The menu is set. You’ve got Bing Crosby crooning Christmas carols in the background. The house is glistening with lights and tinsel from top to bottom. It’s officially holiday party season.
Before your first guests trickle through the front door, there’s something else you might want to consider: your drink list. Holiday cocktails are the perfect way to set the evening’s festive tone—simply hand your guests something special when they arrive, and they’ll know they’re in for a spectacular evening. Here are our picks for some very merry holiday drinks.
Mulled Wine With Cranberries
RealSimple’s mulled wine with cranberries recipe puts a tantalizingly tart twist on the seasonal classic, and it’s super easy to whip up. Combine cranberry juice cocktail and sugar over heat and spice it up with a few cinnamon sticks and some star anise. Mix it together with some dry red wine, and sprinkle in a few cranberries for an extra festive feeling.
Pear and Sparkling Cider Cocktail
Pear is an extremely underrated holiday ingredient that deserves a little extra attention. Shine the spotlight on pear with Martha Stewart’s pear and sparkling cider cocktail. Mix together pear nectar, sparkling apple cider (another seasonal classic), some seltzer, and the secret ingredient: bourbon whiskey. Toss in a slice of pear for good measure.
Christmas only comes around once a year, so you may as well go all out. That’s the idea behind Trisha Yearwood’s gingerbread martini—it takes a little extra effort to prepare, but the results are well worth it. Start by cooking up a gingerbread syrup using sugar, water, cinnamon, cloves, and fresh ginger. Mix it in with an Irish cream liqueur, a coffee liqueur, some vodka, and some softened vanilla ice cream. Shake it all up, and serve it topped with whipped cream and crushed gingerbread cookies. Watch your guests’ eyes light up as you serve them these little marvels.
Spicy Rum Punch
If you’re looking for something dark and flavorful, look no further than this spicy rum punch. Start with a cranberry-pineapple juice and add in crystallized ginger, black peppercorns, star anise, and a few cinnamon sticks. Bring your concoction to a boil, then let it cool. Strain the mix and stir in some ginger beer and a good dark rum. Pour yourself a glass, curl up by the fire, and enjoy.
This traditional English hot mulled cider will warm your insides even on the coldest nights. Alton Brown’s twist on the classic requires a little legwork on your part, but the result is like no other. Start by cooking some apples stuffed with brown sugar—avoid the temptation to gobble them up right away. While they’re cooking, heat up some ale and Madeira (a fortified wine), adding in cloves, allspice, and cinnamon. Separate some eggs and prepare the whites and the yolks. Put it all together, and you’ll have a drink like no other.
Calling all eggnog enthusiasts: you must try Uncle Angelo’s recipe for eggnog. This is way better than the store bought stuff: you’ll need separate eggs, sugar, whole milk, heavy cream, bourbon, and spiced rum. Hey, we didn’t say it was healthy—but this isn’t the season to practice restraint!