If there was ever a time to mix up your holiday cocktail traditions, it’s 2020. This unusual season is the perfect chance to test out new drink recipes and tweak old favorites.
One simple way to change things up is by swapping in rum for whiskey in some familiar concoctions. Rum, after all, was America’s first liquor love and, thanks to its rich flavor, was historically used in many holiday drinks and desserts.
With that in mind, here are four recipes, from a special Christmas Eggnog to a bubbly New Year’s sipper, that will help you say goodbye to 2020 and welcome 2021.
It’s tough to write a holiday drinks story and not include Eggnog. It’s just as hard to find someone who doesn’t have strong feelings about the drink. Buying a carton at the supermarket is certainly easy, but making your own ‘Nog is definitely worth the time and effort.
While the drink is usually made with bourbon today, traditionally it was made with rum. The recipe that pioneering bartender Jerry Thomas included in his cocktail cookbook that came out in 1862 calls for rum or brandy. See the difference between rum and whiskey for yourself by mixing up “Eggnog evangelist” Jeff Morgenthaler’s recipe that produces a smooth and silky treat.
By Jeff Morgenthaler
- 2 Large eggs
- 3 oz (by volume) Superfine or baker’s sugar
- 4 oz Rum
- 6 oz Whole milk
- 4 oz Heavy cream
- Glass: Mug or chilled glass
- Garnish: Whole nutmeg, grated
Beat the eggs in a blender or stand mixer for one minute on low speed. Slowly add the sugar and blend for one additional minute. With the blender still running, add the liquor, milk and cream until combined. Chill thoroughly to allow flavors to combine. Serve in chilled glasses or mugs, and grate nutmeg on top immediately before serving.
Eggnog, of course, is the most famous and ubiquitous holiday drink, and if you’re a fan, there’s another classic that you should really consider making (and might enjoy more): Puerto Rican Coquito.
This drink is a delicious blend of dairy, spices, coconut cream and rum. The coconut is the perfect complement to the rum and also, of course, gives the drink its name.
While it’s easily batched for a group ahead of time, it’s just as simple to scale it down for a smaller-than-usual celebration. You can also bottle it and drop it off for friends and family as a special holiday treat. Try this recipe from the island’s acclaimed bartender Roberto Berdecía. Given that few of us can travel this year, his Coquito at least gives you a taste of being there.
By Roberto Berdecía
- 15 oz Evaporated milk
- 1 Cinnamon stick
- 3 Cloves
- 2 Star anise
- 15 oz Coconut cream
- 14 oz Condensed milk
- 12 oz Gold rum
- 2 dashes Bitters
- 2 dashes Vanilla extract
- Glass: Any
- Garnish: Ground cinnamon
Add the evaporated milk, cinnamon, star anise and cloves to a small pot. Cover and simmer over medium heat for 15 minutes. Do not let it boil. Strain the evaporated milk mixture into a blender. Add the coconut cream, condensed milk and rum. Blend until it is thoroughly mixed. Add the vanilla extract and bitters, or to taste. Blend to incorporate. Funnel the mixture into empty bottles and let it chill in the refrigerator. Shake well before serving and garnish with ground cinnamon.
Cocktails don’t get any simpler or straight-forward than the Old-Fashioned. The mix of sugar, bitters and spirit is essentially the original cocktail recipe.
While it’s often now made with whiskey, the elemental formula allows a range of spirits to shine. One popular version these days, is to use rum, which pairs perfectly with the sweetness of the sugar and spiced bitters. It also pairs very well with a gingerbread cookie or a shortbread.
- 2 oz Bacardí Reserva Ocho Rum
- .25 oz Simple syrup (one part sugar, one part water)
- 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
- Glass: Old-Fashioned
- Garnish: Orange twist
Add all of the ingredients to an Old-Fashioned glass and fill with a large ice cube. Stir, and garnish with an orange twist.
We’re all looking forward to toasting the end of this year with a glass of sparkling wine—but nobody says it can’t be mixed into a cocktail. One classic choice is the mid-century cocktail, the Airmail.
At its core, the drink is a classic sour (think Daiquiri) and calls for the familiar fresh lime juice but swaps out the standard plain Jane simple syrup for the floral and waxy wonders of honey. Then, it’s topped with Champagne, for a final burst of festivity.
While the Airmail is often served in a Collins glass over ice, it’s just as good served up, especially on New Year’s Eve. And let’s face it, you deserve fancy stemware.
- 1.5 oz Aged rum
- .5 oz Fresh lime juice
- .5 oz Honey syrup (1 part honey, 1 part water)
- Champagne, chilled
- Glass: Coupe
- Garnish: Mint sprig
Add all ingredients, except the Champagne, to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake, and strain into a coupe glass. Top with chilled Champagne and garnish with a mint sprig.