Holiday Fun

Holiday Cocktails You’ll Want to Drink Year-Round

Cheers to the most wonderful time of the year—and beyond—with festive spirits.

Discuss whether you’re on the naughty or nice list over drinks

Admit it: Your diet is going to be filled with holiday treats until New Year’s, including cocktails that’ll make your heart grow five times its normal size—Grinch-style, not literally. If the wait to get into themed pop-ups like Miracle on Ninth Street or Sippin’ Santa’s Surf Shack is frightful, you’ll be sure to find these festive libations more than delightful.

The Drink: Coquito Beer
The Spot: Wartega Brewery

One of my most recent Christmas traditions has been as follows: Dad receives an illicit-looking bottle of coquito from a friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend. Family members proceed to take spirited sips on Christmas Eve. Same family members drink the entire bottle of coquito before Santa parks his sleigh on our roof. If you’re not Puerto Rican, chances are this isn’t how you spend the holidays. But you’ll be able to taste a bit of my heritage inside Industry City, where Wartega Brewery resides. Its limited-edition brew is infused with elements of the tropical eggnog (cinnamon, coconut) to complement the dark ale’s full-bodied chocolate finish. 33 35th Street 6A, Greenwood

holiday cocktails nyc
A different kind of coquito at Wartega

The Drink: Cranberry Ginger Mule
The Spot: Streets

Probably the most criminally underrated member of the holiday dinner spread, cranberries need more love. They’ve had a less-than-stellar reputation for years, thanks in part to the gelatinous sauce often presented in the shape of a cylinder. With a little TLC, though, this superfruit can transcend its Ocean Spray tin can. The cranberry’s tartness pairs nicely with several flavor profiles, including zesty lime and fresh ginger beer, especially when muddled. All of those components can be found in this Williamsburg haunt’s take on the Moscow Mule, splashed with a generous serving of vodka. 53 Broadway, Williamsburg

The Drink: Irv Blitzer
The Spot: Bearded Lady

Even daiquiris can feel the holiday spirit. Well-known around Prospect Heights for its groovy ambience and groovier mixology, Bearded Lady is the type of cocktail gem you flock to when you’re missing summer breezes (and perhaps craving an escape from a date gone awry). While you’re waiting your turn at the pool table, take a swig or two of the Irv Blitzer, an evergreen version of the mixed rum concoction stirred together with pineapple and spruce essence. 686A Washington Avenue, Prospect Heights

The Drink: We Three Queens
The Spot: Leyenda

Santa’s not the only one sleighing around town. The female-driven cocteleria, helmed by cocktail matriarch Julie Reiner and her protégée, Ivy Mix, is paying tribute to the pop stars who inspire us to be nasty and fierce with its month-long pop-up, Sleyenda. Reiner and Mix have pushed the kings to the wayside this year with their layered libation We Three Queens, with five types of liquor—vodka, mezcal gin, rum, sherry, and vermouth. Floating up top is a hint that winter is coming (unless global warming forces otherwise), an edible snowflake, while appropriately coating the inside of the glass is the trio of gifts from the magi: frankincense, gold, and myrrh. 221 Smith Street, Cobble Hill

holiday cocktails nyc
Snowflakes in your cocktail

The Drink: Hot Buttered Rum
The Spot: Olmsted

Butter practically runs through your veins between now and New Year’s Day…but a little bit more couldn’t hurt, right? The rich sipper was made to warm your soul (and stomach) with robust flavors like brown sugar, nutmeg, and cloves mixed in with dark rum. Where’s the best location to enjoy it? In a Brooklyn backyard, of course. Olmsted’s garden is open during the frigid months, but you won’t feel the plummeting temperatures when you’re enjoying the twinkle lights, a roaring fire pit, and this decadent libation infused with whipped cinnamon butter. 659 Vanderbilt Avenue, Prospect Heights

The Drink: The Man-O-Manischewitz
The Spot: 2nd Floor

Pastrami with a side of Manischewitz is a Hanukkah pairing I can get behind. Launched by brothers Josh and Jeremy Lebewohl, the new cocktail lounge atop the Upper East Side’s 2nd Ave Deli is also one of the only kosher-certified bars in the city. Naturally, incorporating traditional Jewish flavors into modern mixed drinks caters to both the millennials and Great-Uncle Mortys in your life. Consider the gin-infused Man-O-Manischewitz: While The English-influenced Bramble is usually a spring cocktail by design, beverage director Jason Jeffords III swaps blackberry liqueur with the sweet concord wine to make it appropriate for the holidays. 1442 First Avenue (East 74th and East 75th Streets), Upper East Side

holiday cocktails nyc
Say l’chaim with a Man-O-Manischewitz / Photo by Stephen Speranza for the New York Times

Drink and be merry with us this season. We’ll save you a seat at the bar