Whether you want to prepare special drinks for your guests on Christmas Eve or make an alternative toast to the New Year, whisky lends itself to a thousand and one special occasion. You can drink it straight or, given the festive occasion, experiment with ingredients and create unique flavour combinations that will surprise your friends. Therefore, if you want to raise your glass during the Christmas dinner, here are some whisky-based cocktail recipes for this special occasion.
Great classics never get old. If you’re in doubt about what to offer your guests, these cocktails will please all palates without sacrificing flavour.
This cocktail is one of the oldest drinks in the cocktail canon. It is usually served in a tumbler with plenty of ice, and both rye and bourbon are suitable base spirits.
- 2 tsp sugar syrup or 1 tsp granulated sugar
- 1-2 dashes Angostura bitters
- splash of water
- 60ml Scotch whisky or bourbon
- soda water (optional)
- orange slice
- maraschino cherry (optional)
Put the sugar, bitters and water in a small tumbler and then mix until the sugar dissolves. Fill your glass with ice and stir in the whisky. Finally, add a splash of soda water if you like it, and garnish it with orange and cherry.
The whiskey highball is a simple way to enjoy your favourite whisk(e)y. You just need two ingredients: your favourite dram and ginger ail. After all, less is more!
- 45 ml whisk(e)y of your choosing
- 135 ml Ginger Ale
Fill a highball glass with ice cubes and pour in the whisk(e)y. Slowly pour in the Ginger Ale. With a long-handled spoon, gently stir the whole.
Irish Coffee is an iconic drink during the cold season. With its rich and sweet aromas, it’s the perfect cocktail to be served at the end of a meal (possibly with dessert).
- 2 tbsp double cream
- 150ml freshly brewed black coffee
- 50ml Irish whiskey
- ½ tsp brown sugar
- pinch freshly grated nutmeg
Lightly whip the cream until it gets slightly thickened, then set aside. Pour hot coffee into a heatproof glass, thus, add the whiskey and sugar and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Gently put the cream on the top and sprinkle the nutmeg on the top.
If you’re feeling bold and want to experiment, here are some more modern whisky-based cocktail recipes.
Penicillin is one of the most popular cocktails. Sweet and pungent at the same time, this drink is named after Australian bartender Sam Ross, who first made it in 2005 in New York.
- 4 thin slices of ginger
- 45 ml blended scotch
- 20 ml fresh lemon juice
- 20 ml honey syrup
- 10 ml Peated Single malt scotch whisky (islay is recommended)
In the bottom of a cocktail shaker, gently mash the ginger until its juices are released. Then, add the blended scotch, lemon juice and honey syrup with a handful of ice and shake it until it’s cold. Pour the drink into a lowball glass with one large ice cube. Finally, pour the single malt scotch creating a layer on top. If you like it, garnish with candied ginger or lemon peel.
This drink is actually a classic served during Thanksgiving. However, given the spicy and sweet notes, it is also a great recipe to enjoy at Christmas.
For the Fig-Infused Honey Syrup
- 2 Tbsp. honey
- 4 dried figs, halved
For the Cocktail
- 30ml bourbon
- 20 ml dry riesling
- 15 ml St-Germain Elderflower liqueur
- 15 ml apple cider
- 15 ml fresh lemon juice
- 10 ml Fig-Infused Honey Syrup
- Garnish: Apple slice
To prepare the fig-infused honey syrup, put the warm honey and dried figs into a small saucepan with 100 ml water. Heat it over while stirring the mix until the honey is completely dissolved. Do not let boil it. Remove from heat, let cool for 10 minutes. Pour figs mixture into a blender and blend it until they are smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a jar. You can store the syrup refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.
For the cocktail, add bourbon, riesling, St-Germain, apple cider, lemon juice, and fig-infused honey syrup to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake it for about 15 seconds, then strain it into a glass. Garnish with an apple slice and serve up.
A classic With a Twist
To make Christmas spicy and surprise everyone with unexpected twists of flavours, here are some variations of the most popular cocktail recipes.
Little Italy is an alternative to the classic Manhattan (a stirred mix of whiskey, vermouth, and bitters). The variation is from Audrey Saunders of Pegu Club in NYC.
- 60 ml rye whiskey
- 20 ml sweet vermouth
- 15 ml Cynar amaro
Mix all the ingredients in an ice-filled mixing glass. Then stir it, and pour it into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with cherries.
Mike’s Milk Punch
This creamy drink named after a bartender in San Francisco is a delicious alternative to the eggnog.
- 30 ml whole or reduced-fat milk
- 30 ml bourbon
- 1/2 teaspoons (or more) sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups ice cubes
- Freshly grated whole nutmeg or ground nutmeg
Whip the first 5 ingredients in the list in a blender until the mix becomes foamy. Stir into a mug or glass and sprinkle the drink with nutmeg before serving it.
Pineapple whisky sour
This Whisky Sour variant definitely has more summery flavours, making it the ideal drink for all those celebrating Christmas in the southern hemisphere.
- 2 tbsp caster sugar
- 60 ml bourbon
- 25 ml lemon juice
- 25 ml pineapple juice
- 1 egg white
Put the sugar, bourbon, pineapple juice, lemon juice, and egg white into a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake it vigorously for about 15. Strain into glass and serve.
Max Morandi’s Special Recipe. The Cherry on Top!
To end on a high note, we asked Max Morandi, one of the most talented bartenders on the Italian scene and a Planet One trainer, for a cocktail recipe that he thought would be perfect to serve at Christmas. A trainer and consultant since 2005, Max has worked as a bar manager for various bars until now, when he realised his greatest project: to open a secret bar, the Ada C., with a school for bartenders.
For this special occasion, he suggested to us the Red Casks, a drink with sweet notes based on Old Perth whisky.
- 5 cl. Old Perth Sherry cask
- 1,5 cl. Honey
- ½ Tea spoon pimento dram
- 10 cl. Boiling water
- Orange peel
Simply pour all the ingredients into a mug glass and then stir it before serving.