Making merry with the art of holiday mixology

by Stacia Friedman
Posted 12/15/22

Milk and cookies may be fine for Santa, but the rest of us deserve something stronger to take the edge off all that shopping, gift wrapping and wondering what the cat did with the tinsel.

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Making merry with the art of holiday mixology


Milk and cookies may be fine for Santa, but the rest of us deserve something stronger to take the edge off all that shopping, gift wrapping and wondering what the cat did with the tinsel. 

Enter the holiday cocktail!

Cocktails, which first came into being in the 18th century when the British took to mixing up big bowls full of spirits, fruit juices, and spices that they took to calling “punch,” have been entertaining us, and our guests, ever since. Though it wasn’t until 1806 that we actually began calling them cocktails, when they were described as “a stimulating liquor composed of any kind of sugar, water, and bitters.” 

By 1862, when the first bartenders guide was published, there were such a variety of these alcoholic confections they required a full book of recipes. In the ensuing years, flavors and mixes came in and out of fashion, changing with the ages, until we landed in the 20th century and arrived at what is now a standard repertoire. 

These include the classics of the 1950s - martinis, sidecars and pink squirrels, which were followed by the tiki culture of the 1960s, when Polynesian-style drinks were garnished with paper umbrellas, pineapple and cherries. There was the stalwart favorites of the brunch crowd, the Bloody Mary, and the ubiquitous Cosmopolitan, which hitched a ride into our lexicon with the TV sitcom “Sex and the City.” 

These days, bartenders  – otherwise known as “mixologists” – are styling a fresh list of holiday-themed cocktails fit for any kind of seasonal event. 

Consider the recipes below as your cheat sheet, and experiment in advance of entertaining to discover which ones you like best. Along with alcohol-based drinks, these recipes include mocktails, which would be appreciated by guests who wish to raise a glass without raising their blood alcohol. 

And while you’re at it, if you are new at making cocktails or want to improve your game, visit Occasionette at 8521 Germantown Ave. You’ll find a large selection of unique mixers, alcohol substitutes, shakers, stemware, cocktail napkins and cocktail recipe books, including “The Waldorf Astoria Cocktail Book,” for aficionados and history buffs. 

Peppermint martini

This is a festive rendition of the traditional Martini.  It’s more of a dessert in a glass to serve during the holidays and at parties to win over the crowd after a delicious meal.  


1 ounce peppermint schnapps or crème de menthe 

0.5 ounce vodka 

1.5 ounces crème de cacao 

1.5 ounces heavy cream 

Garnish: peppermint candies and grenadine 


To prepare the rim, place crushed peppermint candies on a plate in an even layer. Pour just enough grenadine onto a plate to form a shallow puddle. Roll the rim of your martini glass in the grenadine and then roll the wet rim over the crushed candies until evenly coated. 

Add peppermint schnapps, vodka, crème de cacao and heavy cream to a cocktail shaker with a handful of ice. Shake vigorously until cold. Strain the drink into the prepared martini glass and serve. 

The Grinch cocktail

The Grinch may have stolen Christmas but this cocktail will steal your heart. It is flavored with Midori, a melon liqueur, which also gives the cocktail its green hue. Rum and lemon-lime soda round out this easy cocktail, adding a light citrus flavor. Not a rum fan? No problem. This colorful cocktail works just as well made with vodka.


1 ounce rum

1 ounce melon liqueur

5 ounces lemon-lime soda


Garnish with a maraschino cherry 


Fill a rocks glass with ice, add the melon liqueur and rum, top with the lemon-lime soda, and stir gently to combine. Top with a cherry.

Eggnog martini

Since the invention by monks in the 13th century, eggnog has contained alcohol of some kind or another — at first, sherry. George Washington's favored version allegedly included brandy, whiskey, rye and rum. No wonder he was the only one standing in that boat when he crossed the Delaware! Remember, it’s okay to use store-bought eggnog. We won’t tell.


1.5 ounces vanilla vodka

1 ounce amaretto

2 ounces eggnog


Garnish with chocolate shavings, simple syrup, cinnamon sugar


Pour a dash of simple syrup onto one plate and cinnamon sugar onto another.Dip the rim of the martini glass into the syrup and then the cinnamon sugar and set aside. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the vodka, amaretto liqueur and eggnog. Give it a good shake until chilled and creamy. Strain into a prepared martini glass, sprinkle over chocolate shavings and serve

Jack Frost cocktail

Know any Frozen fans who are ready to “Let It Go?” Then, this ice blue cocktail is for you.


1 ounce vodka or white rum

2 ounces blue curaçao

1 ounce pineapple juice

1 ounce cream of coconut


Garnish with light corn syrup and shredded coconut 


Pour light corn syrup onto one plate and sprinkle shredded coconut flakes onto another plate. Dip the rim of your glass into, first, the corn syrup and then the coconut and set aside. Fill a blender with ice, vodka or rum, blue curaçao, pineapple juice and cream of coconut. Blitz until smooth and frosty. Pour the frozen mixture into your prepared glass, pop in a straw and serve.


Non-alcoholic drinks don’t have to be boring or obvious. Here are two non-alcoholic cocktails that look and taste so good, everyone will want one. 

Mango mule

Try this chic alternative to the all-time classic cocktail the Moscow mule. Mango puree and honey syrup give it a sweet taste, while the final splash of ginger beer makes it unique and exciting. Note: You can buy honey syrup or make it yourself by heating a half cup of honey with a half cup of water over medium heat until dissolved. Then store it in the fridge.


4 to 5 cucumber slices
1 ounce honey syrup
1.5 ounces mango puree
1.5 ounces  fresh lime juice
1.5 ounces ginger beer


Muddle the cucumber and honey syrup into the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Add the mango puree and lime juice to the mix, then shake with ice. Pour the liquid into a copper mug for the iconic touch of a Moscow mule. Sprinkle in ginger beer and stir.

Chocolate Martini

For those with a sweet tooth and a chocolate addiction, this mocktail is the one for you! You can keep it in the fridge for whenever you get a chocolate craving and replace dessert with it as well.


½ cup cold milk
2 tablespoons chocolate syrup
½ tablespoon corn syrup
chocolate sprinkles


Combine milk, chocolate syrup, corn syrup, and ice in a blender. Place excess chocolate syrup and the chocolate sprinkles on the rim of the glass. Pour drink into the glass.

Whether you spend the holidays snuggled in front of your fireplace at home, skiing in Aspen, or basking in the sun in Cabo, the Local wishes you all the joys of the season. Bottoms up!