Every cocktail fan has a favorite holiday drink—and bartenders are certainly no exception. To help inspire your mixological creativity we asked five top bartenders from across the country for their favorite seasonal recipes.
From a rich Ardbeg Scotch and apple cider concoction to a delicious Belvedere Vodka and cranberry spin on a classic Moscow Mule, you’ll hopefully find something that you’ll love and add to your recipe repertoire. Happy Holidays!
“I love serving this drink during the holidays because the tequila gives me a tropical vacation feel,” says top bartender Karl Franz Williams. And “the menthe and the rosemary bring me home for the holidays.” He suggests serving this Volcán De Mi Tierra Tequila Blanco-based cocktail after dinner but it’s also pairs well with fish and seafood. “It’s a true staycation in a glass.”
By Karl Franz Williams
- 2 oz Volcán De Mi Tierra Tequila Blanco
- .5 oz Creme de menthe
- .25 oz Yellow Chartreuse
- .75 oz Rosemary Simple Syrup*
- .75 oz Lime juice
- 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
- Garnish: Rosemary sprig
- Glass: Rocks
Run a lemon wedge along half of the outer rim of a rocks glass. Dip the moistened rim into a dish of black sea salt. Add all of the ingredients to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake, and strain into the prepared rocks glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish with a rosemary sprig.
*Rosemary Simple Syrup: 4 rosemary sprigs, quart of water, quart of sugar. Steep the rosemary sprigs in a quart of water in a saucepan over low heat for about 30 mins, tasting along the way. Remove the rosemary sprigs and add an equal amount of sugar. Stir until the sugar is fully dissolved. Strain into a clean bottle.
“I love having a welcome drink to kick off a holiday gathering, and this one is light and bright, but with familiar seasonal notes,” says veteran bartender Meaghan Dorman. “Bubbles immediately say festive, and the comforting stone fruit, vanilla and cinnamon notes complement the occasion.” She likes to pair this twist on a classic French 75 with dried fruit, a cheese and charcuterie board, or salty snacks. “I would serve this before a meal, as people are mingling and having their first cheers of a party.” Dorman’s advice for hosts is to “make sure to have plenty of chilled bubbly on hand for refills and keep the Hennessy Cognac ready for nightcaps!”
By Meaghan Dorman
- 1 oz Hennessy VS Cognac
- .75 oz Lemon juice
- .5 oz Cinnamon syrup*
- .5 oz Apricot liqueur
- 2-3 oz Moët & Chandon Impérial Brut Champagne
- Glass: Coupe or flute
Add all of the ingredients, except the Champagne, to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake, and strain into a coupe or flute. Top with Moët Brut Imperial Champagne.
*Cinnamon Syrup: 2 cups cane sugar, 1 cup hot water, 4 cinnamon sticks. Add the sugar and water to a mixing glass and stir well to dissolve the sugar. Add the cinnamon sticks and allow the syrup to infuse overnight. In the morning strain into a clean bottle.
“Holiday drinks are my favorite style of drink,” says award-winning bartender Jeffrey Morgenthaler. “I get super excited about those fall and winter flavors, and this drink is full of them.” His delicious and original creation, the Flannel Shirt, features spirits stalwart Ardbeg 10-Year-Old Scotch Whisky as well as fresh apple cider, amaro and lemon juice. “I’ve been serving it for nearly a decade, and it was designed to be the ultimate holiday cocktail,” he says. Whip this up after a big holiday meal or as a nightcap. “I’m pretty traditional in the way I drink, so I like to start light and end heavy.”
By Jeffrey Morgenthaler
- 1.75 oz Ardbeg 10-Year-Old Scotch Whisky
- 1.5 oz Fresh apple cider
- .5 oz Amaro
- .25 oz Fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp Demerara syrup (two parts sugar, one part water)
- .5 tsp St. Elizabeth allspice dram
- 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
- Garnish: Orange peel
- Glass: Old-Fashioned
Add all of the ingredients to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake, and strain into an Old-Fashioned glass filled with fresh cracked ice. Twist the orange peel over the surface of the cocktail and drop in the drink.
“I love a cocktail that hits on the winter notes we are all looking for this time of year while still being light and refreshing,” says acclaimed bartender Veronica Correa. “It’s a twist on the classic Moscow Mule, dressed up with Champagne and a homemade syrup.” She likes to serve the Belvedere Vodka-based Holiday CEO before dinner as an aperitif and pair it with appetizers like goat cheese-stuffed and bacon-wrapped dates. “A little sweet and savory to balance out the brighter notes in the cocktail,” she says. And if you want to take the recipe to the next level, while the cranberry syrup simmers just add some seasonal spices, like cinnamon, anise or allspice.
By Veronica Correa
- 1.5 oz Belvedere Vodka
- 1 oz Ruby red grapefruit juice
- .5 oz Cranberry syrup*
- 1 oz Ginger beer
- 2 oz Sparkling wine
- Garnish: 3 Cranberries and a rosemary sprig
- Glass: Highball
Add all ingredients to a highball glass and fill with ice. Stir, and garnish with three cranberries and a rosemary sprig.
“I love making Eggnog during the holidays because it’s something only enjoyed a handful of times during the year, which makes it that much more special,” says acclaimed bartender Sharon Yeung. Her Glenmorangie Scotch Whisky-based spin on the classic drink pairs beautifully with traditional seasonal desserts like shortbread cookies. “I’d serve it after a meal, since it is quite decadent. However, speaking from experience, I’ve been known to enjoy them before and after.”
By Sharon Yeung
- 1.5 oz Glenmorangie The Original 10 Year Old Scotch Whisky
- .5 oz Amontillado sherry
- dash Absinthe
- 1 oz Holiday Spiced Syrup*
- .5 oz Heavy cream
- 1 Whole egg
- 1 Orange peel
- Garnish: Freshly grated nutmeg
- Glass: Holiday mug
Add all of the ingredients to a shaker and shake without ice. Add ice and shake again. Double strain into a festive holiday mug and garnish with some freshly grated nutmeg.
- .5 Cup Water
- .5 Cup Demerara sugar
- 3 Cinnamon sticks
- 2 Whole cloves
- 2 Whole allspice berries
- Fresh ginger (size of a quarter)
- Small pinch salt
Heat up all the ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook for 15 minutes. Take off the heat and let cool completely. Strain into a clean bottle and store in the refrigerator until ready to use. It’s good for two weeks.