Easy cocktail recipes for holiday entertaining

Spread holiday cheer with these delicious and lively spirits

Pomegranate Martini

A three-ingredient drink that looks oh-so-festive.

1 1/2 ounces vodka (regular or citrus flavored)
1/2 ounce Cointreau or orange curacao
3 ounces pomegranate juice
Pomegranate seeds for garnish (optional)
Lemon (optional)
Sugar (optional)

If desired, first cut strips of lemon peel for a garnish. Then cut the lemon in half, rub the lemon on the rim of a martini glass and dip the glass in sugar.  

Add ice to a shaker, then pour in alcohol and juice. Shake vigorously, and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with your choice of pomegranate seeds or lemon peel.

This time of year you may be able to find packages of pomegranate seeds in the produce section, but if not (or if you want to avoid the expense), then purchase a whole pomegranate and de-seed yourself. There’s a handy trick for avoiding the mess associated with the process. Cut the pomegranate in half (put it on paper towels first to avoid leaking juice all over the place), then submerge in large bowl filled with water. Break apart the pieces underwater, letting the seeds, pulp and rind stay right in the bowl. When done, the majority of the pulp will float, and the seeds will sink. You can then discard the pulp and strain the seeds. No juice will escape to stain your holiday party outfit.

Wassail Cider

Wassail is a tradition that dates back to medieval times, but today it’s generally known as a version of mulled cider.

6 cups apple cider
1 cup orange juice
2 lemons, sliced
4 cinnamon sticks (plus more for garnish)
Pinch of allspice
6 whole star anise
Bourbon or whiskey (optional)
Apple slices (optional)

In a large pot over medium heat, combine everything except the alcohol. Bring to a boil, then simmer over low heat for an hour. Strain the liquid, and serve with fresh cinnamon sticks, apples or both as a garnish. This can be served as is, but adults may enjoy 1.5 ounces (or to taste) of bourbon or whiskey splashed into their mugs.

Classic Eggnog

This year, walk right on by those cartons of eggnog in the grocery store. True eggnog is a breeze to make, and there’s no beating the homemade touch.

2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, plus more for garnish (you could also add a cinnamon stick as a garnish)
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup rum or bourbon (optional)
Whipped cream for serving

Combine milk, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla in a small saucepan over low heat. Slowly bring mixture to a low boil.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk egg yolks with sugar until yolks are pale in color. Slowly add hot milk mixture to egg yolks in batches to temper the eggs. Whisk until combined. Slowly is the key here — no one wants scrambled eggnog.

Return mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat until slightly thick (it will coat the back of a spoon) but does not boil.

Remove from heat and stir in heavy cream and, if using, booze.

Refrigerate until chilled.

When ready to serve, garnish with whipped cream and cinnamon.

Cranberry Mimosa

This simple cocktail looks elegant and festive, and is perfect for a holiday brunch.

1 lime, sliced in half
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup cranberry juice (the sweetened kind is preferred here)
1 bottle of champagne/prosecco
Fresh cranberries
4 sprigs of rosemary

Rub the rims of champagne flutes with the cut lime, then dip the flutes in sugar. This step adds to the presentation of the cocktail, but isn’t strictly necessary. Pour ¼ cup of the cranberry juice into the flute and top with champagne. Fashion one end of the rosemary sprigs into a skewer by stripping off the leaves, but make sure to keep leaves intact on the other end. Use a toothpick or metal skewer to make holes in the cranberries, then thread a sprig through two to three berries to make a garnish.

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