6 Holiday Cocktail Recipes

School may be over, but the desire for happy hour is still as strong as ever. Check out these holiday drinks for new options to share with friends and family!

Story by Julia O’Hanlon

Illustration by Jacob Sepúlveda

Alcoholic Horchata

Copy of JacobSepulveda_CheapWine.png

Try this simple spin on a sweet holiday favorite! Add the rum of your choice to rich horchata, a spiced Mexican rice milk, for even more seasonal fun. This isn’t your abuela’s drink anymore!


  • 2 oz. of rum

  • 4 oz. of horchata


  1. Add a few chunks of ice to a tall glass.

  2. Combine rum and horchata.

  3. Stir the ingredients until combined.

  4. Optional: drink with your favorite cookie.

Cranberry Moscow Mule

Few flavors are as quintessentially winter as cranberry. Add this tart flavor to an already delightfully sweet and sour cocktail to fully embrace the holidays.


  • 3 oz. of vodka

  • 4 oz. of ginger beer

  • 4 oz. of cranberry juice

  • 1 lime


  1. Place ice in glass.

  2. Pour in vodka, ginger beer and cranberry juice. Squeeze in the lime.

  3. Stir the drink until combined.

  4. Serve the drink in a copper mug to keep it cool. Garnish with a lime wedge.

Hot Toddy

A classic for when the temperature drops, this whiskey based cocktail is meant to warm you up and make you feel cozy. Pretend you are at a ski resort relaxing rather than at home studying with this drink.


  • 1 cup of water

  • 2 tsp. of brown sugar

  • 1 oz. of lemon juice

  • 2 oz. of bourbon

  • 1 lemon


  1. Boil water and pour into a mug until halfway full.

  2. Add brown sugar to the mug and stir until dissolved.

  3. Add the lemon juice and bourbon. Stir until combined.

  4. Let cool, garnish the rim with a lemon wedge, and enjoy!

Irish Coffee

This creamy, alcoholic coffee, best known for its relation to the Irish, is a fantastic drink to either start or end your night with. The warm cream and coffee both wakes you up and relaxes you, making it a quintessential holiday drink for all.


  • 1.5 oz. of Irish cream liqueur

  • 1.5 oz. of Irish whiskey

  • 1 cup (or 8 oz.) of hot brewed coffee

  • 1 Tbsp. of whipped cream

  • 1 tsp. of either nutmeg or cinnamon


  1. Brew a cup of coffee. Fill a large mug with the coffee.

  2. Pour in Irish cream liqueur and Irish whiskey. Stir together.

  3. Top the mug off with whipped cream and your choice of nutmeg or cinnamon.

Spiced Sangria

Perhaps the best part of happy hours are being able to share pitchers of beer or mixed drinks with friends. A winter spin on a summer classic, this cinnamon spiced and winter fruit sangria is perfect for fall.


  • ⅓ cup of water

  • ⅓ cup of sugar

  • 1 cinnamon stick

  • 4 whole black peppercorns

  • 2 whole cloves

  • 1 bottle of red wine

  • ¼ cup of brandy

  • 3 small oranges

  • 1 apple

  • 1 pear


  1. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine water, sugar, cinnamon, black peppercorns and cloves.

  2. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 3 minutes.

  3. Remove from heat and let syrup cool to room temperature.

  4. Strain the syrup into another saucepan, reserving the cinnamon stick for later.

  5. Pour the wine into a large pitcher.

  6. Juice two of the oranges.

  7. Combine freshly squeezed orange juice, brandy, and the syrup to the pitcher of wine.

  8. Halve and slice the third orange, the apple, and the pear. Add the fruit and cinnamon stick to the pitcher.

  9. Cover the pitcher and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

  10. Pour the finished sangria into a clear glass with ice and garnish with an orange wedge.

Whiskey Sour

Another winter-ready classic, and perhaps the booziest on this list, is the whiskey sour. Similar to an Old Fashioned, this drink is simple to make and guaranteed to put you in a celebratory autumnal mood.


  • 1 ½ oz. of bourbon

  • 1 oz. of lemon juice

  • 1 oz. of simple syrup

  • 1 cherry


  1. Place ice in a cocktail shaker.

  2. Add bourbon, lemon juice, and simple syrup and shake.

  3. Strain the mixture into a glass with ice.

  4. Garnish with a cherry.