Ready for a bold claim? The holidays are the best time for drinking all year.
We know, we know, those are big words. What about the joys of summer slushies, or the simple pleasures of red wine wednesdays? But we’re standing by it. Besides, when else can you enjoy a beverage that features butter as a main ingredient?
If you’re in the market for some great libations for your next Christmas party, Hanukkah gathering, or New Year’s Eve celebration, read on. We’ve got three perfect cocktail recipes for all your holiday parties, and we promise, there’s nary a candy cane garnish in sight.
Expecting a crowd? Nothing meets the moment quite like a flowing bowl of festive punch. Everybody loves ladling themselves a drink, and you’ll love the fact that you won’t have to shake up fresh cocktails for every duo that enters the door.
Here’s the most important thing to know about punch: One of sour, two of sweet, three of strong, four of weak. With that rhyme, you’ll be free to improvise a lifetime’s worth of your own signature punch recipes.
Let’s break it down. You’ll want to use one part of something sour. Fresh citrus juice is a good choice, like lemon, lime, tangerine, or grapefruit juice. Next, you’ll want two parts of something sweet, like a syrup or liqueur of some variety.
“Three of strong,” translates to three parts of your spirit of choice. And don’t feel confined to just a single spirit. A combination can be twice the fun, like light and dark rum, or a blend of bourbon and Irish whiskey.
Finally, you’ll finish your punch with four parts of something weak. That could be something fizzy, like a sparkling wine or ginger beer, or it could be still, like tea or apple cider. One famous punch even uses milk (it’s surprisingly delicious!).
Need a little inspiration? Here’s an elegant tea-based Christmas punch recipe from Jim Meehan to get you going. (That touch of caffeine from the green tea would make it great for New Year’s Eve, too.)
16 four-ounce servings
Green Tea Punch
- 1 ⅓ cup hot green tea
- 1 ⅓ cup hot mint tea
- 1 cup Demerara sugar
- 1 ¼ cups freshly squeezed lime juice
- 3 cups 2 T aged rum, such as Appleton Estate Signature Blend or Rhum JM VSOP Rhum Vieux Agricole
- Large ice block (try freezing water in a bundt pan for a classic ice ring)
- Nutmeg, for garnish
Combine the hot teas and sugar in a large punch bowl, and stir until sugar is dissolved. Add two cups of ice, and allow to melt completely. Add lime juice and rum, and stir to combine.
When ready to serve, add the large block of ice to the bowl and shave fresh nutmeg over top. Serve with a ladle and small cups.
A good Christmas drink should look just as festive as it tastes. Enter the cranberry margarita, a true triple threat of a Christmas Cocktail: 1) The tart, earthy flavor of cranberries pairs surprisingly well with tequila. 2) Lime juice, cranberry juice, and triple sec give this brilliantly pink drink plenty of pep. And 3) The fresh cranberry and rosemary garnish looks super-festive.
- 2 ounces blanco tequila, like Cimarron Blanco Tequila or Cazadores Tequila Blanco
- 3 ounces 100% cranberry juice
- 1 ounce triple sec
- 1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
- Coarse salt, scattered on a small plate
- Fresh cranberries and rosemary sprig, for garnish
Run a wedge of lime around the rim of a chilled cocktail glass to moisten, then press the rim of the glass into the coarse salt. Salt should adhere to the rim of the glass.
Next, combine tequila, cranberry juice, triple sec, and lime juice in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously, then strain into the salt-rimmed glass. Use rosemary sprig to spear 2-3 fresh cranberries, then place in glass for garnish.
Hot Buttered Rum
Is there a cozier holiday drink than Hot Buttered Rum? If there is, we don’t know about it. Plus, a batch of hot buttered rum batter will keep in your refrigerator for the entire holiday season, which means you’ll always be ready to bust out a mug of cheer on short notice.
Hot buttered rum batter (enough for 6 drinks)
- One stick unsalted butter at room temperature
- ½ cup light brown sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 tsp wintry spices of your choice (cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, allspice, star anise, ground ginger, and black pepper are all good options)
- Pinch of salt
Blend all ingredients in a mixer until well-incorporated. Store in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator.
Cocktail (serves one)
- 2 T hot buttered rum batter
- 2 ounces dark rum, such as Plantation XO Barbados Amburana Cask, or Cooperstown Distillery’s Sam Smith’s Boatyard Rum
- Six ounces hot water
- Cinnamon stick, for garnish
Add batter and rum to a mug. Top with hot water and stir to combine. Garnish with cinnamon stick.