Offering your guests an array of seasonal cocktails and mocktails—or a signature drink for the night—ensures everybody, young and old, can join in the festive fun at your next holiday party. This selection of delicious recipes includes something for everyone, whether they prefer beverages that are hot or cold, alcoholic or virgin. Plus, we’ve included some serving and stocking-up tips to help your party go smoothly. These drinks are perfect for any event of the season, including cookie exchanges, open house parties and New Year’s brunch. Cheers to the holidays!
Take a holiday classic, add a tropical twist, and you get a creamy crowd-pleaser that brings a ray of sunshine to winter. A sweetened blend of coconut and dairy milks mixed with seasonal spices and your favourite dark rum makes for a flavourful drink with a velvety texture. Sprinkle with coconut before serving.
This vibrant, slightly sparkling drink glows crimson like a sun-streaked winter sky. Stir together pomegranate and freshly squeezed clementine juices with gin, sweet vermouth and Campari for a seasonal take on the classic negroni. Shake each serving with ice to chill, then top up with soda water for a pleasant fizz. Garnish with a clementine slice in each glass.
The traditional blueberry tea cocktail—a blend of black tea, amaretto and Grand Marnier—is named after its fruity taste reminiscent of blueberries, though it doesn’t contain them at all. Our take boosts the drink’s citrusy flavour thanks to bergamot-infused Earl Grey, while skewers of blueberries give a nod to the beverage’s name and make for a pretty garnish.
After you’ve been out dashing through the snow in a winter wonderland—or dashing through the stores for last-minute gift shopping—there’s nothing better than a cup of steaming cocoa to brighten spirits. This recipe boosts the classic sweetened hot cocoa with a touch of floral vanilla, topped with a marshmallow to please kids and adults alike.
This light and refreshing party drink makes use of seasonal citrus, whose flavour peaks in the winter months. Chill highball glasses, fill halfway with ice cubes and then add pulp-free orange juice (freshly squeezed if you’re feeling inspired), thyme sprigs, orange zest and slices, and beer. Top up with ginger ale for instant sparkle.
Another warming favourite for the holidays, this tea-based drink combines cupboard spices with the pep of fresh ginger. After simmering a cinnamon stick, sliced ginger, cloves, cardamom pods and peppercorns in hot water for 20 minutes, turn off the heat and add teabags to the saucepan, then steep until the drink is just the strength you like. Strain, then stir in milk and sugar.
For a steaming fireside drink that will make your guests feel cozy from the inside out, combine apple cider, cinnamon, orange slices, cloves, allspice and the prettiest spice of all—star anise. Simmer then strain and ladle into mugs and garnish with fresh orange slices.
Brighten your party with this triple-citrus sparkler. After zesting an orange, a lemon and a lime, cut thin slices of orange and set aside, then juice the other two fruits. Mix their tangy juices with pulp-free OJ and liquid honey. Toss some fresh mint leaves and the citrus zest into glasses, muddle, then fill halfway with the juice mix and top with ice and tonic water. Garnish with a slice of orange and a sprig of mint.
Festive Serving Ideas
Big-batch drinks make for easier hosting, so you have more time to mingle with guests. Serve cold drinks in a punch bowl, and keep hot drinks warm in a slow cooker.
To keep punch cold, add an ice ring, which will melt more slowly than individual ice cubes. Use a bundt pan or ring mould (silicone works nicely) to freeze water or a blend of juices that will enhance the drink as they melt. Get creative by adding berries, citrus slices, or even fresh flowers or herbs before freezing.
Buy special ice moulds to make festive snowflake- or star-shaped ice, or beautiful frozen spheres for chilling cocktails and punches. You can make ice cubes with cranberries or raspberries frozen into their centres, or use frozen berries as a garnish that doubles as ice. You can even freeze fruit juice into flavourful ice cubes that won’t water down your drink as they melt.
A sprig of rosemary makes an easy, pretty garnish in citrus drinks—and has the added bonus of looking like a mini Christmas tree. You can also pop jewel-like pomegranate seeds into sparkling drinks.
Hot chocolate—spiked or not—loves a topping of whipped cream and a dusting of cocoa powder. Candy canes make excellent stir sticks.
Keep cocktail, beer and wine glasses at hand, but don’t worry about perfection—no one will complain about a martini in a champagne flute if that’s all you have. If you can, chill glasses before using to keep drinks colder for longer. The chunkier the mug, the better for hot drinks, though heatproof glass beer steins also make a fun choice to show off what’s inside.
Set up a self-serve bar with mugs and glasses, key liquors, and a couple of red and white wines. Leave room here and in the fridge for bottles that guests bring, too.
Pick dark and light beers as well as cider (a good offering for gluten-free guests) and some non-alcoholic options. Soft drinks are best purchased in cans if you’re just using small quantities for individual mixed drinks, as larger bottles lose their fizz faster. To save refrigerator space, keep beer, soda, cider and white wine chilled in an ice-filled cooler.
Organize pre-cut garnishes in clear bowls, with tongs and cocktail picks nearby for transferring them into glasses.
Offer ice in both cubes or chunks (buy bags in bulk) and in a crushed form, so you don’t have guests bashing up a storm mid party. You’ll need to regularly replenish ice; when the weather is cold enough, extras keep well outdoors if freezer space is limited.
The home bar needs basic tools, such as a cocktail shaker, muddler and stirrer. Keep teaspoons or straws on hand for tasting freshly mixed cocktails, so whoever’s on cocktail duty can adjust as they see fit. Beer and wine bottle openers are essential, too: have a few of each, as they often go wandering once the party’s in full swing. Make sure there are fresh dishtowels or paper towels available nearby for dealing with spills immediately.
Pin up a selection of basic cocktail recipes near the bar as inspiration, but let your guests go wild with their own imaginations.