With Thanksgiving behind us, the countdown to Dec. 25 has officially begun. From hunting for the perfect gift to tracking down hard-to-find ingredients to make your favorite holiday recipes, you may get a little thirsty along the way and find yourself in the market for a seasonal sip. Thankfully, the holidays bring with them a number of wonderfully delicious, succulent flavors that complement a number of equally fantastic imbibes.
The Twisted Holiday Cosmo
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While the Cosmopolitan is by no means considered a Christmas cocktail, it does celebrate one of the season’s most popular ingredients: cranberries. The Twisted Holiday Cosmo kicks the classic up a notch by adding citrus spice syrup infused with cinnamon sticks and cloves, which gives the cocktail a delightfully festive flair.
The Grown-Up Thin Mint
While Girl Scout season doesn’t officially kick off until January, it’s never too early to celebrate the scientific achievement that is the Thin Mint cookie. Coincidentally, chocolate and mint are two of Christmas’s most important flavors, making the Grown-Up Thin Mint an ideal holiday recipe. Bourbon blends beautifully with Vandermint — a mint-chocolate liqueur hailing from Holland — to create the Thin Mint’s signature chocolaty flavor. The drink is rounded out with the addition of Brancamenta, a mint liqueur, and a bit of vanilla almond milk for added succulence.
The Winter Mist
Those who prefer their seasonal sips on the lighter side should look no further than the Winter Mist. Featuring Byrrh — an aperitif made from wine — as its base, the cocktail is infused with a layer of spice from the addition of Amaro Sfumato, which is characterized by its smoky woodsiness. A dash of Weatherby’s saffron orange bitters brings a further seasonal essence to the drink, all balanced by a touch of crème de cassis. The best part? A bit of bubbly. Finish this tipple off with a bit of tonic water and Cava, and it’s ready to serve.
The Burro Caldo
For many, the winter months mark a transition from the chilled, iced beverages of months past toward warmed beverages to keep our hands, and souls, warm when the weather takes a turn. The Burro Caldo from Marta — Union Square Hospitality Group’s popular New York City pizza restaurant — is a great place to start for those seeking a hot cocktail this holiday season. To make your own, combine a rum-nocino mixture with boiling water and one bar spoon of unsalted butter before garnishing with vanilla-infused whipped cream and a cinnamon stick to serve.
The Cranberry Apple Hot Toddy
The Hot Toddy is by and far one of the most beloved winter cocktails for its tasty flavor profile and its ability to fight the common cold. The classic drink is given a seasonal lift when its usual hot water is replaced with warmed apple and cranberry juices to complement the vanilla-scented bourbon. The resulting tipple is spiced up and perfect for enjoying individually or during all of your holiday hosting.
Drinking in a Winter Wonderland
If just walking in a winter wonderland isn’t enough for you, this year, you can drink in one as well. This Christmas cocktail combines gin, rosemary simple syrup, grapefruit juice, and lime juice for a zippy holiday imbibe sure to carry you through the month of December.
The Winter Margarita
While many may believe the Margarita is best suited for the warmer months, the Winter Margarita proves them all wrong. The classic recipe undergoes a seasonal twist with flavors like spiced pear and cranberry added to the traditional Margarita’s flavors. The two holiday staples are accentuated by tequila’s vanilla, caramel, and baking spice notes that round out the cocktail’s flavor profile beautifully. Plus, when the glass is rimmed with a salt and chili mixture, an additional level of warmth is added for the ideal wintry sipper.
The Brandy Holiday Sour
If you love the flavors of mulled wine but don’t have enough time to simmer a pot on the stove, try mixing up a Brandy Holiday Sour instead. The cocktail features a brandy base, which provides a nice complement to festive ingredients like cranberry and orange juice. Plus, in true sour fashion, a shaken egg white provides a wonderful foaming head that will keep you coming back, sip after creamy sip.
The Cranberry Sauce Gin and Tonic
Cranberry sauce may be one of the most controversial holiday dinner sides, but there’s nothing questionable about the Cranberry Sauce Gin and Tonic. Created by Jonny Swet, co-owner of JIMMY at The James, this holiday sip evokes a nostalgic feeling, with two heaping bar spoons of cranberry sauce flirting with gin’s signature botanicals. The end result is a sessionable cocktail perfect for whipping up at any holiday party.
The Wintry Night
This Christmas quaff merges slightly spiced cinnamon flavors with lively sparkling rosé for a potable that’s easy to make and easier to enjoy. Simply add extra brut sparkling rosé to a white wine glass before adding sweet vermouth, simple syrup, and blood orange bitters. The resulting cocktail is well balanced, easy-drinking, and sure to add a bit more effervescence to this year’s holiday.
The Christmas Eve of Destruction
The Christmas Eve of Destruction is the optimal cocktail for those of us lucky enough to travel to the tropics this holiday season — or for those of us who wish we were soaking up the sun’s rays. Developed by Joann Spiegel of Cocktail Kingdom, this sip combines overproof rum, Benedictine, lime juice, and bitters with a seasonally appropriate nutmeg syrup for a sip that’s certain to receive Santa’s stamp of approval.
The White Chocolate Negroni
In a year where Negronis took center stage in the world of trends — looking at you, Negroni Sbagliato with Prosecco — it’s only appropriate to try this Christmassy riff on the beloved classic. This spec swaps out gin in favor of whiskey, which is mixed with equal parts Campari and dry vermouth. The seasonal elevation comes from one bar spoon of white chocolate syrup like Monin or Torani, which adds succulence to the traditionally bitter cocktail, bringing out some of whiskey’s more subtle sweetness.
The Frozen Eggnog
Even if eggnog isn’t your favorite winter beverage, there is no denying its place at the Christmas table. This recipe, developed by Will Benedetto and Refinery Rooftop, is an easily batched concoction ideal for serving at your next holiday party or for storing over the course of the holiday season. Cinnamon and nutmeg bring out the spices present in Pyrat XO Rum in the creamy beverage, which tastes best when chilled overnight before serving.
The Second Summer
Bubbly drinks need not only be relegated to the summer months. The Second Summer combines the brightness of a summertime spritz with classic winter flavors like rosemary, cloves, and juniper berries for a zippy imbibe to carry you through the end of December. To make your own, add gin, orange liqueur, cranberry juice, cloves, and fresh rosemary to a shaker before shaking until well combined. Pour over ice and top with Prosecco before garnishing with juniper berries, cloves, and an extra rosemary sprig to serve!
This Christmas, impress your guests with your mixology skills by swapping out the tired Espresso Martini in favor of an imaginative Tiramisu Tini. The Italian dessert-inspired ‘tini, developed by Tony Roehr of San Diego’s Raised by Wolves, is a spiced up and easily quaffable cocktail that makes the perfect nightcap. To whip up one of your own, combine Mr Black Cold Brew Coffee Liqueur and Diplomatico Exclusiva Reserva Rum with cinnamon syrup and aquavit to a shaker. Shake vigorously before straining into a coup and topping with a whipped cream float and a sprinkling of cocoa powder.
The Orchard Street
Developed by Stuart Weaver and Colin Whelehan of Denver’s Lady Jane cocktail bar, the Orchard Street blends holiday flavors like cinnamon, allspice, and clove with gin’s classic botanicals for a lively Christmas dram. The palate is enlivened with bright Honeycrisp apple juice and Lambrusco, which round out and add a further layer of flavor to the tipple, making this a sip you’ll certainly want to savor.