Six Holiday Drinks That Won’t Have You Slurring Your Words

Those of us who are off the sauce also want to drink something beautiful, complicated, and festive (much like ourselves) during holiday parties and out with family and friends at bars and restaurants. I’m not about to spend seven hours on a special syrup for a zero-proof drink when I could spend that same amount of time reading a book or doing any other thing besides being in the kitchen. So, I’ll keep it simple.

Wait, first, I just want to say two words. PEBBLE ICE. My favorite ice in the world is the tiny pebble ice found at terrible-for-you fast-food places. Fun fact in all caps: YOU CAN BUY TINY ICE FROM SONIC. What?! Get some. Now. This ice will make your holiday drinks so much more fun.

You may proceed.

Bitters Tonic

2-3 dashes of aromatic bitters 
6 oz tonic water
Lemon or lime slices

Combine all ingredients in a highball glass over ice and stir.

Here are some fun bitters:
Bittermens Xocolatl Mole Bitters
Hella Bitters Smoked Chili Bitters
Fee Brothers Rhubarb Bitters

Cherry Bombs

1 c. grenadine
1 liter clear citrus soda or seltzer
18 maraschino cherries


  1. Place 2 cups water in a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add grenadine; stir to combine. Pour mixture into two ice-cube trays. Freeze until solid, 2 hours or overnight.

  2. Fill six glasses with grenadine ice cubes. Top with soda. Garnish with cherries, and serve. 

Pumpkin Fizz

1½ oz. of pumpkin purée
2 oz. of apple cider
Dash of vanilla extract
Ginger beer
Apple slice

Shake together ingredients and strain over ice. Top with ginger beer and garnish with apple slice.

Norma Beekman at Lockbox in Lexington, Kentucky

OG Fruit Punch: (Serves 37)

1 12oz can frozen orange juice
1 12oz can frozen lemonade
1 46oz can of pineapple juice
2 quarts ginger ale
1 10oz package of frozen strawberries

Mix frozen juices per instructions on cans. Add pineapple juice. Stir in strawberries. Add ginger ale when you’re about to serve.

Cranberry Spice

1.5 oz sparkling water
2 oz cranberry juice
4 dashes Peychaud's Bitters
2.5 oz apple cider
10 cranberries (plus additional for garnish)
Orange wedge

Muddle cranberries and orange wedge in cranberry juice, and then pour in the rest of the ingredients and stir with a spoon. Garnish with cranberries and orange peel and serve on ice.

From the Waldorf Astoria Chicago

Apple Barley Old Fashioned

1 oz strong-brewed chilled barley tea bag (poured from 10 oz of hot water brewed with two tea bags)
1/3 dropper Angostura bitters
5 dashes molasses bitters
.25 oz simple syrup
.5 oz apple cider
Splash of club soda – if you’re looking for a little zing, this is the key.

Stir ingredients and garnish with an orange twist and two Luxardo cherries. Hop off your fixed gear bicycle, twist your handlebar mustache and drink with a pinkie in the air.

From SteakBar in Chicago.

I borrowed these recipes from around the web and credited where possible.

Happy Thanksgiving!