Forget spending three days making Eggnog from scratch this winter. Instead, give your favorite classic cocktails a simple, festive makeover by swapping out the base liquor, adding a few dashes of a spiced liqueur or bitters, or dropping in a showstopping garnish. From a variation on the Champagne Cocktail made with rich, walnut liqueur, to an herbaceous (and glittering) twist on the Martini, seasoned with scotch and génépy (a French alpine liqueur), these easy seasonal drinks may become a new holiday tradition, right up there with advent calendars and Yule logs.
5 Easy Ways to Turn Classic Cocktails into Incredible Holiday Drinks
Inspired by the Champagne Cocktail, this effervescent tipple is crisp and delightful. Made with apple brandy (buy Calavados if you’re feeling fancy) and a demerara sugar cube soaked with Nocino (an ancient italian liqueur made from green walnuts), it has a fruit-forward richness. Decadently garnished with a bright red fresh cranberry, this festive cocktail is the perfect way to kick off any holiday get-together.
Champagne, to top
The perfect pairing for rich and heavy holiday foods, this variation on the classic Daiquiri is tart and bright with an undercurrent of winter spice. Made with pimento dram (a Caribbean liqueur infused with allspice berries), both spiced and white rums, and a robust demerara syrup, it’s dangerously chuggable. This palate cleansing cocktail should be made by the pitcherful if you’re expecting a crowd (or even if it’s just two of you).
Made to be sipped slowly—preferably in front a crackling fire with a wool blanket draped over your shoulders and a dog curled at your feet—this seasonal variation on an Old Fashioned is decadent with a capital “D.” Made with Cognac instead of rye whiskey, a small pour of Cherry Heering (a Danish cherry liqueur made with cherry-infused brandy and spices) and both Angostura and Peychaud’s bitters, it tastes like a bite of homemade cherry pie washed down with a swig of a 50-year-old Hennessy. Although the holidays are all about giving, this cocktail may be best reserved for after your guests leave, when you can focus all your energy on enjoying it and relaxing.
Pleased be advised: If you’re not a devout gin drinker and a lover of gin’s pine-heavy juniper flavor, this Martini is not for you. With an essence of freshly plucked Douglas Fir buds, this pine-heavy Gin Martini literally tastes like you’re drinking the family Christmas tree. Made with woodsy, small-batch pine bitters from Maine (where else?), génépy (an herbaceous French alpine liqueur similar to Chartreuse) and smoky Laphroaig Scotch whisky, this wintertime Martini is an aromatic, slightly savory powerhouse. The edible gold garnish is optional but, like the star on top of the tree, it completes it.
Why serve your guests a plain old Gin & Tonic this holiday season when you can serve them this spruced up variation on the classic? Made with an Old Tom style gin (preferably one that’s been barrel-aged, like Ransom), dry vermouth and craft tonic water, this holiday G&T comes garnished with a sprig of fresh rosemary, which hits you with an aromatic whiff of Christmas as you bring it to your lips.
Old Tom Gin