20 Cocktails Perfect for Your Holiday Party

Updated 10/11/19

Courtesy of Death & Co.

As you host your closest friends (or maybe even some not-so-close relatives) this holiday season, you'll want to keep the drinks flowing and the good times rolling. Aside from acquiring all the most important components of a well-stocked bar cart, there are a few things you should pick up from the grocery and package stores in preparation.

First, try thinking of the ingredients in your cocktails the same way you do with your food. "If you’re going to go buy a dry-aged steak from a local farmer who has taken good care of his cows, it might be a shame to mix it with something pedestrian like white bread," says Tarajia Morrell, director of culinary marketing and communications at Zirkova Vodka, a brand that donates 10 percent of its revenue to causes benefitting marginalized groups. "Making things in a slow-food mentality compliments the spirit."

Similarly, you don't want to mask a well-crafted spirit with artificially flavored juices and sodas. Instead, Morrell suggests stocking up on fresh herbs and keeping them in pretty vessels on your bar cart. "I’m such an herb lover, so using some fresh herbs for garnish, even something unexpected like a basil leaf or a sage leaf," she said. "We love to garnish Zirkova with a sage leaf because it has these beautiful sage notes."

Morrell also mentioned that keeping mint on the bar cart will be an instant way to get your guests prepared for the flavor notes in their drinks. "When your guests walk in, it already gets their palate going and it’s such a great way to dive into a holiday evening."

So now that you've got all the ingredients and all the bar essentials, it's time to test out these recipes at your next holiday gathering!

Altimeter Julep

Recipe courtesy of Jarred Wiegand of Death & Co.

  • 1.5 oz El Tesoro Reposado
  • 0.5 oz Clear Creek Pomme 8 yr
  • 0.25 oz maple syrup
  • 0.25 oz yellow Chartreuse
  • 0.25 oz Clear Creek Douglas Fir Eau De Vie

Build in a classic julep glass, top with crushed ice, and garnish with mint and dried apple.

Metal glassware, metal cocktail shaker, mint garnish
Eric Medsker Photography

Holiday Mule

Recipe courtesy of Zirkova Vodka

  • 2 oz Zirkova Together vodka
  • 0.5 oz fresh lime juice
  • 0.25 oz cinnamon simple syrup (sugar, hot water, cinnamon sticks)

Garnish with a cinnamon stick and mint bouquet

Blend all ingredients in a solid copper mug with ice and top with ginger beer, garnished with a mint bouquet and a cinnamon stick.

cocktail, copper mug, Moscow Mule, reception bar, tattoo
Courtesy The Cup Bearer

Holly Down

Recipe courtesy of The Botanist Gin

1.5 oz The Botanist gin

1 oz fresh-pressed apple Juice

3–4 fresh basil leaves

1 oz fresh lime juice

0.5 oz simple syrup

1 dash orange bitters

Soda water

Apple and fresh basil leaf for garnish

In a shaker, add all ingredients with ice. Shake and strain into a highball glass with ice. Top with a splash of soda water. Garnish with an apple fan and fresh basil.

The Botanist Gin cocktail, int leaf, apple, garnish, red and white straw
Robert Weber

Midnight Oil

Recipe courtesy of Tyson Buhler of Death & Co.

1.5 oz Fausse Piste Syrah

1.5 oz Ramazotti Amaro

0.50 oz Laird’s Bonded Apple Brandy

0.25 oz yellow Chartreuse

0.50 oz cinnamon syrup

1 orange crescent

Whip ingredients with a few pellets of ice in a double Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with a cinnamon stick and a blackberry.

brown cocktail, crushed ice, blackberry cocktail, highball glass
Eric Medsker Photography

Tiki Santa Sleigh

Recipe courtesy of The Botanist Gin

1.5 oz The Botanist Gin

1 oz pineapple juice

0.75 oz fresh lime juice

0.5 oz simple syrup

0.5 oz Cointreau

0.25 oz maple syrup

0.25 oz Mount Gay Rum Black Barrell

5 dashes Angostura bitters

Apple, cinnamon stick, and mint for garnish

In a shaker, add all ingredients with ice. Shake and strain into highball or Tiki glass. Garnish with apple fan, cinnamon stick, and mint sprig.

The Botanist Gin, brown drink, crushed ice, metal straw, cinnamon stick, mint leaf, apple slices garnish, cocktail
Robert Weber

Swedish Punch

Recipe Courtesy of Banks Rum

1 liters Banks 7 Golden Blend Rum

750ml English Breakfast Tea

300ml Lemon Juice

250g Demerara Sugar

1 tsp Orange Bitters

Brew the tea, then stir in the sugar until it dissolves. Add 4 cups of ice to chill and dilute the mixture, then add bitters, lemon juice, and rum. Chill before service. When ready to serve, add the liquid to a punchbowl filled with one large block of ice. Use a ladle to pour in to punch cups filled with ice and garnish with grated nutmeg.

Banks Rum holiday punch bowl cocktail served in metal glasses
Courtesy Banks Rum

Northern Lights

Recipe courtesy of The Botanist Gin

1.5 oz The Botanist Gin

0.75 oz fresh lemon juice

0.75 oz simple syrup

0.5 oz fresh pink grapefruit

2 fresh basil leaves

In a shaker, add all ingredients with ice. Shake and double strain into coupe or martini glass. Garnish with fresh basil leaf.

the Botanist Gin cocktail, coupe, basil leaf garnish
Robert Weber

Mother's Ruin Punch

Recipe Courtesy of Death & Co.

8 white sugar cubes

2 oz club soda

4 oz Plymouth gin

2 oz cinnamon orange tea-infused sweet vermouth

4 oz grapefruit juice

2 oz lemon juice

3 oz dry champagne

In a large measuring cup, muddle the sugar cubes with the rest of the ingredients. Stir constantly. Add ice, stir, and strain into a punch bowl. Garnish with 6 grapefruit wheels.

cocktail punch with grapefruit, punch bowl
Courtesy of Death & Co.

Fallen Gimlet

Recipe courtesy of The Botanist Gin

1.5 oz The Botanist Gin

0.75 oz fresh lime juice

0.75 oz honey syrup (2 honey: 1 water)

4 fresh sage leaves

Pinch of sea salt

Shake all ingredients together and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with fresh sage.

Botanist Gin Fallen Gimlet, coupe, sage leaf, cocktail
Robert Weber

Vintage Egg Nog

Recipe courtesy of Death & Co.

0.75 oz Old Grand-Dad 114

0.5 oz Smith and Cross

0.5 oz Blandy's 5 yr Malmsey Madiera

0.5 oz Pierre Ferrand Ambre

Fresh egg nog (homemade is best)

Combine all ingredients in two large containers and pass back and forth until completely incorporated and consistent. Place into new/clean quart containers or into glass bottles for long term storage. Age anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 years (large batches are best for long-term aging).

tall glass, cocktail, boozy egg nog
Courtesy Death & Co.

Leaf Behind

Recipe courtesy of The Botanist Gin

1.5 oz The Botanist Gin

0.5 oz Cointreau

1 bag lemon ginger tea

1 bag Earl Grey tea

0.5 oz fresh lemon juice

1 dash Angostura bitters

Orange wheel and star anise for garnish

Steep tea for 10 minutes in a teacup and remove tea bags. Add in remaining ingredients and stir. Garnish with orange wheel and star anise.

The botanist gin, tea cocktail, lemon wheel, star anise, glass mug, glass cup
Robert Weber

Popeye Doyle

Recipe courtesy of Tyson Buhler of Death & Co.

0.75 oz Navazos Palazzi 16 yr Oloroso rum

1 oz Springbank 10 yr

0.75 oz CaffoAmaretto

0.25 oz Massenez Kirsch

0.25 oz Cherry Heering

Build cocktail in a rocks glass and stir until well mixed. Garnish with two skewered cherries.

Highball class, large ice cube, olives, cocktail
Eric Medsker Photography

Punkin’ Gin Fashioned

Recipe courtesy of The Botanist Gin

1.5 oz The Botanist Gin

0.25 oz dry vermouth

0.25 oz maple syrup

2 dashes orange bitters

Orange peel and cinnamon stick for garnish

In a mixing glass, stir all ingredients with large ice cubes. Strain into a rocks glass over large ice cubes. Express orange peel over and garnish with a cinnamon stick.

The Botanist Gin, highball glass, cinnamon stick, ice cubes, cocktail
Robert Weber

Pine-apple Punch

Recipe courtesy of Banks Rum

1.5 liters Apple Juice

1-liter Chilled Lemon Verbena tea

500ml Banks 5 Island Blend Rum

350ml Banks 7 Golden Blend Rum

300ml Douglas Fir Syrup (see below)

200ml of Douglas Fir Infused Banks 5 Island Blend

200ml Apple Molasses

100ml of Citric acid solution (available in all major supermarkets)

To create the Douglas Fir Syrup, infuse 10g of gently dried Douglas Fir needles in 250ml of boiling water for about 10-15 mins before adding 250g of caster sugar. Stir well to dissolve the sugar and then strain to remove the Douglas Fir Needles. Keep refrigerated before use. Next, make the verbena tea by infusing 3-4 large sprigs of fresh lemon verbena in 500ml of boiling water for 15 minutes. Or brew several verbena tea bags for a few minutes. Add 500ml of cold water and leave for another 10 minutes before straining. Keep refrigerated. Next, infuse 5g of gently dried Douglas Fir Needles in 200ml of Banks 5 at room temperature for no longer than 24 hours. Strain before use. To create your punch, combine all the ingredients in a large punch bowl with a large block of ice. Garnish with dehydrated crab apple wheels and serve.

Banks Rum holiday punch bowl cocktail served in metal glasses with apple garnish and pineapple punch
Courtesy Banks Rum

Candy Apple

Recipe courtesy of The Botanist Gin

1.5 oz The Botanist Gin

0.75 oz apple cider

0.75 oz Monin caramel syrup

0.75 oz fresh lemon juice

Fresh bay leaf for garnish

In a shaker, add all ingredients with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with fresh bay leaf.

The Botanist Gin, coupe, apple garnish, cocktail
Robert Weber

Elemental Punch

Recipe courtesy of Banks Rum

1-liter water

700ml Banks 5 Island Blend or Banks 7 Golden Blend Rum

180g Sugar

4 Lemons

1 Nutmeg

Peel 4 lemons in long spirals and put the peels in a sealable 500ml jar. Add 180g of white sugar. Seal, shake and leave to sit unrefrigerated overnight. An hour before you need the punch, open the jar with the peels and lemon oil and add 180ml freshly-squeezed, strained lemon juice. Close the jar, shake well until sugar has dissolved and refrigerate. When you need the punch, add the contents of your jar, peels and all. Add 700ml bottle of Banks 5 Island Blend or Banks 7 Golden Blend rum and 1l of cold still water and stir. Garnish by finely grating a quarter of a whole nutmeg across the top of the ice cube. To serve, ladle 90ml portions into punch cups filled with ice.

Banks Rum holiday punch bowl cocktail served in metal glasses
Courtesy Banks Rum

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