christmas cocktail recipes

3 Christmas cocktail recipes to kick off the festive season in style

Posted by for Food and Drink

This Christmas, we’re upping our mixology game. Celebrate the festive season in style with these craft cocktail recipes courtesy of drinks expert Jessica Strand.

The fairy lights are up, Mariah’s on the radio and we’ve hung our slightly wonky handmade wreath on the door with all the pride of a child taking part in their first nativity. Yep, it’s officially the season to be jolly.

While we revel in the joy of putting up our Christmas decorations or sprawl in front of Love Actually, we’re likely to want a festive drink (or two). But this season, we’re not just popping bottles of fizz and emptying boxed cabernet sauvignon into our biggest saucepan to make mulled wine – we’re breaking out the cocktail shaker ourselves.

It makes sense. As we’ve been mostly kept out of bars in 2020, DIY cocktails have come into their own: research from Bacardi shows that Google searches for ‘bar cart’ rose by 80% between the beginning of the first lockdown and the summer (frankly, we’ve been channelling our inner mixologists ever since Stanley Tucci shared a video of himself preparing a ‘quarantini’ negroni). In the year that we mastered sourdough, banana bread and cinnamon buns, it makes sense that we’d take to making our own festive drinks with the same DIY spirit. 

Fancy mastering a new signature Christmas cocktail? Below, drinks expert Jessica Strand shares three of her favourite recipes from her new book Very Merry Cocktails: 50+ Festive Drinks for the Holiday Season (£14.99, Chronicle Books), which is filled with timeless classics and inventive tipples that can be easily recreated at home.

For gin aficionados, the evergreen sparkler, featuring fresh lemon juice and rosemary syrup, is an aromatic piney drink that’s perfect after a winter walk.

Those who can’t resist quince jelly and cheese at Christmas will love the quince old fashioned cocktail, which reinvents a traditional recipe with warming bourbon and spicy Angostura bitters.

Lastly, for a zero-proof libation, the wintertime tea mixed with sparkling lemonade and rosemary syrup has plenty of festive flair. Cheers!

  • Rosemary syrup

    rosemary syrup recipe

    Makes 355ml


    • 200g sugar
    • 240ml water
    • 120g raspberries


    Combine the sugar, water, and raspberries in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a rapid boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat and let cool. Strain the syrup and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

  • Evergreen sparkler


    Jessica says: “This pleasingly piney drink will be a satisfying way to spread cheer after a day of decorating or a walk in a wintery forest.”

    Makes 1 drink


    • 60ml gin
    • 60ml rosemary syrup
    • 60ml fresh lemon juice
    • club soda, for topping off
    • rosemary sprig, for garnish


    Fill a tumbler glass with ice.

    Pour the gin, rosemary syrup, and lemon juice into an ice-filled shaker. Shake vigorously.

    Strain into the glass, leaving about 2.5 cm of space at the top. Top off with club soda and garnish with a rosemary sprig. 

  • Quince old fashioned

    quince old fashioned cocktail recipe

    Jessica says: “A seasonal twist on an old fashioned, this cocktail features quince paste, which cuts through the mouth-warming bourbon with its candied tang.”

    Makes 1 drink


    • 1 tsp quince paste
    • 1 sugar cube
    • 1 tsp water
    • 3 dashes Angostura bitters
    • 60ml bourbon
    • orange peel, for garnish


    In an old fashioned glass, muddle the quince paste and sugar cube until incorporated.

    Add the water and bitters, stirring to mix. Add the bourbon and stir gently.

    Garnish with an orange peel. 

  • Wintertime tea

    Jessica says: “The light and refreshing summertime drink gets a seasonal twist with a piney note of rosemary. For a punch of fizz, use a sparkling lemonade.”

    Makes 1 drink


    • 120ml lemonade
    • 120ml black tea, cooled to room temperature
    • 60ml rosemary syrup, plus more as needed
    • lemon wheel, for garnish


    Fill a tumbler glass with ice.

    Pour the lemonade, black tea, and rosemary syrup into the tumbler. Stir, adding more syrup to taste. Garnish with a lemon wheel. 

    Very Merry Cocktails: 50+ Festive Drinks for the Holiday Season by Jessica Strand (£14.99, Chronicle Books) is out now

Photography: Ren Fuller

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Christobel Hastings

Christobel Hastings is Stylist's Entertainment Editor whose specialist interests include pop culture, LGBTQ+ identity and lore.