If your family celebrates Christmas, then you know that it’s not just a one-day holiday but rather a whole season of magical moments. Throughout the month of December, many of us have jam-packed schedules filled with holiday parties and get-togethers. Whether you’re with family watching Christmas movies in front of the tree, attending a work party, or meeting up with friends to do some shopping, this time of year is all about social gatherings and connection.
Of course, there are many beloved seasonal foods and tasty beverages that bring added joy to all of these events. Cocktails, in particular, are elegant crowd-pleasers, and easy to dress up in holiday trimmings. With a few creative steps, you can create a stunning and delicious pairing for your holiday menu or make even a casual get-together more memorable.
You might be surprised to learn that you don’t need your own professional home bar set up to accomplish this. In fact, thanks to key innovators within the canned cocktail industry, it’s now possible to create a bar-quality experience from anywhere. In this holiday guide, we’ll explore both classic and creative options for cocktail pairing and presentation.
A More Wonderful Time of the Year
According to an article in the New York Post, nearly 80% of Americans find it difficult to relax during the holidays. Survey data reveals that busy schedules and the pressure to plan a perfect holiday experience play a big role in creating stress for many adults. One of the best solutions to this is to look for simple swaps you can make to save time wherever you can.
When you’re planning your next get-together, opting for canned cocktails is a huge time saver that will allow you to serve top-quality beverages effortlessly. Leaders in the ready-to-drink cocktail industry are crafting full-strength cocktails made from 100% real ingredients, without any artificial preservatives. In fact, these drinks even feature barrel-aged bourbon, authentic steeped bitters, and quality liqueurs.
By starting with one of these bar-quality canned cocktails as a base, you can add a few simple yet festive customizations and achieve something really memorable without any hassle. Before we dive into presentation tips, let’s go over the basic tools you’ll need.
When you begin with canned cocktails as a base, you’ll need far fewer tools than if you were going to stock a home bar from scratch. In fact, since RTD cocktails come ready to enjoy, you’ll only need a few items to give these drinks a holiday makeover. For example, if you’d like to add an extra spirit or liqueur to a cocktail, you’ll need a jigger to measure it properly. If you’d like to add some complementary fruit or herb flavors into a drink, a muddler might come in handy.
Many holiday drinks can be made special by rimming the lip of the glass with a unique seasonal ingredient. If you’re planning on doing this, you’ll need a saucer to hold the ingredients. Now that we’ve covered everything you might need, let’s move on to some ideas for easy and delicious Christmas cocktails and what to pair them with.
Christmas Season Cocktail Pairings
The secret to any cocktail pairing is to create either complementary or contrasting flavor combinations. This might sound tricky at first, but it’s actually easier than you might think. For example, if you have a sweet dessert, a slightly tart, citrusy cocktail would create an interesting flavor balance that prevents the sweetness from becoming overpowering.
On the other hand, you might choose to complement that tart cocktail with an equally sour dessert. Like pairing the cranberry juice in a cosmopolitan with lemon sorbet, for example. You’ll also want to pay attention to the fat or oil content of your menu. Fatty foods, like cheeses, taste even better with an acidic drink to provide contrast. Imagine a margarita with fried chicken.
Now that you have the basic idea behind cocktail pairings down, let’s explore a few tried-and-true pairing ideas for the Christmas season.
If you love good old fashioned, you’ll definitely want to try serving it with spiced nuts. According to Southern Living, spiced pecans are a particularly great option, since their sweet and spicy flavors bring out a good aged bourbon’s complex notes. Roasted duck is another good choice for an old fashioned, because of the orange zest flavor. For desserts, you can’t go wrong with anything featuring rich chocolate.
This tart concoction of lime juice, cranberry juice, vodka, and orange liqueur tastes great when served with soft cheeses, like brie, ricotta, or cream cheese. It also pairs well with shrimp, as well as smoked salmon and cream cheese on crackers. For an after-dinner sweet treat, something with fresh berries or rich chocolate is a wonderful choice.
With its tart yet refreshing lime and lemongrass flavors, the vodka gimlet is a complementary choice for pairing with lemon bars. Its acidity also makes it a great contrasting option for creamy cheeses or cream-based pasta dishes, like fettuccini alfredo.
Now that we’ve explored a few basic cocktail pairing ideas, let’s take a look at some ways you can personalize a ready-to-drink cocktail for your Christmas parties.
Creative Cocktail Recipes for the Holidays
Start with a delicious, bar-quality canned cocktail and create a holiday-themed drink everyone will love in just a few easy steps.
With their pretty pink color, cosmopolitans are easy to dress up! To make a Christmas version of this cocktail, simply rub an orange peel around the rim of your glass and then dip it in green-colored sugar or sprinkles. Add frozen cranberries and garnish with a sprig of rosemary.
Gingerbread Espresso Martini
Either purchase or make your own gingerbread syrup by boiling water and brown sugar, molasses, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Once you have this key ingredient, you can create an amazing gingerbread espresso martini. Coat the rim of your martini glass in gingerbread syrup, then roll in crushed cookie crumbs.
You can add extra gingerbread syrup to your espresso martini, shake to combine, and then dust your finished drink with a little cinnamon. You can even garnish it with a small gingerbread cookie as a finishing touch.
Peppermint Espresso Martini
If you love a peppermint mocha, you’ll love this drink. Simply dip the rim of your martini glass in honey and then crushed candy canes. After pouring your espresso martini, lightly dust the surface with cocoa powder.
Christmas Mai Tai
Let your mind escape somewhere tropical with this holiday-inspired mai tai. Rim your glass with red-colored sugar, if you wish, and garnish with a skewer of fresh cranberries and an orange wedge to complement the drink’s orange liqueur.
More Presentation Magic
Any drink can become a Christmas cocktail with a few creative touches. In fact, if there were ever a time of year to go above and beyond the basics, Christmas would be it. Create your own dazzling display by starting with your favorite canned cocktail and adding one of the following finishing details:
- Spiced rims: Sugar and salt aren’t the only rimming options available. Why not add more flavor by trying out a mix of cinnamon and nutmeg?
- Whipped cream: A rich and delicious choice for dessert cocktails.
- Edible gold flakes or glitter: If you’re serving in clear glassware, these add-ins create an eye-catching and elegant touch.
- Cranberry skewers: A row of fresh cranberries threaded onto a cocktail pick adds a touch of tart flavor and a burst of festive color.
- Elegant ice cubes: Freeze sprigs of rosemary, mint, or berries inside ice cubes to add extra interest to your drinks.
- Citrus twists: Lime, lemon, and orange peels are bright and flavorful. They’re simple to add but have a big flavor impact and make your drink feel more special.
- Christmas sprinkle rims: If you have a dessert cocktail, you can use honey, maple syrup, or even icing to add Christmas-themed sprinkles to the rim of your glass.
- Sugar cookie crumb rims: Crushed sugar cookies are a delicious choice for rimming a dessert cocktail.
Remember, there’s no right or wrong way to garnish a cocktail. Have fun experimenting with different flavors and see which combinations your family and friends enjoy the most. The best part is that when you start with a canned cocktail as your base, you won’t have to worry about the quality of your drink. Instead, you can spend your time making creative personal touches that will be remembered for many years to come.
Create More Warm Memories This Christmas
This holiday season, whether you offer a simple cocktail pairing or experiment with an extravagant and creative new recipe, you’ll be creating lasting memories with your friends and loved ones.
Either way, Post Meridiem is here to support your Christmas with award-winning ready-to-drink cocktails. Our line of perfectly balanced drink options allows you to experience your favorite full-proof cocktails anywhere, anytime. Find us online or at a liquor store near you to start your holidays off right.