No Christmas party is complete without a warm mug of eggnog, a beautiful candy cane martini, or an Irish coffee. Christmas drinks bring back memories and are a wonderful way to celebrate the holidays with friends.
Learn more about classic Christmas drinks, where they came from, and how to make each one!
Eggnog is creamy, sweet, and the perfect addition to your holiday with or without the alcohol! It descended from medieval Britain’s “posset”, a milky drink similar to ale that was used to toast to prosperity.
The American colonies embraced the drink in the 1700’s, using rum as the alcoholic base; since eggs and milk were plentiful, it was an affordable drink option, especially for the holidays.
What about the name? It’s thought to come from the word “noggin”, which was a wooden cup, combined with “grog”, a strong beer.
Hot Buttered Rum
Hot buttered rum can be traced back to Europe in the 1600’s, when hot and spicy drinks were consumed by sailors to fight the cold weather. When England captured Jamaica in 1655, rum became the alcohol of choice over brandy.
American colonists later began importing and distilling it, featuring rum in winter drinks. The delicious hot buttered rum combines alcohol with sugar or honey, boiling water, spices, and a thick pat of butter.
Candy Cane Martini
The candy cane martini combines all the best flavors and colors of the season! A mix of vanilla vodka, crème de cacao, and peppermint schnapps topped with a candy cane, it’s the perfect Christmas drink.
While the exact origins of the candy cane martini aren’t known, the classic martini is thought to have originated during the Gold Rush, when a bartender named Martinez ran out of champagne and mixed together what he had on hand.
English Christmas Punch
English Christmas punch is a warm drink made with rum, red wine, tea, and citrus and works perfectly for a holiday party. It was a popular drink in 19th century Britain, associated with warmth during snowy Christmas meals.
Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” also featured the punch in its portrayal of Christmas, which had a significant impact on how we view the holiday today. Since then, it’s been a Christmas favorite!
Hot water combined with whiskey, lemon, spices, and sugar make the perfect holiday drink. Hot toddies originated in Western Europe during the 18th century to fight off the bitter cold.
The water used for those drinks in Edinburgh came from Tod’s Well – hence, the name! Quite a few variations have come from that first, warm drink, and it’s easy to find anywhere during the winter.
In 5th century England, the first recorded toast in history was given with a goblet of spiced wine, and everyone cried out, “Waes hael!” or “Good health!”
This holiday tradition of wishing others good cheer with a glass of warm apple punch has become a big part of our holidays, often associated with going Christmas caroling.
The brandy Alexander is a classic cocktail made of brandy, crème de cacao, and cream. The earliest recipe comes from 1916 and it’s thought to have been invented at Rector’s, a pre-Prohibition bar in New York.
Supposedly, a bartender by the name of Troy Alexander created the brandy Alexander to serve an all-white drink celebrating an advertising campaign character named Phoebe Snow. Who knew?
Tom and Jerry
No, we’re not talking about the cat and mouse cartoon duo! The Tom and Jerry is a creamy drink related to eggnog, but served warm.
It was thought to have been created by British sports journalist Pierce Egan and has become a staple at winter tables.
Mulled wine was created by the Romans in the 2nd century to fight against the cold winter. The tradition of heating wine with winter spices spread throughout Europe, as it was thought to help avoid sickness.
It became more of a global phenomenon in the 1800’s and is consumed in the winter and during the holidays all around the world to this day.
Glogg, while fun to pronounce, is also delicious, consisting of red wine, brandy, and port with spices, raisins, and almonds. It’s a traditional Scandinavian drink that goes back to the 1500s.
At the time, it was called ‘Hippocras” and was named after, of course, Hippocrates! The name transitioned over the years and was eventually called Glogg.
Celebrate this beautiful Christmas flower through the classic drink made of champagne, Cointreau, and cranberry juice! While the history isn’t perfectly clear, cranberry is a very common flavor around the holidays and champagne cocktails are thought to have originated in 1861, when Britain mourned the death of Prince Albert.
The combination of the two only makes sense for a great holiday party!
Spiced Rum Punch
The first documentation of rum punch comes from Barbados in 1651, where they began experimenting with dark rum and spices.
It’s been transformed over the years and now often includes cinnamon, nutmeg, and citrus flavors. It’s a delicious and not-too-sweet drink to keep around the holiday table!
Spiked Hot Chocolate
Hot chocolate is a holiday favorite of both kids and adults, but it tastes even better for the over-21 crowd when it’s spiked! Hot chocolate actually started in Mexico in 500 BC, where the Mayans mixed cocoa seeds, water, cornmeal, and chili peppers to drink.
It made its way to Europe in the 1500s, where it was served warm and sweetened. Now, we often make it from packets for the kiddos and add coffee liqueur, peppermint schnapps, or Kahlua for an adult twist.
A sparkling julep combines all the classic flavors of the mint julep with the bubbly texture of champagne. The mint julep originated in Kentucky, traditionally made with sugar syrup and mint and drank by farmers to wake up in the mornings!
It’s become the official drink of the Kentucky Derby and, with a touch of champagne, is perfect for celebrating the holidays.
The kir royale is champagne with crème de cassis, a liqueur made from black currants. It descends from Kir, which began in Burgandy, France, and was named after the priest Canon Felix Kir.
The Kir Royale is made from champagne rather than white wine, and is sweet and delicious.
Algonquin Bar Punch
Algonquin bar punch is an excellent party drink, combining citrus, champagne, and rum. The Algonquin is a legendary bar in New York, with literary regulars ranging from Harpo Marx to Dorothy Parker.
Algonquin bar punch originated here, along with a variety of other delicious drink recipes that are beloved to this day! The citrus flavors and touch of champagne make for a great winter celebration drink.
Earl Grey Bourbon Punch
Earl Grey bourbon punch mixes the classic tea with winter flavors like thyme, rosemary, and citrus. While it’s difficult to find many details about the punch’s history, earl grey tea itself was named after an English aristocrat by the name of Charles Grey.
It’s thought to have been named after Earl Grey when a gift of tea and oranges arrived from China and the fruit flavor was absorbed by the tea!
Brandy Milk Punch
Milk punch is an early cocktail, dating back to the 1600’s. Thanks to the clarification of the milk, it could be stored indefinitely. Traditionally, milk punch combines warm milk that is broken with citrus juice and complemented by other flavors.
Brandy is a common addition and is often seen around the holidays.
Dark and Stormy
As Bermuda’s unofficial national drink, the dark and stormy got its name from an old sailor who said that its murky color looked just like storm clouds.
Ginger beer was produced on the island, and they eventually realized that rum was the perfect compliment. The rest was history!
Peppermint White Russian
The peppermint white Russian is another creamy favorite around the holidays, combining cream, coffee liqueur, and peppermint vodka. The white Russian was created in 1949 by a Belgian bartender to honor Perle Mesta, the U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg.
Its name came thanks to the primary ingredient of vodka which, of course, is beloved by Russians. Substituting peppermint vodka makes it a great holiday treat!
Irish coffee is a wonderful way to end Christmas, a warming blend of coffee, whiskey, sugar, and cream. In the Irish town of Foynes in 1942, an American pilot and his passengers stopped into an Irish restaurant after battling a storm.
The restaurant owner mixed together a special drink for the pilot (Irish coffee!) and the pilot asked, “is this Brazilian coffee?” The restaurateur answered, “No, it’s Irish coffee.” It was so loved that it became a regular item on the menu and it only spread from there!
Hot Buttered Beer
While you may be most familiar with hot buttered beer from the Harry Potter movies, it originated more than 400 years ago! With British ale, winter spices, egg yolks, and butter, it may sound a little odd, but it tastes like warm, buttery French toast.
It’s traditionally served warm but could also be chilled.
Sorrel punch is a Jamaican tradition for the holidays, with a bright red color and warm, spicy flavor.
It’s named after dried hibiscus flowers (sorrel) and is the perfect addition to a holiday party. Plus, it’s full of antioxidants!
The Grinch cocktail is, of course, named after the little green man who steals Christmas in the classic holiday movie. It’s typically made using absinthe, melon liqueur (which gives it a green color), lime, and ginger ale.
It’s a fun addition to the Christmas table and gets everyone in the spirit for the holidays!