If there's one thing that's better than the holidays, it's the lead-up to the season. There's nothing quite like the anticipation of holiday festivities: the planning, shopping, gift searching, and decorating. And one of our all-time favorites is whipping up delicious and simple holiday cocktails.
Unlike the cocktails we make and order year-round, there's only a small window of time to enjoy holiday libations, so it's worth making the most of it. Ahead, we've highlighted 10 of our favorites: Think rosemary-infused herbal drinks, smoky cider margaritas, and festive sangria. Ready the bar cart. These easy holiday cocktails taste as good as they look.
Aged Eggnog Cocktail
The Recipe: Aged Eggnog Cocktail
The Hero Ingredient: The eggnog. If aged eggnog sounds off-putting, set your fears aside and just take a leap of faith on this one. This festive cocktail is like none other you've tried before.
Pro Tip: Putting a gallon of the homemade eggnog in the refrigerator for a week or two to let the flavors mellow out, making the eggnog less sweet than the beverages you've tried before.
Why We Love It: Eggnog, rum, heavy cream, whiskey—what's not to love?
Rosemary-Infused Citrus and Cranberry Cocktail
The Recipe: Rosemary-Infused Citrus and Cranberry Cocktail
The Hero Ingredient: Sugared cranberries. This rosemary-infused tangerine and cranberry drink is herbal, citrusy, and gorgeously festive with sugared cranberries and a rosemary sprig for garnish.
Pro Tip: The rosemary simple syrup can be made in advanced and kept in the refrigerator for a week.
Why We Love It: We can never resist a vodka cocktail—especially one that looks this pretty.
Rose and Rosé Bourbon Cocktail
The Recipe: Rose and Rosé Bourbon Cocktail
The Hero Ingredient: Rosé. Made with whiskey, grapefruit juice, rosé, rose syrup, and sparkling water, it’s reminiscent of an old-fashioned with a unique twist.
Pro Tip: For a less acidic cocktail, use segments of the grapefruit peel rather than slices for garnish.
Why We Love It: When you’re looking to move away from warm holiday cocktails, this festive rose and rosé bourbon cocktail will refresh you.
The Recipe: Pomegranate Paloma
The Hero Ingredient: Pomegranate seeds. A classic paloma (tequila with grapefruit soda) gets a seasonal twist in this beautiful rouge cocktail, thanks to the addition of pomegranate seed. It’s a great way to enjoy an old favorite while feeling festive.
Pro Tip: If you don't make the pomegranate ice cubes, you can just add a few seeds to the drinks and use regular ice cubes instead.
Why We Love It: This cranberry cocktail is just as perfect on your Thanksgiving table as it is for a Christmas spread.
Sparkling Pomegranate Punch
The Recipe: Sparkling Pomegranate Punch
The Hero Ingredient: Champagne. This bubbly cocktail packs a flavor punch with pomegranate juice, orange juice, apple cider, and orange bitters. And we can’t help but adore that the candied rosemary looks like snow.
Pro Tip: The rosemary can be made a day in advanced and stored at room temperature.
Why We Love It: What’s not to love about a champagne cocktail when it’s party time?
Blood Orange Sangria
The Recipe: Blood Orange Sangria
The Hero Ingredient: Blood oranges. Made with pinot grigio, brandy, berries, apple, and blood oranges, this blood-orange sangria has December written all over it—and its vivid colors will make every tabletop stand out.
Pro Tip: This cocktail gets better as it sits, so make it ahead of time and store in the fridge.
Why We Love It: Wine-based cocktails are great when you have big crowds to serve.
Smoky Harvest Apple Cider Margaritas
The Recipe: Smoky Harvest Apple Cider Margaritas
The Hero Ingredient: Cinnamon sticks. Making this cocktail with real cinnamon sticks, not extract, and a good quality mezcal makes for a next-level holiday drink.
Pro Tip: Serve with a slice of lemon, and rim the glass in cinnamon sugar for an extra touch.
Why We Love It: A naughty twist on traditional apple cider, this recipe by Half Baked Harvest smells and tastes like the holiday season.
Eggnog White Russian
The Recipe: Eggnog White Russian
The Hero Ingredient: Kahlua. The mix of eggnog, Kahlua, and vanilla vodka is the flavor combination you've been waiting for.
Pro Tip: This rich cocktail can double as a dessert!
Why We Love It: This heavy cocktail feels all kind of indulgent, and we are here for it. It tastes like a festive milkshake.
Pomegranate Ginger Sparkler Cocktail
The Recipe: Pomegranate Ginger Sparkler Cocktail
The Hero Ingredient: Ginger liqueur. The combination of pomegranate seeds, ginger liqueur, blood oranges, and champagne is sweet, spiced, and everything nice.
Pro Tip: Garnish with pomegranate seeds and an orange twist.
Why We Love It: This festive twist on a classic cocktail would be perfect for New Year's Eve.
Cranberry Moscow Mule
The Recipe: Cranberry Moscow Mule
The Hero Ingredient: Cranberries. The seasonal ingredient adds a tart twist and festive pop of color to your favorite cocktail.
Pro Tip: Serve with fresh or frozen cranberries on top.
Why We Love It: This cocktail combines the best flavors of the season, with a drink that everyone already loves.
This story was originally published in December 2015 and has since been updated.