pink panther stuffed animal on bench surrounded by beer bottles
pink panther stuffed animal on bench surrounded by beer bottles
#happyholidays #cocktails

ThoughtLab and the Holiday Cocktail

Paul Kiernan

Amaze and impress your friends at all your season's gatherings with our list of awesome holiday cocktails.

Well, it’s nearly Christmas, shopping to be done, food to be prepared and gatherings to be… gathered. At this time of year, it’s nice to have people watching your back and giving you all the hints and hacks you need to get through the holidays. 

We here at ThoughtLab have got you covered. You see for us the holidays mean friends, family and, of course, serious drinking. So here is a list of holiday cocktails to serve at your season’s gatherings that will amaze and impress your friends. Or at least get them nicely hammered. This list will go from more complex to the most simple of cocktails. Enjoy!

Mulled Wine

It’s certainly a holiday classic. Sometimes called wassail, this ancient and time tested beverage is sure to fill you and your guests with joy. The wine I usually use is a pinot noir but any Italian red will do just as well.

You need:

  • Red wine  
  • Apple cider
  • Brandy
  • Honey
  • Orange Juice, zest
  • Clove
  • Star anise
  • Cinnamon sticks

How to:

Combine cider, wine, honey, cinnamon sticks, brandy, zest, juice, cloves, star anise in a large saucepan, bring to a boil and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Pour into hearty mugs and garnish with orange peel. Lovely. Now, at my house, tradition dictates that we drink a shot of bourbon with this, makes the day go nice.

Pomegranate Royal

This is a twist on the classic kir royal but with holiday colors.

You need:

  • 5 pomegranate seeds
  • 1 oz pomegranate liqueur
  • 4 oz champagne or prosecco

How to:

Drop the seeds in a champagne flute, add the liqueur, then pour in the champagne and serve. Simple but eye-catching cocktail. In my house, to make it that much more special, we like to drink this one with a healthy shot of bourbon.

Orange-cranberry Mimosa

Again, a bit of a holiday twist on the classic brunch cocktail. A little color, a little twist.

You need:

  • ½ cup fresh Orange juice plus orange pieces, about 2 oranges total
  • ½ cup fresh cranberry juice
  • 3cups sparkling wine
  • Fresh cranberries for serving

How to

Combine the orange and cranberry juices and refrigerate for two days. Removed from fridge divide among glasses, top with sparkling wine, serve with orange pieces and cranberries. To make this one even more special, we like to serve it with a serious shot of bourbon.

Christmas Cosmo

The cosmo is a classic cocktail sipped by the rich and famous at poolside and dimly lit bars all across the places where we… where stuff happens. Things and stuff. Here’s a holiday twist on this drink.

You need:

  • 1 cup vodka, but, you know, to taste I always say so, I, 2 … 8 ... eyeball this
  • 1 cup pomegranate-cranberry juice blend - amazing how often the pomegranate shows up on this list. Like ..a lot. Like a lot, a lot.
  • ¼ cup orange liqueur
  • 3 tbsp… tablespoons, cause I can never tell what tbsp means
  • Lime twists

How to:

Put the… um… the vodka and the juice and the orange liqueur and … what else … lime juice, put the lime juice in too… into a pitcher. Add ice and stir for 30 seconds. No more. If you go like 31 seconds, this whole thing blows up. IT. BLOWS. UP. No, I’m kidding, but stir it for 30 seconds. Strain into a coupe and garnish with a twist. Good. It’s good. Oh, oh, oh, you know what goes really well with this?? A shot of bourbon!!

Spicy Pickle Bloody Mary

Okay… this one sounds good. Spicy pickle. You gotta spicy pickle there Marty. All right, this, now this one is a spicy twist on the classic bloody mary. Here’s some history with your booze; The cocktail came into existence… well, it was back in the 1920s when Fernand Petiot, an American bartender at Harry's New York Bar in Paris, mixed up equal parts of tomato juice and vodka. So … there.

You need:

  • ½ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp prepared horseradish
  • 2 tsp of your favorite hot sauce. Personally, I like Gringo Bandito, but that’s just me.
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce … worcester … Worcestershire … hehehe
  • ½ tsp celery salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 8 small pepperoncini peppers, this should not be confused with the peck of pickled peppers that Piper kid picked.
  • 1tbsp of the brine from said pepperoncini
  • 3 cups tomato juice… you say tomato, I say tomato … both look the same written out like this so, I don’t get it
  • ¾ cup of vodka, again this is merely a suggestion, feel free to add more vodka if you’re Russian or something
  • 1 seedless cucumber cut into sticks… cuke sticks … that’s fun to say

How to:

In a large pitcher combine lemon juice, horseradish, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, celery salt, hot sauce … nope, said that already… all right… um… black pepper and the pepperoncini brine. Stir in tomato juice and vodka and put all that in the fridge for two days. TWO DAYS? That’s a long time to wait for the drinking. Okay, two days. Then take it out and serve it over ice with pepperoncini and cuke sticks for garish. Garnish. Knish. Ganesh. You get it. And, of course, since it is the holidays, this goes well with a big shot of bourbon.

Pause. Okay, full transparency now. Here. Right now. Listen. No, you… you have to listen. Okay, first off, I love you. And second off, because we care, we have been sampling these cocktails as we make them. Because we cannot… we don’t want to be giving you any erroneous … is that the word… erogenous … no, that’s a part of the body, the erogenous zone. That’s two-hour parking for sure. AHHAHAHAHAHA … okay. What? Right. We have been sampling so… this could really go off the rails but, hang in’s good information.

Pomegranate-Rum Punch

There’s the freakin pomegranate again. Man he ...he just gets into everything. Okay, this is a punch so you’ll need a punch bowl. Like the ones you see in the movies with the girls in the long dresses and elbow-length gloves and everyone is all yes sir, oh Mister Cornwall, how’s your gelding … and such. You know what I mean… don’t… don’t pretend you don’t know cause you know. I know you know.

You need:

  • 4 hibiscus tea bags… seriously hibiscus? Okay.
  • 1 small cimmanon stick smashed up good.
  • 1 cup pomegranate juice… okay, I’m investing in pomegranates in the new year, make a killing I will.
  • 1 cup spiced rum … 1 cup, two cup, red cup blue cup, eyeball the rum ya scurvy toe jam.
  • ½ cup blood orange juice and slices for serving
  • 1 750 ML bottle of prosecco
  • Pomegranate ...again… seeds for serving.

How two:

Put the tea bags and the smashed cimmanon … cimanima … stick in a large measuring cup. Top with one cup boiling water. And that’s it! No, no I’m kidding, there’s more. Let the tea bagging happen for five minutes. Steeping they call it. Then combine the tea, pomegranate juice rum and orange juice in a picture and then slowly stir on the prosecco. Serve it all over ice with orange slices and pomegranate seeds as garnish. Also, it should be noted that this punch is really enhanced by the presence of a shot of bourbon.

Okay, those are some pretty shmancy drinks and man there is a lot of pomegranate juice flyin’ around. Okay, let’s get simpler. Easier.

White Russian

Oh, those wacky, wacky Russians. They gave us Soyuz, glasnost and of course Trump. Hahahaha. Kidding. Or am I? This is also the preferred cocktail of The Dude.

You need:

  • Ice
  • 2 oz Kahlua
  • 2 oz Vodka
  • 2 oz heavy cream

Please note the FDA suggests you use more booze. Just puttin’ that out there.

How wow wow:

Fill a rocks glass with ice. Pour Kahlua into the glass. Pour Vodka into the glass. Pour heavy cream over the top. Bang. Done. Drink. For the full experience drink this with a shot of bourbon.

Vodka Martini

Okay, The earliest known reference to the Vodka Martini occurs in Ted Saucier's 1951 Bottoms Up. But it is Ian Fleming's character James Bond who famously drinks Vodka Martini's "shaken, not stirred", and the rise of vodka during the 1980s and 1990s, that made vodka the spirit of choice for many. Funny thing I learned from the show The West Wing. if you shake a vodka martini you get a watery martini. All watery. So James Bond may sound cool with his shaken not stirred but he’s really drinking a watered-down cocktail. Cause he’s a wimp. I could so take that guy. Easy.

You need:

  • 2 oz vodka… that’s a suggestion… I trust you.
  • 1 oz of sweet vermouth

How now brown cow:

Add ingredients to an ice-filled mixing glass or a metal shaker and stir. See that, stir, not shake, stir. Take that Bond, you hack. Stir for 10 seconds. Strain into a coupe and garnish with a lemon peel. Now, if you want a dry martini don’t add the vermouth, just open the lid of the bottle and show it to the vodka. This is a perfect cocktail only made better by the introduction of a shot of bourbon.

Lalalalalalalal … falalalala … stop. Reverse that. Okay.


It’s a city, it’s a cocktail. It’s a piece of history. Popular history suggests that the drink originated at the Manhattan Club in New York City in the mid-1870s, where it was invented by Dr. Iain Marshall for a banquet hosted by Jennie Jerome (Lady Randolph Churchill, mother of Winston) in honor of presidential candidate Samuel J. Tilden. I say it started on Mad Men… no that’s an old fashion… right…

You need:

  • 2oz rye whiskey… who am I kidding, 2 oz?
  • 1 oz sweet vermouth, which was my nickname in college, hey, here comes sweet vermouth. No, that’s… that’s not true at all. You believed me. What a rube.

Do this:

Stir ingredients with cracked ice, then strain into a chilled coupe. Ganesh with an orange twist or a brandied cherry. No. No. You cannot substitute a maraschino cherry, what is this 1950s suburban Detroit? I have no idea what that means but don't use those, gross, icky. But, if you must, serve this with a shot of bourbon.

Gin & Tonic

This one’s pretty self-explanatory. The ingredients are in the name and you can figure out the rest. Serve chilled with a shot of bourbon.


Open one and drink it. Repeat and fade. For the full effect, follow up with a shot of bourbon.


There it is sports fans, the list of drinks to drink when you’re drinking this drinking season. If these don’t put a little jingle in your chimney then I cannot help you, Maybe try a shot of bourbon. We have fun here, don’t we? Okay, um… oh yes, I’m being told we need a disclaimer. So, here goes…

Although this is a piece about drinking we believe you should always drink to excess… no, responsibly, you should always drink responsibly. Which means have a designated driver or call an Uber or hail a cab. DO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE. Also, during the holidays, you may be tempted but, do not drink and dial either. Bad craziness going on there. Be safe, be cheerful and have a Merry Christmas.