Have a Cup of Cheer: 5 Classic Holiday Drink Recipes

holiday drinks

Christmas is upon us once again, and that means lots of food, a few presents, and, usually, a few soul-warming drinks. Whether you’re planning to host a big Christmas party or are looking forward to spending a quiet holiday at home, these holiday drink recipes will keep you warm and add a cup of cheer to your celebrations.



This classic holiday drink will have you and your guests going back for more time after time. Most eggnog is full of saturated fat and sugar, and if it’s made with raw eggs it can be dangerous. Make it with organic, rBGH-free milk and pasteurized egg substitute for a much safer, healthier version. If you’re looking to cut down on calories, try this healthier version that uses vanilla frozen yogurt instead of heavy cream to make the drink nice and creamy. Or make this delicious vegan “egg” nog to eliminate the dairy and eggs altogether. Keep it alcohol-free for the kids, but add a bit of organic rum for the adults.

Mulled Cider

mulled cider

Is there anything more comforting on a cold winter day than hot mulled cider? This drink is well-known in New England, but is served all around the world. It’s simple to prepare and makes your house smell fantastic – and having a glass or three will make it much easier to maintain your holiday cheer. If you prefer, buy pre-mixed mulling spices (available around the holidays in most grocery stores) instead of assembling the individual spices yourself. This recipe will yield 8 cups of cider.


1/2 gallon of fresh, unfiltered organic apple cider

1 washed organic orange

15 cloves

4 3-inch sticks of cinnamon

15 allspice berries

1 teaspoon of nutmeg

7 pods of cardamon

1/4 cup brown sugar

1. Pour apple cider into a 3-quart saucepan, cover, and turn the heat on medium-high. While cider is heating up, take a vegetable peeler and peel away a couple thick strips of peel from the orange. Press about half of the cloves into the peeled part of the orange. (You can also just quarter the orange and add the slices and cloves separately.) Place orange, orange peel strips, the remaining cloves, and the rest of the ingredients into the sauce pan with the cider. Keep covered and heat the mulled cider mixture to a simmer, then reduce heat to low. Simmer for 20 minutes on low heat.

2. Use a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth to strain the hot mulled cider away from the orange, cloves, and other spices. If you want, you can add a shot of apple brandy to give it more of a kick. Serve hot. Add a cinnamon stick to each cup if desired.

Mulled Wine

mulled wine

Mulled wine is mulled cider’s slightly older, slightly more sophisticated cousin. It combines the depth of red wine with the jolliness of mulling spices, and kicks in a little brandy to increase the impact. This simple version of mulled wine takes almost no time to put together and can even be made in your slow cooker while you go about your other holiday party preparations. A note on the “right” wine to use: since you’re adding spices and sugar to your wine, don’t spring for the expensive, impressive vintage . Buy a modest – or even cheap – red wine with a robust flavor that will stand up to the added sweetness and spices.


2 750 ml bottles of organic red wine (find some recommendations here)

1 peeled and segmented organic orange (wash the orange before peeling, then keep the peel to add to the pot)

1/4 cup brandy

8-10 whole cloves

2/3 cup sugar

3 cinnamon sticks

3 black peppercorns

1 tsp fresh (or 2 tsp dried, ground) ginger

1/2 tsp allspice

1 Tbs whole star anise

1. Tie spices and orange peel up in a piece of cheesecloth and secure with cooking twine. (If you don’t have these tools on hand, you can combine everything loose in the pot and strain it through a fine mesh sieve before serving.)

2. Combine all ingredients in a large pot or slow cooker. Warm ingredients over low to medium heat, taking care to avoid boiling.

3. Heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally to be sure the sugar has dissolved.

4. Ladle into mugs, garnish with an orange slice or cinnamon stick if desired.

Hot Chocolate

hot chocolate

Making this classic winter drink has, unfortunately, become something of a lost art. Most people buy the pre-made instant hot chocolate mixes instead of mixing up the ingredients from scratch. This is the perfect time of year to learn how to make an incredible hot chocolate – and it’s easier than you might think. The quality of the ingredients has a profound effect on the quality of the finished product, so use the highest quality of both that you can find. The milk should be chemical-free and creamy; whole milk usually works best. The chocolate should be rich and semi-sweet: not too bitter and not too sweet. If you’re going to garnish your hot chocolate with whipped cream (which is highly recommended), splurge a little and use real cream, whipped by hand.


2 cups organic milk

1 1/2 ounces semi sweet organic chocolate, chopped

Sugar to taste

For garnish: real whipped cream, mini marshmallows, or a cinnamon stick

1. Combine milk, chocolate and sugar (if desired) in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk occasionally (using a wire whisk or stick blender) until the mixture reaches the boiling point. Remove from heat.

2. Continue to whisk or blend until the mixture is creamy and foamy.

3. Pour the hot chocolate into two mugs and garnish with whipped cream, marshmallows, or cinnamon sticks.



You’ve heard the Christmas song about wassailing, right? Prepare this traditional alcoholic punch for Christmas and you won’t be caught off-guard by carolers demanding food and drink. It may take a bit of work, but the end result is an unforgettable, very cheery, Christmas beverage.


2 pints and 1/4 cup brown ale (winter ale and scottish ale will also suffice)

3-4 cinnamon sticks

4 cloves

Zest from 1/2 lemon

4 apples

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

1 cup port

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground all spice

1/4 teaspoon ground cardomon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In a large sauce pan, pour in 2 pints of ale. Add the cinnamon sticks, lemon zest and cloves and bring to a simmer over low heat.

3. Take an apple, and score it with a knife around the circumfrance of the apple. Place in a baking dish. Repeat this step for all of the apples. Cover with one cup of brown sugar, 1/4 cup of ale, and all of the port. Cover baking dish and place in oven, cooking for 30 minutes.

4. While apples are baking, place remaining sugar and spices into the sauce pan, ensuring it’s well mixed.

5. When apples are done baking, place entire contents of baking dish into sauce pan. Allow to cook over a low heat for another 30-40 minutes.

6. Ladle into individual cups, mugs or traditional wassailing goblets.


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