With Thanksgiving in the rearview mirror, we can fully settle into the holiday season and break out the Christmas trees, twinkly lights, and tinsel. And if you’re ready to host all manner of seasonal parties, it’s probably a good idea to have a few festive cocktails in your arsenal to serve up all the cheer. And what better inspiration to draw from than your favorite holiday films?
Truly, these seasonal cult-classics will be just the ticket to getting your guests and loved ones into the holiday spirit. And, they also offer you plenty of options to play with, too, in terms of flavor profiles. Maybe you want to serve up the “world’s best cup of coffee” — á la Buddy the Elf — by way of a rich espresso martini ... with extra syrup, of course. Or perhaps you’d like to serve a berry-focused, mistletoe-inspired sip, based on the iconic code word from the Christmas rom-com, Four Christmases? And nothing screams the holidays like a minty Grinch-green cocktail that is sure to make hearts grow a few sizes from pure joy.
So, if you’re finalizing your party plans for the next few weeks, take note of the expert-approved cocktails below, all of which are inspired your favorite holiday movies. Cheers to merriest and brightest season yet.
Buddy’s Espresso Martini: Elf
An espresso martini is always a good idea, but it feels particularly ingenious when attached to everyone’s favorite displaced elf. Yes, inspired by Buddy himself, this martini is a collab between The Community Spirit Vodka and Peace Coffee. Just as Buddy from Elf adds syrup to his coffee concoction, this recipe provides a balanced splash of simple syrup to offer sweetness while still allowing the smooth vodka and rich espresso to shine. Feel free to channel your inner elf and be heavy handed with the sweet stuff.
- A single shot of espresso
- 1/2 oz coffee liqueur
- 1/2 oz simple syrup
- 2 oz of Community Spirit Vodka
Pour a fresh shot of espresso it into an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Add the vodka, coffee liqueur, simple syrup, and shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with three whole espresso beans and enjoy!
Disaster Mocktail: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
For many, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation hits a bit too close to home, reminding them of the stress and chaos that can come with holiday festivities.But if you can’t beat ‘em, make a tasty mocktail that celebrates the seasonal storm. Try this refreshing spritz created by Canada Dry with Netflix Drink Masters’ Natalie Migliarini to curate a holiday recipe for “Disaster,” formulated specifically to bring a little comfort and joy to all those awkward and uncomfortable moments.
- 2 oz spiced orange tea or any spiced tea you have in your pantry
- ½ oz 100% cranberry juice
- ½ oz lemon juice
- ½ oz honey syrup (to taste) (maple/agave syrup alternatively)
- Top with Canada Dry Ginger Ale (about 4 oz)
Add all the ingredients, except Canada Dry, to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake to chill and combine the ingredients. Strain over fresh ice. Top with Canada Dry Ginger Ale. Garnish with cranberries, an orange slice and a cinnamon stick.
The Marv & Harry: Home Alone
Heather Blanchard, lead bartender at The Pool Club at Virgin Hotels New Orleans, created this smoky and unique cocktail to keep you on your toes, not unlike the “Wet Bandits” it’s named after. Serve this herb-y drink before a hearty meal or as a nightcap. Keep the change, ya filthy animal.
- 1 oz Elijah Craig
- .75 oz Amaro Montenegro
- 1 oz sweet potato and rosemary reduction*
- 3 dashes chicory pecan bitters
- rosemary sprig
Build in mixing glass, add ice, and stir. Strain over large rock. Garnish with a rosemary sprig.
* Sweet Potato Reduction Recipe
- 1 sweet potato
- 4 rosemary sprigs
- 5 drops vanilla extract
- 2 quart water
- 1 quart brown sugar
- pinch of salt
Sauté sweet potato with salt in a pan till roasted. Add rosemary and stir until fragrant. Add water to deglaze the pan and bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Add vanilla extract. Cook for about 30 minutes or until sweet potato is tender. Turn off the heat and stir in the brown sugar. When cool, strain and serve.
Jameson Wonderful Whiskey Punch: It’s A Wonderful Life
The holiday season is a time to revel in the simple pleasures that make it “a wonderful life.” So, why not make a cocktail that helps you do just that? This tasty and fizzy concoction by Jane Danger, National Mixologist for Pernod Ricard, is a whiskey-filled take on traditional holiday punch. The beauty of this cocktail is it’s meant to made in bulk so you can enjoy with loved ones.
- 3 parts Jameson Black Barrel
- 2 parts ginger beer
- 2 parts cranberry juice
- juice of 1 lemon
- 2 parts seltzer
- Fresh cranberries, orange slice, and rosemary sprigs for garnish
Combine all ingredients in your favorite punch bowl. Serve over ice and garnish with fresh cranberries, orange slice, and rosemary.
Absolut Mistletoe: Four Christmases
While Kate and Brad may have needed a codeword — “MISTLETOE!” — to escape their four family holiday parties, you likely won’t need one thanks to this fruity and festive sip. Another Jane Danger creation, this cranberry cocktail will keep the good times rolling, no matter who you’re with.
- 1½ oz Absolut Vodka
- 3 oz cranberry juice
- ⅓ oz lime juice
- splash of lemon-lime soda
- 1 sprig red currant and mint leaves for garnish
Fill a rocks glass with ice cubes. Add Absolut Vodka, cranberry juice, and lime juice. Top with lemon-lime soda. Garnish with red currant and mint leaves.
Christmas Cricket: How The Grinch Stole Christmas
You can’t have a holiday celebration without the Grinch! Celebrate everyone’s favorite green pessimist with this creamy, rich take on the classic chocolate-mint Grasshopper (served at the Miracle Holiday Pop-Up Bars hitting major cities around the world this season). The smooth vanilla and coconut flavor and minty color will work their magic and just might
steal save Christmas.
- 2 oz Blanco Tequila
- 1/4 oz vanilla liqueur
- 1/4 oz minty amaro
- 1 oz coco pandan
- 1 oz heavy whipping cream
- 4 dashes mole bitters
Christmapolitan: Miracle On 34th Street
This Christmas-inspired take on the classic Cosmopolitan (also served at the Miracle pop-up bars) will have everyone saying, “I Believe.” Serve the ruby-red drink in a festive glass for peak holiday vibes.
- 2 oz vodka
- ¼ oz elderflower liqueur
- ¼ oz dry vermouth
- 1 oz spiced cranberry sauce
- ½ oz lime juice
- absinthe spritz
Spray a chilled coupe with absinthe mist. Place all ingredients into a cocktail shaker, top with ice, shake, and fine strain into the prepared coupe. Garnish with a rosemary sprig.
Ralphie Shoots His Eye Out: A Christmas Story
This deliciously fruity and refreshing cocktail, a drink created for The Pop-Up Christmas Bara at The Harpeth Hotel’s in Franklin, TN, may just match the excitement of finding a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle under you Christmas Tree. In fact, we’re willing to bet, it will exceed it.
- 2oz Vodka
- ½ oz Lemon Juice
- 3oz Pomegranate Juice
- Ginger Beer
Fill Collins glass with ice. Add vodka, lemon juice, and pomegranate juice. Stir to combine. Top with ginger beer. Serve with a shotgun shell filled with strawberry boba pearls.
Door Knocker: Scrooged
Prepare for a visit from the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future with a citrus-y ginger mocktail (or cocktail) that’ll keep their messages sweet ... no matter what they show you. Yes, designed by the Bitte team for the cult classic flick Scrooged, this fizzy sip will keep the Scrooge vibes at bay. (And if you take a fresh spin on this drink, make sure to share it on Instagram and tag #drinkbitte.)
- 1 can of Bitte Tangelo Ginger Soda
- 1 oz alcohol of choice or Prosecco (optional)
Chill soda and serve neat or over ice in a rocks glass. Add alcohol of choice or Prosecco if preferred. Pair with gummy candy for extra sweetness.