Simple classic cocktails for the holidays

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We’re not taking you back to the very first cocktails ever poured, just like we wouldn’t take you back to the very first holiday party. Bathtub moonshine served manger-side seems a bit rustic for our tastes. We do think it’s great to turn to the classics, though, which is why we went digging through the cocktail archives to find three simple drinks perfect for your holiday party. They were good enough for the Savoy and Harry’s Bar, so they’ll fit in wonderfully at your place.

Savoy cocktail book: Amazon. Jigger and Cocktail sugar cubes: Walmart. Mount Gay Rum: Crown.

The incredible, edible eggnog

The Savoy Cocktail Book. Chancellor Press, 1930.


Eggnog is a true American original—well, if you don’t include its European forebears, like posset, advocaat, and other boozy, drinkable custards. We won’t say a bad word about the beverage other than that it can be a bit of a production. It doesn’t have to be, though. You might be surprised to learn that early recipes for eggnog consist of an egg, some sugar, “a glass of any spirit you desire” and milk, shaken. Take that as a sign, and feel absolutely free to make glasses of it a la minute. A simple but recognizable recipe we love is for The Savoy Hotel’s “Baltimore Eggnog,” which consists of:


One egg

One half tablespoon sugar

One part brandy

One part dark rum

One part Madeira (or other sweet wine)

Two parts milk


Shaken over ice and strained from a tumbler, with a little nutmeg for garnish—all the flavors of traditional eggnog, done quickly. Take caution with a raw egg, though.

Champagne drinks that need no additions

The Savoy Cocktail Book. Chancellor Press, 1930.


Why gussy up good Champagne? Great question: we think you shouldn’t! Serve it in addition to a sparkling wine drink, though. Just use a budget-friendly (and still incredibly tasty) option that wasn’t grown in the eponymous French departement. In fact, you can find wines made from the same grapes, by the same vintners, just grown on cheaper real estate—Taittinger’s Domaine Carneros is the perennial example. Bellinis and Mimosas are go-tos for a reason, but for fall, consider something right out of the orchard: pears. Mix to taste:

Your sparkling wine of choice

Unsweetened pear juice (usually seen in your local health food emporium)

and if you have it, a splash of Pear Williams

Rustic never tasted so good.

You deserve a punch

The Savoy Cocktail Book. Chancellor Press, 1930.


If it wouldn’t be the holidays without breaking out the crystal punchbowl, we won’t leave your cup empty. Truthfully, punch can be one of the simplest holiday cocktails of them all. Just mix five things in a bowl, add an ice ring, serve. For the ice ring, we recommend a repurposed bundt cake pan. For the punch, we have many good ideas. One tip we recommend, if you want to look for outside inspiration is to not just search for “punches” but for “cups”—an anachronistic term for a similar mixed drink. This tropical option comes from a collection of Caribbean Christmas recipes, but if you need to make it more recognizably wintry, garnish with a rosemary sprig or add a little ginger syrup (or even ginger beer).

One part fresh lime juice

two parts grenadine (or similar fruit syrup)

three parts dark rum

four parts water—sparkling or still, depending on your mood

Confectioner’s sugar to taste, which saves you from boiling up simple syrup.

You’ll note a simple “one, two, three, four” progression here, which is a good rule to have in your back pocket—that’s a classic ratio for sour, sweet, boozy, and watery ingredients in a punch. Call it another holiday tradition.

You wouldn’t drive after this party, but you don’t even need to drive before, either: have Minibar Delivery bring the drinks to your door—whether it’s fine spirits, wines, or non-alcoholic mixables. 


Every product in this post is one we personally love and can confidently recommend to our users. Paperless Post may earn a commission through affiliate links on this post.


Pour on the cheer with simple to send holiday cards or spread the good vibes with a holiday invitation.