Cocktails & Spirits

The Best Eggnog Martini Recipe, Plus Five More Christmas Cocktails

Ah, the holiday season, a time for holiday parties and tons of food. While the holidays are always a great excuse to pig out on all those home-cooked goodies, it's also a great reason to get slogged off festive cocktails and martinis with your extended family and friends. 

This year, celebrate the holiday season with the perfect eggnog martini -- shared here -- or any of these other holiday and winter-themed cocktails.

Eggnog Martini

Eggnog, that deliciously sweet dairy-based beverage traditionally made with milk, cream, sugar, and whipped eggs just so happens to pair perfectly with -- yes, you guessed it -- liquor. All types of liquor, to be exact, which is why this recipe offers a few variations for mixing. 

Pick your poison -- be it brandy, rum, whisky, bourbon, vodka or a combination of all the above -- as each are often added to make this the creamy seasonal drink the ultimate night cap. The finishing touch, a simple sprinkling of fresh ground nutmeg or cinnamon. Here's how to make one:

3 ounces eggnog (your favorite brand of regular non-alcoholic)
1.5 ounce dark rum (or substitute with 1/2 ounce amaretto flavored liquor and 1 ounce vanilla vodka)
Nutmeg (for garnish)
Directions: Mix eggnog and liquor in shaker with ice. Shake well. Strain into a martini glass. Sprinkle with ground nutmeg, or do a nutmeg and sugar rim.

For more sweet treats, keep reading:

Buttered Rum Cocktail

Whether you're celebrating Hanukkah or Christmas -- and whether you're in New England or South Florida -- a winter-time drink is the perfect treat for this time of year, especially when it comes with hot, melted butter. Butter? Yes! Butter. According to the American Heritage Cookbook, the cocktail dates back to our country's earliest records when it "found its way into domestic politics." How? Political candidates would get constituents liquored-up to help influence their votes. Today, it helps you get that warm-and-cozy-by-the-fire feeling, even if you happen to be gazing at a few dozen palm trees. Although there are several variations on this recipe, this is one of the easiest:

1 bottle of dark rum
2 cups of light brown sugar
1 stick of unsalted butter (softened)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
A pinch of salt

Directions: Put the butter, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt into a bowl. Cream them together with a mixer. Refrigerate until the mixture is almost firm. Spoon two tablespoons of the mixture into each of twelve small mugs. Fill the mugs to the halfway point with the rum (should use about three ounces of rum in each mug), then fill the mug the rest of the way with boiling water. Stir well and serve.

The Christmas Shot

Not in the mood to sing Christmas carols -- or hear them? We hear you! For some extra Christmas spirit and a shot of instant joy, try this holiday-themed shot to get you in the mood. Aside from its gorgeous red and green layers, it tastes just like a candy cane. It's also a great one to break out during parties, and works well as an aperitif. If you don't trust your layering skills (learn how to layer a cocktail here), simply make them in advance, then chill them on a tray in your refrigerator before serving.

1 part grenadine syrup
1 part green creme de menthe
1 part peppermint schnapps
Pour grenadine to about 1/3 of your shot glass. Carefully layer the creme de menthe, then the peppermint schnapps.

Mulled Wine

Where summer has punch and sangria, the cold weather adult beverage alternative is mulled wine, also a traditional holiday drink. Depending on taste and the recipe you use, it can be spicy -- which is warming on those cold winter days, but festive during our warmer South Florida days. And even though it involves quite a bit of ingredients (and some time in the kitchen), it's fairly simple to make. Simmering brings out plenty of flavor from spices and ingredients like orange and vanilla bean, and -- like any cocktail recipe -- it can be tweaked to your own likes and dislikes. Try less sugar if sweet isn't your thing, or more spice if you want that extra flavor. 

1 bottle red wine
1 cup cognac
3/4 cup sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
3 whole cloves
1 tsp grated nutmeg
1 vanilla bean
1 star anise
1 sliced orange
1 sliced lemon

Directions: Combine the ingredients in a sauce pan and simmer for 25 minutes. Let it sit overnight if possible (in the refrigerator is fine). Strain out the fruits and other non-drinkable ingredients and serve it warm in glass mugs.

Candy Cane Cooler

The best way to have a little taste of the holidays is with a candy cane. But, if you aren't intersted in sticky hands and chipped teeth from knawing on rock-hard candy, you can always opt to drink one instead. Preferrably one with a little kick, if you know what we mean...

2 cups fresh mint leaves, de-stemmed
1 bottle quality vodka
Thoroughly wash mint leaves and place in a decanter or jar. Empty vodka into container and muddle slightly to release the essential oils. Store in a cool, dark place for at least 3 days (longer if you want a stronger taste).
1 tbs. crushed candy cane or peppermint candy
1 1/2 oz. mint-infused vodka
1/2 oz. B&B (Benedictine and brandy)
1/2 oz. half-and-half
Peppermint stick
Mint sprig for garnish

Directions: Place crushed candy cane bits into pint glass. Muddle the candy cane slightly, breaking up the bigger pieces. Do not over-muddle into a powder. Add vodka, brandy and half-and-half and stir. Pour into a shaker with ice. Shake lightly to chill and strain into old-fashioned glass full of ice. Add a peppermint stick and stir. Garnish with a mint sprig.

The Florida Snow Ball

Here's one that takes a little extra work, but sounds utterly amazing. The fresh coconut lends a tropical taste to the holiday flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg and clove, while the resulting drink looks like -- well -- a snow ball. And a tasty one, at that.

1 fresh coconut
3/4 to 1 bottle (750-ml) dark or light rum
1 (13 1/2-ounce) canned coconut milk
1 (15-ounce) canned cream of coconut
2.5 (12-ounce) cans evaporated milk
2 large cinnamon sticks
A pinch of nutmeg and clove
Ice cubes, for serving
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Open coconut over a large bowl to save water, and reserve. Place coconut on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the coconut meat and rinse flesh under cold running water. Finely grate coconut using a box grater. Transfer to a large glass measuring cup. Add reserved coconut water and rum, and set aside.

Working in batches, in the jar of a blender, combine coconut milk, cream of coconut, condensed milk, evaporated milk, and coconut rum mixture; blend until combined. Pour into a pitcher, and add cinnamon sticks. Refrigerate, covered, for up to 2 days. Just before serving, stir to combine. Serve over ice, or shake in a shaker with ice to serve up. Garnish with a candy cane.

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Nicole Danna is a Palm Beach County-based reporter who began covering the South Florida food scene for New Times in 2011. She also loves drinking beer and writing about the area's growing craft beer community.
Contact: Nicole Danna