top with bitters, and stir. Add ice as desired and garnish with the orange slice and a few cranberries.
To make the cranberry simple syrup:
- Combine 2 cups granulated sugar and 2 cups water in a small saucepan over low heat.
- Stir until sugar dissolves.
- Bring to a simmer and remove from heat.
- Stir in the cranberries and pour into a heat-safe bowl.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours.
- Remove the cranberries by draining using a colander or sieve.
- Store the liquid in an airtight jar, bottle, or container in the refrigerator.
This dazzling champagne cocktail carries over from the holidays into the New Year. This simple recipe from The Spruce Eats comes together quickly with only three ingredients and is sure to be enjoyed for its bubbly blend of sweet and citrus.
- .5 ounces premium orange liqueur (Cointreau or Grand Marnier)
- 3 ounces cranberry or pomegranate juice
- 3 ounces sweet Champagne, Prosecco, or cava
- Rosemary sprigs and whole cranberries for garnish
Chill all ingredients before making this cocktail. Add orange liqueur and cranberry or pomegranate juice into a chilled Champagne flute. Stir well. Top with Champagne or sparkling wine of your choice. Enjoy!
To create a non-alcoholic version, use sparkling grape juice in place of Champagne.
6. Spiced Mexican Hot Chocolate
Deliciously decadent, this rich holiday hot cocoa is crafted from 70% dark chocolate, infused with cinnamon, and topped off with bourbon. Children can enjoy a non-alcoholic version; keep some aside, adding the vanilla but not the bourbon. Featured in Country Living.
- 4 c. whole milk
- 2 c. half-and-half
- 1/2 c. dulce de leche
- 2 Cinnamon sticks
- 10 oz. 70% dark chocolate, finely chopped
- 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp. Kosher salt
- 1/2 c. bourbon
Whisk together milk, half-and-half, dulce de leche, and cinnamon sticks in a large saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Once the mixture is heated through, remove from heat, cover, and let sit for ten minutes. Return the mixture to medium heat and bring to a simmer. Gradually whisk in finely chopped dark chocolate until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and stir in pure vanilla extract, kosher salt, and bourbon, if a boozy version is desired. Discard cinnamon sticks. Serve warm in mugs. Top with whipped cream (optional).
7. Wassail Mulled Cider
Wassail is hot mulled cider enjoyed as part of an English tradition called wassailing, celebrated to ensure a bountiful apple harvest. Warm, crisp, and cozy, this Food Network recipe creates enough to be enjoyed over numerous evenings or during small, socially distant holiday gatherings.
- 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- 6 cored Fuji apples
- 4, 11.2-ounce bottles of English hard cider, such as Strongbow
- 2, 12-ounce bottles of English pale ale
- 2 cups apple cider
- 1 cup Madeira
- 10 whole cloves
- 10 whole allspice berries
- 4 cinnamon sticks
- 2 wide strips of orange zest, plus orange wedges
- 2 wide strips lemon zest
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (freshly grated)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Spoon sugar into the cored center of each apple. Please apples in a 9-inch square baking dish filled with one cup of water. Bake until tender, 60-90 minutes.
Add hard cider, pale ale, apple cider, and Madeira to a large pot, bringing to a gentle simmer. Add in cloves, allspice, cinnamon sticks, and orange and lemon peels (enclose in a tied piece of cheesecloth). Add in ginger and nutmeg to liquid. Reduce heat to low, allowing spices to steep for about an hour.
Add cooked apples and juices to the pot, stir to combine. Remove the cheesecloth spice bundle. Serve warm in mugs with orange slices and cinnamon sticks as a garnish. Add a splash of brandy, if desired.
May your holidays be filled with health, joy, and delicious drinks!