Happy Holidays readers! It’s that time of year again, a time for celebrations with family and friends with good food and of course some great cocktails! While I love spending time with family and having all of the great food for Thanksgiving and Christmas, I can’t deny a good drink to go with it. Since I turned 21 I have been more mindful of what I drink and what I like. Between discoveries of my own and some help from cookbooks from Williams Sonoma and other companies, I feel that the following list is a great collection of cocktails that are sure to spark up your holiday get-together.
This has by far been my favorite go-to drink after a long day at work or just on any random night because it is simple. At any given time my family has a pretty good stock pile of various alcohol around because we entertain a lot. Therefore finding these three ingredients is simple. I came across this recipe by chance. I was buying St. Germain (an elderflower) to be a part of another drink but they only sold it in a special packaging which contained a nice tall measuring glass to make the St. Germain Cocktail. The three ingredients in this drink are: 1 ½ parts St. Germain, 2 parts sparkling wine like Prosecco or even a Sauvignon Blanc would do, and lastly 2 parts club soda or a sparkling water if you prefer. Though simple, this drink packs a nice punch with that hint of St. Germain and of course who doesn’t like a sparkling drink?
Clementine-Brown Sugar Old-Fashioned
If you don’t like something fruity or feel too feminine holding a sparking drink, you can definitely feel manly with this old fashioned. While it takes some prep time, there is no doubt that it’s worth it. In this case, the recipe is from a Wegmans Menu Magazine. The ingredients are light brown sugar, water, clementines, vanilla extract, then you mix that in with Angostura bitters, bourbon whiskey, and some ice. According to my brother who actually drinks this, he says that it is not only delicious but that it is less fruity than a regular old fashioned. This is definitely the drink to have in your hand on a cold night sitting by the fire. The recipe for this drink is here:
- 1 cup Wegmans Light Brown Sugar
- 1 cup water
- Clementine peel, pith removed
- Juice of ½ clementine (about 1 Tbsp)
- ½ tsp Wegmans Pure Vanilla Extract
- Dash of Angostura bitters
- 2oz bourbon whiskey
- Clementine peel for garnish
Make simple syrup: Combine sugar and water in saucepan. Heat on MEDIUM-HIGH heat until sugar dissolves completely. Remove from heat. Add clementine peel: let steep at least 1 hour. Stir in juice and vanilla extract. Strain and pour into serving container. (Makes enough for 10 drinks.)
For each drink: Combine 1oz (2 Tbsp) simple syrup and angostura bitters in a rocks glass. Fill halfway with ice and stir. Add bourbon whiskey; top with more ice. Stir. Garnish with clementine peel.
Spider Cider Margarita
If you are looking for something with a little more of a kick, look no further than this sneaky devil. After trying this drink in a restaurant, I looked up the recipe when I got back that night and I have been making it ever since. This concoction is made up of 2ozTarantula Azul Tequila, 4oz whiskey sour mix, and 1oz sour apple pucker mix. The combination of color in the drinks and taste makes for a very sweet and slightly sour taste all in a very bright green package. The recipe also calls for you to rim the glass with sour apple sugar rather than salt which I prefer in my margaritas. For some this drink has been too tart or sweet but if that is a flavor that you enjoy I say go for it!
I know I said I love St. Germain but by putting two recipes using it on this list I hope you see it too. It really is a great liquor to use because not only does it smell literally like flowers it also has a great light taste. I ate at Maggiano’s recently with my mother and fell in love with this drink. I will try anything with St. Germain in it whether it is a margarita (which was delicious) a sangria or even this mixed drink they always turn out great. This cocktail is a little sweeter than The St. Germain Cocktail one but I tend to like sweet or even more tart drinks. This drink has St. Germain of course, Aperol, Lime Juice, Prosecco, and some Rhubarb Bitters. This drink is sweet and tart but evened out with the sparkling Prosecco. I had this drink with a pasta and it did not ruin or affect any flavors of my dinner. This is another cocktail that is sure to please!
- 1 oz St. Germain
- ¼ oz Aperol
- ½ oz Fresh Lime Juice
- 3 oz Ruffino Prosecco
- 2 dashes Fee Brothers Rhubarb Bitters
- Build in shaker, then add ice (3/4 full)
- Shake for 30 seconds
- Add 3 oz Ruffino Prosecco, gently roll
- Strain into chilled Collins glass filled with ice
- Garnish with lime twist
If you are one who enjoys trying new cocktails I highly recommend purchasing the Williams Sonoma cookbook, Winter Cocktails. This cookbook has a variety of drinks from cold to hot, classics to contemporary that are all delicious. One in particular that I enjoyed was a hot drink called a Nutella Melt. Now, if you haven’t tried Nutella I strongly encourage you to go out and buy some because it will change your life forever. For those of you who don’t know what it is, it is a hazelnut spread with some dark cocoa in it which you can put on bread and use in various baking recipes. There is not too much work for this recipe and it is definitely worth any effort. The cold whipped cream on top of the hot chocolate feel you get from the Nutella can satisfy anyone. I even saved the drink in a container and the whipped cream separately overnight and it was just as delicious the next day. I do recommend that you have this cocktail after dinner because the flavors won’t pair as well with a meal and should really be enjoyed with dessert or even on its own. The recipe for this drink is here:
- 4 cups whole milk
- ¼ cup Nutella
- Pinch of salt
- 6 ounces hazelnut liqueur, such as Frangelico
- 1 cup heavy cream, chilled
- ¼ cup confectioners’ sugar
- 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
Bring milk, Nutella, and salt to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring until Nutella is completely dissolved. Stir in liqueur. Turn off the heat but leave the pot on the stove while you whip the cream.
Using an electric mixer, beat cream, confectioners’ sugar, and espresso powder on medium speed in a large, chilled bowl until soft peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes. (Alternatively, beat by hand using a large wire whisk.) Ladle drink into warm cups and top with whipped cream.
Hot Apple Cider
On a cold night while making s’mores by the fire, some typical drinks include some hot chocolate or apple cider. Nothing helps on a cold night quite like some Hot Apple Cider and for those that want some sort of a buzz just add some rum such as Kraken which gives it a nice spice in addition to an already classic drink. If you don’t want the added spice, you can use any dark rum though the added spice did add a nice seasonal flavor!
This is no longer another way to describe the cheesy concoction that is Velveeta Macaroni and Cheese but rather a great hot drink to have around the holiday season. This recipe is slightly more complex with a lot of different ingredients. This is another cocktail from the Williams Sonoma cookbook, Winter Cocktails. This drink is a blend of pineapple juice, dark rum, brandy, then simmered with many different spices. These ingredients simmered together create a smell and taste that I can only describe as Fall in a glass. To pair with this drink is a pineapple garnish that is simple yet divine. The flavors already in the cocktail mixed with the spices in the pineapple make for an incredible combination. Plus, the pineapple soaks up some of the drink and is great to snack on when the glass is empty. Much like the Nutella Melt recipe, because of the flavors in this drink I do recommend that you have this as an after dinner drink because it will not pair so easily with a meal but it will definitely help warm you up on a cold night! The recipe for this drink is here:
- 12 or more (3/4-inch) cubes fresh pineapple
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon Aleppo pepper (a type of crushed pepper native to Syria)
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
Mulled Pineapple Juice:
- 1 tablespoon whole allspice berries
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon whole cloves
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 4 cups pineapple juice
- 6 ounces dark rum
- 2 ounces brandy
- 1 vanilla bean pod, split in half lengthwise, seeds scraped out
For the Pineapple Garnish: Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat broiler. Line a baking sheet with foil and arrange pineapple cubes in a single layer. Combine sugar, Aleppo pepper, ground cinnamon, and salt in a small bowl. Sprinkle pineapple cubes with sugar mixture and toss to coat evenly. Rearrange pineapple in a single layer and broil until caramelized, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer tray to cooling rack. When cool enough to handle, skewer at least 3 pineapple cubes onto each of 4 short skewers or sturdy toothpicks.
For the Mulled Pineapple Juice: Place allspice, peppercorns, cloves, and cinnamon sticks in a medium saucepan. Stir over medium heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add pineapple juice, rum, brandy, and vanilla bean and seeds and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to lowest setting and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl and discard solids. To serve, place one pineapple skewer in each of 4 heat-proof cups. Ladle juice into cups.
All of these recipes range from hot to cold and classics to the more adventurous. I hope you have enjoyed looking at a variety of cocktails to try this holiday season. Whatever you choose, I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season complete with great food and of course some great cocktails!