3 Single-Serving Holiday Cocktails to Make Your Spirits Bright

You probably won't be ladling out cheer from a punch bowl this year. Here are three drinks to make for solo celebrations.

Hot cider, mulled wine, even eggnog: So many iconic winter drinks are usually made in big batches, the better to ladle out for holiday parties. But in 2020, our celebrations are likely a little more modest. If you’re drinking solo this year, or with just one or two companions, forgo the tureens of cider and ‘nog for more modest portions. These three single-serve cocktails will get you through the holidays—and they're no less festive for their simplicity.

Eggnog for One

Holiday Cocktails for One
Carey Jones

While some store-bought eggnog is pretty decent, freshly shaken ‘nog is lighter, more vibrant, and all-around better. And the ingredients are straightforward, too: Booze, an egg, some half-and-half, and our sweetener of choice, maple syrup. While a combination of bourbon and rum works well here, feel free to use one or the other; Cognac would be delicious, too.

Instructions: In a cocktail shaker without ice, combine an ounce of dark rum, an ounce of bourbon, an ounce of half-and-half, an ounce of maple syrup, and a medium whole egg. Shake without ice to incorporate ingredients (that’s called a “dry shake”), then add ice and shake again (“wet shake”). Double-strain into a rocks glass and garnish with freshly grated nutmeg and, if you like, a piece of star anise.

Mulled Wine for One

Holiday Cocktails for One
Carey Jones

You never thought you’d hear this in a cocktail article, but here goes: It’s okay to microwave your mulled wine. Really. (This year, at least.) While holiday parties call for a large crock of wine simmering away on the stove, you can replicate those flavors by quickly heating a decent red together with spices, and—this is key—adding a bit of great orange liqueur. (Grand Marnier would be our move here. Cointreau works, too.) For the wine, choose something fruity like a Malbec or Tempranillo. Warning: This is a pretty stiff drink, on the order of two glasses of wine. But, well, it’s that kind of year, isn’t it?

Instructions: In a small pot on the stove, or in a large heat-safe mug, combine eight ounces of red wine, six whole allspice berries and one short cinnamon stick. Heat on the stove until just simmering, or in the microwave for between 90 seconds and two minutes, until hot but not boiling. Stir in an ounce of orange liqueur and half an ounce of simple syrup. Garnish with a clove-studded slice of orange.

Hot Spiced Buttered Rum

Holiday Cocktails for One
Carey Jones

While buttered rum takes just a bit of advance prep, once you’ve made the “batter”—that’s the gloriously delicious spiced butter that anchors the drink—you have enough for four cocktails, and it’ll keep in your fridge all week. A few secret ingredients here: Vanilla ice cream gives the batter an incredible richness, while ground ginger and the littlest bit of cayenne kick in a spice that cuts through the drink’s sweetness. Make a batch today and you’ll have cocktails all week.

Instructions: To make the “batter”: In a stand mixer or in a metal bowl with a whisk (and some muscle), beat together ½ stick softened butter and 2 tablespoons vanilla ice cream until smooth. Add ¼ cup brown sugar, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1 teaspoon ground clove, 1 teaspoon ground allspice, ¼ teaspoon ground ginger powder, and ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper. Beat until smooth. This is your “batter”; store in the fridge until ready to use, for up to a week.

To make a hot spiced buttered rum: In a heatproof glass, combine two ounces of dark rum, ¾ ounce simple syrup, and two tablespoons of the hot buttered rum batter. Add four ounces of hot water and stir until batter dissolves. Optional: Garnish with candied ginger.

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