Mariah Carey is playing on the radio again, and ABC Family is starting to overwhelm us with commercials.

Ahhh yes, the holidays are starting. And what does that mean?

Holiday cocktails, of course.

Well, to be fair, the whole “Christmas in July” thing has rung very true since Target and places like it basically had their finger floating above the play button for “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” and “White Christmas” for the past five months. But now, the unmistakable chill, sound, and general vibe are in the air, and the holidays are just around the corner.

But even when we’re surrounded by the warmth of a roaring fire, cozy layers of clothing, and family bonding (or tension, I don’t know your life); sometimes that’s not enough.

Sometimes we need a little something extra to keep us warm and fuzzy for the holidays (or even just the bitter-cold months to follow). We all know how to throw way too much cheap whiskey into even cheaper eggnog, so you should probably try something new this year.

Here are a few cocktails that are less traditional takes on the spirits that boost your holiday spirit. You can bring them to a party or just sip them while you watch Lifetime Christmas movies all night.

The world is a cocktail, stir it up a little bit.

Candy Cane Cooler

This is probably a new one for you. NoMa social created a festive drink for December that is a slightly lighter (and sweeter) alternative to the thick holiday and winter drinks.

We’re not saying this is healthy, at all. But it’s the holidays, so suck it up and have some sugar.


  • 1 tbs crushed soft peppermint candy
  • 1 ½ fl oz vodka (or a jigger amount)
  • splash of white crème de menthe
  • ¼ fl oz brandy (1/4th of a jigger)
  • ½ fl oz half-and-half
  • Crushed ice
  • Peppermint stick for garnish
  • Mint sprig for garnish


Combine the vodka and crushed peppermint and stir to dissolve.

Add the remaining ingredients, stir, garnish, and enjoy.

(Thank you, NoMa Social)


Spiked Hot Cocoa

This is how grown ups do childhood nostalgia. Although I hope it’s the hot chocolate bringing you back to your childhood years…not the booze.


  • 1 quart milk (skim, 2%, or whole) or half-and-half
  • 6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 9 ounces peppermint schnapps
  • Whipped cream for serving
  • 6 peppermint sticks for serving

(Makes about 6 servings)


Heat one cup of the milk in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add chocolate, stirring constantly until melted. When the chocolate has melted, increase heat to medium and add the remainder of the milk while swhisking rapidly. Do not allow to boil.

Serve in small cups fortified with a jigger (1 ½ ounces_ or peppermint schnapps and a dollop of whipped cream. Add a peppermint stick to stir.

(Courtesy of Michael Chiarello for Food Network)


Tequila Eggnog (including the eggnog)

Finally, a way for tequila not to taste terrible.

No holiday drink lineup is complete without spiked eggnog. The tequila take on eggnog will take you away from the cold and transport you to a holiday on the beach. The only downside to this is that you see exactly what goes into that delicious but heavy eggnog…but who cares.

May we remind you, again, that it’s the holiday season.  Here’s a less traditional take on spiked eggnog:


  • 8 Eggs
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 ½ cups heavy cream
  • 2 cups whole milk (or 2%)
  • ½ teaspoon fresh nutmeg (save some for garnish)
  • 1 cup tequila (Casa Noble Añejo is recommended)

(makes about 1.5 qts (so about 48 ounces, a.k.a party size))


In a medium sauce pot, heat the cream and milk with the sugar. While the cream is heating, crack the eggs in a mixer bowl and beat until smooth. When the cream milk sugar mix is almost to a boil, take off the heat then combine the hot cream/milk SLOWLY to the mix bowl while beating at medium speed, making sure the eggs are not curdling.

After the eggs have been combined, pour back into the sauce pot and cook at medium heat. At this point, add the nutmeg/vanilla and cook until thick or keep at 160 degrees for five minutes.

After the cooking is complete, pour into a plastic container and cool for three hours (or until cold), then add the tequila and stir.

Note: If you want the “traditional” spiked eggnog just like grandma used to make, try it with whiskey or brandy and some cinnamon sprinkled on top.

(Thank you, Charlie from Depot Nuevo)


Here’s one that a lot of people know about, but few people have had the pleasure of actually trying.

Horchata has been called an infectious drink and apparently originated in Spain. There’s many variations of the drink, but here’s a pretty straight forward version of it (plus rum).

This one’s not quite as simple or quick as the previous drinks, so you need to get your chef hat on (not literally). By the end, you will have the drink of the Gods in your hands…or at least one that will make you feel like a god.


  • 1 cup uncooked long grain rice
  • 2 quarts warm water
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 16 cubes of ice
  • 1/4 cup of rum


Mix the rice and warm water together in a bowl, and let stand for one half hour. Reserving the water, drain, and place the rice in the bowl of a food processor. Add the cinnamon and process until paste forms. Return rice to the water and let stand at least two hours, stirring occasionally as the water turns milky white.

Strain the rice through a fine sieve into a bowl or pitcher. Stir in the milk, condensed milk, vanilla, and rum until evenly blended. Refrigerate at least two hours.

To serve, divide the ice cubes between four glasses and pour the chilled horchata over ice.

(Thank you, TimG and all

Honorable (Healthy) Mention

But if you’re a health freak, be it for health reasons or weird life choices, here’s some drink choices that might be more up your alley. These are courtesy of Cascade Ice – a sparkling water that is calorie, sugar, sodium, and gluten free, so go crazy ya health nuts. Two of the three were made for non-alcoholic punch and for kids, but let’s be real. You can spike Capri Sun and make it a cocktail for adults, so adding the alcohol of your choice is not required — but also not out of the question.

Enjoy the holidaze.



(Infographic courtesy of Cascade Ice)