What makes the perfect holiday drink? That depends on where you are. In Germany, it may look like a steaming hot mug of beer; in New Orleans, it may be pulled from a slushy machine. But one thing they all have in common is the fact that, for their devoted fans, the holidays are not complete without them. Creamy and tropical, or steeped with spices, these six holiday staples from around the world are classics for a reason—so we suggest slotting them into your home bar menus for the season.
Coquito is often described as Puerto Rico’s answer to eggnog. But despite its creamy, boozy build, the drink is lighter and incorporates coconut, condensed and evaporated milks. Portland, Maine, bartender LyAnna Sanabria, whose version of coquito is batchable and giftable, describes it as “Christmas in the Caribbean”; it’s “decadent and warming, but you’re still wearing a bikini top.”
The Aperol Spritz has a winter cousin. At Christmas markets across Europe, especially in Germany and Austria, the summer staple gets thrown into a pot, with the bubbles swapped out for white wine, along with apple or orange juice and mulling spices like cinnamon and clove. Like its warmer-weather counterpart, hot Aperol has a flexible template, and variations can include a range of different liqueurs and wines—and, of course, the optional whipped-cream topping.
New Orleans is known for many of its homegrown cocktails, from the showstopping Ramos Gin Fizz to the bracing Sazerac. But every winter, there’s one drink that takes the city by storm: the Eggnog Daiquiri. A fixture at walk-up counters and drive-thrus, the Slurpee-fied eggnogs get pulled from frozen-drink machines into Styrofoam cups annually. Bars across the city, like Cuban-inspired Manolito, take a more nuanced approach, blending a bespoke version of eggnog with Demerara rum, sugar, crushed ice and nutmeg for a lighter, brighter mix.
Recipes for sorrel, a Caribbean sweet iced tea made with hibiscus, spices and sugar, differ depending on who’s making it. In Jamaica, the drink is typically made with ginger, while in Trinidad, it’s not; for the Caribbean diaspora in New York, it’s common to steep the drink for several days for a more intense brew. Some add orange slices for brightness, or ferment sorrel to lend a subtle fizz. Uniting many of the different versions of the drink, however, is its pairing with rum, whether the sorrel is simply spiked with the spirit or the tea is used to add color and herbaceousness to rum-forward cocktails.
Stateside drinkers are likely familiar with hot mulled wine and cider, but Germany’s hot mulled beer, glueh kriek (or glühkriek) tends to be more obscure. It’s typically made with amber or sour beer, plus cinnamon, star anise, cloves and orange peel. Portland, Oregon’s Cascade Brewing makes its own interpretation, sweetened with a touch of honey and garnished with an orange slice.
A hot, spirituous cocktail featured at Italian ski resorts in the winter, Bombardino is typically made by mixing Italian egg liqueur with whiskey, rum or brandy, and sometimes fortified wine. At Quattro Teste, a bar in Lisbon, Portugal, themed around Basque and Italian drinks, the Bombardino gets a Basque twist: The bar makes its own egg liqueur, with txakoli-based vermouth and amontillado sherry, which is then spiked with Scotch and topped with salted cream as well as freshly grated nutmeg and cinnamon.