The 12 Drinks of Christmas
When considering the catchiest carols of the holiday season, The 12 Days of Christmas is a given on any list. Theories about the song’s origins vary. Some say it’s a children’s game dating to the 1700s, while others insist it’s a catechism song with hidden meanings for repressed English Catholics developed in the mid-1500s.
All can agree, however, that the tune refers to the 12 days following Christmas Day, culminating in the Feast of the Epiphany on Jan. 6. To keep the spirit of the season alive a bit longer (since the song will probably be stuck in your head anyway), here’s a drink idea for each of the 12 Days of Christmas.
—Alexis Korman and Catherine Robertson
A Partridge in a Pear Tree
Recipe courtesy Oronoco Rum
Pear liqueur and rum makes this cocktail a sweet (and fitting) way to kick off the 12 Days of Christmas.
1½ ounce Oronoco (Brazilian White Rum)
¼ ounce pear liqueur
½ ounce pomegranate juice
1 tablespoon Champagne
In a cocktail shaker, shake the rum, pear liqueur and pomegranate juice with ice. Pour into a chilled martini glass and top with champagne.
2 Turtle Doves
This mudslide recipe recreates the famous turtle confection with chocolate liqueur and Black Velvet’s nutty, caramel-flavored whiskey.
Black Velvet Mudslide
Recipe courtesy Black Velvet Toasted Caramel Whisky
2 ounces Black Velvet Toasted Caramel Whisky
½ ounce dark chocolate liqueur
1 ounce cream or half & half
1 turtle candy, for garnish
Grated dark chocolate, for garnish
Combine whisky, liqueur and cream in an ice-filled shaker, and shake for 20 seconds. Pour into an Old-Fashioned or rocks glass. For the garnish, slice the turtle candy halfway up the longest side. Perch on the rim of the glass, and sprinkle with grated dark chocolate.
4 Calling Birds
Since the grouse happens to be an iconic Scottish game bird, opt for a pour of The Famous Grouse in this Scotch cobbler variation.
Smoked Scotch Cobbler
Recipe courtesy Josh Mazza, partner, The Gilroy, New York City
2 ounces The Black Grouse Scotch
½ ounce fino Sherry
¾ ounce fresh lemon juice
¾ ounce Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao
3 dashes smoked cherry bitters
Combine ingredients in an ice-filled shaker. Shake, and serve tall over crushed ice.
5 Golden Rings
Five round lemon wheels top this golden, Bourbon-based punch. It perfectly exemplifies the theme of the fifth day of Christmas, and quenches a thirsty holiday crowd.
Basil Hayden’s Golden Spice Punch
Recipe courtesy Max Toste, mixologist, Basil Hayden’s Bourbon
1½ cups Basil Hayden’s Bourbon
5 ounces pineapple juice
3½ ounces lemon juice
½ cup maple syrup
5 dashes Angostura Bitters
5 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
1 liter club soda
5 lemon wheels
5 pineapple slices
Add Bourbon, juices, maple syrup and bitters in a punch bowl. Stir until syrup has dissolved. Add a few large ice cubes, club soda and float lemon and pineapple slices on top. Serves 12–15.
Take a break from sweet and creamy Christmastime drinks with this classically dry Grey Goose Vodka martini.
2½ ounces Grey Goose Vodka
½ ounce chilled Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth
Dash of orange bitters
Lemon zest, for garnish
Pour vodka and dry vermouth into a mixing glass. Add a dash of orange bitters and top with cubed ice. Stir until well chilled. Fine strain into a martini glass. Garnish with lemon zest.
Beer lovers, rejoice: The Bruery, an Orange County, California craft brewing company, specializes in barrel-aged beers and out-of-the-box ales like this 7 Swans-A-Swimming Belgian-Style Quadrupel Ale. What could be easier for Day 7?
With its high rye content, Bulleit Bourbon gives this milk-based eggnog some serious kick.
Bulleit Bourbon Eggnog
Recipe courtesy Bulleit Bourbon
1 ounce Baileys Original Irish Cream Liqueur
¼ ounce Bulleit Bourbon
2 cups milk
Pinch nutmeg, for garnish
In a blender, combine Baileys, Bourbon and egg and blend until smooth. Pour into a heat-proof coffee mug. Bring milk to a boil in a small saucepot over high heat, then pour into coffee mug. Sprinkle with nutmeg and serve.
9 Ladies Dancing
Reprinted with permission from The Cocktail Club: A Year of Recipes and Tips for Spirited Tasting Parties (Stewart, Tabori & Chang 2014) by Maureen Christian-Petrosky
“With gorgeous dancing bubbles, the Kir Royale is the perfect feminine cocktail to kick off any holiday soirée,” says Petrosky.
1 tablespoon Crème de Cassis
3 ounces Champagne, chilled
In a Champagne flute, add the crème de cassis and top with the chilled Champagne.
10 Lords a Leaping
Sub in a hearty pour of Lord’s Dry Gin for this easy Negroni recipe.
1 ounce Lord's dry gin
1 ounce Campari
1 ounce Dolin Rouge Vermouth, or other sweet vermouth
Soda water, to top
In a rocks glass, stir together the gin, Campari and vermouth with ice. Top with soda water and garnish with a twist of lemon peel.
12 Drummers Drumming
Finish off the 12 Days of Christmas with a neat pour of Siesta Key Spiced Rum from Drum Circle Distilling in Sarasota, Florida. Rated at 91 points in our Buying Guide, this small-batch bottling is infused with real spices and honey. Or, opt to make a hot cocoa cocktail with Drum Circle’s toasted coconut rum release.
Siesta Key Chocolate Bonbon
Recipe courtesy Drum Circle Distilling, Sarasota, Florida
3 ounces hot chocolate
1 ounce Grand Marnier
1 ounce Siesta Key Toasted Coconut Rum
Whipped cream, for garnish
Mix hot chocolate according to package directions. Pour 3 ounces into mug. Stir in Grand Marnier and rum. Top with whipped cream for garnish. Serve warm.