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Can I Get You a Drink?

Beverages and cocktails for making holiday guests feel festive

Two cups of mexican hot chocolate - holiday cocktails

Hot chocolate plain or with a shot of peppermint schnapps offers something for everyone. — Photo by: Corbis

Seasonal beverages play an important role in keeping spirits bright and celebrating the holidays. From eggnog to apple cider, alcoholic or family-friendly, the tradition of festive cocktails and warm beverages are part of the next few months' celebrations. Some ideas for our gatherings, below.


The standard ingredients in eggnog are milk or cream, sugar, beaten eggs to provide frothiness and alcohol, often brandy, rum or whiskey. The linguistic history of eggnog is up for debate: some believe the name comes from the word "noggin," a Middle English word for a mug used to drink alcohol. Another story says that the term comes from "egg and grog," a Colonial term for a rum beverage. As much a dessert as it is a drink, it's easy to make a liquor-free version of eggnog for younger family members.

Eggnog by Sharon Tyler Herbst: This recipe comes with suggestions for lightening the drink's calorie and cholesterol count.

Mexican Eggnog by Diana Kennedy: The addition of cinnamon spices up this custardy eggnog.

Coquito by Sharon Tyler Herbst: Coconut eggnog is a Puerto Rican Christmas tradition.


Apple cider is more opaque and tangier than apple juice because it's unfiltered, making a richer base for holiday beverages.

Hot Spiked Cider by Nick Mautone: Make the "drunken fruit" for this recipe by soaking dried apple rings in calvados or applejack.

Mulled Cider by Nigella Lawson: Bay leaves, ginger and cardamom give this cider a special depth of flavor.

Hot Buttered Apple Cider by Rick Rodgers: A pat of butter on the top makes this hot cider extra luscious.

Hot Chocolate:

Christmas morning is meant for watching the snow fall, opening gifts from loved ones and drinking a warm mug of hot chocolate.

Hot White Chocolate by Sarah Leah Chase: A splash of coffee makes this a sweet, warm way to start the day.

John's Classic Drinking Chocolate by Robert Steinberg and John Scharffenberger: This thick, dark hot chocolate is as good for breakfast as it is for dessert, with a piece of fruit or a holiday cookie.

Cocoa, New Mexican Style by Jane Butel: Cinnamon and cloves make this cocoa similar to Mexican hot chocolate.

And Even More:

Lena's Glogg by Christopher Idone: This warm, spiced red wine-based drink includes lots of holiday flavors.

Crimson Christmas Punch by Jane Brandt: This non-alcoholic punch is a festive hit with young and old alike. The ice ring echoes a Christmas wreath.

C-Blend by Pat Crocker: Oranges, grapefruit, lime, cranberries and honey make a nutritious pick-me-up that should help fend off winter colds!

Holiday garnishes to trim your party drinks may give an extra-special touch.

  • Use miniature candy canes or cinnamon sticks as stir sticks.
  • String cranberries or maraschino cherries on candy canes for a festive take on the speared olives in martinis.
  • Crush candy canes into a fine powder and use them to rim glasses.
  • To spice up the traditional wheel of citrus garnish, stud a slice of orange with whole cloves before attaching it to the lip of the glass.

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