10 Last Minute Holiday Cocktails

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Boozy Eggnog. Photo Credit: Kelly Carambula, Eat Make Read

Admit it. We've all been there. You want to do something different than champagne and you can't bear to look at another pomegranate cocktail. Where to turn? What to do? Well my family's a big drinking family around the holidays and between the five of us, lots of tipple research occurs. I wanted to share with you today a few recipes that are easy to throw together in a pinch. Perfect for unexpected company or those looming late night gift-wrapping marathons.

1) The Old Pal: How can you not love a drink that's named The Old Pal? And even better: it's a strong whiskey, Campari, Vermouth blend reminiscent of a Manhattan that takes less than 5 minutes to shake up. CHOW introduced us to it recently, and we've been enjoying them ever since. For a long night with the relatives, this is the one to turn to. Guaranteed to loosen everyone up.

2) Bourbon Gingersnap: Real Simple's Bourbon Gingersnap is the perfect warm-me-up cocktail for a night in at home. And there's something seemingly healthy about its blend of fresh juices, grated ginger, bourbon and honey that helps assuage the guilt of overimbibing.

3) Boozy Eggnog: Kelly Carambula's blog, Eat Make Read, is always a winning resource for fresh, seasonal cocktails (she posts a new one each Friday) and this past week she rocked the spiked eggnog. It's not quite homemade--it's really store-bought eggnog with a glug of whiskey and a few spices, but it's a busy time of year and this does the trick for me.


4) The Poinsettia: The Kitchn posted a simple holiday recipe for a champagne-based cocktail made with a little cranberry juice and Cointreau. It takes all of ten seconds to throw together, is pretty and festive, and has holiday written all over it.

5) Tea-Spiked Cocktails: Impress the neighbors this year with something a little new from Ready Made Magazine: a variety of great drinks made with tea. The La Valencia, made with lemon, chamomile-infused rye whiskey, and sherry is my personal favorite.

6) Blood Orange Punch: O.k., o.k., I turn to Martha not just for baking advice. She has mean cocktail ideas, too. And this year was no exception. We generally do some version of heavily-spiked punch at Thanksgiving because it works well for larger crowds and it's easy to manage. The Blood Orange punch appealed to the young and old this year: not too sweet and not too strong. When a punch is in order, this is a safe and delicious bet.

7) Vita Coca Crantini: Coconut Juice is all the rage these days and recently In Style Magazine decided to add a little vodka, frozen cranberries, and cranberry juice to the refreshing tropical juice and call it a day. The result is a martini that's almost creamy, bright, and crisp. I'd never thought about using coconut water as a mixer before stumbling upon this recipe, and now I'm hooked.

8) Hot Peppermint Patty: When you've had enough of the eggnog and fruity cocktails, sometimes a spiked hot chocolate is in order. And Bon Appetit's version is to die for: With whole milk, bittersweet chocolate and crème de cacao, it's the perfect indulgent drink for a rainy winter night. I love making these after dinner when friends are just sitting around chatting. We do them with a little whiskey or kahlua (or both).

9) Hot Toddy: You can't talk about spiked holiday cocktails without mentioning the Hot Toddy. That just wouldn't be right. And for those of you who have lived in states with real, bitter winters -- you know the magic of a Hot Toddy come February. But even here in the Bay Area, nothing sounds better to me on occasion, and Jamie Oliver's recipe is my favorite due to his addition of malt powder and real vanilla pods. This one takes a little more time, but it's absolutely worth it in the end. A keeper in my holiday cocktail arsenal.

10) Hot Mulled Spiked Cider: Elise's recipe for hot apple cider over at Simply Recipes is really quite perfect. She uses a blend of allspice berries, cloves, and cardamom pods. While I realize these aren't necessarily ingredients you have laying around the kitchen at all times, with a little pre-planning this cider is a special treat guests won't forget. Elise mentions adding rum, bourbon, or brandy to spike it. I also think Tuaca would be nice.

What did we miss? What are you favorite holiday cocktails that you enjoy and rely on year after year?