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Looking for seasonally appropriate cocktails for your Christmas and New Year’s Eve Celebrations? You’ve come to the right place.
Here are five of my favorite holiday cocktails. There’s eggnog, of course, but also things with coffee, with bubbles, and a punch perfect for sharing with a crowd.
5 Holiday Cocktails
Spanish coffee is a cocktail that originated in Portland, Oregon in the 1970s at Huber's Cafe. It remains popular in the Pacific Northwest, but hasn't spread far beyond that, which is a shame, because it's both delicious and fun to make. My version is adapted from Jeffrey Morgenthaler's excellent Bar Book. You need to make sure you have a tempered glass with a stem to hold onto (a standard wine glass should be fine, but no rocks glasses unless you also have fireproof bionic hands). You need a 151-proof rum (also called overproof rum) which you set on fire and use to caramelize the sugar around the rim of the glass. Morgenthaler moistens the rim of the glass with a lime wedge, but I typically just use water because I don't think the lime flavor comes through and I find it more convenient. You can use any coffee liqueur you like. Morgenthaler uses Kahlua, which is probably the sweetest of the widely available coffee liqueurs, but I think the drink also works well with Tia Maria and coffee liqueurs from smaller producers.
The French 75 is a classic cocktail with Champagne, simple syrup, lemon juice, and gin or cognac (it's pictured here with gin). Proportions on the drink vary, so feel free to adjust to your liking.
Some bartenders prefer to serve it over ice in a collins glass. (If you swap in seltzer in place of the Champagne you basically have a Tom Collins.)
I prefer it served up (without ice) in the more elegant Champagne flute, but the choice is yours.
If you don't have simple syrup, you can dissolve a teaspoon of sugar with the lemon juice before making the rest of the drink.
This is a great spirit forward winter cocktail. Calvados is also known as apple brandy, and nocino is a walnut liqueur.
Clarified milk punch is different from more common creamy milk drinks like eggnog. This is an English milk punch where the milk is curdled with citrus and strained to make a clear drink with a silky mouthfeel. I like to use a mix of rums here--a white rum, an aged dark rum, and a bit of Smith & Cross--but you can use a white rum or an aged dark rum for all of the rums in this recipe (Smith & Cross is too assertive to use on its own here). Don't break the bank on a cognac for this. And note that the Batavia Arrack is significantly mellowed in the clarification process. This is a drink that goes down easy. Please use whole milk here. Alternative milks won't produce the same results.
This eggnog recipe is perfect for when you want just a few servings. Morgenthaler says it serves two, but I’d say it easily serves four. It can easily be scaled up if you want to make it for a slightly larger crowd. I like to make this using a stick blender so I can blend it in the same jar I store it in for easier cleanup, but you can use a regular blender here too. I use brandy and bourbon here, but you could use any combination of brandy, bourbon or rum. This recipe uses raw eggs, which means there’s a small risk of salmonella. I’m comfortable with that risk, but I wouldn’t serve even a booze-free version to pregnant women or people with compromised immune systems, just to be safe. Do use freshly grated nutmeg here. It makes such a difference.