Let’s face it: if you’re going to go all-out with your mixology, and pull out all the stops when it comes to flavour, spectacle, and excess, then Christmas really is the time to do it. This festive holiday has always, always been about going above and beyond, and living just a little more decadently than you might do at any other time of year, which means it’s absolutely ideal for experimenting with some new whisky cocktails with which to impress your guests.
One of the great things about Christmas cocktails is that, unlike many other celebrations, Christmas comes with a pretty reliable roster of flavours, aromas, and even colours to base your cocktail ideas upon. We all know, almost innately, that this holiday is all about those warming spices, the rich sweetness of fruit and sugar, and intense hits of big, bold tasting notes which linger long on the palate. As a result, the unique profile of whisky as a spirit – both sweet and spicy, and fun yet sophisticated – makes it the perfect choice for your new signature holiday tipple.
With all of this in mind, we’ve scoured the great cocktail bars of the world to pick out seven beautiful, aromatic, and deeply warming whisky-based drinks for you to whizz up in your home bars this holiday season. Whether you’re serving them as an aperitif at Christmas dinner, at a snug little house party before or after the big day, or for an intimate festive date while the snow falls outside, these seven whisky cocktails are guaranteed to hit the spot!
The Applejack Manhattan
Apples, cinnamon, and whisky… what could possibly be more inviting on a cold midwinter’s evening? This deliciously seasonal twist on an all-time favourite cocktail is guaranteed to warm the cockles on a chilly December evening, and thanks to those absolutely classic Christmas flavours, it’s bound to get you feeling the holiday spirit through and through. We especially like this appley cocktail prepared with a whisky which displays plenty of fruitiness as a result of Sherry casking, such as Glenfiddich 18-year-old, or similar.
50ml Scotch Single Malt
25ml Apple Brandy or Applejack
15ml Cinnamon-infused Sweet Vermouth
2 Dashes Bitters
Combine all of the ingredients in a mixing glass with plenty of ice. Stir well, then strain slowly into a coupe glass, before garnishing with a dried apple slice and a stick of cinnamon.
Head to London, or any other part of the UK, at this time of year and the air is filled with the scent of mulling spices, bobbing away in big vats of warm red wine – delicious! This Scotch cocktail is a whisky-fied take on the Christmas favourite and heats beautiful Scotch whisky through with all the flavours of the season. Serve this up at a festive dinner party, and you’re guaranteed to impress everyone present.
25ml Scotch single malt
40ml mulled ginger beer
20ml clear apple juice
20ml boiling water
5ml runny honey
For the Mulled Ginger Beer
Put star anise, a cinnamon stick, some orange and lemon slices, and a couple of cloves in a saucepan, and pour in the ginger beer. Warm through.
For the Cocktail
Build up all the ingredients one by one in a heatproof mug, and stir gently with a spoon. Garnish with a bit of grated or ground cinnamon. Serve hot.
The Last Reel
Looking for a whisky cocktail that perks you up after a heavy and extended festive lunch? This beautifully elegant-yet-invigorating tipple is a gorgeous and sophisticated little number, inspired by the Last Waltz cocktail popularised at the Pauly Saal bar in Berlin, and given a Christmas twist with a holiday-inspired flavour profile. We love making this cocktail with a classic Scotch such as The Macallan 12-year-old, as it lends plenty of wow-factor to an already highly impressive drink. Enjoy!
30ml Scotch single malt
15ml Cherry Heering or other Cherry Liqueur
5ml Yellow Chartreuse
2 dashes of chocolate bitters
Combine all the ingredients, except for the fizz, in a mixing glass with ice. Strain into a coupe glass, then top up with the sparkling wine. Garnish with a lemon twist.
The 12 Days of Christmas
We all know the lengthy Christmas carol, the Twelve Days of Christmas, in which one lucky person receives a plethora of increasingly unlikely gifts. Well, this cocktail keeps things relatively short and sweet, yet delivers far more satisfaction than three French hens could possibly manage. It’s best made with a solid, steady blended Scotch – the kind of dram we all like to fall asleep within the front of a roaring yuletide fire. Cheers!
40ml lemon juice
25ml gingerbread cordial
2 dashes chocolate bitters
1 egg white
Gingerbread crumbs and cinnamon to garnish
Fill a champagne flute with ice, and leave aside. Pour all the ingredients, minus the garnishes, in a cocktail shaker, and give it a vigorous shake. Strain into a glass, and top with the crumbs and cinnamon.
Blood and Sand
Sure – the name isn’t particularly Christmassy. However, the ‘blood’ in this particular cocktail refers to blood orange, which, with its deep and sweet citrus flavour, really does capture the taste of the season. Alongside the cherry notes and Grand Marnier, this icy Christmas cocktail really hits the high notes as an after-dinner tipple, and it’s guaranteed to get the carols going.
170ml Scotch blended whisky
Juice of 4 blood oranges
85ml sweet red vermouth
55ml cherry syrup
30ml Grand Marnier
4 dashes of bitters
4 cherries and 4 blood orange slices to garnish
Pour all the ingredients, minus the garnishes, into a blender with about 4 cups of ice. Blitz until smooth, then pour carefully into 4 coupe glasses and garnish.
There you have it – five beautiful, delicious, and aromatic Scotch cocktails that really do capture the flavours of Christmas, perfect for mixing up at your home bar this holiday season. Enjoy… and Merry Christmas to you all!
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