10 New Holiday Cocktails Based on Classics

By Lindsay Silberman  |  November 22, 2013

Tradition dictates that year after year we’ll return to the same festive cocktails during the holidays. But if the notion of eggnog and mulled wine doesn’t exactly have your mouth watering, why not mix things up a bit this season? For inspiration, we turned to ten of the country’s top bartenders. These cocktail creators aren’t ditching tradition completely - they’re simply augmenting and revamping classic holiday favorites by introducing a new technique or an unexpected ingredient. Here, renowned cocktailians from South Carolina to South Beach share the kicked-up versions of their favorite holiday-inspired cocktails.

  • The Cocktail: gINNger Spice at Mother's Ruin, NYC
    Inspired by: Spiked Apple Cider
    “This is a simple cocktail which is elevated by using a highly underrated ingredient, ice wine. I like that this cocktail works hot or cold and has a nice spice while still remaining crisp and refreshing.” - Aisha Sharp, Mother’s Ruin, New York, New York

    4 pieces fresh ginger
    2 oz Inniskillin Riesling
    1.5 oz apple cider
    2 dashes Angostura bitters
    Dust with nutmeg
    Glassware: Rocks Glass over ice
    Garnish: Pear slice

    Muddle ginger, add remaining ingredients, add ice, shake, strain over fresh ice into a highball glass and garnish.

  • The Cocktail: Hot Buttered Shochu at Cocktail Bar, New Orleans, LA
    Inspired by:
    Hot Buttered Rum
    “Cinnamon has long been a beloved fall/winter spice, but it seems to really tug at those holiday memories that associate the spice to family occasions and celebrations. The earthy, rich aroma of the barley shochu, rich butter and warm vanilla really accentuates the experience, which is what any holiday cocktail should do.” - Skip Adams, Cocktail Bar, New Orleans, Louisiana

    1.5 oz Shochu
    .5   oz  Ron Zacappa 23-year-old
    .25 oz Vanilla Syrup
    1.0 bar spoon brown sugar
    1.0 bar spoon butter
    1.0  cinnamon stick

    Place all ingredients in a tea cup. Top with hot water. Stir with a cinnamon stick and leave it in for garnish. Place a bar spoon of butter on top to melt.

  • The Cocktail: La Poire Winter Mule at Lock & Key, Los Angeles, CA
    Inspired by
    : Moscow Mule
    “Moving into the winter season I enjoy flavors that remind me of wonderful family dinners. So I would take the classic vodka cocktail The Moscow Mule and substitute the lime juice for fresh pressed apple cider, adding another dimension making it with Grey Goose La Poire. A luscious savory cocktail with warm spice notes.” - Randy Evans, Lock & Key, Los Angeles, CA

    1 1/2 oz Grey Goose La Poire
    1 oz Fresh Apple Cider
    2 oz Ginger Beer
    Garnish: Pear slice & lemon wedge

    Combine ingredients in a highball glass or copper mug. Add cubed ice. Stir. Garnish with pear slice and lemon wedge.

  • The Cocktail: Forgive and Fernet at The Grocery, Charleston, SC
    Inspired By:
    The Poinsettia
    “The Forgive and Fernet is a holiday cocktail inspired by my grandmothers favorite Christmas cocktail ‘The Poinsettia’ - pomegranate juice, gin and ginger ale. I wanted to create a more complex cocktail that balances the citrusy Bombay Sapphire with the herbal fernet and the sweet tart flavors of pomegranate.”- Hallie Arnold, The Grocery, Charleston, South Carolina

    1 oz Bombay sapphire
    1/2 oz fernet branca
    1/2 oz Pama
    1 oz spicy ginger shrub
    1 oz sweet and sour
    5 morello cherries
    Garnish: 3 morello Cherries rolled in sparkling sugar

    Muddle cherries, shake the rest of the ingredients together. Strain onto ice. Garnish with sparkling cherries and a lemon twist.

  • The Cocktail: Spicy Alexandra, The Regent Cocktail Club in the Gale Hotel, Miami, FL
    Inspired By:
    The Alexander
    “I was inspired by the holiday vibe itself – many of the spices within this drink are extremely popular during the winter season including: cacao, cinnamon and almond milk, which make the perfect drink mixed together for the holidays especially by a fireplace. The Spicy Alexandra is a take of the original Alexander cocktail.” -  Julio Cabrera, The Regent Cocktail Club, Miami, Florida

    1.5 oz Bombay Sapphire East
    0.5 oz White Crème de Cacao
    0.5 oz Cinnamon Syrup
    1 oz Almond milk

    Shake ingredients together. Serve strained into a coupe glass with fresh grated cinnamon on top.

  • The Cocktail: Tea Time at Guillermo's at Death & Co., NYC
    Inspired by
    : Rusty Nail and Old Fashioned

    “This drink is great for the holidays because it encompasses the decadence of holiday food. Plus, it’s a great sipping cocktail for sitting in front of the fireplace on a chilly night. The honey in the Drambuie and Maple Syrup are perfect sweeteners for a fall or winter cocktail and the Queen of Earl tea from T Salon infused into the Siembre Azul gives the drink notes of Bergamont, Caramel and Molasses. Using a high proof rum, Scarlet Ibis, and the unique Fortaleza Reposado Tequila, lets the drink evolve and taste well-balanced right until the last drop, even if it is served over a large piece of ice. Using these two spirits together makes for spiced confectionery flavors while still letting the Rum and Agave show through the drink.” - Jillian Vose, Death & Co, NYC

    1 oz Scarlet Ibis Rum
    1 oz Fortaleza Reposado Tequila
    .5 oz Queen of Earl Infused Siembre Azul Reposado
    .5 oz Drambuie
    1 Teaspoon Maple Syrup
    1 Dash Orange Bitters,
    1 Dash Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel Aged Bitters

    Stir ingredients together and serve.

  • The Cocktail: Faubourg Tall Boy from SoBou in New Orleans, LA
    Inspired by:
    Kir Royale and a Tom Collins

    “The Tom Collins is my dad’s favorite drink and the Kir Royal is my mom’s favorite, so I combined the two creating a fun and festive drink that brings family together for the holidays.” - Abigail Gullo, SoBou, New Orleans, Louisiana

    1 1/2 oz Earl Grey infused gin
    1/2 oz creme de cassis
    1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
    1/2 oz simple syrup
    Top with cava or sparkling wine
    Garnish: lemon wheel

    Shake all ingredients but the wine in a shaker filled with ice. Strain and pour over fresh ice in a Collins glass and top with sparkling wine. Add a lemon wheel. The tea infusion is quick and easy: just soak four bags of Earl gray tea per one liter of gin for about 6-10 minutes.

  • The Cocktail: Cider Car at Restaurant Eve, Alexandria, VA
    Inspired By: Side Car

    “It's a hot drink that warms your belly, and makes you want another.” - Todd Thrasher, Restaurant Eve, Alexandria, Virginia

    1 1/2oz Calvados Busnell
    1/2 oz Cointreau
    5 oz Hot Apple Cider

    Pour all ingredients into a tempered glass. Stir. Garnish is a cinnamon sugar rim, and an orange twist.

  • The Cocktail: The Steve Jobs at BarMagic, Las Vegas, NV
    Inspired By:

    “This is a twist on the classic Godfather (Scotch and Amaretto) which is certainly a fall/winter classic. I brought it into the current mixological lexicon with a purposefully selected 12-year old Islay Whisky that adds just the right amount of tannins to counter the sweetness of the Amaretto and a responsibly gorgeous amount of smoke to add some dimension, followed by a whack of fresh Apple Cider to add some crisp acid and natural sweetness. It effortlessly marries some favorite flavors of fall and winter (whisky, smoke, honey, clove, cinnamon, apples, almonds, apricots, vanilla) in an approachable yet still complex package…And it's an Apple Godfather, so what else to call it: Steve Jobs.” - Tobin Ellis, BarMagic, Las Vegas, Nevada

    1 oz Bowmore 12 year Whisky
    1 oz DiSaronno
    1 oz Apple Cider
    Garnish: fresh-grated nutmeg

    Build in double old-fashioned glass with one large ice cube, stir.

  • The Cocktail: The Turkey Leg at Yardbird, Miami, FL
    Inspired By
    : Whiskey Smash
    "The inspiration for this cocktail dates back to when I was a small boy and just before Thanksgiving my mother would fill our house with the scent of her spiced cranberry sauce. Although my recipe is a bit different than Mom's, it has no trouble transporting me home for the holidays.” -  Josh Holliday, Yardbird, Miami, Florida

    1½ oz Wild Turkey 81                   
    ¾ oz Fresh Lemon Juice                
    ¾ oz Simple Syrup                        
    ¾ oz Spiced Cranberry Puree          
    1 Dash Angostura Orange Bitters 

    Stir ingredients together, top with sparkling wine.