Brightening your drinks in festive colors is one way to prove you have the holiday spirit. After all, why sip a boring old clear cocktail or dull brown beverage when you can tint tipples red or green? And no, we don’t mean adding a drop of food coloring to your glass, though that works too. With these seven mostly natural ingredients, you can serve red and green cocktails all season long.
Red: Berry Jam
Clover Club made with raspberry jam
Sweeten, add depth and give a carmine tint to your next holiday drink using raspberry, strawberry, cherry or currant jam. The range of reds vary depending on what fruit you choose, but all work in the same way. Pass on simple syrup and use preserves instead—just make sure to strain the cocktail before serving so no seeds or solid fruit pieces go into the glass.
No longer just for healthy drinks (though after indulging all season, those are good too), matcha powder is a great way to turn drinks a lovely emerald color. The taste of matcha by itself can run strong and vegetal, but if you just add a quarter of a teaspoon to the cocktail, it won’t overpower the other flavors.
Robin Redbreast made with blood orange (image: Tim Nusog)
“Blood oranges have a slightly different flavor than the oranges we are most accustomed to,” says Kevin Denton, the national mixologist for Pernod Ricard. “The main thing to remember is that orange juice, particularly anything not freshly squeezed, is much more mellow in cocktails that we think it’s going to be.” In this case, not only is the flavor of the blood orange a little more assertive, but the color adds a soft crimson to cocktails. This means even a simple Screwdriver or Mimosa on Christmas morning can look festive.
Green Holiday made with wheatgrass (image: Tim Nusog)
“Wheatgrass shots are so shockingly green that I knew as a cocktail ingredient they would add some sweet, fresh and lusciously vegetal flavors,” says Denton. “It seemed like a no-brainer to pair it with vodka and really allow those flavors to jump forward.” Denton says wheatgrass would also go well with gin or tequila as long as you add a little lemon or lime to brighten it up.
Cranberry cordial (image: Andrew Scrivani / The New York Times)
Not only does a cranberry cordial provide a ruby red hue, but it’s a great way to use up cranberries left over from Thanksgiving. On its own, this drink can be delicately sipped with or without rocks, garnished only with sprig of rosemary or, better yet, mixed with seltzer, rosemary and lemon on the rocks. You can also add the cordial to sparkling wine for an elegant toast, or play around with it as mixer with other spirits.
Green: Mint Simple Syrup
It’s incredibly easy to make your own mint simple syrup. All you need is equal parts sugar and water and a whole lot of fresh mint leaves. Heat the sugar in the water until it dissolves, then add the mint and let simmer for about an hour. Strain and voila—you have a sweet green accessory to your holiday bar. Of course, if you’re feeling lazy, pick up a bottle of Monin green mint syrup. Keep in mind that to keep the hue, mix only with clear liquors, club soda or tonic water.
Due to its lovely red color, the Negroni might be the most holiday-appropriate cocktail. The hue comes thanks to Campari, the 156-year-old spirit that used to get its coloring from a dye made from crushed cochineal insects. Today, the shade comes via artificial means. After all of that feasting, what could be better than this digestif?