Ready to know more about San Diego?


10 Holiday Cocktails to Get You in the Spirit

From a cocktail-centric holiday pop-up to Grandma’s secret hot buttered rum

By Kelly Davis

Lots of bars and restaurants around town are serving up special holiday cocktails. Here are 10 that seemed especially festive.

Rompope Oaxaqueña @ Puesto

Rompope is an eggnog-like drink popular in Central America. For this cocktail, Lucien Conner made his own and doubled down with some pinole (a Mexican beverage made from roasted corn and cinnamon). Yuu Baal Añejo mezcal makes it that much more festive.

Sinterklass @ Hundred Proof

Hannah Olsson’s perfect holiday sparkler includes Krogstad Aquavit, a spirit with hints of caraway and star anise, Old Forester bourbon, house-mulled wine, prosecco, and a rosemary garnish.

Buena Noche @ Havana 1920

Caramelized plantain purée? Yes, please. This Cuban holiday cocktail also includes Havana Club Anejo rum, fresh lime juice, fresh-pressed sugar cane, and R&D Aromatic #7 bitters.

Norwegian Hot Buttered Rum @ Charles + Dinorah (Pearl Hotel)

Having hot buttered rum sometime between now and January 1 is not just encouraged, but required. Bar manager TJ Majeske dug up his grandmother’s secret recipe, which he describes as “Christmas in a cup.”

Dad Ate the Cookies @ Bankers Hill Bar & Restaurant

Colin Berger combined rye whiskey, lemon juice, orgeat, and cassis (a French blackcurrant liqueur) and topped it with housemade whipped cream and cookie crumbles. Think those tasty little jam thumbprint cookies.

Snip and Snails @ Malahat Tasting Room

Malahat makes a legit spiced rum and Ren Perakis, bar manager at Malahat’s tasting room, made it even better by butter-washing it and adding a housemade cranberry-orange simple syrup and orange bitters for this lovely holiday cocktail.

Pear-ly Legal @ Sycamore Den

Sycamore Den’s winter menu is one of the more intriguing I’ve seen this season. It’s tough to pick a fave, but I’ll go with this one: port, Cocchi Americano, pear-demerara syrup, Becherovka (a cinnamon-y Czech liqueur), and lemon.

Orchard Thief @ Madison

Bar manager Danny Kuehner has a few great holiday cocktails ready to go. I’ll opt for this one, which features Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon, muddled red apple, red apple balsamic vinegar, allspice dram, lemon, and Chimney cinnamon syrup

Gingerbread Flip @ Polite Provisions

Polite Provisions is one of roughly 80 bars in the US hosting Miracle, a Christmas pop-up that features kitschy holiday decor and festive cocktails (Punch calls Miracle the Shake Shack of Christmas bars. Whatever, bah humbug). I’m a sucker for a good flip, and this one, made with bourbon, sherry, gingerbread syrup, Elemakule Tiki Bitters, a whole egg, and nutmeg sounds perfect.

Cindy Lou Who @ You & Yours Distilling Co.

There’s something about cordials that always makes me think of the holidays. You and Yours’ festive take on a classic fizz includes not one, but two. Cocktail makers looking for a challenge should try the full recipe, below. The rest of us will fah who foraze on over to Y & Y.

Cindy Lou Who:
1.5 ounces You & Yours Winter Gin 
1 ounce cranberry cordial (recipe below)
0.5 ounce orange cordial (recipe also below)
0.5 ounce half and half
1 egg white
2–3 dashes peppermint extract

Add all ingredients to a shaker without ice. Dry shake vigorously until the egg white creates a thick foam. Add ice and shake again. Strain into a tall flute glass and garnish with a sprig of mint and a mini candy cane.

Cranberry cordial:
1 cup fresh cranberries
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
Zest from half an orange

Bring all ingredients to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, until cranberries break down and mixture becomes thick. Strain into a sealed container. Can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Orange cordial:
1 cup orange juice
1 cup sugar
Zest from half an orange

Bring sugar and juice to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain into a sealed container. Can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Got ideas for a future post? Email me.

Share this post

Contact Us

1230 Columbia Street, Suite 800,

San Diego, CA