Classic to modern sippers, 13 festive cocktails to get you through the holidays

Mackensy Lunsford
Southern Kitchen

The holiday season is upon us. It can be a fraught time full of unwanted questions and political tension. It can also be festive and full of good cheer. Frankly, it's probably going to be a confusing mix of the two.

One thing is for certain, however: either atmosphere calls for a nice, stiff drink. With that in mind, we've curated 13 excellent drink recipes for you.

Some are old reliable sippers, while others are more recent creations, such as Top Chef Season 16 winner Kelsey Barnard Clark's lightly sparkling Jalapeño Margaritas. 

Click on each link for the recipe. Stay safe and have a happy holiday season!

Two-Boil Flip 

Two-Boil Flip Cocktail

This cocktail combines bourbon, coffee liqueur and a whole egg for a luxuriously rich holiday drink. If raw egg sounds gross, you're doing yourself a disservice. This drink's indulgent creaminess, notes of molasses and hint of fresh nutmeg make it perfect for fireside sipping. And if cousin Karen freaks out over the whole egg thing, more for you. Get the recipe.

Georgia Gin Cocktail

This is a gorgeous peach-flavored gin drink that's deceptively heavy-hitting, so feel free to toss these back with abandon once uncle Fred gets really revved up about politics. Made with peach schnapps, this cocktail lets you enjoy the flavor of peaches even when they're out of season. Peaches, and of course gin, make everything more tolerable. Get the recipe.  

Sparkling Jalapeño Margaritas

This light and refreshing recipe is from Kelsey Barnard Clark's latest book, "Southern Grit: 100+ Down-Home Recipes for the Modern Cook." If you aren’t a fan of mezcal, replace it with a nice reposado. The best margarita starts with good tequila, so don’t reach for the bottom shelf on this one. Use the less expensive stuff for shots when your brother inevitably demands some after dinner. Get the recipe.


This storied cocktail is said to have appeared in New Orleans in the mid-19th century, courtesy of bitters creator Antoine Peychaud. In 2008, the Sazerac was declared the official cocktail of New Orleans. What better way to get yourself and your fractious aunt Myrtle in the spirit than to channel some of that festive Big Easy vibe. Get the recipe.



This is a recipe that even your snooty hipster cousin Carl can appreciate. You'll need to select a high-quality gin for this spirit-forward drink.

For a different twist that still keeps things classic, try the Southern-made Shades of Rose from Cultivated Cocktails in Asheville, NC. This botanically fragrant gin gets its pink shade from a two-month resting period in red wine barrels. But Carl probably won't think that's "authentic enough." Get the recipe.

Bourbon-Mint Strong Palmer 

Even though tea and lemonade are often associated with summer, this adult version of an Arnold Palmer is a perfect holiday drink. Why? Because you can mix up a big batch of lemonade and tea and let your whole family — but not the kids, please — assemble their own Strong Palmers to their liking. Get the recipe.

Bushel and Barrel Cocktail

Bourbon and peaches play together so nicely, unlike your nieces and nephews. Courtesy of Coopers’ Craft Whiskey in Kentucky, this recipe calls for peach shrub, which you should be able to purchase from stores that carry upscale cocktail supplies. Etsy is also a good resource. If you can find spiced peach shrub, even better for that holiday flavor profile. Get the recipe.

The Puritan Cocktail

This variation on the martini cocktail dates back to around the very end of the 19th century.

This variation on the martini dates back to the end of the 19th century, when dry gin was making an impact on American cocktail culture.

The Puritan usually calls for orange bitters, but here lemon thyme bitters bring an herbaceous, slightly savory edge that lets the gin shine.

Puritans believed most everything that made people happy was a sin, yet they drank in copious amounts, which sort of sounds like aunt Kathy's vibe. Give her a few of these drinks, and she'll lighten right up. Get the recipe

Classic Old Fashioned

The Old Fashioned is one of the classics and still one of our favorites.

This is probably your dad's favorite cocktail, so don't screw this one up. A classic for a reason, this iconic bourbon-based drink is considered one of the oldest cocktails in the annals of American mixology. It's a spirit-forward drink that lets the bourbon do the talking, so make sure to buy something that would make your dad proud, alright? Rye works perfectly here as well. Get the recipe.

The Gatling Gun Cocktail

Gatling Gun

With apple brandy and cider at the heart of this twist on a French 75, this cocktail is the perfect autumnal sipper. Why the firearm in the name? The French 75 is named for the World War I 75mm field gun. In a similar fashion, Jerry Slater, the author of this recipe, named the drink after a predecessor of the modern machine gun invented by North Carolina native Dr. Richard Gatling. Now you have something to discuss with your gun-loving cousin Dave. Get the recipe.

Pamplemousse Paloma

Pamplemousse Palomas.

Have some Pamplemousse La Croix in the fridge? That's the base for this recipe, which also makes use of the abundance of the great citrus that begins flooding the supermarkets this time of year. Made with tequila and ginger syrup and rimmed with salt, you'll have to make sure you don't knock back too many of these when your sister starts in on your relationship troubles. Again. Get the recipe.

The Alchemist Cocktail

This spiced cocktail calls for allspice dram, which you should be able to find at well-stocked liquor stores, and a spoonful of apple butter, which your grandma probably has in the cupboard. Those two ingredients, plus the smokey Scotch and sherry, create a comforting sipper that would be right at home on a crisp autumn evening when you're drinking in the backyard to avoid your inlaws. Get the recipe

Spiced Irish Coffee

This version of Irish coffee has warming spices and would make the perfect after-dinner drink. You can also sip it on a chilly morning when you have nothing to do but relax by the fire in your jammies. Just be prepared for your mom to maybe silently judge you. Get the recipe.