Most of us like to put on a bit of a splash when it comes to holiday entertaining, and the same old rum and cola selections we drink during the rest of the year just won’t cut it when it comes to serving fun winter cocktails. I searched my recipe drawer and put out a few feelers to spirit manufacturers and restaurant owners to come up with a fun and affordable list of winter cocktails you can feel proud about serving without stressing too much over the cost.

Cranberry mimosas are chic, and fit a shoestring budget perfectly.

Having a little champagne with your morning OJ might be standard brunch fare, but switching your juice of choice to cranberry for the holiday season will have you celebrating in style from Thanksgiving to Christmas. It’s perfect for holiday dinners, brunches and after-work cocktail parties before a night out at The Nutcracker. Mimosas are like sangria. Nobody really expects you to use an extraordinarily expensive champagne, so pairing a mid-range bargain brand with your favorite cranberry juice cocktail makes this an elegant and affordable choice.

Have a hot toddy to take off the winter chill and save money on the bar bill.

Steamy beverage selections aren’t consumed rapidly due to their temperature.  A hot toddy recipe is definitely decadent, and lets those in penny-pinching holiday mode entertain graciously with confidence. Mulled wines, hot buttered rum and warm cider drinks are all popular choices, as are coffee cocktails and hot chocolate drizzled with candy-flavored liqueurs.

Boston’s Cask ‘n Flagon has a cocktail called the Winter Kiss which is sure to bring on the tingles.

Patrons of this popular Boston sports bar dish out $8.25 for this seasonal cocktail, but I scored the recipe for Financial Highway readers. Ready? Two ounces of Van Gogh Dutch chocolate vodka, half an ounce of crème de menthe, half an ounce of Baileys and a splash of milk. Host a holiday happy hour at home and serve this drink as your signature cocktail paired with homemade chocolate truffles. It’s a fun pairing that shaves significant dollars off the cost of a bar tab for a large group of people.

Mulled pineapple juice brings a tropical twist to holiday revelers in warmer climes.

Toss in a little coconut run, and a large crock pot batch of mulled pineapple just might become a family tradition at this house. I would pair this particular beverage with homemade cinnamon rolls, cranberry-pecan scones or macaroons for a full tropical effect.

You can’t go wrong on Christmas Eve with a cocktail called Candy Cane Lane.

Start with a chilled martini glass and add a dash of grenadine to the bottom. Set aside. Pour the following ingredients into a cocktail shaker: 2 ½ ounces of Van Gogh blue vodka, 1 ounce of white crème de menthe, ½ an ounce of peppermint schnapps, and a splash or two of cream. Shake well and strain into the glass to create a swirled effect for your guests. Garnish with peppermint candy.  This is a great beverage to sip after the kids go to bed while watching a romantic holiday flick.

The folks at Partida presented a fun little winter cocktail called the Sugar Cookie.

Who doesn’t love a good sugar cookie for winter entertaining? Especially when it’s one you can drink. This is a simple, two-ingredient winter cocktail suitable for on-the-fly entertaining throughout the snow-bound months. Rim a cordial glass with brown sugar. Mix 2 ½ ounces of Partida Reposado (an aged tequila) with 1 teaspoon of brown sugar in a shaker with ice. Shake the
ingredients well and strain into the cordial glass. The limited ingredient list makes this a budget cocktail with regards to both money and time.

Holiday happy hours don’t have to break the bank. By planning accordingly, and choosing recipes for winter cocktails that use an abundance of ingredients you normally have on hand (cream, schnapps, brown sugar) the cost is kept under control so you can be free to celebrate without

Myscha Theriault

Myscha Theriault

A lifelong money cruncher who can squeeze a nickel ‘til it cries, Myscha is a syndicated columnist, best-selling author, and founder of Trek Hound and We Be Sharin’.