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Thoughtful Holiday Cocktail Recipes to Make Spirits Bright

Delicious Recipes

Thoughtful Holiday Cocktail Recipes to Make Spirits Bright

Some merry music and decorations can help set the mood around the holidays, but it’s even better with a festive drink in your hand! Help get in the holiday spirit with these 10 fun and easy holiday cocktail recipes.

1. Poinsettia

Trade in your usual mimosa for the holiday season. The Poinsettia is one of the simplest (and prettiest!) holiday cranberry cocktail recipes you can make.

Serves 1

Prep Time: 5 minutes

  • 4 oz. prosecco
  • 2 oz. cranberry juice
  • fresh cranberries

Pour cranberry juice into a champagne flute. Top with prosecco. Drop in a few fresh cranberries for a pretty and extra festive touch.

2. Sugar Plum Spritz

Visions of this spritz will be dancing in your head all night! It plays with the flavors found in real sugar plums (contrary to their name, they are not just plums covered in sugar) and has a lovely balance of crisp lightness and warm spice.

Serves 4
Prep Time: 5 minutes for cocktail + 20-25 minutes for simple syrup

  • 8 oz Prosecco, chilled
  • 2 oz Aperol
  • 2 oz sugar plum syrup
  • 1 dash cardamom bitters
  • 1 plum

Sugar Plum Syrup

  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3/4 honey
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • 1 plum
  • 1 apricot
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick

Slice the apricot and one plum into quarters. In a saucepan, combine the sliced plums and apricots, honey, water, almond extract, cardamom, and cinnamon stick. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the honey is dissolved, then turn to low and cook about 5 more minutes. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Strain into a container to remove the cardamom, star anise, cinnamon stick and larger fruit pieces, then refrigerate for at least 15 minutes. You can easily make this the day before so it’s ready to mix at cocktail hour!

Wet the rims of each champagne flute and dip them in sugar. Slice second plum into small wedges and add a wedge to each champagne flute. When the sugar plum syrup is chilled, pour 2-3 oz into each flute. Top each with 1 oz Aperol, a dash of bitters, and 2 oz chilled Prosecco.

3. Very Merry Red Sangria

We’ve got a sangria recipe for every season! Transition from our fall-flavored Thanksgiving Sangria to this winter version. If you prefer white wine, try the lighter Holiday Cheer Sangria instead.

Serves 4-6
Prep Time: 10-15 minutes + chill time (2 hours)

  • 1 Granny Smith apple
  • 1 red apple (such as Fuji or Jazz)
  • 1 orange
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 Anjou pear (can also use Bartlett or Bosc)
  • ½ c cranberries
  • ½ c pomegranate seeds
  • 1-2 cinnamon sticks
  • 3-4 whole cloves
  • 2 T maple syrup
  • ¼ c cranberry juice
  • ¼ c apple cider
  • ¼ c sparkling water
  • ¼ c triple sec
  • ½ c brandy
  • 750 ml bottle of red wine, such as Garnacha or Pinot Noir

First, prepare your fruit. Dice the apples and pears into small pieces with the skin on. Cut the orange and lemon in halves. Slice one half of each into thin wheels.

Add half of the diced apples, cranberries, and pomegranate seeds to a large pitcher along with the maple syrup and juice from the intact lemon and orange halves. Cush with a muddler or wooden spoon, then stir. Add orange and lemon wheels, diced pear, cinnamon sticks, cloves, and the remaining apples, cranberries, and pomegranate seeds. Pour in the cranberry juice, apple cider, brandy, triple sec, and red wine, then stir to combine. Add sparkling water and additional maple syrup to taste. Stir it again to incorporate all of the ingredients.

Chill at least two hours before serving. When ready, ladle it into glasses with plenty of fruit in each one, and enjoy!

4. Red & Green Gin & Tonic

Deck your typical gin & tonic with red cranberries and green rosemary to turn it into a festive affair!

Serves 2
Prep Time: 5 minutes for cocktail + 20-25 minutes for simple syrup

  • 4 oz gin
  • 6 oz tonic
  • 2 oz rosemary simple syrup
  • 4-6 fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 6-8 fresh cranberries

To make rosemary simple syrup, combine the water, sugar and rosemary sprigs in a saucepan. Heat until simmering and the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and let it cool to room temperature. Remove the rosemary sprigs. Transfer the syrup to the refrigerator, and chill for about 15 minutes. Make it ahead of time for easier, in-the-moment bartending.

To serve the cocktail, fill two rocks glasses with ice. Pour 1 oz of the sage simple syrup and 2 oz of gin into each glass, then top with 3 oz of tonic. Give it a quick stir. Add a sprig of rosemary and a few cranberries to each glass for a festive red and green display!

5. Tangerine-Mint Margarita

With the right ingredients, a margarita can hang with other winter holiday cocktail recipes. Tangerine does the trick in this merry marg!

Serves 2-3
Prep Time: 10 minutes

  • 4 oz fresh tangerine juice
  • 4 oz blanco tequila
  • 2 oz triple sec
  • 2 oz lime juice
  • 2 oz simple syrup
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1 T tangerine or lime zest
  • Tangerine wheel
  • Mint leaves
  • Ice

To make sugar the rim, combine sugar with the zest of a lime or tangerine. Pour it onto a small plate. Wet the rim of 2 to 3 glasses with citrus juice, then dip each into the sugar, turning the glass to cover the rim.

Combine the tangerine juice, tequila, triple sec, lime juice, and simple syrup in a shaker with ice. Shake to mix and chill ingredients. Pour it into the sugared glass, over ice if preferred. Add a tangerine wheel and mint leaves to garnish.

6. Santa Clausmopolitan

Your guests won’t be able to resist this cleverly-named cocktail by Delish. Leave one out for Santa, and you’re sure to make the Nice List. Ho, ho, ho!

Serves 2
Prep Time: 5 minutes

  • 3 oz vodka
  • 3 oz cranberry juice
  • ½ oz triple sec
  • ½ oz fresh lime juice
  • ½ c fresh cranberries
  • Lime wedge, for rim
  • Sugar, for rim

Run a lime wedge around each martini glass, then dip it in sugar. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, then add vodka, cranberry juice, triple sec, and lime juice. Shake until the cocktail shaker is cold. Divide the drinks between rimmed glasses and add cranberries for garnish.

7. Winter Spice Old Fashioned

Add this jolly riff of an Old Fashioned to your repertoire of holiday bourbon cocktail recipes.

Serves 1
Prep Time: 5 minutes for cocktail + 20-25 minutes for simple syrup

  • 2 oz bourbon
  • ½ oz spiced simple syrup
  • 2 dashes orange bitters
  • 1 dash aromatic bitters
  • Orange peel
  • Cinnamon stick for garnish

For Spiced Simple Syrup

  • 1 c brown sugar
  • 1 c water
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 2 whole nutmeg
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick

To make spiced simple syrup, combine the water, sugar, and all the spices in a saucepan. Heat over medium-low until simmering and sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Strain out spices. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill for about 15 minutes.

In an old-fashioned rocks glass, add the bourbon, spiced simple syrup, and bitters, and stir to combine. Add ice and stir until cool. Squeeze the orange peel to release the oils, and add the peel to the glass along with a cinnamon stick to garnish.

8. Fig & Vanilla Bean Fizz

Tis the season for festive sips! Try this delicious vanilla bean and fig cocktail — it’ll make your and your guests’ list of the best holiday cocktail recipes you’ve ever had!

Serves 1
Prep Time: 5 minutes for cocktail + 25-30 minutes for simple syrup

  • 3 oz gin
  • 1 oz fig and vanilla bean simple syrup
  • 4 oz tonic
  • Fresh figs for garnish
  • Thyme sprigs

For Fig and Vanilla Bean Simple Syrup:

  • 1 c chopped figs
  • ½ c sugar
  • ½ c water
  • 1 vanilla bean, cut in half and seeds scraped

For the simple syrup, add all the ingredients to a small saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook until the figs break down (about five to seven minutes) while stirring frequently. Let the mixture cool, then strain the liquid.

Add gin, simple syrup and lemon juice to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously, and then pour it into two ice-filled cocktail glasses. Top each with 2 oz tonic. Garnish with sliced figs and thyme sprigs, and serve.

9. Peppermint White Russian

Meet the boozy relative of the Peppermint Mocha! Just as fall goes hand-in-hand with the iconic flavors of a pumpkin spice latte, the holiday season isn’t complete without the classic zing of peppermint. And what better way to get your peppermint fix than in this easy and delicious Peppermint White Russian!

Serves 2
Prep Time: 5 minutes

  • 4 oz vodka
  • 4 oz coffee liqueur
  • 4 oz peppermint schnapps
  • 2 oz cream or half-and-half
  • Whipped cream (optional)
  • Mini candy cane

Combine vodka, coffee liqueur, schnapps, and cream in a shaker with ice. Shake it until chilled and pour the mixture into a mug or rocks glass. Top it with whipped cream (optional but encouraged) and a candy cane.

10. Classic (Spiked) Eggnog

Last but not least is the pinnacle of all classic holiday beverages: spiked eggnog! Once your eggnog is made, you can add as little or as much “spiked” as you’d like! This recipe uses rum, though it’s more than acceptable to substitute a good bourbon, brandy, or even vodka!

holiday eggnog

Serves 4-6
Prep Time: 20-25 minutes + chill time (2 hours)

  • 6 egg yolks
  • ¾ c sugar
  • 2 c whole milk
  • 1 c heavy cream
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ c rum (optional)

Separate the egg yolks into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add sugar and beat together until mixture is smooth and fluffy.

Combine the milk, nutmeg, and cinnamon in a saucepan and warm on low heat until steaming (do not simmer or boil), stirring frequently.

While still warm, pour half of the milk mixture very slowly in a thin stream into the egg mixture while whisking constantly to temper the eggs. Continue whisking for several minutes after the mixture is incorporated. Then, slowly pour the milk and egg mixture back into the saucepan to combine with the remaining milk mixture, stirring constantly to prevent curdling. Cook slowly, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens.

Remove from the heat and stir in the cream. Strain out any curdled bits, if any. Stir in the vanilla extract and rum (or omit rum if desired). Chill completely before serving. Pour into mugs or glasses and sprinkle it with cinnamon.

Enjoy Your Holiday Cocktails at Painting with a Twist

The best way to spread holiday cheer is to share your holiday spirit — and spirits! — with the ones you love. Invite your friends to a painting event at your local Painting with a Twist to enjoy your holiday cocktails while you paint a festive painting and share an unforgettable holiday experience!

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