When it comes to holiday cocktails, a few things are critically important:
First, your holiday cocktail should have booze in it. Egg nog is wonderful, but spiked egg nog offers therapeutic benefits…especially when you’re with your family for long stretches.
Second, your holiday cocktail should warm you up…one way or another. When it’s cold outside, if your holiday beverage isn’t warming your hands because it’s piping hot, it should at least warm your belly and lift your spirits with each sip.
Finally, the best holiday cocktails are the ones you share with people you care about.
Below are 7 handpicked holiday cocktail recipes that are fun to make and absolutely delicious to enjoy during the holiday season.
1. Hot Buttered Rum
Long before the diet fad of putting butter in coffee, people were putting butter in rum…with outstanding results.
This classic holiday drink is so simple it’s almost criminal. The name pretty much sums up the ingredients: rum, butter, sugar and spices—heated and combined into a mouthwatering and hand-warming concoction.
See the full recipe on Epicurious here.
2. Hot Toddy
The hot toddy is not only a great holiday drink, it is also the cold remedy of choice in the Ingham household (seriously, it does wonders for a head cold).
The recipe is great because it’s basically a blank canvas. Some hot water or hot tea as a base, lemon, some sweetness (maybe honey, maybe sugar), and booze.
There’s almost no wrong way to make it if you have those fundamental components.
3. Mulled Wine
Wine is wonderful and puts you in a festive mood. But wine warmed and cooked with spices really launches you into full-on holiday mode.
Like most of these holiday drinks, the recipe is basic and pretty forgiving: wine, spices, and some sort of sweetness.
A recipe from David Embury’s classic book, The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks includes only the following ingredients: 1 quart wine, peel of 1 lemon & 1 orange, spices to taste, 1 tablespoon of sugar.
You can also see the recipe and video for a more involved (but extremely tasty) variation from Wellplated here.
4. Tom and Jerry
Yes, I loved those cartoons too, but this old school drink has nothing to do with a cat chasing a mouse.
As Esquire drinks expert David Wondrich says, this 19th century homemade eggnog may require “practice and a certain amount of fiddling, but it’s well worth the effort.” Extremely rich and filling, this drink gets its unique character from a “batter” of hand-whipped eggs. Basic components: eggs, sugar, brandy, rum, hot milk, and spices.
5. Spiked Mexican Hot Chocolate
With hot holiday drinks, we often think of spirits like whisky and brandy. But this drink shows off another magical liquor—señor tequila.
The balance of these flavors is terrific, with the richness of the chocolate and the heat of the cayenne and the nuances of the tequila. Basic ingredients: good homemade hot chocolate, cayenne pepper, tequila, whipped cream and cinnamon.
See the full recipe from Creative Culinary here.
6. Spiked Apple Cider Cocktail
This past Thanksgiving, my in-laws requested that I bring a “signature cocktail.” I really wanted to make something that replicated apple pie. I tinkered with a few combinations of apple cider, lemon juice, bourbon, rum and even bitters. But I was never quite satisfied.
This recipe accomplishes what I couldn’t. Basic components: apple cider, apple brandy, lemon juice, maple syrup, apples for garnish. Note: this is served cold, so you’ll need to rely on its “holiday spirit” to give you warmth.
See the recipe on HGTV.com here.
7. Easy Blender Eggnog
What would the holidays be without spiked egg nog? This slightly simpler take on the Tom & Jerry and classic eggnog is made easier by the blender. Basic components: eggs whipped in a blender, heavy cream, sugar, nutmeg, and brandy.
See the recipe from Real Simple here.
Bonus: Ridiculously Lazy Eggnog
Ok, this last option doesn’t really get a full mention. This is for those of you who’ve gotten excited reading about holiday cocktails but who know, deep down, that you’re too lazy to throw together anything fancy.
If you really lack the time or the raw ingredients, the easiest holiday cocktail is to throw some store-bought eggnog in a pan (or the microwave, I suppose), heat it up, and then add about 1-2 ounces of brandy—or really any kind of hooch you want. I would still urge you to try and grate fresh nutmeg onto it, but the pre-grated variety will work in a…pinch (see what i did there?).
Conclusion: Great Holiday Drinks are Worth the Work
So, is it really worth the effort to make these holiday drinks from scratch?
Well, none of these recipes is really that difficult to make. And once that first tasty sip crosses your lips and starts warming your belly, you’ll know it was all worth it. Because that’s when it really starts feeling like the holidays.
If you also want to mix in some “non-holiday” classic cocktails this season, you can also check out these recipes here.
Wherever you are, whatever you celebrate, whatever you might be drinking (spiked or not), I hope you’re sharing it with people you care about. Happy Holidays!
P.S. What other holiday drinks do you like? Leave a note in the comments and let me know.
Note: this post contains some affiliate links, meaning that if you purchase something I may get a small commission (at no extra cost to you).
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