6 Traditional Holiday Cocktails
Among the many holiday traditions to look forward to each year are favorite cocktails and punches. From eggnog and wassail to the Winter Margarita, these classic Christmas drinks are as inherent to holiday celebrations as decorating the tree and delicious baked treats.
Of all the holiday cocktails a glass of homemade eggnog is as traditional as mistletoe. It’s a luscious, creamy drink that we look forward to when December rolls around. Eggnog is not difficult to make from scratch and it’s much tastier than store-bought options. Plus, there are many recipes to choose from, including big-batch and quick, single-serve eggnogs, even nonalcoholic and vegan versions. There really is eggnog for everyone!
Prep: 10 min
Total: 1 hr and 20 min
Yield: 4-5 servings
2 c. milk
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon, plus more for garnish
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
6 large egg yolks
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 c. heavy cream
1 c. bourbon or rum (optional)
Whipped cream, for serving
- In a small saucepan over low heat, combine milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla and slowly bring mixture to a low boil.
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk egg yolks with sugar until yolks are pale in color. Slowly add hot milk mixture to egg yolks in batches to temper the eggs and whisk until combined.
- Return mixture to saucepan and cook over medium heat until slightly thick (and coats the back of a spoon) but does not boil. (If using a candy thermometer, mixture should reach 160º.)
- Remove from heat and stir in heavy cream and, if using, booze.
- Refrigerate until chilled.
- When ready to serve, garnish with whipped cream and cinnamon.
“Love and joy come to you, And to you your wassail, too” Christmas tradition once included caroling and—as one popular song suggests—bowls of wassail. It was a fun way to share the holiday spirit with family and friends and something often missing in modern culture. Wassail is a warm holiday punch filled with aromatic spices. Choose from a brandy and sherry recipe, or one with rum and beer. Either way, adding wassail to your holiday celebration is sure to make it memorable.
Prep: 20 min
Total: 20 min
Yield: 15 servings
1 cup water
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (ground)
1/4 teaspoon ginger (ground)
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
5 to 6 cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
2 750ml bottles dry sherry
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brandy
3 egg yolks
6 egg whites
Garnish: apple slices
- In a saucepan, combine the water and spices. Simmer over low heat for 10 minutes, without allowing it to reach a boil. Stir occasionally.
- Add the sherry and sugar and continue to heat and stir for a few minutes, ensuring the sugar dissolves completely. Remove from the heat.
- In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks. Beat the egg whites in a separate bowl.
- Stir the warm sherry mix and egg yolks together in a heat resistant punch bowl or wassail bowl.
- Add the brandy.
- Whisk in the egg whites until foamy.
- Garnish the punch bowl with apple or other fruit slices.
- Serve and enjoy!
Hot buttered rum may be the most comforting of holiday drinks. It is warm, spicy, and buttery smooth with a rum base, so it’s very hard to resist and the recipe is unbelievably simple. Make up a large batch of the butter batter and it will be ready whenever holiday guests stop by.
Prep: 5 min
Total: 2 hr and 20 min
Yield: 4 servings
BUTTERED RUM BATTER
4 tbsp. butter, softened
3 tbsp. packed brown sugar
1/2 c. vanilla ice cream, softened
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 c. apple cider
1 c. rum
- Make the Buttered Rum Batter: In a mixing bowl, beat butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in ice cream and cinnamon, then spoon into a mason jar or resealable container. Store in freezer until mostly hardened, about 2 hours or until ready to serve.
- Make the Drinks: In a medium saucepan, heat cider until boiling, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and pour into a pitcher or easy-to-serve container.
- Place about 2 tablespoons of buttered rum batter into each mug. Fill about 1/3 of the way up with rum, then top with hot apple cider. Stir before serving.
Margarita’s don’t have to be relegated to summertime drinking. Tristan Willey of Long Island Bar makes a version that combines tequila, mezcal, and egg white for a wintery take.
1 oz reposado tequila
1 oz mezcal
1 oz lime juice
3/4 oz simple syrup
1 egg white
Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into salt-rimmed coupe.
Summer may have sangria, but winter is the time for mulled wine. It is, without a doubt, the coziest way to enjoy wine during the holidays. A bottle of red wine, a hint of brandy, and some holiday spices will quickly fill your home with the Christmas spirit of days gone by.
Prep: 15 min
Total: 45 min plus chilling
Yield: 5 servings
1 bottle (750 ml) fruity red wine
1 cup brandy
1 cup sugar
1 medium orange, sliced
1 medium lemon, sliced
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cinnamon sticks (3 inches)
1/2 teaspoon whole allspice
1/2 teaspoon aniseed
1/2 teaspoon whole peppercorns
3 whole cloves
Optional garnishes: orange slices, star anise and additional cinnamon stick
- In a large saucepan, combine first six ingredients. Place remaining spices on a double thickness of cheesecloth. Gather corners of cloth to enclose spices; tie securely with string. Place in pan.
- Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat; simmer gently, covered, 20 minutes. Transfer to a covered container cool slightly. Refrigerate, covered, overnight.
- Strain wine mixture into a large saucepan, discarding fruit and spice bag; reheat. Serve warm. Garnish as desired.
Holidays are about celebrating and sometimes you have to bring out the bubbly and do it up in style. That is where the poinsettia comes in. Few sparkling drinks are as magical as this star of the cocktail world. The recipe requires three ingredients: orange liqueur, cranberry juice, and Champagne. There are no special tools or techniques, either. All you have to do is pour, serve, and enjoy the memories.
1/2 ounce Cointreau
3 ounces cranberry juice
- Put the Cointreau and cranberry juice in a chilled champagne flute.
- Stir them together.
- Top the rest of the way with champagne.