Mix up some warming and refreshing winter cocktails for holiday parties and beyond.
In search of fresh takes on seasonal beverages to serve up this holiday season? Us too. We turned to the team at France 44 Wines & Spirits for some inspiration and guidance. The result? A collection of six delicious cocktails (and a mocktail!) for every occasion. Whether you’re looking for a solution for lively holiday gatherings or cozy date nights by the fire, these creative recipes are sure to be a highlight for the holiday season and beyond.
Recipes and descriptions compiled by France 44 wine specialist and public education coordinator Josh Timmerman.
The Celebratory Cocktail
Raspberry Kir Royal
- 1/2 oz. St. George Raspberry Liqueur
- 4 oz. sparkling wine (we used Dibon Brut Cava)
Add St. George Raspberry Liqueur to a Champagne flute, and top with Dibon Brut Cava. Cheers!
Not all cocktails need to be difficult to make. In fact, some of our all-time favorite cocktails are the ones that require the fewest ingredients and can be thrown together in a flash. The Raspberry Kir Royal is just that! It’s bubbly, it’s pink and it’s delicious. You could easily substitute other variations of sparkling wine in place of the Dibon if you so choose.
The Batch Cocktail
- 1 bottle pinot grigio
- 2 1/2 cups apple cider
- 1 1/2 cups club soda
- 3/4 cup Velvet Falernum liqueur
- 3 Honeycrisp apples, chopped
- 3 pears, chopped
Combine all ingredients in a punch bowl, stir and chill for one hour before serving.
What better way to use up any of that summery white wine you have around than in a delicious punch-like winter sangria? It is packed with seasonal flavors and is very easy to make. Many different white wines will work for this punch; look for something relatively inexpensive and fruit-driven. (We went with San Martino Pinot Grigio, and it worked great.)
Rapid-fire Q+A with France 44 spirits buyer Tom Schneider
Best new find: Fot-Li Spanish Sweet Vermouth. It’s fantastic for Negronis and an Old Fashioned.
Can’t live without: Rittenhouse Rye for mixing cocktails!
Fan favorite: Cazadores Spicy Margarita cans. They’re awesome in all seasons. Yes, even in winter.Drink one and reminisce about warmer days.
Out-of-the-box: St. Agrestis Amaro for making Black Manhattans or for simply sipping. Seriously, it’s fantastic.
The Classic Cocktail
Maple Old Fashioned
- 1 oz. bourbon (We used Ezra Brooks 99 Proof.)
- 1 oz. rye whiskey (We used Rittenhouse.)
- 1 oz. apple brandy (We used Laird’s Bottled in Bond.)
- ½ oz. maple syrup
- 2 dashes Fee Brothers Black Walnut Bitters
- 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice, and stir until incorporated. Strain into a rocks glass with one large ice cube. Garnish with an apple slice.
Call it a Maple Old Fashioned, Caramel Apple Old Fashioned or a Crunch Old Fashioned, this spin on a classic may have an autumn feel, but it is delicious year-round. And who doesn’t love an excuse to pull out that “fancy” maple syrup?
The Zero-Proof Cocktail
- 4 1/2 oz. cinnamon tea
- 5 oz. The Saskatoon by For Bitter For Worse
- 1/2 oz. Earl Gyles Ceylon Cinnamon syrup
Boil 9 oz. of water, and briefly steep your cinnamon tea bag for a weak tea. While the tea steeps, bring The Saskatoon to a simmer, add cinnamon syrup and stir to combine. Add cinnamon tea and split between two mugs to share with a loved one. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.
This cozy mocktail is a delicious spin on mulled wine. It features For Bitter For Worse’s blend called The Saskatoon, which has a savory flavor profile that embodies a complex red wine and can be enjoyed chilled on its own as well. The Earl Giles Ceylon Cinnamon syrup isn’t too sweet or overpowering and will be a fun addition to your bar to put a new twist on other favorites all winter long!
We all know the importance of dinner party wine pairings, but what about cocktails? If you’re planning to feature cocktails on your menu, consider your flavor pairings. “Cocktail and food pairings can be difficult, though not impossible,” says Tom Schneider, France 44’s spirits buyer. “A great place to start is with matching your dish to a base spirit. For example, a light seafood dish will likely pair better with gin than rye whiskey. After you have selected the base spirit, you can now choose the cocktail that will best fit the dish. (Gin martini with oysters, please!)” Other considerations include: viscosity, sweetness and alcohol content. But when in doubt, “There is nothing wrong with choosing cocktails that fit the theme or vibe of the evening instead of pairing to specific dishes,” Schneider says.
The Hot Cocktail
- 5 oz. fresh-brewed coffee
- 1 oz. Du Nord Cafe Frieda Coffee Liqueur
- 1 oz. Baileys Irish Cream (substitute Baileys Almande for a dairy-free alternative)
Combine all ingredients in your favorite mug and enjoy.
It’s pretty tough to beat the comfort of a warm, boozy coffee in the depths of Minnesota winters. This is the drink for when those temps begin to drop, and you’re feeling like a relaxing winter weekend at home.
The Night Cap
- 2 oz. rye whiskey (We used Old Overholt 114 proof.)
- 1 oz. amaro (We used St. Agrestis.)
- 1 dash Angostura Bitters
- 1 dash orange bitters
- Griottine cherry for garnish
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice, and stir until well chilled. Strain into a coupe glass and garnish with a Griottine cherry.
One of my favorite cocktails! A Black Manhattan uses amaro instead of the sweet vermouth found in the traditional Manhattan. (This drink typically calls for Averna Amaro, but I personally love St. Agrestis Amaro.) It gives this drink a bit more spice, earthiness and herbaceous bitterness. It’s the perfect sipper
to end an evening.
Schneider’s Home Bar Essentials
Earl Giles Piloncillo Simple Syrup for an Old Fashioned
Liber & Co. Orgeat (almond syrup) for Mai Thais
Liber & Co. Grenadine (real pomegranate syrup) for all kinds of tropical drinks
Negroni Antica Bitter & Aperitivo Liqueurs for Negronis and spritzes
He says, “Like Campari and Aperol but better and cheaper!”
Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur for The Last Word Cocktail or an Old Fashioned
Banhez Espadin & Barril Mezcal for sipping and mixing He says, “My go-to agave spirit!”
Dibon Dry Cava for spritzes
Etesia Gin for mixed drinks
He says, “A fabulously inexpensive and delicious gin for cocktails.”
Filthy Bleu Cheese Olives for martinis
Griottine Cherries for garnishes