There’s an impressive lot to be said for the warming, end-of-year drinks that mark the holiday season, not only for the nostalgia they bring, but for the wide range of flavors they embody. Drawing on everything from seasonal herbs and spices to dark spirits and Champagne, curating a holiday pantry that’s geared towards drinking offers no shortage of suitable choices.
Of course, its during this time that many of us consider the classics—those undemanding, three-ingredient stalwarts like the Manhattan and the Negroni that are not only easy to make, but rely on just a few select spirits to stir up. But equally approachable are those drinks that work off those same, no-frills templates, while incorporating seasonal flavors. (The Rosemary Gin and Tonic, the sage-topped White Bull and the Corduroy Daiquiri—built on a base of Jamaican rum and grapefruit—all demonstrate this impressive versatility.)
While there’s plenty to be said for wintertime riffs, there’s equal space for those hyper-seasonal cocktails, too; customarily, this is a time that welcomes everything from Eggnog to mulled wine to the festive, sparkling Kir Royale. Traditionally a time for large-format drinks, especially punches, there are plenty of historic recipes as well, like the classic Regent Punch, or a Dickensian version, which gets set on fire. Of course, there are a slew of new-school versions, too, whether they be low in alcohol, or uncharacteristically—and perhaps dangerously—built on tequila.
Here, a selection of our favorite, most versatile holiday recipes, organized by style:
Make it Three-Ingredients or Less
New York’s claim to the strong and stirred.
As traditional as they come.
The gin classic, restored to its original dry glory.
James Bond’s preferred poison.
Italy’s strong and bitter swashbuckler.
The original 19th-century Gin Sour.
Make it Sparkling
Gin, lemon and Champagne.
A bitter, bubbly twist on the original.
The St-Germain Cocktail
Light, floral and refreshing.
That’s Probably Him
With Cocchi Rosa and apricot brandy for step above the rest.
Make it Herbal
A cold-weather refresher with pear and sage.
A savory, rosemary-tinged twist on the all-American sour.
Lemon, thyme, whiskey—and applejack.
An herbal aperitivo, based in grapefruit and Lillet Rosé.
Make it Spiced
A batch-able, whiskey-based spice bomb.
A funky, wintry take on the classic.
Gin, Douglas fir and cinnamon make for winter in a coupe.
Bitter, stirred and studded with cloves.
A Scotch-based blend of apple, earth, spice and smoke.
Spiced rum, plus a cinnamon-sugar rim.
Make it Hot
A most traditional winter warmer.
Dead Rabbit Irish Coffee
Layered with dark coffee, whiskey and barely whipped cream.
Hot Buttered Blackstrap
One part Whiskey Toddy, one part Hot Buttered Rum.
Hot for Teacher
Hot Buttered Rum, tiki-fied.
Hot Buttered Rhum Cider
Strong and rich.
Make it Hot (for a Crowd)
Hot Buttered Rum
The winter warmer brought to its fullest potential.
The Hot Toddy’s beer-driven precursor.
Scandinavia’s take on mulled wine.
Tom and Jerry
Eggnog’s large-format, 19th-century descendant.
The Smoking Bishop
The Victorian-era port punch, à la Charles Dickens.
Make it Christmassy
The most deceitful of all holiday drinks.
Puerto Rico’s tropical take on eggnog.
A heady mix of brandy, crème de cacao and cream.
A La Mode
A spicy, bourbon-driven ode to apple pie.
Aquavit, ginger and sherry meet for a funky ode to Christmas.
Rudolph’s Apple Sling
Apple brandy at its finest.
A Snowball’s Chance
A Scotch Old-Fashioned, tiki-fied.
I Don’t Mind You Shooting Me, Frank, But Take It Easy on the Rum
Like a candy cane.
Make it a Flip
A frothy, cold weather fortifier for delicate people.
Hot Ale Flip
The American colonists’ original beer cocktail.
U Drop Inn Flip
A more robust take on the classic.
French Toast Flip
Tastes like breakfast.
Averna Stout Flip
Drinks like a milkshake.
Make it a Punch
Hibiscus Punch Royale
A Champagne-topped twist on the Caribbean classic.
Hannah Wooley Punch
Bringing it back to 1672.
Rich, smoky and slightly bitter.
Charles Dickens’s Punch
The classic, set on fire.
Daniel Webster’s Punch
As close as you’ll get to the 19th-century original.
Punch House’s Regent Punch
A green tea-based classic, sweetened with pineapple.
Make it a (Low-ABV) Punch
Queen Charlotte Punch
Red wine, meet raspberry.
Slow Down Shirley
A cranberry- and apple-flavored ode to the East Coast.
Cranberry cordial gets a dry cider spritz.
See Way Punch
Pour some manzanilla on it.
Apple brandy with a sherry back.