Recipes: 12 Days of Christmas Cocktails

Christmas cocktails

The Rusty Skate cocktail, pictured above, combines the sweetness and spice of Drambuie with the smokiness and boldness of Scotch. Photo: Courtesy of Wayne Gretzky Distillery

It’s time to deck the halls, get into the merry merry and bright of it all. We’ve tapped  expert mixologists for their secret recipes and included a few warm beverages as well as an option for teetotallers. Cheers!


1. Rusty Skate (above)

Courtesy Wayne Gretzky Distillery

Bartender’s note: When I started bartending, one of the first cocktails I fell in love with was the Rusty Nail. It combines the sweetness and spice of Drambuie with the smokiness and boldness of Scotch. This cocktail is an ode to that, using our Canadian Rye and liquid smoke to make up for the peat of the Scotch.

1 ½ oz. Red Cask Whisky

¾ oz. Drambuie

2 drops liquid smoke*

2 whisky-infused cherries and an orange slice

Fill a rocks glass with ice. Add whisky, Drambuie and liquid smoke (if using). Stir until chilled, garnish with cherries and orange slice.

*Tip: If you have hickory chips handy, try putting a pinch on a cutting board that you don’t mind scorching a little. Add a ¼ oz of whisky to the rocks glass, swish it around and then shake it out. Light the hickory chips with a barbecue lighter and then flip the whisky-rinsed glass over top of it. Let the glass smoke for one minute and then assemble the cocktail without the liquid smoke.

Christmas cocktails
Photo: Courtesy of Sipsmith


2. Hot Gin & Tonic

Courtesy: Sipsmith London Dry Gin

Bartender’s note: A warming new twist on a classic.

1.5 oz Sipsmith London Dry Gin

½ oz Jack Rudy Tonic Syrup

1/3 oz sugar syrup

Boiling water

Orange twist

In a mug or heatproof stem glass, combine gin, tonic syrup and sugar syrup. Stir well and top with boiling water. Garnish with an orange twist.

Christmas cocktails
Photo: Courtesy of Fairmont Hot Springs Resort


3. Gingerbread Eggnog

Courtesy Fairmont Hot Springs Resort

1 tbsp white sugar

1 tbsp ground cinnamon

1 cup ice cubes

1 cup eggnog

1 cup vodka

1 cup coffee liqueur

2 tbsp molasses

Whipped cream

Freshly grated nutmeg

4 cinnamon sticks

Combine sugar and cinnamon. Rim four glasses and then dip in cinnamon sugar. Fill cocktail shaker with ice; add eggnog, vodka, coffee liqueur, molasses and a pinch of nutmeg. Shake to combine. Pour into rimmed glasses. Top with whipped cream and sprinkle fresh nutmeg on top, adding a cinnamon stick for garnish.


Christmas cocktails
Photo: Courtesy of Chelsea Hotel, Toronto


4. Salted Caramel White Russian

Courtesy Chelsea Hotel, Toronto

Bartender’s note: A creamy blend of coffee liqueur, Irish cream with salted caramel and vodka.

3/4 oz  Kahlua Coffee Liqueur

3/4 oz Bailey’s Salted Caramel

½ oz Polar Ice Vodka


Caramel drizzle

In ice-filled glass, combine Kahlua, Bailey’s and vodka. Top with milk and caramel drizzle.


Photo: Courtesy of Shangri-La Hotel, Toronto


5. A Kiss for Clara

Courtesy Chris Rail, head bartender at Shangri-La Hotel in Toronto, who was inspired by The Nutcracker ballet, to serve with the Nutcracker afternoon tea.

1 oz Ketel One Vodka

0.75 oz Umeshu Plum Brandy

0.5 oz Black Plum Syrup*

0.25 oz Verjus

1 oz Prosecco

Pickled grape

In ice-filled shaker tin, combine vodka, brandy, syrup, Verjus and  Prosecco; shake and strain into coupette glass. Garnish with a pickled grape and enjoy!

* Black Plum Syrup

Combine 1 cup diced black plums and 500 ml simple syrup; and bring to a soft boil. Steep overnight and strain.


Photo: Courtesy of Creemore’s Batch House


6. Crimson and Clover

Courtesy Creemore’s Batch House, Toronto

Bartender’s note: This cocktail is light and well-balanced, clove wafting throughout. Try pairing it with duck.

1.5 oz Collective Arts Hibiscus & Rhubarb Gin

0.5 oz Amaro Nonino

0.5 oz Ontario honey

1 oz Rosé

Cloves and dried orange slice for garnish

Build ingredients, starting with non-alcoholic into the shaker tin top. Add ice to shaker tin top. Place shaker tin bottom over top, ensuring they are sealed and in a straight line. Smack the top of the tin bottom to ensure the seal. Shake vigorously for 15 to 20 seconds or until a layer of condensation appears on the outside of the tin. Dislodge the two parts of the tin. Double strain into a coupe glass, using the Hawthorn strainer on the tin and the screen strainer above the glass. Garnish with orange slice and cloves.


Photo: Courtesy of Patrón


7. Patrón Paloma

1 oz Patrón Silver

Grapefruit soda

Lime wedge

Pour Patrón Silver into a highball glass filled with ice. Add grapefruit soda and top with squeezed lime.


Photo: Courtesy of Diageo Canada


8. Baileys Over Ice Cream

1 scoop ice cream

3.5 oz. Baileys Original Irish Cream

Your choice of toppings

Put ice cream in a small glass. Pour Baileys on top. Sprinkle on your favourite topping.


Photo: Courtesy of Diageo Canada


9. French 76

1.25 oz Ciroc Ultra Premium vodka

0.5 oz lemon juice

0.5 oz simple syrup

Splash Piper Champagne

Dark grape (optional)

In ice-filled shaker tin, combine vodka, lemon juice and simple syrup; strain into a chilled flute glass. Top with Champagne and garnish with a dark grape.


Photo: Courtesy of Walters Caesar Mix


10. The Fashion Caesar

Courtesy of Walter Craft Caesar Mix

Bartender’s note: This works perfectly at brunch or as an appetizer/cocktail combined.

Rim: lemon juice, Walter Craft Caesar Rim

1 oz vodka

4 oz Walter Craft Caesar Mix – Holiday

Squeeze fresh lemon juice

Garnish: cooked lobster claw, tarragon, sage and lemon

Rim tall glass with lemon juice and Caesar Rim. Fill glass with ice. In a shaker, mix vodka, caesar mix and lemon juice. Pour over ice in prepared  glass. Garnish with lobster, tarragon, sage and lemon slices.



Photo: Courtesy of Kombucha


11. Chocolate Mule

Courtesy Rise Kombucha

Bartender’s note: Kombucha is a good substitute for sweet juices or mixers. It adds flavour and a bit of fizz without being overly sugary.

1 oz vodka

0.5 oz sour honey syrup

1-2 ml chocolate bitters

Rise Fresh Ginger Kombucha

Lemon twist

Combine vodka, sour honey syrup and chocolate bitters. Top with kombucha and garnish with lemon.


Photo: Courtesy of Seedlip


12. Garden Toddy

2 oz Seedlip Distilled Non-Alcoholic Spirits in Garden 108

Warm apple or pear cider

Fresh lemon

Honey to taste

Sage leaf or lemon wheel

In a glass mug, combine Spirits, cider, a squeeze of fresh lemon and honey to taste. Garnish with a sage leaf or lemon wheel.


Photo: Courtesy of JP Wiser’s

But, first, we’ll take a Manhattan

And for those of you who might just need a sophisticated yet simplified option, may we suggest Canada’s own JP Wiser’s Manhattan Whisky Cocktail? It’s a premixed version of the classic cocktail, with JP Wiser’s whisky, vermouth and natural flavours. Simply pour over ice, stir and garnish with a cherry or orange twist. P.S. It makes a great hostess gift, as well.

A version of this story was originally published on Dec. 12, 2019.


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