The Best Holiday Cocktail Recipes For Making Spirits Bright

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Josh Shipley

Senior Event Designer and Beverage Concierge at Together & Company

I feel like I say this every year, but I really can’t believe that the holiday season is just around the corner. Before we know it, the hustle and bustle of holiday party prep and hosting family gatherings will be in full swing.

If you’re hosting a holiday party for a group of friends or loved ones, these holiday cocktail recipes are a must! Homemade cocktails are a great touch even when hosting a catered cocktail party. They will most definitely get the party started and keep it going. 

Using flavors of the colder months, below is a trio of fantastic cocktails that will bring the spirit(s) of the season to you and yours! Each recipe is followed with a mocktail variation to make your alcohol-free guests feel included when they raise their glasses for a toast!

Here are 3 seasonally-inspired holiday cocktails to liven up any holiday celebration:

1. Maple Rosemary Old Fashioned

Old Fashioneds are so trendy and have been for a while now.  While the traditional recipe is a classic for a reason (it’s been around since the 1880s) I love playing around and seeing how it can be changed to something a bit more surprising or, even better, delicious! 

Maple Rosemary Old Fashioned

Simple syrup recipe

Maple Rosemary Simple Syrup

2 c water

1 c maple syrup

1 c brown sugar

8 sprigs fresh rosemary

Add 2 c water and 1 c maple syrup and 1 c brown sugar to saucepan and dissolve
Add 5 sprigs of rosemary and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add 3 additional sprigs of rosemary. Let steep for at least one hour and strain into airtight container. 

Refrigerate for up to one month.

Cocktail recipe

Maple Rosemary Old Fashioned

2 oz Bourbon (I like Weller’s or Elijah Craig)

1.5 oz Maple Rosemary Simple Syrup

Splash of water

A large ice cube

Sprig of charred rosemary

In a rocks or double Old Fashioned glass, add Bourbon, Maple Rosemary Simple Syrup, and a splash of water

Add one large ice cube and garnish with a sprig of charred rosemary and off you go!

Make it a mocktail!

For your guests who don’t drink, sub out your bourbon for a zero-proof version! Especially during a season abundant with alcoholic beverages, they’ll notice you went the extra mile to make them feel part of the celebrations.

2. Mulled Sangria

You’ll love the “plot twist” on this next recipe.  I instantly think of a warm summer day when I hear “Sangria.  However, when I came up with this recipe a couple of years ago, I quickly adapted to a “Sangria can be great any time of year!” approach.  It’s a great recipe for parties because you can make a batch a day ahead and not spend all evening tending bar.  Plus, it’ll leave time for you to set up a fun garnish bar for your guests to enjoy prettying up their glass! 

Mulled Sangria


1/4 c Mulling Spices (I use Williams Sonoma (lots of dried orange peels which add some great bitterness)

1 bottle of white wine (I like a Dry Riesling from the Finger Lakes or a Sauvignon Blanc from California) OR 1 bottle of red wine (I like a Cabernet Sauvignon or Malbec)

Juice of 2 oranges

Juice of 2 limes

Juice of 1 lemon

½ c of white cranberry juice

2 oz of Bourbon or Brandy

Slices of apple, pear, or orange for garnish

Ginger beer


In a medium saucepan, add Mulling Spices and wine. Bring to a quick boil then turn off heat to steep. Strain when cooled and steeped to your liking – the longer it steeps the more flavor you’re going to get!

In a pitcher, add your Bourbon and your orange, lime, lemon, and white cranberry juices.

Add the cooled, strained wine to pitcher and garnish with a sliced apple, sliced pear, and sliced orange.  For serving, add ice to a glass, pour in the Sangria, and top with ginger beer, sit back, and enjoy!

Make it a mocktail!

Replace the wine with grape juice and ginger beer with alcohol-free ginger ale for a lovely mocktail. The mulling spices and fruit will still come through and your alcohol-free friends will appreciate you thought of them!

3. Cranberry Sparkler

Finally, I’m sure you were waiting for it, what holiday festivity would be complete without some bubbles?  Our third cocktail is as simple as it is delicious:

Cranberry Sparkler

Simple syrup recipe

Cranberry-Cinnamon-Vanilla Simple Syrup

2 c water

2 c sugar

1/2 lb cranberries

4 cinnamon sticks

Seeds of 1 vanilla bean

Add 2 c water and 2 c sugar to saucepan and dissolve. Add 1/2 lb cranberries, 4 cinnamon sticks, and seeds of 1 vanilla bean and bring to a boil. Once berries are softened, remove from heat and let steep for at least one hour. Strain, crushing the berries to extract juice. Store in an airtight container. 

Refrigerate for up to one month.

Cocktail recipe

Cranberry Sparkler

1.5 oz of Cranberry-Cinnamon-Vanilla Syrup

Sparkling wine of your choice (I like a nice Spanish Cava or super Brut Champagne)

Cranberries for garnish

In a champagne flute or coup glass, add the Cranberry-Cinnamon-Vanilla Syrup and top with the sparkling of your choice. Garnish with a couple of fresh cranberries, and you are on your way to a sparkling holiday!

Make it a mocktail!

Similar to the Mulled Sangria, a Cranberry Sparkler can be easily adapted to become a mocktail! Simply sub out the sparkling wine with a sparkling grape juice, and you have a fine, festive beverage! 

Perfect cocktail pairings for your holiday parties

I hope you give one (or all) of these cocktails a try.  They are great accompaniments to hors d’oeuvres at your holiday parties and open houses.  Additionally, they aren’t super labor intensive and don’t require too many ingredients to work into your holiday shopping lists.   

Here’s to a healthy, happy, and spirited holiday season!


Seasonal bites to make your spirits bright

Now that you have some holiday cocktail recipes under your belt, take a look at our seasonal menu for the perfect culinary accompaniment at your next festive gathering.

Book your perfect catered holiday cocktail party with our event experts today!

Looking for a venue for your holiday party? Claim one of the last spots open this year at our exclusive venues:

Josh Shipley is a Senior Event Designer and in-house Beverage Concierge for Together & Company. As Beverage Concierge, Josh assists clients in creating the perfect cocktail or choosing the best wine for their occasion. Josh holds a Certification in Wines of California, the Pacific Northwest, and New York from Cornell University, is an Ohio Wine VIP Brand Ambassador, and is an active participant in The Finger Lakes Wine Alliance’s virtual road shows. Connect with Josh by following him on LinkedIn.

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