It’s not sweater weather, it’s sippin’ weather. Whether you’re snuggled up in front of a fireplace, sitting out on your porch with a warm mug in your hand and a four-legged friend by your side, or even just gathered with friends and family around a holiday feast, we’ve got a cocktail to help you make the most of the holidays this year.
We’ve picked 10 iconic holiday spices and found a cocktail recipe for each nostalgia-coated flavor.
The Spice: Peppermint
The Cocktail: Winter Julep
Warm up a classic summer cocktail with this version of a mint julep by Atlanta bartender and Ford Fry restaurants beverage director Lara Creasy. The Winter Julep swaps fresh mint for freshly brewed peppermint tea, which is then added to bourbon and a brown sugar syrup. It’s the perfect post-holiday feast nightcap.
The Spice: Cinnamon
The Cocktail: Angry Apple Pie
While it’s not the only cocktail on this list that strives to turn your favorite dessert into your new favorite cocktail, Angry Orchard’s Angry Apple Pie is the only one on this list that packs a serious cinnamon punch. Especially if you remember to switch out that boring old cinnamon schnapps for a shot of Fireball whisky. To make this cocktail, you’ll also need amaretto, orange juice, and Angry Orchard’s Crisp Apple cider. Need more cinnamon? Angry Orchard also suggests rimming your glass with cinnamon sugar.
The Spice: Nutmeg
The Cocktail:Brandy Alexander
Don’t worry, we get that not everybody likes eggnog. And lucky for you, that’s not the only cocktail in the world that features nutmeg. In fact, Absolut vodka has an entire collection of cocktail recipes devoted to this happy holiday spice. One of the cocktails featured is the Brandy Alexander, which is made with cognac, dark cacao liqueur, cream and nutmeg. You can watch an Absolut mixologist make the cocktail here.
The Spice: Ginger
The Cocktail:Pumpkin and Apple Cider Fizz
The name of this cocktail doesn’t tell you how the flavor of ginger factors in, so we will: it’s ginger beer. This bright orange libation by food blogger Brandon Matzek of Kitchen Konfidence also uses vanilla vodka, pumpkin puree and apple cider. That’s like, four really good things in this fizz.
The Spice: Cloves
The Cocktail: Festive Fall Sangria
It’s the holidays. There’s no way we’d leave you without a proper wine cocktail. And this one has cloves too. This recipe, as featured on celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson’s website, is an autumnal spin on the classic sangria. The list of ingredients is a long one, but the result is a gorgeously red cocktail that features red wine, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, pomegranate tea, pomegranates, clementines and sugar.
The Spice: Vanilla
The Cocktail: Creme Brulee Martini
Yes, the warm, sweet scent of vanilla and sugar cookies is a hallmark of the holidays and now you can experience it from the comfort of your own martini glass. And we’re not talking about drinking some cake-tini or boozy milkshake abomination. No, we’re talking about a classy, dinner party kind of drink—the Creme Brulee Martini. You can try Food Network’s simple version, which includes vanilla vodka, Frangelico, Cointreau and brown sugar for the rim. For those who are just crazy about vanilla, we suggest you invest in a jar of vanilla bean paste. That way, you can intensify the flavor of vanilla in your creme brulee cocktail with those flavorful little black specks without having to buy expensive vanilla bean pods and having to scrape the beans out yourself.
The Spice: Cardamom
The Cocktail: Paopao Cocktail
What to do you get when you cross the warm happiness of a chai latte with the sparkle of a little New Year’s Eve bubbly? This cocktail. Chef Ana Sortun’s Paopao Cocktail is made with a cardamom-infused simple syrup, a mix of pear and lemon juice and a splash of Prosecco.
The Spice: Allspice
The Cocktail: Lion’s Tail
The Lion’s Tail is a combination of allspice dram, bourbon, Angostura bitters, lime juice and simple syrup. Ted Haigh’s version of the cocktail, as listed in his book Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails, doesn’t seem to specify the brand of allspice dram, but we’ve found that the allspice-flavored liqueur most frequently used in cocktail recipes is St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram.
The Spice: Sage
The Cocktail: Apricot Sage Bourbon Cocktail
It’s the only cocktail on this list that is reminiscent of one of the more savory aspects of a holiday feast: stuffing. Specifically, a stuffing made with sage and apricots. You can get all of the flavors of such a stuffing with this bourbon cocktail, without the heaviness that normally comes with loading up on the carb-heavy holiday side dish. The use of lemon and soda water should no doubt add a refreshing lightness to it as well.
For this Maker’s Mark cocktail (as written by Kristine Lassor Hopkins) you’ll need bourbon, limoncello, lemon juice, apricot jam, sage leaves and soda water.
The Spice: Star Anise
The Cocktail: Floating Star Martini
It’s not a martini in the truest sense of the word, but for all of the autumnal flavors you’ll get to experience in such a small cocktail, we’re inclined to let the misnomer slide. It may not contain gin or vodka, but Teroforma’s Floating Star does feature star anise, bourbon, apples (in both actual apple and cider form), lime juice and pomegranate liqueur.