The holiday spirits: Sip these festive cocktails

We're in that in-between season. Some blast Mariah Carey the day after Halloween. Others insist that the holidays don't begin until after Thanksgiving

I fall somewhere in between. We deck the halls right after Thanksgiving, but I start sneaking in holiday movies through November. Even some of the terrible budget ones have endearing qualities that I return to every year. I love the small-town feel and predictability. But I mostly love them because they ease me into the spirit.

As do holiday cocktails! The ultra seasonal ones always have a fun sprig of rosemary, candy canes or a twig of spruce. It's a busy time of year. We deserve to treat ourselves to something festive and seasonal.

Here a few of my favorites...

spruce gin and soda

Spruce gin & soda

This one's a cinch to make, and the uncommon herbal flavor will transport you to a Christmas tree farm. You'll need:

  • 3 oz spruce gin
  • Splash of of club soda
  • Squeeze of a lime wedge 
  • A spruce tip

To enjoy:

Add all ingredients, save for the spruce tip, into a shaker with ice. Strain into a martini glass and top with a sprig of spruce.

spiced mulled wine

 Spiced mulled wine

This European classic evokes ski chalets, and nights by a roaring fire. It's endured since the Roman empire because it's warming and delicious.

You'll need

  • A bottle of dry red wine
  • 1/4 cup of brandy
  • A mulled spice wine season packet or sachet (you can make a homemade mix, but it's Christmas. Choose your battles.)

To enjoy:

Pour a bottle of dry red wine into  a crock pot or a stovetop pot on a low simmer. Add brandy. Dip in the mulled spices, which come in breathable sachets you can steep. Warm up, stir, and ladle into elegant tea cups. 

cranberry kir royale

Cranberry kir royale

A little sparkle and fizz adds lightness to a holiday gathering, and the seasonal ingredients make it extra festive.

To enjoy:

  • In a flute, pour two tablespoons of cranberry juice
  • Pour one tablesproon of creme de cassis 
  • Add a cranberry 
  • Top with Champagne or Prosecco


    Homemade eggnog

    You can get store-bought and spike it with rum (I'd still drink it). But this eggnog is fresh, and gets better with time. Its creamy complexity peaks months after making it.

    You'll need: 

    • 4 large eggs, separated
    • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
    • 1 pint whole milk
    • 1 cup heavy cream
    • 1/3 cup bourbon
    • 1/3 cup dark rum
    • 1 teaspoon freshly-grated nutmeg

    To enjoy:

    • In a stand mixer, beat the egg yolks with the 1/3 cup of sugar
    • Mix until the sugar and the yolks lighten in color
    • Add the milk, cream, bourbon, rum, and nutmeg
    • Once well-stirred, move the mixture to a large bowl and set aside
    • Place the egg whites in the now-empty stand mixer bowl and beat into soft peaks
    • While it's still mixing, gradually add the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar so that the peaks will stiffen
    • Fold the egg whites into the mixture
    • Chill and serve

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