31 Of The Merriest Drinks For The Holidays

You know that old saying, "Eat, drink, and be merry"? Well, that's a good reminder that you should devote as much time planning for special holiday drinks as you do the food. They're a special way to warm up your kids after a day of sledding, welcome guests to your annual Christmas party, treat Santa when he visits your house, and ring in the new year. Here are some of our favorite drink recipes that are perfect for everyone this holiday. 

Try a classy cocktail like a Christmas Old Fashioned, an eggnog martini, or a dirty Shirley. Jingle Juice and red sangria are festive drinks to make big batches of when you're hosting a crowd. Warm, spiced drinks are a favorite for chilly December days, and there are recipes here for mulled wine, hot apple cider, and citrusy Russian tea as well. Planning a theme party or have kids around the house? Try snowman soup, several kinds of flavored hot chocolate, and a gingerbread milkshake. No matter what kind of holiday party you're planning, you can find your special festive drink here. 

1. Christmas Old Fashioned

An old fashioned is a classic drink, one that any cocktail enthusiast or mixologist should know. Vinepair describes it as a blend of bourbon (or another type of whiskey if you prefer) with bitters, sugar, and orange peel. Our holiday version adds a couple of seasonal twists, like mudding cranberries to add a little tartness to the drink. A sprig of rosemary in the glass not only looks like an evergreen branch, but brings a lovely, pine-like scent. Make each Christmasy drink to order for the best flavor and appearance. 

Recipe: Christmas Old Fashioned

2. Gingerbread Hot Chocolate

You just gotta have a cup of delicious hot chocolate during the holidays, like after a day of sledding or on Christmas morning after opening the presents. This hot chocolate recipe is really special: It tastes better because it's made from scratch, it's full of warm gingerbread flavor, and best of all it's a vegan recipe so everyone can enjoy it. From scratch doesn't mean complicated — it's actually surprisingly easy and quick. Just heat coconut milk with cocoa, spices, and sweeteners, then serve the drinks hot with plenty of whipped cream. 

Recipe: Gingerbread Hot Chocolate

3. Eggnog

If you've only ever had the store-bought eggnog that abounds at holiday time, you don't know what you're missing. Homemade eggnog is thick, creamy, and sweet without being cloyingly saccharine like commercial brands. And don't worry — it's an easy recipe to follow. The ingredients include eggs, cream, sugar, and nutmeg, and the mixture is simmered over very low heat to cook the mixture without curdling the eggs. Once chilled, you'll have six servings of delicious eggnog. Add your own spice toppings like cinnamon or cardamom, whipped cream, or even a splash of rum or whiskey.

Recipe: Eggnog

4. Jingle Juice

Having a holiday party this year? This is the perfect punch to set out for your guests to drink and be merry. Not only is it beautiful to look at with fresh cranberries and orange slices floating on top, it's really delicious, too. The punch is made with sparkling cider, a bottle of rosé, vodka, and citrus juices. It's boozy, but also tangy and fruity. Have all the ingredients chilled ahead of time, then stir them together right before your party begins. 

Recipe: Jingle Juice

5. Slow Cooker Mulled Cider

Mulled cider is a warming and comforting drink, and perfect for so many kinds of holiday get-togethers: Après-ski parties, Christmas movie marathons, when family comes in from out of town, or just when you want to warm up after building a snowman all afternoon. Add cider and aromatics to your slow cooker, set it to low, and let everything infuse for four hours. Use the best apple cider you can find for the best flavor. Leftover mulled cider can be stored in the fridge and reheated.

Recipe: Slow Cooker Mulled Cider

6. Gingerbread Milkshakes

Here's a cool holiday drink that everyone will love, because it's full of flavor from one of the season's best-loved cookies. To make the milkshakes, blend gingersnap cookies with ice cream, milk, and extra spices. They're ready in minutes and can be topped with whipped cream, crumbled cookies, or even a gingerbread man if you have some on hand. The recipe calls for store-bought vanilla ice cream, but you can get creative and try other flavors like chocolate chip, caramel swirl, or use dairy-free ice cream and milk. 

Recipe: Gingerbread Milkshake

7. Hot Toddy

According to Vinepair, some claim the winter warming drink known as a hot toddy originated in India, where it was made with scotch. Others say it was created in Ireland, with brandy as the original spirit. Though its history may be in dispute, what everyone can agree on is that this cozy drink is perfect to share during the chilly holiday season. This hot toddy recipe combines sweet bourbon with hot water, honey, lemon juice, and spices. Add a lemon slice and star anise pod as garnishes to each steaming mugful. 

Recipe: Hot Toddy

8. Dirty Shirley Cocktail

Although Insider shares that the Dirty Shirley cocktail took off as a trendy summertime drink, the simplicity and festive red hue of this grown-up take on the Shirley Temple make it a good fit for holiday parties, too. The main ingredients of a Dirty Shirley are vodka and lemon-lime soda like 7-Up. A splash of grenadine adds red color and maraschino cherries are the easy garnish. Set out the ingredients with this recipe to make a build-your-own holiday cocktail bar for your guests. 

Recipe: Dirty Shirley Cocktail

9. Copycat Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte

This drink isn't only for fall. Pumpkin spice blend is made with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, and clove — all the same flavors that we love in holiday cookies and mulled drinks like cider and wine. Make this easy copycat version of Starbucks' famous latte for sipping on a cold December morning or after a long day of holiday shopping. Simmer milk, sugar, instant coffee, and pumpkin spice together; the lattes are ready in just five minutes. Don't forget the whipped cream!

Recipe: Copycat Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte

10. Non-Alcoholic Christmas Punch

Welcome everyone in on the festivities with a big bowl of punch that's alcohol-free and full of flavor. The unique blend in this punch includes tart cranberry juice balanced by sweet pomegranate juice, plus ginger ale for some fizziness. Orange slices and pomegranate seeds are gorgeous floated across the top. The most intriguing part of this recipe is a simple, rosemary-infused syrup to give every sip an herbal note, plus sprigs of fresh rosemary are perfect to garnish each cup. The recipe makes enough punch to serve 10-12 people. 

Recipe: Non-Alcoholic Christmas Punch

11. Eggnog Martini

Have your dessert and after-dinner drink all in one decadent, holiday cocktail. This twist on a classic martini combines vanilla vodka with store-bought eggnog and hazelnut-flavored Frangelico liqueur to make a drink that tastes like a cross between eggnog and a sugar cookie. The drink even has a pretty cinnamon-sugar rim. The recipe makes two drinks, but you can easily double or triple that to make these festive drinks for everyone at your party.

Recipe: Eggnog Martini

12. Instant Pot Hot Chocolate

Hot chocolate is always a tasty and welcome treat, and it's even easier when you use your Instant Pot. No lid required here: Just use the low simmer option to gently heat the milk with cocoa mix and other ingredients in only two minutes. This method is perfect when you want to let kids make a batch of cocoa but don't want them at the stove. Or, bring your Instant Pot to a party and double/triple the recipe to make hot chocolate for everyone without having to use your host's kitchen. 

Recipe: Instant Pot Hot Chocolate

13. Red Sangria

Not only does this classic Spanish punch have a beautiful ruby-red hue that fits right in at Christmastime, everyone will love its sweet, spiced flavor. The sangria is made with white rum and a red wine like Cabernet Sauvignon, with a little sugar and cinnamon sticks as well. Make sure each glass gets some diced apple and slices of orange, and add fresh mint leaves for garnish. Pomegranate seeds would also be lovely in this drink. The recipe makes 4-6 servings, perfect for your next party. 

Recipe: Red Sangria

14. Copycat Starbucks Holiday Spice Flat White

Though Vinepair says that different baristas may have different interpretations of what exactly a flat white is, it can generally be described as espresso topped with steamed milk and milk foam. This recipe from Susan Olayinka recreates a Starbucks seasonal favorite, the holiday spice flat white, and the best part is that you don't even need an espresso machine. Espresso powder is the key ingredient here, blended with cinnamon and other Christmasy spices for that irresistible flavor. Use a handheld milk frother to make the milk foam to finish off each drink. 

Recipe: Copycat Starbucks Holiday Spice Flat White

15. Chocolate Peppermint Martini

Celebrate the holidays with a new cocktail that's creamy, sweet, and perfect for anyone who loves Peppermint Patties or other minty, chocolatey treats. Stock your liqueur with vanilla vodka, chocolaty crème de cacao, and peppermint schnapps. Shake them together with ice and chocolate syrup — it's as easy as that. Crushed candy canes make a festive garnish for the drinks, and you can also add them to the glass rims with a little chocolate syrup. 

Recipe: Chocolate Peppermint Martini

16. Slow Cooker Apple Cider

Transform ordinary apple juice into a warm and cozy hot drink using your slow cooker. Buy a good, quality brand that's 100% juice without added sugar, because you'll be adding the sugar yourself — brown sugar, to be exact. After a long simmer, it gives the juice that deep sweetness that you expect with cider. Orange slices, allspice berries, and whole star anise give this cider so much spicy flavor. It's ready in as little as 90 minutes, so you can hand mugs of pipin' hot cider to your guests as they come in from the cold.

Recipe: Slow Cooker Apple Cider

17. Spiced Brown Sugar Latte

The holidays are so busy with nonstop days of shopping, baking, and wrapping. This holiday drink is the perfect way to take a break and give yourself some well-deserved self-care. Make a sweet, spiced latte on your stovetop in just five minutes. Start by making a brown sugar-cinnamon syrup, then blend it with instant coffee and hot milk. You can also make this drink with brewed coffee if you prefer. Top your latte with whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon, and enjoy — ideally with a Christmas cookie or two. 

Recipe: Spiced Brown Sugar Latte 

18. Wine Slushies

Frozen drinks aren't just for summertime — they're a fun and festive way to celebrate during the holidays, too. Especially when the slushie has a beautiful deep, dark red hue like this one, which when garnished with a sprig of mint fits right in with the rest of your Christmas-themed menu. Make this drink in your blender with your favorite, sweet red wine: some types to try include Beaujolais Nouveau, port, Lambrusco, or bottled sangria. Frozen strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries give the mixture its icy texture. The recipe makes four merry drinks. 

Recipe: Wine Slushies

19. Snowman Soup

We'd like to say that this holiday drink is for the kids, but let's be honest: We know plenty of grown-ups who love hot chocolate and would jump at the chance to turn their marshmallows into little snow-people. Start by using orange and black icing tubes to make snowman faces and carrot noses on large marshmallows. Next, make a simple hot chocolate mixture in the microwave using milk and chocolate chips. Set your snowmen afloat in the hot cocoa, and while you're sipping make bets on whose snowman marshmallows will melt away first!

Recipe: Snowman Soup

20. Cinnamon Coffee

Even your morning cup of coffee can take on a festive air, whether you use an electric coffee maker or prefer pour-over. This recipe from Jaime Bachtell-Shelbert shows you how to add cinnamon flavor to your coffee as it brews, all in the same time as regular coffee. Don't stop there: Make your cup of joe even more special with mounds of whipped cream, a sprinkle of cinnamon on top, and a cinnamon stick. Enjoy your cinnamon coffee with a plate of Christmas cookies, or use it to make holiday-spiced versions of Irish coffee or coffee martinis. 

Recipe: Cinnamon Coffee

21. Pumpkin Pie Martinis

One idea to make your Christmas party even more fun is to set up a bar for guests to mix their own cocktails, and have options for holiday-themed drinks. Pumpkin Pie Martinis are a delicious choice, and it's easy to prep the ingredients ahead of time so the drinks come together fast. Have graham cracker crumbs and maple syrup ready so guests can coat the rims of their glasses. The martini mixture of vanilla vodka, hazelnut liqueur, pumpkin pie spice can be prechilled; all that's left is to add it to the glass along with some cream. 

Recipe: Pumpkin Pie Martinis

22. Copycat Starbucks Toasted White Chocolate Mocha

The holidays are the time to indulge in your favorite sweets ... like white chocolate, which doesn't deserve the hate it gets. Here's a way to combine white chocolate with espresso for a Christmas morning drink or a pick-me-up after a long day of holiday shopping. This copycat of a favorite Starbucks drink combines a sweet sauce of white chocolate and dulce de leche with steamed milk and shots of espresso. Top it with plenty of whipped cream and holiday sprinkles for a sweet caffeinated treat. 

Recipe: Copycat Starbucks Toasted White Chocolate Mocha

23. Classic Shirley Temple

Merry holiday drinks don't have to be complicated, and they don't have to be alcoholic either. In fact, this simple but sweet drink is fun to make for party guests of all ages. The Shirley Temple mocktail has been around for decades, and was named for the popular child star of the 1930s. To make it all you need are maraschino cherries, ruby-red grenadine, lime juice, and a soda like ginger ale or 7-Up. A sprig of mint would be lovely against the red drink, especially served in your fanciest cocktail glass. 

Recipe: Classic Shirley Temple

24. Orange Hot Chocolate

Chocolate and orange are a favorite holiday combination. Perhaps because both chocolates and oranges can be found in Christmas stockings, but more likely because the tastes pair together beautifully in candies. Capture that flavor in a mug of rich, from-scratch hot chocolate: It's made by melting good quality dark chocolate in hot milk, then whisking in orange zest and sugar. The recipe makes four servings, so your whole family can enjoy a mugful of rich, orange hot chocolate.

Recipe: Orange Hot Chocolate

25. Mulled Wine

There was a time, according to Vivino, when wine heated with sugar and spices was a purely practical drink that helped people endure long, cold winters. Then in the late 1800s, mulled wine took on a new role: As a festive drink to celebrate the holiday season. You can easily simmer up a batch to both warm up and be merry, since this recipe takes only 10 minutes on the stovetop. Use whole star anise, cinnamon sticks, a little maple syrup, and the best red wine you can get your hands on. 

Recipe: Mulled Wine

26. Gingerbread Latte

In kids' stories about the gingerbread man, the animated cookie gets up to a lot of mischief — it's easy to imagine that he might spot a cup of coffee and decide to go for a swim! And that's not a bad idea because the flavors of gingerbread are so delicious in coffee drinks like this easy latte. Warm up milk with ginger and other spices plus a little sugar, then add it to espresso or brewed coffee. Though they're an optional ingredient, mini gingerbread men (like the ones available at Trader Joe's) make for an adorable garnish. 

Recipe: Gingerbread Latte

27. Russian Tea

If you're looking for a change from cold party punches or mugs of hot cocoa this holiday season, this warming tea recipe is a delicious one to try. Hot, brewed tea is blended with citrus juice concentrates and spices to make a mulled drink full of flavor and sweetness. It's like a wintertime twist on a classic Arnold Palmer. The recipe makes 12 servings, enough for all your party guests or for family coming over to celebrate Christmas. 

Recipe: Russian Tea

28. Spiced Hot Chocolate

Make a treat for yourself this holiday season with a mug of spiced hot chocolate that's ready in a flash using your microwave. The cocoa is made with chocolate chips melted into milk (regular or dairy-free) along with cinnamon, nutmeg, and chili powder. This recipe goes heavier on the cinnamon, but you can adjust the spices to your liking. Top your hot chocolate with whipped cream or marshmallows. You can even add in a splash of spiced rum or bourbon if you're feeling frisky.

Recipe: Spiced Hot Chocolate

29. Copycat Starbucks Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew

The holidays often conjure up images of cold and snow, but in many parts of the country it actually stays pretty warm in December. For folks in these areas, cold holiday drinks are a must — like our copycat recipe for Starbucks pumpkin cream cold brew. The recipe shows you how to get that perfect Starbucks flavor by making your own vanilla and pumpkin spice syrups, which are great to have on hand for all kinds of hot and cold drinks. Serve your pumpkin cold brew coffees with a sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg. 

Recipe: Copycat Starbucks Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew

30. Instant Pot Spiced Apple Cider

It normally takes a long simmer on the stovetop to create a batch of mulled cider, but it can be done in just minutes using your Instant Pot. This recipe is also unique because you don't have to begin with a jug of cider: Apples, oranges, and cinnamon pressure cook together and then get mashed to create the spiced drink. Serve the spiced cider hot or cold, and store any leftovers in the fridge for later enjoyment.

Recipe: Instant Pot Spiced Apple Cider

31. Alcohol-Free Mojitos

Mojitos for the holidays? Why not! The beautiful green color from fresh mint leaves and lime wedges fits right in with seasonal decor, plus mint is one of the best-loved flavors of Christmastime candies and sweets. These mojitos are even better because they're alcohol-free, so everyone can sip a refreshing, bubbly drink and celebrate together. Add a hint of red to go with the green with a few cranberries or fresh raspberries floating on top or a whole strawberry added to the rim. 

Recipe: Alcohol-Free Mojitos