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Have Yourself a Merry Little Cocktail: Holiday Drink Recipes

Posted by Man Crates on

In his holiday classic, A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens wrote “There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.” He was right. And as a Victorian who enjoyed a tipple, Dickens knew that a good way to get a good laugh going was with a good cocktail. In this season of holiday parties, with family and friends visiting, some of whom are more Scrooge than Tiny Tim, it is wise—no, essential—to be armed with some good and festive cocktails to keep both Bah-Humbug-ers at bay and cheerful spirits cheery. Read on for some happy holiday recipes to start the season on the right note.

Classic Eggnog

Mmm, egg milk punch, a holiday classic! Despite it sounding slightly horrific when using its historical name, eggnog is truly a holiday favorite, most likely for the other ingredient not acknowledged in the title: Booze.

What to use

  • 4 egg yolks
  • ⅓ cup sugar, plus 1 tbsp.
  • 1 pint whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 oz. bourbon
  • 1 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 4 egg whites

How to use it

Beat the egg yolks in the bowl of a stand mixer until they lighten in color. Gradually add the ⅓ cup of sugar and continue to beat until it’s completely dissolved. Add milk, cream, bourbon and nutmeg and stir to combine. Beat egg whites in a stand mixer to form soft peaks. With the mixer still running gradually add the 1 tbsp. of sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Whisk the egg whites into the mixture. Chill. Sprinkle with cinnamon or freshly grated nutmeg to serve. Serves 6-7.

Old Fashioned Glögg

Glögg is pronounced gloooog, which is a fun thing to say. It’s also fun to make and drink. This mulled wine made with spices, red wine, port, and brandy is particularly satisfying after a hard day in the cold shoveling snow or snowboarding or even curling, if that’s your sort of thing.

What to use

  • 1 bottle dry red wine (Pinot Noir or Zinfandel)
  • 1 bottle port
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 ½ cups Cognac, brandy, rum, or vodka
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 10 cardamom pods
  • Zest of 1 orange, sliced into strips
  • 2 sticks cinnamon
  • 10 teaspoons raisins
  • 10 teaspoons blanched almonds
  • 5 slices peeled fresh ginger
  • Granulated sugar

How to use it

Mix wine, port, water, Cognac, orange zest, cardamom, cinnamon sticks, cloves and ginger in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over then immediately reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat to let cool and cover and refrigerate for at least 12 hours (up to 24 hours). Strain the mixture and discard solids. Reheat over low heat (don’t boil) and stir in enough sugar to taste. Add a teaspoon of raisins and a teaspoon of almonds to each mug, fill and serve. Serves 10.

Hot Buttered Rum

Nelson’s blood, kill-devil, demon water, pirate's drink, navy neaters, Barbados water. Those are some of the interesting nicknames for rum. None of that has anything to do with hot buttered rum, a tasty belly warmer sure to please any holiday guest, but now you know some fascinating rum trivia. You’re welcome.

What to use

  • ⅔ cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
  • ⅛ tsp. ground cloves
  • Pinch salt
  • ¾ cup dark rum
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 4 sticks cinnamon for garnish

How to use it

Using an electric mixer, beat the brown sugar, butter, honey, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt in a medium bowl until blended and smooth. Transfer to a 4-cup (or larger) measuring cup. Add the rum and then 2 cups of boiling water. Stir until the mixture dissolves. Pour into mugs, garnish with cinnamon sticks and serve. Serves 4.

Holiday Mule

“I just wanted to clean out the basement.” This is the motivation that led to the creation of the Moscow Mule: A New York City bar needed to get rid of vodka and ginger beer stocks, so bartender Wes Price got busy mixing things up. This holiday version may not motivate any basement cleanings, but it will surely add some cheer to the party.

What to use

  • ½ oz. simple syrup
  • ½ oz. unsweetened cranberry juice
  • 1 ½ oz. gin or vodka
  • 2 oz. chilled ginger beer
  • 1 rosemary sprig
  • Orange slice, for garnish

How to use it

Combine simple syrup, cranberry juice, and gin, pour over ice and top with ginger beer. Serve garnished with rosemary and orange wedge, if desired. Serves one.

PRO-TIP: While its origins may have been those of desperation, drinking one of these basement beauties should be a celebration. The Moscow Mule Crate (pictured above in all its glory) has the traditional copper mugs that Moscow Mules are served in and is one of the best holiday gifts for men.

White Christmas

This drink won’t make anyone sing like Bing Crosby, but enough of these might make someone think they can sing as well as Bing, and isn’t that a fun guest to have at a party?

What to use

  • 1 bottle chilled Champagne
  • White Creme de Cocoa
  • Candy canes

How to use it

Crush candy cane in a bag until it’s a semi fine powder. Dip the rims of glasses in a small dish of White Creme de Cocoa and then in the crushed candy cane. Fill glasses ⅓ full with White Creme de Cocoa and then the rest of the way with Champagne. Garnish with a whole candy cane.

Ginger Sting

Ginger is known for having curative properties like being antioxidant, antiviral, antibacterial and a number of other antis. Scotch also has many health benefits, so this drink will probably save your life. At the very least it will make your life, and party, more flavorful.

What to use

  • 5 1-in. chunks peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup honey
  • ½ cup fresh lemon juice
  • pinch cayenne
  • pinch salt
  • 6 oz. blended Scotch

How to use it

Puree ginger and water in a blender, strain into a bowl and discard solids. Whisk honey, lemon juice, cayenne and salt into ginger juice. Stir in blended Scotch. Serve over ice. Serves 4.

Winter Bourbon Smash

Smash cocktails have always been fast and loose—some fruit, some booze, some seltzer, something sweet, a ham, kitchen utensils, whatever you have on hand. But its flexibility means it’s hard to mess up. And all those ingredients make for good flavor, so let’s make it smashing good, eh?

What to use

  • 2 tbsp. preserves (choose your flavor, any flavor)
  • 2 tbsp. bourbon
  • 1 tbsp. triple sec
  • 2-3 tbsp. orange juice
  • Orange segments
  • Club soda

How to use it

Add ½ cup ice, preserves, bourbon, triple sec and orange juice to a shaker and shake vigorously for 15 seconds. Pour into glass with a few ice cubes and top with a splash of club soda. Garnish with orange slices and enjoy. Makes one drink.

Salted Caramel White Russian

In the hectic holiday season, it would be wise to take a cue from The Dude and try and remain as calm as possible—take a hot bath, practice some Tai chi, sip on a nice White Russian. This holiday version adds some salted caramel action into the mix. The Dude would abide.

What to use

  • 1 part salted caramel coffee liqueur
  • Salt flakes
  • 2 parts salted caramel vodka
  • 1 part half and half
  • Caramel sauce

How to use it

Take the caramel sauce and use a teaspoon to slightly drizzle it in the glass, while slowly turning the glass so you get a nice swirled effect. Fill the glass with ice. Add liquid ingredients and a few ice cubes to cocktail shaker. Shake well and strain into glass. Garnish with a bit of chocolate, caramel sauce or some salt flakes. Serves one.

Citrus Whiskey Punch

Making individual cocktails for a party can be a nightmare. There is measuring and mixing and the fact that no two people will finish their drinks at the same time, meaning you spend your night mixing drinks instead of mixing and mingling and drinking yourself. Punch is an easy solution to this problem. Basically a giant cocktail that everyone serves to themselves, it only requires good ingredients and good company to enjoy it with. And a big bowl. And a ladle. But that’s it.

What to use

  • 15 lemons
  • 1 ½ cup sugar
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 cups rye or bourbon
  • 7 dashes Angostura bitters

How to use it

Using the lemons, cut 8 long strips of zest and squeeze 2 ½ cups juice. Combine lemon zest strips, sugar, cinnamon sticks, and 2 cups water in a saucepan and heat on medium until sugar dissolves, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes. Remove and discard lemon zest. Refrigerate lemon syrup until cold. Remove and discard cinnamon sticks. Stir lemon juice, syrup, bourbon or rye, bitters and 1 ½ to 3 cups cold water in punch bowl. Serve on ice, garnished with lemon twists and cinnamon sticks. Makes about 11 cups.
: Parties that have lots of people also require lots of entertainment. The Game Night Crate will help keep folks occupied with games for up to 10 players and snacks to help counteract too many Christmas spirits.

Irish Hot Chocolate

Ireland has a number of lovely holiday traditions steeped in history—leaving a lit candle in the window on Christmas eve; everyone taking a stir when making the Christmas pudding; setting said Christmas pudding on fire! This hot chocolate recipe may not be traditional, and it may sound a little nutty to mix all these ingredients together, but it is delicious and festive and highly spirited.

What to use

  • 1 12 oz. bottle Guinness
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 4 ounces milk chocolate chips
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 4 ounces Bailey's
  • 4 ounces Irish whiskey

How to use it

Cook Guinness in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat for about 10 mins. until reduced to about ½ cup and set aside. Stir cocoa with sugar and salt in a saucepan, then stir in milk and both chocolates. Heat over medium, stirring constantly, until chocolate is melted and mixture is hot. Gently whisk to combine. Add Bailey's followed by Guinness reduction and whiskey. Whisk until frothy then pour into cups and serve immediately.

Candy Cane Shooters

Wondering how to put your shot glass collection to good use this holiday season? Look no further. These mini minty treats will help get the party started and make your bulk purchase of David Hasselhoff shot glasses less regrettable.

What to use

  • 4 oz. vodka
  • 2 oz. peppermint schnapps
  • 2 oz. white chocolate liqueur
  • Simple syrup
  • Crushed candy cane

How to use it

Dip the top of shot glasses in simple syrup until rim is coated. Dip rim in crushed candy cane. In a shaker with ice, add vodka, schnapps, and the liqueur. Shake until mixed; pour into prepared glass. Sprinkle with crushed peppermint.


This traditional Puerto Rican Christmas drink is indulgent and rich and not embarrassed by its dependence on rum. Coquito is perfect for parties taking place by a roaring fire or on a beach.

What to use

  • 1 12 oz. can evaporated milk
  • 1 14 oz. can condensed milk
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 15 oz. can coconut milk
  • Salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 cups white rum
  • Ground cinnamon

How to use it

Process all ingredients in a blender for 3 minutes at high speed until frothy. Store in a glass container in the refrigerator and serve chilled topped with cinnamon and a cinnamon stick.

Whether celebrating with a big crowd, just a few friends, or by yourself, these cocktails are sure to fill everyone with holiday spirit (and spirits). Our drinking gift collection has some of the tastiest gifts for men that will also help keep holiday moods high.