What makes the perfect Christmas cocktail?

Posted at 7:33 AM, Dec 16, 2014
and last updated 2014-12-25 10:16:20-05

Let’s face it, you’re probably getting too old for hot chocolate.

If you’re looking for a holiday drink that will keep you warm this winter, why not try something a little more spirited? If you’re 21 or older, of course.

Joe Bruno — a cocktail expert and director of the American Bartenders School of New York — says the perfect Christmas cocktail should bring back memories, while also potentially blurring them.

“The (drinks) you remember are ones your parents or grandparents made during the holidays,” Bruno said. “Cocktails should be able to hold fast to nostalgia, in order to stand the test of time.”

But what makes a great Christmas cocktail? Bruno suggests peppermint as a prime ingredient.

“I just equate it with wintertime,” he said. “I guess it could be a metaphor for walking into a warm house after being in the cold,” Bruno said of mint-infused drinks.

One such cocktail he teaches his students includes peppermint schnapps, vodka and simple syrup (sugar boiled in water). A popular garnish for mint-infused drinks is a candy cane or peppermint stick.

Other popular Christmas drinks include mulled wine, hot toddies, and spiked coffee or hot cocoa. Bruno said he’s not typically a fan of alcoholic drinks that are served warm but gave his seal of approval to the Hot Buttered Rum Cocktail, cautioning, “The key to success with a hot drink is to do it perfectly or it doesn’t taste right.”

Bruno also said color is an important factor in deeming something a “holiday drink,” noting that they are often red or green in tint.

As someone who obviously respects a well-mixed beverage, Bruno fondly recalled the ingredients his parents kept around during Christmas get-togethers. “I remember Drambuie being in the house, because of the shape of the bottle,” he said. “It’s got those elements of heating and cooling.”

If you want to offer a festive non-alcoholic drink to your holiday gathering’s guests, the makers of DRY soda suggested a Christmas mocktail recipe.

5 fresh cranberries
1/2 cup apple cider
1/4 cup Ginger DRY Soda
1 lemon
Muddle cranberries in a glass with ice. Top with apple cider. Add Ginger DRY Soda, then a squeeze of lemon and pinch of cinnamon. Stir gently and serve in a cocktail glass. Garnish with cranberries and a lemon wheel.

DRY Soda can be purchased via Amazon.

For anyone hosting a Christmas gathering this year that wants to dazzle their guests with a wintertime cocktail, Bruno suggested making a Peppermint Froth. “It’s very sweet and has a snow-like appearance,” he said. “It hits all the right notes.”

Clint Davis is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @MrClintDavis.