12 Holiday Cocktails to Make Your Spirits Bright


Since us “kids,” were of legal drinking age, every year my family makes a fun holiday cocktail for a toast on Christmas Eve. And since I moved to Charleston, I love to go out and enjoy fancy holiday cocktails to celebrate the season. Unfortunately, with this year’s COVID Christmas, our celebrations will look a little different.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t still get festive at home. Here are 12 easy holiday cocktail recipes (including some of my family’s favorites) that you can use for a stay-at-home date night, a Zoom Christmas party, a toast with your pod, or my personal favorite, in your pajamas watching Hallmark movies.

Serving up Candy Cane Shooters for Christmas Eve guests circa 2014!

12 Festive Holiday Cocktails

Buddy the Elf Cocktail

Buddy the Elf Cocktail: Recipe and image from Half Baked Harvest

If you have a sweet tooth and you love the movie Elf, you should definitely make the Buddy the Elf Cocktail from Half Baked Harvest. With vodka, Kahlua, maple syrup, cinnamon, and ginger, it’s better than a Christmas cookie.

The Mistletoe Kiss

The Mistletoe Kiss: Recipe and image from Smells Like Home

Need something light to go with your holiday charcuterie board? The Mistletoe Kiss from Smells Like Home combines vodka, lemon, rosemary, and cranberries for a festive and refreshing cocktail.

Candy Cane Shooters

Candy Cane Shooters: Recipe and image from Tipsy Bartender

The Candy Cane Shooter is basically a shot full of Christmas. When we make this, we use equal parts Godiva White Chocolate Liqueur and Peppermint Schnapps. You can also follow this recipe from Tipsy Bartender. Just don’t forget to rim your glasses with candy canes.

Cranberry Margaritas

Cranberry Margaritas: Recipe and image from Gimme Some Oven.

These Cranberry Margaritas from Gimme Some Oven are a simple holiday twist on my old favorite: the margarita. Just replace some lime juice with cranberry juice and add some frozen cranberries and lime juice for that Christmas red and green.

Pomegranate Champagne Spritzers

Pomegranate Champagne Spritzer: Recipe and image from The College Housewife. Perfect for a holiday brunch.

Perfect for a holiday brunch, the Pomegranate Champagne Spritzer from The College Housewife combines fresh orange juice, pomegranate juice, and champagne. Yum!

Santa Shot

Santa Shot Cocktail: Recipe and image from Mix That Drink.

The Santa Shot from Mix That Drink is pretty, pepperminty, and packs a little punch. It’s also easier than you think to create the red and green layers with grenadine, creme de menthe, and peppermint schnapps, so all of your friends will think you’re a pro.

Holiday Milkshake Shooters

Holiday Milkshake Shooters: Recipe and image from Delish

These Holiday Milkshake Shooters from Delish are more of a milkshake than a shooter, so you may want to double the recipe and use bigger cups. When we made these, we couldn’t find mint Oreo thins, but regular Oreos worked just as well. If your kids want to get involved, these are also really easy to make alcohol-free by nixing the vodka.

Cinnamon Bourbon Old Fashioned

Cinnamon Bourbon Old Fashioned: Recipe and image from Half Baked Harvest

Honor your inner mixologist with another winner from Half Baked Harvest: The Cinnamon Bourbon Old Fashioned. While I usually shy away from recipes that require me to make a syrup, this one is really simple. Plus the maple syrup, cinnamon, rosemary, and bourbon will leave you feeling warm inside.

Egg Nog Cocktail

Eggnog Cocktail: Recipe and image from A Farm Girl’s Dabbles

If you ask me, any egg nog can be a cocktail with a little whiskey or rum. This recipe for an Eggnog Cocktail from A Farm Girl’s Dabbles “shakes” it up with the addition of brandy, almond-flavored liqueur, and vanilla ice cream.

Cinnamon Fly

The Cinnamon Fly: Recipe and image from Firefly Distillery

As a Charlestonian, you probably have a bottle of Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka in your liquor cabinet. And if you like the sound of hot, boozy, cinnamon tea, try the Cinnamon Fly from Firefly Distillery’s website. 

Christmas Sangria

The Ultimate Winter Sangria: Recipe and image from Joyful Healthy Eats

Whether you’re dreaming of a white Christmas or red Christmas, sangria is a great cocktail for you! My favorite thing about sangria is that you really don’t need a recipe, but the Ultimate Winter Sangria from Joyful Healthy Eats has everything I love in a Christmas sangria: oranges, pears, cinnamon, brandy, and wine, of course.

Rudolph’s Tipsy Spritzer

Rudolph’s Tipsy Spritzer : Recipe and image from Tidy Mom

In addition to having a fun name, Rudolph’s Tipsy Spritzer from Tidy Mom is really simple to make, with just cranberry juice, orange juice, and soda. You can also make a kid-friendly version by omitting the vodka.

Which holiday cocktails are you making this year?