Class Up Your Cocktails this Holiday Season

Class Up Your Cocktails this Holiday Season


We have all seen it.  The special holiday drink menu.  The classic Hot Toddy’s, Tom and Jerry’s, Hot Buttered Rum, White Russians, Eggnog, and we can’t leave off the favorite non-alcoholic drink – the hot chocolate.

These are great, but could they be greater?  Yes.  We’ll get to that later.

First, let’s explore some new(er) trends in cocktail concoctions that may awaken those tastebuds and have customers coming back for more.

Cranberries are a sign of the season and could be a great base or just a garnish.  Freezing cranberries could also be a festive way to add just a touch of something to an already classic beverage such as an Old Fashioned.

Peppermint of course can scream Christmas when done correctly.  Crushed up candy canes on a rim of a White Russian, Peppermint Martini, hot chocolate, or mocktails make the presentation fun and inviting.  Throwing in an actual candy cane to top it off could seal the deal for ordering another. 

Martinis seem to be making a comeback. The Espresso martini will catch the eye of the coffee lover who is out for a night on the town and the Appletini is back on the rise.  Adding some nostalgia with a fresh twist (think better ingredients and garnishes) will get your ‘moms night out’ gangs lingering longer and ordering more!

Attention seeking drinks are also all the rage right now.  Drinks that are set on fire, drinks that produce smoke, drinks that can stand on their head.  Ok, well maybe not that last one, but you get it.  Flare, experience, and the WOW factor are sure to get customers in the door.

Spicy cocktails have been around for a few years now and new twists on them are always favorable.  Adding a jalapeno to a margarita and calling it a spicy margarita just won’t do the trick.  Interesting, unique flavors and mixes are what make these drinks favorable.

Low calorie or even no-alcohol beverages are also good to keep top of mind.  While the younger generations seem to be consuming less alcohol than the generations before them, it’s important to keep mocktails creative and fresh.  The ready-to-drink beverages in the slim cans have been gaining popularity for years.  Having a house version of a low-calorie drink that comes in a fancy low ball vs. a tin can might win some customers over.

Now that we’ve visited some of the trends, let’s circle back to the classics and favorites and jazz them up a bit to impress even the biggest scrooge.  Ice. Keep the cold drinks cold with ice worth talking about.  Big cubes are huge in popularity and circle cubes paired with garnishes such as the festive cranberries we talked about earlier will make these ordinary drinks seem far from ordinary.  Garnishes are so in right now and will keep heads turning. Cinnamon sticks on toddy’s, sprinkled rims on eggnog, mint sprigs on hot coco, the list goes on.  Fruit is always a classic, but what about a spin on it?  Frozen, sugar-coated cranberries, chocolate dipped strawberry slices on a festive pick, a dried orange on the rim of a hot bourbon or actual apple slices drizzled with caramel to jazz up a spiked or virgin cider.  The list really is endless. 

Glassware can also turn an ordinary beverage into extraordinary.  Maybe swap your ordinary low balls for a low ball with a handle. Use it for cocoa or hot buttered rum.  Serve your guests in style this season and they’ll certainly come back for more!

We asked some of our friends around the office for their holiday favorites and here’s what were turned in:

  • Grandma’s Brandy Slush
  • Eggnog mixed with vodka
  • Red wine
  • Brandy and hot apple cider
  • Mimosas & Mimosas with cranberry juice and frozen cranberries for ice
  • Tom & Jerry hot toddies
  • Hot Apple Cider with orange slices and cinnamon sticks
  • Flavored Hot Coco

Holiday drink menus and the drinks themselves should be fun and exciting.  Make your customers want to come back to try more.  Classics are good too, but freshening them up never hurt anyone.  Keep your bartenders engaged – remember if they don’t like the hassle of making the fancy or foo foo drinks, find a bartender that does.  There’s nothing worse than being excited for a fun drink and the bartender scoffs as: “I’ll have a Peppermint Crushed Frozen Ice Castle” comes out of your mouth.