23 Festive Holiday Drinks to Sip All Season Long

'Tis the season for chocolate, cream, rum, bourbon, and warming spices.


Matt Taylor-Gross

Who says holiday drinks have to be warm? We're big fans of the frozen, festive cocktail, from a chocolaty, caffeinated Bushwacker to a bright green, frozen Grasshopper topped with delicate dark chocolate shavings. That said, it's hard to beat the warming force of hot buttered rum and comforting cream after a long day skiing or snowboarding, and chef Amy Brandwein's Inverno Arancione mulled wine cocktail has gotten many of our editors through the most grueling afternoons of snow shoveling with a bit of added cheer. Read on for 23 of our editors' favorite holiday drinks for hosting a couple or a crowd.

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Frozen Grasshopper

Frozen Grasshopper Recipe
Photo by Victor Protasio / Prop Styling by Christine Keely

Andrew and Briana Volk from Portland Hunt & Alpine Club in Portland, Maine, share their take on the classic grasshopper. This frozen cocktail is infused with bracing aquavit, bringing a bite of caraway, fruity banana liquor, and cooling crème de menthe, resulting in a balanced but strong drink. Using two kinds of crème de menthe, both white and green, creates the contrast between the stark white whip and minty green drink, but either color can be used in both.

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Buttered Rum

Buttered Rum
Photo by Antonis Achilleos / Prop Styling by Christina Daley / Food Styling by Emily Nabors Hall

This luxurious, velvety drink is just the thing to sip on a cool night — and using a slow cooker makes it especially easy to pull together. Heat the cream and butter first, slowly so that the mixture doesn't break. Then whisk in dark brown sugar, followed by spiced rum, salt, and a Moroccan spice mix. The end result is a richly flavored batch of drinks perfect for entertaining.

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Sparkling Cranberry-Ginger Punch with Toasted Spices

Sparkling Cranberry Ginger Punch with Toasted Spices
Photo by Greg DuPree / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

This low-alcohol punch leans on tart cranberry juice and spicy ginger ale for a big punch of flavor, allowing the booze to take a back seat. Frozen cranberries stand in for a traditional punch ring, keeping this fizzy drink nice and cold.

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Inverno Arancione

Inverno Arancione
Photo by Victor Protasio / Prop Styling by Christine Keely

"Spiced mulled cocktails are what I crave when I want to relax in the
colder months," says chef Amy Brandwein of Centrolina in Washington,
D.C. For this recipe, the usual red wine base is replaced with Pinot
Grigio to focus on citrus and ginger. "It almost plays off the flavors
of a classic panettone, which is a winter specialty in Italian culture,"
she says.

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Homemade Eggnog

glasses of homemade eggnog
Photo by Adam Friedlander / Food Styling by Pearl Jones

You'll need brandy, dark rum, and bourbon to make this rich, creamy eggnog. Be sure to chill it thoroughly before serving, and give it a final whisk, too, to make sure everything is blended.

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Frenched Hot Chocolate

Frenched Hot Chocolate
© David Malosh

"Chartreuse and chocolate is among the world's most underrated combinations," says Bobby Heugel, co-owner of Anvil Bar & Refuge in Houston. He melds the two ingredients in this boozy, rich hot chocolate. 

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Guava Ponche with Sweet Vermouth

Guava Ponche with Sweet Vermouth

Ponche Navideño is a Christmastime spiced tropical fruit punch that's served warm with a shot of tequila in Mexico. Recipe developer Paola Briseño González's chilled riff on this holiday classic pays homage to her love of vermouth.

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Smoky Mezcal-Fig Sour

Smoky Mezcal-Fig Sour Recipe
Victor Protasio

Spicy-sweet fig-ginger syrup rounds out the smoky mezcal and bright lemon juice in this barely sweet cocktail that lets the liquor shine.

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Sticky Toffee Pudding Eggnog

Sticky Toffee Pudding Eggnog
© Wendell Webber

Cocktail consultant Eben Freeman's foamy interpretation of eggnog — infused with the sweet, caramel flavors of sticky toffee pudding, a British favorite — is halfway between a drink and a dessert. "It's thick enough to eat with a spoon," he says. "So was classic eggnog."

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Anjou Punch

Anjou Punch
Nicole Franzen

Bar director Leo Robitschek makes his perfect holiday punch with warming flavors of pear, cinnamon, and citrus.

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Walker's Mulled Wine

Walker's Mulled Wine
Greg DuPree

This version of mulled wine, from Walkers Maine restaurant in Cape Neddick, Maine, is gently infused with nutmeg, vanilla, and star anise, then lightly sweetened with honey and maple syrup.

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bottles of homemade Coquito
Photo by Jacob Fox / Food Styling by Lauren McAnelly / Prop Styling by Jessica Thomas and Susan Mitchell

Coquito, or "little coconut," is a traditional creamy rum punch served in Puerto Rico for Christmas and throughout the winter holidays. Some versions include eggs, but this recipe takes its richness and viscosity instead from coconut cream and three types of milk. Warming spices and white rum add aroma and flavor.

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Surprise Fix

Surprise Fix

Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Melissa Gray / Prop Styling by Lydia Pursell

Floral, sweet St-Germain and bittersweet fresh grapefruit juice round out a shot of Waterpocket Distillery's Long Lost Minthe, an unsweetened peppermint botanical spirit with minty, herbal, and citrus pith notes. It's only available at Utah state liquor stores or directly from the distillery, but it can be substituted with a range of liqueurs, including Vicario Monk's Secret and Dampfwerk Distilling's The Helgolander. 

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Champagne Holiday Punch

Champagne Holiday Punch
© Tina Rupp

Mixologist Erick Castro created this terrifically light sparkling punch. Malted grain–based genever adds whiskey-like depth while Créole Shrubb brings in warmly spiced orange notes.

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Maple-Bourbon Smash

Maple-Bourbon Smash
Michael Turek

Richly flavored dark amber maple syrup combines with citrus juices and seltzer to make this lightened riff on an Old-Fashioned cocktail. 

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Earl Grey–Aquavit Spritz

Earl Grey-Aquavit Spritz
Victor Protasio

Honey simple syrup is even easier to prepare than standard simple syrup; just vigorously stir together honey and water until well combined. The mellow, floral sweetness of the honey syrup pairs perfectly with a touch of lemon in this tea-infused cocktail.

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© Paul Costello

For this version of Swedish mulled wine, chef Marcus Samuelsson spikes white wine and rosé with vodka infused with cardamom and ginger. The drink is boozy, aromatic, and delicious. 

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Apple-Brandy Hot Toddies

Apple-Brandy Hot Toddies

© Rob Howard

A hot toddy is basically a shot or two of any potent spirit added to a cup of hot water. We've put a French spin on this warming drink with a slug of apple brandy, which is complemented by honey and lemon juice and garnished with a cinnamon stick.

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Apple Old Fashioned

Apple Old-Fashioned
Eva Kolenko

With a deep warmth from applejack, this variation on an Old-Fashioned lets floral honey and fresh apple flavors shine without getting overpowered. For a hot drink, combine ingredients in a heatproof glass with 2 ounces boiling water.

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Photo by Antonis Achilleos / Food Styling by Ana Kelly / Prop Styling by Lydia Pursell

The trio of alcohol in this festive iced cocktail blends into a smooth and velvety cocktail just sweet and chocolaty enough without being cloying. A generous drizzle of chocolate syrup and a bright red maraschino cherry with a dusting of ground cinnamon top off each glass.

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Blood Orange Margarita

Blood Orange Margaritas

Chef Dean Fearing calls this drink, which is a bestseller at his wife Lynae's popular Dallas restaurant Shinsei, "the fall margarita." Sweet-tart blood oranges lend an intense citrus flavor and gorgeous blush color to this beloved cocktail. If you can't find blood oranges, standard navel oranges also make a tasty margarita.

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Matt Taylor-Gross

This chocolaty, caffeinated cocktail might look like an average milkshake, but it packs a deliciously boozy punch.

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Grasshopper Cocktail Recipe

Matt Taylor-Gross

Bright green, boozy, and creamy at the same time, this classic Grasshopper (for night when the frozen recipe just isn't in the cards) packs a festive punch with a peppermint rim to boot.

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