As you start prepping to host family and friends for holiday meals this year, you can’t forget about the drinks. Holiday-themed cocktails always add a fun flair to your meal, and I think we can all collectively agree that, if 2020 is in need of anything, it’s fun. From drinks that warm you to your toes to refreshing cocktails that keep you sipping, we’ve compiled a list of the nine best Christmas cocktails to make in 2020.
1. Mulled Wine
The beloved holiday drink originated in Europe and can still be found at Christmas markets across the continent. (It’s a favorite in the US, too.) Mulled wine is simple to make and a crowd-pleaser, so it offers an easy fix if you’re short on ideas and ingredients. Any bottle of dry red wine will do, and make sure you have fresh oranges (for steeping and garnishing), cinnamon, and mulling spices. As is customary, top off this cozy drink with a splash of brandy or bourbon. Or any liquor of your choosing. Throw it all together in a pot and let it simmer for up to three hours.
2. Cinnamon Rosemary Old Fashioned
This seasonal spin on the most classic of drinks is sure to both warm and please you. Bearing the simplicity of its name, the Old Fashioned is composed of just a few ingredients. Though this festive version tacks on a few extras to add to the seasonal flair, they’re all easy to find and straightforward to make. The cinnamon rosemary syrup complements the staple ingredients—bourbon, bitters, orange peel—to make this one of the best Christmas cocktails of 2020.
3. Pomegranate Ginger Paloma
Though Palomas are not typically made with ginger beer, this recipe encourages getting into the spirit and flavor of the holidays with this seasonal twist. The traditional elements of a fresh, summery Paloma—tequila, grapefruit juice, lime—are there, but the ginger, the deep red from the pomegranate juice, plus the fresh green accent of the mint leaf, takes you straight to Christmas season. This recipe only makes one serving, so be sure to get a headcount before you start making it—unless you’re not looking to share!
4. Apple Cider Hot Toddy
The classic cold-weather cocktail, this festive hot toddy recipe is quick to make, light, and will warm you from the inside out. The recipe subs in apple cider for honey to bring home the seasonal taste, but you don’t lose the simplicity that makes this drink universally loved. With only five ingredients, you can whip this one-serving recipe up in just a few minutes.
5. Hot Buttered Rum
Known for its connection to the holiday season, it’s no surprise the hot buttered rum is one of the best Christmas cocktails for 2020. This cozy, creamy cocktail dates back to colonial times, so it’s a tried and true crowd-pleaser whose recipe doesn’t need much tweaking. This original recipe is straightforward; incorporate your favorite wintry spices, butter, and rum in a batter, add hot water, and you’ve nailed this cocktail. You can also save the extra batter in the fridge to make plenty more to keep you warm through the winter.
6. Gingerbread Eggnog
This famed holiday drink can be made as a mocktail or cocktail, though this recipe recommends you don’t hold the rum. Seasonal spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger add another wintry layer to one of the most classic of Christmas cocktails. You can make this creamy drink in just 15 minutes, but don’t forget to leave time to let it chill for a few hours before serving.
7. Snowflake Martinis
This 2020 Christmas cocktail may be a bit more decadent than the others, but a fun drink like these Snowflake Martinis might just be the perfect way to say goodbye to this less-than-normal year. The recipe probably requires a trip to the store, unless you have vanilla vodka and white chocolate liqueur in your pantry, but the end result is worth it. The creamy white cocktail, topped off with white sanding sugar on the rim of the glass, will put you in the holiday spirit—with or without a white Christmas.
8. Cranberry Gin Fizz
By Food Network
With the red and green of the cranberries and sprig of thyme, this cranberry gin fizz looks the part of a Christmas cocktail. The drink is easy to put together, and you might already have everything you need—gin, cranberry juice, orange juice, ginger ale, and some fresh thyme—to make a batch. They’re also pretty to look at, so they make for a stress-free cocktail that will still wow your guests at holiday dinner.
9. Dirty Snowmen
While we’re talking about decadent cocktails, I bring to you the Dirty Snowmen. Delish calls this drink their “most over-the-top, indulgent spiked hot cocoa recipe—ever,” and it’s not hard to see why. Ice cream, hot chocolate, Baileys, and loads of whipped cream make this an extravagant but must-have dessert cocktail. You might want to wait an hour after you’ve eaten dinner to dive into this drink, or you run the risk of being too full to finish.
Bellinis may not be your traditional Christmas drink, but in my Italian home, we make the Venetian-inspired cocktail year-round—including on Christmas Eve as we’re cooking up enough food to feed three homes (cue my mother, asking for a “balloony”). If you’re looking to channel your inner Italian, this refreshing cocktail might be just what you need. This recipe offers some flexibility based on what you have in your home. Especially because fresh peaches might be hard to come by this time of year. Cin cin!