The Best Holiday Cocktails From Around the World
Time to drink and be merry.
This Christmas, look beyond the wassail and hot chocolate and find inspiration for an incredible cocktail party with drinks from around the world. Whether you’re whipping up a batch of hibiscus margaritas or trying your hand at a Ponche Crema, with these drinks in your cocktail repertoire, there’s no doubt your house will be the most popular stop for carolers. And if you happen to leave a cup of Coquito out for Santa, you’ll definitely end up on the good list next year.
Finland's Brother Christmas
For the perfect way to warm up on a cold winter’s night, head to Helsinki’s newest cocktail bar, Holiday, part of chef Richard McCormick’s growing food empire. This drink, created by resident mixologist Tony Konovalov, will ward off any winter chill.
• 4cl Bacardi Carta Ocho
• 1cl crème de cassis
• 2cl fresh lemon juice
• 1.5cl orange-infused simple syrup (instructions below)
• 2cl chocolate-flavored almond milk (buy at store or make your own with chocolate and almond milk)
• For garnish: orange and rosemary
Heat equal parts sugar and water in a small pan until the sugar dissolves into a syrupy consistency. Be sure to swirl the pan occasionally. When the sugar is dissolved, add orange peel. Add chocolate almond milk, the simple syrup, lemon juice, Crème de Cassis, and rum to a cocktail shaker. Add ice cubes. Pop the lid on and give it a good shake, then sieve the potion into the Old Fashioned glass with ice. Garnish with orange and rosemary.
Mexico's Hibiscus Margarita
When it’s Christmas in the tropics, the Viceroy Zihuatanejo on Mexico’s Southwestern coast serves up a poinsettia-red margarita sure to get you in the holiday spirit, even if you’re in Michigan instead of Mexico.
• 4.5 oz. tequila, preferably Reposado or Anejo
• 3 oz. Cointreau
• 3 oz. freshly squeezed lemon juice
• 6 oz. hibiscus concentrate (made by boiling fresh and/or dried hibiscus and reducing slowly over a low heat)
Garnish the rim of an Old Fashioned glass with salt or a salt-tamarind-hibiscus mix. Mix all ingredients together and give a good shake or stir. Add ice. Shake or stir again. Pour into the prepared glass.
Nantucket's Broad Street
During the holiday season in Nantucket, carolers make their way down the island’s tiny streets to the annual tree-lighting ceremony. When revelers are ready to warm up, they head to the bar at the Greydon House hotel for a sophisticated take on hot chocolate.
• 2 oz. Knappogue 16 year
• 2 oz Birch cold brew coffee
• 3/4 oz demerara syrup
• 1 dash Bittermens Mole Bitters flavored whipped cream in "Benedictine" (or plain whipped cream)
• Grated nutmeg
Put all the ingredients except the whipped cream into a shaker. Shake up with one ice cube. Strain into a Highball glass with ice. Top with Benedictine whip cream and grated nutmeg.
Brazil's Happiness Tonight
Ensure a very merry Christmas Eve when you sip on a Happiness Tonight—a festive whisky, fruit, and brandy concoction served at the bar at Sao Paolo’s Hotel Unique:
• 25 ml scotch whisky
• 25 ml bourbon whiskey
• 20 ml Cana Melasso
• 20 ml lemon juice
• 15 ml brandy
• 20 ml egg white
• Garnish: Fresh strawberries and blackberries.
Throw everything in a shaker and shake it up for about a minute, until egg whites are frothy. Pour into a glass and garnish with strawberries and blackberries.
Austin's Clove, Nutmeg, and Cinnamon-Infused Bourbon Old Fashioned
Holidays in Texas (or anywhere, really) call for bourbon, so it’s no surprise that hotelier Liz Lambert’s Hotel Saint Cecilia in Austin serves up a bourbon-based Christmas cocktail that would make an elf turn bad.
• 2 oz. infused whiskey (method, below)
• Muddled sugar cube and orange peel
• Angostura bitters
• Luxardo maraschino cherry
For infused whiskey: Put two cinnamon sticks and two whole nutmegs (cracked) into a bottle of good quality bourbon. Let sit for five days. Add 1 teaspoon of cloves and let sit for two more days. Remove spices.
For Old Fashioned: Muddle a sugar cube and an orange peel. Add 2 oz of the infused whiskey and a dash of Angostura bitters. Serve with a big rock of ice and a maraschino cherry.
Switzerland's Mountain Chocolate
When the weather outside is frightful, the Carlton Hotel in Saint Moritz serves up a drink that is truly delightful—full of chocolate, rum, and topped with whipped cream.
• 1 shot Drambuie
• 1 shot Meyers rum
• 1 shot Mozart Gold chocolate liqueur
• 3 oz warm melted chocolate, 70% cocoa content (about 86 degrees Fahrenheit)
• Half-whipped cream
Stir spirits into the melted chocolate and mix well. Fill three glasses (or two! or one!) and serve topped with whipped cream
Puerto Rico's Coquito
This drink is a Puerto Rican holiday tradition that stands in for eggnog, swapping in coconut milk to give it a subtle tropical twist. While the coquito is typically a rum-based cocktail, the Condado Vanderbilt updates the tradition with an Anejo Tequila that was custom barreled for the hotel by Tequila Patron. If you can’t make it to the hotel to try their private stock, you can substitute your favorite tequila.
• 1 oz. condensed milk
• 1 oz. evaporated milk
• 1 oz. coconut cream
• 1 oz. coconut milk
• 2 oz. Barrel Anejo Vanderbilt Tequila
Shake all ingredients with a large ice cube. Pour into a tall glass topped with shaved cinnamon.
Sea Island, Georgia's Milk Punch
For those who need a break from egg nog, Sea Island on Georgia’s Atlantic coast serves up a delicious and festive twist on the typical holiday cocktail. The resort’s tasty Milk Punch offers a smoky bourbon kick that’s both smooth and creamy and just the right amount of sweet.
• 2 cups cream
• 2 cups whole milk
• 1 cup Sea Island Woodford Reserve Bourbon
• 3/4 cup sifted powdered sugar
• 1/2 vanilla bean
• Garnish: freshly grated nutmeg
In a metal bowl over an ice bath, whisk sugar, cream, milk, and bourbon until nice and frothy. Add vanilla bean and strain through a fine mesh strainer into a pitcher. Place pitcher in freezer for 30 minutes to an hour, stirring on occasion. Pour into glass and garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.
Zimbabwe's Wild Hibiscus Spritzer
At Singita Pamushana, tucked on 130,000 acres in Zimbabwe, they serve a non-alcoholic Wild Hibiscus Spritzer, whose brilliant red hue rivals Santa Claus for spreading Christmas cheer. The cocktail gets its festive color from an exotic flower whose petals slowly unfurl in the bottom of the glass as you drink it. If your next trip to Zimbabwe is far off, never fear: the flower is available at Whole Foods and other online retailers.
• Hibiscus flowers
• Hibiscus simple syrup (method, below)
• Soda water
• Sparkling apple Juice
Make hibiscus simple syrup: Put 1 tablespoon of hibiscus leaves, 1.5 cups of water, and 1 cup of sugar in a small pot. Heat until sugar is dissolved. Remove the pot from the heat and let the hibiscus leaves soak for five minutes. Strain, reserving the liquid.
For drinks: Place one whole hibiscus flower and a dash of syrup onto the bottom of a champagne flute. Top with equal parts soda water and sparkling apple juice.
Aruba's Ponche Creme
Ponche Crema is a popular yuletide drink in At Hyatt Regency Aruba, the island’s premier beachfront resort, the drink is made with condensed milk, sugar, eggs, nutmeg, and vanilla. If you can’t sip a cup of ponche crema in Aruba, make the drink at home with the recipe from the resort.
• 1 tsp. fresh nutmeg
• 1 ½ cups, plus 2 tbsp. white Bacardi rum
• 3 eggs
• 3 egg yolks
• 1 tin condensed milk (about 1 ½ cups)
• 1 small tin evaporated milk (about 2/3 cup)
• 1 tsp. vanilla
Grate fresh nutmeg into the 2 tablespoons of white Bacardi rum and let sit for at least five minutes.
Meanwhile, beat eggs and yolks until light and frothy. Add condensed milk, an equal amount of Bacardi rum (about 1 ½ cups) and evaporated milk and whisk until combined. Strain rum and nutmeg mixture into egg and milk mixture to ensure nutmeg grains do not find their way into finished product. Add vanilla.
Pour mixture into the top of a double boiler and cook over gently boiling water, stirring constantly, until the liquid thickens (about 15 minutes). Set aside to cool. Funnel into a decorative bottle and refrigerate indefinitely. Serve in glasses dusted with cinnamon.
The Hotel Arts in Barcelona, Spain knows how to make a crowd happy—massive amounts of rum and mezcal-infused eggnog. So if all the carolers are coming to your house after spreading Christmas cheer across the city, prepare this eggnog for a crowd from Diego Baud, head mixologist at Hotel Arts Barcelona.
• 12 large eggs
• 18 oz (by volume) Organic Honey 10 oz Flor de Caña Rum
• 2 oz Mezcal (to dance with the smoked walnut)
• 13 oz Amontillado sherry
• 36 oz whole milk
• 24 oz heavy cream
• Garnish: 1 tsp freshly grated Tonka Bean and 2 tsp freshly-grated nutmeg
Blend eggs at a low speed, and try not to over beat them. Then pour yourself a little Mezcal for everything is better with a bit of Mezcal! Then slowly add each ingredient with blender on low speed, ending with the heavy cream. Then pop it in the fridge for minimum 4 hours. To serve, our into glasses and top with Tonka bean and nutmeg.
Cabo San Lucas's Granny's Martini
Whether you’re decking the halls in Cabo or Seattle, this spicy chocolate martini that they serve at Esperanza, An Auberge Resort, will ensure that your holidays are merry and bright.
• 2 oz. blanco tequila
• 2 oz. Abuelita hot chocolate (available on Amazon or in local grocers)
• 1 cup steaming half and half
• 1/2 oz. pasilla chile
• 1/2 oz. agave nectar
• 5 coffee beans
• Shredded roasted coconut
Make Pasilla chili paste: Bring the Pasilla chili to a boil in a small amount of water until soft. Rinse and remove seeds before blending with 1/2 ounce of agave nectar. The blend should be a sweet and spicy paste.
Dissolve a half tablet of Abuelita hot chocolate in 1 cup of steaming half and half. In a shaker, muddle 5 coffee beans. Add the tequila, 2 ounces of the hot chocolate, and 1/2 ounce of the Pasilla chili paste. Shake well with ice and double strain into a martini glass with shredded roasted coconut on the rim. Serve chilled.
Aspen's Holiday Thyme
Hitting the slopes is a holiday tradition in Aspen and so is hitting the bar at the Hotel Jerome for an après ski round of cocktails (or two). But there’s no need to throw on a snowsuit to appreciate a good stiff drink and this Christmas concoction from Hotel Jerome will be just as tasty in Hawaii as it is in Colorado.
• 2 oz. rum
• 1 oz. blueberry/thyme/ginger simple syrup
• 1/4 oz. lemon juice
• 2 dashes orange bitters
• 1 egg white
Make simple syrup: Heat 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar, and a sprig of thyme. Stir until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. Add five blueberries. Cover and let sit for five minutes. Strain and cool.
Add all the ingredients to a shaker and shake it without ice. Add ice and shake again. Double strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a thyme sprig over the foam layer.