Holiday Drink Recipes

Mr. Booze Christmas Cocktails 2010

Well, here they are, six new picks, any of which should make spectacular libations for your home-bar entertaining this holiday season. We’re also attaching Christmas drink picks from previous years adding up to a collection perfect for under the tree. We’ll be doing this from now on with the holidays, rolling out new finds and adding them straight to the top of our list. Unwrap a few!  These are time-tested cocktails guaranteed to amplify your cheer.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from the Mr. Booze team!

Cable Car

Created in 1996 in The Starlight Room, San Francisco by Tony Abou-Ganim, this half-sister of the Sidecar would make a perfect addition to your holiday bar.

The cinnamon-sugar rim on the cocktail glass adds the festive “first-taste” experience for the drinker that they’ll associate with the holidays. Spiced rum and orange liqueur team up and create a flavor both the seasoned drinker and the curious novice will happily appreciate. Thanksgiving would be the night to unveil this 16-year-old new classic, and you can drink ‘em as you celebrate straight though to New Year’s.

Here we go –

  • 1 ½ oz Spiced Rum
  • ¾ oz Curacao
  • 1 oz lemon juice
  • ½ oz simple syrup

Shake ingredients gently in shaker w/ cracked ice till frosty cold; strain up into cinnamon & sugar rimmed cocktail glass.  To rim glass, moisten rim with lemon wedge, then dip into small plate of mixed cinnamon/sugar. Garnish with an orange twist.

Happy Jack

It’s a pumpkin martini … and I’ve been sitting on the recipe for a couple years now. I just didn’t get it; pumpkin in a drink?  Thanks, but no thanks.  But…you know how it goes, you try things, you listen to people, you read your facebook fans talkin’ ‘bout fruity drinks and Jager bombs and you start to think that maybe there is a little room for weird cocktails that you might have turned your nose up at for the past few decades. So, I made one, and guess what? … I liked it. The pumpkin puree warms the drink in that spicy way that will carry it from Thanksgiving straight through the season. The flavored vodka happens to be one of the few I enjoy. She drinks well with the sounds, smells & sights of the holidays. Like I mentioned in the beginning, it’s a pumpkin martini…. a martini that tastes like pumpkin and spice, go figure.

Here we go –

  • 2 oz vanilla flavored vodka (I use Stoli)
  • 1 ½ oz orange juice
  • 1 tbs pumpkin puree (Libby’s works for me + you can make a pie, too)
  • Pinch of cinnamon

Fill shaker with cracked ice, add above ingredients and shake vigorously till frothy and freezing. Strain up into a chilled cocktail glass and dust with a pinch of nutmeg.


Let’s be honest, we all overindulge just a bit come the holidays, and this is a cocktail created solely with overindulgence in mind. I wouldn’t stand behind my basement bar and whip up Mocha-Mints for a couple dozen guests clamoring for cocktails, but I would mix up a shaker full if my wife and I had another couple over for a holiday dinner in lieu of dessert. Sweet, surprisingly powerful and festive, this is a perfect “only during the holidays” drink to serve when the tree lights are on and just a few friends are over.

Here we go –

  • 1 oz coffee cream liqueur (Baileys is perfect)
  • 1 oz White Crème de Menthe
  • 1 oz Crème de Cacao

Shake vigorously with ice in a cocktail shaker and pour into a smallish cocktail glass rimmed with sugar and instant coffee.

Brandy Milk Punch

This is a “by yourself” holiday drink. You make one when you’re at home in the late evening watching It’s A Wonderful Life or A Christmas Carol on television. A “nightcap” with all the romantic notions the word conjures. Just nice, soothing, flavorful milk punch to cap your day while you’re waiting for Santa.

Here we go –

  • 1 ¼ oz brandy
  • ½ oz simple syrup
  • 4 dashes vanilla extract
  • 2 ½ oz milk

Shake with ice till foamy and cold. Strain into a cocktail or small old-fashioned glass. Add a dash or two more of vanilla extract and dust w/ ground nutmeg.

Yule Mule

There are a couple variations of this drink on the web, but I went with this one ‘cause I tried it and quite liked it. I’m a huge fan of the Moscow Mule and when I stumbled upon this Christmas variation, I had to mix one. Very pretty, and quite delicious, so she’s a holiday keeper in my book. Do not use ginger ale, use the ginger beer; you’ll want the peppery richness not found in the ale. Easy to mix, and unique, this seasonal sipper should slide easily into your festivities.

Here we go –

  • 2 oz rum (light or spiced, it’s up to you)
  • 2 ½ oz cranberry juice
  • ½ oz lime juice
  • Ginger beer

Mix the rum & juices together in a Collins glass, add plenty of ice & stir, pour ginger beer to fill. Garnish with a smattering of different berries.

Champagne Punch

Punches are perfect for the holidays, especially when you know you’ll be too busy to be behind the bar all night and just want to leave your guests on auto-pilot, and let them mix their own drinks. I mentioned over on Facebook that it was time to invest in a punchbowl, and here’s a perfect example as to why. A punchbowl full of good cheer is as festive as a platter of cheese puffs and some Bing Crosby carols on the record player. Last year’s Whiskey Punch recipe was a big hit in my house for our party, and this traditional Champagne Punch will go over just as well. Use an affordable sparkling wine in this one.

Here we go –

  • 6 oz lemon juice
  • ½ cup pineapple juice
  • ½ cup maraschino juice or grenadine
  • 6 oz fruit punch (you can use your imagination…I used blueberry cocktail juice)
  • 6 oz rum
  • 1 bottle of a dessert white wine (dry or sweet and not expensive)
  • 2 bottles of sparkling wine

Stir everything but the sparkling wine in your punchbowl with a large block of ice. When the bulk of your guests have arrived, add the bubbles. This recipe can be halved for smaller parties.

Christmas Martini

This one is an easy drink to mix and you can make up a batch ahead of time if you’re having guests over.  This was the first purely Christmastime cocktail I ever tried, and I still love it during the holidays. The peppermint flavor makes it a strictly seasonal drink but one most will really enjoy.

Here we go –

  • 3 oz Gin or Vodka (I prefer gin)
  • ½ oz Dry Vermouth
  • 2 capfuls Peppermint Schnapps

Shake with ice ‘til North Pole cold, strain into one of those Christmas Martini glasses you picked up on sale last year and garnish with a peppermint stick or candy cane.

Sweet and Spicy

I normally don’t lean towards the sweet in drinks.  I like the taste of whiskey, gin, and brandy.  That being said, during the holidays, I back down a little.  We entertain at home a lot, and let’s face it, more guests than not prefer the yummy factor.  A lot of folks who normally don’t drink hard spirits during the year, make exceptions in December, and I want to welcome them at the bar, too.  This drink is perfect for boozehounds and soccer moms.  It calls for Cinnamon Vodka which you can buy or infuse a bottle at home by adding 5 or 6 cinnamon sticks to a bottle of vodka and letting it sit on a shelf for 3-4 days.  I know I won’t drink a whole bottle of cinnamon vodka ever, so what I do is infuse a half bottle only.

Here we go –

  • 3 oz Cinnamon Vodka
  • ½ oz Sweet Vermouth
  • ½ oz Curacao

Shake with ice ‘til cold, strain into cocktail glass, garnish with a cinnamon stick.

Winter Mojito

I picked up this and the recipe below (Swafford) in the Nov. ‘08 issue of Imbibe. I loved both so much I had to spread the word.  It usually stays mild enough around here that mint can still be harvested from my garden, but if it’s too cold in your parts, you’ll need to buy fresh mint at the market. A holiday hi-ball or old fashioned glass only adds to the fun. It’s minty and tangy at the same time with the maple syrup addition. You’re mixing a real festive cocktail here.

Here we go –

  • 8-10 mint leaves
  • 6-8 cranberries
  • 2 oz Aged Rum (Appleton worked great for me)
  • ¾ oz Falernum
  • ¾ oz limejuice
  • ¼ oz simple or maple syrup

In a mixing glass, muddle mint & cranberries, add rest of ingredients. Shake and strain over ice in a glass and garnish with fresh mint.


Also read about this first in the Imbibe Nov. ‘08 issue.  I love this drink ‘cause it appeals to the pallet in that flavorful way lost in so many of our modern cocktails.  Strong, spicy, herbal flavors served ice cold yet seasonally appropriate nonetheless.  This is a great drink to mix at the bar when the real drinkers are present.  No need for disguising or hiding flavors with this one  —  just Applejack, Rye and a few friends working together in a positively gangbusters drink.

Here we go –

  • 1 oz Applejack
  • 1 oz Rye
  • ½ Maraschino Liqueur
  • ½ oz Green Chartreuse
  • Couple dashes of Orange Bitters

Mix with ice ‘til frosty cold, strain up in a cocktail glass and garnish with an orange twist.

Hot Buttered Applejack

Perfect hot sipper as a reward for spending the day Xmas shopping at the crowded mall.  Drop the packages on the living room floor, fire up the stereo, throw a log on the fire, and make you and yours this perfect end to a chilly, demanding day.  The recipe below makes four drinks, so you and your wife should be all set.  More of a winter relax aid than a cocktail, I look at this one as a form of therapy.

Here we go –

  • 8 oz Applejack
  • 1-Quart Cider
  • 4 tsp. Fine sugar
  • Nutmeg
  • 4 twists lemon peel
  • 4 Cinnamon sticks
  • 4 small pats of sweet butter

Heat cider to a near boil. In each of four mugs put teaspoon of sugar, cinnamon stick, twist, 2 oz Applejack and a pinch of nutmeg. Fill mugs with hot cider and top each with a pat of butter. Put feet up.

Vanilla Twist

I love vanilla throughout the year but really only enjoy it in a cocktail around the holidays. I’m from the “if I want dessert, I’ll have a piece of cake” school when it comes to drinking, but like I mentioned in my intro, sweet sided drinks have their place in December.  Vanilla beans are expensive so please feel free to chop one up to smaller sized pieces for the garnish. For a sweet drink, this one’s surprisingly complex and satisfying on that boozy level.

Here we go –

  • 3 oz Vanilla Vodka
  • 1 oz Dry Vermouth
  • 1 oz Cointreau

Shake gently or stir with ice ‘til c-c-c-cold, strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a vanilla bean.


This is just a cozy drink, plain and simple. Perfect for a party, fireside chat or to pour before a festive dinner.  The bitter sweet combination of the Campari, even as the smaller pour of the three ingredients used, really and pleasantly permeates this cocktail. This is complex holiday pick and one that drinks quite well with a soft, jazzy Christmas album. It’s another one of those old school drinks where the ingredients, while blended, really stand apart on the tongue.

Here we go –

  • 3 oz Gin
  • 1 oz Cherry Brandy
  • ½ oz Campari
  • Shake with ice ‘til cold, strain into cocktail glass and garnish with a cherry.


This is the fun one of the batch, the drink that will fetch all the “oooohs” and “ahhhhs” when you set a few up on the bar. The serious drinkers can have their Bourbon, rocks, their Martinis and Manhattans, but your guests hoping for a little holiday magic with their cheer will love this one. It calls for a flavored rum so try and pick one up during the holiday sales at your liquor store. This is a great one for a party, a cookie exchange, or any festive and fun occasion. This is a perfect drink to make a batch of ahead of time.

Here we go –

  • 2 oz Lemon Flavored Rum (citrus works fine too)
  • 1 oz Vodka
  • ½ oz Southern Comfort (you’ll just need a pint)
  • ½ oz Lemon Juice
  • ½ tsp. Dry Vermouth

Rub the rim of a martini glass with a lemon wedge and then rim the glass with granulated sugar. Shake ingredients with ice in shaker ‘til cold then strain into sugared martini or cocktail glass. Garnish with gumdrops on a toothpick.


I pour the hell out of these on Thanksgiving. While the men loosen their belts and snore away in the den, the gals and I pump these down in the living room while granny does the dishes.  Not too sweet, nor too sour, this is an either perfect pre- or after dinner drink for a family get-together. I make a glass pitcher of them and leave it down on the bar. When someone needs a third, I’m able to simply pour another. This one has been my “go to” Thanksgiving cocktail for a few years now.

Here we go –

  • ½ oz Cointreau
  • 1 ½ oz Vodka
  • ¾ oz White Cranberry Juice
  • Squeeze of a lime wedge.

Mix first three ingredients with ice in a shaker or glass pitcher ‘til cold. Strain into cocktail glass and squeeze fresh limejuice over top. Garnish with four or five fresh cranberries.

Northern Spy

Bartender Josey Pack at the Alembio Bar in San Francisco created this great cocktail.  Here’s another one that’s absolutely perfect for your Thanksgiving dinner party right up through Christmas Eve.  It simply has to be tasted over the holidays. I mixed one up minutes after reading the recipe, and it was love at first sip.

Here we go –

  • 2 oz Applejack
  • 1 oz Apple Cider
  • ½ oz Lemon Juice
  • ½ oz Apricot Brandy

Rim a cocktail glass with lemon juice then cinnamon sugar. Mix ingredients together with ice in shaker ‘til cocktail cold and pour into glass, garnish with a few fresh cranberries.

Whiskey Punch

Here’s an oldie but a goodie that will turn any semi-formal, candlelit holiday party into a Christmas-carol-belting lampshade-on-the-head-wearing bash by midnight. You’ll need a punchbowl, ladle, punch cups and a whole lot of aspirin for the next morning. Seriously, this is a delicious traditional Christmas punch perfect for the top of the bar or a living room table. Makes about 45 delicious four oz servings.

Here we go –

  • In a large punchbowl pour over a large piece of ice (I freeze a Tupperware full of water)
  • 6 oz fresh Lemon juice
  • 18 oz Pineapple juice
  • 2 bottles of Rye or Bourbon (Rye wins in my book)

Stir and add a large bottle of Ginger Ale or Ginger Beer

Taste and add, if you feel it needs it, a teaspoon or two of sugar.

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