Holiday Cocktails: Why Dream of a White Christmas? Drink One Instead!

The White Christmas (Photo: Jim Ratcliffe)


Of all the great holiday traditions, there are only two that really matter: the annual outing to see The Nutcracker, A Christmas Carol or The Messiah...and drinking.

Here at KQED Arts, we thought it would make a lot of sense to combine them. So we've created a bunch of tasty cocktails to help enhance your cultural pleasure this holiday season.

The Nutcracker
The Nutcracker (Photo: Jim Ratcliffe)

The Nutcracker

Gird yourself for another matinee appearance of the sugarplum fairy with this robust cocktail. A comforting drink with a dark underside, The Nutcracker captures the brooding fantasy of Tchaikovsky’s ballet in a tumbler. We matched rye whiskey with the burnt orange flavors of Amaro Nardini and black walnut bitters to create a nutty tribute to the perennial holiday favorite. Perfect as a pre-curtain libation, or surreptitiously sipped from a flask in your seat. Prost!


1.5 oz rye whiskey
.5 oz simple syrup
5 dashes black walnut bitters
1 oz Amaro Nardini
.25 tsp nutmeg
Shake ingredients together with ice and serve in an old fashioned glass over an ice cube with a frozen walnut suspended in the middle.
The White Christmas
The White Christmas (Photo: Jim Ratcliffe)

The White Christmas

Why dream of a white Christmas when you can drink one? To evoke the velvety texture of Bing Crosby’s voice, we blended coconut milk, white rum and elderflower liquor, and then splashed in a dash of rosewater just for good measure. Dried coconut flakes turn each glass into a miniature snow globe for your winter reveries. Top with a Bing cherry (brandied) to complete the scene.


0.75 oz coconut milk
1.5 oz white rum
1 oz Domaine Canton ginger liqueur
0.5 oz elderflower liqueur
Dash of rosewater
Shake ingredients together with ice and serve in a coupe glass rimmed with dried coconut and half filled with crushed ice. Top with a Bing cherry.
The Grinch
The Grinch (Photo: Jim Ratcliffe)

The Grinch

While we considered fashioning this ode to Christmas's greenest villain with eel, cactus and arsenic sauce, our hearts softened and we mixed a drink that would make every Who in Whoville sing. The more of this you have, the less grinchy you will be. Raise a glass in honor of a heart that grew three sizes that Christmas day.


1.5 oz tequila
1 oz absinthe
2 kiwi fruit, peeled
Handful of mint
Blend all ingredients plus a few ice cubes in a Magic Bullet or similar food processor. Pour into a Martini glass and garnish with one shriveled, dried cranberry shaped into a heart and skewered on a swizzle stick.
The Jacob Marley
The Jacob Marley (Photo: Jim Ratcliffe)

The Jacob Marley

Ebenezer Scrooge’s late business partner has been “as dead as a doornail” for more than 150 years. Although Marley's ghost may be condemned to forever wander the Earth in chains, you can still conjure him with this boozy seance. Watch as the "louche effect" causes Marley’s spectral presence to materialize in your spirit glass! Shake your ice-filled tumbler and heed the death-rattle of his ghostly chains. God save us. Everyone. Repent and find some mistletoe before it's too late.


0.5 oz Benedictine
0.5 oz vodka
0.5 oz pastis
1.5 oz water
Pour the pastis into an old fashioned glass. Shake the vodka, water, Benedictine and a few ice cubes together. Then drip this blend into the glass of pastis slowly and watch the liquid become cloudy -- that's the louche effect in action. To evoke Marley's ball and chain, add the ice and a Castelvetrano olive.
The Away in a Manger
The Away in a Manger (Photo: Jim Ratcliffe)

Away in a Manger

If you choose to spend the next three weeks in hiding, you may enjoy this loyal companion.


2 oz Wild Turkey bourbon
Some straw
Pour bourbon into a whiskey glass. Garnish with straw.