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The holidays are upon us, and invariably, thoughts turn toward celebrating the season. Whether you are planning a fabulous dinner party, a celebration for 30 or an intimate gathering of close friends, these occasions call for sumptuous hot cocktails. If you are searching for ideas to impress your guests at your next event, read on for 10 of the best winter cocktails to add to your repertoire.

Apple Hot Toddy

Apple-Brandy Hot Toddies

The classic hot toddy is always ranked among the best winter cocktails for holiday events or casual, friend-filled evenings. It is easy to make, quick to prepare and never dull. Food & Wine suggests that this winter’s winner is a magical variation: the apple-brandy hot toddy, designed by Suzanne Bozarth at Paley’s Place in Portland, Oregon. What is her take? The Magazine reports: “Bozarth puts a French spin on this warming drink with a slug of apple brandy, such as Calvados.” Picture yourself sitting with friends by the fire with this cocktail that celebrates the change of seasons.  Don’t forget the cinnamon stick!

skyline of Washington, DC

Blizzard Cocktail

Winter blizzards are coming, but this is one you and your guests will actually enjoy. The “Blizzard Cocktail,” the creation of Charles Corpion from the Four Seasons, is a Martha Stewart Living favorite. The base of it is Irish whiskey and a hazelnut liqueur (Frangelico is popular, but feel free to choose the one you love). Can’t you feel the warmth flooding your body just at the thought of this delicious concoction? Preparation is easy. As the Magazine explains: “In a glass coffee mug, stir together whiskey, hazelnut liqueur, and Irish cream; top with coffee. Garnish cocktail with whipped cream and serve immediately.”  Yum!

eggnog with a cinnamon stick

By Chloe Eggless Egg-Nog

Eggnog is another holiday party classic. However, if you have guests who are vegans, or you want something lighter so everyone can also dive into your hors d’ oeuvres, InStyle suggests serving the “By Chloe Eggless Egg-Nog” variation. What makes it so unique? For a start, the base uses both almond milk and cashew milk to get the rich texture and delicious flavor that is a requirement of any great nog. It also features “turmeric and pumpkin pie spice for a special kick,” in addition to your favorite rum and ground cinnamon. If you can pick up a rocks cocktail glass that fits with your winter holiday theme, all the better.  

Gaelic Punch

When hosting a large group for a winter holiday celebration, you can’t beat a Gaelic punch. With the addition of nutmeg, clove and lemon slices, your holiday punch will have a seasonal charm that will be unforgettable. On Food & Wine’s list of best winter cocktails, the success of your Gaelic punch will hinge on the Irish whiskey you choose. The Magazine’s recommendation: “For hot punches, young Irish whiskeys work best. Heat intensifies the tannic edge of older whiskeys; young ones stay smooth.”

Hot Buttered Lemon

Distiller Sebastian Reaburn describes the “Hot Buttered Lemon” as a perfect blend of a lemon tart and hot buttered rum, one of the best winter cocktails you can have on your party menu. He reveals to Food & Wine: “The citrus pieces get softened by the heat and mellowed by the sugar and butter; they’re delicious to nibble on at the end of the drink.” Want an added kick to this tantalizing blend? Reaburn suggests adding fresh ginger and cloves. If you want to show off this delightful cocktail, consider putting it in a heatproof glass mug with an orange wedge as an eye-catching topper.

Hot Buttered Rum

Speaking of the traditional hot buttered rum, this drink is frequently mentioned among the best cocktails for when the temperature dips. The richness of the flavor brings a decidedly decadent and delicious note to any winter holiday party. The editors at Martha Stewart Living advise party hosts to take “advantage of the deep flavor in a good, dark rum, perfectly enhanced by a spiced butter made with brown sugar — rum’s raw material — and assertive spices such as cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.” If you want to elevate this delectable sipper even more, try beating orange zest along with the butter and other spices with the mixer.

Hot Spiced Wine with cinnamon in glass mug

Hot Spiced Wine

Does anything say “Welcome to the Holidays” like hot spiced wine? It is easily one of the best hot cocktails to serve at winter parties. Food & Wine adores this winter classic. The Magazine reveals, “red wine and kirsch (a brandy made from cherries) are the base for this delicious seasonal drink, which is laced with citrus and warming spices like cinnamon, cardamom and black pepper.” Total prep time usually amounts to 15 minutes, and a single batch offers 12 servings (and is easy to multiply for drop-in guests). The blend can also be made the night before your festivities and reheated as guests arrive.

Hot Chocolate with lavender

Maman Lavender Hot Chocolate

Who doesn’t love sipping hot chocolate as the snow flies? After a particularly festive dinner party, tempt your guests with one of InStyle’s favorite hot cocktails: Spiked Maman Lavender Hot Chocolate. Inspired by Maman, a French-style café in NYC, this drink has all the sumptuous flavor you remember from childhood with an adult kick that will have your guests raising a glass in your honor. The lavender sets this particular drink apart, and it pairs extraordinarily well with chocolate. The key is to “crush lavender with your fingertips into the milk” and when pouring into the mugs, use “a small strainer to catch the lavender pieces.” The decadent Grand Marnier is poured into the mugs or heatproof glasses separately, allowing you to make a batch of non-alcoholic mocktails as well as the spiked version for all of your guests to enjoy. 

warm tequila drink in a glass mug

Sundance’s Warm Tequila Cocktail

This tequila-based cocktail jumped to the top of InStyle’s list of best winter cocktails when it was served to the filmmakers and glitterati who were celebrating at the legendary Sundance Film Festival. This hot toddy variation is a tempting cocktail for any guest, but particularly appealing to party-goers who don’t love dark liquors. It is incredibly easy to make; just add your favorite tequila to your heatproof party glasses, along with honey, agave nectar, cinnamon, cloves and a lemon wedge before setting it to steep in hot water. The total steeping time before serving is only one minute, making this a quick and tasty option for a winter celebration.

warm vanilla cider in a glass mug with whipped cream on top

Warm Vanilla Cider

When you think of New Year’s Eve celebrations, the mind automatically lands on the Champagne toast at midnight. But the editors at Martha Stewart Living remind us that the hours leading up to the ball drop can be frigid and celebrations in the new year in January may also need warming. The Magazine recommends adding a warm vanilla cider to your winter cocktail rotation: “With whipped cream and honeyed walnuts, this drink is like a dessert. And when made without the bourbon, it’s perfect for children.” The spiked version of this drink adds your best mixing bourbon to a blend of warmed “apple cider, dark-brown sugar, nutmeg seeds, and vanilla bean.” The whipped cream and honeyed walnuts on top will catch the eye as the ideal toppers to this tasty winter cocktail

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