15 Winter Cocktails to Warm Things Up This Holiday Season

When the days grow long and cold, we know winter has returned once again. And with winter comes the craving for cozy winter cocktails to warm us up.

As a team of bartending gurus, we’re no novices to festive cocktail recipes or bars (and holiday parties) filled with people in their feels. What’s there to be sad about? Well, being surrounded by their toxic family this time of year. So, be ready to warm their spirits with a festive drink.

To get your creative juices flowing and noggin (egg noggin, that is) full of ideas, here are 15 winter cocktail recipes sure to have any Grinch believing in the magic of holiday hoobie whatty.

Event planners, don’t waste time coming up with or making cocktails yourself! Hire a real team of experienced bartenders to do it all. Or if you’re a bar owner looking to catch your team up to speed for the holiday season, ask about our training program.

Top 15 Winter Cocktails that are Festive AF

Credit: Canva Pro |

1. Hot Toddy

There are a few staples when it comes to festive holiday drinks, and one of them is the hot toddy.

Hot toddies have long been thought to soothe congestion from flu and colds. This is why it’s a favorite for the long, cold weather winter months when your nose gets a-runnin’.

Sure, this drink has been around for a long time but you can create your own version using different ingredients like apple, star anise, or caramel.

Others have used cognac and rum as the main spirit. Or added flavored bitters. Get creative. Just don’t forget the cinnamon stick!

To make, combine whiskey, a sweetener like honey or agave, lemon juice, and cinnamon in a saucepan, pot, or teapot. Serve in a mug and garnish with a lemon slice and cinnamon stick.

Credit: Canva Pro | Did you know the Dutch introduced North America to hot chocolate?

2. Hot Chocolate

Growing up in the north where we’d get lake effect snow and cold, harsh winds, a cup of creamy hot chocolate was a saving grace. Along with thermal long johns, but you aren’t here for that.

Just because I’m grown now doesn’t mean I don’t love hot cocoa this time of year. I mean, what’s winter without one? Unless you’re in Florida… you’re really missing out.

So, what’s the best way to do an adult hot chocolate? Simple. Add tequila. Casamigos Tequila this one unlocked for you.

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces Casamigos Reposado Tequila
  • 1/2 ounce agave
  • 1/4 ounce salmon liqueur
  • prepared hot chocolate
  • punch of cinnamon
  • marshmallows
  • graham crackers

Instructions

  • Add tequila, agave, almond liqueur, cinnamon to a mug of your holiday choice. Go ahead and top it off with hot chocolate and garnish with marshmallows and graham crackers.
Credit: Canva Pro | Recipe from Esquire

3. Old-Fashioned

Like a regular old-fashioned, but make it winter.

Esquire has created a variation on this go-to bar drink that’s perfect for colder times.

Adding rum and syrup, this recipe has a thicker mouth-feel for an extra cozy feel.

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces rum
  • 1 bar spoon of demerara syrup
  • 3 dashes Angostura bitters

Instructions

  • Pour ingredients into a double Old Fashioned glass filled with ice. Add a lemon or orange twist for garnish.
Credit: Canva Pro | Recipe from New York Times

4. Apple Cider

Winter spice and everything nice, apple cider is a go-to when the cold weather hits. 

But sometimes, we need to shake things up. And that’s why we’re adding booze to our apple cider this year. 

What alcohol is good with apple cider? Glad you asked. Rum or whiskey pair well. Add some cinnamon whiskey like Fireball to make it spicy.

Credit: Canva Pro | Recipe from New York Times

5. Mulled Wine

Mulled wine will warm your heart this winter and keep your spirit bright.

The sweet and soothing flavor (and smell!) of this beverage will warm you up on a cold day or when you’re knee-deep in some fresh powder.

Differing a bit from boozy apple cider, here’s what you’ll need to make mulled wine.

Ingredients

  • 2 large oranges
  • 4 ¼ cups red wine
  • 1 ¼ cups ounces brandy
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 3 cardamom pods, slightly crushed

Instructions

  • Juice 1 orange after removing the peel in strips. Slice one orange into rounds for garnish.
  • Juice, orange peel, and the rest of the ingredients should be combined. Continue stirring until sugar has dissolved, about two minutes.

Bring the mixture to a boil, then immediately reduce the heat to low. Reduce the heat until the flavors have melded, about 30 minutes. Let cool, then strain.

Credit: Canva Pro | Recipe from Delish

6. White Russian

Perhaps reminding us of the snow and cold of Russia, nothing quite warms us up like the combo of coffee and alcohol.

 A traditional White Russian calls for vodka, coffee liqueur, and some type of cream served over ice. But we think this year deserves a bit more zest, don’t you think? Try these flavors out in your White Russian this year:

Credit: Canva Pro

7. Irish Coffee

Irish coffee is the king of hot drinks and is perfect for bringing good vibes, pleasure, and warmth to your holidays season and seasonal parties.

Irish Coffee origins can be traced back to a bartender working at an airport, who was preparing his long-distance travelers for their long flights with a strong coffee flavored with whisky and whipped cream.

Credit: Canva Pro | Recipe from Delish

8. Hot Buttered Rum

Harry Potter fans, meet your original butterbeer – hot buttered rum. Combining rum, butter, ice cream, sugar, and cinnamon, this treat will have you feeling magically comforted.

Ingredients

  • 2 cup apple cider
  • 1 cup rum
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup vanilla ice cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, ground

Instructions

  • Make the Batter
    • Beat butter and sugar until it’s fluffy. Add in ice cream and cinnamon, beat it. Put it in a baggie or jar, then store it in your freezer for a few hours. Or until you’re ready.
  • Prepare Your Drink
    • Heat apple cider. Then grab your mugs and put a few spoonfuls of your rum in each. Take your rum and fill the cup about a third of the way, the rest with warm apple cider. Stir and sip!

Making a batch for a large gathering? Just want to save extra for a quick sip later? The batter can be saved in your freezer.

Credit: Canva Pro | Recipe from Esquire

9. Champagne Cocktail

Trust me, your swanky holiday party or trendy bar top needs a bougie champagne cocktail. Your guests will be feeling like they’re living high off the hog with this drink in hand.

Ingredients

  • 4 oz sparkling wine
  • 1 sugar cube
  • Angostura bitters

Instructions

  • Dip a sugar cube in bitters and place it in a champagne flute. Fill with sparkling wine (or dry prosecco). Add a lemon twist for garnish.

You can also use juices like cranberry to pack some festive flavors into your champagne cocktail.

Credit: Canva Pro | Recipe from The Pioneer Woman

10. Winter Sangria

Sangria… like fruit punch but for grown-ups.

This seasonal spin on sangria is perfect for those of you who like to plan ahead and work smarter not harder. Plus, filled with cranberries, oranges, and apples, your guests will be craving this festive flavor long after the party ends.

Ingredients

  • 2 750-ml bottles of dry red wine
  • 1 cup cranberries
  • 1 cup orange liqueur
  • 1/2 cup Campari or Aperol
  • 2 oranges, thinly sliced and quartered
  • 2 apples, cut into small cubes

Instructions

In a large pitcher or punch bowl, combine the wine, cranberries, orange liqueur, Campari or Aperol, oranges, and apples. Chill for 2 to 6 hours before serving.

Credit: Esquire/Elizabeth Griffin | Recipe from Esquire

11. Good Tidings

Good tidings we bring to you in this drink!

The pink color of this winter cocktail will match your rosy cheeks. Not to mention, it’s packed full of your favorite cold-weather flavors.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 ounce vodka
  • 1 ounce Cointreau
  • 1 ounce lemon juice
  • 1 ounce cranberry juice
  • 1 bar spoon of allspice dram

Instructions

Mix ingredients in a shaker with ice. Over ice, strain into a Collins glass and top with club soda. Serve with a clove-studded lemon wheel for garnish.

Credit: Canva Pro | Recipe from Delicious

12. Salted Caramel Espresso Martini

Coffee can definitely get our gears back in working order when we’re feeling a bit lazy from all the holiday happenings. But you know what really gets things back in full swing? Espresso and vodka, ya filthy animals. Caramel’s just an added present.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon store-bought caramel
  • 50 milliliters espresso, cooled
  • 50 milliliters coffee liqueur
  • 100 milliliters vodka

Instructions

Shake caramel, espresso, and salt flakes in a cocktail shaker until caramel dissolves. Fill with ice, add coffee liqueur and vodka, and shake until frothy. Serve in two chilled martini glasses with finely grated chocolate, to taste.

Credit: Canva Pro | Recipe from Cosmopolitan

13. Mistletoe Mule

Here’s a fun fact to share and sound extra cultured to your boss at the holiday party… the mule only came into existence after a business owner was overrun with an excess of vodka and copper mugs. When life gives you vodka and copper mugs, make a mule.

But since we’re in the holiday spirit, our mule is getting a mistletoe makeover. To add in some holiday cheer, simply throw in a few dashes of cranberry bitters to your mule. Viola! A merry mule.

Credit: Delish/Parker Feierbach | Recipe from Delish

14. Peppermint Bark Mimosas

Candy canes aren’t just for sticky kids.

We’re just adding prosecco to peppermint to keep the spirit of the holiday season strong.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup. Dark chocolate chips, melted
  • 3 candy canes, crushed
  • 3 ounce peppermint vodka
  • 3 ounce White Crème de Cacao, divided
  • 1 bottle prosecco
  • 6 candy canes, whole

Instructions

Melt the dark chocolate chips in a saucepan over low heat.  Spread the chocolate on a small plate. Using a rolling pin, crush the three candy canes (unwrapped) in a Ziplock bag.  Transfer crushed candy canes to a plate. To coat champagne flute rims, dip first in chocolate, then in crushed candy canes.  Or, skip them. To each glass, add half an ounce of peppermint vodka and half an ounce of white Crème de cacao. Then, top off with Prosecco. Decorate with candy canes and enjoy!

Credit: Canva Pro | Recipe from The Blond Cook

15. Jack Frost

Ingredients

  • Agave or honey
  • Flaked coconut
  • 8 cups ice (to desired consistency)
  • 1 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/2 cup blue curacao
  • 1/2 cup vodka or light rum
  • 1/2 cup cream of coconut

Instructions

  • To rim the glasses, pour a thin layer of corn syrup on a plate, dip the rims into the corn syrup, then dip them in coconut flakes.
  • Blend ice, pineapple juice, blue curacao, vodka, and cream of coconut until smooth. Add to glasses and serve.



Spread Holiday Cheer with These 15 Winter Cocktail Ideas

You know what Buddy The Elf says, the best way to spread cheer is by serving winter cocktails. That’s not what he said? Oh, my bad! My statement still stands, though.

You have plenty of recipes for winter cocktails now. Just call yourself Martha, why don’t ya…

But if you’re reading this and all you want for a present this year is to be a bartender, then call us Santa Claus. Local Bartending School can take you from bartending zero to bartending hero before the New Year.

And don’t forget event planners and party hosts, we can help you plan the perfect, wintery holiday party. Let us help you create magic! Contact us today.

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Carrie Jean Lipe

Carrie Lipe has been writing creatively since childhood but jump-started her professional writing after college. She's an Indiana native, Ball State Hospitality graduate, and a bartender with over 10+ years in the industry. You can find her making basil Moscow mules when she's not writing. Follow her professional journey on Instagram! @contentbycarriejean

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