The best way to add a little merriment to your Christmas party? Christmas cocktails!
Fancier than beer and more festive than wine. Sure, champagne works too, but as Dr Zoidberg would say, why not BOTH?
Making cocktails for 10 or more guests can seem daunting, but the main thing is to just make sure you have enough booze.
Then pour everything in a giant bowl and ladle it out Betty Draper-style.
To prove Christmas party cocktails are a doddle, we asked a bunch of bartenders and industry experts to tell us the essential Christmas party cocktails to make this year.
We talked to brand ambassadors, distillers, bar owners, and a lot of bartenders. Whether you want a tried-and-tested classic, or something with a more festive spin, they’ve got you covered with clementine negronis and spiced daiquiris.
Here’s what they suggested.
“Eggnog does take a little extra effort to make, but the results are worth it. And if there was ever a time to add a little extra special care into making drinks, a Christmas Party has to be it. If you want to, try playing around with the spirits…Mezcal eggnog anyone?”
Two large eggs
75g caster sugar
½ tsp freshly-grated nutmeg
50ml spiced rum
150ml whole milk
100ml double cream
Blend the eggs on low speed for one minute. Slowly incorporate the caster sugar, then blend for one more minute. Add all the other ingredients until mixed well. Place in the fridge and serve cold, adding a touch of fresh nutmeg on top before drinking.
– Mark Holmes, general manager at The Dead Canary, Cardiff
2. Sherry Bazaar
“Tommy and I bonded over making this cocktail because it reminded us so much of Christmas with our families. This is reminiscent of your grandmother’s strawberry trifle, and packs a nice sherry punch, just like Granny’s favourite pudding.”
35ml Fino Sherry
15ml Dolin Chamberyzette
10ml gin (Cream Gin works best in this)
5ml strawberry liqueur
A slice of lemon
Stir all the ingredients over ice, then strain into a glass. For a punch, just quadruple the ingredients, pour into a bowl and add ice.
– Tommy Matthews and James Bowker, bartenders at The Edgbaston, Birmingham
3. Mulled Sloe Gin
“Mulled wine pops up every holiday season. It smells wonderful, but the flavour just isn’t that good. Replace mulled wine with this delicious combination and you’ll agree, wine should only be served hot in bolognese and coq au vin.”
250ml cloudy apple juice
250ml sloe gin
Combine water, apple juice and mulling spices in a sauce pan. Simmer on low for 20 minutes. Remove mulling spices. Add sloe gin. Pour into teacups. Garnish with orange or satsuma slices. Serves four.
– Jared Brown, master distiller at Sipsmith, the Cotswolds
4. Clementine Negronis
“Sometimes we all need a stiff bitter drink at Christmas, so what better than a seasonal twist on the Negroni?
35ml clementine-infused gin
35ml Cocchi sweet vermouth
Two drops cranberry bitters
“Before your party, add the dried skins of two clementines to a bottle of your favourite gin. Leave it to sit for 48 hours then strain for clementine-infused gin.
“Pour all of your ingredients into a glass and stir with ice. Serve with a dehydrated slice of clementine, cranberries and a blast of Wham turned up loud.
“FYI, if you want to make this drink into a punch simply use one bottle of each ingredient, serve over a giant block of ice and throw in a few bottles of Prosecco. This should comfortably serve thirty thirsty guests.”
– Lloyd Brown, Bar Consultant for Grey Bear, Dorset
5. French 75
“One of the best things about the Festive period is having friends and family drop in. I always keep a batch of sugar syrup (50:50) in the fridge for when this happens unexpectedly. This means that it is very easy and quick to make the classic French 75 cocktail in numbers.”
15ml lemon juice
7.5ml sugar syrup
Pour the lemon juice and sugar syrup into a champagne flute with your gin. I like to use Burleighs Distillers Cut as it’s full of floral and warm spices that go really well in this drink. I then top up with whatever fizzy wine my wife has left (of course this should be champagne, but needs must). If you’re feeling fancy, decorate with a lemon peel twist.
– Jamie Baxter, director and master distiller at 45 West Distillers, Leicestershire
6. Gath’ring Winter Fuel Punch
“Instead of rudely ssshhhhing anyone while I attempt to fix them a libation so I can concentrate on the measurements, I make punch. This one has sparkle and wintry spice from a syrup with a fetching, red hue, and the name comes from Good King Wenceslas.
Two 750ml bottles sparkling wine
375ml aged rum
175ml orange liqueur
78ml hibiscus syrup (recipe below)
Sliced, fresh seasonal fruit and berries of choice for garnish
Hibiscus Syrup Method:
113g cup dried hibiscus flowers (or you can use hibiscus tea)
One cinnamon stick
One vanilla pod
84g granulated or demerara sugar
“Add the hibiscus and spices to the water and bring to a full boil. Remove from heat and let the flowers steep in the liquid for about 15 to 20 minutes. Strain the liquid and return it to the pot with the sugar. Heat to a boil again while stirring to dissolve the sugar. Simmer until the mixture gets syrupy, then allow to cool before using.
“Just plonk all the liquids in a decent looking punch bowl, or something you aren’t ashamed of having on display as an equivalent, give it a stir, and add ice and fresh fruit!
“My favourite trick is, if one can remember, to freeze a small bowl of water overnight to make one giant ice cube for the punch so it doesn’t dilute too quickly.”
– Amanda Schuster, freelance writer/consultant and Editor-in-Chief of Alcohol Professor, New York
7. Blue Blazer
“Made famous by Jerry Thomas, this drink is really simple and easy to make it just scares most novices because fire is involved. Take your time and don’t attempt when drunk!”
60ml hot water
One spoon powdered sugar
Take two metal tankards and preheat them by filling them with boiling water, and putting them to one side. Disclaimer: This drink involves pouring from one tankard to the other while the liquid is on fire so be careful. Discard the water in both mugs and fill one with the whisky and the other with the fresh boiling water.
Light the whisky with a long match and, holding both tankards, slowly begin to pour the whisky into the other tankard. Keep pouring the contents from one tankard to the other slowly extending the mugs as you pour, creating an arc of fire. After a few passes extinguish the flame by putting the empty tankard on the top of the other.
Pour into a heat proof snifter glass and stir in sugar to sweeten. Garnish with a slice of lemon zest.
– David Smith, bar manager at The Anchor Inn at Seatown, Dorset
8. Spiced Daiquiri
“Your christmas party will not be the same without a few Spiced Daquiris! They’re so quick and simple to make, and full of festive flavour.”
Christmas Spiced Syrup Ingredients:
500g white sugar
20g black peppercorns
20g star anise
10g cinnamon bark
Two pieces orange zest
One piece lemon zest
One vanilla pod
Christmas Spiced Syrup Method:
Mix the water with all the ingredients, and bring to the boil. Simmer for 15 minutes, then remove from the heat and pour into a plastic jug. Leave to cool. Strain when room temperature.
20ml ruby port
20ml lime juice
20ml Christmas spiced syrup
20 ml pomegranate juice
Add all the ingredients to shaker with ice, give a hard shake then strain into a chilled glass.
– Rebecca Sturt, managing director Pineapple Bar Consultancy, Dubai
“Created by the late great Dick Bradsell, whose name carries even where I bartend now in Bahrain, this is such an amazing drink. I think of it as being especially perfect at Christmas time, when you crave dark fruits and berries.”
30ml lemon juice
15ml sugar syup
Creme de mure
Pour everything except the creme de mure into a cocktail shaker with ice. Give a hard shake, then strain and serve into a glass filled with ice. Add crushed ice on top if you have it, then drizzle creme de mure over the top to create a beautiful diffused purple effect. Garnish with a blackberry.
– Dan Kaizen, bartender, Bahrain
10. Damson Comfort
“This warming drink is easy to make at either an office or a home Christmas party.”
One tablespoon damson jam
Five drops chocolate bitters
Shake up all your ingredients, without ice, in a shaker. Transfer the mixture to a mug and pop it in the microwave for 45 seconds. Enjoy straight away.
– Josh Powell, freelance drinks consultant, London
11. Guinness Punch
“If you like a Bailey’s during the holiday’s you’ll love this punch. A Jamaican tradition, it’s a little high in calories, but what’s the point of dieting in January if you don’t indulge a bit first?”
1 large tin of Guinness
150ml condensed milk
50ml dark rum
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Combine ingredients in a jug or mixing bowl. Stir well (a whisk works nicely). Optional: top each cup with whipped cream and a dusting of nutmeg. Serves four.
– Jared Brown, master distiller at Sipsmith, the Cotswolds
12. Christmas Martinez
“The Martinez is often touted as the precurser to the Martini, and is a great cocktail to be able to pre-batch ahead of time, as the flavours will actually benefit from some time sat in the bottle together.
“For an extra christmas twist stud your orange zest with a couple of cloves, or use a Christmas flavoured gin; Sacred make a fantastic Christmas pudding gin and also make a spiced vermouth, which can add a little bit of festive cheer too.”
40ml sweet vermouth
5ml maraschino liqueur
5m orange curacao
One dash angostura bitters
Add all the ingredients to a mixing glass. Add ice and stir until well chilled. Strain straight into a chilled Martini glass, or strain into a bottle to keep in the fridge (if you’re going to do that best make a few though, right?). Garnish with a small twist of orange zest.
– Emma Stokes, creator of Gin Monkey, London
13. Champagne Cocktails
“A classic Champagne Cocktail is always a winner at a party. Plus you can create a lot of them super quickly.”
One sugar cube
Prosecco or champagne
Coat a cube of sugar with bitters (I like Fee’s Black Walnut bitters), then pop it in the bottom of a flute and pour in brandy until it covers the sugar cube. Then pour over prosecco and smugly tell your mother-in-law it’s ‘bubbly’.
– Holly Wilcox, bar manager at Meatmission, London
“To me, the ultimate Christmas cocktail is the Brandy Crusta or its more famous derivative the Sidecar. Cognac and orange liqueur are often served alongside christmas desserts like christmas pudding and mince pies and the combination of the two in a Sidecar produces a beautifully seasonal cocktail.
“For a twist on the classic, try floating a sweet sherry, such as Pedro Ximenez, on top of the drink.”
One lemon wedge
20ml orange liqueur
20ml lemon juice
Rub the outside rim of a chilled martini glass halfway round with a lemon wedge then roll the moistened edge of the glass in sugar.
Combine your cognac, orange liqueur (Cointreau or Orange Curacao work best) and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake until well chilled. Fine strain into your sugar rimmed glass and garnish with a piece of orange peel.
– Stuart Knapman, bartender at El Rey, Toronto
15. Vin Chill Factor
25ml Tempranillo wine (or any other red wine you like)
Pour all your ingredients into a shaker with ice and shake. Strain into a flute, then top up with prosecco.
If you wanted to share with guests, simply multiply your ingredients, add to a punch bowl and pour over a full bottle of Prosecco. Ladle into glasses.
– Jody Buchan, AGM and Head Bartender at The Voyage of Buck, Edinburgh
16. Festive Warm Manhattan
“This is a stunning drink that anyone can make from the comfort of their own kitchen using ingredients that ooze festive vibes. Perfect for any whiskey fan in the build up to Christmas.”
100ml rye whiskey
50ml Sacred English Spiced Vermouth
Two dashes angostura bitters
Four dashes toasted pecan bitters
One cinnamon stick
Heat all the ingredients on a hob until warm, then serve in brandy style glass with a thick twist of orange peel.
– Tony Kousoulou, freelance drinks consultant, London
17. Rum Punch
“Punch is one of the oldest drinks ever made, and the great thing about it is that the recipe is in parts which means you can make as much or as little as you want! This recipe can also be served hot or cold.”
One part sour: lemon juice
Two parts sweet: strawberry liqueur
Three parts strong: rum
Four parts weak: water. I recommend brewing your water with a bag of mulling spices for an extra kick.
i.e. 100ml lemon juice, 200ml strawberry liqueur (or sugar syrup), 300ml rum, 400ml spiced water.
Put all these ingredients straight into a large vessel, throw in a few slices of orange and some ice and you’re away. You can also ladle this drink into tea cups, wine glasses or anything you like!
– Luke Robinson, bartender at Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Bristol
18. Bees Knees
“When it comes to Christmas party cocktails, it can be very tempting to go complicated, but trust me, the work load quickly adds up. Simple but effective drinks that everyone can enjoy is the way forward. The Bees Kness is perfect for the job: Just three ingredients combined to create a refreshingly good tipple.”
50ml good quality gin
20ml honey syrup (mix boiling water and honey in a 1:1 ratio)
20ml fresh lemon juice
Pour all your ingredients into a shaker with ice, give it a good hard shake, then strain into chilled glasses (whack your glasses in the freezer beforehand).
– Lewis Cooke, general manager at Épernay Manchester, Manchester
19. Bangarang Rufeo
“This is essentially a mulled cider gin cup. What better way to share a festive drink than ladling it out of an amazing smelling pan in the kitchen or around a fire?”
Pour pear cider and gin (floral Tarquins goes great in this) into a pan, then add fresh apple, nutmeg and five cloves studded into a whole clementine. Warm the mixture up either on the stove or over a fire.
I recommend serving this drink with candied pear – put half a pear onto a stick, dip it in brown sugar, dust with nutmeg and hold it over an open fire until the sugar is bubbling hot (you can use a blowtorch or gas hob if you don’t have a fire).
20. Dark & Stormy
“This cocktail shows the versatility of classics that stand the test of time. Whilst the Dark ‘n’ Stormy is one of the perfect summer sippers, the addition of clove-forward bitters and rich, stone-fruit heavy port transform the drink into a winter warmer for those who dislike drinking cream or aren’t a fan of drinking stirred down brown spirits.”
50ml dark rum
20ml lime juice
5ml sugar syrup
40ml ginger beer
Two dashes bitters
10ml LBV port
Mix dark rum – preferably Goslings Black Seal – lime juice and sugar syrup, and float the mixture on top of your ginger beer. Add two dashes of bitters (optional) and the port to finish.
— David Sanka McLean, bartender at Alvinos, Newcastle
21. Irish Coffee
“Irish coffee is great at a Christmas party because it’s caffeine, sugar and alcohol; meaning it can be drunk at anytime. It’s perfect for when you get up on Christmas day right through to when you’re getting yourself off the couch after the turkey.”
Two teaspoons muscovado sugar
One tsp Camp Chicory extract
One large teaspoon instant coffee
50ml Irish whisky (I prefer Jamesons)
200ml boiling water
Mix all the dry ingredients together, then top with the boiling water. For the topping, whip double cream and condensed milk together in a 1:1 ratio. Shake the mixture well in a shaker to make it airy, then pour about 1.5cm of foam on top of the drink.
– Felix Cohen, owner of Every Cloud bar, London