The holidays are upon us and I have nine amazing holiday cocktail recipes to help you get through… I mean celebrate… the holidays!
Today we are making holiday cocktails with the flavors and colors of the season! We’ll use red cranberries and pomegranates, green rosemary and mint, white and red peppermint, and the combination of citrus with spices like clove, cinnamon, and anise. Mmmmmm. We’ve had a lot of fun in the test kitchen this week, a few we had to try twice just to make sure it was still delicious! Work, work, work.
Before we get started, two things…
First thing… Don’t be afraid of the POMEGRANATE!
Lets talk pomegranates. The seeds have a rich red color and are delicious as a garnish in drinks. So how do you get the seeds? If you’ve never worked with a fresh pomegranate before, the unknown could be a bit intimidating…but it’s really so easy!
Wear a shirt that can be stained red (if you are messy in the kitchen like I am). The pomegranate is juicy and messy and will stain.
Cut off the top stem then cut the pomegranate in half from the top down. Some people prefer the scoring method, but for me this goes quicker.
Break apart the half pomegranate to release the seeds (best to do this over a large bowl). Use your fingers or a spoon to help release the seeds if they don’t pop out.
Separate out the seeds and done!
Second thing… Welcome to the new and exciting world of TONIC SYRUP!
Many of the standard brands of tonic water you find at the grocery store are full of high fructose corn syrup and low on flavor. A few new brands, like Q Tonic, have started using quality ingredients and created a better tasting tonic water, but my new favorite tonic water solution is tonic syrup. Tonic syrups vary by bitterness and flavor giving you more control over the quality and flavor of your cocktail. Just add your choice of tonic syrup (and soda water) to your favorite gin and see what a difference it makes! We did a taste test with the Grand Cran recipe and the Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. tonic syrup version was MUCH tastier than the standard tonic water version.
Most stores have not caught on to this trend yet, so you may not find it at your local liquor store. In fact I was getting a lot of strange looks from people at Whole Foods and the local liquor store when I asked if they had it, but I had no trouble finding it online. Thank you internet!
There are so many things I love about this drink:
- You can make it in large batches so you don’t have to mix individual drinks and be stuck behind the bar all night.
- It has a deep red color.
- The rosemary garnish looks like a little Christmas tree.
- The sugar rim looks like snow!
- If you don’t want to serve it as a martini, try it over ice with tonic syrup and soda…it’s delicious!
- 2 cups chilled vodka
- 1 cup Cointreau
- 1 cup pomegranate juice
- Juice of 1 lemon
- White sugar
- Pomegranate seeds
- Lemon twist from peel
- Rosemary sprigs
- Combine vodka, Cointreau, pomegranate juice, and lemon juice in pitcher. Stir and chill in fridge.
- Sugar the rim of a martini glass (or rocks glass if serving over ice with tonic) by dipping rim in water then rolling in white sugar.
- Pour mixture into glass and add a tablespoon of pomegranate seeds, a lemon twist, and a rosemary spring for garnish.
- Serve immediately.
Original drink recipe found on foodiecrush.
The Grand Cran
This is not your typical G&T! A few weeks ago we wandered into a tasting room for the Sweetgrass Winery & Distillery, a local micro distillery, and discovered Cranberry Gin. We bought a bottle and couldn’t wait to start testing out recipes. Our favorite so far is from the Sweetgrass website, but we substituted tonic syrup and soda water for tonic water.
While this particular gin is not available throughout the US, a variation of this recipe would be to use a quality gin and a small amount cranberry juice with the Grand Marnier, tonic syrup and soda water.
- 2 oz Cranberry Gin (or 2 oz gin plus 1 oz cranberry juice cocktail)
- 1 oz Grand Marnier
- 1 oz Tonic Syrup
- 4-5 oz Soda Water
- Fill old fashioned glass with ice.
- Add ingredients and stir.
- Garnish with whole cranberries.
Original drink recipe found on Sweetgrass Winery.
Winter Sea Breeze
Another pretty drink with Christmas colors! We thought this might taste to “summery” to be a holiday drink, but the flavors in the tonic syrup keep it in perfect balance and a great alternative to typical holiday beverages.
- 1 oz vodka
- 1 oz grapefruit juice (fresh squeezed preferred, but I have to admit I used store bought)
- 1/2 oz tonic syrup
- 2 oz soda water
- 1 tablespoon pomegranate seeds
- sprig of mint
- Fill an old fashioned glass with ice (3/4 full)
- Add vodka, grapefruit juice, and tonic syrup and stir.
- Add soda water.
- Garnish with pomegranate seeds and mint sprig.
Original drink recipe found on Catch My Party.
Here is it! Christmas and dessert in a glass! This will definitely bring a smile to your holiday guests with it’s peppermint, white chocolate, and vanilla flavors and the beautiful presentation of the creamy white drink with a peppermint rim and candy cane garnish!
- 4 oz white chocolate liqueur
- 2 oz vanilla vodka
- 2 oz half and half
- 1/4 tsp pure peppermint extract
- smashed candy cane pieces (crush candy canes in zip close bag with rolling pin)
- “Sugar” the rim of a martini glass by dipping it in water then rolling the rim in the crushed candy cane pieces.
- Fill cocktail shaker 2/3 full with ice, then add white chocolate liqueur, half and half, vanilla vodka and peppermint extract.
- Shake until mixed and chilled, then strain into martini glass.
- Garnish with small candy cane and serve immediately.
Original drink recipe found on A Spicy Perspective.
Don’t you just love a drink that’s alcoholic AND makes the house smell like Christmas? I do! It smells wonderful and you can make a big batch ready for everyone to help themselves so you can get back to enjoying the day.
- 1 bottle red wine (I used a pinot noir)
- 1/4 cup brandy
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 orange sliced (I did wedges, but round slices would look better)
- 8 whole cloves
- 2 large cinnamon sticks
- 2 star anise
- Wrap cloves, cinnamon sticks, and star anise in a cheese cloth.
- Add wine, brandy, honey, orange, and spice bundle into large saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes.
- Strain to remove orange and spice bundle, then return wine to saucepan.
- Serve warm with garnish of fresh orange slice, cinnamon stick, and star anise.
Original drink recipe found on Gimme Some Oven.
This is a great combination of sweet and sour with strong port flavors but lighter than what you expect from a glass of port. It will warm you from the inside out.
- 1 part London dry gin
- 1 part tawny port
- 2 dashes of orange or angostura bitters
- Orange peel garnish
- Freshly grated cinnamon
- Stir gin, port, and bitters in an old fashioned glass over ice.
- Grate cinnamon on top and garnish with orange peel.
Original drink recipe found on Marie Claire.
This cocktail made our testing group very happy! It has a beautiful red color and an interesting combination of flavors that work beautifully together. Depending on your tastes, you can adjust the tartness/sweetness of this drink by the kind of cranberry juice that you use. For a more tart drink, use Just Cranberry (cranberry juice only). For a sweeter drink, use cranberry juice cocktail (like Ocean Spray). We made the tart version and we thought it was just right.
- 1 oz Domaine de Canton (ginger liqueur)
- 1/2 oz Cabernet Sauvignon
- 1/2 oz Chambord
- 2 oz Cranberry Juice (mix or straight, depending on your preference)
- Fill shaker 3/4 full of ice, add all ingredients and shake well.
- Strain into martini glass.
- Garnish with whole cranberries.
Original drink recipe found on Marie Claire.
This recipe combines the flavors of bourbon, cranberry, and lemon with just the right amount of sweetness. It calls for basic simple syrup, so I saw it as an opportunity to add more flavor by using honey instead of white sugar and infusing the simple syrup with lemon and cranberry. It adds to the full flavor to the drink
Make the simple syrup:
- Bring a handful of cranberries, the peel of one lemon, 1/2 c honey, and 1/2 c water to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat.
- Reduce heat to a simmer until cranberries burst.
- Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
- Once cool, strain into air tight container and store in fridge for up to one week.
- 4 1/2 tablespoons bourbon
- 1 1/2 tablespoons cranberry juice (cocktail)*
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons cranberry and lemon infused honey simple syrup (instructions above)
- Shake all ingredients well over ice and pour (with ice) into an old fashioned glass.
- Garnish with cranberries and/or lemon peel.
*Alternate recipe: If you use tart 100% cranberry juice instead of cranberry juice cocktail, then double the amount of simple syrup.
Original drink recipe found on The Speckled Palate.
Mom’s Hot Buttered Rum
This is one of my favorites. Give me a snowy day, a warm fire, Christmas music playing, and a mug of Hot Buttered Rum to sip with family around the Christmas tree. Aaahhhh. This recipe comes from my mom who has been making it since I was a kid (the non-alcoholic version for us kiddos, of course). You can make a big batch of the mix and leave it in the freezer so it’s ready to go whenever you want!
- 1 pint vanilla ice cream (softened at room temperature)
- 1/2 lb butter (room temperature)
- 1 lb dark brown sugar
- 3/4 t. cinnamon
- 3/4 t. nutmeg
- 3/4 t. allspice
Combine all in blender until well mixed, move to an airtight container and store in the freezer until ready to use.
- 1 heaping tablespoon of Mix (recipe above)
- 2 oz spiced rum (I prefer Queequeg Rum from Maine Craft Distilling… Mmmmmm)
- 3/4 cup hot water
- Add 1 heaping tablespoon mix and 2 oz spiced rum to mug.
- Top with 3/4 c. hot water and stir until mix is dissolved.
- Top with whipped cream and ground cinnamon (optional)
- Garnish with cinnamon stick
I hope you are inspired to try some new flavors this holiday season!