Whether toasting with friends and family or just keeping toasty when the snow starts to fall, this time of year is all about the festive libations. Here are 11 cups of cheer that bartenders are breaking out for the holiday season.
1. La Hormiga en Nogada (The Black Ant, NYC)
Inspired by chile en nogada, a stuffed chile dish from Puebla, Mexico, traditionally served around the holidays, the name of this drink comes from the Spanish word for the walnut tree (nogal). Made with Casa Dragones Blanco Tequila, sherry and walnut sauce, with a chile poblano salt rim and a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds, the red, green and white is meant to reference the colors of the Mexican flag, but it also has a distinct Christmas vibe.
2. Gingerbread Old Fashioned (Embers Ski Lodge, Nashville, TN)
Created by mixologist Gary Hayward, this drink has all the flavors of the season in a glass: bourbon delivers caramel and vanilla, plus orange, simple syrup, and gingerbread bitters for spice.
3. Sonny’s Grasshopper (FIG Restaurant, Santa Monica, CA)
The Grasshopper, a classic holiday cocktail, gets a whimsical update. This version is a mixture of Courvoisier V.S. brandy with Fernet Branca and Cocoa Puffs cereal-infused cream.
At this new Harlem eatery with a wood-fired pizza oven, bartender Earlecia Richelle offers this winter warmer: red wine slowly steeped with fresh cranberries, honey and a house spice blend.
A dose of Luxardo Sangue Morlacco, a luxe cherry liqueur, gives a rosy glow to this gin-based beauty.
6. Mint Condition (Geraldine’s, Austin, TX)
Evoking candy canes, this refreshing tipple from bartender Jennifer Keyser starts with Absolut vodka, plus Tempus Fugit Crème de Menthe, heavy cream and egg whites, dotted with Peychaud’s bitters on top.
7. White Christmas (The Commoner, Pittsburgh, PA)
It’s all about the housemade egg nog, made with gold rum, garnished with plenty of nutmeg and a curl of fresh lime for a bright splash of color on top of the snowy-white drink.
8. Jubilee! (Donna, Brooklyn, NY)
With a name like that—exclamation point included—you know this drink is going to be festive. Bartender Jeremy Oertel mixes equal parts Elit by Stoli and dry red wine, then adds St. George Spiced Pear liqueur, maple syrup and lemon and tops the drink with bubbly seltzer and a pear fan for garnish.
9. Ancho Reyes Hot Chocolate (Trick Dog, San Francisco, CA)
For a decadent sip, the hot chocolate is made in-house at this Mission District hot spot, then it’s punched up with spicy-sweet Ancho Reyes chile liqueur and topped with grated cinnamon.
10. Holiday in Manhattan (Celeste, Chicago, IL)
It may look like a standard Manhattan, but it’s infused with cacao and cinnamon for a sweeter, more fragrant touch.
11. Who is DañEJO Parseliti? (Randolfi’s, St. Louis, MO)
The name pays homage to the name of bartender Jeff Moll’s mixology mentor and hints at the key ingredient (añejo tequila). But the flavors of this sparkler are wintry and bright, featuring Zirbenz pine liqueur, St. Elizabeth allspice dram, Amaro Lucano, housemade lime cordial and sparkling wine.