The Ten Best Cocktails to Get You Through the Holiday Season


December days bring with them bags full of cheer, presents, and, occasionally, the full-on panic attack. If the thought of barely tolerable family functions, super-serious office parties, and the human form of torture known as ice-skating is turning you into a grinch, treat yourself to one of these amazingly soothing holiday cocktails. Which one is perfect for you?

For the Person Who Wears Red-and-Green Sweaters All Month: Gone Cho, Holiday Cocktail Lounge, 75 St. Marks Place

The holiday season wouldn’t feel complete without a stop at legendary dive the Holiday Cocktail Lounge, which has a lot to be thankful for this season. The reopened lair is offering guests a special green-hued cocktail, the “Gone Cho,” which makes use of a smoky substance that might remind you of a warm fireplace. “I wanted to create a somewhat savory syrup, and the first spirit I thought to use with it was mezcal,” notes head bartender Danny Neff.

1 1/2 ounces Ilegal Joven
1/2 ounce green Chartreuse
3/4 ounce lime juice
3/4 ounce peppered basil syrup
1 dash orange bitters
Egg white

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker. Shake. Strain. Pour into glass.

For the Person Who Is Always Cold: The Rock Your Face Off Toddy, New York Distilling Company, 79 Richardson Street, Brooklyn

If all you feel during the holiday season is nothing (because every part of your body is frozen), try this take on a traditional hot toddy. Featuring the Brooklyn-distilled Mister Katz’s Rock & Rye, made with cinnamon and dried cherries, the drink is mixed with honey and lemon for an ultimate throat-soothing remedy. If you can’t feel anything after drinking a hot alcoholic beverage, the holidays are the least of your problems.

2 ounces Mister Katz’s Rock & Rye
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey syrup (mix 2 parts honey with 1 part water)
1 dash Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel Bitters

Add ingredients to a toddy or six-ounce juice glass. Add 3 ounces of hot water and stir. Garnish with a half-lemon wheel in the glass.

For the Person Who Loves Winter Stew: Warm Tzimmes Punch, Timna, 109 St. Marks Place

It’s hard to outdo a time-tested recipe, but Timna’s beverage director Amir Nathan found a neat way to honor a traditional Ashkenazi Jewish sweet stew. The stew, which typically includes carrots, is honored here in punch form, with a carrot-cardamom syrup joining red wine and port in a glass. This might not be the way your grandmother remembered the recipe, but it should nonetheless make her jolly enough to give you the gift of lotto tickets. Says Nathan, “I grew up knowing about tzimmes from family holiday dinners. I never liked it as a kid, but today as an adult it reminds me of something mysterious. I thought port would be the best combination for a cocktail version of tzimmes, as it is sweet — tzimmes is often served as a dessert and at the end of a meal.”

2 ounces carrot-cardamom syrup
2 ounces dry red wine
1 1/2 ounces 10-year-old port

To make the carrot-cardamom syrup:
17 ounces carrot juice (cold pressed)
8 1/2 ounces demerara sugar
4 cardamom cloves
3 cinnamon sticks

For the syrup: Bring all ingredients to a boil. Turn the heat down and let simmer for an hour. Remove from the stove and let the syrup chill. Strain the syrup through a heavy colander and keep in a squeeze bottle or a container.

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker but do not add ice. Shake for 10 seconds, then pour mix into a 12-ounce mug or a teacup. Top off with hot water and enjoy.

For the Person Who Thinks Every Holiday Is St. Patrick’s Day: Brady’s Milk Punch, The Dead Rabbit, 30 Water Street

When it comes to holidays, the Irish, for better or worse, are known for their ability to knock back a few adult beverages. The Dead Rabbit has one that features Irish whiskey, Irish cream, and sherry that’s perfect for capping off a silent night — or making it lively.

1 1/2 ounces Brady’s Irish Cream
3/4 ounce Clontarf Irish whiskey
1/2 ounce Oloroso sherry
1/4 ounce Giffard vanilla liqueur
1/2 ounce half & half

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker and shake. Strain mix into a punch glass. Sprinkle cinnamon over the top.

For the Person Who Recites A Christmas Story’s Ovaltine Scene: Chocolate Negroni, Dante, 79-81 Macdougal Street

Little Orphan Annie may have broken Ralphie’s heart with her shameless demands to drink more Ovaltine, but negronis are a proven commodity when it comes to making people happy. Dante makes one using Valrhona chocolate shavings, chocolate bitters, and white crème de cacao chocolate liqueur. We’re pretty sure adult Ralphie would approve.

3/4 ounce Campari
3/4 ounce Cinzano Rosso
1/4 ounce gin
1/4 ounce white crème de cacao
3 dashes chocolate bitters
3 dashes chile powder
Valrhona chocolate shavings

Add all ingredients to a mixing glass and stir. Strain over one large ice cube in a glass. Garnish with an orange twist and top off with grated chocolate.

For the Person Who Likes to Pour Liquor in Soda: The Sugarfoot, The Wayland, 700 East 9th Street

Though whiskey and bourbon may come to mind immediately with winter’s first gust, you’ll probably find The Wayland’s Mackenzie Gleason with a root beer in hand. Gleason enjoys the beverage so much she decided to pair its flavor with Afrohead rum (which is aged in bourbon barrels to create notes of honey, vanilla, and oak) and sarsaparilla root syrup. The egg whites give a creamy rich texture while the syrup and black walnut bitters lend their hand to its beautiful autumnal color and flavor. The name “Sugarfoot” is a reference to an old western TV show called Sugarfoot in which the main character, Tom Brewster, would order a “sarsaparilla” soda.

2 ounces Afrohead rum
1/2 ounce lemon juice
1/2 ounce lime juice
1 ounces sarsaparilla syrup
1 dash of Angostura bitters
1 dash of black walnut bitters
Egg white

Put all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Dry-shake in order to whip the egg white. Then wet-shake with ice and strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with an Angostura flower.

For the Star Wars Fan: Planet Hoth Toddy

If December were a fictional planet, it would be Hoth. The frozen tundra that housed a rebel base, Tauntauns, and Wampas can now be found in toddy form. The chilled cocktail, which you’ll have to make at home, preferably wearing a Jedi robe or Stormtrooper outfit, depending on your allegiances, is made with rum, lime juice, maraschino liqueur, an egg white and simple syrup. Served in a chilled coupe and garnished with nutmeg, this concoction will have you feeling a force of some kind by the end of the night.

2 ounces Bacardi Gran Reserva Maestro de Ron
3/4 ounce lime juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup
1/4 ounce maraschino liqueur
1 egg white

Shake all ingredients vigorously in a shaker with plenty of ice. Strain into a chilled coupe glass and garnish with nutmeg.

For the Person Whose Brain Is Already on Vacation: The Pineapple Express, The Happiest Hour, 121 West 10th Street

This drink is meant to evoke an escapist sensibility, which was, arguably, one of the main reasons tiki initially rose to prominence around the time of World War II — the Happiest Hour’s Jim Kearns

2 ounces spirit (recommended are Avua Prata cachaça, Zacapa rum, or Puebla Viejo Blanco tequila)
3/4 ounce lime juice
3/4 ounce honey
1 ounce pineapple juice
Sage leaf

Shake and strain over the rocks. Garnish with sage leaf.

For the Person Who’s Hosting a Holiday Party: Slow Dancing, RedFarm, 529 Hudson Street

Whether you’re hosting an ugly-sweater party or observing Festivus, cocktails are best served with a side of friendship. “The ingredients in this cocktail bring to mind baking spices,” notes RedFarm’s Shawn Chenn. Designed to be enjoyed all night long, the mix involves a scouring of the supermarket fruit section for cranberries, cactus pears, lemons, and oranges. There’s also oolong tea and flowers in there, which may have you thinking spring can’t come quick enough.

9 ounces Stranahan’s Colorado whiskey
6 ounces Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur
6 ounces cranberry purée
30 ounces Osmanthus oolong tea, lightly brewed
6 ounces fresh lemon juice
9 ounces apple juice
5-6 half orange wheels
8-10 whole cranberries
5-6 whole lemon wheels
1 whole cactus pear peel
3-4 edible pansy flowers

Add all ingredients to a Crock-Pot and set temperature to low. Cover and cook for 3 hours and stir before serving. Serve in a Chinese gaiwan teacup garnished with one candied orange wheel and one mint sprig.

For the Person Who Loves to Wake Up Super Early Despite Having a Day Off: R & R, The Musket Room, 265 Elizabeth Street

Warm apples and oatmeal are a great way to start a winter’s day, which is what attracted the Musket Room’s beverage director, Chris Barry, to those flavors in an alcoholic beverage. Barry’s interpretation of a comforting winter staple — apple cinnamon oatmeal — is reimagined in this cocktail, using Avuá cachaça, house-made apple cordial, pecan-oatmeal orgeat, Calvados, and lime.

¼ ounce lime
¼ ounce late harvest apple cider vinegar
½ ounce Pommeau de Normandie
½ ounce Christian Drouhin calvados
¾ ounce pecan-oatmeal orgeat (house-made at Musket Room. Home mixologists can purchase orgeat)
1.5 oz Avua Amburana cachaça

Combine ingredients. Shake with ice and strain. Serve in a collins glass.