Recipes
5 Christmas Cocktails to Serve at This Year’s Holiday Celebration
‘Tis the season for gift giving, gathering, and really good cocktails.
12-15-2021
Samantha Block

What’s a holiday party without a good cocktail? Whether you’re planning a holiday get-together or keeping things quieter this year, we’ve got a delicious concoction to fit your style. If you’re looking for some cocktail inspiration, check out our top 5 cocktails for Christmas.

From left: Holiday Punch for a Crowd, Eggnog, Mulled Red Wine, Horchata Borracha, and Tart Breaker.

1. Holiday Punch for a Crowd

Big batch cocktails are essential for any holiday gathering. Google “holiday punch” and you’ll be given endless recipes. Unfortunately, most of them are kitchen sink–type recipes, dumping whatever is left over from the holidays into a bowl, with typically disastrous results. For our punch, we wanted a clean, simple recipe with a bit of sweetness but without too much muddled flavor. For a neutral yet flavorful juice, we chose white grape. Our Fruits of the Forest Liqueur gave this drink a deep, mysterious berry flavor as well as a pretty color. A hint of orange liqueur rounded out the fruity sweetness. (We even took into consideration how long it will last: If you plan to let the punch sit in the bowl for longer than 30 minutes, we recommend adding six large ice cubes to keep it properly chilled.) → GET THE RECIPE

2. Eggnog

Does it get any more Christmas-y than eggnog? Unlike store-bought eggnog, which is often watery and pumped full of sugar, our ideal nog is creamy, just a touch sweet, and fortified with a definite note of spirits. Cooking the eggnog resulted in a velvety texture and put to rest any safety concerns about serving uncooked eggs. Opting for heavy cream over milk and whipping half of it before adding it to the eggnog made for a richer sip. Dark rum was our go-to booze for this recipe as it packed a punch without overwhelming the other flavors. But feel free to use bourbon or brandy if you prefer! → GET THE RECIPE

3. Mulled Red Wine

We wanted a mulled wine recipe that would not be too sweet and that would have a mild alcohol kick and deep but not overwhelming spice notes. For full, round flavors, we chose a careful balance of cinnamon sticks, cloves, peppercorns, and allspice berries, then toasted the spices to unlock their full potential. Then we added a medium- to full-bodied red wine that we enjoyed drinking, plus a modest amount of sugar. We had to simmer the wine for a full hour to ensure a full-flavored drink that didn’t taste raw, and just before serving we stirred in a couple of spoonfuls of brandy for a fresh, boozy kick. → GET THE RECIPE

Buy the Book

150 FOOLPROOF RECIPES How to Cocktail

The first-ever cocktail book from America’s most-trusted test kitchen includes essential, canonical classics; twists on old favorites; and brand-new test kitchen creations.

 

4. Horchata Borracha

This cocktail tastes like you’re drinking an almond-flavored rice pudding. The traditional milky drink of horchata is typically made by steeping raw rice, and sometimes various nuts or seeds, in water with warm spices, then blending the mixture to creamy goodness. Our borracha (“drunken”) version started traditionally enough, but we found that adding almonds to the rice base lent more complex flavor and a creamier feel to the beverage. Letting our mixture of water, almonds, sugar, rice, vanilla, and cinnamon soak overnight not only softened the nuts and rice (making blending easier) but also deepened the flavor infusion. The addition of heavy cream helped make the horchata even creamier. Our spirit of choice for our Horchata Borracha was clear: The lighter body and tropical toasted-sugar flavors of white rum were ideal. → GET THE RECIPE

5. Tart Breaker

Calling all holiday tequila lovers! For a cocktail made with our Mixed Berry Shrub Syrup, we decided to pair tequila with floral berry flavors, the shrub syrup bringing sufficient sweetness to enable us to forgo any additional sweetener. Lime juice gives the cocktail a little zing, while seltzer provides a lovely effervescence. You can use blanco or reposado tequila in this recipe; reposado will provide more nuanced aged and oaky notes to the drink, while blanco will create a brighter and more tequila-forward cocktail. This cocktail is refreshing. The color alone is sure to bring you some holiday cheer! → GET THE RECIPE